Well, even as a born-in-Detroit Tigers fan, I wouldn’t have expected it, but it’s come to pass. The Tigers have the Yankees on the ropes, having defeated them last night quite convincingly 6-0 to take a 2-1 series lead. All they have to do is to win this afternoon, and the Yankees go home.
How sweet that would be. Even if the Tigers were to be eliminated in the next round, just having the opportunities to send the despised Yankees home in the first round of the playoffs would make the entire season worthwhile. And, with Jaret Wright being the pitcher on the mound for the Yankees, I like the Tigers’ odds:
The Yankees will need starter Jaret Wright (11-7, 4.49 ERA) to help keep them in the game. Wright is making his 10th career postseason start — he went 3-0 with a 4.73 ERA in his first five before going 0-4 with a 12.89 ERA in his last four.
The right-hander has pitched twice with his team facing elimination.
Most recently, he allowed four runs and six hits over 5 1-3 innings in a 12-3 loss to Houston in Game 5 of a 2004 NLDS while pitching for Atlanta.
His other such start came with Cleveland, against Jim Leyland’s Florida Marlins in Game 7 of the 1997 World Series. Wright yielded just one run and two hits over 6 1-3 innings and was in line for the win before Jose Mesa blew a save in the ninth inning of a 3-2, 11-inning loss.
“I happen to be involved in another big game Jaret Wright pitched in, Game 7 of the 1997 World Series, and he was lights out,” Leyland said. “We’re going to have our hands full and we know that.”
I remember him then, having lived in Cleveland and become an Indians afficianado. But 2006 is not 1997, and Wright now tends to be unpredictable and inconsistent. Sometimes he’s “lights out,” while other times he’s a batting practice pitcher. If he’s on, he can be nasty to hit against. That’s the reason the Tigers shouldn’t be too overconfident. And, if they lose this game, they have to go back to New York, where their chances would decline dramatically.
It’s time to put the lights out now. Today is their best opportunity. Why? Because Jesus hates the Yankees!