Danny Darwin pitched a two-hitter Wednesday at Detroit and the Milwaukee Brewers ended any hopes the Tigers had of winning every game by beating them, 2-0.
The Tigers, following up last season's fantastic 35-5 start, won their first six games and people were beginning to think it might be June before they even lost at all.
But Darwin, one of those bright prospects who has never quite made it big, changed speeds brilliantly and had excellent control. He gave up a single to Lou Whitaker in the third and another to Lance Parrish in the fourth. He finished with a flourish, retiring the last 13 batters.
Darwin, an 8-12 pitcher with Texas last year, was clobbered by his former mates in his first start this season. But he had the Tigers off balance all day Wednesday and did not permit them to pull a ball in the air all afternoon. Even a rain delay of more than one hour at the start failed to deter the big 29-year-old right-hander.
Jack Morris, winner of his first two starts for the world champions, was the loser, despite pitching a six-hitter and striking out nine. Mike Gantner, only 1 for 20 going into the game, singled in one run in the fifth and scored the other in the eighth after hitting a triple.
"This is a confidence builder," Darwin said. "There's nothing like pitching a shutout against the world champions to make you feel good.
"I felt the essential thing was to keep them off balance. I managed to change speeds well and most of the time I was putting the ball where I wanted.
"In my first start Friday, I was so pumped up going against my old friends that I forgot about pitching. Today I just settled down and pitched."
Darwin is a product of the Ranger organization. In 1980, his first full season, he posted a 13-4 record. A bright future was forecast. However, except for an occasional brilliant performance, he has been more loser than winner since 1980.
He came to the Brewers in a three-way deal that sent catcher Jim Sundberg to Kansas City and catcher Don Slaught to Texas.
His performance came just at the time the Tigers were beginning to believe they were invincible. Last season they won their first nine to begin the best opening 40 games any team ever had.
They have a schedule made to order. They won't play any of the other contenders in the East until June 6. The Brewers and Cleveland Indians, the last two teams in the Eastern Conference last season, and all the teams in the Western Conference provide the Tigers' opposition for the first two months of the season. They could duplicate last season's start.
Morris, after pitching his second straight complete game, is aware of how well Gantner hits him.
"Check what he's hitting against me," Morris said. "The thing is, I made good pitches. If I'd hung something in his face, it would be something different.
"I've thrown everything imaginable to him and in every imaginable location. I don't know how high I can put him on a pedestal, but he's hit me better than anybody in the league."
Gantner doesn't know why he hits Morris. "When you're struggling the way I've been," he said, "you don't go up there looking for a pitch--you just look for the ball.
"We came back today after a tough loss last night (2-1 to the Tigers). We believe in ourselves. If we can keep everyone healthy, we'll be a good team."
Oakland 8, Seattle 4--Don Sutton, caught in a massive traffic jam, decided he had to take drastic action if he was going to get to the Oakland ballpark in time to start against the Mariners.
So, he drove off the highway, zigzagged through some bushes, abandoned his car and got a lift in a pickup truck from a highway worker, who drove on the shoulder to get him to Oakland Coliseum in time.
Sutton arrived 45 minutes before game time, cut short his warmup, then pitched seven innings to win his second in a row for the A's.
"This may be the only time in baseball an assist should go to a man out of uniform," Sutton said. "Terry Costa is the guy, and he got me here on time."
Sutton had trouble mainly with red-hot Jim Presley. Presley hit a two-run double in the second inning, then hit his major league-leading sixth home run with a man on in the fourth.
But Sutton has a hot hitter on his side, too. Mike Davis belted his fourth home run, singled, walked and scored three runs. His home run in the eighth completed the scoring and gave him the league lead in RBI (14), runs scored (12) and total bases (27).
Toronto 3, Texas 1--Jesse Barfield could do nothing with Charlie Hough's knuckleball in three tries at Toronto, but in the 10th inning, with two on and two out, he clobbered a Dave Stewart fastball for a three-run home run.
The Rangers had scored a run off Bill Caudill in the top of the 10th on Toby Harrah's sacrifice fly. Hough held the Blue Jays to three hits but gave way to Stewart with two on and one out in the ninth. Stewart worked out of that jam but gave up singles to Buck Martinez and Len Matuszek before Barfield hit his second homer of the season.