Tuesday, July 1, 2014

2014 Tigers game report #1: vs. Oakland 6/30

Last night I headed to my first Tigers game of the year, the first of a three-game home stand against Oakland.  I specifically picked this game as the Tigers were celebrating the 30th anniversary of winning the 1984 World Series, plus they were giving away these cool throwback jerseys, which I didn't get since apparently people were lining up like two hours before game time.

More details on some of that in a bit, but first, a quick trip through my score card:

  • A.  Oakland starter Scott Kazmir pitched 5.1 innings.  Well, a bit more than that--after allowing Cabrera's sixth inning HR, a J.D. Martinez Walk, and getting Torii Hunter to fly out to center (for the third straight at bat), he had a 1-1 count on Nick Castellanos...and then he was pulled, apparently not for injury reasons.  Weird.
  • B. and C.  Detroit picked up three steals in this game, and strangely enough, two of them (Castellanos in the second, Davis in the fifth) were when a player got caught on a pick-off throw and the 1B Vogt, in apparently his first start at the position, couldn't handle the play either time.
  • D.  Detroit's tire-fire bullpen rears its ugly head again.  Starter Anibal Sanchez made it through seven innings having allowed just a run on around 100 pitches, and I agreed with the thought of bringing him out for the 8th.  A Eugenio Suarez error (AND he went 0-4 and struck out three times!) in the form of an awful throw on an easy grounder, followed by a double, and he was headed to the showers.  In came Joba Chamberlain to make things much worse, failing to get an out, allowing a run of his own, plus two charged to Sanchez.
  • E.  I'm no fan of Phil Coke, hence his nickname in the box score there, but he deserves props for coming in and shutting down Oakland for the rest of the 8th.
  • F.  Covelli (much cooler than "Coco") Crisp started out as a pest on the basepaths before striking out twice later.  Oakland star Yoenis Cespedes was an easy out early but finished strong, sparking the Oakland 8th inning rally on the previously-mentioned Suarez error.  He left with a hammy problem and was replaced by Craig Gentry.
  • G.  My memory's not great, but I believe this is the first time I've seen a Cabrera HR live.  Nah, I'm not gonna look it up.  Anyway, it was awesome, and tied us up at 1 at the time.
  • H.  Avila takes a lot of heat for being very all-or-nothing at the plate, but his single in the bottom of the ninth after Castellanos led off with his own was absolutely instrumental in what happened later...
  • I.  Namely Rajai Davis' walk-off grand slam, which is quite possibly a double first for me.  Not sure about the slam part, but I definitely don't remember catching a walk-off.  I was way up in the corner past the left field foul pole, and although the crowd reaction after he hit the ball gave me some indication, I still couldn't tell it had cleared the fence into Detroit's bullpen until the whole crowd went nuts!  More on that shortly.
  • J.  I apparently don't pay enough attention to all players anymore (maybe because I haven't played fantasy in a few years), but I didn't realize just how insanely effective A's closer Sean Doolittle was until I heard how rare it was for players to even get on base against him this year!
  • K.  I made a notation up top about "Ghostbusters" singer-songwriter Ray Parker, Jr., who sang an excellent National Anthem (smooth and quick!) being there.  Also, his big hit was the 7th inning singalong after "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," which was awesome.
  • L.  I mentioned the '84 team reunion, right?  Greatest of all time double-play combo Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker were among those on-hand, with the latter scheduled to throw out the first pitch to the former.  The pair delighted the crowd with the best "first pitch" ever, running out to their familiar positions on the diamond, with Sweet Lou flipping to Tram at short, and Tram firing over to first to complete the play.  There will never be another pair like these two should-be Hall-of-Famers.

And now, a bit more in pictures:
Here's a shot of the assembled Tigers during the pregame ceremony.  Visitors included Dave Bergman, Tom Brookens, Darrell Evans, Dave Rozema, and more.
Here's a (faraway) shot of the Whitaker-to-Trammell "first pitch" flip.
Here's Cabrera coming to the plate for his first inning at-bat, which ended up being a double, one of his two hits on the day.
While he was still in the game, I grabbed a quick shot of Cespedes since he's such a great player.
Rajai Davis batting with ducks on the pond and one out in the bottom of the 9th against ace closer Sean Doolittle.
Davis rounds third and prepares to be mobbed by his awaiting teammates as Doolittle walks off the field. 

And finally, a blurry shot of the crazy celebration on the field as the fans in the stands (the few who stayed after Oakland took a late 4-1 lead) go nuts.

That was easily one of the most exciting games I've ever been to, and staying to see Davis wrest a victory from defeat with a grand slam is a memory I'll always enjoy.

Until the next time I make it down to Comerica Park, GO TIGERS!


  1. What a great game! Gotta love former Pirate Rajai Davis.