October 8, 1987
ALCS, Game Two
Twins Lead Series 1-0
Tigers: Lou Whitaker (2B), Darrell Evans (1B), Kirk Gibson (LF), Alan Trammell (SS), Matt Nokes (DH), Chet Lemon (CF), Pat Sheridan (RF), Tom Brookens (3B), Mike Heath (C), Jack Morris (P)
Twins: Dan Gladden (LF), Steve Lombardozzi (2B), Kirby Puckett (CF), Kent Hrbek (1B), Gary Gaetti (3B), Randy Bush (DH), Tom Brunansky (RF), Greg Gagne (SS), Tim Laudner (C), Bert Blyleven (P)
Four years later to the day, Jack Morris would be the winning pitcher for the Twins as they took on the Blue Jays in the ALCS. But in the 80s he was still a Tiger, and a pretty good one at that: over the last seven seasons Morris averaged an 18-11 record, 255 innings, and a 3.44 ERA (117+). Opposing him was a veteran of the 70s and 80s, 36-year old Bert Blyleven. Four years' Morris' senior, Blyleven still threw 267 innings in 1987, and his 4.01 ERA was still good for a 115 ERA+. He also led the league in home runs allowed (46), although this was far bigger of an issue in '86 ad '87 than at any other time in his career.
Detroit bested Minnesota in nearly all aspects of the game, and in no area was that difference more stark than when looking up and down the Tiger batting order. With 896 runs scored (110 more than the Twins), Detroit averaged 5.5 runs per game.
But that wasn't a problem on this day. Chet Lemon tagged Blyleven for a two-run homer in the top of the second, but it was the high point of the game for the visiting Tigers.
The Twins struck back in the bottom of the inning, with Gary Gaetti, Tom Brunansky and Tim Laudner strafing the outfield with doubles. In the middle of it all was a Greg Gagne walk, meaning that when the dust cleared on Laudner's double that three runs had come across to score.
In the bottom of the fourth, Randy Bush gave a clear illustration of why he was such an integral part of the team. After a one-out single, he quickly stole second base. And then third, both with Brunansky at the plate. His antics led to Morris walking Brunansky, and then Gagne, to load the bases. Dan Gladden came through with a two-out single to push the lead to 4-2.
After Gladden's single, Morris settled down. He retired 13 of the last 14 Twins he faced in a complete game losing effort, with the one hit being a Kent Hrbek home run. Blyleven was chased with one out in the eighth, and Juan Berenguer struck out four of the five batters he faced to end the game.
Quite notable in this contest was the way Berenguer stalked the mound in his five-batter appearance. After each strike he'd pound his glove, circle the mound, and there was no shortage of distaste of the gestures from the Detroit dugout. Senor Smoke was breaking one of baseball's many unwritten rules - rules that were still an expectation and more expressly enforced then than they are now. After the game, Tom Kelly said he'd speak to Berenguer again about his behavior, but also said he wasn't about to head out in the middle of the game ("especially with the way he was throwing") and ask him to stop.
Tigers manager Sparky Anderson wasn't impressed. After talking about how good Berenguer had been in the game, he said:
"But I learned a long time ago, and I sat there and watching it, don't ever, when you've got a sleeping dog, don't ever try to embarrass him. Whatever this is with the glove coming up and that, don't do that. When you've got a dog down let him sleep. It's funny. Sometimes when the dog wakes up he'll bite you."
The 6-3 win gave Minnesota a 2-0 series lead. But had they awaken the sleeping Tiger-dog?