PREGAME: Well here we are. Game 162. Will there be an ALDS Game 1 or a Game 163 or is this it? We all know the deal, the Tigers haven’t been out of first place since May 9th. Yet way too eerily much like 2006 the Tigers could find themselves looking up at the Twins for the first time on the last day.
The Tigers do have some things working for them today. Justin Verlander is pretty good and he’s been very good when the Tigers have most needed him. It’s a matter of whether or not there is a limit on how many times the Tigers can go to the well.
John Danks is going for the the White Sox. The Tigers have only faced Danks once this season and could only muster 2 runs. The Twins faced the Danks 2 weeks ago and rocked him for 7 runs and it was the only time he had allowed more than 3 runs since August 6th.
Finally, I thought it was a waste when I heard that Amber Grand would be singing the National Anthem today. It turns out that this may be the Tigers best move with Grand posting a 6-1 record this year.
The Tigers finally played the game that fans had been looking for. Too bad it took them 4 tries to get it right, but they got it right just in time to extend the season.
Justin Verlander came up big. He was unusually efficient. Whether that was Verlander or a White Sox lineup that saw Scott Podsednik DH’ing remains to be seen. Regardless, and despite the fact that Jim Leyland left him in a couple batters too long, Verlander only enhanced his status as a staff ace and an elite arm in the American League.
The offense was led by the corner outfielders with Ryan Raburn and Magglio Ordonez both having big games and big hits. Raburn homered twice, walked, and singled. After his second homer he trotted out to left field and received a standing ovation.
Ordonez came up his 4th time needing a triple for the cycle. That was going to be highly unlikely so he settled for a single and took his 4 hit day.
If the pitching and hitting weren’t enough, the Tigers even played some of their old fashioned solid defense. Curtis Granderson made a game-saving catch in the 8th inning laying out to catch a shallow pop-fly. Adam Everett looked exactly like the elite defender the Tigers thought they were getting. Everything was good.
Even Fernando Rodney, asked to get 4 outs actually got 5. And he did so efficiently not allowing a ball out of the infield in the 9th inning and only the bloop that Grandy snagged in the 8th.
And Amber Grand raised her record to 7-1.
Below are a couple shots from the game today (click for bigger images).