PREGAME: Here we are, the Cleveland series. The last 3 chances for the Tigers to exert their will on the teams they are chasing. I can’t remember being this nervous for a game, maybe game 2 of the ALDS, but even then I’m not sure. I guess I’m nervous because not so much of what a win would mean – that just keeps the window of hope alive – but what a loss would do to already slim playoff chances. There’s been lots of talk about “if the Yankees win X” or “if the Indians win Y” and none of it matters as much as “if the Tigers win tonight.”
As for the match-up it’s Kenny Rogers and Paul Byrd. The Tigers have scored some runs off of Byrd in 3 starts this year, but he’s still a good bet to get to the 7th inning while giving his team a chance to win. He won’t walk more than 1 or 2, so pitch count isn’t usually a concern.
Rogers is making just his second start against the Indians this year, so maybe a slight edge to the Tigers in the “lack of familiarity” department. Rogers should be stretched out after throwing 83 and 94 pitches in his last 2 starts, but it’s more a matter of how his elbow holds up.
One thing to watch is what happens if the Tigers have a slim lead late in the game. Todd Jones has thrown 3 days in a row, and of course yesterday was especially rocky. I’d be surprised if he was available. And Joel Zumaya has thrown the last 2 days, but he didn’t throw a lot of pitches in either outing so we might still see him.
POSTGAME: Crushed. Me, the team, the season, the postseason hopes. Crushed.