Motor City Bengals has picked the top 10 games of the Detroit Tigers’ 2014 season. We start with #10 today and will present another game each Sunday until reaching the best Tigers’ game of the season.
#10: June 19, 2014, Comerica Park — Detroit, Michigan
The Detroit Tigers came into this Thursday afternoon series finale with the Kansas City Royals limping as bad as they had all season. They had dropped the first three games of a four-game series to the Royals at Comerica Park and were looking to avoid the sweep in a game placed on this previously scheduled off-day because of bad April weather.
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The Tigers’ bats were not clicking. Two days before, Max Scherzer had suffered the worst arse-beating of his career when the plucky Royals’ bats nailed him for 10 runs in an 11-4 decimation (which following Justin Verlander getting bombed the night before). The Tigers has also lost 2-1 on Wednesday, wasting a stellar effort from Drew Smyly.
Since their 27-12 start, the Tigers had stumbled to a 9-20 record. This was a game they HAD to have, but it didn’t look good early.
As Kansas City had done all series long, they scored first when Billy Butler doubled in Nori Aoki in the first inning off Anibal Sanchez. Royals’ starter Danny Duffy kept Tigers’ batters cold through the first three innings. Though it was still early, it was hard to think Detroit would be able to muster enough offense to even battle back from one-run down.
This changed in the fourth inning when Austin Jackson led off with a bloop hit into left. Miguel Cabrera then drove a gapper into deep center, allowing for Jackson to motor all the way around from first to score. Victor Martinez flied out and Cabrera couldn’t get back to second in time and was tagged out.
With two out, nobody on, and the score tied, J.D. Martinez stepped to the plate and laced his sixth homer of the season 348 feet to right field. Detroit held a 2-1 lead.
After the first inning run, Sanchez spun a gem, even without striking out any batters. He scattered five hits through seven innings, giving way to the back-end of the Tigers’ bullpen.
At this time, Joba Chamberlain was still lights out as set-up man. He worked around a hit in the eighth to record his 13th hold of the season and Joe Nathan struck out the side–I’ll repeat–Joe Nathan struck out the side in the ninth inning to earn his 14th save of the season.
So why this as the 10th best game of the season for the Tigers, even if it didn’t provide any late inning drama? It is simple. This was the game the Tigers’ needed. After their two aces were bombed in the first two games, they received a stellar pitching effort all around and received just the right amount of offense.
It also helped the Tigers realize that they could win again. That victory was the beginning of a seven-game winning streak, part of a 17-4 run leading to the All-Star break.
Next week, we will look at the ninth-best Detroit Tigers’ game of 2014. Hint: It involves a walk-off and Alex Avila.