October Surprise Part 7: Doyle Foils Jays to Knot Division Lead

The final weekend of the 2009 season is here and the Tigers are in position for the American League Central title. Twenty-two years ago tonight the Tigers started the final season with the A.L. East in their sights. Here’s part seven of our series.

American League East Standings: October 2, 1987

Team Record Pct. GB
Toronto 96-63 .604 –
Detroit 95-64 .597 1

Doyle.jpgOf all the scenarios facing the Tigers for the final weekend, one was the most cut and dried: sweep the Blue Jays, win the division.

Game one of the decisive series took place on a cold Friday night. A crowd of 45,167 witnessed a rematch of the previous Sunday, Doyle Alexander and Jim Clancy.

The Jays scored first in the top of the second on Manny Lee’s three-run homer to right-center. In the bottom of that same inning the Tigers scored two runs of their own on a Chet Lemon single and a home run by rookie outfielder Scott Lusader.

In the third, Detroit took the lead. Alan Trammell hit his 28th homer of the year. Then Darrell Evans walked, and Matt Nokes singled moving Evans to third. Evans scored when Chet Lemon grounded into a double play. The Tigers led 4-3.

Alexander gave the Tigers yet another strong outing. Despite throwing nearly 30 pitches in the first inning alone, he settled down to yield just three runs on seven hits over seven and two-thirds innings. Five double plays helped Alexander raise his record to 9-0 and Mike Henneman earn his seventh save.

“I struggled like a big dog tonight,” Alexander told the Free Press’s Joe Lapointe. “Mike Henneman is the reason we won the ball game. We wouldn’t be where we are without Mike Henneman.”

A week earlier the Tigers were reeling, watching their title hopes evaporate. Now Detroit was tied for first place with
two games remaining.

“We’re feeling good about ourselves,” Evans said to Lapointe.

Tomorrow: Morris and Flanagan Face Off

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