A roller coaster of a campaign tested the patience and loyalty of Tigers fans everywhere. One thing is for certain however, there were many memorable moments along the way.
Here are my top five memorable moments of the Tigers 2012 regular season, and five more that you may have forgotten.
5. Max Scherzer's start in Pittsburgh
Just days after Scherzer's brother Alex took his own life, Max took the mound in Pittsburgh and pitched through what had to be the most difficult of circumstances. Scherzer took the loss that day, but the numbers didn't matter. After the game, Scherzer admitted that his start provided therapy for the grief stricken family. I can't imagine having the ability to perform after such an emotional loss. The fact that Scherzer would go on to win a career high 16 games would become one of the most impressive things I have seen accomplished in baseball.
4. Fister on a roll
On September 27th, the Tigers began the day one game ahead of the Chicago White Sox in the A.L. Central standings. With the Kansas City Royals in town, Doug Fister was trying to pitch the Tigers one game closer to a division crown. While Fister was robbed of a win thanks to a blown save, he electrified the crowd that day, establishing an American League record by striking out nine straight Royals. The streak started with Salvador Perez looking at strike three to end the fourth inning and continued through the 7th inning when Billy Butler was caught looking at the third strike. Fister would come within one strikeout of matching Tom Seaver's major league record of 10 consecutive strikeouts.
3. Tigers ambush Perez
Perhaps the Tigers most thrilling win of 2012 came at the expense on the Cleveland Indians and their outspoken closer, Chris Perez. Powered by a pair of 10th inning home runs by Travis Hafner and Eziquiel Carrera, the Tribe carried a three run lead into the bottom of the 10th on August 5th at Comerica Park Already trailing by a game and a half in the standings, Perez quickly retired the first two Tigers and it looked like the Detroit would suffer a costly loss. Alex Avila drew a two-out walk and Andy Dirks kept the Tigers slim hopes alive with a pinch-hit single. Austin Jackson doubled to make the score 8-6 and Omar Infante added a two-run single to tie the game. Miguel Cabrera then sent the crowd into a frenzy with a two-run shot to left, sending the Tigers to a 10-8 win. Two outs, nobody on and the Tigers scored five to stun the Indians. One of the best moments of the season.
2. Q's arrival
One of the most overlooked signings that Assistant GM Al Avila made in the off season heading into 2012 turned out to be one of the most important. Prince Fielder's deal captured all of the headlines, but adding Quintin Berry to the organization gave the Tigers some insurance in the event Austin Jackson would go down. Well, Jackson would indeed go down in May and Berry got his first taste of the major leagues. All of the bus rides through countless minor league towns would finally be be worth it. After 6 1/2 years in the minors, Berry would make his major league debut, instantly providing a spark for the Tigers with his speed. Q would steal 21 bags without being caught. His production slowed down the stretch, but his enthusiasm gave the Tigers a much needed spark throughout the year.
1. Miggy's Triple Crown
We hadn't seen one since 1967. That year, Carl Yastrzemski won the Triple Crown in the American League. In 2012, Miguel Cabrera accomplished the feat, leading the league in homers, RBI's and batting average. The debate for A.L. MVP raged all season, with fans backing either Mike Trout of the Angels or Cabrera. In the end, Miggy's Triple Crown may have put the final touches on clinching the MVP.
Top Moments you may have forgotten:
5. Jackson robs Gose
Austin Jackson has made far too many great catches to keep track of, but one that may have slipped through the cracks this year happened in late August. In the heat of a pennant race, Austin robbed Toronto's Anthony Gose of extra bases in the 10th inning with a diving catch on August 23rd. The hit would have given Toronto the lead, but the Tigers would win in extra innings thanks to Jackson's thievery.
4. Verlander's 131 pitch effort
It may have been early April, but Jim Leyland had no intentions of letting a win slip away in Kansas City. Leading 3-1 on April 16th, and already over 100 pitches for the game, Leyland let his ace finish the job. The Royals scored a run in the bottom of the ninth and loaded the bases with Alex Gordon stepping in with two outs. Verlander let it fly, striking out Gordon on his 131st pitch of the night. Number 131 registered at 100 MPH. Later in the year, Verlander would go on to throw 132 pitches in a win over the Yankees in August.
3. Fielder and Cabrera provided an early preview
The minute Prince Fielder signed with the Tigers, opposing managers and pitching coaches were racing to the medicine cabinet for a roll of TUMS. On April 7th, the Dynamic Duo provided an early glimpse of what was to come. In just the second game of the season, both homered twice against the Red Sox in a 10-0 rout. When all was said and done, the pair combined for 74 HR and 247 RBI's
2. Fielder's late season homer in Minnesota
Closing in on the Central Division title, the Tigers trailed 1-0 at Minnesota on September 30th. The Twins Liam Hendricks had shutout the Tigers through seven innings. In the 8th, Fielder hit a clutch two-out, two-run homer off Jared Burton to give the Tigers the lead. Detroit's victory reduced the magic number to one.
1. Miggy takes a bow.
With the triple Crown secure, manager Jim Leyland took Miguel Cabrera out of the game in the fourth inning of the Tigers season finale in Kansas City on October 4th. As Cabrera left the field at Kauffman Stadium, he high-fived his teammates and waved his helmet to the fans who showered him with a standing ovation. Leyland's gesture allowed Cabrera to enjoy the moment and provided us with a lasting memory of a tremendous baseball accomplishment.