The Curious Case of June 2, 1980: Tigers and Mariners Play to a Tie

OldTimeWriterXSmall.jpgIn case you were wondering, here’s how the Tigers have fared against the Mariners since Seattle joined the American League in 1977:

  • All-Time Record: 185-152-1
  • All-Time at Home: 104-64-1
  • All-Time at Comerica Park: 22-18
  • All-Time at Seattle: 81-88

Wait a second. The Tigers and Mariners played to a tie? In the 20th century?

This little item sent me scrambling to my favorite site, Baseball-Reference.com, for the details. Here’s what I found:

On Monday, June 2, 1980, (back when the Tigers had 8 p.m. start times) Jack Morris faced lefty Rick Honeycutt at Tiger Stadium. According to the box score, the game-time weather was rainy, which means there could’ve been a rain delay — or more than one. In fact, the 3:43 time of game indicates that it was probably a combo of weather and American League-style baseball that slowed the game.

So the game lasted 13 innings. Big whoop, right? Not so fast. Beyond the oddity that is the tie in Major League Baseball, this particular game had some interesting sub-plots. For example, take a gander at the pitching lines from that night:

Seattle

  • Honeycutt: 9 IP – 9 H – 3 R – 3 ER – 1 BB – 3 K
  • Shane Rawley: 4 IP – 2 H – 0 R – 5 BB – 1 K

Detroit

  • Morris: 10 IP – 10 H – 3 R – 3 ER – 0 BB – 7 K
  • Aurelio Lopez: 3 IP – 2 H – 0 R – 0 BB – 3 K

Yes, you read that right: 13 IP by Tigers pitchers, zero walks.

Of the 10 hits Morris surrendered, eight came from Seattle DH (and former Tiger) Dan Meyer — he went 5 for 6 but with no RBI — and Detroit native Tom Paciorek (3 for 6, 2 RBI).

As for the Tigers, their offense was sparse and scattered. Kirk Gibson, who batted eighth, hit a solo shot off Honeycutt, and Richie Hebner drove in a pair going 2 for 3.

(Side note: Tigers icon Willie Horton pinch hit for M’s catcher Larry Cox in the ninth and grounded out, pitcher to first.)

The Tigers had the winning run on third in the bottom half of the 13th after a Lance Parrish single and then two walks. But Tom Brookens flied out to right to end the threat and the game — tied at three.

Why this game wasn’t finished is a bit of a mystery — at least to me. Looking at the schedule from June 1980, the 3-3 game was the first of a three-game series which means they could have continued it before the Tuesday, June 3 game or the one on June 4.

Oddly enough, each club’s record adds up to 162 games; the Tigers finished in fourth in the A.L. East at 84-78 and the Mariners dead last in the West at 59-103. So they both got credited for a win?

The only other thing that stands out about Tigers-Mariners matchups in 1980 is the July 20 game in the Kingdome. Baseball-Reference.com shows that the Tigers won 5-2, but with a note that the game was forfeited to the Mariners. Yet, the box score doesn’t indicate anything other than a Tigers win. Who knows?

I’ve got a feeling we won’t be seeing any ties in this weekend series, but the no-walks approach is something Jim Leyland can no doubt get behind.

Author: Mike McClary

Upbeat guy.

3 thoughts on “The Curious Case of June 2, 1980: Tigers and Mariners Play to a Tie”

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