Well it certainly didn’t look good mid-way through Tuesday’s torturous Game 4, did it? The Detroit Tigers and Oakland Athletics played yet another one for the ages in the American League Divisional Series. This game matched, and perhaps upped, the drama of last year’s memorable Game 2.
I’ll admit, I was ready to write the Tigers off when it was 3-0. I mean how could you not? I am probably a more optimistic Tigers’ fan than most, and while I didn’t give up, I certainly thought the 3-0 lead while being no-hit into the fifth inning was akin to an 8-0 deficit to the usually potent Tigers’ lineup.
Yet the Tigers, led by the bat of Jhonny Peralta of all people, tied the score seemingly out of nowhere. Max Scherzer came in, allowed a run, but settled down and pitched a now classic moment in Tigers’ postseason history after Victor Martinez‘s (almost) fan-aided homer and Austin Jackson‘s redemptive bloop single gave Detroit the lead they would not relinquish.
Scherzer came in with a 5-4 lead in the 8th and immediately found trouble, loading the bases with no outs. Running the count to 3-1, Max calmly fanned Josh Reddick with a low and in breaking ball, struck out Stephen Vogt, and after some tense moments (a barely foul ball, a full count) a hard hit ball off the bat of pinch hitter Alberto Callaspo landed harmlessly in Jackson’s glove.
From bases loaded, no outs to no runs scored in the inning. So I might be overstating it a bit, but that may have been perhaps the most emotional moment in Detroit’s recent stellar run since 2011, even more so than clinching the pennant last year. Being up three games to none on the New York Yankees made it a foregone conclusion that the World Series was imminent, thus decreasing the drama.
Judging from the reaction of Max, the fans, players and living rooms around Michigan (and Florida), many agree.
The Tigers tacked on some insurance runs in the eighth, that turned out to be needed with a rocky ninth, non-save situation for Joaquin Benoit, but they lived to fight another day with an 8-6 victory.
When it is all said and done, Detroit may still lose on Thursday and the season could be over as we shut out eyes early Friday morning. Make no mistake, with the “World Series or bust” mindset this franchise has adopted over the past couple of seasons, not advancing out of the first round would be a huge disappointment.
But in the 24-hour period between the conclusion of Game 3 and the start of Game 4, many Tigers’ fans had thrown in the towel, assumed they had given up, and said some nasty things about their team. For those haters, it was probably nice to see the team have a pulse, even if it pushes off a possible elimination for a couple days.
Regardless of Game 5’s outcome, we experienced yet another Detroit Tigers-Oakland Athletics instant playoff classic.