DETROIT 11, MINNESOTA 2 IN DETROIT
Date: Tuesday, August 18.
Batting stars: Roy Smalley was 1-for-1 with a home run (his seventh) and a walk. Randy Bush was 1-for-3 with a home run (his seventh) and a walk. Greg Gagne was 2-for-4.
Pitching star: George Frazier pitched 1.2 scoreless innings, giving up a walk and striking out one.
Opposition stars: Larry Herndon was 3-for-3 with two home runs (his seventh and eighth) and a double, driving in five. Chet Lemon was 3-for-4 with a double and two runs. Jack Morris struck out seven in seven innings, giving up two runs on three hits and two walks.
The game: The Tigers jumped on Steve Carlton for six runs in the first inning. Herndon hit a three-run homer and Tom Brookens a two-run homer in the inning. Detroit added four in the fourth as Herndon hit a two-run homer. The Twins runs came on solo homers by Bush in the third and Smalley in the seventh, but the solo homers didn't hurt Morris.
Of note: Bush again led off and played right field, with Tom Brunansky in left and Dan Gladden out of the lineup. Gladden did come in for defense late in the game...Gene Larkin was the DH, with Smalley used as a pinch-hitter and staying in the game to play third...Kirby Puckett was 0-for-3, dropping his average to .315...Carlton was again matched up against another team's ace, but this time he was not able to give the Twins innings. He lasted only three, allowing nine runs (six earned) on eleven hits and one walk with two strikeouts...Roy Smith saved the bullpen by coming in to pitch 3.1 innings of relief, allowing two runs on three hits and a walk with one strikeout. It's another example of how the game has changed--it's rare that someone comes in to pitch 3.1 innings of relief any more.
Record: The Twins were 66-55, in first place by five games over Oakland.
Player profile: Outfielder Larry Herndon has been largely forgotten, but he was a big-league regular for several years. He was born in Sunflower, Mississippi, went to high school in Memphis, attended Tennessee State, and was drafted by St. Louis in the third round in 1971. He was a base-stealer in the minors, stealing 41 bases in Class A in 1973 and 50 in AA in 1974. This accounts for his odd line as a September call-up with the Cardinals: He played in twelve games, scored three runs, but had only one at-bat (he singled). He was used as a pinch-runner in the other eleven games. Those 91 stolen bases in two minor league seasons are just one shy of the number he stole in a thirteen-year major league career. St. Louis traded him to the Giants in May of 1975 and he became a regular outfielder for them from 1976 through 1981 with the exception of 1977, when he missed a lot of time due to injuries. He was nothing special for them, really, batting .267/.310/.373. His best year for San Francisco was his last one, when he batted .288. The Giants then traded him to Detroit in a deal that involved Dan Schatzeder. His next two years were the best of his career, as he batted .297/.341/.479 and slugged 43 home runs. He batted .280 in 1984, but with only seven homers. He was still a regular for the Tigers in 1985, but gradually lost playing time after that. He had one more good year, though, batting .324/.378/.520 in 225 at-bats in 1987. He was pretty much a platoon player at this point, as he hit left-handers much better than righties throughout his career. He played one more season for the Tigers and then his career was over. His career numbers are .274/.322/.409 in 4877 at-bats. He was widely considered to provide leadership in the clubhouse, a phrase that gets tossed around carelessly but is still an important thing when it's real. He served as a major and minor league batting coach for the Tigers for many years. How good was he? Well, he never made an all-star team and he never led the league in anything, but he was good enough that major league managers, including some pretty good ones, were willing to send him out there for over fifteen hundred major league games, and that's a lot of games.