Here's a question for you, Tigers fans: If you were watching Game 4 of the World Series last night, and were still tuned in for the ninth inning and Johnny Damon's pivotal at-bat against Brad Lidge, did you find yourself wondering if anyone in Detroit's current lineup would've (or could've) pulled off a battle like that?
The Yankees were down to their last out of the inning, with the score tied 4-4. And Damon apparently knew he couldn't handle Lidge's slider, because each time he saw it, he fouled it off. For three straight pitches, to be exact.
So Lidge knew he wouldn't get Damon out with the slider, and began throwing his fastball. The first two were way out of the strike zone, trying to get Damon to chase, but he wouldn't go for it.
With the count 3-2, Lidge had to come in with a strike - and probably knew he wouldn't get one with his slider - so he stayed with the fastball. Damon fouled those off, too. Then he finally got the pitch he could do something with, a fastball out over the plate. Damon slapped it to left for a single.
But that nine-pitch at-bat wasn't the end of Damon's contribution. With the Phillies' infield on a shift against Mark Teixeira (batting left-handed), Damon took off for second, knowing third baseman Pedro Feliz would have to cover the base. But when the catcher's throw pulled Feliz off the bag, toward right field, Damon saw a chance to make a dash for third, as well. Suddenly, Lidge has a runner on third, and probably can't risk throwing a slider in the dirt while facing Teixeira (or Alex Rodriguez or Jorge Posada, to follow).
As it turns out, Lidge melted down and ended up allowing three runs. But Damon scored the go-ahead run, and turned the game around with his at-bat and baserunning.
There are many, many differences between this year's New York Yankees and Detroit Tigers. But with the calls for Lloyd McClendon's job from the fanbase, and Dave Dombrowski's edict that hitters throughout the organization improve their plate discipline next season (and in seasons to come), it seems worth asking if any Tigers hitter could've pulled off what Damon did in that ninth inning.
And we're not just talking about fighting out a nine-pitch at-bat. What about the baserunning?
Could anyone in the Tigers' expected 2010 lineup influence a game in similar fashion? Who do you think might have been able to make those plays with his bat and his legs?