Paying Tribute to the Greatest Tiger Team of My Generation
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The trade seemed pretty innocent at the time. Near the end of spring training, the Tigers parted ways with Glenn Wilson and John Wockenfuss, and got in return Dave Bergman and Willie Hernandez. Bergman started more games at first base then any other Tiger, and we all know Hernandez went on to win the Cy Young and MVP.
Hernandez wasn’t your typical closer. He threw in 140 1/3 innings, and on 15 different occasions, he threw three innings or more. You’d be hard pressed to find a more effective relief combination then Hernandez and Aurelio Lopez. Ever. They combined for almost 280 innings, and went a combined 19-4 with 46 saves.
Let’s take a look at Hernandez’s (fantastic) numbers:
Innings Pitched 140 1/3
Pitching Runs Above Replacement 78
I’ll let you go read those numbers again, just because they’re so impressive. What’s a little ironic is this isn’t even the best season a Tiger reliever’s ever had. That’s reserved for John Hiller in 1973.
No offense to Rawly Eastwick, but he never stood a chance. Not even a snowball’s chance in hell.
Scorecard – 1984 Tigers 8, 1975 Reds 7
Well, what do you know. It’s the first time in this entire debate where the Tigers have had the lead. And unfortunately for the Reds, it’s the most important because we’ve finally wrapped this up.
We all knew who had the better team anyway.
Sparky loved his relievers. Throughout “Bless You Boys,” the one thing Sparky constantly talks about is how he needs Bill Lajoie to go out and get him another left handed reliever. And in my opinion, nobody knew how to utilize his bullpen better then Captain Hook.
Through the end of July, Doug Bair was right there with Aurelio Lopez, and to a lesser extent, was as effective as Willie Hernandez. Through 65 innings, he had a 1.077 WHIP and an ERA of 3.05. Then in his first game in August, the wheels fell off the wagon, and he gave up two runs in only 1/3 of an inning. He had three more rough outings before recovering near the middle of the month. Fortunately during his rough stretch, the Tigers had a lead over the Blue Jays of just under ten games, but he ended the month with a 2.152 WHIP and an 8.80 ERA. He then went on to be lights out in September.
Let’s take a look at Bair’s season numbers..
Innings Pitched 93 2/3
Pitching Runs Above Replacement 21
On the face of things, I’d say Clay Carroll looks better. But Bair was as good, if not better, when things counted during the beginning of the year. Since we’re looking at the entire season, I guess I have to concede.
Scorecard – 1975 Reds 7, 1984 Tigers 6
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 American League Championship SeriesOctober 5, 1984 Tigers 1, Royals 0 Tigers Win Best of Five Series 3-0
I really enjoy a good old pitching duel. One of my favorite games was Jack Morris’ 10 inning shutout in the 1992 World Series. This one was just as good, and it send the Tigers to the World Series for the first time in 16 years.
Things started out innocently enough. The Tigers drew first blood in the second. Barbero Garbey led off with a single, and was forced out at second by Chet Lemon. Darrell Evans singled, sending Lemon to third. And then Marty Castillo hit into a fielders choice that scored Chet Lemon.
And that was it. The Tigers managed only one other hit the rest of the game, as Charlie Leibrandt threw the game of his life. Unfortunately, it wasn’t good enough.
Milt Wilcox went eight innings, giving up only two hits, two walks, and he struck out eight Royals. The Royals first hit came in the fourth, and the second came in the eighth. They were both singles, and no Royal made it past first base off of Milt.
In the ninth, Willie Hernandez came in to finish things out. He gave up a single to Hal McRae with two outs, but like Wilcox, he didn’t let the runner past first base. The Tigers were going to the World Series, and they did it grand fashion.
Things did not go as well for the Chicago Cubs. After taking a 2-0 lead in the NLCS, the San Diego Padres won all three home games to earn the right to face the Tigers in the series.
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 30, 1984 Yankees 9, Tigers 2 (104-58)
Sparky rested most of his starters, and gave his pen a final tune up game before the playoff run. Starter Randy O’Neal was shelled for seven runs, and didn’t escape the fifth inning. Four of the five innings he threw in resulted in runs by the Yankees.
Doug Baker and Barbero Garbey drove in the only runs for the Tigers. The bright spot of the game were shutout innings by Bill Scherrer, Aurelio Lopez, and Willie Hernandez. It was nice to see the pen more calm going into the playoffs after a rough week.
With the loss, the Detroit Tiger’s regular season ended. They’d be playing in the playoffs for the first time since 1972 when they lost to the Oakland A’s in the ALCS.
September 27, 1984 Yankees 2, Tigers 1 (102-57)
The duo of Willie Hernandez and Aurelio Lopez lost four games all season. This same duo lost two of those game in a row in the final week of the season. Good from the stand point of how dominating they were for so long, but not good from the stand point of Sparky being worried about his best arms going out on him.
Jack Morris had one his best starts in a long time. Possibly his best start of the season outside of no-hitter. He pitched seven innings of two hit ball. Six walks came back to haunt him though, as the Yankees’ Bobby Meacham walked to lead off the sixth, and was eventually driven in by Dave Winfield to tie the game at 1-1.
Then with the game still tied in the bottom of the eighth, Bobby Meacham scored again on a single by Don Baylor off of Willie Hernandez. Darrell Evans had a chance to pull together a comeback, but he flew out with runners on first and second with two outs.
The Tigers needed to split the series to tie the 1968 Detroit Tigers mark for wins in a season, and they got off to a tough start. Now they needed to win two of three.
September 25, 1984 Tigers 9, Brewers 1 (102-55)
Four runs in the first inning put this game away pretty quickly as Howard Johnson hit a grandslam, his twelth of the season. Lance Parrish followed this with a solo shot in the third, and the Tigers coasted to their 102nd win of the season.
Sparky went with the kids on the mound, and Randy O’Neal improved to 2-0 by pitching five shutout innings, giving up only two hits, and striking out three. Sid Monge, Bill Scherrer, Aurelio Lopez, and Willie Hernandez pitched an inning a piece, with the Brewers tagging Lopez for a run in the eighth. In total, the Brewers only managed six hits against the five pitchers.
And now they stood one win short of the record 103 wins set by the 1968 team. With five games left, the record was definitely within reach.
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 19, 1984 Tigers 4, Brewers 2 (98-54)
Despite the rest of the regular season basically being meaningless, there were a few more things for the Tigers to play for. One hundred wins was within their reach. Only four times had the Tigers won a 100 games prior to the 1984 seasons, and they were all good ones. 1968, 1961, 1934, and 1915. They also had a shot at the 1968 Tiger’s record 103 wins.
Jack Morris took them one step closer to both of those marks with a strong performance. It was nice to see he pitched well down the stretch after an up and down season. Jack pitched six solid innings en route to his eighteenth win of the season untl the pen took over. Willie Hernandez pitched a shutout ninth inning to earn his thirty first save.
September 15, 1984 Tigers 2, Blue Jays 1 (94-54)
What a performance by Milt Wilcox to pick up his seventeenth and final win of the season. Seven innings, one hit, one walk and eight strikeouts. The only blemish was a solo shot in the top of the second by George Bell. Willie Hernandez finished off the game by pitching the eighth and ninth to earn his twenty ninth save of the season.
Ruppert Jones was the batting hero. With the game tied in the fourth, he hit a solo shot to put the Tigers up for good. With the win, the Tigers cut their magic number to four.
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 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 5, 1984 Tigers 1, Orioles 0 (89-51)
Orioles starter Mike Flanagan pitched a fine game, going the distance and giving up only six hits and one unearned run. Unfortunately for him, Juan Berenguer was just a little bit better, as he pitched 7 1/3 innings of two hit shutout ball. Willie Hernandez came in to finish the game after that, and he earned his twenty eighth save in the process.
The Jays lost, so the Tigers increased their lead to 8 1/2 games. With a day off before facing the Blue Jays in three game series, the Tigers magic number stood at fifteen.
September 2, 1984 Tigers 6, A’s 3 (88-49)
Dan Petry gave up eleven hits in 5 1/3 innings, but only let three A’s cross the plate as the Tigers topped the A’s. The Tigers put four runs on the board in the third inning, and that was basically all they needed. Aurelio Lopez pitched 1 2/3 innings of one hit ball, and Willie Hernandez threw two perfect innings to earn his twenty seventh save.
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 31, 1984 A’s 7, Tigers 6 (87-48)
Milt Wilcox struggled as he walked five batters and gave up four hits in 3 2/3 innings. By the time he left the game, the A’s were up 5-4. The Tigers tied it in the fifth on a solo shot by Alan Trammell.
With the scored tied 5-5 going into the ninth, both teams scored a run to put the game into extra innings. Then in the bottom of the thirteenth, right fielder Mike Davis scored on a Dave Rozema wild pitch to win the game.
Once again, the usual combo of Aurelio Lopez and Willie Hernandez kept the Tigers in this one and at least gave them a chance to win. They combined for 8 1/3 innings, giving up only three hits and one run, while striking out eight.
The loss once again put the Tigers back into a single digit lead over the Blue Jays. With 27 games left, they were 9 1/2 games ahead of Toronto.
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.
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 21, 1984 Tigers 12, A’s 6 (83-44)
For the second straight game, the Tiger’s bats allowed the pitchers a virtual night off. Aurelio Lopez and Willie Hernandez both gave up two runs in an inning of work each, but four runs in the first and four in the sixth pretty much sealed this game up early.
Milt Wilcox pitched a nice game, going six innings and striking out seven. He improved to 14-7. Lance Parrish, Larry Herndon, and Darrell Evans all hit homeruns. Lance Parrish’s dinger was a grand slam in the first inning, and Darrell Evans ended the day going four for five, scoring three times, and driving in three runs.
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 16, 1984 Tigers 8, Angels 7 (79-43)
Some back and forth, wild and crazy games, can be called rollercoasters.
If that’s the case, then this one was Millenium Force. The Tigers took a quick 5-0 lead after two innings, essentially giving Jack Morris some easy sailing.
And he didn’t take advantage of it. Two innings later, Morris was gone, and the Tigers were down 7-5, as one again, he struggled to get batters out. Then enters the bullpen. More on that in a second.
Down 7-5 in the eighth, Alan Trammell drove in two with an RBI single to tie the game. In the bottom of the twelth inning, Barbaro Garbey came up huge with a walk off RBI double to win the game. A nice, solid, come from behind win.
But give a huge dose of credit to the bullpen. Doug Bair, Aurelio Lopez, and Willie Hernandez combined for a total of 8 1/3 innings of four hit, shutout baseball. Another superb job by the pen kept the Tigers in the game, as they salvaged a 2-2 split of the series.
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 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 12, 1984 Tigers 8, Royals 4 (77-41)
A four run first inning put the Tigers up for good as Milt Wilcox held the Royals scoreless through the first six innings. The Royals tagged Milt for four runs in the seventh, but the typical tandem of Aurelio Lopez and Willie Hernandez finished the game up to give the Tigers the weekend series sweep.
August 10, 1984 Tigers 5, Royals 4 (75-41)
It sounds like a broken record, but the usual suspects in the bullpen did it again. Dan Petry pitched 6 2/3 solid innings, but left the game tied 4-4. Aurelio Lopez and Willie Hernandez were nearly flawless in the final 2+ innings, allowing Ruppert Jones to put the Tigers ahead with a solo shot in the eighth inning. Lopez improved to 10-0, and Hernandez saved his 25th game.
The contribution Aurelio Lopez and Willie Hernandez made throughout the 1984 season were incredible. They threw a combined 278 innings, went a combined 19-4, and saved 46 games, all while striking out 206 batters and throwing up a 1.053 WHIP and a 2.43 ERA. Those numbers were by far better then any of the starters and shows why Willie Hernandez got the support he did for the Cy Young.
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 6, 1984 Tigers 9, Red Sox 7 (73-38)
Dan Petry didn’t have his best stuff, as he gave up six runs and eleven hits in only 4 2/3 innings, but Bob Ojeda was just as worse, as the Tigers scored six on the Red Sox starter as well. Aurelio Lopez pitched 2 2/3 to improve to 8-0, and Willie Hernandez picked up his 23rd save.
August 6, 1984 Red Sox 10, Tigers 2 (73-39)
A drubbing, plain and simple. Carl Willis got one batter before getting pulled, and Doug Bair didn’t much better. By the end of the fourth inning, the Tigers were down 9-1. Rookie starter Roger Clemens threw a solid eight innings, holding the Tigers to six hits while striking out nine.
August 5, 1984 Royals 5, Tigers 4 (72-37)
For the first time during the 109 games of the season, Willie Hernandez lost a game. A two run double in the top of the ninth by Dane Iorg broke a 3-3 tie as Bret Saberhagen takes the win in relief, and Dan Quisenberry notched his 29th save.
Larry Herndon had two hits and drove in two.
August 5, 1984 Royals 4, Tigers 0 (72-38)
Whether it was being tired, or good pitching, the Tigers couldn’t quite get going. Charlie Liebrandt held Detroit to five hits, and Dan Quisenberry pitched the ninth to complete the combined shutout.. Alan Trammell had the only multi-hit game, going two for three.
Juan Berenguer threw a fine game, going the distance and giving up four runs on eight hits. But it wasn’t enough. With the Royals sweeping, the Tigers now stood a meer eight games over Toronto. What looked like a run away was slowly turning into a pennant race again.
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 29, 1984 Tiger 3, Red Sox 0 (70-32)
Milt Wilcox threw a gem, as he pitched eight shutout innings, giving up only three hits, and walking none. Willie Hernandez closed out the game for his 21st save by pitching a perfect ninth.
The Tigers only managed four hits of their own against Dennis “Oil Can” Boyd, but they made them count. Boyd struck out ten Tigers, and the only extra base hit in the entire game was a triple by Ruppert Jones.
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 22, 1984 Tigers 2, Rangers 0 (66-29)
Dave Bergman led of the Tigers half of the first inning with a solo shot. Little would anyone know that it would be all the Tigers would need. He also scored the Tigers other run on wild pitch.
Dan Petry was simply awesome. He went 8 2/3, gave up only four hits and one walk, while striking out eight. Willie Hernandez got the final out of the game to earn his twentieth save of the season.
The sweep put the Tigers 38 games above .500, they’re best mark of the season. They were near the end of the run where they’d win 11 of 12, and had increased their lead over the Blue Jays to nine games.
July 21, 1984 Tigers 7, Rangers 6 (65-29)
Bullpen, Bullpen, Bullpen.
Tiger starter Glenn Abbott got shelled in the third inning, giving up five runs, and getting chased out of the game. But Sid Monge, who was used only sporadically up until this point, pitched four innings of three hit ball to let the Tigers come back.
The Tigers would get five big runs in the bottom of the fifth to finish off the Rangers. Ruppert Jones had a one run single, Chet Lemon a two run double, and Howard Johnson a two run single. Willie Hernandez pitched the eighth and ninth, giving up only one hit and earning his nineteenth save.
July 20, 1984 Tigers 3, Rangers 1 (64-29)
Dave Rozema pitched eight solid innings to give the Tigers the win. Six hits and one run were all he gave up. Willie Hernandez garnered his eighteenth save with a perfect ninth inning.
Future Tiger Frank Tanana pitched nearly as well, but he gave up a two run shot to Barbero Garbey in the third, and a solo shot to Chet Lemon in the fourth. He’d go the distance, but take his ninth loss of the season. Chet Lemon ended up with three of the eight Tiger hits.
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 14, 1984 Tigers 6, Twins 5 (59-28)
Chalk up another win for the bullpen. Starter Milt Wilcox pitched 5 2/3 mediocre innings before leaving the game with the Tigers down 4-3. Doug Bair pitched 3 1/3 perfect innings, and Willie Hernandez pitched three innings of one hit ball to earn his second win in as many games.
With the Tigers down by a run in the ninth, Dave Bergman hit a solo homer to send the game into extra innings. Then an RBI single by Chet Lemon and a Sac. Fly by Dave Bergman in the twelth put the game away. Tim Teufel his a solo shot off of Hernandez in the bottom half of the twelth, but it wasn’t enough.
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 7, 1984 Tigers 5, Rangers 2 (57-26)
This was a nice win. At this stage of the season, Dave Rozema was basically a fifth starter/long reliever. In this slot, you wouldn’t expect too much from him, but he threw a fine game, going six innings and giving up only one earned run. Willie Hernandez pitched the final three innings, giving up only one hit and striking out five, to earn his sixteenth save of the season.
Lance Parrish hit his sixteenth homer and scored twice. Ruppert Jones went three for four, scoring once and driving in a run.
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.
June 30, 1984 Tigers 4, Twins 3 (55-21)
Dan Petry pitched 8 1/3 strong innings, giving up three runs on seven hits, while striking out ten, but it almost wasn’t enough. Down 3-2, the Tigers tied the game in the seventh on a sac. fly by Ruppert Jones, and then scored the go ahead run in the bottom of the eighth on a wild pitch by Ron Davis. Willie Hernandez picked up his 14th save by getting the final two batters out.
Dave Bergman hit his second homer of the season, and Chet Lemon picked up two hits and scored a run.
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 26, 1984 Tigers 9, Yankees 7 10 Inning (53-19)
This was an exciting, if not back and forth affair. The Tigers started things off with four runs on five hits in the second inning. The Yankees bounced back with three runs in the third, one in the fourth, two in the fith, and then one in the sixth to take 7-4 four lead.
Then, the 1984 magic happened once again. In the top half of the eighth, with two outs, the Tigers scored three runs to tie it up on singles by Alan Trammell and Darrell Evans. Then in the top of the tenth, Lance Parrish hit a two run shot to seal the deal.
Willie Hernandez really bounced back in this game. After a poor performance the night before, he pitched 2 2/3 high leverage innings to improve to 3-0 on the year.
With the win, the Tigers had finally put a double digit lead between themselves and the Blue Jays. Not even half way into the season, they stood ten games ahead of the next nearest competitor in their division.
June 25, 1984 Yankees 7, Tigers 3 (52-19)
This game was a tight pitching affair until the seventh inning hit. With the score tied 1-1 going into the seventh, the Tigers scored two to take a 3-1 lead on Barbero Garbey’s second homer of the year. Then in the bottom half of the inning, the Yankees took the lead with three runs of their own. They then added three more in the bottom of the eighth. Dave Winfield had an awesome game, going 5 for 5, and driving in four runs.
Willie Hernandez had rough outing, one of the few times he got hard during the 1984 campaign. He gave up the three runs in the eighth on two hits and three walks. Doug Bair took the loss to drop to 4-1.
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 20, 1984 Tigers 9, Yankees 6, 13 innings (49-17)
The Tigers won a back and forth affair when Howard Johnson hit a three run shot in the bottom of the thirteenth inning. The Yankees had a 2-0 lead and a 4-2 lead before the Tigers picked up a few runs to tie the game in the bottom of the sixth, then took a one run lead in the bottom of the seventh. Then the two teams went back and forth, scoring one run each until the game ended regulation at a 6-6 tie.
Willie Hernandez pitched four strong innings of relief, and Doug Bair improved to 4-0 by pitching two innings of one hit ball. Alan Trammell, Lance Parrish and Chet Lemon all hit homer to go along with HoJo’s extra innings blast.
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.
Jun 15, 1984 Tigers 3, Brewers 2 (45-16)
The Tigers scored two runs in the top of the eighth inning to take the lead for good in this tight pitching matchup. John Grubb reached base on an error and drove in the tying run, while Larry Herndon had an infield single with the bases loaded to score what would be the winning run. Lance Parrish hit his tenth homerun while going two for three, and Larry Herndon contributed with two hits of his own.
Dan Petry pitched another fine game, going seven innings of seven hit ball. Willie Hernandez nailed the door shut with two shutout innings to earn his eleventh save.
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
June 8, 1984 Tiger 3, Orioles 2 (41-13)
The Tigers beat the Orioles in front of over 50,000 fans in a tight affair. Milt Wilcox threw six solid innings to win his seventh game, and the bullpen was stellar. In all, the Tiger’s staff only gave up six hits and three walks. Once Milt was taken out, Doug Bair threw a perfect seventh, and Willie Hernandez finished things out by pitching two strong innings to earn his eighth save.
The Tigers stranded ten baserunners again, but this time it didn’t cost them a win. With the score at 2-1, the Tigers scored two runs in the top half of the seventh on a double by Howard Johnson and a sacrafice fly by Alan Trammell.
June 4, 1984 Tigers 6, Blue Jays 3 (39-11)
A couple of big blasts by some unlikely players gave the Tigers round one of the season series with the Blue Jays. Starter Juan Berenguer pitched a decent but not great game, giving up three runs through 6 2/3. Willie Hernandez was the pitching star though. Even though he was brought in with a three run deficit, unheard of for a closer in this day, he got the Tigers out of a jam in the critical seventh inning. He ended up pitching three innings of shutout ball to help the Tigers earn the win.
The reason the seventh inning was critical was, in the bottom half, the Tigers came back. Third basemen Howard Johnson tied the game up with one swing of the bat by hitting a three run homer. The game would be tied at the end of nine, and in the bottom of the tenth, the Tigers struck again.
In Sparky Anderson’s book “Bless You Boys,” Sparky Anderson called it the greatest at bat in his life. Dave Bergman, the Tigers role player/backup firstbasemen came to bat with runners on first and second base and two outs. He worked to a full count against Roy Lee Howell, then according to Sparky, fouled off seven straight pitches. Then on the 13th pitch, Bergman hit what I remember as his most memorable homer of his career into the upper deck in right field.
Great relief pitching and timely hitting. The Tigers widened their lead to 5 1/2 games over the Jays, but they’d still have three more games left just in this series.
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 29, 1984 A’s 8, Tigers 5 (36-9)
Oakland really pummelled Milt Wilcox, who dropped to 6-2. By the end of the fourth inning, he’d be gone, and the score was 8-1. Not a whole lot to say about this one. Chet Lemon hit his ninth homer, and only one other Tiger, Barbero Garbey, had an extra base hit.
And not to get too far away from the 1984 season, but I’ve never been a big fan of the save statistic. I wrote about it and John Hiller in a past column, but in this game, Oakland’s closer, Bill Caudill, earned his tenth save of the season. Oakland was a sub-.500 team, but using the benchmark statistic for closers, you could make the arguement that Caudill was more effective then either Willie Hernandez and Aurilio Lopez, both of whom had a lower save total.
In fact, Caudill would end the season with 36 saves, four more then Cy Young and MVP winning Willie Hernandez. Interestlingly enough, two relievers finished in the top three of the MVP balloting in 1984. Willie of course won it, but Dan Quisenberry came in third. They also finished first and second in the Cy Young. As best as I can tell, 1984 was the only time relievers were as represented at the top of the ballots for either award.
May 23, 1984 Tigers 4, Angels 2 (34-5)
Lance Parrish hit a two run homerun in the seventh to lead the Tigers to their record tying 16th consecutive road victory. Only the 1912 Washington Senators had won as many road games in a row as the 1984 Detroit Tigers.
Dan Petry, who was born Palo Alto, CA, 10 minutes away from the Angels ballpark, threw another gem of a game to pick up his seventh win. He walked two and gave up five hits, but the only real damage was the two run shot he gave up to Doug DeCinces in the fourth inning. Willie Hernandez pitched two perfect innings and struck out the side in the ninth to pick up his seventh save.
May 16, 1984 Tigers 10, Mariners 1 (29-5)
The Mariners never had a chance in this one. Five Tiger runs in the first put this one out of reach. Eight different Tigers drove in runs, and John Grubb hit his third homerun of the season.
Milt Wilcox improved to 5-0, pitching six innings of four hit ball. Bair, Hernandez, and Lopez all pitched a shutout inning a piece to finish the game up.
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 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.
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