Thirty years ago today, the Detroit Tigers defeated the California Angels by a 5-1 score. The victory completed a three-game sweep of the Angels, giving the Tigers a record of 35 wins against just five losses. It was, and remains to this day, the fastest start that any major league team has had in its first 40 games.
The Tigers were led by their ace pitcher, Jack Morris, who ran his record to nine victories against just one loss. Morris threw his fifth complete game of the season, allowing just one unearned run on four hits, one walk, and ten strikeouts. It was the ninth consecutive win for Detroit.
The Tiger offense was led by Lou Whitaker, Alan Trammell, Kirk Gibson, Lance Parrish and Darrel Evans, who accounted for all the Tigers’ scoring that day. Trammell and Parrish each homered for the Tigers. Larry Herndon, Chet Lemon, Dave Bergman and Barbaro Garbey rounded out the Tigers' lineup, with Tom Brookens entering as a defensive replacement.
Sparky Anderson had said that it takes 40 games in a baseball season before you knew what type of team you had. It’s safe to say that Sparky had a pretty good idea what kind of team he had after 40 games in 1984.
The Tigers would leave Anaheim for Seattle, where their steam engine sputtered as the Tigers lost three in a row to the Mariners, but it was a train that would not be stopped, as the Tigers steamrolled to victory, winning 104 games and claiming their division title by 15 games over second place Toronto. They swept the Kansas City Royals in the American League Championship Series and defeated the San Diego Padres in five games to win their fourth World Series title.
It’s hard to believe that it has been three decades since the Tigers were world champions. Most of the players on the current Tigers’ roster, and no doubt many BYB readers, were too young to remember, or were not even born when the Tigers last won it all.
After its hot start, the 1984 team finished 69-58, a .565 winning percentage, winding up with 104 wins for the season. The 2014 Tigers enter Saturday's action with the best winning percentage in baseball, at .636, on track to win 103 games.
There are 30 teams in Major League Baseball. That averages out to one championship for each team every 30 years. It’s our turn. We’re due!