The ’84 Tigers jumped out with a big win in their season opener

Detroit starting pitcher Jack Morris handled the Twins with ease in the season opener in 1984.

The 1984 Detroit Tigers are remembered for starting the season an astonishing 35-5 and accomplishing the rare feat of never being out of first place.

The Tigers were wire-to-wire champions in 1984, one of the most legendary seasons in  baseball history.

But while Detroit winning the World Series was not a huge surprise, since the Tigers had been a young team that had grown together in the 1980s (and a couple of key trades didn’t hurt), the only way a team can go wire-to-wire is win on opening day. A loss on opening day means at least one day not in first place.

The Tigers opened the 1984 season at the Metrodome in Minneapolis to face the Minnesota Twins. The Twins ended up in second place at 81-81 that year and with a call-up coming a month later to Kirby Puckett, the 1984 season would become the start of a strong rivalry in the American League that lasted the rest of the decade.

Jack Morris took the mound for the Tigers, in the middle of his 13 consecutive opening-day starts (11 as a Tiger). He looked every bit the ace of the staff, allowing just one run on five hits in seven innings. Morris, who seven years later would pitch perhaps the greatest World Series Game Seven in history in the same ballpark, had pinpoint control on opening day, striking out eight and walking none.

The Tigers’ big offseason free-agent signing made his presence known on opening day. Darrell Evans hit a three-run home run in the seventh inning off of reliever Keith Comstock.

He wasn’t the only one to open the season with a hot bat.

In the sixth inning and the Tigers clinging to a 2-1 lead, Lance Parrish singled off Minnesota starter Albert Williams to drive in Lou Whitaker and Alan Trammell. Trammell and Whitaker each had two hits and a walk. Whitaker scored three runs and Trammell scored twice. The dynamic duo at the top of Sparky Anderson’s lineup proved to be a spark most of the season.

Larry Herndon had an RBI hit, Chet Lemon had a triple and later scored and Howard Johnson had two hits and an RBI.

The game also set up a formula that would give the Tigers an immense amount of success on the mound. Morris pitched seven innings before giving way to Aurelio Lopez, who pitched a perfect eighth inning.

Lopez gave way to the recently acquired Willie Hernandez, who followed suit with a perfect ninth inning to seal the victory.

Hernandez was on his way to a remarkable season that earned him both the American League Cy Young Award and Most Valuable Player Award.

While Hernandez’s season is remembered for such dominance, rightfully so, outside Detroit, the spectacular season turned in by Lopez is completely forgotten. Lopez went 10-1 from the bullpen and chipped in with 14 saves, nearly as effective as Hernandez, albeit in less glamorous situations.

Hernandez appeared in a league-leading 80 games and had 32 saves in 33 save opportunities. He went 9-3 with a 1.92 ERA.

With those two on the back end of the bullpen, the finishing touches on a dominant team – a team that could go wire-to-wire — were in place.

And it all started on opening day when almost everyone on the Tigers contributed to an 8-1 win that sparked a wire-to-wire run.