Let’s talk about sports as a blanket.
You know what I’m talking about. When you’re a kid you know that no matter how scary the outside world is, as long as you keep your entire body underneath your blanket you will be protected (Some of us still treat blankets this way).
And that’s what sports do for us. They protect us from a very scary world, albeit momentarily. During a week where it didn’t seem like things could get worse (yet they did) Tigers baseball was a great blanket. But within the blanket, there can be dreams and nightmares. And tonight’s 2-1 win over Seattle was both.
For eight innings it was a baseball fan’s dream. Two strikeout hurlers abused the strike zone and threw pitches as if there wasn’t even a batter in the box. Two runs barely scored in a proverbial game of chicken. Not one, not two, but THREE turned double plays got the Tigers out of a jam.
But then the nightmares started.
The Tigers lineup stalled well after Felix Hernandez retired in the 8th. Jim Leyland sent out Octovio Dotel and kept in Phil Coke to face a righthander before giving the ball to Brayan Villarreal. After Villarreal got himself out of a self-created jam, Leyland handed the ball to Darin Downs who struck out his lone hitter to leave a runner in scoring position stranded. That was just in the 9th and 10th innings. Stuff horror movies are made of.
And there were still four more innings left to play.
Most of the remaining innings were an exercise in futility. Whether it was good pitching or bad hitting (or both) a game that had started out so entertaining was now reaching the point where “the end” was more desirable than “a win.”
Finally came the top of the 14th. A single. A walk. An ill-advised defensive play. And then a ground out to finally score a run and end everything.
Or so we thought.
Sometimes you think you’ve woken up only to realize you’re still lost in your nightmare.
But the ball got to the plate before Smoak and Brayan Pena held on to it after the collision and everyone could finally breathe a sigh of relief.
The metaphorical blanket could finally be shed for the comfort of a real one.
That’s what the Tigers gave us. That’s what sports gives us. A chance to pull ourselves under the covers and away from all the bad news, even before we go to sleep.
- Both teams combined for 40 strikeouts in 14 innings. The Major League record for combined strikeouts was 43. That happened in a 20-inning game.
- At times in this series Prince Fielder has looked like he doesn’t remember how to hit. This is worth repeating: sometimes it’s best to just move beyond a bad streak and not even bother figuring out what went wrong.
- The bullpen situation was nightmarish but based on how the hitters performed; Leyland made all the right moves.
- Seriously, three double plays? Really?
- Victor Martinez’s single to lead off the 14th eventually led to the game-winning run. It was a well-earned hit considering how many times he’s hit the ball square only for it to find someone’s glove. It looks like his swing is there. He just needs some more breaks.
- Also of note: Martinez was the only starter in the game not to strikeout.
- This bares repeating: there were 40 strikeouts combined in this game.