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These are the Tigers' top five wins of 2019

@beckjason
November 26, 2019

DETROIT -- The Tigers won just 47 games in 2019. To pick out the club's five best wins for the year is to pick out more than 10 percent of the Tigers’ victories. Still, while many Detroit fans understandably would like to forget this past season like a bad dream,

DETROIT -- The Tigers won just 47 games in 2019. To pick out the club's five best wins for the year is to pick out more than 10 percent of the Tigers’ victories. Still, while many Detroit fans understandably would like to forget this past season like a bad dream, there were a handful of victories that stood out as bright spots in an otherwise difficult season. And in many cases, those wins included contributions that can be used to look ahead to 2020 and beyond.

Here’s a look at the top five Tigers victories of 2019:

1) Tigers 2, Blue Jays 0 (10 innings)
Date: March 28

Jordan Zimmermann, manager Ron Gardenhire’s surprising choice to start Opening Day, tossed 6 2/3 perfect innings before giving up a Teoscar Hernández infield single. Zimmermann ended the threat from there, but he didn’t get a decision because Marcus Stroman shut down Detroit’s offense for seven innings. Christin Stewart's 10th-inning home run off future World Series closer Daniel Hudson accounted for all the offense in the game.

What does it tell us about 2020?

While the Tigers would undoubtedly love to see Zimmermann get back to that form, the bigger hope is to get Stewart back to hitting in the clutch and enjoying big-game situations such as hitting a mistake slider from Hudson. Stewart batted just .233 with runners in scoring position for the year, including one more home run, and just .218 off relief pitchers. But it’s too early to give up on his potential after one full Major League season.

2) Tigers 2, Astros 1
Date: Aug. 21

The Tigers matched up against their former ace, Justin Verlander, in the middle of his late-season Cy Young drive and beat him in Houston for the second time in as many seasons. Though Detroit managed just two hits over nine innings off Verlander, both were home runs, including fellow Goochland, Va., native John Hicksgo-ahead homer off his old neighbor. Meanwhile, Verlander’s ex-teammate, Daniel Norris, tossed three scoreless innings in his abbreviated start. The Astros rallied with a two-out double in the ninth, but center fielder Harold Castro and second baseman Gordon Beckham pulled off a near-perfect relay to throw out Robinson Chirinos trying for a triple that would’ve completed a cycle for the Astros catcher.

What does it tell us about 2020?

The Tigers dropped Hicks and Beckham from their roster at season’s end, but Castro’s play was a reflection of the defense Gardenhire wants to see out of his team, especially in chaotic situations like Chirinos’ gapper and Travis Demeritte's ill-fated diving attempt. Just as important was Norris’ performance against the Astros’ mighty offense. It was a springboard to a stellar stretch run for Norris, and a reminder why he’s a factor in Detroit's rotation for 2020 and beyond.

3) Tigers 9, Rays 6
Date: June 4

On the day Miguel Cabrera returned to the Tigers' lineup after being diagnosed with chronic changes in his aching right knee, he gave fans at Comerica Park a flashback to his power of old with his first grand slam in six years, sending a Blake Snell pitch deep to left to put Detroit up for good. Snell struck out eight Tigers over 4 1/3 innings, but he paid for Cabrera’s slam as well as a Cabrera RBI double.

What does it tell us about 2020?

The game was a reminder that Cabrera can still be an offensive threat when he’s healthy, and even at times when he’s hobbling. The key is keeping him on the field, which is why this offseason and his training regimen to ease the wear and tear on his 36-year-old legs are so important to Detroit’s fortunes for next year.

4) Tigers 7, Nationals 5
Date: June 29

Victor Robles’ third-inning drive on a summer Saturday afternoon would’ve had a home run in 13 of 30 Major League parks. It would’ve also been a homer at Comerica Park if not for center fielder JaCoby Jones, who dug his spikes into the left-center-field padding, propelled himself up and flopped against the fence as he reached over to bring Robles’ drive back in. The Tigers pulled ahead in the seventh on an RBI single from Cabrera, a sac fly from Stewart and an RBI single from Niko Goodrum.

What does it tell us about 2020?

The Tigers scored seven runs on a day when their only extra-base hits were doubles from Jones and Nicholas Castellanos. Detroit took advantage of walks and went 4-for-13 with runners in scoring position. This is the style of offense Detroit is more likely to rely on next year without consistent home run sluggers.

5) Tigers 12, Yankees 11
Date: Sept. 10

On a night when the Yankees slugged six home runs at Comerica Park, the Tigers had one extra-base hit until the ninth inning. Their 14th single of the night was the game-winner. Detroit slashed the gaps with singles, aggressive baserunning and went 8-for-12 with runners in scoring position. They also limited the damage from the Yankees, who hit four solo homers and a pair of two-run shots.

What does it tell us about 2020?

While the Tigers could try to join the launch-angle revolution and swing for the fences, they’re hoping to build a well-rounded offense around their large ballpark and massive outfield gaps. Fourteen singles might be asking a bit much, but Detroit can win with a disciplined approach that emphasizes line drives and aggressive baserunning.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason.