Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Homer Happy Tribe Down to Five

I was at Jacobs Field last night. It felt like a time warp back to 1997. The crowd of over 41,000, mostly clad in Red, roared all evening. The Tribe bats hit four Home Runs while its starting pitcher struggled to get through five innings. Then the bullpen pitched four scoreless innings and everyone went home happy. Indians 7 Tigers 5, Magic Number Down to 5.

I'm telling you it was like the good ole days at the Jake. It was great to see a packed house. On dollar dog night, starter Jake Westbrook pitched like a dog, yet somehow, kept the Tribe in the game. You will never see a pitcher have a tougher five innings than Jake did last night. He gave up 12 hits and walked three, yet escaped the fifth with a tie score at 4-4. Eric Wedge's club was in counter-punch mode all night. The Tigers scored one in the second, the Indians countered with a Ryan Garko solo pizza. The Tigers scored three in the third, the Tribe answered with two walks and a monster (and hopefully slump-busting) blast from Travis Hafner. Pronk's shot to right-center was such a no-doubter, my boy Jeremy almost ejected me from my seat the second it left his bat. In the bottom of the sixth, Victor Martinez's solo pizza the other way gave the Tribe the 5-4 lead. With two down, Kenny Lofton walked and up stepped Franklyn Guitterez. Franky G ended Tiger Ace Justin Verlander's night with a titanic blast about 20 rows up in the left-field bleachers to put the Tribe up 7-4. The stadium rocked as Verlander exited stage left. It was a thing of beauty. "This was a very tough loss," Verlander said. "I had a lot on my shoulders and I wasn't very good. Every mistake I made got hit. I've got six losses and three are to them. I don't know if it is something they're doing or something I'm doing."

Speaking of beauty, how about the relief work of Jenson Lewis? The rookie who started the season in AA Akron pitched three perfect innings, striking out four, and got his first major league win. It was well deserved. He came in with the score tied and was handed a three run lead and the Tigers couldn't touch him. His extended work gave Wedge the opportunity to rest The Raffy's (Betancourt and Perez). Joe Borowski finished off the Kitties with a 1-2-3 ninth for his league leading 41st save. Lewis's work cannot be overlooked. His deceptive, herky-jerky delivery gave the Tiger bats fits. He fed off the emotion of the crowd, got the win, and the subsequent pie in the face from fellow rookie Aaron Laffey.

Man it was fun last night. I look forward to more games like this come October.

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