October 12, 1987
ALCS, Game Five
Twins Lead Series, 3-1
Twins: Dan Gladden (LF), Greg Gagne (SS), Kirby Puckett (CF), Kent Hrbek (1B), Gary Gaetti (3B), Randy Bush (DH), Tom Brunanksy (RF), Steve Lombardozzi (2B), Tim Laudner (C), Bert Blyleven (P)
Tigers: Lou Whitaker (2B), Darrell Evans (1B), Kirk Gibson (LF), Alan Trammell (SS), Matt Nokes (C), Chet Lemon (CF), Johnny Grub (DH), Pat Sheridan (RF), Tom Brookens (3B), Doyle Alexander (P)
Charged with keeping the Twins from taking their first tripe to the Fall Classic since 1965 was Doyle Alexander, who wasn't able to do much to keep Minnesota off the board in Game One. Blyleven, meanwhile, out-pitched '91 World Series legend Jack Morris in Game Two.
Alexander and Blyleven held each other off the board in the first, but the Twins struck for four in the second. Tom Brunansky's two-run double made it three Twins in a row to reach safely to kick off the frame, but he was thrown out trying to stretch said double into a triple. Steve Lombardozzi kept it going with a single, singling two batters later off of Dan Gladden. Alexander hit Greg Gagne, and then Kirby Puckett punched a liner to left that brought Gladden home. That was the end for Alexander, who allowed ten runs in nine ALCS innings.
Kirk Gibson, Alan Trammell and Matt Nokes combined to plate three off Blyleven in bottom of the fourth, drawing the Tigers within one. Eric King, who took over for Alexander in the second inning, more than did his job. The 23-year old had made four starts for Detroit in '87 and, even in his 51 relief appearances, had made himself into something of a multi-inning option. He took the Tigers through the third, fourth, fifth, and sixth without letting the Twins back on the board, but the hinges came off with one out in the seventh.
Kent Hrbek singled to the left on the first pitch he saw, and King followed up that performance by hitting Gary Gaetti on his first pitch, and then two pitches later skipped one past Nokes to move Hrbek to third. Bush then lofted a sac fly to center field to bring in Hrbek. Not a bad way to spend seven pitches, if you were a Minnesota fan.
Detroit and Minnesota traded runs in the eighth, with Puckett and Chet Lemon picking up big RBI. Then the Twins blew it open in the top of the ninth, dashing the Tigers' comeback hopes. Tom Brunansky homered, giving him two for for the series along with nine RBI and capping off a spectacular offensive ALCS performance. Lombardozzi singled and then Gladden and Gagne's back-to-back doubles scored a run each. By the time Jeff Robinson tallied the final out, the Twins were up 9-4.
Gibson drove in one more run off of Jeff Reardon in the ninth, but it was Detroit's death rattle. Minnesota had walked into Tiger Stadium and taken two of three, taking the series in five games and propelling one of the biggest post-season underdogs in the history of baseball to the World Series.