In early September, Frank Tanana was pitching so poorly, Manager Sparky Anderson gave up on his veteran left-hander.
It was the forgotten man--Tanana--who pitched the Tigers right back into the pennant race in the American League East Tuesday night at Detroit.
Tanana gave up just three hits in eight innings, and Bill Madlock and Chet Lemon homered as the Tigers beat the Baltimore Orioles, 10-1. With Milwaukee beating the Toronto Blue Jays, 5-3, the Tigers moved to within 1 1/2 games of the Blue Jays.
The victory assured the Tigers of being no worse than three games behind when the Blue Jays go to Detroit Friday for the last three games of the regular season.
"I don't worry, now," Anderson told United Press International. "At least I know we got a shot at them. They cannot lock us out of a shot. They've given us a shot.
"It gives us a big lift to have Frank (Tanana) return to form. He should have had the win in Toronto, too."
Tanana, who was 13-7 after beating Chicago on Aug. 11, was hit hard in each of his next six starts, losing three of them. Anderson gave him 10 days off beginning Sept. 15.
Last Friday, in desperation, Anderson started Tanana against the Blue Jays in Toronto. The former Angel star deserved better than a no decision. He shut out the Blue Jays on five hits for seven innings and departed with a 2-0 lead. The Tigers' shaky bullpen lost the game in the ninth.
"You don't want to stink like I stunk," Tanana said. "The Spark (Anderson) probably stuck with me longer than he should have. But the time off gave me a little time to think. I felt good Friday and I felt good again tonight. If they need me Saturday or Sunday, I'll be ready.
"My problem was mechanical. (Pitching coach) Billy Muffett wanted me to flatten out my delivery. It took awhile for it to sink in.
"Now, it helps my curveball, it helps my delivery, it helps my deception. When you throw as slow as I do, that's important," added Tanana, who had a blazing fastball before he developed arm trouble several years ago.
"I wasn't here in '84, but I understand this place gets wild. I'm sure that's the way it'll be when the Blue Jays get here Friday. I'm just glad to help keep us in the race."
With Lemon driving in four runs and Madlock three, the Tigers made sure Tanana (14-10) would end his losing streak. The only run he gave up was Lee Lacy's seventh home run in the fifth inning.
In the six starts before Anderson gave him the 10-day rest, Tanana made it through 6 innings only once. He pitched 22 innings, giving up 45 hits and 28 runs, 27 of them earned.
Madlock, as the second hitter in the first inning for the Tigers, hit his 14th home run. It started the Tigers on their way to a romp. In the first seven innings, they were held scoreless only in the second.
"When I hit it, we knew we wouldn't be shut out," Madlock said. "I think it relaxed us."
Milwaukee 5, Toronto 3--It was more than just their third straight defeat at Toronto. The Blue Jays, who lost star shortstop Tony Fernandez for the season with a broken elbow Friday night, lost catcher Ernie Whitt in this one, probably for the season.
Whitt, who went 2 for 3, suffered two broken ribs while breaking up a double play in the sixth inning. X-rays revealed the broken ribs on the left side.
Whitt opened the sixth with an infield hit. Jesse Barfield grounded to third baseman Juan Castillo, who threw to second baseman Paul Molitor for the force. Whitt threw himself across Molitor's legs, preventing the completion of the double play. Molitor was unhurt, but Whitt was on the ground for about five minutes before walking off under his own power.
"I tried to jump out of the way," Molitor said. "But I just caught him in the rib cage with my knee. He came in there very hard trying to break up a double play. He had a clean slide, but there was a lot of contact. It's a tough injury for the Blue Jays."
Before going to Detroit to end the season, the Blue Jays must play another game here. For sure, they won't have Whitt for this one.
"I am not down on the possibility that he can't play," Manager Jimy Williams said, "but it certainly would seem difficult."
Whitt, who has hit 19 home runs, driven in 75 runs and is batting .268, was replaced by Charlie Moore, who is batting .204 has just 1 home run and 7 RBIs.
Glenn Braggs drove in two runs and B. J. Surhoff homered as the Brewers beat Toronto ace Jimmy Key. Chris Bosio (11-7) pitched a seven-hitter, and only Lloyd Moseby gave him problems. Moseby hit two home runs and drove in all the runs for the Blue Jays.
It was the Brewers' second win in a row over Toronto and gave them an 8-4 edge in the season's series with the final game tonight.
Molitor lost a little ground in his bid to overtake Wade Boggs and win the batting title. Boggs, who will not play anymore because of a bruised knee, is hitting .363. Molitor was 1 for 3 and is hitting .357.
It was the third time Key failed in his attempt to become the Blue Jays' first 18-game winner. His record fell to 17-7 as he lost for the first time since July 11. He gave up 12 hits and 4 earned runs, marking only the second time in his last 24 starts that he has yielded more than three earned runs.