What a night
Kenny was outstanding tonight. I told some of the guys, sitting there with Bonderman and Verlander, I looked over and said we could be looking at one of the best pitching performances in Detroit playoff history right here. I’m sure it matches up with a lot of the great performances they’ve had in the past, especially against that team, that lineup. There ain’t many teams in the history of the game, there ain’t many times when they’ve gone through a lineup like that in a playoff game.
That lineup is loaded, top to bottom. And what Kenny was able to do to get them to start swinging at balls out of the zone, he was attacking and getting ahead. But with what he has, he had to be able to still make a pitch and not make it to where it’s something that they can handle. I mean, on TV, when they put up the strike zone graphic, his pitches were on the line to just outside of it every time with two strikes. It was unbelievable, commanding pitches like that throughout 7 2/3 innings. To be able to do that in a game like that, well, it’s inspiring. That’s what this is all about.
It’s hard to believe it’s his first postseason win with over 200 wins in the big leagues and the credentials that he’s had. I mean, I’d take his career and quit with those numbers. Something keeps him going. I’ll tell you what, if he keeps on doing that, he’ll find himself getting another two- or three-year extension here in Detroit. He won’t have a problem finding another two or three years if he wants it.
The funny thing is here he is, 41 years old, and he ain’t showing signs of slowing down. And the style of pitcher that he is, it’s almost like he could just do it for five, six, seven years. It’s strenuous to go out and pitch and all that, but the only taxing he does is when he beats himself up for PFPs and things like that. He can make a game look that easy, and it’s not. You watch my game the other night, I’m fighting through my whole thing and I’m battling all the way through, and there’s seven runs on the board. He went scoreless for 7 2/3. It’s an amazing performance, and hopefully it’s something that we build from, take into tomorrow and see what happens. This could just be something special.
In the sports world, I don’t care who’s out there, who would think that we could be doing this? Especially what we talked about coming into this series, there were a lot of questions about how we’d respond and this and that. From Game 1, every player that has performed on this team, on that field, has left it out there. Every one of us has left it out there. We lost a game, but we were in it, then we come back and win two really good ballgames.
We’ve always talked about starting pitching keeping them in there. We did that just enough yesterday, and today he was commanding from the get-go. They hit a couple balls hard, but that’s the thing about performances like tonight. If you can get a couple balls that are squared up hit right at somebody where there’s a play made, it’s a momentum-changer. Maybe a guy hits a little knubber and it goes into a hit, or maybe a guy finds a hole, and then it starts something. You don’t anything starting with this lineup over there. Once they get it going, they get rolling. Every time they seemed like they tried to get something rolling, he shut the door. He turned into a strikeout pitcher. I mean, he punched out eight guys. That’s big time. That’s a special pitcher there. I told him after the game, honest to God, I used to watch Tom Glavine growing up and I’m sad that Kenny was never a part of the Braves to get on TBS so I could watch him. Because I admire the way he goes out there and how much of a professional he is and how much he has invited each and every one of us into his life. He’s very open and a heckuva teammate, kind of a big brother.
As for Gum Time, I was throwing packs up to the fans in the stands. A couple of them were calling the innings for the rallies, so I had to give them some props for that.
It was really fun, a really fun night. We’ve all enjoyed it. Man, that was awesome. That is the atmosphere you dream about playing in front of and being a part of. It was different. This fan base tonight was different from this season. There was a different emotion. There was a different feel. There was a buzz that wasn’t present in the past. Not saying that there wasn’t a buzz, but it was certainly a different type of feel. Even the faithful out there, I think we made even more faithful. Some of the most faithful Tiger fans out there, I think we’ve expanded that area tonight. I think last weekend is way out of their minds. We’re in a position to do something really special, but we’ve got a lot of work to do. It’s not going to be easy.