After a series against the Baltimore Orioles , the Tigers returned home trailing by a game and swept the Blue Jays. The team lost Kirk Gibson to free agency in the offseason, but still spent much of in first place in the AL East. Louis Cardinals , led by starter Bob Gibson who had posted a record 1. Hendrick appeared to be out by two steps on a grounder to second, but umpire John Rice ruled that Norm Cash pulled his foot off first base. He managed 85 RBIs despite having no real table-setters on base in front of him. Martin's Tigers posted 91 wins in , but again had to settle for a second-place finish behind the Orioles, who won games to take their third straight AL East Division crown. Detroit clinched the division in a 1—0 victory over Toronto in front of 51, fans at Tiger Stadium on Sunday afternoon, October 4. Perhaps the biggest signal of decline for the Tigers was the retirement of Kaline following the season, after he notched his th career hit.
His single off Dave Hamilton scored Gates Brown and evened the series at 2 games apiece. With fellow '84 teammates Kirk Gibson and Lance Parrish on the coaching staff, the rebuilding process began. When Sparky came on board in and assessed the Tigers young talent, he boldly predicted that his team would be a pennant winner within 5 years. Lolich also won 25 games and posted a 2. He managed 85 RBIs despite having no real table-setters on base in front of him. Fidrych, known as "the Bird", was a colorful character known for talking to the baseball and other eccentricities. Perhaps more important, however, was the talent coming up through the Tigers farm system at the time. The team's best record over that time was 79—83, recorded in and This had not been done in the major leagues since the New York Yankees. Kaline finished with hits and was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in This capped an argument lasting more than a decade about whether or not a new stadium was needed to keep the club competitive. In the bottom of the sixth inning, the Cardinals looked primed to take the lead as Lou Brock singled to lead off the inning, only to be promptly picked off first base by Lolich. Martin's Tigers posted 91 wins in , but again had to settle for a second-place finish behind the Orioles, who won games to take their third straight AL East Division crown. A first-inning run on a Gene Tenace passed ball gave Detroit an early lead in the deciding fifth and final game in Detroit, but Reggie Jackson 's steal of home in the 2nd tied it up. Morris pitched a complete game with 2 runs on 8 hits, and Detroit drew first blood. Frank Tanana went all nine innings for the complete game shutout, and outfielder Larry Herndon gave the Tigers their lone run on a second-inning home run. They avoided tying the Mets' modern MLB record of losses only by winning five of their last six games of the season, including three out of four against the Minnesota Twins who had already clinched the Central Division into which the Tigers had moved in , and were resting their stars. Tenace's two-out single to left field gave Oakland a 2—1 lead in the fourth inning. The announcement was met with resounding protests from fans, young and old. LeFlore, who was serving a sentence for his involvement in an armed robbery, would earn a tryout at Tiger Stadium and made the team the following year under Houk. Behind the hitting of Fielder and others, the Tigers improved by 20 wins in , and posted a winning record in 84— Alexander started 11 games for the Tigers, posting 9—0 record and a 1. The Tigers went 43— that season, 47 games behind division-winner Minnesota. In , Ralph Houk , who managed the dominant Yankee teams of the early s, was named manager of the Tigers. In , the team moved the bullpens to the vacant area beyond the left-field fence and filled the previous location with seats.
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