Motor City Bengals has picked the top 10 games of the Detroit Tigers’ 2014 season. We’ve reached the final two games and will reveal the best Tigers’ game of the season next Sunday.
#2: September 2, Progressive Field — Cleveland, OH
The Detroit Tigers toyed with the Cleveland Indians in 2013, winning the series by an unreal 15-4 margin. No one predicted that dominance to continue into 2014 because Cleveland was better, Detroit was coming back to the pack a bit and just by sheer laws of average, that dominance is hard to do once, let alone in back-to-back years.
So the Indians developed a chip on their shoulder when taking on the top dog Tigers through much of the season. Entering the four-game series scheduled in Cleveland from Sept. 1 through 4, the Tribe held a 7-5 advantage in the season series. Additionally, while the Tigers were chasing the Royals (1.5-games behind starting the series), they also had to worry about Cleveland coming from behind while treading water in third place in the AL Central.
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The teams had split their first six games in Progressive Field with each team sweeping the other in the two previous series. The Tigers delivered a body blow in the first game with a decisive 12-1 thumping.
That set the scene for big second game of the series on Tuesday night. With Anibal Sanchez on the DL, Detroit needed Kyle Lobstein for another spot start. He had been stellar in his previous outings, including holding the team in a game against the Yankees that resulted in Detroit walk-0ff.
Lobstein wasn’t spectacular but once again the rookie did what he could to keep the Tigers in the game, holding the Indians to two runs on five hits in just over five innings of work.
Both Cleveland runs were scored in the first inning and Carlos Carrasco was rolling. He allowed a based loaded walk in the second inning, but stymied Detroit batters the rest of the way, scattering 10 hits in his 5.1 innings of work.
The Tigers were getting hits, a lot of hits in fact, they just couldn’t get those runs home. It was especially frustrating for a team which put up a dozen runs the day before and were seemingly falling into the patented Tigers’ trap of struggling against mediocre to bad pitching.
Meanwhile the scary Detroit bullpen was running rather easily through Cleveland’s lineup with just one base runner allowed in innings 5 through 8.
It looked like the Tigers would be going down to defeat, one of those games where they used all their offensive muscle in one game and couldn’t get it going in the next. But if you gave up hope, you were forgetting recent history between the rivals.
August 5, 2013 also looked to be a certain Detroit loss until Alex Avila hit a three-run homer off Chris Perez in the top of the eighth to give the Tigers the eventual win in Cleveland. One year earlier at Comerica Park the teams went into extra innings when the Indians took a 8-5 lead in the 10th inning. Game over, right? Not by a long shot. On his way to a Triple Crown, Miguel Cabrera hit a walk-off shot to complete a furious five-run bottom of the 10th to saddle Cleveland with their first of many tough losses to Detroit.
Back to 2014, Perez was nowhere to be found so if the Tigers were going to complete the comeback, they’d have to do it against new Indians’ closer Cody Allen. He promptly walked Torii Hunter and Miggy reached on a base hit. Victor Martinez flied out which brought up J.D. Martinez, who had just destroyed Indians’ pitching all season long.
With one swing of the bat, J.D. Mart put the Tigers up by two with a three-run shot that probably broke the Indians back and effectively ended their 2014 season. It was a cold, heartless shot for Martinez. The Indians kept Tigers bats in check all night long and once again would be stuck with a gut-wrenching defeat.
Joe Nathan came in for the ninth and worked around a base hit to record his 29th save.
The loss put the Indians five games behind the Tigers and the win kept Detroit within a half game of Kansas City, who also won that evening.
The cutesy Indians, who had started the season 7-5 against the Tigers, would go 1-6 against their arch rivals when it counted down the stretch, missing the postseason.
Another beat down on the Indians, keeping the Tigers firmly in their heads is the reason this game was selected as the second best Tigers’ game of 2014.
Come back next week when we reveal the top Tigers games of 2014. Can you guess which one will finish on top?