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October 7, 2008

Tigers Avoid Elimination, Mickey Lolich Wins Second of Series

by @ 3:08 am. Filed under Willie Horton

October 7, 1968 at Tiger Stadium
Tigers 5, Cardinals 3 
Cardinals Lead Best of Seven Game Series 3-2

The Tigers avoided elimination for at least one day as they closed out Tiger Stadium for the season.  They needed a huge fielding play by Willie Horton as well as some timely hitting to lock up the win but still, it was enough to allow them to fight another day.

Things got off to a grim start in the first inning with Mickey Lolich on the mound.  Lou Brock led off with a double before Julian Javier grounded out to short.  Curt Flood singled home Brock and he stole second before Orlando Cepeda belted a huge two run homer to give the Cardinals a 3-0 lead.

From there, the game turned into a bit of a pitchers duel until the Tigers finally got to Nelson Briles in the fourth inning.  Mickey Stanley led off with a triple and he after an Al Kaline ground out to the pitcher, Norm Cash drove home Stanley with a sac. fly.  Willie Horton followed that up with a two out triple and then he scored on Jim Northrup’s single to shave the Tiger’s deficit down to 3-2.

The Cardinals looked like they might get something going in the fifth inning but Willie Horton came up big with what many think was the biggest play of the series.  Nelson Briles led off the inning with a strikeout but Brock followed that up with a double.  Julian Javier singled and Brock looked like he was going to score easily from second but Willie Horton came up throwing.  After getting the scouting report that Brock tended to let up without sliding into home plate, Horton threw a strike to the plate to get Brock by a step.  Instead of having one out and a run in, the Tigers had two outs with a runner on first with no damage so far.  Curt Flood followed that up with a fly out and the Tigers one run deficit was maintained.

The Tigers loaded the bases in the sixth but couldn’t push a run across.  In the meantime, Mickey Lolich had settled in and he held the Cardinals hitless in the sixth and seventh inning.

The Tigers finally hit pay dirt in the seventh inning.  Don Wert led off with a strikeout before Mickey Lolich helped out his own cause with a single.  Joe Hoerner came in to relieve Briles and he was pummelled by the Tigers hitters.  Dick McAuliffe singled, and then a Mickey Stanley walk loaded the bases.  Al Kaline then came in and singled home Lolich and McAuliffe to give the Tigers their first lead of the game.  Norm Cash singled home Stanley some insurance but Ron Willis finally came on in relief to get to get the Cardinals out of the jam.

Lolich gave up just a single in the eighth but he finally ran into trouble in the ninth.  Tim McCarver led off with a single and after a Phil Gagliano fly out, Ed Spiezio single to put two runners on.  Lolich buckled down though and he got Roger Maris to strike out and Lou Brock to ground out to end the game.

Lolich finished his second complete game of the series with some solid numbers.  He gave up three runs on nine hits and a walk with eight strikeouts.  Al Kaline and Norm Cash both had two hits and two RBIs while Stanley was the lone Tiger with two runs.

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