Detroit Tigers’ Top 10 Games of 2014: #3 September 28 vs Minnesota Twins

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Motor City Bengals has picked the top 10 games of the Detroit Tigers’ 2014 season. We continue with #3 today and will present another game each Sunday until reaching the best Tigers’ game of the season. 

Final. 0. 2. 3. 63

#3: September 28, Comerica Park — Detroit, MI

The third best Detroit Tigers’ game of 2014 came on the final day of the 2014 regular season. With a win, the Tigers would clinch their fourth straight divisional championship, with a loss everything would be a little less certain.

One week before, when the Tigers took two of three games in Kansas City, it appeared the division would be wrapped up in short order. After all, the Tigers had the two AL Central doormats in their house for the final seven games of the season. Nonetheless, while Detroit had no trouble with the better teams in the division this year (KC and Cleveland), they struggled against the sub-.500 crowd (Chicago and Minnesota).

This inexplicable trend continued into the final week of the year. Though they won two of three from the White Sox to open the final homestand and won the first of four games with Minnesota, they got clobbered by a combined score of 23 to 7 on Friday and Saturday.

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This ensured that the divisional title would not be decided until the final game of the season. Thankfully the Tigers could do no worse than a divisional tie. If they lost and the Royals won, they’d play on Monday to settle the division at Comerica Park. If they lost that game, they would have had to host the AL Wild-Card game against Oakland.

Obviously the easiest way to nip all that in the bud was to win.

Easier said than done.

The Twins had clobbered Tigers pitching all season long. The middle games were no aberration and there was no guarantee that starter David Price would be able to nail down the victory. While Price had pitched with success in similar big games for the Tampa Bay Rays, he had a rather uneven stint in Detroit after being acquired at the trading deadline.

Add to the intrigue that the Twins twice ruined the division for the Tigers. Since their stellar run of baseball began in 2006 to 2014, the Tigers have won four divisions and made it to five postseasons. But if not for the Twins persistence down the stretch in 2006 and 2009, that would be six division titles.

Another troubling trend was the lack of offensive punch down the stretch. Even in the blowouts from the previous nights, and the wins in the Chicago series, the offense mustered just a little production. The Tigers grabbed a slim 1-0 lead in the third inning on an Ian Kinsler homer, but were unable to add to that advantage with the awful prospect of the bullpen looming.

Price rose to the occasion and was brilliant, pitching perhaps his best game in a Tigers’ uniform. He pitched into the eighth inning, minimizing the possibility of a bullpen calamity, striking out eight and allowing just four hits.

Minnesota starter Kyle Gibson continued to mow down overmatched Detroit batters until one out in the eighth inning after issuing a walk to Andrew Romine. Ezequiel Carrera walked and Kinsler continued to be money in this game by driving in a run to make it 2-0. Torii Hunter added one more to push it to 3-0.

Despite a more comfortable lead, Comerica Park faithful couldn’t relax just yet. It was Joe Nathan time. We had seen the 40-year old blow several saves this year, even some with a three-run advantage. But Nathan was able to calm everyone’s nerves with an easy 1-2-3 inning.

Season over. Division Title. Tigers win.

A sad footnote to this game was that it would be the final game the Tigers would win in the 2014 season. Of course everyone remembers they went down quietly in three games in the ALCS against the Baltimore Orioles, a series in which they were heavily favored.

But longtime fans of the Tigers remember when division titles were rare and playoff chases were merely a figment of our imagination. Because of the stakes, the outcome, and the prize, this game was the third best 2014.

Two more to go! What do you think will top the list of 2014 Detroit Tigers games?

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