When Tigers speedy outfielder Quintin Berry collected five hits in Sunday's 5-0 victory over the Rockies, I was curious as to how many other Tigers have accomplished that feat. According to the Baseball-Reference Play Index tool, there have been 114 games where a Tigers batter had five or more hits in a game since 1918 (the first year complete play-by-play records are available). They range from from weak-hitting shortstop Cesar Guitierrez to the legendary Ty Cobb.
A box score from my childhood which I will never forget shows that Gutierrez went an improbable seven for seven on June 21, 1970 in the second game of a doubleheader versus the Indians. I was only seven-years old at the time, but I knew that seven hits was an amazing feat. A lifetime .235 hitter in 600 plate appearances, Gutierrez collected six singles and a double in a twelve-inning 9-8 victory over the Indians. What did he do in game one of the twin bill ? He didn't play. The immortal Ken Szotkiewicz went 0 for 3 as the Detroit shortstop.
The other Tiger with seven hits in one game was the more accomplished Rocky Colavito. You don't hear about this game as often as the Gutierrez game, because it took Colavito ten at bats in a 22-inning 9-7 loss to the Yankees. Not every Tiger was as fortunate as Colavito that day as infielders Steve Boros and Chico Fernandez and outfielder Purnal Goldy each went one for ten.
There have been five Tigers with six hits in a game. The most recent was Carlos Pena who went six for six in a 17-7 win versus the Royals on May 27, 2004. This was an afternoon game which I remember hearing at work. His six base knocks included two home runs and a double. The Tigers first baseman went into the game batting .204, so his performance was a pretty big surprise. Pena led a 27-hit attack including four apiece by outfielder Alex Sanchez and infielder Omar Infante.
The last Tiger before Berry to get five hits in a game was Brennan Boesch versus the the Rangers last June 6. He needed six at bats to do it though. The most recent five for five performance was by Austin Jackson on April 30, 2010.
Who is the Tigers king of five-hit games? Not surprisingly, Cobb is the leader with eight five-hit games. Only eight? That's because the first 13 years of his career came before 1918 and are thus not included.