Paying Tribute to the Greatest Tiger Team of My Generation
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Lou Whitaker was always my favorite Tiger growing up. I think it was the way everyone chanted “Lou” at the games. Little did I know that this was common practice for any player with the first name Lou. Lou Piniella apparantly got the chant, as does Lou Merloni (at least he did when he played for the Red Sox).
Whitaker is listed as the thirteenth best second basemen of all time by Bill James in his Historical Baseball Abstract. He was a great hitter with two strikes on him, and ended his career with more walks then strikeouts. He followed up what was probably his best season in 1983 with a solid campaign in 1984. He won the gold glove despite what the numbers show over at Baseball Prospectus, and played in the All Star Game in 1984.
Let’s take a look at the numbers:
Home Runs 13
Runs Created 81
Batting Runs Above Replacement 30
Fielding Runs Above Replacement 19
Equalized Average .276
Wins Above Replacement Player 5.4
A fine season, but compared to the MVP of the league, and according to Bill James, the 15th best player of all time at any position, he just doesn’t quite stack up.
Scorecare 1975 Reds 3, 1984 Tigers 0
You can read Blade’s analysis of Joe Morgan at Red’s Cutting Edge.
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 4 – October 13, 1984
Tigers 4, Padres 2
Tigers Lead Best of Seven Series 3-1
Jack Morris had a an incredible first half in 1984. He had an equally poor second half as he got roughed up start after start. But once the playoffs started, Morris was rock solid, and definitely could be mentioned as a potential MVP candidate. This game was basically the Alan Trammell and Jack Morris show.
In the third, it was deja vu, as Lou Whitaker singled with one out, and then Alan Trammell hit a two run shot, his second homer of the game, to give the Tigers a 4-1 lead. They’d threaten more in the inning, getting two more baserunners on, before starter Eric Show got the hook.
As good as Trammell was with the bat, Jack Morris was as good on the mound. Jack went the distance, giving up only five hits and two runs (one of which didn’t come until the ninth). He struck out four, and carried the Tigers to within a game of winning the championship.
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.
1984 World Series – Game OneOctober 9, 1984 Tigers 3, Padres 2 Tigers Lead Best of Seven Series 1-0
For the third time in four playoff games, the Tigers put a run on the board in the first inning. Lou Whitaker led off with a single, and Alan Trammell drove him in with a double. It’s always nice to have a lead before the other team even gets to swing their bats.
Unfortunately, the lead was short lived. Terry Kennedy drove in two runs with a double in the bottom half of the first off of starter Jack Morris. For the first time in the playoffs, the Tigers were down.
The next three innings saw each team getting only hit a piece. What looked like a game that could turn into a shoot out had settled down. Jack Morris had calmed down, and Padres starter Mark Thurmond was equally effective.
Then the Tigers pounced. In the top of the fifth, Larry Herndon came up big and hit a two out, two run homer to give the Tigers the lead for good.
Jack Morris went the distance, giving up only five hits after getting roughed up in the first inning. The Padres threatened in the sixth by getting their first two men on base with singles, but Morris summarily shutdown the rally by striking out the next three batters.
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.
American League Championship Series Game 1October 2, 1984 Tigers 8, Royals 1 (Tigers Lead Best of Five Series 1-0)
Big players produce during big moments, and two of the Tiger’s bread winners, Jack Morris and Alan Trammell, came up huge in game one to give the Detroit Tigers a 1-0 lead in their quest for a world championship.
The Tigers started things off early. Lou Whitaker led off the inning with a single, and was summarily driven in by Alan Trammell on his triple. A sacrafice fly by Lance Parrish put the Tigers up 2-0 without the Royals even touching their bats.
The Tigers added a run in fourth on a Larry Herndon homerun, and another run in the fifth as Alan Trammell struck again, hitting a homerun of his own. Tram wasn’t done, because in the seventh, he drove in Lou Whitaker on a single, his third hit of the game.
In the meantime, Jack Morris looked like his April self. He cruised through the first six innings, and it wasn’t until the seventh inning when the Royals finally tagged him for a run. He’d go seven innings, giving up only five hits, the one run, and he struck out four.
One run singles by Barbero Garbey and Darrell Evans in the eighth put the Tigers up 7-1, and Willie Hernandez closed out the game by pitching two perfect innings. The Tigers would add one more run in the top of the ninth on a Lance Parrish homerun, but this game was over with after the Tigers batted in the first inning.
It was an all around dominating performance by the Tigers. Good pitching and good hitting. Can’t ask for more then that, especially in a five game series where anything can happen.
September 28, 1984 Tigers 4, Yankees 2 (103-57)
The Detroit Tigers tied the team record with their 103rd win of the season. Dan Petry pitched six solid innings before giving way to the pen with the game tied 1-1. The Tigers took the lead back in the seventh on an RBI single by Lance Parrish, but in the bottom of the eighth, the Yankees tied it back up on a sacrafice fly by Bobby Meacham.
Doug Bair did the job in this game by pitching four shutout innings, giving up no hits and only two walks. It allowed the Tigers to finally tag reliever Joe Cowley for two runs in the twelth inning on a two run shot by Lou Whitaker to win the game.
The Tigers ended the game with sixteen hits, but only four runs crossed the plate. They left seventeen men on base through out the game. The Tigers had two more chances to set the franchise win record and it was too bad they had to do all this on the road.
September 24, 1984 Tigers 7, Brewers 3 (101-55)
Juan Berenguer joined fellow Detroit Tigers Jack Morris, Milt Wilcox, Dan Petry, and Aurelio Lopez as pitchers who achieved ten or more wins. He pitched five solid innings, giving up only five hits and one run, before yielding to the pen.
September 22, 1984 Tigers 6, Yankees 0 (99-55)
Other then Jack Morris’ no-hitter, Dan Petry had probably the next five best pitching performances for the 1984 Tigers. And he saved some of his best stuff for last, as he went the distance, gave up only four hits, and struck out nine. He won his eighteenth of the season it what would be his final start of the regular season.
September 17, 1984 Tigers 7, Brewers 3 (96-54)
The Tigers would have to wait one more day to celebrate, as they easily handled the Brewers, but the Blue Jays beat the Red Sox. As it stood, the Tiger’s magic number was now down to one.
Roger Mason pitched six quality innings. The rookie gave up six hits and two runs, striking out four.
September 14, 1984 Blue Jays 7, Tigers 2 (93-54)
At this point in the season, the Blue Jays pretty much needed to sweep the Tigers in their final head to head series, and they got off to a good start behind a nice outing by starter Jim Clancy. He held the Tigers to four hits through five innings, and the Jays capitalized on more Jack Morris struggles, as he got hit for five runs in six innings.
Lou Whitaker was the only real offensive star. He went two for four, scored a run, and drove in the other Tiger run.
With the loss, the Tiger’s magic number was stuck at six. So regardless of what happened the rest of the weekend, the Tigers couldn’t finish off the division this week against their arch rivals.
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.
September 1, 1984 A’s 7, Tigers 5 (87-49)
This one was over pretty quickly, as Juan Berenguer couldn’t escape the first inning. By the end of the first, he’d be gone, and the Tigers would be down 6-0. Doug Bair and Bill Scherrer pitched 7 1/3 great innings of relief, holding Oakland to one run the rest of the way, but the deficit was just too much to overcome.
Lou Whitaker and Rusty Kuntz both drove in two runs, and Barbaro Garbey scored twice. but Chuck Rainey did his best Willie Hernandez impersonation, and held the Tigers scoreless in 3 1/3 innings of relief.
Toronto won, so the lead now stood at 8 1/2 games. A nice cushion, but I’m sure after losing four straight, Sparky and the boys hardly felt secure.
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 25, 1984 Tigers 5, Angels 1 (84-45)
It’s definitely nice seeing Jack Morris put together back to back quality outings. In his seventeenth win of the season, Morris went eight innings, gave up nine hits and one run, while striking out four. Willie Hernandez came in to pitch a perfect ninth to finish off the game.
August 14, 1984 Angels 6, Tigers 4 (77-42)
The Tigers lost the first of two in a back and forth affair. The Angels took the lead on three different occassions, only to see the Tigers tie it up, until the top of the ninth when the Angels finally took the lead for good. A Doug DeCinces two run single off of Willie Hernandez was the winning blow, as Willie lost his second game of the season.
Juan Berenguer pitched a solid game, but for one of the few times this season, the Aurelio Lopez/Willie Hernandez combo didn’t come through. Lopez gave up a run in his sole inning, and Willie gave up his two after pitching two innings.
August 14, 1984 Angels 12, Tigers 1 (77-43)
The twelve runs by California matched the Tigers season worst for runs given up in a game. On two other occasions, Tiger’s pitching gave up twelve.
And there were no notables on offense. The Tigers spread out seven singles, and Darrell Evans drove in the only run. With the two losses, the Tiger’s lead over Toronto had dwindled to 7 1/2 games. What looked like a runaway race was tightening up quick.
August 3, 1984 Royals 9, Tigers 6 (72-35)
Milt Wilcox was cruising along until the Royals hit him hard in the fourth. By the end of the inning, Wilcox would be sitting, and Aurilio Lopez would be in the game. Lopez threw another six innings of relief, but it still wasn’t enough.
Lou Whitaker went four for five, and Alan Trammell and Tom Brookens hit homeruns.
August 2, 1984 Tigers 2, Indians 1 (72-34)
Jack Morris bounced back nicely after a bad stretch of outings by throwing eight solid innings. He gave up seven hits, walked none, and struck out one. The only damage against him was a solo shot by Andre Thornton.
Bert Blyleven threw a nice game as well, but a two run shot in the fifth by Lou Whitaker would end up being all the Tigers needed.
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 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 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 15, 1984 Tigers 6, Twins 2 (60-28)
Dave Rozema pitched six strong innings and Aurilio Lopez pitched 3 2/3 innings of one hit ball to earn his eleventh save of the season. The two pitchers each had five strikeouts.
Dave Rozema had some nice years for the Tigers, but never reached his full potential. In 1977, he was the Tigers Rookie of the Year after going 15-7 with a 3.09 ERA. The fact that he struck out only 92 batters in 218 1/3 innings sort of gave everyone a reflection that this first season might have been an anamoly. He finished eighth in the Cy Young voting that year, but he’d never reach double digits in wins again.
By 1984, Dave was near the end of his career. He did have a fine season, as all the Tigers seemed to do that year, playing the role of spot starter and long reliever for the Tigers. He pitched 101 innings, and racked up an impressive ERA of 3.74.
Lou Whitaker went four for five, and Darrell Evans hit had three RBIs and a homerun. Lemon, Bergman, and Howard Johnson all had two hits.
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 1, 1984 Twins 9, Tigers 0 (55-22)
A very tough day for the home team, as the Tigers got beat in just about any way that you can imagine. Frank Viola pitched a four hit shutout, and Juan Berenguer got roughed up in his five innings of work.
Probably the oddest thing about this game was backup outfielder Rusty Kuntz, who ended his career in 1985 with a career .236 batting average in 441 career at-bats, was in the leadoff spot, probably giving Lou Whitaker a night off against the lefty Viola.
The Tigers had three different four game losing streaks during the 1984 campaign, and this was the beginning of the first one.
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 12, 1984 Blue Jays 12, Tigers 3 (44-15)
Jack Morris got shelled, plain and simple, and the pen followed suit with some equally bad pitching. This would be the most runs the Tigers would give up in a game all season (the twelve runs would eventually be matched in August, but not surpassed).
Three innings, eight hits, and six runs was the final line for Morris. By far his worst outing of the season. Sid Monge, who was picked up the day before, pitched four innings and gave up three runs. Even the reliable Aurilio Lopez gave up three runs in an eighth inning that didn’t mean too much.
Tiger’s hitting stars included Lou Whitaker, who went three for four with two RBIs. John Grubb went two for four, and Howard Johnson went two for three and scored twice. Chet Lemon was the only other player to get a hit.
June 11, 1984 Tigers 5, Blue Jays 4 (44-14)
With the score tied at three a piece, Lou Whitaker hit a two run shot in the fourth inning to put the Tigers up by two. Seemed like a modest lead, but it turned out to be the difference, but not without some nail biting by Tiger fans.
With two outs in the bottom of seventh, Willie Hernandez came in with that two run lead and a runner on third. Willie allowed the inherited runner to score and pull the Jays to within one run, but he got the final seven Blue Jays out (three by strikeout) to earn his tenth save of the year.
With the win, the Tigers extended their lead to a season high eight games
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 6, 1984 Blue Jays 6, Tigers 3 (39-13)
The Tigers losing ways went on, as they had now dropped 8 of 12 since their fantastic start. Dan Petry got shelled, giving up 10 hits in four innings, and the Jays had five runs on the board before the Tigers got one across the plate.
Aurilio Lopez pitched four strong innings of relief to keep the Tigers in it, but like yesterday, they couldn’t get it done with men on base as they left 10 men stranded throughout the game. Venezuelan native Luis Leal improved to 6-0 for the Jays, which was impressive for a man with 58 career wins.
Lou Whitaker went three for four, and Howard Johnson went two for three.
At this stage of the season, the Tigers lead now stood at 3 1/2 games. They had basically blown their lead. We all know how this story ends, but at this point, there was some geniune concern. Fortunately for the Tigers, they’d go on a run, and this would be the closest the Jays would ever get.
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 12, 1984 Angels 4, Tigers 2 (26-5)
It took a 250 game winner to do it, but the Detroit Tigers finally lost their fifth game of the season. Tommy John went the distance, giving up only eight hits and two runs. Lemon and Whitaker both had two hits, but only once did the Tigers garner more then one hit in a single inning.
Sparky Anderson was ejected for arguing an interference call in the ninth inning. But the fans at this point were really getting into the team, as another 38,000 fans came out to see the boys.
May 6, 2004 Detroit 6, Indians 5, 12 innings (22-4)
The Detroit Tigers looked like they were going to drop this one, but a 4 run eighth, which included three hits and four walks tied the game up after the Tigers were down 5-1. Then an RBI single by Lou Whitaker in the 12th put this one away.
Milt Wilcox struggled in his five innings (although he did strikeout five), but the pen combined for seven shutout innings (only four hits) to let the Tigers back into the game.
May 4, 1984 Tigers 9, Indians 2 (20-4)
The Detroit Tigers gave Dan Petry the support he needed in this one. The scoreboard doesn’t indicate it, but he really struggled. He only lasted five innings, and he gave up six hits and six walks. In the fourth, he walked three batters, but got out of the inning unscathed.
Willie Hernandez, on the other hand, was simply incredible as he slammed the door on any chance of an Indians comeback. He pitched four shutout innings, gave up only two hits, and struck out four, while earning his third save of the season.
Lou Whitaker was the hitting star in this one, as he went four for five, and scored two runs. Larry Herndon went three for five. Lance Parrish drove in two, one each on two sacrafice flies.
April 28, 1984 Tigers 6, Indians 2 (17-2)
In Sparky Anderson’s book on the 1984 season, “Bless You Boys,” he mentions that he sent Jack Morris home in the 13th inning of the previous night’s game, and that move may have made the difference in this one, as he basically shutdown a tired Indians team. He only gave up three hits and three walks in nine innings, and the three runs the Tigers scored in the first two innings were all the Tigers would need in this one.
Chet Lemon and Lou Whitaker hit homers. Trammell knocked in two with a double and stole his seventh base of the season. Detroit was also effecient in this one, garnering ten hits and two walks, while only stranding four baserunners.
April 27, 1984 Indians 8, Tigers 4 19 Innings (16-2)
It took nearly six hours for this game to play it’s course, but the Tigers seven game winning streak came to an end as they burned the midnight oil in a 19 inning affair.
After the Indians batted in the top half of the second inning, the score was even at 3-3. Seven innings later, the game still stood at 3-3. Both the Indians and the Tigers scored a run in the 10th, and then it wasn’t until the Indians scored 4 unearned runs in the nineteenth inning that this one was put to bed (literally).
Another stand out performance by Aurilio Lopez, as he threw 4 2/3 shutout innings to follow up his 2 2/3 perfect innings the day before. He kept the Tigers in the game, but Glenn Abbott, who had shut the Indians down for four innings by himself, committed two errors in the nineteenth which helped the Indians score four runs to give the Indians the lead for good.
In all, the Tigers would commit four errors, leading to six unearned runs. The Tigers only had one extra basehit, a double by Whitaker, despite having 66 official at bats. And possibly the oddest line of the night was Andre Thorton, the Indians DH, who went 0 for 9.
April 26, 1984 Tigers 7, Rangers 5 (16-1)
Neither starter was effective in this one. Future Tiger Frank Tanana gave up six runs in less then four innings, and Dave Rozema was just marginally better as he gave up five runs in 4 1/3. Once the starters were pulled, things really calmed down, as only the Tigers scored one run in the final four innings of this one. Doug Bair pitched two shutout innings to notch his second relief win of the year, and Aurelio Lopez threw 2 2/3 perfect innings to garner his second save.
Whitaker, Trammell, Herndon, and Lemon all had multi-hit games, and Lance Parrish homered in his third consecutive game, boosting his season total to five.
With the win, the Tigers improved to 16-1 on the season, and had a six game lead in the AL East. Everyone points to their 35-5 start, which is simply an incredible start, but it’s only after you go back and see what they actually did throughout those first couple of months can you appreciate what this team accomplished.
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 21, 1984 Tigers 4, White Sox 1 (11-1)
It’s not too often where you have a player score three of the teams four runs in a game, but that’s exactly what Lou Whitaker did in this one. Lou led off the game with a solo homerun. In the third he’d draw a walk, and eventually score on a Darrell Evans ground out. And then in the seventh, he’d score on an Alan Trammell single. Lou knew how to get on base. Over his career, he walked almost as many times as he struck out, and was an excellent two strike hitter. He wasn’t your protypical lead off man because he didn’t steal a lot of bases, but he worked the count well, and managed to put together some nice seasons in the middle 1980s.
Dave Rozema really shut down the White Sox. He only went six innings, but he allowed just two hits and two walks, while striking out seven. Doug Bair would come in to finish the game and get a three inning save.
And with that, the Tigers tied the mark for the best start of the season by an American League team. They stood at 11-1, and were already out to a 3 1/2 game lead in the AL East.
April 20, 1984 Tigers 3, White Sox 2 (10-1)
This time, the Tigers managed to get eleven hits, but they had a hard time making them count as they also left eleven men on base in this nail biter. The Tigers never had the lead in this one until the game ended, and Milt Wilcox, despite not getting the win, threw a great game to keep the Tigers in this one. Eight innings, eight hits, three walks, and only two runs.
The Tigers were down 2-1 going into the seventh when Larry Herndon drove in Barbero Garbey on a single. Then in the ninth, with the score tied 2-2, Lou Whitaker drew a lead off walk. Tram bunted him over to second. Dave Bergman grounded out, but moved Lou over to third, and then Lance Parrish drove in Whitaker on a two out walk off single.
A great game, and the fans were beginning to appreciate what the Tigers were doing, as they drew nearly 34,000, the most since opening day.
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 12, 1984 – Tigers 9, Rangers 4 (7-0)
Alan Trammell, Chet Lemon, and Lou Whitaker all homered, as the Tigers trounced the Rangers 9-4. Through five innings, Texas was hanging in there, but the Tigers scored four in the sixth to put the game out of reach.
Jack Morris was his usual self, going seven innings, while giving up seven hits and one walk. The only two runs he gave up were unearned.
And with that win, the Tigers broke the franchise record for most consecutive wins to start the season. They also already had a three game lead in their division. The only question for Tiger fans was how long they could keep it up.
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