As I watched the bottom of the ninth inning of last night's game, I was flashing back to 2003. That year, as you remember, the Tigers had two ways of playing baseball:
1. Losing games right from the get-go
2. Coming tantalizingly close to winning a game, only to blow a lead in a new and infuriating way
I thought I was seeing #2 all over again. After enduring Todd Jones's bungling (seriously, who lets the tying run come in on a wild pitch?) I was more than happy to see Joel Zumaya take the mound and close the door on Chad Durbin's gem.
Yeah, that's what I said -- Durbin's gem. Because that's what it was. His curveball was moving all over the place and his change-up was deadly. He posted nine strikeouts in eight innings' work, which, by the way, is the most any Tiger has thrown in a game all season long. That's stellar, but what really puts the performance over the top was the fact that he didn't surrender a single walk. His work has been the subject of tribute by others, as well.
And then Zumaya came in. After giving up a leadoff single which was erased by a double play, he proceeded to hit a batter and give up four consecutive walks. Yes, that means he had a six-run lead with two outs and nobody on, and yet at some point the tying run came to the plate.
Luckily the game ended the right way and Durbin's hard work wasn't squandered. And yes, Todd Jones got to pad his stats, picking up a save in seven pitches.