Motor City Bengals has picked the top 10 games of the Detroit Tigers’ 2014 season. We continue with #7 today and will present another game each Sunday until reaching the best Tigers’ game of the season.
#7: May 27, O.com Coliseum, Oakland, California
Because of their epic postseason battles in two straight years, every time the Detroit Tigers faced the Oakland Athletics this year, it was must see TV. The teams seemed destined to meet in the postseason again. While the A’s experienced an incredible swoon down the stretch and lost in the wild-card game to the eventual AL Champion Kansas City Royals, and the Tigers were eliminated just a couple days later in the ALDS, these teams seemed well on track for another October tangle when they played in a May contest at O.co Coliseum.
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The two teams entered the series struggling. Oakland had lost four straight and Detroit had gone 1-6 in the seven games that followed the infamous 27-12 start.
The A’s drew first blood in the season series opener by taking their pent up playoff frustrations out on Drew Smyly, roughing the former Tiger up and coasting to an easy 10-0 victory. This meant the Tigers were desperate for a win in the second game of the four-game series.
This Tuesday night game got off to a promising start when Miguel Cabrera and J.D. Martinez drove in runs to stake the Tigers to a 2-0 lead off A’s starter Sonny Gray. This should have been enough for Max Scherzer, however he was in the midst of (along with the rest of the starters) a disastrous stretch and he allowed Oakland to tie in the second inning.
In the bottom of the fourth, Max got uncharacteristically wild, allowing a run to score on a balk. A couple batters later John Jasso hit a two-run homer to allow the Athletics to grab their first lead of the night. Two innings later Torii Hunter hit a solo shot to tie the score at five runs apiece.
In the eighth inning, Rajai Davis came in to pinch run for J.D. Martinez and his season-long trolling of Oakland, his former team, began. With one out, Davis alertly took second on a passed ball by Derek Norris. Moments later he caught Norris and pitcher Fernando Abad napping and stole third while Norris was relaying the ball back to the mound. After Nick Castellanos walked, Austin Jackson grounded into a fielder’s choice, allowing the go-ahead (and ultimately winning run) to score.
Had it not been for Davis’ speed and alertness on the bases that game may have gone deep into extra innings and who knows what would have happened.
The Oakland-Detroit rivalry was (and still is) white-hot with the teams making moves at the trading deadline with each other in mind. This was a big win for the Tigers to beat a rival and also to earn a solid victory after a horrible stretch. Though this game would not right the ship (it was in the midst of the equally infamous 9-19 slide), it helped set the stage for Davis’ heroics against Oakland later in the season. A game that will be sure to make this list at some point.
Next week, we will look at the sixth-best Detroit Tigers’ game of 2014. It will highlight a stirring comeback for the Tigers.