The Detroit Tigers have had what most people would consider a pretty good season (80-56, 1st place American League Central, .5 GB AL’s best record), despite the feeling the Tigers could still be in better shape.
Nonetheless, the Tigers have provided plenty of support to a city and state going through some pretty hard times. Reigning AL MVP and Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera is at it again, chasing history, despite recent injuries.
They’ve also got a pitcher chasing history in Max Scherzer. And of course, they’ve had their share of drama this season, with some crazy games and some great plays. Here, we take a look at the club’s top five moments (and the honorable mention list) of the summer, as we enter the final month of baseball.
April 17 @ Seattle.
The Tigers beat the Mariners in 14 innings 2-1 during a West Coast road trip that saw three extra-inning games.
May 2-5 @ Houston
The Tigers welcomed the Astros to the AL with a four-game sweep in which they outscored them 37-8 (including a 17-2 drubbing in Scherzer’s fourth win of the season).
Struggling closer Jose Valverde was designated for assignment.
July 3 @ Toronto
Starter Max Scherzer improved his record to an astonishing 13-0.
July 8 @ Cleveland
With Scherzer’s perfect record on the line, Victor Martinez hit a two-run double in the tenth inning, ultimately giving the Tigers the victory to widen the AL Central lead to 3.5 games and saving Scherzer from his first loss of the season.
July 16 – New York
Scherzer started the All-Star Game, had a perfect first inning and exited. Manager Jim Leyland’s club got the win, earning home field advantage for the AL in the World Series. Cabrera, Justin Verlander, Jhonny Peralta, Torii Hunter and Prince Fielder also made appearances in the Midsummer Classic.
Oh yeah, and Prince Fielder had a triple, with ESPN’s Rece Davis calling it “The most exciting two minutes in sports.”
Trade Deadline (July 30/31)
The Tigers acquired two pieces that have helped them out since the deadline in reliever Jose Veras and SS Jose Iglesias
The Tigers officially released Valverde. For good.
Aug. 24 @ New York Mets
Scherzer becomes second player to ever start 19-1, moves within one game of tying Roger Clemens’s record of 20-1.
#5 – Aug. 5 @ Cleveland
For the second year in a row on Aug. 5, the Tigers got to Indians closer Chris Perez. In 2012 it was Miggy, hitting a walk-off home run. In 2013 it was catcher Alex Avila.
Victor Martinez got the Tigers on the board in the top of the ninth with an RBI single, followed by an Andy Dirks walk. Avila then took Perez deep to give the Tigers a 4-2 lead and extend the club’s win streak to nine.
Watch: Avila hits home run, Prince Fielder bear hugs Victor Martinez and the dugout goes crazy
#4 – Aug. 12 @ Chicago White Sox
It was the bottom of the sixth on the South Side, in what would eventually be a loss for the Tigers.
It was a bloop off a sawed-off bat over the head of a diving Doug Fister.
It was a newly acquired Iglesias charging who had no chance to get Josh Phegley out at first base.
And then it was Iglesias falling headfirst making an underhand throw. It was a great stretch by first baseman Prince Fielder. It was an out, with Phegley standing past first base in pure shock.
It is still the “best-of-the-best” web-gem on ESPN’s “Baseball Tonight.”
Watch: “Oh no, Iglesias, you didn’t just do that.” -Rod Allen
#3 – Aug. 29 vs. Oakland
The Tigers were in a bit of a funk over the last few days, losing three straight at home against the A’s. That feeling got worse when Cabrera came up limping after he aggravated an abdominal injury on a slide in the sixth inning.
That all changed in a matter of minutes. Trailing 6-3 entering the bottom of the ninth, there wasn’t much hope. There was next to no hope when they were down to their last strike. And then Victor Martinez grabbed a glimmer of hope back with an RBI single that put the go-ahead run at the dish.
And out of nowhere, the Tigers had momentum heading into a weekend series with division rival Cleveland to finish a home stand.
Torii Hunter hit a three-run walk-off home run off Grant Balfour. And as FOX Sports Detroit announcer Mario Impemba said, “Unbelievable!” as Hunter threw his helmet towards the home dugout, Tigers fans were reminded that this team is something special.
Watch: Hunter reenergizes Detroit, MI, and his teammates smother him.
#2 – July 26 – Aug. 8
Things can get a little boring this time of year. They do call it “the dog days of summer,” but in this stretch of time the Tigers, and fans for that matter, were having the most fun they’ve had in a while.
They went on a tear, winning 12 in a row, including a Sunday afternoon walk-off knock by Hunter vs. a division rival, a 14-inning win against a division rival on the road, a handful of games in which they scored double-digit runs, and many other great days of baseball.
The streak also put them at a favorable 8 games ahead of Cleveland by the end of it, so it had some real value to it. The streak saw three wins by Scherzer, a win by Jeremy Bonderman – yeah, remember him? He’s back – five interleague wins, and four Benoit saves, as well as many other moments worthy of praise from Tigers fans.
Watch: The Tigers’ marathon back-and-forth win over Cleveland fueled by Fielder’s clutch double to win 11th straight
#1 – Aug 17 vs. Kansas City
After losing two games in a doubleheader the day before, things weren’t exactly how they were supposed to be. Yet, downtown Detroit was buzzing, with a standing-room-only crowd inside Comerica Park and a packed house across the street for a Kenny Chesney concert at Ford Field.
There were many noteworthy moments in this game. The first was Iglesias’ suicide squeeze bunt that scored Omar Infante in the bottom of the second.
And then there was the fourth inning. After a foul ball that wasn’t ruled a foul ball advanced a runner to third base, manager Jim Leyland was thrown out after arguing. When the runner eventually scored, catcher Brayan Pena was thrown out as well.
In the seventh, KC tied the game with a home run, but then Prince took the lead right back with a monster blast of his own.
The next inning, the Royals tied it again, but Detroit was lucky enough to get out of a bases-loaded jam, avoiding any more damage.
And then came the fun part. Miguel Cabrera swung, the place rose to its feet, and then madness ensued in downtown Detroit. Yet another walk-off home run for, let’s admit it, a living legend.
Once Tigers fans finally began to leave, they poured into the streets at the same time the concert was letting out, with fireworks illuminating the downtown sky, and all 100,000 that were walking shoulder-to-shoulder experienced something they’ll never forget.
Watch: Cabrera doesn’t look happy that he just won the game. He looks like he might hurt someone.
So there you have it. The top moments thus far in what has been an exciting season for the Detroit Tigers. And there will certainly be more excitement to come as the final month of the season begins. The Tigers have an 8.5 game lead over the Indians, and trail Boston by just half a game for the AL’s best record.
The Tigers will be looking to bring home a World Series title after falling short the last two years. Something Tigers fans will be looking for this time will be home field advantage throughout the playoffs, so the last month of the season could be pretty intense.