Sparma Pitches Pennant Clincher

 

This Week in 1960s Baseball

(September 17, 1968) – The Detroit Tigers clinched their first World Series appearance in more than two decades when they defeated the New York Yankees 2-1 behind the five-hit pitching of Joe Sparma.

Right-hander Joe Sparma (9-10) pitched a five-hit complete game as the Detroit Tigers clinched the 1968 American League pennant by defeating the New York Yankees 2-1. It marked the Tigers’ first AL pennant since 1945.

Sparma (9-10) struck out two Yankees batters and walked one. He was locked in a 1-1 pitching duel with Yankees starter Stan Bahnsen through four innings. The Tigers scored one run in the bottom of the fifth inning when Sparma singled to center field, scoring Bill Freehan.

Sparma shut out the Yankees through eight innings. A Jake Gibbs RBI single tied the game in the top of the ninth.

In the bottom of the ninth inning, with two outs, the Tigers loaded the bases with a single and two walks. Don Wert drove in the game-winning run with a single off Lindy McDaniel.

The losing pitcher was Yankees reliever Steve Hamilton (2-2).

The victory allowed the Tigers to clinch their first American League pennant since 1945, when they also won the World Series by defeating the Chicago Cubs in seven games. The Tigers were AL runners-up in both 1961 and 1967.

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