October 4, 2011

A Game So Terrific I Couldn’t Bear to Watch (But I Did)

I did not enjoy that game one bit. In fact, I hated every moment of it, starting with Derek Jeter‘s first-pitch single. Talk about a buzzkill. Then it only got worse:

  • Curtis Granderson‘s RBI double.
  • Gerry Davis‘s minuscule strike zone.
  • Justin Verlander’s shaky start.
  • CC Sabathia tantalizing the Tigers and coaxing them onto inning-ending or soul-crushing double plays.

But then the Tigers suddenly had the look of a classic playoff team, specifically the look of a team on which role players and guys hitting in the bottom third of the order make enormous contributions. And I started hating this game a little less.

Brandon Inge? All season long we waited for him to deliver when it mattered – even in relatively meaningless game in late April. And Monday night, he did.

Ramon Santiago on the other hand has delivered in seemingly every game he’s played in 2011. Early in the game he was the only one who produced and finished the game with two clutch hits and a pair of RBI. This was particularly good timing on Santiago’s part because Victor Martinez had a rare 0-for-4 night.

Then there’s Don Kelly with a drag bunt so deftly placed that it would’ve made Rod Carew proud. The run he scored was huge.

Delmon Young saw all of 10 pitches in his three plate appearances, but he sent the 10th that he crushed to break the seventh-inning, 4-4 tie.

The story of the night, of course was Verlander, who delivered a tour de force on a night when everyone expected him too. His eight-inning, 12-strikeout performance, for all its brilliance and dominance, had its share of dance-with-the-devil moments – so how about that seventh inning disaster with two outs?

I’m not sure what to say about Jose Valverde. He’s become a creepy combination of Fernando Rodney, Todd Jones and Aurelio Lopez. I’ll put it this way: it sure would be nice if the Tigers were staked to a cushy lead on Tuesday night so Phil Coke or even Joaquin Benoit could close it out.

Despite all of that, I hated every minute of this game. But if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to watch it again on my iPad.

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