On to Game 2
The reason I still held my head high last night is I don’t know if my line justifies the way I pitched. I know that if a couple things changed, a whole lot of things could’ve changed. That’s what’s so intense about the playoffs. In a situation like the third inning, if I make a play, if I make a pitch, it just changes everything. It’s one little thing, and I think that’s the reason I didn’t feel crushed. I didn’t feel like there’s no way I can beat these guys. I feel like I have a chance, a great chance to go in there and do well against this team. Just a few little things could’ve gone a different way, and it’s a whole different ballgame.
When you have those kind of nights against the same club more than once, you’ve got to just keep on keeping on until you can chalk up one of those in the win column. You have to believe skip didn’t just give me the ball in Game 1 because he flipped a coin. They believe I can go out there and win. I believe I can go out there and win, and that’s the attitude you have to carry. You can’t carry the attitude that you’ll go out there, pitch well and lose. You have to believe that it can get done.
That’s what was so strange about last night. The way I felt out there, I went into the game feeling really, really good about how this thing could unfold, regardless of the atmosphere. That’s all a good team needs is just one little spark, you know, and we’re very hopeful of that tonight. We’re very hopeful to bring back a split to Detroit.
We’ve got a series to play. There ain’t no white-flagging it if we don’t win tonight, but if we go back to Detroit with a split, we have a chance to close it at home. I feel very strongly about how we match up with our pitching staff as opposed to theirs. I really feel very confident in that, not taking anything away from them. I mean, it’s pretty hard against the lineup they have, but I think it does come down to pitching.
That’s why it was such a crushing blow last night, that ground ball in the sixth. The third was a big inning, and you want to eliminate the big inning, but once we got to the sixth and we’re only down by two, if you can get into their bullpen before it gets to Rivera, they’ve got great arms down there, but I’ll take my chances with our bullpen matching up against their bullpen. It was a heart-breaker, that ground ball. What can you say? A couple guys got on when I made pitches. I went and watched it again today. The three pitches that ended up with two runs on the board, I made them and put them where I wanted. The results were not so good.
Last night, before the game started, I saw the cameras flashing, the jets flying over, people going crazy. If you can just get beyond that and get to your first pitch, then there’s a focus. You can rid yourself of the atmosphere and focus on the hitters. And I was at that point last night. I really didn’t feel the crowd rattling me. Even when they started kind of rolling me a little bit, I still was attacking, getting first-pitch strikes, getting ahead in the count, just going right at ’em. If Verlander can do that, it would be wonderful to see Verlander in his prime form. It would be awesome to see him be able to reach back and pop a triple digit if he had to and snap that curveball. If he can do that, there’s nobody that’s going to stand in there comfortable. I don’t care who you are. It would really be nice to see him have one of his special nights. He’s capable of having a very special night tonight. He’s had some rest and hopefully charged his battery a little bit. He’s got to control it and get it going at the same time.