Just like that, it can change.
For 7.2 innings, this was a lazy Sunday rerun for the Tigers and their fans. Another day of letting a pitcher cruise through seven innings without making him work. Another decent pitching performance wasted by pop-gun run support. Here we go again.
That is, until Tampa took Jeff Niemann out of the game after allowing a double to Clete Thomas to lead off the eighth. (Niemann had only thrown 96 pitches by that point.)
Grant Balfour got his first two batters out, but apparently wanted nothing to do with Curtis Granderson, walking him on five pitches. He then fell behind Placido Polanco 2-0, before teeing a third fastball up in the strike zone. Polanco jumped on the pitch, and got just enough punch on it to send it over the left field fence. (Okay, the wind might have helped a bit.)
And just like that, what looked like a lethargic snoozefest became a heist job. The Tigers flat out stole one from the Rays today. They got the pitching from Justin Verlander (three runs and six hits over eight innings), they just needed a big hit to go along with it. Finally, Polanco got one that was just big enough. Yet another magic act at home.
Thomas had a 3-for-3 day at the plate, but it's that third one - the leadoff double in the eighth - that mattered the most. The Cult of Clete will celebrate tonight.
Did Miguel Cabrera start to hear that MVP talk? The Tigers won two games this weekend in spite of him, as he went hitless. 0-for-11, to be exact.
Comment of the Day:
I love Rod Allen.
And your runner-up. Just like that, it goes from pouting to singing.