illustration by Samara Pearlstein
I was all set to be surly about this game. It was yet another perplexing Verlander start: he looked very, very good at the beginning, then had a sudden freakout, all at once, that socked the Tigers into a losing position because the offense was not doing all that much against pitchers they SHOULD have been able to hit. It was 5-2 from the sixth inning on, and with the way the Tigers had been (not) driving cats in, that looked like a near-impossible deficit.
Aubrey Huff did the thing we have been wanting him to do ever since we freed him from the feathery doom of Baltimore, namely: get a huge game-impacting hit. In this instance it was a three-run pinch hit homer in the bottom of the ninth to tie the game at 5 and, perhaps just as importantly, Give the Tigers Hope. It was his first pinch hit home run ever (ever!) and after the game he said, “It felt like my first [home run]… that felt like I was a rookie all over again.”
Madonna sang about that, Aubrey, she has a melody for your feeling!
The Tigers went on to win the game in THE MOST RIDICULOUS MANNER THEY COULD POSSIBLY THINK OF. To set the stage let me just note that it was the bottom of the 10th inning, and Marco Scutaro had made an error in the bottom of the 9th that resulted in a scoring baserunner. Anyways here is how it went down:
–Brian Wolfe is pitching. The River Thames strikes out.
–Brandon Inge walks.
–Curtis Granderson walks. Inge hobbles over to second, thus representing the winning run in scoring position.
–Alex The Savior Avila grounds a ball to Lyle Overbay at first. It has “double play” written all over it. Tigers fans heave an irritated sigh.
–Inge hobbles to third just as a matter of form. Overbay throws to Marco Scutaro, who is covering second.
–Scutaro somehow knocks the ball aside with his glove instead of catching it, flails around, error Error ERROR. Inge hobbles home.
–Tigers win! Tigers win!
–Inge and Avila are mobbed at the plate. Avila gets his head pounded before he can get his helmet off, turning his brains into a spicy soup inside of his skull.
–Avila is interviewed after the game. Armando Galarraga attacks him with a shaving cream pie, but Avila senses his presence and ducks away, getting shaving cream all over his arm and the back of his head but keeping most of it out of his face.
–Tigers fans heave a satisfied sigh.
So the Tigers won on a 10th inning walkoff… fielder’s choice… error… thing. But they won, which is the main thing! They split the series with Toronto, and they are finished with the AL East for the rest of the regular season. It’s all Central all the time from here on out.