Phillies and Tigers renew their unfamiliar acquaintance in Detroit this week

The unfamiliar adversaries meet for just their 10th series in their long histories.
Tigers v Phillies
Tigers v Phillies / Doug Pensinger/GettyImages

For a pair of teams that have each existed for well over a century, the Philadelphia Phillies and Detroit Tigers are very infrequent adversaries on the diamond.

This all stems, of course, from the NL/AL structure that baseball clung to for decades before finally instituting interleague play for the first time in 1997. Even after that point, the rotating nature of the interleague cycle ensured that the Phillies and Tigers only met for one series every couple of years, so it was always a novelty to see them face each other.

Things have changed now that Major League Baseball has instituted a balanced schedule, which sees every team play every other team each year. So, while Phils/Tigers will be a yearly occurrence going forward, just like every other potential matchup, it's worth looking back on the short history that the clubs have accrued in their head-to-head matchups dating back to their inaugural clash during the aforementioned 1997 campaign.

Phillies and Tigers renew their unfamiliar acquaintance in Detroit this week


As the Phillies neared the conclusion of their putrid first season under skipper Terry Francona, they traveled to historic Tiger Stadium to take on the Tigers in late August. Tyler Green started the series opener for the Phils, and he took a 7-2 loss in the first-ever meeting between the teams.

The Phillies achieved better results the next day behind 7 2/3 shutout innings from Matt Beech in a 2-0 win, but Detroit won the rubber match 2-1. The teams combined for zero home runs in the series, and it was notably one of the final series ever called by Phillies legend Richie Ashburn, who passed away a week later.


The Phillies made their maiden voyage to Comerica Park, which opened in 2000, to face an extremely lousy Tigers team. And the Phils took advantage of it.

They opened the series by jumping all over Detroit Game 1 starter Jeff Weaver in the top of the first, eventually cruising to an 11-1 win behind seven strong innings from Vicente Padilla. Jimmy Rollins became the first player to ever homer in a game between the two teams. The Phils squeaked out a 2-1 win the next day thanks to an eighth-inning rally, and they capped off the sweep with a 7-5 win in the series finale, with Bobby Abreu and Marlon Anderson collecting three hits apiece in the victory.


The Tigers made their first appearance in Philadelphia since the days of the Philadelphia Athletics during the inaugural season of Citizens Bank Park. Detroit pounded the Phillies 10-3 in the opener, as Omar Infante finally became the first Tiger to homer against the Phillies.

Game 2 was rained out, and the teams split a doubleheader the following day. The Phils won the first game 6-2 thanks to some heroics from Jason Michaels, who went 3-for-3 with a homer and four RBI. But Detroit pulled out the nightcap 5-4 in 11 innings to win the series. Future Phillie and questionable character Ugueth Urbina got the win for Detroit


Exactly three years after their last meeting, the teams saw each other again in Philly, and it followed a similar script as the last time. Detroit won the opener 12-8 behind five RBI from Iván Rodríguez.

The Phillies took the middle game 6-3 behind a nice performance from Jamie Moyer, but Detroit won the series with a 7-4 decision. The Phillies actually did ok against Justin Verlander, but the bullpen let them down and cost them the game.


As part of a very forgettable season in Phillies history, the Tigers rudely welcomed them and swept them right out of Detroit. Doug Fister outpitched Cole Hamels in the opener, a 2-1 loss. The Phillies then got waxed 10-0 by Max Scherzer and company, and then they saw a tie game turn into a laugher in the finale when the bullpen surrendered eight runs in the sixth inning of a 12-4 loss.


In Detroit again, Miguel Cabrera homered twice to power a 5-4 Tigers win in the opener. Verlander was dominant the following night, piling up 10 strikeouts in a 3-1 victory. But the Phillies thwarted the attempted sweep this time, breaking a six-game losing streak that went back nearly nine years. Aaron Nola earned the win in an 8-5 Phils victory which featured a rare steal of home plate by Andrés Blanco.


The teams played a two-game series at each location, the first at Citizens Bank Park. Detroit won the opener 3-1, with the win going to current Phillie Spencer Turnbull. It was his second career victory for what ended up being the second-worst team in Tigers history. The Phils earned the split with a 7-3 win.

The clubs met about three months later, and the Phillies won a pair in Detroit. The first game was a 15-inning, nearly four-and-a-half-hour marathon that the Phils pulled out 3-2. They had an easier time with things in their final meeting with the Tigers, winning 4-0.


Just last year, the Tigers came to CBP in early June. Nola tied his career high with 12 strikeouts in the first game of the series, which the Phillies took 8-3. The following day, the Phils emerged victorious in a 1-0 nail-biter behind the rarest of occurrences: seven shutout innings from Taijuan Walker.

And they polished off a sweep with a 3-2 win. Down 2-1 in the bottom of the ninth, the Phils got a sac fly from Brandon Marsh and a walk-off double from Kody Clemens.

Last year's sweep pushed the Phillies' all-time record against the Detroit Tigers to 13-12, and they look to build on it further when the clubs clash this week at Comerica Park. They'll be seeing each other on an annual basis for as long as MLB keeps its current schedule format, but it will still take a while before we get totally used to seeing these two teams play against each other.