5. Justin Verlander’s Near No-No Against the Pittsburgh Pirates
It was a rough go for the Detroit Tigers to open the 2012 season. Sure, they may have been able to to right the ship, but early on it looked like the team was going to do their best impression of the Titanic. A bright spot came on their first weekend of Interleague Play when it looked like Justin Verlander was going to toss yet another one of his gems.
Sadly, I chose to go to Nationals Park that night, but you better bet I pulled the game up on my phone and watched JV work his way to 12 strikeouts. Nothing quite sums up the night than standing and screaming in my section between innings as Verlander punched-out Garrett Jones to end the seventh inning.
Of course, how does the best pitcher in baseball follow up an exciting seventh inning? He strikes out the entire side in the eighth.
Then, of course, heartbreak. Josh Harrison loops one passed Jhonny Peralta into left field to break up the no-hitter. It certainly may not have been the storybook ending people were looking for, but wow was it exciting. Verlander looked amazing and honestly had better stuff than he did during his previous two no-hitters.
4. Red Wings Break Consecutive Home Win Streak Record
21 in a row. It is an amazing number, there are so many amazing streaks the Red Wings have to their name, including a record number of consecutive playoff appearances, but the home win streak record is just special. On a crisp night in February, the Red Wings took down a Dallas team 3-1 to break the record held by the 1929-30 Boston Bruins and 1975-76 Philadelphia Flyers.
Like the Tigers, the Red Wings started strong and went into a perilous, seemingly never ending, losing streak to open the season. They fought back though, through injuries and a tumultuous situation in net with an oft-injured Jimmy Howard. It was a spectacular feat and certainly a nail-biting one.
The streak never seemed more dead than when the Anaheim Ducks took the Wings to a shootout with a shaky Joey MacDonald in net. Never fear though, Todd Bertuzzi—yes Bertuzzi—saved the day with a fantastic shootout goal to keep it alive. They would go on to win four more games, before eventually falling to the Vancouver Canucks on February 23 in yet another shootout.
3. Doug Fister Sets Consecutive Strikeout Record
It gets forgotten in a year filled with MVPs, Triple Crowns and World Series appearances but what Doug Fister did to the Kansas City Royals between the fourth and seventh innings cannot be described as anything other than magical. He set the American League consecutive punch out record, sitting down nine Royals in a row before Salvador Perez grounded out to end the top of the seventh.
The feat may never be repeated in our lifetime. Fister did something few have done in the past and made for a surprisingly exciting day game in September.
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2. Calvin Johnson Sets Receiving Record
Sure, Chris may have this on his list too, but how can you not pick this as one of your top moments?
It is history, a record no one thought a player would touch again and he very nearly touched the untouchable 2,000 yard mark for receivers. He fell just short of breaking the two century mark, but on a year with no real help opposite him when the Lions were terrible, Calvin found a way to be extra special.
At such a young age and still relatively early on in his career, Detroit has a lot to look forward to in 2013 as well.
1. Phil Coke Points to the Sky to Seal the Tigers’ Birth in the ALCS
I hate how Phil Coke always points to the sky when there is a fly-ball, but I have never been more excited to see him do it than after the Tigers shellacked the Yankees 8-1 to complete an ALCS sweep.
Coke was an unlikely closer after Jose Valverde blew yet another save in the ALCS. He was terrible most of the year, failed to get lefties out consistently, but was a gem in the playoffs. Following game one, Coke assumed the role of the closer and slammed the door on games two, three and four.
The finger point is stupid, but in October it symbolized everything about the Tigers season, nowhere to go but up. After being blow .500 for most of the season, the Tigers swiftly took out the AL Central competition and September and it looked as if they truly couldn’t go anywhere but up through the playoffs and to the World Series.
Of course, they met their ceiling against the San Francisco Giants, but it truly was a wonderful year and an exciting one capped off by that wonderful final ALCS game.