In the days and weeks to come, the collapse will probably be the story. Post-mortem examinations will be performed on the 2009 Detroit Tigers, and plenty of people will point to what they see as the cause of loss. And we have nothing but time in which to go over that stuff.
But for now, hours after Carlos Gomez glided across home plate and then jumped in the air just before his Minnesota Twins teammates swarmed him in celebration, the game should be the story. And maybe, just maybe, the game will be a determining factor in how this season is ultimately perceived. Maybe the little picture deserves to overtake the big picture. Just this once.
Because this game was that good. It had drama. Suspense. Triumph. Despair. Anger. Jubiliation. And unfortunately, for the Tigers and their fans, defeat.
Years from now, many people might still be talking about where they were on October 6, 2009, and the five hours they spent watching the Tigers and Twins fight it out for a division title. And though there is most certainly disappointment in the final result among Tigers fans, there's no need for shame. Under the big spotlight, the Tigers showed what they were made of.
Miguel Cabrera took out four days' worth of humiliation on the baseball, crushing it to right-center in the third inning. After weeks of waiting for him to come up big when his team needed him, he did so. Magglio Ordonez continued the revival that looked all but improbable during the summer, hitting a game-tying homer in the eighth inning.
Rick Porcello showed everyone that he grew out of rookie status months ago, striking out eight batters in less than six innings, while allowing only one earned run.
Ryan Raburn became the latest victim of the optical illusion that is the Metrodome roof, losing sight of Michael Cuddyer's sinking liner to left and letting it get past him for a triple. Yet in that very same 10th inning, Raburn redeemed himself by throwing Alexi Casilla out at home plate after he tagged up badly on Nick Punto's shallow fly ball.
Fernando Rodney - the guy who shouldn't ever pitch in a non-save situation, and is never used more than one inning - pitched three innings of relief, throwing 48 pitches. Yes, he ended up allowing two runs, including the game-winner. His name gets the "L" next to it in the boxscore, but when he was the best pitcher the Tigers had in late innings, he gave the Tigers the chances they needed to win the ballgame.
You could feel Tiger Town's collective cringe when Zach Miner took over for Porcello in the sixth. Yet the man had pitched 12 straight scoreless innings before Tuesday night. No one's going to remember that, though. Not after he gave up four hits in less than one inning. Not after Orlando Cabrera's drive to left just snuck over the left-field wall for a two-run homer to give the Twins a 4-3 lead.
The game went far beyond that, but those looking for a scapegoat have a convenient target in Miner.
Jim Leyland will also surely receive plenty of criticism for how he leaned so heavily on Brandon Lyon and Rodney. (Or choosing Miner to take over for Porcello.) Not pinch-hitting for Gerald Laird in either the eighth, 10th, or 12th innings (especially in the 12th, with the bases loaded) is worth revisiting, also. (Laird went 0-for-6, with 10 men left on base.)
And home plate umpire Randy Marsh ought to be a favorite target of Tigers bloggers for years to come. Calling Placido Polanco out on strikes on a pitch in the ninth inning that was almost a foot inside? Or how about refusing to acknowledge that a pitch grazed Brandon Inge's jersey in the 12th? With the bases loaded, that would've forced in a run. Even the Minnesota writers focused on that play.
Perhaps such a game shouldn't have been decided on such a call. But it stinks that Marsh's interpretation was so pivotal.
Okay, that might be a little bit of the bitterness bubbling up. And really, there shouldn't be any of that today.
Comment of the Night:
It’s very confusing
And your runner-up. What an amazing night. You guys really, really brought it. Eight overflow threads! More than 4,600 comments! And that's not even including the 480 comments posted after the game. The BYB community made a spectacular showing of itself, and your grace in defeat was noticed.
Congratulations. And thank you.