Movie reviewers like to praise a film by saying some variation on: “This is why we go to the movies.” I kind of felt the same way watching the Indians take on the Tigers on Wednesday night. Above and beyond any emotional investment in the outcome, it was a damn good ballgame. You want long balls? Check. You want to see somebody take away a home run? Check. You want a great bare-handed defensive play? Check. You want a little drama and maybe an unlikely hero or two in the mix? We’ve got you covered.
In the top of the first, Michael Brantley put the Tribe up 3-0 right off the bat with his first home run of the year. It also extended his hitting streak to 14 games, a number which, although not huge, is starting to get interesting. The Tigers went down 1-2-3 in the first and second. One of those outs was a great (not necessarily graceful, but great) jumping catch by Johnny Damon (yes, that Johnny Damon) over the left field fence to steal a home run from Prince Fielder.
The Tigers got a couple of runs on solo homers from Don Kelly and Miguel Cabrera in the 3rd and 4th, respectively. The Tigers had a big 5th inning, scoring four runs on a trio of doubles and a handful of singles. While it added a bit of drama, there was never a sense of worry because the Indians had been scoring right along with them.
In the top of the 4th, Johnny Damon walked and then stole second. Then .214-hitting Casey Kotchman came to bat and promptly hit a two-run homer. In the top of the 5th, Shin-Soo Choo and Asdrubal Cabrera both singled. Jason Kipnis singled, scoring Choo. After a Carlos Santana ground out, big, scary Michael Brantley was intentionally walked to load the bases. Michael Brantley has always struck me as a closet nerd–the guy who is athletically talented but is more a quiet student of the game than a loud jock. Watching him get intentionally walked warmed the cockles of my little nerd-girl heart. Then Johnny Damon came up and, in the clutch, hits a two-RBI single. (Who are you and what have you done with Johnny Damon?) A combination of a double by Choo and an RBI single from Cabrera in the top of the 6th made it 9-6, Indians. And that’s where it stayed.
Like every great movie, there was a moment near the end when you thought perhaps all was lost. With one out in the bottom of the 9th, Jhonny Peralta dropped a long fly ball in the middle of Michael Brantley and Shin-Soo Choo for a triple. It could have turned into an ugly Tiger rally. But we’re Americans, so we prefer that our movies have happy endings. The triple was just to add a little bit of drama. Instead of the Tigers coming back, Chris Perez struck out Don Kelly looking and Bryan Holaday popped out to Carlos Santana. Happy ending indeed.