September 18, 1984 Tigers 3, Brewers 0 (97-54)
It was time to celebrate as the Tigers won the chance to play in the playoffs for the first time since 1972. Randy O’Neal and Willie Hernandez combined for a six hit shutout, and Lance Parrish drove in two runs.
The Royals held a razor thin margin over the Twins and the Angels, so who the Tigers would face in the first round still wasn’t clear. All Tiger fans knew was, WE’RE GOING TO THE PLAYOFFS!!!!
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 16, 1984 Tigers 8, Blue Jays 3 (95-54)
This one was over relatively quickly as the Tigers rallied for seven runs in the first three innings. Six different Tigers drove in runs, and seven different Tigers scored. Marty Castillo, Tom Brookens and Larry Herndon all hit homers for the Tigers.
Four Tiger pitchers combined to hold the Jays to six hits and three runs (two earned). Juan Berenguer pitched five solid innings to earn his ninth win.
The Tigers took the series and basically won the division with two nice performances. They drew over 135,000 fans for the three game series, as Tigers fans everywhere were celebrating.
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 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 12, 1984 Orioles 3, Tigers 1 (93-53)
Roger Mason made his first career start, going four innings and giving up three runs. The rookie would be traded the following year to the San Fransisco Giants for Alejandro Sanchez. Randy O’Neal made his major league debut in relief of Roger Mason, pitching three solid innings of one hit ball. O’Neal’s career would run through the 1990 season, and he played for five different teams, mostly as a long reliever/spot starter.
Just a quick note on Alejandro Sanchez. He played six seasons, and racked up 214 at bats, mostly as an outfielder. Most notable about his stats are the fact that he walked only one time in his entire career, and it wasn’t until next to last season with the Twins.
September 11, 1984 Tigers 9, Orioles 2 (93-52)
This game was scoreless through four before the Tigers exploded for five runs in the fifth. Larry Herndon had the big day, going three for three and driving in three runs. Gibson went three for five, and Darrell Evans went four for four and hit his sixteenth homer of the season.
Dan Petry went 6 2/3, giving up only five hits, two runs, and he struck out six. Doug Bair and Willie Hernandez finished the game up, and with the win, the Tigers now had cut their magic number down to seven.
September 10, 1984 Orioles 3, Tigers 1 (92-52)
A good outing by Juan Berenguer went to waste, as he pitched seven solid innings.
The Blue Jays matched the Tigers by losing, so the magic number was now eight. The Tigers could split half of their remaining eighteen games and it wouldn’t matter if the Jays won every one of theirs, it was that close to being over.
September 9, 1984 Tigers 7, Blue Jays 2 (92-51)
Another late inning surge pushed the Tigers past the Blue Jays. With the Tigers up 3-2, Kirk Gibson hit a three run homer in the top of the seventh to give the Tigers a nice cushion. Milt Wilcox gave the Tigers a solid six inning before letting the pen take over and close out the game.
What a weekend series. The Tiger’s were struggling before coming into Toronto, but they really came through when it counted. With a magic number of nine, they had a realistic chance of clinching the division by the following weekend.
September 8, 1984 Tigers 10, Blue Jays 4 (91-51)
This game was cruising along, and was tied 2-2 going into the seventh, when the Tigers exploded for two runs in the seventh, and six runs in the eighth. Jack Morris left the game in the fifth, and Bill Scherrer took over and pitched an inning and a third. Aurelio Lopez finished the game out, going three innings and giving up two useless runs in the bottom of the ninth.
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 4, 1984 Orioles 4, Tigers 1 (88-51)
Captain Hook was true to form as Dave Rozema gave up back to back singles, a sac fly to Cal Ripken, and then a third single before Sparky pulled the plug early. Bill Scherrer came in to stop the damage, as he got the final two batters out.
Then Sparky went to rookie Roger Mason, who made his major league debut. Mason pitched all eight remaining innings, giving up only four hits and striking out six. Unfortunately one of those hits was a two run shot by Rick Dempsey.
With the loss, the Tigers lead was cut to 7 1/2 games. With an upcoming series against the Jays, things were looking pretty dicey and the fans had to have been a little worried.
September 3, 1984 Orioles 7, Tigers 4 (88-50)
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 9 1/2 games ahead of Toronto.
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 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.