Found July 15, 2013 on The Detroit Sports Site:
Each week, good or bad, we’ll look back at the biggest theme of the week that was for the Detroit Tigers. With one half of baseball’s year already in the books, the Detroit Tigers in first place and several exciting moments happening along the way, we’re taking a breather and counting down the top five games from the first part of the season. There’s certainly been low lights along the way as well, but more often than not, good things have happened to the 52-42 Tigers. Perhaps you were at Comerica Park for one of these games, or watching the moments play out at home on television. Either way, sit back, relax and remember the ride that has been so far. 5. April 5: Detroit Tigers 8, New York Yankees 3. Opening Day thrills as Prince Fielder belts two home runs, Drew Smyly shuts the door. Coming home from their first road trip of the season in chilly Minnesota, the Tigers entered the party that is opening day in the Motor City with major pressure to win, as always. Fielder saved the Tigers after a three run fifth inning started to dampen the party. His mammoth three run shot in the bottom half of the inning gave Detroit their two run advantage back, and in the seventh, another two run bomb put the Yankees out of reach. This game also featured the re-emergence of Smyly, who fanned five over four innings without giving up a hit in mop up duty for Fister to collect the save. It would be a sign of things to come for both Fielder and Smyly. 4. May 4: Detroit Tigers 17, Houston Astros 2. Led by Miguel Cabrera, Tigers’ offense humbles Astros. Many times in May, Detroit’s offense is sputtering, causing fans to panic. That wasn’t the case this year, as Detroit pounded Houston at Minute Maid Park. By the second inning, they had a 6-0 lead, as Cabrera had already collected an RBI single and blasted a two run homer. He’d add another run plating single, eventually finish 4-4 and the Tigers would add 11 more runs, proving they could put up offensive numbers with the best of teams. With a shaky bullpen much of the year, it hasn’t been often that Tigers’ fans could relax and watch a game with a known outcome, but this was the best example of that feeling so far. 3. June 23: Detroit Tigers 7, Boston Red Sox 5. Thanks to controversial calls, Detroit battles back and scores important series win over Boston. Many times in the past, the Tigers have seemed to play the umpires as much as the other team. That certainly wasn’t the case in a series finale against the Red Sox, where Detroit struck first, gave up the lead, took the lead back, gave it back again and then finally pulled ahead for good at the end. Justin Verlander wasn’t his best, but Daniel Nava dropped a key ball in the seventh inning (that he caught) which led to Boston’s meltdown and Detroit’s offensive explosion. The bullpen held on, and the Tigers made a statement in winning a series against their tough American League competition. 2. April 17: Detroit Tigers 2, Seattle Mariners 1. In late night, 14-inning survivalist affair, Tigers manage to make two winning plays to pull out victory. Given their recently putrid record in extra inning games, it would be hard to imagine the Tigers pulling this game out. However, despite striking out 21 times, leaving 11 on the bases and getting nothing from Fielder and Cabrera, Detroit won. It was under-appreciated backup catcher Brayan Pena starring late, as his ground out scored Don Kelly to finally break the tie. Then, in the bottom half of the inning with Seattle trying to prolong the game, Pena triumphantly held on to a relay throw at home plate despite being run over by Justin Smoak. It was the most exciting win of the year. 1. May 24: Detroit Tigers 6, Minnesota Twins 0. Anibal Sanchez nearly no-hits Twins as Tigers’ offense shines. It just wouldn’t be a Tigers season without either a no-hitter or a near miss. This time, it was Sanchez turning the trick, as he was spotless on the bases through eight full innings. While Detroit’s offense was humming, led by Cabrera and Kelly (who else?) Sanchez was quietly mowing down the Twins with strikeout after strikeout, piling up 12. Joe Mauer managed to spoil the party with a hard single to center in the ninth, but it was the only hit Sanchez would allow in a sparkling night. With a staff centered around Verlander, Max Scherzer and Sanchez, more no-hitter alerts could be commonplace in the second half. No doubt, Tiger fans will have more exciting games to watch in the second half of the season, when the pennant race gets tighter and the playoff chase becomes intensified. For now, though, everyone has these excellent first half memories to look back on. Max DeMara is a senior editor at The Detroit Sports Site. You can find him on Twitter @SportsGuyTheMax
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