Game 13: Detroit Tigers
If you are ever in Detroit do not stay at the Viking Motel, 2720 Grand River Avenue. Detroit is the crime capital of America and the newspaper today reported 657 Aggravated assaults, 278 robberies, 33 carjacking’s and 33 homicides for the month of May alone. The proprietor of our motel told us not to go out at night –“we didn’t know Detroit”. While in St. Louis we stayed in the best motel in the worst street, here in Detroit the Viking is the worst motel in the worst street. The jar of prophylactics on the front counter made me believe that it is the type of establishment that is normally rented by the hour, not by the night.
We are of course staying at the Viking. There are actually two good points. One is that it is an easy ten minute walk to Comerica Park. The second is that the owner is a friendly guy named Rajan. Rajan is an Indian - from India, not Cleveland. Once I got talking to him he quickly produced a cricket bat and a tennis ball and an intense backyard cricket test ensued. New Zealand has not beaten India at cricket since a four wicket victory at Hamilton in 2003 and in fact we have only beaten them outside the country twice, Nagpur in 1969 and Bombay in 1989. Quite rightly I took my responsibilities seriously. One of the major reasons that New Zealand has consistently failed to beat India in India has been, that before neutral umpires were introduced in 1992, there was well known and documented questionable umpiring, in favour of the home team of course. Unfortunately here in Detroit we did not have the luxury of neutral umpires and I quickly realised that my task was to be a daunting one. However by applying the age old adage of fighting fire with fire I slowly grasped the initiative. I also took the sensible step of batting second and therefore gaining last use of the scorebook. For the records New Zealand has now beaten India away from home on three occasions with the scores being India: 32 and 19 New Zealand: 7 and 45 not out.
After despatching of Rajan, Kitty and I took that ten minute stroll to Comerica Park. That is, it would have been ten minutes if I had not seen Bookies Bar and their well-appointed “Jug of beer and four shots for $15” sign. How could any thirsty traveller avoid this? Uncle Bob also offered a free shuttle to the park, but after some debate we opted for the two minute walk instead. The Tigers moved into Comerica Park in 2000 so it is a relatively modern facility. The first most striking features are the large tigers adorning the walls of the stadium and then the outstanding entry plaza guarded by huge baseball bats and tiger statues, with another huge roaring tiger as its centre piece. Along the main concourse is a walk of fame with statues of Tigers greats of the past, including legendary Ty Cobb, as you make your way to the first base line. Beyond centre field is a fountain which shoots off liquid fireworks on any Detroit run and a home run is accompanied by a roar from the two tiger statues on the huge and beautiful scoreboard. For the kids there is a merry-go- round where all the seats are tigers and a Ferris wheel where the cars are large baseballs. I bet parents miss a lot of the game time being entertained by their kids here. All in all an impressive park and while we tried to get $5 seats in the Skyline section, our $14 seats were in the disabled persons section, so were great with lots of room. My only gripe was that when I took my shirt off to soak up the sun, some people got offended and I had to replace it. Offended by my body?
Cleveland Indians..........000 102 200 -5
Detroit Tigers……………….400 300 00x – 7
After getting away to a flyer with a four run first innings, an ineffectual fielding effort almost capsized the ship for the home team. That first at bat was like the merry- go-in the amusement arcade as the runners took off around the bases. When I saw Detroit first base, Prince Fielder, play in Minnesota I called him rotund. Maybe I was being kind to him. But he can sure hit the ball. Today he extended his hitting streak to 14 games with a single in the first innings that bought in lead off Quintin Berry for the first run. In his last 23 games Fielder is hitting .393 with nine doubles, a triple, four home runs and 23 RBI’s. Very impressive statistics. He is not however the prince of fielders. In the one run Indians fourth innings Fielder made an awful high throw to second base on what should have been a caught stealing on Jason Kipnis after starting pitcher Casey Crosby had him picked off. Fielder also botched a ground ball in the same innings, which could have created a serious mess had Crosby not gotten Shelley Duncan to hit into an inning killing double play. I would suggest that Fielder encourage manager Jim Leyland to have a chat to the Kansas City manager about the kind of job that Billy Butler is doing down Kansas way as designated hitter.
In the sixth innings Cleveland third baseman Jose Lopez took a hard hit one hopper in the foul territory off Brennan Boesch. Kitty asked me why he was still batting and was not out. I patiently explained to her that in fact the ball had bounced and that in cricket we refer to such incidents as “lady catches” i.e. the ball is hit that hard into the ground that the ladies in the crowd are confused and think that it has gone into the fielders hands on the full. In the eighth inning, with runners at second and first and one out, Detroit third baseman Miguel Cabrera grabbed Lou Marson’s ground ball and thought he would tag Michael Brantley as Brantley headed for third, all ahead of throwing out Marson at first. I applauded uproariously at a slick double play. However Cabrera in fact missed the tag on Brantley and to my dismay he was deemed to be safe on third. Kitty innocently asked if it was a “ladies double play?” Touché.
These fielding inadequacies were counteracted by one outstanding, and vital, piece of athleticism by centre fielder Berry in the seventh innings. With bases loaded Jose Lopez hit a line drive to deep centre field that, off the bat looked certain to be a grand slam. Berry backtracked and leapt high to take a great catch to deprive the batter and keep the Detroit lead intact.
So, once the dust settled down the rookie left handed pitcher for the Tigers, Crosbie lasted 5 1/3 innings and gave up three runs, while the Tigers managed seven runs on 10 hits including a two run shot from Cabrera. The win was Detroit’s first over the Indians for the season and kept the Tigers from falling a season high seven games below .500.
My big brother Alan had recommend that we try Ellwood’s Bar and Grill which was right behind the ball park. We had a hasty couple of drinks and bustled back to the Viking before it got dark.