April 25, 1901: Tigers’ wild AL debut

1901 – At Bennett Park, the Detroit Tigers make an incredible comeback in their American League debut. Trailing 13 – 4 in the bottom of the 9th inning, the Tigers score 10 runs in their last at-bat to defeat the visiting Milwaukee Brewers, 14 – 13. Frank Dillon drives in the game-winning run with a double, his fourth of the game. Dillon’s four doubles is an opening day record that will be matched by Jim Greengrass in 1954.

No boxscore is available for this game, but here’s something for you: the 14-run game begins a four-game stretch in which the Tigers score 45 runs … and give up 38.


April 22, 1960: Colavito arrives with a bang

From Baseball-Reference.com:

1960 – A record opening day crowd of 53,563 at Briggs Stadium sees the Detroit Tigers chalk up their third straight win, 6 – 5, against the Chicago White Sox. Recently-acquired Rocky Colavito blasts a home run in his first at-bat with Detroit, and Eddie Yost adds a home run in the 5th inning.

Jim Bunning got the Opening Day start, Tom Morgan notched the win.

Here’s the boxscore.

On this date in 1984: First loss of the year

From Baseball Reference:

1984 — The Detroit Tigers suffer their first loss of the season after nine consecutive wins. The Tigers fall to the Kansas City Royals and rookie Bret Saberhagen, who earns his first major league victory.

Final score: Royals 5 – Tigers 2. Interesting that Dan Petry gave up five runs and Sparky still let him pitch eight innings.

Gibby hit a solo shot off Dan Quisenberry in the ninth, but it wasn’t enough. With the win, the Royals pushed their record to 6-6. Quisenberry earned saves in five of the wins.

Check out the boxscore.

On this date in Tigers history … the theme is offense, or lack thereof

Homers, blockbuster trades, a 20 spot and strikeouts galore …

1955 — Al Kaline hits three home runs in Briggs Stadium, including a pair in the 6th inning, to drive in six runs. The Tigers rout the A’s, 16-0, behind Steve Gromek‘s strong pitching.

1960Cleveland sends American League home run king, Rocky Colavito, to the Tigers for the league’s defending batting champion, Harvey Kuenn

1993 — The Tigers score 20 runs in a game for the second time this week, beating the Mariners, 20-3. Rob Deer is 1 for 2 and scores four runs, while Travis Fryman has four hits and scores five times. Chad Kreuter adds four hits and three runs and Gary Thurman paces the Tigers with four RBI.

2013 — The Tigers and Mariners combine for 40 strikeouts in 14 innings, three short of the major league record set by the Angels and A’s on July 9, 1971, in 20 innings. Prince Fielder leads the pack with five strikeouts, while Austin Jackson and Franklin Gutierrez both earn golden sombreros. Starting pitchers Max Scherzer and Felix Hernandez post almost identical pitching lines, both striking out 12 and giving up a single run in eight innings of work. The Tigers top the M’s, 2 – 1, with the game ending when Justin Smoak is tagged out at home by the Bengals’ Brayan Pena while trying to score the tying run from first base on Dustin Ackley‘s double.


On this date in Tigers history …

Two Opening Day losses at the hands of the dreaded White Sox:

1959 – On Opening Day at Briggs Stadium, White Sox second baseman Nellie Fox goes 5 for 7 and hits an unlikely 14th-inning two-run home run off Don Mossi to beat the Tigers, 9 – 7. Fox did not homer in 623 at-bats last season.

2006 – Jim Thome and Joe Crede hit two-run home runs and Paul Konerko adds a solo shot, leading the White Sox to a 5 – 3 victory in the Tigers’ home opener. Freddy Garcia strikes out five and limits the Tigers to five hits in six innings en route to his 100th career victory.

I think that 2006 recap was used a dozen or so times between 2004 and 2012.

— From Baseball-Reference.com

April 8, 2012: Easter Sunday thriller

This was a classic:

The Red Sox and Tigers stage an epic battle on Easter Sunday. Detroit takes an early 5 – 0 lead off Clay Buchholz, but Boston roars back to chase Max Scherzer in the 3rd inning after he has coughed up 7 runs. Sox closer Alfredo Aceves takes the mound in the bottom of the 9th with a 10 – 7 lead, but gives up a pair of singles and a three-run homer to Miguel Cabrera without retiring anyone. Boston scores two runs off Joaquin Benoit in the top of the 11th, but this time it’s Mark Melancon who can’t close the game. After giving up a sacrifice fly to Delmon Young, he has two strikes on Alex Avila with two outs when the Tigers’ catcher hits a ball off the top of the railing of the right field fence for a game-winning two-run homer after 4 hours and 45 minutes of baseball.

Notables from the box score:


April 8, 2002: Randy Smith Era ends

Sometimes things seem like they happened just yesterday. This seems like a lifetime ago.

Little did we know then how much lower the Tigers franchise would have to go before returning to competitiveness:

After opening their season with six straight losses, the Detroit Tigers fire manager Phil Garner and general manager Randy Smith. Coach Luis Pujols takes over the reins on an interim basis while team president Dave Dombrowski assumes the GM’s responsibilities.

I was living in Houston at the time and was listening to the Astros game at work. Milo Hamilton and Alan Ashby were reporting on a press conference taking place in Detroit. Hamilton said something like, “That probably is bad news for our pal Phil Garner.”



On this date in Tigers history: Hello, Devil Rays; Adios, Sheff

I remember both of these so clearly.

This one was fun:

1998 – In their first game ever, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays lose to the Detroit Tigers, 11 – 6. Pitcher Wilson Alvarez takes the loss for Tampa while third baseman Wade Boggs hits the first home run in team history and drives in three runs.

Here’s the box scoreJustin Thompson with the W! I remember Tom Gage’s game story lede being about two teams going in opposite directions. Man, we hoped so. In the end, both teams were bad. The ’98 Tigers finished at 65-97, last in the Central — their first in that division — 24 games out. The Rays wound up last in the A.L. East at 63-99.

This one hurt — and still hurts.

2009 – The Detroit Tigers surprisingly cut slugger Gary Sheffield, who is one home run shy of 500 for his career. Sheffield, a 9-time All-Star, is 25th on the all-time home run list and 27th in RBI (1,633). He only hit .178 in spring training, but went deep in 5 of 45 at-bats. He says he is not shocked, but is surprised. Marcus Thames will replace Sheffield as Detroit’s starting DH.

— From Baseball-Reference.com