Yesterday saw the rarest of the rare for the Tigers – a 9thinning loss in a Justin Verlander start. After the loss, fans took to the internet proclaiming doom and gloom. Many were met with the response of “Its just 1 game out of 162”. In fact, I was one of those saying such things. After all, the Tigers were not going to go 162-0. They probably won’t even go 150-12.
Sparky Anderson used to say – “You win 60 Games and lose 60 Games…it’s what you do with the other 40 that counts” (and yes, I know that is only 160, not 162). So, yesterday is likely just one of 60 and will be forgotten in August/September.
However, that isn’t how it should work. The last time I checked, the Tigers get just as much credit for the wins and losses in April as the ones after the July 31st Trade Deadline. Yesterday’s loss is one of those games that IF the Tigers are in a true Pennant race in September, they could look back on with regret. I know we all hope that the Tigers walk away with the division again, but maybe Kansas City surprises everyone and is able to surprise everyone like the Tigers did in 2006. Game 163 in 2009 and the last night of the regular season in 2011 should show Tigers fans just how important each game is. If the Tigers had won just one of the nail biting losses, they are a playoff team in 2009. If Boston wins one game in the first two series of the year in 2011, they are in the playoffs. If Atlanta wins on April 5th, the 6th, the 17th or the 30th last year (all 1 run games), we have a different World Series champion.
The point is, while getting worked up about 1 loss in a 162 game season can seem silly, that 1 loss really can matter. If the Tigers lose 10-2, there really isn’t much to say, but if they lose in a manner like they did yesterday afternoon, well that is a different story. If Boston misses the playoffs by 1 game this year, they can point to Sunday as one of those reasons (and yes, if the Tigers make it in by 1 game, they can point to Sunday and say “that’s why”). This is all to say that while 1 game in 162 seems like a little, it can end up meaning a lot.