Motor City Bengals has picked the top 10 games of the Detroit Tigers’ 2014 season. We continue with #5 today and will present another game each Sunday until reaching the best Tigers’ game of the season.
#5: May 19, Fenway Park — Boston, MA
The Detroit Tigers came into this ESPN Sunday Night Game rolling. If they won the series finale in Fenway Park they would accomplish a number of things.
First, they would exercise some demons against the Boston Red Sox. Tigers’ fans knew if a few pitches had gone another way, it might have been the Tigers that were crowned champs in 2013 instead of the Red Sox. So humiliating Boston could take some of the sting off of that.
Second, they would begin a tough nine-game road trip out 6-0 with stops in Baltimore and Boston. Third, they would complete a three-game sweep over the Red Sox at Fenway Park for the first time since 1983.
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Coming off a DL stint, Anibal Sanchez started for the Tigers and weathered early trouble after allowing a Boston run in the second inning. The Tigers did not take long to respond to the one-run deficit. Ian Kinsler was brought home on a Miguel Cabrera base hit in the third inning. Then former Red Sox Victor Martinez, in the infancy of his career year of 2014, launched a two-run homer to make it 3-1.
From there the Tigers showed no mercy, adding single runs in the fourth, fifth and sixth inning. The highlight of the middle inning runs was Torii Hunter hitting a moonshot over the Green Monster.
Sanchez finished strong, which signaled the beginning of a stellar stretch for him, and got the victory.
The Tigers sat at 27-12, had the best record in baseball, and had just humiliated the World Series champs in three straight road games. They put an exclamation point on it by winning on ESPN, practically the Red Sox home network.
The drawback to playing on Sunday Night Baseball is the quick turnaround. The Tigers had the opener of a three-game series looming with the then last-place Cleveland Indians on Monday. So late night or not, it looked as if the good times would continue for Detroit.
The clubhouse was in a celebratory mood which prompted Joba Chamberlain to encourage the players to don tiger stripped Zubaz outfits for the plane ride, but then the plane malfunctioned.
The Tigers waited out their plane deep into the wee hours and didn’t arrive in Cleveland until around 7 a.m., about 12 hours before their scheduled meeting at Progressive Field.
That game wasn’t too bad. The Tigers hung around despite being tired but ended up losing in extra innings. Nonetheless, it was a sign of things to come. Following the 27-12 start, the Tigers were swept by the Tribe and started a 9-19 cascade.
Though the team would eventually right the ship, then sink it, right it and then sink it in the playoffs–that victory in Boston was the high water mark for the season. It offered the greatest hope, the best feeling and the most confidence for fans and players all season.
Though it would go horribly wrong, everyone remembers the smiles and laughter during Zubaz-gate and that is why we picked that game for our fifth best of the season.
Next week, we will look at the fifth-best Detroit Tigers’ game of 2014, a game that was as exciting as they come and in the thick of a good old fashioned pennant race.