Dubbed Senor Smoke for his lively fastball, the portly veteran of 12 seasons in Mexico
was one of the AL's top relievers for several years with Detroit, all after the age
of thirty. Lopez had pitched professionally in his native Mexico for nine years before
joining the Royals at the tail end of 1974 but returned to his longtime team, the
Mexico City Reds, the following season, and in 1977 was the Mexican League MVP with
a 19-8, 2.01 record. The Cardinals purchased his contract that fall and traded him
to Detroit a year later, where Lopez quickly became the Tigers' bullpen stopper.
He saved 21 games in 1979 and 21 more in 1980 while leading the AL with 13 relief
wins. He recorded only six saves in 1981-82 but rebounded with 18 in 1983, then added
10 wins and 14 saves in 1984 working primarily as a set-up man for Cy Young Award
winner and MVP Willie Hernandez. Lopez won the deciding fifth game of the WS against
the Padres with two innings of relief, then suffered an off-year in 1985 and signed
with the Astros as a free agent. He pitched exclusively in relief for Houston in
1986-87, saving eight games.
FROM THE BASEBALL CHRONOLOGY
»August 17, 1977: Records fall as the Mexican League concludes its season. Ironman hurler Aurelio Lopez of the Mexico City Reds racks up his 30th save to go with a record 19 victories in relief. Veteran Tampico 1B Hector Espino hits only 14 home runs, but raises his career total to 435, a new minor league record. Thirty-eight-year-old Vic Davalillo, the league's top hitter at .384, is purchased by the Dodgers.
»July 5, 1984: Down 4–1 with two outs in the 9th, the visiting Tigers score six runs to beat the Rangers, 7–4. Lou Whitaker's bases loaded single scores two, Alan Trammell's single scores another, and Kirk Gibson seals it with a three run shot down the RF line. Charlie Hough is the loser, while reliever Aurelio Lopez goes 7–0.
»August 6, 1984: The Tigers and Red Sox split, with Detroit outslugging Boston in the opener, 9–7, and Boston replying, 10–2. Aurelio Lopez (8–0) wins Game One in relief as Chet Lemon and Lance Parrish each hit homers and drive in three runs. Marty Barrett has four hits for the Sox in the opener and Wade Boggs does the same in the nitecap. Two of his hits are homers to fuel Roger Clemens to his 6th win.
»August 7, 1984: Bill Buckner and Tony Armas each hit grand slams in the first two innings off Tigers ace Jack Morris to spark the Red Sox to a 12–7 victory in the first game. Detroit takes the 2nd game 7–5 in 11 innings, after scoring a run in the 9th to tie. Lance Parrish's two-run homer ends it and Aurelio Lopez goes 9–0.