DETROIT — The Tigers have a knack for stunning wins when all is seemingly lost. And on Monday night, Rajai Davis was at the center of that kind of win. A win that, when it happens for the Tigers, always seems to be unexpected and yet unforgettable.
Davis' blast made it a win for the history books and one of baseball's rare treats in the last decade.
Except, that's not the whole story.
In 1988, Alan Trammell — the beloved Tigers shortstop for nearly 20 years — hit a walk-off grand slam against the New York Yankees in the ninth inning of a game they trailed by three runs. As the largest deficit a team can recover from with a single swing of the bat, this type of grand slam has been accomplished only 11 times in AL history.
Trammell was the lone Tigers player to accomplish this feat prior to Davis. And he did it with Trammell in attendance.
When Torii Hunter hit a three-run walk-off home run against the A's last August, it was to a fraction of the packed house that had existed only an hour prior. Facing a 6–4 loss to Oakland, Hunter blasted a home run into the visiting bullpen for a (well worth the wait) 7–6 win.
Monday night, however, was something else. Something special. Something that the Tigers hadn't done since that August day last season.
Home after a nine-game road trip, the Tigers celebrated the 30-year anniversary of the 1984 World Series Champion team, and welcomed the A's once again for a mid-season series. Then again, when the Tigers and A's meet, the battle never feels like "just another series."
The atmosphere felt a little bit like Opening Day and the postseason all in one. And it was only intensified by the memories of the 1984 team and the hope that the Tigers will be World Series Champions again.
Trailing 4–1 and facing a second-consecutive loss, those that remained at Comerica Park held out hope that the Tigers would come through in the ninth inning despite all odds.
Enter Austin Jackson. The man that most would least expect to draw a walk against a closer who had just one walk to his name all season. But Jackson did just that; he drew a walk against A's closer Sean Doolittle, which provided Davis a golden opportunity that not many could have expected he would capitalize on.
Davis' grand slam didn't just land him in the history books — it carried on a tradition. What made Monday's win special was that it occurred while celebrating the achievements of the 1984 World Champions.
The game of baseball isn't great simply because of those who play it. Rather, after more than 100 years of America's Pastime, there are still countless rare feats and firsts that even seasoned players and fans have never witnessed before.
Rajai Davis gave Tigers fans another piece of that history Monday night with one swing. One that even Davis couldn't have predicted in his wildest dreams.