2011 ALCS: Ranking the 10 Greatest ALCS Moments in Detroit Tigers History
With the excitement building around the current ALCS battle, a look into the past always provides fans with a sense of nostalgia.
Since its inception in 1969, the year after the '68 Tigers won the World Series, the American League Championship series has brought smiles, tears, drama and passion with every passing season.
Our beloved Detroit Tigers have graced this big stage five times, as they made it in 1972, 1984, 1987, 2006 and their current run during 2011.
Here are the top 10 greatest ALCS moments for the Detroit Tigers. Enjoy!
10. Johnny Grubb Double in 11th Inning of Game 2 in 1984
During Game 2 of the ALCS against the Kansas City Royals in 1984, the game was tight the whole way. The Tigers earned a quick three-run lead that they would see disappear in the seventh inning.
The game stayed tied until the top of the 11th. Lance Parrish singled and quickly moved to second on an error. Parrish was forced out at third later in the inning to make it runners at first and second with one out and Grubb up to bat.
Grubb would proceed to hit a two-run double, which in turn sealed the Game 2 victory for the Detroit Tigers.
This was an important win as it came in Kansas City; after this game, the series shifted back to Tiger Stadium, where the Tigers would seal the series victory in Game 3.
9. Delmon Young's Two Home Runs Lift Tigers Past Rangers in Game 5 of 2011 ALCS
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While this many not seem important, Delmon Young's performance launched the Tigers right back into this series.
This is such a key moment in the history for the Tigers because Young wasn't even supposed to be on the roster. Had Ordonez not re-injured his ankle, Young would never have appeared in Game 5.
After a rough outing in Game 4, Young bounced back in a big way, putting two C.J. Wilson pitches into the left field bleachers while accumulating three critical RBIs.
Amidst all the talk of his oblique injury and questions about his health, Young put them all to rest in Game 5. Not only did this give the Tigers a much-needed win to keep the series alive, it also gave the team a confidence boost as it heads into Texas for the final two games of the ALCS.
8. Burt Campaneris Throws a Bat at Lerrin Lagrow in 1972 ALCS
Some amazing things have happened in baseball history. This was one of those moments.
Bert Campaneris of the Athletics had three hits, two stolen bases, and two runs scored. When he approached the plate in the seventh inning, he had already been nearly hit twice and surely was assuming it could happen again.
This time, Detroit Tigers pitcher Lerrin Lagrow hit Campaneris in the ankle with his first pitch. Already angry at being pitched so aggressively, Companeris launched his bat at Lagrow. The bat sailed through the air, and had he not ducked at the right time, Lagrow could have been seriously hurt.
It took three umpires to restrain Tigers manager Billy Hunter. Both Lagrow and Campaneris were suspended for the rest of the ALCS.
7. Kenny Rogers Dominant in Game 3 Victory in 2006 ALCS
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In an effort that will go down as one of the great postseason pitching performances in Tigers' history, Kenny Rogers held Oakland to two hits and no runs in Game 3 of the 2006 ALCS.
Rogers had six strikeouts, two walks, and .545 WHIP. This also became his second victory of the postseason; it put the Tigers in position to complete the sweep of the Oakland Athletics and return to the World Series for the first time in 22 years.
6. Miguel Cabrera's Miracle RBI Double in Game 5 of 2011 ALCS
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While the series is not over yet, the Tigers have given themselves a chance at a comeback with win in Game 5.
With Ryan Raburn on and no outs, Cabrera hit a line shot right at third basemen Adrian Beltre. Amazingly, the ball hit the bag and bounced over Beltre's head, into left field, which allowed Raburn to score and Cabrera to reach second base.
This hit led to a four-batter cycle (single, double, triple, home run) for the first time in postseason history. Without that clutch hit, and just a dash of luck, the Tigers may not have gotten all of those runs across home plate.
This moment may prove critical as the Tigers continue to battle the Rangers in the 2011 ALCS.
5. Pat Sheridan's 2-Run Shot in the Eighth Inning of Game 3 in 1987 ALCS
While the Detroit Tigers would eventually go on to lose this series in five games, this home run by Sheridan at least gave them a shot at performing a miracle comeback.
The Tigers took an early 5-0 lead until the Minnesota Twins countered with six unanswered runs. In the eighth inning, with a man on, Sheridan took a pitch from Reardon, whom he was 1 for 6 lifetime against, and put it into the upper deck in right field.
This saved the Tigers from blowing a huge five-run lead; it also helped to avoid giving the Twins all the momentum and an opportunity to sweep them out of the ALCS. It put the series at 2-1, and gave the Tigers a legitimate chance to win.
4. Mickey Lolich Pitches Tigers to Game 5 in 1972 ALCS
In one of the most historic and memorable postseason games for the Detroit Tigers, Mickey Lolich went nine innings and only gave up one run, which was a solo shot by Mike Epstein.
While the A's scored two runs in the tenth, the Tigers were determined to take this series to a Game 5. With back-to-back singles by McAuliffe and Kaline and a wild pitch that sent the runners to second and third, Gates Brown was walked. This loaded the bases with no outs.
Bill Freehan hit a grounder that should have been a double play, but was misplayed by the Oakland infield. McAuliffe scored and everyone else was safe. The next batter was Norm Cash, and he was walked, which led to another Tigers run. Finally, Jim Northrup hit a single and scored the winning run.
This was no doubt one of the most exciting finishes in MLB postseason history. This was also the first time in ALCS history that a deciding Game 5 was necessary.
3. Milt Wilcox Throws Eight Shutout Innings in Game 3 of 1984 ALCS
In order to sweep the 1984 ALCS, the Tigers needed a victory in Tiger Stadium, and they got just that.
Milt Wilcox lasted eight innings, giving up only two hits and no runs. The Royals' first hit didn't come until the fourth inning, while their second and final hit off of Wilcox came in the eighth. With eight strikeouts and only two walks, Wilcox gave his team an outstanding outing.
Willie Hernandez, who won both the AL MVP and Cy Young awards that year, came in to close out the ninth inning.
This game ultimately became both a stepping stone and a momentum builder heading into the World Series against the San Diego Padres.
2. Victor Martinez Gets Injured While Hitting Home Run in Game 3 of 2011 ALCS
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Some players play the game the right way. Without a doubt, Victor Martinez is one of these players.
After hitting a home run off of Colby Lewis in the fourth inning of Game 3, Martinez said he felt a sharp pain while swinging during the at-bat. His trot around the base paths was unusually slow, so slow, in fact, that he felt the need to tell the Rangers' catcher that he was not gloating and to make sure and inform Lewis. This is a classy move from an incredible baseball player.
As Martinez entered the dugout, he flung his helmet in anger at being hurt on the play. Even with this injury, there was no chance Martinez would come out of the game.
As every Tigers fan started to worry about the fate of their favorite franchise, Martinez came back with the quote of the series: “The only way I won’t play tomorrow is if I wake up and I’m dead.”
If the Tigers reach the World Series, it will be because players like Martinez possess a never-say-die mentality.
1. 3-Run Home Run by Magglio Ordonez to Clinch the ALCS in 2006
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There is absolutely no question that this is the number one ALCS moment in Detroit Tigers history.
Not only did this home run seal the ALCS in 2006 and give the Tigers their first trip to the World Series since 1984, but it was also the first series-clinching homer since Aaron Boone did it for the New York Yankees in 2003.
Ordonez played the game of his life that night. Before this miracle shot, he had a home run in the sixth inning off of Dan Haren.
When Ordonez came to bat in the ninth inning, the game was tied 3-3. Craig Monroe and Placido Polanco had already singled. Ordonez took a pitch from Huston Street and sent it over the wall in left field.
This was only the eighth home run to ever end a postseason series.
Among all the criticism and doubt swirling around Ordonez and the deal he signed with the Tigers in 2005, he put all of that aside and gave an outstanding performance that sent his team to the World Series.