Memorial Day is the unofficial beginning of summer in America, and in more ways than one, this particular summer certainly feels like it could be a carbon copy of the last few for Detroit Tigers’ fans.
The events to begin the holiday weekend certainly helped prove that point. Following a dominating sweep in Cleveland, Anibal Sanchez flirted with a no hitter, as Detroit’s right hander baffled the Minnesota Twins for nine innings before giving up a single up the middle to Joe Mauer. The Tigers ended up winning the game in dominating fashion by the final of 6-0.
If that scenario sounds familiar, that’s because it is. Last season in the middle of May nearly at the exact same time, Justin Verlander nearly no-hit the Pittsburgh Pirates. Verlander pitched nine flawless innings until a single up the middle broke things up in the late stages. Just like this past Friday night, Don Kelly splashed in a clutch hit, the offense exploded and the Tigers won 6-0.
Two almost no-hitters in the same week during back to back seasons. That’s not a feat seen in baseball, especially by the same team. In fact, Verlander secured a no hitter in 2011, meaning May has been a special month for Tigers’ pitching lately. The 2011 and 2012 Tigers struggled after Verlander’s feat watching the Indians linger in first place for a while longer, but managed to rebound and claim the division championship by the end of the year. This year’s edition of the team is off to a much better start than each of the last two.
Each event helped get Detroit baseball ready for a fun-filled season. This season, the Tigers have already had two near misses, with Verlander failing to close the deal again when taking on the Houston Astros. With the amount of quality arms on the Tigers’ staff, it seems like chasing no-hitters could be a bi-weekly occurrence the rest of the year. In addition to Sanchez and Verlander, Detroit has 7-0 Max Scherzer, who’s big on strikeouts and has looked very unhittable at times, as well.
Friday’s huge performance by Sanchez served as reminder that a summer of fun for the Tigers is already at hand. For a staff which often looks like a no-hitter waiting to happen, eventually, one of these near misses so common in May will turn into the franchise’s eighth no-no. It’s simply a matter of time.
Lately, the Tigers are 1-3 during their last four May no hit attempts. Perhaps as the summer gets underway, they’ll have a bit better luck sealing the deal in some warmer months.
Bonus news from this week? Miguel Cabrera is tearing the cover off the ball once again, threatening a second straight triple crown. As we know, Cabrera has homered in multiple different ways, but never quite like he did against the Indians early Thursday morning, when Michael Bourn deflected his ball over the wall with his glove. Facebook feedback thanks Bourn for providing the Tigers with breathing room in the game and helping to pad Cabrera’s gaudy early season stats.
Jennifer Varana: Thank you Mr. Bourn for the assist.
Thanks be to Bourn, for sure. It’s not like Cabrera needs a ton of help getting the ball out of the yard, but wouldn’t it be interesting if he ended up winning both the home run race and triple crown by one measly long ball this time around? I’m betting Bourn would love to have this blooper reel play back given that scenario!
Max DeMara is a senior editor at The Detroit Sports Site. You can find him on Twitter @SportsGuyTheMax