I suppose we know the key to winning a game in this series: Hit a grand slam. (Or confuse Bruce Froemming into delirium at second base.) Friday night, Gary Sheffield ended Jarrod Washburn's misery with a bases-loaded blast. And last night, Kenny Rogers was slipping, slipping, slipping toward that edge, until Kenji Johjima pushed him off of it.
That was definitely a situation that called for strikeout-throwing fireballer, but as we know all too well, the Tigers don't have a guy like that in the bullpen right now. Kenny Rogers was struggling to find the strike zone (though Bruce Froemming's was baffling at times), and had to lay a strike down the middle to prevent walking a run in. And he may have fooled Johjima with a curveball had it not hung in the air like a pinata. But Johjima jumped on it for the game-breaking blow.
Don't Call It a Comeback
The game wasn't quite over yet, as the Tigers managed a comeback with three runs in the eighth inning. But the left field wall that was just close enough for Johjima's blast to sneak over the wall was just far enough to keep Pudge Rodriguez's drive in the park for a great catch by Raul Ibanez.
That didn't end the inning, but it gave John McLaren a chance to bring in J.J. Putz and induce Sean Casey into a "Wait a minute, are we playing yet?" swing that officially stamped out the comeback effort.
Brandon Inge: Daredevil
When playing baseball or softball with buddies, a few of us have tried to make "spectacular" plays while fooling around during practice or before a game. Okay, try to make a diving catch on this one. But no one has ever suggested, "Dude, see if you can throw yourself onto some concrete steps." And if someone had, I'll bet one of the responses would be, "You couldn't pay me enough to do that, pal."
Brandon Inge, however, is obviously comfortable enough with his salary to dive into the stands and sprawl onto the aisle. Even more impressive, he caught Raul Ibanez's foul ball. Would Inge be seen as kind of a nut-job had he not made the catch? Maybe, but it's irrelevant now.
As amazing as that catch was for disregard for one's own body and safety, I think I got more of a kick out of the woman who was sitting right on the aisle. Her eyes popped out of her head in disbelief. Maybe it was the sickening sound of human being hitting cement.
No One Cares But You, Ian...
I know the rules. No one cares about your fantasy baseball team. But if it hadn't happened against the Tigers, I would've been really happy about Johjima's grand slam because I traded for the guy a couple of weeks ago to try and upgrade my catcher spot and was beginning to worry that I'd made a big mistake. I'm feeling a little bit better about that deal this afternoon.
I'm also really happy for J.J. Putz, even though he's gotten two saves against the Tigers in this series. Like Samela, I always have to root for the Michigan guys, especially when only a handful of Wolverines have made it to the major leagues in recent years.