How do you even begin with this one? Where do we even start? The story lines in this postseason drama were all over the place. But we will say one thing for starters: we are proud of our boys. So. Goddamn. Proud.
Doug Fister pitched amazing. Terrifyingly, but amazing. Boy got out of not one, not two, but three bases loaded jams in the first six innings. To add more drama/fear in our hearts, he took a hard hit ball of his wrist in the third that looked like it had "Season Over" written all over it. But he is (or at least appears to be) fine. Someone else, however, really is not (more on that later).
After Dougie left in the 6th, our boys in innings 7-8.5 were excellent. Runs were scored with clutch hitting (oh, HEY, Delmon Young!), great defensive plays were made (Juh-honny! A-Jax!) and solid bullpen relief was thrown (Coke! Benoit!). Really, really good baseball put the good guys up 4-0. With Valverde coming in to pitch the 9th, we smiled to ourselves, satisfied. Even HE couldn't mess up twice in a row, right? Even HE could protect a 4-run lead!
Except he didn't.
Our stomachs sank as the Potato, whom we had so trusted in last year's postseason appearances, gave up a two run homer to Ichiro Suzuki. Our jaws dropped as Jim Leyland left Valverde in the game to face Mark Teixeira and Raul Ibanez, two people who have been known to hit a few home runs in their day. And then our hearts broke as Valverde walked Teixeira and subsequently gave up a game-tying home run to Ibanez.
We fumed. We raged. We were devastated. Twitter was in an uproar, with many declaring the game to be lost. Most were, at the very least, calling for the removal of Valverde as closer and speaking out against the horrible managerial choice that Jim Leyland made (and rightfully so). Not many were optimistic about a win.
No one told that to the other 24 Tigers on the playoff roster.
Sure, they looked hella frustrated. JV grimaced furiously, murder in his eyes. Miggy punched a water cooler (and AJax tried to right it). Fister seemed to be in stunned disbelief. But they rallied. They fought. And, through stellar pitching from Octavio Dotel and Drew Smyly and clutch hitting and poor defense from the Yankees, they won.
Talk about grit. Talk about guts. Talk about a team that wants this. If anything, this season has prepared our boys on how to take the tough blows that games can deal out and how to rally. If taking your lumps in the regular season equates to being graceful under pressure in the postseason, then the Tigers narrow win over the White Sox for the Central Crown was so, so worth it. That was one of the best wins of the season for many reasons, but mostly because they did it as a TEAM. One star alone rarely wins the game by himself.
Speaking of stars, the extended game, which initially gave so much joy to the Yankee fans, later caused them immense, horrible pain as the Captain himself went down with a broken ankle. As much as we like to jest and overdramatize here at April in the D, we didn't want to see Jeter go like this. We hope he has a speed recovery.
Winning Game 1 puts our boys in an awesome position. With Verlander pitching Game 3 at home, today's game looks pretty much like do-or-die for the Yankees. As much as we hate them (and as much as we loved Nick Swisher making an ass out of himself in the outfield last night. Hee hee!), we understand that they are a GOOD TEAM. Just because Jeter is gone does not mean they're going to roll over for us.
This series is off to a very dramatic start. It doesn't do wonders for our blood pressure, but this is what the playoffs are all about. Drama. Action.
Now buckle up kids…it's on to Game 2!!!