Doyle Alexander and The 1987 AL East Race

Charles ClintonCorrespondent IApril 8, 2009

If you are a hardcore fan of the Detroit Tigers the name Doyle Alexander probably invokes bittersweet memories. People loved the fact that he helped the Tigers win the AL East in 1987, but hate the fact that they traded then-minor league prospect John Smoltz to the Atlanta Braves to get him. 

For Tiger fans who grew up during the 1990s like myself, it was a bitter pill to swallow whenever Smoltz and the Atlanta Braves made it to the World Series knowing full well we could had used his talents at the time.  But the short term effects of trading Alexander were absolutely amazing. 

In 1987 the Tigers and the Toronto Blue Jays were in a Division race that went down to the wire from July to the end of the season.  The starters for both teams were getting overworked so the Tigers made a move shortly before the trade deadline to bring another starter in who could help out. 

Alexander was a familiar face to Tiger fans—he had been the veteran ace of the up and coming Blue Jay staff in 84 and 85 in which both the Tigers and Blue Jays won the division respectively.  He was 37 years old and in his 17th major league season, he had never won a ring and he knew he wasn't going to get many chances after this.

Doyle started 11 games, won nine of them and didn't lose a single one, on top of that he had three complete game shutouts. 

In one of the no-decisions was one of the most memorable games in Tiger history he pitched for ten innings of a 13 inning marathon which they later won over the Jays at old Exhibition Stadium in Toronto with a 500 foot home run by Kirk Gibson foreshadowing his triumph with the Dodgers next year. 

In spite of Alexander's postseason faltering in the ALCS that year against the Minnesota Twins, his performance in the regular season stands as one of the greatest stretches in the history of an old and storied franchise.