Saturday, May 28, 2005
nailbiter n. singular:
1. One who bites one's fingernails as a nervous habit.
2. A situation marked by tense nervousness or apprehension, especially an athletic contest whose outcome is uncertain near its finish.
3. Bottom of the 9th. 4-3, Tigers leading, in Baltimore. Ugueth Urbina on the mound. Bases loaded with Orioles, two outs, skinny little Jeff Fiorentino at the plate. Urbina had walked the previous two batters* and was, therefore, looking a little wild.
The count went to 2-2 before he managed to coax a swinging strike out of Fiorentino. So yes, it was most definitely a nailbiter: a must-win game against a good team, coming down to the very last moments. Dramatic. And we all know what a dramatic victory means when Ugie is on the mound and Pudge is behind the plate. Yup. You do know it.
It was an important win tonight for Detroit, and not just because it kept me from chewing off my own hand while watching the Red Sox implode (again), all wild-animal-in-an-iron-leg-trap style. I wasn't actually in an iron leg trap, obviously, but when Alan Embree comes in and turns a tie game into a game you're firmly losing, well, sometimes it certainly seems that way. But by this point the Tigers had already completed their game and won, thanks to the efficiency of Nate Robertson, and I lost no limbs.
Anyways, it was an important game because it stopped a grungy little losing skid that was as baffling as it was demoralizing; because it finally resulted in a quality outing by Gator corresponding with mild run support; because the bats started to lightly heat up, although not so much at the bottom of the order, where Nook and The Anonymous Jason Smith both went 0-4... at least Pena finally had a hit; because the Tigs are catching the Orioles at a time when they're missing Javy and Bigbie and they won't have to face Bedard and they need to get while the gettin' is good. So to speak.
Quick thought that's been nagging at me. Everyone's been frustrated and puzzled by the way the Tigs have good pitching and dismal offense, then the offense picks up and pitching falters, and nothing seems to get both going at once. Without taking a look at which games they've won and lost and how they've done it, let me just throw a little hypothesis out there.
Maybe it's Comerica?
It is, after all, a cavernous pit in the outfield there. Could it be that the roomy confines of Comerica have helped Tiger pitching look good, but have at the same time suppressed Tiger offense, causing (or at least contributing to) the unfortunate inability to perform well offensively and defensively at the same time? I wouldn't be at all surprised if the Tigs were hitting better on the road this year, but the Red Sox game is on, no way am I looking up numbers. If true, however, that just makes this series with the O's even more important-- if they can win more readily while on the road, better do it.
Still, this one was way too close for comfort, it shouldn't have had to be a nailbiter. It was 4-1 when Gator left the game, but The Farns promptly let two inherited runners score, which isn't like him-- I couldn't see pitch speeds because I was watching this part on Gameday, but I could see that he was throwing far more balls than he usually does. The Farns is a strikeout pitcher when he's on, so this was a little worrying. I know he may have had struggles like that in Chicago, but he's been pretty good about not having them this year so far. We'll see. Could very well have been just a poor outing.
Then, of course, there was Ugie loading the bases and all that fun business.
In other words, it was a win, but not the sort of win you want the team to be getting, necessarily, because it's not the kind of game that you can count on to regularly win. And lord knows the Tigers need some regular wins.
Anyways, the Orioles deserved to lose, if only for wearing these jerseys. I mean, honestly. Look, kids, Halloween came early this year!
Matt Clement just struck out the side in the first inning. 'Scuse me, kids, I have a 4th place team to go root for.
*Geronimo Gil, batting .192, not a good walk; and Brian Roberts, batting .374, er, maybe it's better that he walked.
**And yes, there was a small kiss. I couldn't get a good screenshot off of MLB TV, though... it was much quicker and more cursory than the 'We are in the process of winning the World Series' ones anyways. As one might expect. Anywho, sorry, kids. You'll just have to make do with an old one.