Watching Tigers games on television is fun and all, but for high energy and raw excitement during those big game moments, it's tough to beat Dan Dickerson and his radio play-by-play. Here are ten fantastic moments from the first half of the 2014 season, as relayed by this generation's Ernie Harwell.
10. Gonzalez walks-off on Opening Day (vs The Royals)
Remember Alex Gonzalez, that one dude who played for the Tigers for about nine games at the beginning of the year? Chances are, if you do remember him, this is a big reason why: with Tyler Collins standing at second base and one out in a 3-3 tie, Gonzalez hit this walk-off single on Opening Day to give the Tigers the win.
9. Kinsler walks-off - April 1 (vs The Royals)
Not to be out-done by Gonzalez, Ian Kinsler stepped to the plate in the tenth inning of the Tigers' second game of the season, with Austin Jackson standing on second base and two outs in a 1-1 tie ... it took the Tigers until June of 2013 to get their first walk-off win, and now here they were in 2014, just two games into the season, already with two walk-off wins under their belts.
8. VMart's 10th-inning go-ahead homer - April 9 (vs The Dodgers)
After Joe Nathan blew a 6-3 lead in the bottom of the ninth inning by letting the Dodgers tie the game, the Tigers went into the tenth to face elite closer Kenley Jansen (he of the 98- and 99-MPH fastball). Leading off the inning, Victor Martinez worked a 2-2 count, and then did what he would continue to do for the rest of the first half ...
7. Tigers tie the game on a WTF play - April 20 (vs The Angels)
Bottom of the first inning, Tigers behind 1-0, one out, and Ian Kinsler standing at first base. Miguel Cabrera drew a walk that somehow escalated into ... well, how do you describe this? In the official score book, it looked like E2/E8/E1, if that helps.
6. Catchers have strong butts - April 22 (vs The White Sox)
Alright, technically this isn't a "play," but it was still one of my favorite moments of the first half. Alex Avila almost got hit by a pitch, which led Jim Price to make a rather strange pronouncement. Dan Dickerson's stunned silence is beautiful.
5. Holaday bunts in the go-ahead run - April 29 (vs The White Sox)
After clawing back from a 3-1 deficit in the sixth inning, the Tigers tied the game at 3-3. With the game still tied in the top of the ninth inning, Ronald Belisario struck out Torii Hunter, but then saw Austin Jackson reach third base on a field error in right field. He then struck out Nick Castellanos, and with two outs, only had to get past Bryan Holaday to keep the game tied. On a 1-1 pitch, Holaday pulled off a minor miracle.
Television commentator Rod Allen, who nearly always thinks a bunt is a good idea, nearly lost his mind on the play.
4. Don Kelly robs a home run - May 10 (vs The Twins)
In the top of the first inning, Kurt Suzuki made a legitimate bid at a home run to left field, but Don Kelly, normally against immoral things such as robbery, made an exception - and a fantastic play - in this case.
You need to see it, right? Right.
3. Miggy hits the go-ahead three-run bomb in the 9th - May 13 (vs The Orioles)
Things weren't looking good for the Tigers. Down 1-0, the offense had done nothing all game long, and now it was the top of the ninth. Tommy Hunter gave up a lead-off single to Alex Avila, and we were all looking at the lineup card, hoping that somehow Miguel Cabrera could get to the plate. Rajai Davis came in to pinch-run for Avila, and was called out trying to steal second - thankfully, Brad Ausmus challenged the call, and it was overturned.
Don Kelly and Ian Kinsler both promptly lined out, and the Tigers were down to their final out with the tying run at second, and Torii Hunter at the plate. Somehow, Torii did what he almost never does, and worked a full-count walk, which brought Miggy to the plate.
2. VMart's epic at-bat ends with a blast - May 30 (vs The Mariners)
In a battle for the ages, Victor Martinez faced off against Hisashi Iwakuma in the top of the fifth inning with the score tied 2-2. With two outs and runners at first and second, Martinez proceeded to lock horns with Iwakuma for a ten pitch at-bat, fouling off pitches left and right, working the count to 2-2. It brought back memories of Dave Bergman's battle-to-the-finish in 1984 against Roy Lee Jackson, and it ended in the same way.
1. Rajai Davis and the Ultimate Slam - June 30 (vs The A's)
Of course we had to save the best for last. Bottom of the ninth, down 4-1, facing the nearly-unhittable Sean Doolittle and his ridiculous 56-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio, the Tigers did the unthinkable. Nick Castellanos squeaked out an infield hit, and Alex Avila followed with a base hit of his own. Eugenio Suarez struck out, and Doolittle looked like he might have gotten things back under control. And then he walked Austin Jackson to load the bases, with Rajai Davis and his killer numbers against left-handed pitchers coming to the plate.
Bonus call: Verlander gets his first career hit - April 12 (vs The Padres)
It's impossible to leave this one out. We waited for what seemed like forever to see this happen. In the top of the second inning, facing Ian Kennedy, Justin Verlander took his first at-bat of the season, still looking for his first career base hit. To the delight of everyone in the Tigers dugout and in the Tigers fanbase, he got what he was looking for.