1984 World Series
The Detroit Tigers were World Series bound right from the start of the regular season, winning thirty-five of their first forty games and finishing with one-hundred four wins (a fifteen game lead ahead of their nearest competition). After sweeping the Kansas City Royals for the American League pennant, the "Beast from the East" set its sights on the crowning achievement that would come at the expense of the National League's San Diego Padres (who were making their World Series debut).
Game 1 set the tone for the contest as Mark Thurmond managed to last five innings with a 2-1 lead, but surrendered a crucial two-out, two-run homer to Larry Herndon in the fifth. Graig Nettles and Terry Kennedy both singled to open the San Diego sixth, but the Tiger's Jack Morris (a nineteen game winner) snuffed out their momentum by striking out the rest of the side. Kurt Bevacqua continued the fleeting comeback with a leadoff double in the seventh, but was thrown out at third while attempting to stretch the bases. Despite the close call, Morris remained focused and sat down the last nine remaining Padre batters for the 3-2 victory.
Game 2 started as the opener had ended with the Tigers line-up driving San Diego starter Ed Whitson from the mound in the first inning with three opening runs. Despite the early deficit, Andy Hawkins and Craig Lefferts came in as relief and managed to save the outing with a little help from Bevacqua who was playing the role of designated hitter. Hawkins entered the contest with two out in the first and tossed 5 1/3 innings of one hit ball and Lefferts finished the job by striking out five Tigers in three scoreless innings. Still trailing 3-2 in the fifth, Bevacqua had stepped up to the plate and nailed a clutch, three run homer off Dan Petry for the lead. The 5-3 advantage remained with the San Diego bullpen completing the job that their rivals had initially started. Their magnificent efforts were quickly forgotten though when they issued eleven walks in the first five innings for an embarrassing 5-3 effort the following day. Padres' starter Tim Lollar gave up four hits (including a two run homer to Marty Castillo), four walks and four runs alone before leaving with two out in the second.
Morris returned for the fourth meeting determined to maintain the control he had shown in the Series opener and recorded his second complete game with a brilliant five hitter that edged the National League champs to the brink of elimination. Alan Trammell supported the 4-2 effort by contributing all of Detroit's runs with two, two-run home runs off of Eric Show in the first and third innings. Game 5 belonged to lumberjack Kirk Gibson who dropped two bombs into the upper-decks in the first and eighth innings. As strong around the bases as he was at the plate, the speedster took the lead in the fifth after stealing home on a shallow fly ball to right field. Lance Parrish also sent one bouncing into the cheap seats and relievers Aurelio Lopez and Willie Hernandez (19-4 record and forty-six saves combined) held the Padres at bay for the 8-4, clinching triumph. Detroit had truly gone the distance (all the way from Opening Day), proving themselves as the best team in baseball.
However, San Diego deserved some of the credit for the Tigers good fortune too. After all, in 10 1/3-innings, the Padres rotation had combined for a humiliating 13.94 ERA. In addition to bringing home Detroit's fourth title, manager Sparky Anderson also became the first skipper to guide two separate franchises to World Series victories after winning with the Cincinnati Reds in both '75 and '76.