It's like a horror movie. You know the monstrous killer is in the room. Probably hiding behind the door. Don't go in, you're thinking (or yelling) to the nubile victim-to-be.
But of course, she goes in. Because if she didn't, you wouldn't have a movie. She goes in, walks past the door, and Ahhh! The killer is behind the door! Exactly where you knew he was!
No, no, no! Don't turn around! But it doesn't matter anyway, because the killer is behind you! You're dead, you're dead, you're dead!
And sure enough, the axe goes right into the head.
That's what playing in the Metrodome is like for the Detroit Tigers. You know the 'dome is going to play a role in one of these games. A chopper that ricochets too high off the artificial turf. Maybe a grounder that gets through the infield just a little too fast on that surface. Or - just like the killer behind the door - the fly ball that gets lost against that white teflon roof.
Losing a fly ball in the whiteout of that roof makes outfielders look silly. Suddenly, major leaguers look like your buddy on the softball team, holding out his arms with uncertainty, stepping in place like a fly stuck in flypaper. And there's fear. Where is that ball? Where will it land? Will it hit me in the head?
Today, that was Don Kelly. Kelly was a defensive replacement in left field, taking over for Carlos Guillen in the eighth inning. In virtually every other ballpark on this planet, when Orlando Cabrera pops up a 98 m.p.h. inside fastball off his fists, it will eventually land harmlessly in the glove of the outfielder. And almost every time, Kelly probably catches that ball easily. But not in the Metrodome.
Kelly couldn't find Cabrera's fly ball and it dropped to the turf. That put runners on second and third with one out, completely endangering the Tigers' 2-1 lead that Justin Verlander had worked so hard to protect.
Joe Mauer was intentionally walked to set up a potential double play. But Jason Kubel blooped an opposite-field single into short left. Unfortunately, Kelly misplayed that ball too, letting the ball bounce high and then bobbling it before he was able to make a throw. Two runs scored, and the Tigers' lead was gone.
(The ballgame was officially gone, when Brandon Lyon took over for Verlander and grooved a high fastball that Michael Cuddyer decked into deep left-center field for a three-run homer.)
What was Jim Leyland thinking, putting Kelly out there in virtually unfamiliar territory? Well, that wasn't the first time Kelly had played in the Metrodome. As Jason Beck pointed out on Twitter, Kelly started two games for the Tigers in Minneapolis back in July. But if you want to know why an inexperienced player was put in such a position with a pivotal game on the line... well, that's probably a question worth asking.
Sure enough, the axe goes right into the head.
Of course, the Tigers should've scored more than two runs. And they squandered plenty of scoring chances, getting a runner to third four times. But the best chance was probably in the fifth, when Gerald Laird grounded into a double play with runners on second and third.
(We can't be too hard on Laird, however, since he shut down the Twins' running game, gunning down both Denard Span and Carlos Gomez at second base.)
But then there's also this:
AL Central Standings
|Kansas City||60||87||.408||17.5||Won 2|
(updated 9.19.2009 at 8:20 PM EDT)
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