Last week, I stated that Game 4 was THE worst game I witnessed in my short lifetime as a Tiger fan. This weekend, however, is by far the most bizarre. We witnessed (God willing) the final pitch by Jose Valverde as a Tiger, the resilience of our team, the emergence of Drew Smyly, and the end of Derek Jeter’s season. What a night! But this is the stuff, journalists like me dream of! Let’s get it started!
I felt like a kid on Christmas when I sat down to watch this game. However, I went through six innings of shutout ball from Andy Pettitte but had increasing confidence in Doug Fister as he finagled his way out of three bases-loaded situations and kept the game a tie going into the sixth inning. The Tigers put up two each in the 6th and 8th innings and had a 4-run lead going into the 9th. Then, the Tiger equivalent of the Ludovico Technique happened. Jose Valverde proceeded to give up two-run homers to Ichiro and Raul Ibanez and the game was brought to a shocking tie. With his performance tonight, I believe that Valverde has thrown his last pitch for Detroit. I would be more than surprised if Mr. Dombrowski didn’t have a midnight discussion with Jim Leyland as to what to do with Valverde. Either way, there’s no way the Tigers can compete, in this round or the next, with Valverde pitching, in any capacity.
But, lo! All was not what it seemed! The Tigers showed resilience after Dotel put up four-outs worth of quality pitching and gave way to rookie Drew Smyly. A Cabrera walk and a dribbler from Fielder gave Delmon Young a chance to drive in Miggy from third. A laser shot into right field was horribly misplayed by Nick Swisher and Young stood at second, giving the Tigers a one-run lead. The next batter, Peralta, would reach on groundball to Derek Jeter. The 38-year old shortstop ranged to his left to snatch the ball but came up with a fractured ankle, as confirmed postgame by manager Joe Girardi. A part of me felt bad that a class act like Jeter was down and in excruciating pain yet the Tiger fan in me realized that not one Yankee fan would ever give any sympathy if Cabrera, Fielder, or Verlander was down. I digress, it was a terrible scene but the Tigers have yet another roll come up in their favor. Another Andy Dirks hustle play would add one more before the inning was done and the Tigers took a 6-4 lead going into the bottom of the 12th.
Now, what the future holds for Drew Smyly is anyone’s guess. But tonight, he won my vote for the new closer as he mixed up Yankee hitters and got through the 12th unscathed. The Tigers emerged the victor in Game 1 and what few of us had stayed sane by the end of the night were ecstatic.
I have a few questions and comments regarding the game myself so I feel I’ll share them with you.
- I have to hand it to the knuckleheads on ESPN.com. I watched the game and followed what was being said on the “Conversation” part of the Box Score. Numerous comments and thunderous outrage over Valverde flooded the comments. However, most of them had dark humor about both the Tigers and Yankees. Nevertheless, it gave an aspect of humor to the entire situation and lightened the mood after Valverde’s 9th.
- I don’t know about the rest of you I’ve asked myself the following question many, many times, even dating back to last year: DOES ANYONE KNOW HOW TO BROADCAST BASEBALL ANYMORE? Ernie Johnson isn’t even a great basketball guy, let alone baseball! Why are guys like Johnson, John Sterling, Ken Harrelson, and (last and certainly, least) Joe Buck allowed to broadcast? I might sound biased but I think Rod Allen, Mario Impemba, Dan Dickerson, and Jim Price all do a fine job for Detroit. Its a shame that the most important of games in the season are broadcasted by the worst of announcers.
- Lastly, why should we have expected anything less from this team? As much as we all love these Tigers, they’ve been up and down and up and down again (and then down some more) for most of the season. Yet, they find themselves a mere 3 wins away from clinching a World Series berth.
As exciting as tonight was, please realize that the extra innings, lack of sleep, used relievers, and emotional drainage by the fans, coaches, and the players will be a huge factor going into tomorrow’s matinee Game 2 matchup. And as I’m sure any Nationals fan will tell you:
Anything, Anything, ANYTHING can happen.