Almost immediately, the question started making the rounds on Twitter.
Did Brandon Woodruff just hit the most unlikely home run in Major League Baseball postseason history?
On the surface, sure, it was a fair question. After all, here was a relief pitcher for the Milwaukee Brewers, and one who happens to bat left-handed, facing one of the nastiest left-handed pitchers in all the game, in three-time Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Certainly Woodruff's trumped many of the all-time postseason stunners, like limping Kirk Gibson's, Ozzie Smith's (from the left side!), Bucky Freakin' Dent's, Rajai Davis', even most of the 20-plus other pitchers who've gone deep in the playoffs, including a couple other relievers. For Tigers fans, Don Kelly and Alexis Gomez surely ring a bell.
But there's one Woodruff's couldn't match.
Lolich, of course, is most remembered for throwing three complete-game victories in the Tigers' improbable World Series victory over the St. Louis Cardinals in 1968.
But before he recorded any of those wins, he struck with his bat, in the third inning of Game 2 at Old Busch Stadium in St. Louis (BOX SCORE). With one out and facing Cardinals right-hander Nelson Briles — no Bob Gibson of course, but no slouch that year — Lolich blasted a solo home run to left field to give Detroit an early 2-0 lead.
It was the first and last home run of Lolich's professional career, minor leagues or major leagues. He played 16 years in the major leagues, and never homered in any of his other 1,036 plate appearances. He never homered in his 205 minor-league plate appearances.
It was the ultimate donut for the future donut-shop owner.
"Two strikes on me, and I decided to swing at the next white thing that flew by," Lolich, a Portland, Ore., native, recently told the Portland Tribune. "(Briles) hit the middle of my bat and the ball went out of the park.
"I got tired running the bases. I decided I'd never hit another (homer) — too far to run."
I sat at Lolich's table at a charity banquet a few years back, and I am pretty sure he told me he swung with his eyes closed.
He also might've recorded the slowest trot in history, outside of Victor Martinez.
And, yes, he did look winded when he got to the dugout, where he was met with some bleep-eating grins, especially from his batterymate, Bill Freehan.
Lolich actually had three hits in that Series, for an .808 OPS. His career OPS was .335. He had a career WAR of 48.3 (well better than new Hall-of-Famer Jack Morris', by the way); precisely zero-point-one of that WAR was from his offense.
Not trying to diminish Woodruff's blast, of course. It was awesome, in that it was dead center, and tied up Game 1 of the National League Championship Series — a game the Brewers held on to win, 6-5, despite their bullpen's best efforts to blow it (with a little help, it figures, from ex-Tigers Joakim Soria and Corey Knebel).
But that was Woodruff's second home run of the season, and third of his pro career.
Lolich never got to do the celebratory trot before, or after.