Okay, listen Tigers fans. Come over here and have a seat. Don’t worry, I have tissues and beer.
Here’s the thing, you guys. You’re all sports fans, and what’s more, you’re all TIGERS fans. You know how this works. Sometimes, teams lose. In baseball, with the season lasting the better part of a year, the odds of this happening frequently is actually pretty high. And, sometimes, your team will lose in a way that is so soul-crushingly, mind-numbingly, yell-obscenities-at-the-radio-and-nearly-drive-off-the-road terrible that you will question why you ever chose to put yourself through following them. Do you all remember That Twins Game? Yeah, you do, even if you try to pretend you don’t.
Yes, it is completely infuriating that Justin could pitch THAT WELL for 8 innings (I mean, less than 80 pitches? What?) and blow it in the 9th. It is more infuriating that Schlereth and Valverde gave back-to-back walks after he left the game and broke the tie. And it is just BLISTERINGLY INFURIATING that Fernando Rodney, FERNANDO, could put down Cabrera, Prince, and Peralta in order.
Give me a second, I need to take a breath…
Okay, I’m better. Look. You can Monday morning quarterback this all day long, but here’s the truth. The way Justin was pitching, no one could have guessed he would look that different the next inning. Even after he started to struggle, fans were booing when Leyland went out to talk to him because they thought he was getting pulled. Was Schlereth a good choice for the next pitcher? Probably not. Was it a good plan to put Valverde into a non-save, bases loaded situation? Maybe not. But statistically, it was probably just as likely for them or Verlander to blow the lead. The manager has to make these choices, and if it works, he’s a hero. If it doesn’t, fans wail and gnash their teeth, calling for his head. After this team won the first four games of the season. You know how many teams were undefeated this morning? The Tigers. You know how many wins the Twins had this morning? Zero. Just think about that for a minute before you start mentally firing the whole team.
I hate to have to bring this up again, but @catswithbats mentioned on Twitter that she really hoped she wasn’t hearing booing on the broadcast at the end of the game. The only, ONLY reason I hope those people had was that they were expressing their displeasure for Rodney’s new-found abilities. The Rays are a good team. They swept the Yankees and, last season, beat them to make it to the playoffs. Aside from the final inning, Verlander pitched like a master. Shields also pitched a great game and we were frankly lucky to get the runs we did. This was just one of those games. If there were people booing simply because we lost, I’m frankly ashamed to call them fellow fans.
Valverde isn’t going to get every save, Cabrera and Prince aren’t going to get back-to-back hits every time through the rotation, Verlander isn’t going to pitch a no-hitter every outing, and we’re going to lose sometimes. This team is made of win and magic and we’ll all enjoy this season a lot more if we can calm the hell down. If we don’t, this is going to be a long, miserable season.