October 7, 1987
ALCS, Game One
Tigers: Lou Whitaker (2B), Bill Madlock (DH), Kirk Gibson (LF), Alan Trammell (SS), Larry Herndon (RF), Chet Lemon (CF), Darrell Evans (1B), Tom Brookens (3B), Mike Heath (C), Doyle Alexander (P)
Doyle Alexander had a long and effective career. Having tuned 37 about a month before this game, the end was only two years away but you wouldn't have known it by his '87 campaign. A good start to the season with the Braves led to getting traded to the Tigers on August 12 in exchange for 20-year old John Smoltz. While Atlanta certainly won this trade long-term, Alexander was 9-0 for Detroit down the stretch with a 1.53 ERA.
Viola, ten years younger, had finished one of the three best seasons of his career, and was asked to lead the underdog Twins. He did exactly that.
Gary Gaetti drew first blood off of Doyle with a solo homer in the second, a necessary point for a team that may have been somewhat awe-struck by the veteran pitcher and the impressive Detroit ballclub. Mike Heath would answer in the top of the third, but in the fifth inning Gaetti did it again. His second solo homer gave the Twins the lead for the second time, and the next two hitters nailed the Tiger ace with a triple down the right field line and a double. Dan Gladden's two-out single added yet another run and gave Minnesota a 4-1 lead.
The Tigers would chip away with a run in both the sixth and seventh, and they would finally chase Viola in the eighth with runners on second and third and nobody out. Dave Bergman and Chet Lemon notched sac flies off of Jeff Reardon to take a one-run lead.
But the young Minnesota hitters weren't intimidated, and the Tiger lead didn't last long. Kirby Puckett's one-out double scored Dan Gladden from first. Don Baylor and Tom Brunansky would follow two free passes with singles, giving the the Twins the lead and ultimately giving the game its final score of 8-5.
It was an impressive win for a group of young hitters that had largely grown up together, much like another upstart club in the early 2000s. The '87 Twins had enough to get by in game one, and suddenly nobody wanted to be the visiting team inside the thunderous, eardrum-shattering Metrodome.