Sunday, May 22, 2005
Natural Rivals Recap: Game Three (5/22)
I can sum up my feelings about this Epic Finale Between the Rivals in one single word: Holy Fucking Shit. Okay, that's three words, but I am so in awe after reading the play-by-play of the Detroit-Arizona game that I have lost the ability to count. Pitcher's duel of the year: Vazquez-Johnson, the same Vazquez from the Vazquez-Johnson trade of January 2005, and the same Johnson of...well, the Vazquez-Johnson pitcher's duel of May 2005. Johnson gave up a leadoff hit to hot-or-cold Craig Counsell, who stole second, and advanced to third on a lineout by Luis Gonzalez, but a strikeout by Shawn Green ended the inning. Vazquez came in, and while he started out quickly down in the count 3-0 to Nook Logan (the greatest new name in baseball, who sadly hasn't gotten a mention until now), he didn't allow a baserunner. The next six innings were marked by pure dominance by the starters (or incompetence by the hitters?) -- Rondell White got a single in the 2nd and a double in the 4th, Green a single in the 4th, Snyder a single in the 5th, and Inge a triple in the 6th. None were able to advance. Going into the eighth, Johnson had thrown 84 pitches, having given up 3 hits; Vazquez also had given up 3, after 88 pitches. The only appreciable offense of the evening came in the eight, in which Royce Clayton led off with a single and was advanced to second by a Snyder sac fly. Then Johnson made a crucial mistake -- a wild pitch -- advancing Clayton to third; a single by Counsell drove him home, giving the D-Backs the 1-0 lead, with a man on and only one out. Counsell was erased in a failed steal attempt, but JJ wasn't out of the woods yet, as Cruz drew a walk, and the pinchrunner (Terrero!) stole second. Luis Gonzalez then walked -- two on. But Johnson got Glaus to ground into a fielder's choice, escaping the jam after giving up just 1 run. Vazquez, not having to face Johnny Damon, had far less trouble in his half of the inning, giving up a single to I-Rod (pinch hitting for Vance Wilson) but otherwise escaping unharmed. Jason Johnson was done after 8, with Jamie Wilson taking the mound in the 9th. He got quick outs in Green and Clark, but hit Tracy with a pitch. Farnsworth came out to stop the bleeding, and got Royce Clayton to pop out. Bottom of the 9th: the Tigers had one last chance -- all they needed was one run to extend The Series. The dominant Javier Vazquez was back out there, and Inge was no match for him, grounding out on a 2-0 pitch. Guillen thesmashed a double -- Detroit with the tying run in scoring position, 1 out. But Rondell White struck out, and it was all up to Dmitri Young. The crowd was (presumably) on their feet, ready for the amazing comeback. But with the count at 3-1, Young hit a grounder to second baseman Craig Counsell, who flipped it to 1B Chad Tracy, and the game -- and the I94-to-I80-to-I76-to-I25-to-I40-to-I17 Series -- was over. Arizona Diamondbacks prevailed, 2-1. The Series is over, but it will live on in the annals (heh heh) of baseball lore, and of course in the innumerable ESPN Classic reruns. The Detroit Tigers will not forget this painful loss, and you can bet that thenwhole state of Michigan will be counting the days until these two Great Rivals face each other once again in the next Tigers-Diamondbacks interleague matchup. Which should be in 2012 or so.