The Detroit Tigers walked off on Torii Hunters’ two-out, three run home run on Thursday afternoon to salvage one win in a four game series with the Oakland Athletics. Never has a 1-of-4 felt so good to this fan.
I’m never one to get overly doom-and-gloomy over a few games or even an extended cold stretch, but after dropping the first three to Oakland and trailing by three entering the ninth of the fouth game, I could feel the pressure mounting. I don’t know if the players would really have felt it much – I’m not in the lockerroom – but their comfortable lead in the division over the Cleveland Indians wasn’t so comfortable that it couldn’t slip away. It’s only one game – one game is only ever one game – but it felt like a four-game sweep could have set in motion a seriew of events whereby Detroit had another poor series in Cleveland and headed into September with only a few game lead. The “Tigers are collapsing”, “Jim Leyland has no killer instinct”, and “this team is doomed in the playoffs” narratives would have been unbearable.
But everything changed when Hunter smashed Grant Balfour’s hanger into the visitor’s bullpen to steal a victory for the boys in the home whites. The momentum that I don’t believe in shifted back to the Tigers. They suddenly seemed in control again. We can all climb down off the ledge and remember that this team is pretty darn good and that this was just one lousy series in a sea of season series.
Anyway, glad that’s over.
- The win extends the Tigers’ lead in the AL Central back to six games over the Indians. They trail Boston for the AL lead by one game. The magic number to clinch the division is 24.
- If the Tigers finish the season with a 14-14 record in their final 28 games, the Indians would need to finish 21-9 to force a tie.
- Adjusting for strength of schedule, the Tigers are on pace to win 95 games. Boston and Texas are on similar paces.