SI Vault
 
THE TIGERS SEE TOO MUCH RED
William Leggett
October 14, 1968
Detroit went back to St. Louis wondering where the next starting pitcher was coming from. But the real problem was all of those bright Cardinal uniforms, intimidating the team wherever it turned. Bob Gibson simply froze the Tigers. It was the infuriating Lou Brock who stung them into making a last-ditch stand
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
October 14, 1968

The Tigers See Too Much Red

Detroit went back to St. Louis wondering where the next starting pitcher was coming from. But the real problem was all of those bright Cardinal uniforms, intimidating the team wherever it turned. Bob Gibson simply froze the Tigers. It was the infuriating Lou Brock who stung them into making a last-ditch stand

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue
1 2 3 4 5

Five minutes into the first inning it looked dreadfully possible that the only place the Tigers were going was home. St. Louis scored three times off Pitcher Mickey Lolich as Lou Brock started things in his usual spectacular fashion by doubling to left and scoring on a single by Curt Flood. Orlando Cepeda followed with a home run. With certain annihilation staring them in the face, Detroit's depressed followers fell silent, but in the fourth inning they came to life when Mickey Stanley's leadoff triple landed a millimeter fair inside the right-field line and Norm Cash scored him with a sacrifice fly. Willie Horton then hit a tremendous triple deep to center field and Jim Northrup followed with a hard grounder that skipped off a stone and over Infielder Julian Javier's head. The Tigers were only one run down.

Elation in the stands subsided in the fifth when Brock, who through the first five games was hitting an alltime Series high of .524, again doubled. Javier singled to left and Brock took off for home and a sure run. But Horton moved in on the ball and let fly a looping throw from left field. It was true but high. Brock, failing to slide, missed touching home plate by the width of Freehan's strong right arm—placed strategically in his way—and Detroit had one of the biggest outs of the Series.

Although he was enjoying his first good day behind the plate, Freehan was still looking for his first hit as he came to bat in the sixth with the bases loaded. But again he was frustrated when he bounced into an inning-ending forceout. The late-inning Tiger rush would not come. Was it too early? It was.

In the seventh, when it did come, it happened in the strangest way—with a one-out bloop hit by Lolich, who in this Series suddenly found a batting eye. Pitcher Joe Hoerner, who had stopped the Tigers so successfully in the third game, was summoned to relieve starter Nelson Briles. The Tigers tore Hoerner apart. Dick McAuliffe singled sharply past first and Mickey Stanley walked. The scene was set for Al Kaline. The big crowd stood when he entered the batter's box. "I was looking for a fastball," said Kaline, "because that's the way Hoerner pitched me before." Kaline got his fastball and hit it into short center field to bring home the tying and eventual winning runs. Cash's second hit brought home the fifth run.

The crowd stood again as Kaline took his place in right field at the end of the inning. He tipped his cap. "Somehow," said Kaline, "I enjoy hitting with men on base. I just don't seem to get the same incentive when they're not there. When I saw all those people standing I got goose bumps. It's hard to describe the way you feel. You try to pay them back because they've been good fans and I wanted so much to have them see us win one game here after the way they had treated us all season."

The Tigers went back to St. Louis with their pride still intact and their hopes high.

1 2 3 4 5