By the grace of some unseen force (the producers at the Major League Baseball Network), the Tigers game was broadcast in lieu of a blacked out Mets/Dodgers contest here in Central New York.
It’s a rare treat to see my hometown team in the Yankees/Red Sox/Mets country most folks call Upstate. They just are not on unless I ask the bartender nicely to tune in the corner television at neighborhood bar or ESPN beams it to my living room.
So, why did I turn this game off after Ryan Raburn booted that fly ball in the sixth?
Because we were playing the Twins. Because Justin Verlander can be very shaky in big-time situations. Because Francisco Liriano was relentless.
The Tigers blinked first in this intense pitching showdown and my disappointment was confirmed in this morning’s box score.
I don’t blame Raburn or the hitters, who couldn’t tame an amazing pitcher. But, I do blame Verlander. He gave the Twins a chance when he put the Jim Thome on base with two outs. Then he gave the game away.
It was a very discouraging first meeting of the young season between two teams that have consistently battled for the AL Central title. Another couple games with this outcome will put a hot team further out of reach.
Miguel Cabrera cannot win every game for the Tigers, but Verlander can every five days.
I know he got seven K’s and put his team in position to win last night. I also know it took him 121 pitches to do that. We all saw how brutal Liriano was on the mound. Everyone is a little scared by the way the Twins are playing right now.
Verlander has the skills and the ability to go pitch-for-pitch with that kid and he couldn’t do it in a big-time situation.
The team may have handled the 11-game road trip admirably, but the vacation’s over. It’s right back to the AL Central grind.
Consider that the Tigers face the Twins five times in the next eight days. It is early, but Tigers fans especially know the importance of each one of these 162 games.
About the Author
Written by Shane Liebler
Detroit native, Syracuse enthusiast, St. Bonaventure graduate, former reporter, higher editor @ SUNY Oswego.