I think Adam Everett said it best in his post-game remarks: ""That’s just the way we’ve played games all year."
Sure, there have been some games where the Detroit Tigers won with dominating starting pitching and formidable hitting. But those occasions have been rare. (And that's why it feels so sweet when it happens.)
This is a team that, like it or not, has to grind it out. And sometimes, the role players, not the headliners, are the ones who have to make the plays to win some games. Everett led the Tigers with two RBIs last night. Does more really need to be said than that?
The snarky response to that might be, "Oh, the Tigers are in trouble if Adam Everett's driving in all the runs." But it represents a meaningful contribution from players you don't necessarily expect them from. Detroit is 22-7 when Everett drives in a run. Sometimes, the other guys have to carry their share of the load.
Last night, the bottom of the order got it done for the Tigers. Five hits and three RBIs came from the six-through-nine spots in the lineup. And yes, Placido Polanco and Miguel Cabrera each got two hits. Polanco even drove in the go-ahead run in a 4-3 win over those pesky Kansas City Royals.
But for those who think it's only a matter of time before the Tigers turn over first place in the AL Central to the Twins and squander the playoff spot they've held for most of this season, remember that this team didn't get to where it is just because the big names carried them there.
They've gotten timely hits from less celebrated players. They've made excellent defensive plays. Spot starters and relief pitchers have gotten key outs. And on most nights (too many, really), this team gets just enough offense.
No, it's not always pretty. But who said it had to be?
Were you curled up into a ball when the Royals had runners on first and third with no outs in the eighth inning? And even when Brandon Lyon took over for Bobby Seay, it looked as if the Royals would at least tie the game. Getting a double-play ball would still allow a run to score. And when Billy Butler pushed a runner to second base with a groundout, a double-play wasn't going to help the Tigers get out of that jam, either.
I figured Lyon would walk Mike Jacobs to set up either a double-play or forceout at home. But Lyon went after Jacobs instead, pounding him inside with cut fastballs and pitching him away with four-seamers. That combination worked, as he got Jacobs to chase one of those four-seamers ( a 95 m.p.h. heater, mind you) way off the plate for a strikeout.
Lyon followed up by jamming Alberto Callaspo inside with a cutter, getting him to pop out to first base, and escaping what looked like a sure scoring opportunity to the Royals. I know there have been other great innings thrown by Tigers relievers this season, but that eighth inning has to be on the list. Roar, Lyon, roar.
Comment of the Night:
I was originally going to give this to Ernie Harwell, ceding to the spirit of the night. I'm not sure I've ever been to a ballgame where the actual game didn't seem to mean anything at first. We were all waiting for Ernie. (But there was something beautifully appropriate about Ryan Raburn gunning down Yuniesky Betancourt at home right before the ceremony began.)
However, that wouldn't be fair to everyone who participated in the GameThread, nor to allikazoo and MackAveKurt, who helped out in a big way. (For which I thank them.)
Ties are like kissing your sister, and I ain't got a sister
So let’s take a lead!
And your visual aid runner-up. Although this one's pretty good, too.