DETROIT — Lou Whitaker hit a walk-off grand slam on June 21, 1994. Carlos Pena did it on June 27, 2004 in a tie situation on the same day the Tigers celebrated their 20-year anniversary of the 1984 World Series Championship team.
Rajai Davis did it on June 30, 2014.
On the day when the Tigers celebrated the 30-year anniversary of the 1984 team, Miguel Cabrera homered and Rajai Davis hit a walk-off grand slam with one out for the 5-4 final.
"It's certainly a lot of fun when it happens," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "It definitely brings the guys together as a group. You see the big pile at home plate and then they celebrate a little bit in the clubhouse, so it's a fun way to win a game. Not something you want to do every night because you end up having a coronary, but it's definitely a fun way to win a game."
Leading 4-1, the Oakland Athletics sent in closer Sean Doolittle, owner of a 0.590 WHIP, to face the bottom of the Tigers' lineup. Despite drawing five walks and three stolen bases, The Detroit offense had managed just five hits over the first eight innings, unable to get anything going with the exception of a solo home run by Miguel Cabrera in the sixth. But Doolittle had just come off of a rare blown save, only his second of the season, and the troubles continued. He began the inning by allowing back-to-back singles to Nick Castellanos and Alex Avila before striking out Eugenio Suarez.
Austin Jackson, who hit ninth for just the first time since 2012, had hit the ball hard a couple of times earlier in the game, with nothing to show for it. He redeemed himself with a nine-pitch battle to draw the Tigers' sixth walk of the game and load the bases for Davis. "Doolittle does not walk a lot of guys," Ausmus said. "Obviously, he's walked two now, all season. It was a huge at-bat and possibly could be considered a turning point in that inning for us."
Davis took care of the rest, tattooing a 1-0 curveball to the deep left field corner as his teammates stormed the field. But Ausmus wasn't convinced the ball was gone right away. "I wasn't sure," he said. "Gene Lamont seemed to know but his eyes are going. But Geno did say right away, ‘He just won the game for us.'"
Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez had only one strikeout through the first seven innings, but he allowed only one run on seven hits during that time. The line wouldn't hold in the eighth, Sanchez facing two batters before an RBI double ended his night. Sanchez departed to a standing ovation, giving way to Joba Chamberlain, who failed to record an out. A walk, single and a bases-loaded, two-RBI single from Jed Lowrie pushed the A's lead to 4-1 and the Tigers' bullpen back into motion.
"(Chamberlain) was off a little bit," Ausmus said. "I think he was rushing a little bit, and his arm was physically dragging, not like he was hurting, but his arm was dragging behind a little and he had trouble getting the ball down. Joba's been our most consistent guy out of the pen all year. You're going to have an off-night once in a while."
Phil Coke, who has become solid for the Tigers in relief, came on with no outs and finished the inning without allowing another run. Blaine Hardy came on to strike out the lead-off batter in the ninth, pitching a 1-2-3 inning to enable the Tigers' walk-off redemption.
The win improves the Tigers' record to 45-34. Their division lead remains at 3 1/2 games after the Royals beat the Twins, 6-1. The Tigers are 8-2 for their last 10 games and have a .570 winning percentage, good enough for second-best in the AL and third overall in MLB.
Rajai Davis: Walk-off grand slam. Ultimate clutch. (MLB.com video)
Dan Dickerson calls Rajai's walkoff grand slam - http://t.co/JUu3XBBgor— HookSlide (@HookSlideBYB) July 1, 2014
1984 Reunion: The Tigers 1984 World Series Champions team resulted in a sellout of 42,477 and brought back countless memories for fans everywhere. The National Anthem was performed by Ray Parker, Jr. and featured a ceremonial double play rather than the typical first pitch, which was fielded by 1984 World Series Champions Lou Whitaker, Alan Trammell and Dave Bergman.
Miguel Cabrera: Hit an absolute bomb of a solo home run into the A's bullpen to put the Tigers on the board and tie the game up 1-1 in the sixth inning. (MLB.com video)
Phil Coke: Replaced Joba Chamberlain with no outs in the eighth and concluded the inning the same way he found it. A 5-4 force double play was followed by an inning-ending 4-3 groundout.
Austin Jackson: Made a diving, yes, a diving catch to rob Jed Lowrie of a base hit. The last time Jackson made a diving catch, you've got to go back to 2012.
Austin Jackson dives!!! https://t.co/J6L2KP9FxJ— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) July 1, 2014
Two-out hits: The Tigers had hits in the first, third and fifth innings, the first by Miguel Cabrera and the other two by Rajai Davis, who later stole second base twice. But those hits occurred with two outs, and twice the next batter struck out swinging, while the third went down on a ground ball out, squandering three scoring opportunities.
Joba Chamberlain: Came into the game in the eighth inning with one on and loaded the bases before giving up a two-run RBI single to Jed Lowrie, making it a 4-1 deficit for the Tigers. He departed without having recorded an out.
Victor Martinez was a late scratch from the lineup Monday when he said he was experiencing soreness in his left side/back rib cage area. J.D. Martinez, who originally had the day off, took his place and hit cleanup.
STREAKS AND STATS:
- Rajai Davis hit his first career walk-off grand slam, the third grand slam of his career.
- Rajai Davis joins three other Tigers since 1969 who have walked off to grand slams when trailing. The other three were Lou Whitaker when he did it in 1994, Alan Trammell, who walked off in 1988 and Lance Parrish who hit one against the Athletics in 1983.
- Miguel Cabrera stepped to the plate in the first inning having walked, struck out and reached on an error once during the Houston Astros three-game series. Monday Cabrera snapped an 0-14 skid with a solid shot up the middle to left center for a two-out double.
- Miguel Cabrera's solo home run in the sixth inning was the 379th home run of his career, which tied him with Orlando Cepeda and Tony Perez for 66th in MLB history.
- Anibal Sanchez's inning-ending strikeout of Alberto Callaspo in the fourth inning was his 1,000th major league career strikeout.
- Rajai Davis stole his 22nd base of the season in the fifth inning with two out. Davis' 22 stolen bases are the most for a Tigers player since Austin Jackson swiped 22 in 2011.
- Phil Coke has allowed four hits and no runs in his last seven outings over the span of 6 1/3 innings. He's walked one batter while striking out six in that time.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:
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