Friday, October 06, 2006

Young Tigers To The Rescue! ALDS 1-1

Somebody forgot to tell Justin Verlander and Joel Zumaya that they were supposed to be scared and intimidated by Yankee Stadium and the expensive-as-gold bars team that plays in it.

On a day when most of the veterans were a non-factor, the Tigers' kids rescued them and led the way in a 4-3 win in Game 2 of the ALDS. The series is now tied at 1, and has been reduced to a best-of-three, with the next two games at Comerica Park.

Curtis Granderson, Verlander, and Zumaya were the keys. Granderson's triple in the seventh -- on an 0-2 pitch off Mike Mussina -- drove in the eventual winning run. Verlander shrugged off Johnny Damon's three-run homerun to battle his way through 5 1/3 innings. And Zumaya? Well, he was the stuff of Grantland Rice: rookie fireballer enters the game at Yankee Stadium and blows away the All-Star laden Yankees lineup. Storybook stuff.

We're still waiting to hear from Pudge Rodriguez, Magglio Ordonez, and Sean Casey, but Carlos Guillen hit a game-tying solo homer, and Marcus Thames -- who's not a "kid" but isn't a grizzled veteran, either-- had three hits, including two doubles.

Fit to be tied.

An 0-2 hole would have taken a lot of luster off tonight's Game 3 at Comerica Park. To me, it never really "feels" like a playoff series until your team wins a game. Until then, it's more like being on borrowed time; that demeaning term: token appearance. But the Tigers are token no longer, although I still don't think they have enough ammunition to take the Yankees down twice more. Maybe not even once more. But for now, we'll take it and let CoPa rock like it's never rocked before. Good thing the Tigers aren't playing in Tiger Stadium anymore. I wonder if the Grand Old Lady would be able to hold up -- literally.

Mussina said afterward that the Tigers "always seemed to get a hit when they needed it." And how often have you heard even the most pedestrian opposing pitcher say that about them lately, let alone a potential Hall of Famer? The Tigers have spent most of the past two months making guys like Boof Bonser look like Cy Young. It was nice to see them reverse that, if even for just one night.

Granderson's triple might be the biggest hit of his young career, and who knows what that will do for his confidence? But I do know what should help his confidence: remove him from the leadoff spot. He doesn't belong there, just as no one belongs there who strikes out 174 times and rarely walks and hardly steals bases. I hope Grandy is elsewhere in the order in 2007, but we'll save that discussion for later. For now, it's a 1-1 series, the Tigers are coming home, and people are getting their flasks ready as I write this, just before noon.

Bottoms up!

No comments: