1984 World Series Game 2: Bevacquaman to the Rescue

Game 2 gave the Tigers a chance to put San Diego on its heels going into the Detroit junction of the series.  A 2-0 lead going home would put the Tigers very definitively in the driver’s seat.  While the Padres had swiped three games in a row to win the NLCS, those were all at home.  Further, no team in World Series history had come back from an 0-2 deficit if those 2 losses had been at home.

True, the Padres had a solid road record in the regular season, 44-37, nearly the same as their home record.  But they didn’t want to have to win at least 2 on the road against a 104-game winner.

Lemon in game 1.

The pitching matchup paired a couple of righties, Petry vs. veteran journeyman Ed Whitson.  Whitson had the Padres’ staff’s highest career win total at 54.[1]  The long-legged hopalong was also the only Padre starter to make it past the fifth inning in the postseason.[2]

Detroit opened the game creating the optimal viewing experience for the fans back home watching in little downtown bars and suburban bungalows.  Lou Whitaker popped one into left center for a long single on the game’s first pitch.

On a hit and run play, Trammell banged his first pitch at a deep Carmelo Martinez in left and Whitaker slid into third safely.  Gibson cracked the third pitch into right center and just like that, the Tigers were up 1-0–the full force of their offense had roared out of the gate.

Gibby wasted little time stealing on an off-speed pitch that didn’t so much as draw a throw from Terry Kennedy, and Detroit had two in scoring position.  A few pitchers later, Whitson teased a big balloon up there and Parrish threw his bat at it, hitting it foul into deep left. Martinez made the put out, and it was enough to score Tram and send Gibson to third.

Darrell Evans blooped one beyond the outstretched glove of Templeton to score Gibson and make it 3-0.  It marked a huge turning point in the game: Whitson was pulled just that fast, and in came the long reliever Andy Hawkins.

Evans drives in Gibson and it’s 3-0.

Hawkins looked like a fellow who’d be named Andy Hawkins, slightly ennobled face, big and rangy.  The 1978 draft pick had bounced between the Padres and AAA Hawaii in ’82 and ‘83[3]; in ’84 he played a Dave Rozema-like role for his team, appearing in 36 games and starting 22.[4]  Someone down in the rotation like that generally won’t get a starting slot in the postseason, and that was Hawkins’s fate in ’84.  But his experience as a starter equipped him to go long distances in relief as needed. His season stats, 8-9, with a 4.68 ERA, wasn’t much to strike fear into the hearts of the white-hot Tigers hitters.

Hawkins got his first batter, Chet Lemon, and that ended the inning.  He came back for a 1-2-3 second inning, and the Tigers’ flame was extinguished, as Hawkins set about to hide all kindling and matches.

Meanwhile, the first at-bat of the Padres’ half of the first would go on to perfectly epitomize the game for the Tigers.  Alan Wiggins bunted one to the left of the mound. Petry dived and got a touch of leather on it, but couldn’t catch it.  He spun it to the left of Whitaker, and it got by him, allowing Wiggins to reach first. 

The Pads took the quarter-inch by which Petry’s out-stretched frame had been short of fielding it and turned it into a run.  After a walk and a sacrifice, Nettles flew out for second sac, this one bringing in Wiggins from third.  It was 3-1 Detroit.

In the third, a danger that had been lying in wait made itself briefly known: the rock-hard infield of Jack Murphy Stadium.  In Game 5 of the playoffs, the pavement-like surface had taken a sharp Tony Gwynn grounder and turned it into a weapon that nearly put Ryne Sandberg’s eye out before finding right-center field and driving in the game-winning runs.  Now, it sent a crisp grounder at Trammell an inch or two off the ground, glancing off his wrist to put Steve Garvey on.  A walk moved him over, but Petry got out of the jam with another grounder, this one forcing Nettles at second—no harm no foul.  But the bad hop pointed out the treacherous San Diego infield, a constant danger.

In the 4th, Kurt Bevacqua demonstrated that he wasn’t to be overlooked in his spot at DH by singling into left for his second hit of the series.  Templeton’s single got Kurt to third, then Bobby Brown’s groundout got him in to make it a one-run game, 3-2.

Bobby Brown scores Bevacqua.

Alan Wiggins troubled Petry further by singling Brown to second; Tony Gwynn’s lineout to Gibby was a huge out, stranding two and ending the inning.

Meanwhile Hawkins, the big Texan, was in control.  He made quick work of Detroit in the 5th striking out Whitaker and Trammell, clocking in “around 90” according to Garagiola.[5]  The Tigers had entered into the first—and what would be the last—legitimate downturn in the postseason, a stretch of several innings in which nothing went right.

In the fifth, with one out, Petry walked Nettles.  Next, Terry Kennedy hit one hard right at Whitaker for a cinch double play.  But the iron infield sent “Sweet Lou” ducking just like Sandberg had.  It punched him in the clavicle and spun into the dirt with no play, everyone safe.

Kurt Bevacqua the earned immortality by popping one into the left field stands for a three-run shot that made it 5-3 S.D.  If the double-play would’ve panned out, the game would be tied.

Lou’s bad hop and Bevacqua’s homer.

In the top of the 6th, Gibson reached base with a bloop single.  On a hit and run play, Evans got good lumber on it but sent it straight to Gwynn who doubled up Gibson after catching the liner. Hawkins had completed his shutout, and Craig Lefferts came in for the Pads in the top of the 7th.

Evans’ double play was emblematic of the Tigers’ rough night

Bill Scherrer, Doug Bair (who faced one batter) and Hernandez kept the Padres from scoring, but Craig Lefferts had no trouble with Detroit hitters.  When Herndon popped one down the line that three Padres nearly flubbed by crashing into each other, Wiggins held on to it, and the game was over.  The Padres had won 5-3 to tie the series.

Doug Bair faced one batter in the 84 World Series. We take you there.

What a moral victory for them: after their starter had been chased in the first, they’d pitched shutout ball and had scored 5, all against a starter of the caliber of Dan Petry. Heading to Detroit, momentum didn’t really seem to reside with one side more than the other.

[1] CBS. Television Broadcast. World Series Game 1. Oct. 10, 1984.

[2] Ibid

[3] Thornley, Stew. Andy Hawkins. SABR.org. https://sabr.org/bioproj/person/andy-hawkins/

[4] Andy Hawkins. Baseball-Reference.com. https://sabr.org/bioproj/person/andy-hawkins/

[5] CBS.

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