Paying Tribute to the Greatest Tiger Team of My Generation
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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 29, 1984 Mariners 5, Tigers 1 (87-46)
A week and a half ago, rookie starter Mark Langston shut down the Tigers with a four hit, eleven strikeout appearance over 8 1/3 innings. This time, he did one better, pitching a two hit complete game, striking out twelve Tigers.
Dan Petry was the opposing pitcher the last time the Tigers face Langston, and a nice outing was wasted. This time he didn’t fare as well, but it really didn’t matter because Langston was on. Petry was gone by the end of the fifth, and suffered his eighth loss of the season.
August 28, 1984 Tigers 5, Mariners 4 (87-45)
Another great comeback win for the Tigers. With the game tied 1-1 going into the bottom half of the seventh, Juan Berenguer had runners on first and second with two outs, when Spike Owen reached base on a Howard Johnson error. The Mariners went on to score three unearned runs as a result of the mishap before newly acquired lefthander Bill Scherrer came in to get the final out.
It didn’t take long for the Tigers to bounce back though, because in the top of the eighth, Ruppert Jones led off with a double. Dave Bergman then singled to leave runners at first and third. Barbaro Garbey flew out before Lou Whitaker drove in a run on a sacrafice fly. Then with Bergman on first, Alan Trammell hit a two run two out homer to tie the game.
Then in the top of the ninth, Darrell Evans got a two out single. Rusty Kuntz ran for Evans, who moved to second on a wild pitch by reliever Mike Stanton. John Grubb struck out, but with two outs, Ruppert Jones drove in Kuntz with a double to take the lead.
Willie Hernandez once again did his thing, as he pitched the eighth and ninth, giving up only one hit to improve to 8-2.
The day before, Bill Lajoie pulled the trigger and got Sparky another left handed arm in the pen. For cash and a player to be named later (eventually being Carl Willis), the Tigers acquired Bill Scherrer from the Reds. He’d give the Tigers a much needed extra option, as he ended up throwing 19 innings with an ultralow 1.89 ERA.
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 19, 1984 Tigers 7, Yankees 6 (48-17)
This was another classic example of the pen bailing out the Tigers once again. With starter Carl Willis getting hit hard, Doug Bair got out of a bases loaded jam to lessen the damage. He then went on to throw two more shutout inning before giving it up to Aurilio Lopez, who shut the Yankees down for 1 1/3 before giving it up to Willie Hernandez, who finished things off for his twelth save. In all, the bull pen would throw 4 2/3 innings of no hit ball (two unearned runs would score on six walks though).
Larry Herndon drove in the tying run with the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth, and Rusty Kuntz followed it up with a two run single to give the Tigers the lead for good. Lance Parrish and Don Mattingly both hit their eleventh homer of the season.
The Blue Jays finally lost, allowing the Tigers to extend their lead to 6 1/2 games. Another 41,000 fans came out to see the Tigers.
May 14, 1984 Tigers 7, Mariners 5 (27-5)
It didn’t take long for the Tigers to get back to their winning ways. They struggled in this one, but two runs in the bottom of the eighth finished off the Mariners. Alan Trammell followed up two hitless games with a three for five outing, which included his fourth homer of the year. Rusty Kuntz drove in the go ahead run, and went three for four with three runs.
The pitching wasn’t so great. Dan Petry struggled through five innings, but held the Mariners to three runs. Doug Bair, who had been rock solid and had a 1.174 ERA in 6 relief appearances going into the game gave up two runs in only two innings of work. Aurelio Lopez did the job though, as he shut down the Mariners in the final two innings and picked up his fourth win.
May 1, 1984 Tigers 11, Red Sox 2 (19-2)
When it was all said and done, the Tigers had racked up eleven runs on sixteen hits. Rusty Kuntz, Barbero Garbey, and Chet Lemon all had three hits (Chet had two dingers), and Trammell extended his hitting streak to eighteen games with a double and single. Eight different Tigers scored runs, and probably the oddest line was that only three players had RBIs. Kuntz had three, and Lemon and Garbey both had four.
Milt Wilcox had a fine game as well, as he pitched eight, while giving up only seven hits and two runs (one earned) as he advanced to 3-0.
And with the win, the Tigers sat on a 19-2 record, giving them a .905 winning percentage. This would be the last time they’d be above the .900 mark, but it just shows how impressive this run was. At this point, they were 16-3 away from their fabulous 35-5 run. And while 16-3 is very impressive, the fact that they started 19-2 to get there makes it equally impressive.
And I’m going to do some checking, but if someone can answer this, I’d appreciate it. What is the record for the best 40 game stretch (not just to begin the season, but at anytime during the season)? Do the Tigers have it at 35-5, or has someone gone 36-4?
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.
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