Life and Times

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

If the Tigers' first playoff game in 19 years isn't worth me blogging about, I don't know what is!

So nearly everyone I've talked to...or overheard talking...or listened to on the radio...or interacted with any way over the past 24 hours has said the Tigs have no shot against the Yankees. They keep telling me that they lost their last 5 games of the year. They keep telling me that they got swept by the worst team in baseball to finish the regular season. At home. They keep telling me that playing the Yankees is like playing against an All-star team...heck, after listening to people talking about this series, I don't even know why the Tigs are making the trip to New York...seems like a waste of time for a team that has no shot at winning.


Yeah, the pitching struggled down the stretch...but the great thing about baseball is that it only takes one outing to turn that around...and Nate Robertson has been our best starting pitcher down the stretch (with the exception of that last outing)...and then we have AL rookie of the year Justin Verlander pitching on 9 days rest in game 2! Yeah, Justin has struggled down the stretch, but maybe this 9 day break is just what he needs to get back on track...

And who are the Yankees throwing in game 1? Ching Ming-Wang? You're telling me this guy is someone we should be afraid of? Last time I checked, power pitching wins games in October. I'll take our chances against this guy. Next, they throw Mussina in game 2. Great pitcher, lots of experience...hopefully will end up being a great game against Verlander. But who rounds out their staff? 43 year old Randy Johnson and his creaky, overworked back occupy the 3rd spot in the rotation. Scary. And Jaret Wright finishes out their vaunted rotation. Whoopie.

So let's say we split in the Bronx...I'm hoping Nate can take Game 1. I like his fire and I think he'll rise to the occasion. We come back to Detroit tied 1-1 and Friday night Comerica Park is absolutely electric. Frenzied fans lift Kenny Rogers to another level on the hill and we jump on Randy Johnson early. The place is absolutely going nuts. For cripes' sake, it's our first playoff game in 19 years!!! And we roll over the Yankees in Game 3.

That would leave Jeremy Bonderman to pitch game 4...and make no bones about it, he has been a disappointment since the All Star Break. He just hasn't been able to put it all together yet. Even so, he is still top 5 in K's in the AL. He has the stuff to be an ace. A 2o game winner. And that is what October is all about. Remember Josh Beckett in 2003? He still hasn't put it together for an entire season...but in October 2003 he was the best pitcher on the planet and he led the Florida Marlins to a World Series title. He even beat the Yankees to do it. True story. Anyways, Jeremy Bonderman has the potential to be a Josh Beckett type pitcher for the Tigs over the next month. Heck, he HAS to be if we are going to do anything.

So in Game 4, Bonderman pitches a gem. Strikes out 8 Yankees in 7 innings. Gives up 1 run. Meanwhile, the Tigs get to Jaret Wright (remember, we have been hitting the ball well lately)...and going into the top of the 8th we are up 4-1. Crowd is just going crazy. CRAZY. They can't believe the little miracle that is taking place right in front of their eyes. Bonderman comes out for the 8th and walks the first batter. The crowd turns silent as it feels like the collective air is being sucked out of the park as another historic Yankees comeback is probably about to happen. But Jim Leyland ambles up the dugout steps and takes a cool, confident stroll out to the mound. He talks to Bondo for a minute, looking him in the eye and telling him how proud he is of him, asks for the ball and slaps him on the butt. Bondo walks off to a standing ovation. As Bondo is walking off, Leyland makes the call to the pen...and Joel Freakin' Zumaya comes running out, causing the decibel level in the park to get cranked up to jet fighter pilot level. The place is literally shaking as he warms up. After his last warm-up pitch, Jason Giambi steps into the box. Zumaya's first pitch comes in at 100 mph and is taken for a strike. Next pitch comes in at 101 and Giambi swings and misses. Comerica is abolutely insane. ABSOLUTELY INSANE!!! Next pitch hums in at a cool 102 mph on the radar gun. Giambi swings and misses. Zoom pumps his fist. Comerica Park explodes. The next two outs come easy. Jonesy comes in for the 9th and secures the series win. Game over.

Hey, it could happen!


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