photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein
I was thisclose to being forced to use the Fernandooooooooo!!! screaming tiger to head up this post. Seriously: thisclose. On some level I still can’t believe that I’m NOT using the Fernandoooooooo!!! screaming tiger.
It was the bottom of the 9th. The score had gone from 4-1 Tigers to 4-3 (all thanks to Fernando, natch). David DeJesus on third, The Anonymous Jason Smith pinch running at first. Two outs. Fernando throws a COMPLETELY wild pitch that bounces almost all the way to the backstop. Everyone screams! Horror, terror, disbelief!!! Inge scrambles after it, Fernando races to cover home, DeJesus comes in from third to tie the game… BUT WAIT!! NO!!! Inge manages to grab the ball and flip it to Fernando, who has time to block the plate and tag DeJesus before he can slide in!!
Tigers win! Fernando, incredibly, gets the save!! Tigers fans everywhere pass out cold on the floor.
Fernando and Leyland shared a big hug after the insanity had ended. Leyland held onto him a little bit longer than he usually does. I expect he was taking the opportunity to say something like, “NEVER. DO THAT. TO ME. AGAIN,” in Fernando’s ear.
Thank cats Fernando did not screw this one up. Not that we EVER like to see him screw stuff up, but Verlander pitched a hell of a game, and if he had not gotten the win, it would have been even more infuriating than usual. It’s not that Verlander was untouchable, because he wasn’t– he gave up 11 baserunners (8 hits, 3 walks) over 6.2 innings. But he also struck out 6 Royals, and gave up ZERO runs. It was not the cleanest of Verlanderian outings, and he still threw 113 pitches in under 7 innings, but it was definitely gutsy. And, y’know, when it comes to Verlander these days, we may as well put some stock in entrails.
As for the offense… well, it was mostly Miggy. Polanco doubled in a run, and Matt Joyce grounded in a run, but Miggy… ah, Miggy hit TWO home runs in this game. The second homer was so huge that if there wasn’t a net in place, it would have hit a car the Royals have over the fountains (you can see it in this shot— it’s the little white car just to the left of the lightbank).
Miggy’s now slugging .527, best of all the Tigers starters (I’m not counting Joyce as a starter). His OPS is also the best among starting hitters on the team (just edging out Granderson). In a season where so very much has gone so very wrong, it’s nice to see one thing working out like we’d hoped it would. Heck, he’s even taken to first base pretty well, after all the drama involved with THAT.
PS: Nate Robertson has been moved to the bullpen. This is a good thing, because I want to see something like his last start again about as much as I want to contract ebola.
Saturday’s game is at 7:10 pm EDT, and features a scintillating matchup between Zachary Charles Miner and Hiram Kyle Davies. My excitement knows no possible bounds, despite the fact that (or possibly because) I will probably not see most of this game. Go Tigers!