Neither he nor Clemens was untouchable that night. The Red Sox jumped out to a 3-0 lead on a two-run homer by Dwight Evans in the first and a solo homer by Jim Rice in the second, but in the bottom of that inning Clemens gave up a bases-empty home run to Nokes, a two-run double to Trammell and an RBI groundout to Bergman. The Rocket also walked two batters in the inning and hit another. Clemens, who has always had trouble in Tiger Stadium, may have had a hard time gripping the ball; as Tiger starter Jack Morris would say the next—and similarly humid—night, "With all the sweat, it was like trying to hold a watermelon seed."
When Clemens was finally removed, trailing 7-5 with one out in the sixth, he had thrown 124 pitches and had given up seven earned runs on nine hits and four walks. It was his 26th birthday, and the Tigers had lit him up like a candle and won 11-6.
Terrell had gone 8⅓ innings, Trammell had knocked in five runs and Nokes had had a single, a double and a home run, but it's probably safe to say that when the 40,980 fans left the park, most of them were thinking, "Sparky, what a genius!" George Lee Anderson has been on the scene so long that some find it hard to believe he is only 54 years old; he was just 36 and prematurely white-haired when he took over Cincinnati's Big Red Machine in 1970. Sparky has changed a lot since then. He is no longer Captain Hook, for one thing; in Detroit's last 16 games, every Tiger starter has pitched into the seventh inning. For another, he doesn't make the outrageous statements he once did, such as: "Before he's through, Mike Laga will make us forget every power hitter who ever lived."
But the biggest change has been in his outlook on life. "I'm never gonna lose sleep over a ball game again," says Anderson, who has devoted much of his time over the last two years to CATCH, a nonprofit group aiding indigent children in Detroit hospitals. "Come October 3, I'll either be setting up a tee-off time or preparing for the playoffs. It don't make no difference. Back in '84 [when the Tigers won the World Series], it meant a lot to me because I wanted to win titles in both leagues. What a silly thing that was. Who cares? The day after the season ends, everybody'll be thinkin' about football. Sports is fantasy; it ain't real. You know what's reality? The wards at Children's Hospital, that's reality."
When the first game of the twi-night doubleheader began at 5:39 p.m. Friday, a tornado warning was in effect, and everyone in the park knew this was not going to be an ordinary night. The Red Sox scored first against Detroit's Morris on a double by Dwight Evans, a wild pitch and a passed ball, but the Tigers tied it up in the second against Mike Smithson on a single, a walk and an RBI single by designated hitter Darrell Evans. In the top of the third, it started raining cats and dogs, and the game was delayed an hour and 39 minutes. Then in the bottom of the fifth, the rain came down again, postponing action for another hour and six minutes. Morgan elected to do the humane thing by pulling Smithson, even though he had been pitching well. "No way I'd make a starter come back twice in the same game," said Morgan. Anderson, however, sent Morris back out for a third time after consulting with the pitcher. "My arm felt fine," Morris said after the game, having gone through seven undershirts and four uniform shirts during his seven interrupted innings.
The Tigers got two more runs, but Boston was never again able to get a man past second. When Morris came out, Mike Henneman, Detroit's Baby Face Nelson of a reliever, preserved the 3-1 win with two easy innings.
Even more encouraging for the Tigers than their two-game lead on Boston was the return to form of Morris, their former ace. He was 8-11 with a 4.79 ERA going into the game, but he had recently corrected a flaw in his delivery. "It has been a humbling experience," he said.
A surprising number of fans decided to stick around for the second game, which began at 11:43 p.m. Mercifully, and thanks to a generous strike zone by home plate umpire Dale Scott, the game moved along fairly quickly. The Red Sox seemed to have the pitching edge, with their latest acquisition, Mike Boddicker, going against the Tigers' talented but erratic righthander, Eric King. But Detroit got off to a quick 2-0 lead on two sacrifice flies and made it 3-0 in the sixth when Darrell Evans homered into the upper deck in right.
King ran out of gas in the seventh, loading the bases with one out, and first baseman Todd Benzinger doubled off reliever Don Heinkel to close the gap to 3-2. But Henneman came on in the eighth and notched his second save of the night. Or was that night and day? When Benzinger grounded back to the box to end the game at 2:32, his teammates glumly watched from their bunker; the Tigers poured out of their dugout to wild cheers from their fans.
They may not be famous, but the one distinguishing characteristic of these Tigers is their affection for the game. There it was, 3 a.m., and they were in no particular hurry to get home, like a bunch of blue-collar guys on the lobster shift. Players sat around eating meatballs and taco salad, just as they always do, to let the game soak in.