The 2003 Detroit Tigers, the team that quite possibly turned around the fortunes of the franchise, returned home after struggling through one of the worst weeks of the year when they failed to win a game in seven tries. Independence week 2003 would be one of the more successful weeks of the year. Though they’d still finish with more losses than wins, they’d do something for the first time all season–and this time it was something positive.
June 30 to July 6 (Weekly record 3-4)(Season Record 21-65)
The nine game losing streak finally ended on June 30 when the Tigers rode a rare combination of solid pitching and hot hitting to a 6-2 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays. That solid effort lasted through the next game, when the Tigers, a team that has been shutout an MLB-high 11 times to that point, turned the tables on the Blue Jays, ruining Canada Day with a 5-0 blanking on July 1.
The July 1 win was notable for a couple reasons. First, Detroit finally won consecutive games for the first time since June 3 and 4 in San Diego. Secondly, and most astonishingly with the season entering its fourth month (fifth if you count March), the Tigers finally clinched their first home series victory, having lost all 11 series played at Comerica Park. Sadly, things went back to usual in Game 3 as Toronto avoided the sweep.
The Tigers then hit the road where they finished the week by losing three of four games to the Kansas City Royals.
Painful Game of the Week: July 2-Blue Jays at Tigers
Through two games, the Tigers looked like a major league team and for once took it to their opponents. Through the first two games with Toronto, Detroit outscored the Jays 11 to 2. But Toronto had the perfect streak stopper in place in the form of a young Roy Halladay.
Halladay was a certified Tigers’ killer during his early days in the league. Pitching in just his second career start in the 1998 season finale, he came within one out of recording a no-hitter. Bobby Higginson swatted a solo shot to spoil the bid, but Halladay still nabbed his first major league win.
He was solid in this effort as well, scattering nine hits and allowing just two runs. Later in the season, on Sept. 6, when the Tigers and Blue Jays battled in Toronto, Halladay became the first pitcher to earn an extra innings complete game victory since Jack Morris‘ Game 7 effort in 1991. He once again flirted with a no-no against Detroit, surrendering his first hit to Kevin Witt with two outs in the eighth.
The Tigers likely sensed the first home sweep of the season was not in the cards early as the Blue Jays broke out of their hitting slump by scoring five runs off starter Adam Bernero, and holding a 6-0 lead in the fifth inning. Halladay was on cruise control the rest of the way.
Final: Toronto 8, Detroit 2