Game One: 69 Astros 1, 69 Tigers 0
WP: Dierker (3-0)
LP: McLain (1-2)
Game Two: 69 Tigers 11, 69 Astros 3
WP: Lolich (2-0)
LP: LeMaster (0-2)
HR: J Alou (1), Northrup (3), Kaline 2 (2), Wynn (4), Wert (2)
Game Three: 69 Astros 3, 69 Tigers 2
WP: Ray (1-0)
LP: Hiller (0-1)
Game Four: 69 Astros 3, 69 Tigers 1
WP: Dierker (4-0)
LP: McLain (1-3)
Save: Gladding (3)
Game Five: 69 Tigers 6, 09 Astros 3
WP: Lolich (3-0)
LP: Gladding (0-1)
Save: Dobson (1)
HR: Torres (1)
Game Six: 69 Tigers 7, 69 Astros 6 (13 innings)
WP: McMahon (1-0)
LP: Ray (1-1)
HR: Kaline (3), Torres (2), Stanley (3)
Game Seven: 69 Astros 6, 69 Tigers 3
WP: Dierker (5-0)
LP: McLain (1-4)
Save: Gladding (4)
HR: Horton (3)
Larry Dierker allowed just three earned runs in 25 innings to beat Denny McLain three times and carry the Astros past the Tigers and into the third round.
The Astros ace opened the series in Tiger Stadium with his best: a one-hit shutout. He had to be that good, because McLain allowed just one run on six hits himself. Bill Freehan bounced a second-inning grounder past shortstop Denis Menke for the sole Tiger hit. The Tigers scored their run when Gary Geiger tripled to lead off the third inning and Johnny Edwards lofted a sac fly to center. Dieker walked three and struck out eight.
The power was on for Game Two. The teams combined for six homers. Al Kaline had two of them, a two-run homer in the first and a three-run shot in the seventh. Kaline added a sixth RBI with a fifth-inning double. Mickey Lolich went seven innings, allowing two solo homers (Jim Wynn and Jesus Alou) and an unearned run on six hits.
The series moved to the Astrodome for Game Three, and the Wilsons -- Earl for Detroit, Don for Houston -- dueled. The Astros plated single runs in the second and third innings. Don Wilson carried that 2-0 lead into the seventh, when he fanned the first two hitters. But then Dick McAuliffe walked and advanced on a wild pitch. Kaline singled with McAuliffe scoring on Geiger's error. Norm Cash tripled to plate Kaline, and the game was tied. Relievers Jim Ray and John Hiller kept the tie going into the bottom of the ninth, when Curt Blefary reached on an error by shortstop Mickey Stanley. After Blefary stole second, Menke walked. Doug Rader bounced into a force out at second, with Blefary advancing to third. Pinch-hitter Alou was walked intentionally, and Johnny Edwards' deep fly plated the winning run.
Dierker and McLain dueled again in Game Four. The Tigers broke though first with a run on three singles in the fifth inning, but the Astros responded in the bottom half of the inning for two runs, with Blefary's triple the key blow. Joe Morgan singled home another run in the sixth, and that finished the scoring.
Tom Griffin was dominant for eight innings in Game Five, striking out 12 without allowing a walk and surrendering just two hits. Shortstop Hector Torres, added to the roster after a series-ending injury to Edwards, banged a two-run homer in a three-run second off Lolich, and the Astros appeared to be about to clinch. But things fell apart in the top of the ninth. Pinch-hitter Gates Brown doubled to lead off the frame, and McAuliffe singled him home. That chased Griffin, with Fred Gladding entering. He walked Kaline. After Cash popped out, Willie Horton singled to load the bases. A wild pitch scored McAuliffe and advanced Kaline and Horton. Jim Northrop singled those two runners home for the lead. Freehan walked, Stanley singled, Don Wert singled, and Brown, hitting for the second time in the inning, hit a sac fly.
The series returned to Tiger Stadium with the Astros still leading three games to two. The Tigers started Mike Kilkenny in Game Six and staked him to an early lead, scoring four runs in the first inning (Wert with a two-run double). Stanley's homer in the fourth made it 5-0. But in the top of the fifth, the light-hitting Torres hit another homer, this one good for three runs, and the Astros chased Kilkenny in the sixth while plating another three runs to take the lead. The Tigers tied it in the seventh, after which the bullpens locked down both lineups until, with two outs in the bottom of the 13th, Kaline hit his third homer of the series.
Game Seven was the third Dierker-McLain matchup of the series. McLain escaped a first-inning jam, but thing fell apart in the second. Rader doubled to open the frame, and two outs later Dierker himself singled him home. Morgan and Norm Miller singled to load the bases, Wynn walked to score Dierker, and Blefary drove home two more runs with a base hit. A Geiger error in the bottom half of the inning made it 4-1 Astros, and that was all the scoring until the seventh, when Gates Brown led off with a pinch-hit triple and scored on a ground out. Horton's eighth-inning homer cut the margin to 4-3, but the Astros scored twice off Fred Lasher and Hiller in the ninth and Gladding pitched around a single and an error to nail down the game and the series.
Player of the series: Dierker. 3-0, 1.08 ERA, and 23 baserunners allowed in 25 innings.
Player availability: Dierker cannot pitch until Game Three, LeMaster cannot pitch without penalty before Game Three. Edwards will be available.
Projected rotation: D Wilson-Griffin-Dierker-LeMaster-(Wilson)-(Dierker or Griffin)-(Griffin or Dierker). But if the Pilots are the third round foe, Bouton will face Bouton at some point in the series. The Astros Bouton is available for Game One.