First comes "The Catch." Verlander, with two outs and men on first and third, faces AJ. The sight of his mean, brutish face elicited jeers and screams of hate from us. No one wants to see AJ Pierzynski come up with a clutch RBI, especially not Justin Verlander. The 2-1 grounder from AJ looked as if it was doomed to shoot up the middle, but Justin had other plans. With the Tiger-like reflexes instilled in him by the Baseball Gods, Justin, sprawled on his back, grabbed the ball with his left hand, and fired to first to end the inning. His middle name may not be Grace (it's Brooks) but he damn sure got the job done. Afterwards, while walking oh so cooly to the dugout, he flashed a smile of mirth. He knew how good he looked. Our hearts melted.
After that, the tide had changed.
After Justin got out of the jam, it looked like the team knew they had to pull out this win for their ace. First up was Austin "Action" Jackson. Jackson was on a mission all night, and decided to add to his already impressive stats by living up to his nickname and drilling a triple in deep center. The three of us were extremely pleased. Obviously, with a man on third and no outs this was going to be cake.
DK stepped confidently to the plate. After all, all he had to do was hit a simple sac fly or even a well-placed groundout to secure the lead. So, in true DK fashion, he popped out to second base. At least we got some emotion out of him. Dramatically slamming his
Especially with Brennan Boesch up next. Baby B, with a 2-run homer already under his belt, swaggered to the plate. We knew out of anyone he could put in a good sac fly, right?
Baby B struck out, and one look at Verlander's dangerous expression indicated that if this run did not score, there would be blood. Then stepped up Miguel Cabrera, who so far had gone 0-for-3. As true Tigers baseball fans, We Believed.
Miguel quickly worked the count to 0-and-2. The three of us, in our den of anxiety, ranged in emotion from tense to hysterical. We knew our boy definitely had the ability to do it. But would he?
THIRD TIME'S THE CHARM.
Miguel launched the most beautiful shot to right field. Yes, you guessed it, a two-run-homer to give the Tigers the lead! Justin exulted, the dugout erupted, Cabrera side-stepped his way to glory. We screamed like lunatics. The resulting celebration included a joyful hug from Verlander, who was grinning ear-to-ear, a high five so forceful it was audible on our television screen from Austin, and the single most badass handshake that we've ever seen from Baby B. It. Was. Amazing.
It was so amazing that we had completely forgotten poor Victor Martinez, who promptly grounded out to third. But no matter. Valverde danced his way to a win and the entire team seemed to be on cloud nine. Not only that, but we moved even closer to the evil and hated Cleveland Indians and produced one of the most memorable games of the season. Did the Tigers play perfectly? Absolutely not. But this is the kind of win that stays in the heart, and swings momentum in our direction. Well done, boys. Well done.
PS-Were we the only ones who saw that crazy, M&M jacket-wearing White Sox fan sitting behind home plate? He was hysterical. His hateful reactions to Adam Dunn alone seeped through the screen and into our living room. And who thinks it's appropriate to wear and M&M jacket to a baseball game?! To anywhere?!?!?! He was a treat. No pun intended.