Paying Tribute to the Greatest Tiger Team of My Generation
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Kirk Gibson may not get into the Hall of Fame, but he definitely had some Hall of Fame moments. His monster three run shot in Game 5 of the 1984 World Series, and an equally impressive Game 1 walk off homer in the 1988 World Series are my two most memorable moments in all of baseball.
1984 was Gibby’s breakout season, and he was extremely consistent for the next five years. He hit between 24 and 29 homers in each of those five seasons, and he stole between 26 and 34 bases. He was plagued by injuries most of his career, and was only able to play in 140 games in three or more seasons.
Let’s take a look at his numbers.
Runs Created 98
Batting Runs Above Replacement 52
Fielding Runs Above Replacement -1
Equivalent Average .305
Wins Above Replacement Player 5.6
Gibson was never known for his fielding, but he could hit. Ken Griffey had a nice season, but Gibby had a great one. Blade says this one was close, and it might have been if we were comparing Gibson to the 1976 Griffey, but we’re not.
Scorecare – 1975 Reds 5, 1984 Tigers 3
1984 World Series Game 5 – October 14, 1984
Tigers 8, Padres 4
Tigers Win Best of Seven Series 4-1
The score looks like a blowout, but what a game. The Tigers took the series in five, and beat the Padres to win the World Series at Tiger Stadium. In all, they went 4-0 in the playoffs in front of their home fans.
For the fourth straight game, the Tigers got to the Padres very early. Lou Whitaker led off the game with a single, and was forced out on a fielders choice by Alan Trammell. Kirk Gibson then hit the first of two big blasts to put the Tigers up 2-0. Lance Parrish then singled and stole second, was moved to third on a single by Larry Herndon, and was then driven in on a single by Chet Lemon. Starter Mark Thurmond was then pulled after only 1/3 of an inning in which he gave up five hits.
Reliever Andy Hawkins would get the Padres out of that jam. Larry Herndon was caught stealing third, and Barbero Garbey popped out to end the inning. Starter Dan Petry had a nice three run cushion to work with.
After giving up a single in each of the first two innings, Dan Petry gave up his first run in the third on an RBI single by Steve Garvey. In the fourth, he gave up a lead off walk to Kurt Bevacqua. Garry Templeton doubled to put men at second and third when Bobby Brown drove in Bevacqua on a sacrafice fly. Alan Wiggins singled to drive in Garry Templeton, and all of a sudden, we had a tie ball game. Sparky had seen enough, and went to Bill Scherrer in his pen, who got Tony Gwynn to fly out for the final out of the inning.
The Tigers would strike back in the bottom of the fifth. Kirk Gibson, who did it all in this game, singled and moved to second on a fly out by Lance Parrish. Larry Herndon and Chet Lemon walked to load the bases. Gibby then scored on a sac. fly (it was actually a pop out to second base) to put the Tigers up 4-3.
In the bottom of the seventh, the Tigers added a run on a solo homerun by Lance Parrish. With two innings left to play, the Tigers had a two run cushion that was short lived as the Padres put another run on the board with a solo shot by Kurt Bevacqua. The Tigers now had a razor thin one run margin, and they had one chance to put up some insurance runs for Willie Hernandez.
And insurance he got. In the bottom of the eighth, Marty Castillo walked, and Lou Whitaker bunted himself on. Alan Trammell moved them both over with a bunt of his own before one of the memorable at bats in Tiger’s history happened. Kirk Gibson came to the plate and hit a massive three run shot off of Goose Gossage to give the Tigers a comfortable four run lead. I didn’t realize it at the time, but this was shown often during rain outs, where Goose Gossage talked the pitching coach down from intentionally walking Gibby, claiming he would strike him out. Gibson would finish the game three for four, with three runs and five RBIs.
The Padres managed a single in the ninth, but never really threatened. Willie Hernandez earned the save, the Tigers won the World Series. They were World Champions.
1984 World Series Game 3 – October 12, 1984
Tigers 5, Padres 2
Tigers Lead Best of Seven Series 2-1
Milt Wilcox got the nod in game three after pitching an incredible game a week before in the ALCS. He started out this game on a decent note. He let a baserunner on in each of the first two innings, but neither crossed the plate.
In the bottom of the third, the Tigers once again gave their starter a nice cushion. Chet Lemon got a one out single, and moved over to second on a Tim Lollar wild pitch. Darrell Evans moved him over to third base on a deep fly, and then Marty Castillo came up big, and hit a two run shot to give the Tigers a 2-0 lead.
The home team wasn’t done though. Lou Whitaker drew a walk, and was driven in on an Alan Trammell double. A Kirk Gibson walk and a Lance Parrish infield single loaded the bases before Tim Lollar got yanked. Reliever Greg Booker then walked in Tram, and then finally stopped the bleeding by getting Barbero Garbey to fly out (he also led off the inning with a fly out).
After only two innings, the Tigers had a 4-0 lead, and they had knocked out the Padres starter. This was a trend throughout the series, and the four runs the Tigers scored actually stood. The Tigers added a run in the third when Kirk Gibson was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.
The Padres did manage to tag Milt Wilcox for a run in the third. He pitched six before handing the ball to Bill Scherrer who gave up a run in the seventh. Willie Hernandez then summarily ended any chance of the Padres coming back by throwing 2 1/3 innings of one hit ball.
With the win, the tide had once again turned in the Tiger’s favor. For the second straight game, they forced the Padres to work deep into their pen, and never really gave them a chance to come back with strong pitching.
1984 World Series Game 2
– October 10, 1984
Padres 5, Tigers 3
Best of Seven Series Tied 1-1
If there’s one thing the Tigers did well in this series, it was getting out to early leads and knocking out the starting pitcher. This game was no exception, as the Tigers got through Padres’ starter Ed Whitson in the first inning.
Lou Whitaker, Alan Trammell, and Kirk Gibson led of the game with consecutive singles to score a run. Gibson stole second to put runners at second and third when Lance Parrish knocked in Trammell with a sacrafice fly. Darrell Evans then drove in Gibby with a single, and the Tigers were out to comfortable 3-0 lead. Ed Whitson would get one more out before giving up another single to John Grubb, and would be summarily pulled.
The Padres wouldn’t strike again until the fourth inning. Like the first inning, starer Dan Petry let the lead off man, Kurt Bevacqua, get on with a single. He’d score on a groundout by Gary Templeton to cut the lead down to a razor thing margin of one run.
The Padres took a page out the Tigers book by coming up with some great pen work. Andy Hawkins went 5 1/3 innings and gave up only one hit. Craig Lefferts did the same over three innings as they both shutdown the Tigers for the final eight innings of the game.
The Tigers pen would be as good, going 3 2/3 and giving up only two hits. The four relievers kept the Tigers in the game, but they just couldn’t get the bats going.
So they left San Diego tied 1-1. If they had lost the first and won the second, I would have said I was happy, but I wasn’t. The Tigers let this one slip from their fingers and hopefully they’d be able to wrap the series up at home.
American League Championship Series Game 2October 3, 1984 Tigers 5, Royals 3 Tigers Lead Best of Five Series 2-0
While the first game was over pretty much after the first inning, this game showed why the Kansas City Royals walked away with the AL West division title.
Like Game 1, the Tigers went up quickly in the first to take a 2-0 lead. Lou Whitaker reached on an error, and moved over to second on a deep out to center by Alan Trammell. Mr. Clutch, Kirk Gibson drove in Lou with a double, and then was driven in himself on a double by Lance Parrish.
The Tigers extended their lead to 3-0 when Kirk Gibson hit a solo homerun in the top half of the third. Up 3-0, the Tigers looked to be comfortably in control, but the Royals were poised for a comeback.
It started in the bottom of the fourth off of starter Dan Petry. Pat Sheridan was driven in with a sac fly to cut the lead to 3-1. They added one more run in the seventh on an RBI single by pinch hitter Dane Iorg, then tied the game up off of Willie Hernandez in the eighth on a Hal McRae RBI double.
Neither team would score in the ninth or tenth innings, and it was finally in the eleventh when the Tigers sealed the game up. Lance Parrish led off with a single, and moved to second on an error committed while Darrell Evans was trying to move him over. Ruppert Jones forced out Lance Parrish at third to make it once again first and second with one out. Then John Grubb came up with the big hit, and drove in both baserunners with a two run double.
The Royals made an attempt in the bottom of the eleventh to come back by getting two men on, but Aurelio Lopez pitched out of the jam to earn the win.
And now the Tigers were heading home for two chances at home to take the series. Over in the NLCS, the Cubs had cruised to a similar 2-0 lead, and it appeared we’d have a rematch of the 1945 series.
September 23, 1984 Tigers 4, Yankees 1 (100-55)
It seemed fitting that both Jack Morris and Willie Hernandez would be key in the Tiger’s 100th victory. Morris pitched six shutout innings of two hit ball before handing the ball over to Bill Scherrer. After he pitched a perfect inning, Willie Hernandez finished the game off pitching the eighth and ninth. He gave up a run in the eighth, but he earned his 33rd and final save of the season.
And for the first time since 1968, the Tigers won 100 games. Nearly 40,000 fans made it out to see the Tigers get it done once again.
September 11, 1984 Tigers 9, Orioles 2 (93-52)
This game was scoreless through four before the Tigers exploded for five runs in the fifth. Larry Herndon had the big day, going three for three and driving in three runs. Gibson went three for five, and Darrell Evans went four for four and hit his sixteenth homer of the season.
Dan Petry went 6 2/3, giving up only five hits, two runs, and he struck out six. Doug Bair and Willie Hernandez finished the game up, and with the win, the Tigers now had cut their magic number down to seven.
September 10, 1984 Orioles 3, Tigers 1 (92-52)
A good outing by Juan Berenguer went to waste, as he pitched seven solid innings.
The Blue Jays matched the Tigers by losing, so the magic number was now eight. The Tigers could split half of their remaining eighteen games and it wouldn’t matter if the Jays won every one of theirs, it was that close to being over.
September 9, 1984 Tigers 7, Blue Jays 2 (92-51)
Another late inning surge pushed the Tigers past the Blue Jays. With the Tigers up 3-2, Kirk Gibson hit a three run homer in the top of the seventh to give the Tigers a nice cushion. Milt Wilcox gave the Tigers a solid six inning before letting the pen take over and close out the game.
What a weekend series. The Tiger’s were struggling before coming into Toronto, but they really came through when it counted. With a magic number of nine, they had a realistic chance of clinching the division by the following weekend.
September 7, 1984 Tigers 7, Blue Jays 4 (90-51)
Wow, what a game. Up 4-0, future Tiger Doyle Alexander was cruising along until the top half of the eighth inning. Dave Bergman doubled to lead things off before John Grubb ground out to short. Lou Whitaker drew a walk, and then Alan Trammell flew out to right. Then Mr. Clutch, Kirk Gibson, hit a three run shot to cut the lead to one.
Lance Parrish drew a walk before Alexander was relieved by Jimmy Key. Barbero Garbey singled, and then Larry Herdon walked to load the bases. Then Chet Lemon drew a bases loaded walk to tie the game up at four a piece.
Willie Hernandez then came in to slam the door shut. Neither team scored until the tenth when Dave Bergman hit a three run shot off of Blue Jays reliever Ron Musselman. Willie Hernandez walked one in the bottom half of the tenth, but that was all they could do against him as he earned his ninth win.
With the win, the Tiger’s magic number was now 13. They definitely controlled their own destiny, they just had to fulfill it.
August 30, 1984 Mariners 2, Tigers 1 (87-47)
Starters Jack Morris and Jim Beattie both took shutouts into the eighth inning before either scored. In the bottom of the eighth, the wheels came off the wagon for Morris though. Spike Owen led off with a walk. Then second basemen Jack Perconte laid down a bunt, and according to Retrosheet.org, Morris dove for the pop up, missed it, then three the ball into rightfield while sitting down. To make matters worse, Kirk Gibson then threw the ball into the Mariners dugout trying to throw Perconte out at third base. So the Mariners scored both of their runs without even getting a hit.
In all, Morris pitched a great game though. He went the distance, gave up only four hits, and struck out eight.
The Tigers tried to answer in the ninth. Barbaro Garbey drew a lead off walk before Chet Lemon grounded out. Larry Herndon then also drew a walk to put runners at first and second. Howard Johnson singled to load the bases, but Lou Whitaker struck out to leave it up to Alan Trammell. Tram came through by drawing a walk and driving in a run, but Kirk Gibson grounded to second to end the game.
August 26, 1984 Tigers 12, Angels 6 (86-45)
Kirk Gibson had a monster day, going three for four, scoring three, and driving in two on two solo homers. Marty Castillo went three for four as well, also scoring three times and hitting a solo shot himself. And Chet Lemon had the blow that set the stage for the win, as he hit a grand slam in top of third.
Milt Wilcox cruised to his fifteenth win, going six innings, striking out five, and giving up five hits. Doug Bair struggled, but by the time the Angels even scored the run, the Tigers had eleven. Aurelio Lopez closed the game getting the final four batters out in order.
August 18, 1984 Tigers 4, Mariners 3 (81-43)
This current winning streak was the beginning of the end of any chance the Blue Jays would have to catch up to the Detroit Tigers. With the win, the Tigers extended their lead to eleven games, with only a month and half left in the season.
Juan Berenguer had probably his best start of the season, throwing 8 1/3, giving up only three hits, two earned runs (three total), while striking out twelve. Two of the three runs came in the top of the ninth, but Willie Hernandez slammed the door shut by getting the last two batters out to earn his twenty sixth save.
The Tigers were held to only five hits, but one of those was a three run shot by Kirk Gibson. The homerun was the twentieth of the season, making this the first of five consecutive seasons that he’d hit twenty homers and steal twenty bases.
August 17, 1984 Tigers 6, Mariners 2 (80-43)
The last time the Tigers faced Seattle was the day after their heralded 35-5 start. The Mariners went on to hand the Tigers losses six, seven and eight in a three game sweep, and the Tigers got their revenge in this one.
By the end of the third, the Tigers were up 4-0, and that was really all they needed. Milt Wilcox pitched a nice game for his thirteenth win, going eight innings, and giving up one run on seven hits.
In Sparky’s book Bless You Boys, he mentions that this was the game where they broke the attendance record set in 1968. For only the second time, they pulled in 2,000,000 fans. They’d end up drawing 2,704,794, still a record. They’d draw 2 million three more times during the 1980s (1985, 1987 and 1988) and then wouldn’t draw as many until 1989, the final season at Tiger Stadium. Since then, only Comerica Park’s opening season has brought 2,000,000 fans to the ball park
August 15, 1984 Tigers 8, Angels 3 (78-43)
At this stage of the season, with Jack Morris’ struggles, Dan Petry had become the ace in that he seemed to come up with a win to put a stop to any kind of substantial losing streak. Dan pitched eight solid innings, giving up eight hits and three runs. The Angels had the lead once, going up 2-1 in the fourth, but the Tigers bounced back with two runs in the bottom half of the inning to take the lead for good. Willie Hernandez pitched a perfect ninth to finish the game off.
Tom Brookens had the big game, going three for three with two RBIs. Barbero Garbey went three for three, Dave Bergman drove in three runs, and Kirk Gibson scored three times. It was a solid all around performance by the team.
August 11, 1984 Tigers 9, Royals 5 (76-41)
It wasn’t his best outing of the year, but Jack Morris went one batter short from going the distance, as he gave up five runs on eleven hits. Aurelio Lopez struck out the final batter to earn his twelth save.
August 7, 2004 Red Sox 12, Tigers 7 (73-40)
Jack Morris got pounded again. Coming off the heels of the best start he’s had in a while, Jack gave up six hits, two walks and nine runs 1 1/3 innings, forcing Sparky to go to the pen early. Bruce Hurst was hardly stellar, but when you’re given a seven run lead after two innings, there’s not much you can do to lose the game.
August 7, 1984 Tigers 7, Red Sox 5 (74-40)
Milt Wilcox cruised through the first six innings, and then gave up four runs in the seventh to give the Red Sox a 5-4 lead. As a precursor to the 1986 World Series debacle, Dave Bergman scored in the ninth on an error by firstbasemen Bill Buckner that sent the game into extra innings.
August 4, 1984 Royals 9, Tigers 5 (72-36)
Glenn Abbott got hit hard once again, giving up eight hits and four runs in 5 1/3. Doug Bair and Sid Monge also got shelled, as the Royals scored nine for the second time in as many nights.
Kirk Gibson went three for five and Ruppert Jones had three RBIs. Neither starter got a decision, as Mark Gubicza, then a rookie, only went 4 1/3 for the Royals. He’d eventually go on to have a nice career with the team, eventually winning 20 games in 1988.
Playing one doubleheader can give a manager headaches. In fact teams no longer are scheduled double headers like they were in the past. But due to some rainouts, the Tigers were forced to play not one, not two, but three consecutive double headers. The Tigers would survive, but their lead over the Blue Jays would once again drop into single digits.
July 31, 1984 Tigers 5, Indians 1 (71-32)
Juan Berenguer set the stage with 6 1/3 innings of four hit ball. Doug Bair finished the game with 2 2/3 perfect innings. Once again, a fine showing by the bullpen, and this time, it wasn’t even the usual Lopez/Hernandez tandem.
The Tigers scored all five of their runs in the second inning. Ruppert Jones hit a solo homer, Doug Baker had a three run triple, and Lou Whitaker drove in one on a sacrafice fly. Kirk Gibson added two hits.
July 31, 1984 Indians 6, Tigers 4 (71-33)
Dave Rozema got shelled and left the game in the third inning. Despite an amazing pitching performance by Aurilio Lopez, the Tigers couldn’t come back in this one.
You don’t see this anymore. Ever. Aurilio Lopez, basically the Tigers set up man, started pitching in the third, and finished the game. 6 2/3 innings of shutout relief. He gave up four hits, one walk, and stuck out five. Having Bair, Lopez and Hernandez gave Sparky a ton of flexibility, knowing he had three quality arms in the pen.
July 28, 1984 Red Sox 3, Tigers 2 (69-32)
The 70th win of the season keeps on eluding Detroit, as Jack Morris pitched his best game in a while, but still came away with the loss. Jack threw seven innings, giving up eight hits and three runs while striking out seven. But three Boston pitchers held the Tigers to two runs, while striking out ten.
Lou Whitaker, Chet Lemon, and Kirk Gibson all had two hits. Lou hit his sixth homer of the year.
July 24, 1984 Tigers 9, Indians 5 (68-29)
Milt Wilcox threw a nice game to win his tenth of the season, going 6 2/3, giving up six hits, one walk and four runs (none of them earned). He left the game to Willie Hernandez with nice lead, and he finished things off.
Lou Whitaker went three for five with three runs, and Kirk Gibson, Larry Herndon, and Lance Parrish all had two RBIs. Whitaker, Gibby and Dave Bergman all homered in the game. Doug Baker, Alan Trammell’s fill in while he was on the 15 day DL, went four for five hitting in the nine spot.
At this point in the season, the Tigers had moved into what was basically an insurmountable position. They held an 11 1/2 game lead over the Blue Jays, who had hit a rough patch. At this point, things were little more then formality as they had two more months until the playoffs started.
July 23, 1984 Tiger 4, Indians 1 (67-29)
The Indians gave Jack Morris a rough time, walking five times and getting five hits in six innings. But, most importantly, he stopped everyone from crossing the plate. The Indians didn’t score until the bottom of the ninth on a solo homerun by Andre Thornton off of Doug Bair.
Kirk Gibson hit his fifteenth homer and drove in two runs, and Lance Parrish hit his twentieth homerun to lead the Tigers offense.
July 19. 1984 Tigers 9, Rangers 2 (63-29)
A three run second inning put the Tigers up for good as they racked up nine runs on thirteen hits, chasing starter, and future four time 20 game winner Dave Stewart out in the fifth inning.
Lou Whitaker went three for five, Ruppert Jones went four for four, and Lance Parrish and Kirk Gibson had homeruns.
Milt Wilcox threw a nice game,, going 7 1/3 and giving up only two runs. The usual suspects, Willie Hernandez and Aurilio Lopez finished the game out.
July 17, 1984 Tigers 3, White Sox 2 (62-28)
The Tigers scored three quick runs in the first inning on a sacrafice fly by Kirk Gibson and two run shot by Darrell Evans. Eight innings later, they were still sitting on three runs, but it was just enough to walk away with a win.
Dan Petry pitched another fine game. He went 7 2/3, gave up five hits and one walk, while striking out five to improve to 12-4. Willie Herndandez then finished things up by throwing 1 1/3 perfect innings to earn his seventeenth save.
July 16, 1984 Tigers 7, White Sox 1 (61-28)
Glenn Abbott pitched his best game of the season, throwing a five hit, one run complete game. Glenn Abbott was used as fourth/fifth starter in certain situations, racking up eight starts over thirteen games. After a rough stretch, the Tigers ended up releasing him on August 14, 1984, ending his major league career.
Kirk Gibson was the hitting star, driving in three runs and scoring three on a homerun and a triple. Chet Lemon had two hits, and Lou Whitaker and Ruppert Jones also drove in runs.
July 13, 1984 Tigers 5, Twins 3 (58-28)
Jack Morris and the usual suspects in the pen, Aurilio Lopez and Willie Hernandez, kept the Tigers in this one just long enough for the bats to get going and win the game for them.
Jack Morris pitched one of his better games in a while, going 7 1/3, walking none, and giving up only eight hits and three runs (one earned, two unearned).
The game was saved by Kirk Gibson, who threw Tim Teufel out at the plate with two outs in the bottom of the ninth (Thanks again to Sparky’s Bless You Boys, this doesn’t show up in the boxscores). Then in the top half of the eleventh, Lou Whitaker hit a two run in the park homerun to put the Tigers up for good. Willie Hernandez improved to 5-0, and Aurilio Lopez earned his tenth save.
July 5, 1984 Tigers 7, Rangers 4 (56-25)
It’s nice to see the Tigers pulled things together on my birthday. I wished I would have remember this one, because it was an impressive comeback.
Down 4-1 in the ninth, the Tigers scored six runs on five hits to pull it out. What was even more impressive was that they scored all six runs with two outs. Lou Whitaker had a two run single. Then Alan Trammell got a one run single. The big blow was by the Tiger’s Mr. Clutch, Kirk Gibson. He finished off the Rangers with a three run shot. Knuckleballer Charlie Hough took the loss and went the distance.
Dan Petry was hit hard, but the pen once again shut the opposing team down to allow the Tigers a chance to come back. Doug Bair pitched 1 1/3 innings of no hit ball. Aurilio Lopez threw 1 2/3 innings of one hit ball to improve to 7-0. And Willie Hernandez got the final out of the game to earn his 15th save.
56-25 at the half way point. They were on pace to win 112. They didn’t quite make that, but a solid first half. If the Yankees were to win their next five, they’d still only be 55-26 at the break.
July 3, 1984 White Sox 9, Tigers 5 (55-24)
This one was pretty ugly. Jack Morris gave up eight runs on nine hits over 4 1/3 innings after the Tigers scored three runs in the first on a three run homer by Lance Parrish.
Hall of Famer Tom Seaver got the win for the White Sox. Near the end of a great career, Tom Seaver went 15-11 in 1984, and won 16 games the following year. In 1986, he pitched for the AL pennant winning Red Sox, but missed the post season, I think because of injury.
For those of you who have never picked up and at least flipped through Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract, you’re definitely missing something. Pound for pound, there’s more baseball information in this book then any you’ll find. In it, Bill James lists Tom Seaver as the sixth best pitcher, but like Roger Clemens, mentions that you could put him into the number one spot because of the era he played in.
But the numbers he put up are astounding. 311-205, a career 2.86 ERA, a career 127 Adjusted ERA+. and a almost 3/1 strikeout to walk ratio. Tom finished in the top 10 in the Cy Young voting 10 times, and walked away with three awards. In 1971, he had an Adjusted ERA+ of 193. And his 61 shutouts puts him at seventh all time.
And he’d get the best of the Tigers on this day back in 1984. Ruppert Jones and Howard Johnson also had homeruns, and Kirk Gibson went two for three.
June 29, 1984 Twins 5, Tigers 3 (53-21)
Jack Morris got hit hard, giving up 10 hits in 5 2/3 innings. Doug Bair pitched 3 1/3 strong innings of two hit ball to allow the Tigers a chance to come back, but it was too much to overcome as they hit the ball (11 hits), but couldn’t get men across the plate.
Lou Whitaker went three for five, and Lance Parrish had a two run double.
June 29, 1984 Tigers 7, Twins 5 (54-21)
Another win for the bullpen. It’s amazing how game in and game out, the pen allowed this team to get back into games.
Milt Wilcox gave up five runs through five innings, allowing the Twins to take a one run lead. But the usual combo of Aurilio Lopez and Willie Hernandez slammed the door shut tight to let the Tigers come back and win this one. Lopez went 2 1/3, and Hernandez went 1 2/3 to improve to 4-0.
Kirk Gibson had a big day, hitting two homers and driving in four runs. Ruppert Jones and Chet Lemon hit solo shots.
June 23, 1984 Tigers 5, Brewers 1 (51-18)
The Tigers got off to a quick start, scoring all five of their runs by the end of the third inning. Kirk Gibson hit his ninth homerun, and Howard Johnson hit his sixth (another three run shot).
Milt Wilcox pitched a gem, going eight innings and giving up only four hits. The Brewers didn’t score off of him until the eighth inning when Jim Gantner drove in Ed Romero on a sacrafice fly. Doug Bair pitched a perfect ninth to complete the combined four hitter.
At this point, the Tigers were still on pace to win close to 120 games. They’d hit a rough stretch in the middle of the season, but they were still drawing 40,000+ to a lot of their games, and the fans were definitely excited.
June 22, 1984 Tigers 7, Brewers 3 (50-18)
Well, it wasn’t exactly a “full” house, but close to 49,000 fans showed up to see the Tigers win their 50th game of the season. A strong six innings by Dave Rozema, who improved to 4-0, got the Tigers off to a nice start, and Willie Hernandez struck out five in 2 1/3 innings of one hit ball to earn his thirteenth save of the season.
Kirk Gibson and Larry Herndon drove in two, and Tom Brookens went two for two.
June 18, 1984 Yankees 2, Tigers 1 (47-17)
The knuckleball specialist, and eventual 300 game winner, shut down the Tigers to break their three game winning streak. On a sub-.500 team (I know this is hard to believe, but the Yankees had a mediocre stretch in the mid to late 1980s), Phil Niekro improved to 10-3 by throwing 8 2/3 innings of three hit ball. The only Tiger who crossed the plate was Kirk Gibson (who actually got two of the three hits), who hit a first inning solo shot.
Phil Niekro had an impressive career. From 1977 through 1979, he threw no less then 330 innings in each season, something that would be unheard of in this day. He also led the league in hits allowed and runs given up as well. The Hall of Fame pitcher never won a Cy Young, but finished in the top six on six different occasions. In 1967, he led the league with a 1.87 ERA by throwing 207 innings in 46 games (20 starts, 26 relief appearances). He’s 14th all time in wins (has Clemens passed him yet?) with 318, fourth in games started at 716, and fourth all time in innings pitched with 5,404 1/3. The three guys ahead of him in innings pitched all threw before 1927.
And today, he got the best of the Tigers. Milt Wilcox threw seven quality innings of seven hit ball, but it wasn’t enough. 40,000+ fans came out to see the Tigers on a Monday night.
This double header seemed liked a big win at the time, but it basically marked the point where the Tigers continued to widen the distance between themselves and Toronto. They’d come in with a 5 1/2 game lead, and left with a seven game lead. Toronto would pull a little closer in the next week, and pull to within six games in early July, but the 35-5 start gave the Tigers too strong of a base to start with.
June 10, 1984 Tigers 10, Orioles 4 Game 1 (42-14)
Another tough start by Glenn Abbott. He didn’t make it through the third, giving up seven hits and three runs through 2 2/3. At the end of the third, the game would be tied, but then the Tiger’s bats took over.
Lou Whitaker, Alan Trammell, and Kirk Gibson, the Tigers 1-2-3 hitters, were a combined 8 for 13. Lou Whitaker went three for four and scored five runs. Tram went two for four with a double and triple, had four RBIs, and scored twice. Kirk Gibson went three for five and chalked up four RBIs. Four Orioles errors led to five unearned runs.
Doug Bair went 3 1/3 of one hit ball to pick up his third win, and Willie Hernandez went three innings to chalk up his ninth save.
June 10, 1984 Tigers 8, Orioles 0 Game 2 (43-14)
This was a blow out, plain and simple. Dan Petry bounced back to throw a three hitter. Alan Trammell, Kirk Gibson, and Howard Johnson all had three hits, and Hojo hit his fourth homer of the year.
Nearly 52,000 fans showed up for the doubleheader.
June 5, 1984 Blue Jays 8, Tigers 4 (39-12)
A six run fourth inning and four total homeruns by the Blue Jays did the Tigers in. Starter Glenn Abbott couldn’t make it through four innings, and the ever reliable Doug Bair was hit hard as well.
Detroit managed eight hits and eight walks, but only four men crossed the plate. Brookens (double) and Herndon (triple) had the only extra base hits, and Kirk Gibson went two for four.
May 30, 1984 Tigers 2, A’s 1 (37-9)
Big players come up in big ways, and two big players came up big in this one.
To set the stage, Juan Berenguer was cruising along. Two hits through four innings. Then the wheels came off the wagon. An error and three walks led Oakland to the go ahead run in the fifth. Then with the bases loaded, Captain hook was true to form and brought in his horse from the pen, Willie Hernandez. With two outs and an inherited bases loaded, got Mike Davis to ground out to end the inning and stop the damage.
The Tigers would answer immediately in the sixth inning. Barbero Garbey tripled to lead off the inning. And then with one out and Garbey at third, future Tigers Tony Phillips made an error that allowed Garbey to score and tie up the game.
Hernandez would shutdown the A’s through the eighth, and in the top half of the ninth, with one out, Kirk Gibson, known for his clutch hits, jacked a solo shot to give the Tigers the lead for good. Aurilio Lopez finished the game to earn his seventh save.
May 26, 1984 Mariners 9, Tigers 5 (35-7)
This one was over early. Starter Juan Berenguer, who would suffer from inconsistency throughout the season, could only manage to get one out before getting pulled. In all he gave up four runs. Three of the four Tigers relievers gave up runs in what could only be termed as a blowout.
The Tigers fought back with three in the top half of the ninth, but they couldn’t manage to pull off the nearly impossible. Kirk Gibson hit his sixth homerun, and Rusty Kuntz hit his second.
This had to be one of the oddest series of the year. After coming off of the high of the 35-5 start, the Tigers would get swept in Seattle (as we’ll see the finale tomorrow). And in all three games, they beat them pretty handily. Seattle had gotten off to a fair start (20-24 at the beginning), but they were still a sub-.500 team.
Attendace was also unusual for this weekend series. The Friday and Sunday games drew 15,000 and 12,000, but the Saturday game drew 41,000. Maybe they were giving something away in Seattle for that Saturday game.
May 19, 1984 Tigers 5, Oakland 4 (31-5)
This is a game that almost got away. Detroit got off to a comfortable 5-1 lead, and almost let things slip through their fingers. Aurelio Lopez gave up a solo shot to Dwayne Murphy in the ninth to cut the lead to one, but held on the rest of the way to earn his fifth save. Jack Morris had a rough outing, walking six and giving up eight hits in 7 1/3, but he got through some jams to earn his eighth victory.
Lou Whitaker and Darrell Evans drove in two runs a piece (one of Lou’s came off of a solo shot), and Kirk Gibson scored twice. Alan Trammell stole his 12th base, which at that point was one more steal then what Rickey Henderson, the eventual league leader, had stolen. The Tigers scored all five of their runs in five seperate innings.
May 18, 1984 Tigers 8, A’s 4 (30-5)
This game would hardly got past the fifth inning, but it had the makings of high scoring one. The Detroit Tigers scored five in the first, and in total, scored in four of the five innings they batted in. Lance Parrish and Kirk Gibson both drove in two runs, and Barbero Garbey and Darrell Evans hit homeruns.
Dan Petry went the distance to garner his sixth win. He’d struggle, giving up seven hit and four runs. But the bats were there for him. Another 40,000+ crowd came out to see the hometeam win their 30th of the season.
May 15, 1984 Tigers 6, Mariners 4 (28-5)
When your starter walks five, and your team makes three errors, you don’t usually expect to win. The Tigers almost blew a 6-1 lead in this one, but held on with some good relief pitching by Willie Hernandez.
Jack Morris notched his seventh win, but he walked five and gave up four runs. Willie Hernadez came into the game in the eighth, and was awesome. He struck out five of the six batters he faced, and earned his fifth save.
The Tigers bats showed some patience as they scored six runs on only five hits. They walked twelve times. Kirk Gibson drove in two without getting a hit (two sac. flies) and Howard Johnson had a two run single.
May 3, 1984 Red Sox 1, Tigers 0 (19-4)
A few firsts in this one. This was the first time the Tigers were shut out. It was also their first two game losing streak. And finally, it was Jack Morris’ first loss, despite throwing a heck of game.
His only real blemish was an eighth inning solo homer to Dwight Evans, but that would be all the Sox would need. For the second game in a row, the Tigers out hit the other team, but walked away with a loss.
The Tigers threatened in the ninth, so once again, they didn’t go down without a fight. Lance Parrish singled with one out and Larry Herndon walked. But Chet Lemon flew out, and Kirk Gibson struck out to end the game.
May 2, 1984 Red Sox 5, Tiger 4 (19-3)
Ten stranded baserunners cost the Tigers in this one, as they dropped a nail biter to the Red Sox. Boston got off to a quick start with Dwight Evans two run shot off of Juan Berenguer. In the third, Jim Rice would hit another two run shot, to put the Red Sox in the lead 4-0. The Tigers tried to make a last ditch effort in the ninth, when they cut the score to 5-4, but Kirk Gibson (who went 4 for 5) was stranded at third when Darrell Evans grounded out, and John Grubb struck out to end the game. No magic on this day.
In all, the Detroit Tigers outhit the Red Sox in this on 13-8. But in the end, the Tigers walked away with their third loss of the season.
April 29, 1984 Tigers 6, Indians 1 (18-2)
Dan Petry had a no-hitter broken up in the eighth inning and Kirk Gibson drove in three runs to lead the Tigers to their eighteenth victory of the season. When it was all over, Dan Petry went eight inning, giving up only the one hit, two walks, and he struck out seven. Kirk Gibson went 3 for 4, and drove in a run with each hit.
Alan Trammell was put into the game in the seventh inning and doubled in his only at bat. The base hit extended his hitting streak to seventeen games. The last game he didn’t get a hit was the 3rd game of the season.
And with April 30th being an exhibition game, the Tigers finished the month of April 18-2, a franchise record for the best April by a Tiger’s team.
April 24, 1984 – Game 1 – Tigers 6, Twins 5 (13-1)
Jack Morris had his worst outing of the season so far, but managed to walk away with his fourth straight victory. He went the distance, giving up five runs on seven hits and five walks. But as was typical of this magical season, it was just enough as the Tigers won in dramatic fashion.
The Tigers entered the bottom of the ninth down 5-3. Kirk Gibson led off the inning with a triple. John Grubb then reached base on a fielder’s choice (and would leave the game as Rusty Kuntz would run for him). Dave Bergman then drove in Gibson with an RBI single, cutting the lead to one rune.
Then, the wheels really came off the wagon as relief pitcher Ron Davis would put one in the dirt, allowing the tying run to score on a wild pitch, and moving Bergman over to second. Howard Johnson grounded out to third, and with one out, Chet Lemon was given the intentional pass. Lance Parrish then lined out to second base.
So with two outs, and runners on first and second, Lou Whitaker singled, and drove in Bergman to win the game. Tigers Win 6-5!!!
April 24, 1984 – Game 2 – Tigers 4, Twins 3 (13-1)
Lance Parrish hit a three run homer in the fifth inning, and Aurelio Lopez shut the Twins down in the final three innings in the back end of the double header. Starter Dan Petry was forced to leave the game with a sore shoulder in the third.
Glenn Abbott took over in the fourth and gave up two runs in the top half of the sixth, but Parrish answered in the next inning with his three run shot.
Aurelio Lopez got the three inning save, as he pitched three shutout innings, giving up only one hit and two walks, while striking out three.
April 22, 1984 Tigers 9, White Sox 1 (12-1)
A Kirk Gibson first inning two run homerun was all the Tigers would end up needing in this, but they got a lot more. In total, the Tigers would score nine runs on eighteen hits. Five different Tigers had multi-hit games, including a 4 for 4 outing by Chet Lemon. Six different Tigers would score, and five different Tigers would drive in a runs. A good all around team effort.
Juan Berenguer was exceptional in his first start of the season. He pitched seven shutout innings, struck out seven, and only gave up two hits and a walk. He had a no-hitter going into the fifth, but gave up a single to Kalamazoo native Mike Squires. Mike would also make his pitching debut, and finale in this one, getting the final out in the eighth inning.
April 19, 1984 Royals 5, Tigers 2 (9-1)
Despite what everyone in Detroit thought at the time, the Tigers couldn’t win them all, and they finally dropped their first game of the season to the Royals. A great pitching performance by rookie pitcher Bret Saberhagen, who earned his first career victory, was basically all the Royals needed as the Tigers could only manage seven hits and two runs.
The Tigers actually managed to get the lead early, as Lance Parrish drove in Lou Whitaker in the first inning. The Royals would get two in the third, one in the sixth, and then two insurance runs in the eigth to pretty much seal the game up. Kirk Gibson would hit a solo shot in the ninth, but it was too little, too late, as the Tigers finally put a notch in their loss column.
April 3, 1984 – Detroit 8, Twins 1 (1-0)
Jack Morris was about as impressive as a pitcher could be in an opening day appearance, pitching seven innings, while giving up only one run on five hits. All while striking out eight. The Tigers drew first blood in the third with a one run double by Howard Johnson, and a one run single by Tram. After scoring these two runs, the Tigers would never look back, as the only dent the Twins would be able to make was in the second half of the inning, when Twins put one on the board.
And what would become an trend all season, Aurelio Lopez pitched a perfect eighth, and Willie (Guillermo) Hernandez pitched a perfect ninth. It wouldn’t always be those same innings, but those two guys were the anchor of a great pen, and you’ll be seeing their names pop up quite often.
April 4, 1984 – Day Off (1-0)
April 5, 1984 – Tigers 7, Twins 3 (2-0)
Dan Petry gave up the lead early in this one (two runs in the second), but the Tigers bounced back by scoring one in the third and three in the fourth. Petry calmed, and ended up going seven. Willie Hernandez then did the job by pitching perfect eight and nine innings. Alan Trammell and Kirk Gibson led the way on offense. Both hit homeruns (Gibby’s was a three run shot to put the Tigers up for good in the fourth), and Tram went three for four.
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