Justin Verlander or no, I didn’t expect the Tigers to win Game 5. After Wednesday night’s deflating extra-inning loss, my typically optimistic self thought the Tigers had run out of gas and that the Rangers were just too hot to lose.
Texas was making the most of their opportunities — lord knows they (and the Tigers with much less success) have had plenty this series — and how long could Detroit’s worn out pitching staff keep Michael Young and Adrian Beltre, the only Rangers not scorching the ball these days, in check? Not long, at least in the case of the former.
When Young doubled in the first inning, that queasy feeling of doom washed over me. Then I got angry: No way Verlander wilts in this situation. He didn’t.
Despite what some wrote, Verlander was terrific. Untouchable? No. But he had enough stuff, grit and determination to get the outs he needed at just the right time.
These same observers are saying the Tigers were lucky to win this game. Well, yeah — and it’s about time a bounce went Detroit’s way. And an ice-cold hitter hit a home run. And a starter went deep into the game. And someone other than Joaquin Benoit and Jose Valverde got the final outs. And a packed Comerica Park trembled one more time.
If the Tigers go on to win this series, imagine how we’ll remember a beaten down Alex Avila at last delivering a key hit with an opposite field home run, or how iconic Miguel Cabrera‘s sixth-inning double off the third-base bag will become in Detroit sports lore. Or Victor Martinez‘s triple when the man can hardly walk. Or Delmon Young‘s two rockets to left-center that put him in elite company in the Tigers’ postseason record book.
With Max Scherzer going in Game 6 — the first time the Tigers have been in a postseason Game 6 since 1968 — you have to feel good, don’t you? My guess is that he feels he has some unfinished business after Game 2 and will be on a mission Saturday night.
For now though, I’m going to savor this win and the crow I was forced to eat after not so much doubting the Tigers’ grit, but recognizing the offensive buzz saw that’s the Texas Rangers right now.
And you know what? Jim Leyland seems to be having the time of his life in this series. Perhaps it’s time I stop fretting every pitch and just enjoy the ride too.
Who’s with me?