PREGAME: The Tigers take another crack at Roger Clemens who they had no trouble hitting last week, they just had trouble scoring. The Tigers mustered 10 hits in 6 innings, but only 2 runs thanks to 8 strikeouts which all seemed to come with guys on base.
For the Tigers it will be Andrew Miller making his fast start since going on the DL on August 4th. Despite the great stuff, Miller struggles a little to put guys away and his lack of command can lead to hefty pitch counts. He hasn’t recorded an out after the 5th inning since July 6th.
I’ll be heading down to this game, and hopefully the result will be similar to when I saw Clemens pitch against the Tigers last year.
Who’s your Tiger tonight? I’m going out on a limb and going with Brandon Inge.
POSTGAME: You know you got your money’s worth when on the way home from a game you start to ponder where it ranks in terms of the greatest games you’ve ever witnessed live. When you’re doing at at 4:00am, you know it’s a special situation.
First things first, thanks to all of you for the awesome comments throughout the game last night. I was reading them on my Blackberry throughout the night and was amazed so many of us were toughing it out together.
On to the game, I made several good decisions last night. First, I had an unused ticket and was really debating taking my 6 year old son. I ended up not doing it, because while I love him to death and love going to games with him, this was the first time since Opening Day I had plans to go with my friends and I just didn’t want to be a dad that night. Second, we took a couple cars to the game because one friend had commitments in the morning and we didn’t know how late he’d want to stay. Worked out great with the one friend being able to leave at 8:30 when he recognized any baseball would be way late. So those staying were happy to be stayinig, and no one had to leave prematurely.
The theme for the night was pretty much, “there’s weird s*** happening tonight” and that held up throughout the game. Witness:
- Placido Polanco makes an error. That never happens.
- Pudge battles back from an 0-2 count to take a walk. That never happens.
- The game started at 11:05.
- Jason Grilli pitches not only a scoreless inning in Comerica Park, but he does it uneventfully.
- Pudge took another walk. Intentional and all, but still.
- I’m drinking coffee at a game in August – normally an activity reserved for those cold nights in April or September
So there we were at 2:30 in the morning concocting the most improbable ways for the Tigers to pull this off. Like having the Tigers load the bases against Mariano Rivera and then have Inge come through. Well, that one got half way there, and only some bad luck kept it from coming through.
Still the crowd stayed, and sure it was whittled down after a while. After that 10th inning the numbers really dwindled and I said to the usher, this place looks like 2003 right now. But it sounded much louder. And at that point everyone had formed this big kind of friendship, the kind of friendship that can only come from staying at a ballpark until ridiculous hours of the morning as everyone individually questions their sanity for staying and yet being too afraid to leave and miss something. It was kind of like one of those West Coast Red Wing playoff games that goes into OT, and you think to yourself “I can’t quit now, I’ve made it this far.”
Fortunately for those who stayed, they got the pay off. After a nice walk by Polanco it looked like a hit and run sign was missed with Sean Casey up and Polanco was picked off. And the Tigers went from a runner on 1 out situation to a 2 out none on situation. As so often is the case, the next batter gets a single after the runner is wiped off the bases.
I was imploring Leyland to pinch run for Casey, figuring that a gapper would go to waste with Casey on the basepaths. Instead Leyland stuck with Casey who managed to go first to third with relative ease on a blooper. Setting the stage for the Carlos Guillen. When he hit it I didn’t know if it was gone. I just new it was well hit and I didn’t care if it were a homer, I just wanted it to get over Matsui’s head. When it landed on the roof of the bullpen it was euphoria, it was relief, it was “I get to go home now, but I’m not tired anymore,” it was so worth it all.
I know the above thoughts are incoherent, but I’m working on a couple hours of sleep right now. For the bullets:
- I saw a player hit triples in consecutive innings as Granderson hit #20 and #21 which were the 4th and 5th that I’ve witnessed in person this year.
- Chants of MVP rang out with Ordonez at the dish, and on a night where he was a triple short of the cycle he certainly continues to build his case.
- When Jason Grilli came into the game, they announced him and instantly cut to very loud music making any boos that may have been there indistinguishable. And Grilli certainly earned some cheers with his performance.
- Cameron Maybin is fast. Really fast. He stole a base on a pitch out and it wasn’t even close.
- Can’t say too much about the strike zone from my vantage point, but the players on both teams didn’t seem to happy.
- Lots of very patient at-bats tonight, and it paid of with 8 walks.
- Andrew Miller, still not efficient with 100 pitches thrown in 4 1/3 innings.
- As long as the game went, the bullpen should be okay for today with only Fernando Rodney and Tim Byrdak being unavailable. Everybody else just went 1 inning. Hopefully Bondo can go 7 or 8 strong though so that Leyland doesn’t have to dip too far in.
- Brandon Inge had some very nice at-bats tonight, picking up 2 walks and a hard luck line out with the bases loaded. What are ya gonna do about that one?
I don’t know if this win will be the start of something or not. No matter how exciting last night was, the team could still very well be gassed tonight and have a hangover. Regardless, the hometown team gave the hometown fans a memory for a lifetime on a stormy August night. The nice thing is that because they won we can debate signature wins and such, instead of lamenting “why did they even start that game and do that to the fans.” Funny how one swing can totally change your feelings about an evening.