The Tigers had it taken to them from the start in Game 1. Their ace, and reigning MVP award winner, was battered and bruised early and often leaving little doubt of how this World Series would start. The 88-win Tigers have an uphill battle in Game 2 against their 98-win foes from the National League.
FACT-CHECK: But the Giants only won 94 games this year!
That’s right, this is not the first time that the Tigers have thrown up all over themselves with their ace on the mound in Game 1 of the World Series. Hal Newhouser had won the MVP award in 1944 and would win it again in 1945 (the first Cy Young Award was given in 1956). But in the Cubs’ last World Series appearance, they battered Newhouser for 4 runs in the first, and another 3 in the third knocking out the Hall of Famer after a scant 2.2 IP. The Cubs won Game 1 on the strength of a complete(ly unnecessary complete) game from Hank Borowy.
The Cubs left Detroit with a 2-1 series lead and the final four games at Wrigley Field. But it would be Game 5, a rematch between Newhouser and Borowy that would reshape the series.
After Dizzy Trout pitched a gem in Game 4 to tie the series at 2 games apiece, Newhouser and Borowy had dueled to a 1-1 tie after five innings of Game 5. That’s when Hank Borowy ran out of steam. The Tigers tagged Borowy for 4 runs in the sixth, taking a 5-1 lead on the way to an 8-4 victory that provided them a stranglehold on the series.
In must-win Game 6, the Cubs held a 5-1 lead after six innings. After starter Claude Passeau got into some trouble in the seventh, Cubs manager Charlie Grimm turned to two unlikely relievers, Hank Wyse and Ray Prim. Each had been tagged for big innings by the Tigers earlier in the World Series. Wyse got the Cubs out of the seventh with a 5-3 lead; the Cubs pushed the count to 7-3 before starting the eighth. Wyse and Prim would combine to cough up the lead in the eighth inning and game would go to extra innings tied at 7.
Enter Hank Borowy…you mean the Cubs Game 5 starter? Yes, the Cubs turned to Borowy in the ninth. Not until a two-out double in the bottom of the twelfth off the bat of Stan Hack were the Cubs able to guarantee a Game 7. Dizzy Trout suffered the loss in relief for the Tigers who were certain to start Newhouser in the series finale.
Enter Hank Borowy…you mean the Cubs winning pitcher from Game 6? Yes, the Cubs again turned to Borowy as Newhouser’s foil. Borowy opened the game by surrendering three straight singles, Grimm immediately pulled him and inserted Paul Derringer. Derringer was a long-time Cincinnati Red, then 38-years old and in what would be his final appearance in MLB. After getting two outs, having the bases loaded, and down only 1-0, Derringer needed a break – something needed to go his way to get out of the mess. But Derringer walked Jimmy Outlaw (this is starting to sound like a bad western) to give the Tigers a second run. And with Newhouser in the on-deck circle, Derringer coughed up a bases-clearing double to Paul Richards. The Cubs were in a 5-0 hole, had not yet come to the plate to hit, facing a dominant pitcher, and had no bullpen left to speak of. The Tigers cruised to a 9-3 victory, and Newhouser’s Game 1 meltdown was lost to history.
So while Verlander and the Tigers probably tossed and turned all night, it’s just one game. One very big game; but just one game. If Verlander and Zito meet twice more in this series, none of us will be surprised to see Verlander take a page from Newhouser’s book and rewrite his impact on the series by establishing his dominance on the mound. Then again…the Giants aren’t the Cubs, and I don’t expect we’ll see Zito on the mound in each of the final 3 games of the series.