I've killed him all year. I've been killing him for years. But this morning, I think I am officially getting off of his back. The man I have dubbed "Fake" and "Casey the Dog" came up with the biggest hit of the year and if his career. On Friday, he capped off a comeback win with a walkoff pizza off of our boy David Riske. Almost on cue, Casey stepped up to the plate in the 11th inning and did it again, this time against the hated second place rival Detroit Tigers. His second walkoff pizza four days may be the straw the broke the Tigers back. The Tribe roared back from a 5-1 deficit to win it 6-5.
What was so satisfying about last night's win was that it came at the expense of Kenny Rogers and Joel Zumaya, two kitties are are so easy to paint as villains in this rivalry. Rogers, the crafty (cheater) lefty has always had success against the Tribe, and Zumaya, the flame-throwing rookie, is a loud-mouth fist-pumper whom the Detroit media have dubbed "the savior."
Rogers stymied the Tribe bats all night, save for Jhonny Peralta's solo pizza in the fourth. In came Zumaya in the eighth with the Tigers leading 5-2. Grady Sizemore walked, Asdrubal Cabrera singled, and the rally was underway. After a Travis Hafner ground ball moved the runners into scoring position, Victor Martinez also grounded out to score Sizemore to make it 5-3. Up stepped Peralta. He took Zumaya's 1-0 pitch the other way and deposited it into the Tiger bullpen. And we were tied at five. The crowd exploded. Jacobs Field Magic was in full effect.
Under the radar last night was the solid pitching of Paul Byrd, Aaron Fultz, Joe Borowski, and Rafael Betancourt. Yes, Byrd gave up 5 runs, but he went seven 1/3 innings and retired nine in a row before a walk and a hit chased him with one out in the eight. Fultz got out of Byrd's jam in the 8th before turning it over to JoBo for a scoreless ninth. The Realtor was spectacular, strking out four in his two innings, picking up the win along the way. Tribe pitchers held the Kitties scoreless over the last seven innings.
My brother is the biggest Tribe fan you will come across and he is stuck living in Detroit. When we were down 5-1, he sounded like someone shot his dog. He said to me "you don't understand, if we choke this lead away, I will have to move." Last night was for him. Last night was also about all about forgiveness for me. I forgive Peralta for his brutal error that allowed a run in the fourth. His two home runs may have helped that a tad. But most of all, I forgive Casey Blake for all of his unclutch moments throughout the last three years. Last night went a long way with me. Most importantly, the magic number is now seven.