Sunday, February 15, 2015

Keeping Score: 2006 ALCS Game 4, A's vs Tigers

On occasion, I’ll sit down with my laptop and do a running stream of consciousness thing as a game goes on. I call it “Keeping Score” because I’m unoriginal and/or not very bright. It's been a while, but past games I’ve done can be found here, if anyone is interested.

Since there’s not a lot to talk about quite yet, I thought I could do a few of these with some big games from the past. A couple weeks ago, I got a DVD set called “The Essential Games of the Detroit Tigers”. Included are Game 5 of the 1968 World Series, Game 5 of the 1984 World Series, the final game at Tiger Stadium from 9/27/99, and Game 4 of the 2006 ALCS. I also have a DVD of Justin Verlander’s first no-hitter sitting around here somewhere, too, that I’ve never watched.

I decided to begin with the 2006 game. I’ve never seen the television broadcast of the game since I was in attendance for it. The night before, I dropped something like $650 for a pair of tickets in the third row down the third base line. After over 20 years of watching the team play mostly bad baseball, if they were going to make the World Series, I wanted to be there. It was worth it.

Enjoy. I hope it brings back some fun memories.

2006 ALCS Game 4
Oakland Athletics vs Detroit Tigers
October 14, 2006

TOP OF THE FIRST

-Jeremy Bonderman is the Detroit starting pitcher and Jason Kendall is leading off for Oakland.

-The FOX announce team is Thom Brennaman, Lou Piniella, and Jose Mota. They’re not great, but anything is better than Buck/McCarver.

-Bondo quickly strikes out Kendall as the Comerica faithful erupts. Compare this to the playoffs now when the crowd barely makes a peep. ENTITLED JERKS! We cared back then!

-Mark Kotsay is the second hitter. Bondo’s up to 97 on the gun already. Too bad he never fulfilled the expectations we all had for him. Seriously, how hard is it to learn a changeup?

-Kotsay draws a walk. WHOA…there’s some serious editing going on to speed up the game. Rogo like.

-Milton “THE GAME” Bradley is next for Oakland. Didn’t he kill a guy or something? I don’t remember...

-FOX has a camera on the mound looking up at the pitcher. It’s kind of strange and it’s obvious why they got rid of it.

-3-1 count on Bradley as Bondo doesn’t have much command thus far. Bradley launches a foul ball down the left field line and Craig Monroe dives into the stands trying to catch it. He fails, though, because he sucks. 3-2 count.

-After another foul, Bradley drives a ball over Curtis Granderson’s head in left-center for an RBI double. He killed the Tigers at the plate in ’06. BONDO SUCKS! BOOOO! FIRE LEYLAND! Rabble, rabble!

ATHLETICS: 1, TIGERS: 0

-Frank Thomas is the A’s cleanup man. The future Hall of Famer entered the game 0-10 in the ALCS so far.

-Thomas takes a 2-2 slider for ball three. It should have been a strikeout. Bondo did have a magnificent slider at his peak. It was thing of beauty.

-Bradley takes off for third and The Big Hurt fouls a ball off. Milton comes up limping but stays in the game. I would pay at least seven dollars to see Milton Bradley fight a guy named Parker Brothers.

-After more foul balls, the ninth pitch of the at bat is a foul pop out to first baseman Carlos Guillen. Two down and Bonderman has already thrown a ton of pitches.

-Up next is Eric Chavez before his body completely fell apart. Chavez lines the second pitch down the line where an idiot Tigers fan reaches and touches it. He should have received the death penalty for that. Fans are the worst. Thanks to that, the gimpy Bradley doesn’t have to run and it’s a 2-0 game.

ATHLETICS: 2, TIGERS: 0

-Jay Payton steps in and I’m reminded that Jay Payton existed. The announcers tell us that Bondo didn’t graduate high school and received his GED so he could be drafted by a MLB team as a Junior. If you’ve ever spoken to Bondo, it should be no surprise that he didn’t graduate high school.

-Bonderman throws a wild pitch sending Chavez to third. He looks like shit out there. And terrified.

-Grounder to third, SNAGGED by Inge! Great throw gets Payton. After a year of watching Castellanos struggle to play third, I almost miss Inge. Almost.

BOTTOM OF THE FIRST

-Dan Haren is the A’s starter. He has majestic hair here.

-Curtis Granderson is the Tigers leadoff man. Remember when we had an actual leadoff man?

-Grandy works the count full and draws a walk.

-Craig Monroe is next and is quickly down 0-2. He has the same confused look on his face that he does now in the FSD Studio.

-Monroe strikes out on a pitch in the dirt because he’s horrible.

-That brings up Placido Polanco and his odd-shaped head. Holy hell, I loved Polanco.

-Polly was destroying the ball in the playoffs up to here. That’s why he was batting third despite having less power than Patrick Leyland. He was 13 for 29 in the ’06 Playoffs entering the game and 5 for 12 against Haren in his career.

-Jiminez makes a diving stop at second base and throws Polanco out. Granderson stays at second. Two down.

-Magglio Ordonez is next. I have a feeling he’ll have a good game here.

-FLOWING LOCKS in full effect for Maggs here. Good times.

-Ordonez strikes out. Inning over.

TOP OF THE SECOND

-Nick Swisher leads off. BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

-Swisher flies out to left because it’s the playoffs and Nick Swisher is steaming garbage in the playoffs.

-Marco Scutaro is the A’s shortstop and he steps in. The 0-1 pitch is grounded to Carlos and there are quickly two outs.

-Bondo looked like hell in the first and settled down after that. IMAGINE THAT.

-Up next is D’Angelo Jimenez who quickly grounds out to Polanco.

BOTTOM OF THE SECOND

-Carlos Guillen leads it off and strikes out looking.

-Mike Maroth is has a mic on and they spotlight him for “Sounds of the Game”! They show him messing with rookie Justin Verlander and making fun of JV’s hat. Fun moment. One of the things I was happiest about in ’06 was Maroth getting to be a small part of it after he had to suffer through '03. Great guy.

-Pudge Rodriguez quickly grounds out. I want more of MM & JV!

-The Tigers’ designated hitter is Alexis Gomez. I forgot that was a thing.

-They show highlights of Gomez’s 15 minutes of fame with his surprising home run in Oakland earlier in the series as he singles to right field.

-That brings up Inge. Oh boy.

-The 0-2 pitch is wild and Gomez advances to second.

-The next pitch is low and outside and Inge has a check swing strike three. Imagine that. I can’t believe that half of you reading this probably own an Inge jersey. FOR SHAME.

TOP OF THE THIRD

-Bondo comes out pumped and quickly strikes out Kendall for the second time with another beautiful slider.

-One down for Kotsay who flies out to right.

-The announcers begin speculating on Joel Zumaya’s health. Wait a year or so, guys.

-Back to Maroth talking to JV about Bonderman’s pitching. JV isn’t paying attention and is yawning. Verlander’s such a dick, even back then.

-Bradley gets another hit and can barely run, so he has to settle for a single.

-Frank Thomas flies out to Granderson to end the inning.

BOTTOM OF THE THIRD

-Game is flying by without a thousand commercials. I’m not used to this. Not even any "Written in the stars..." or "LIGHT A MUPMUPMUP I'M ON FIYAAH!"...

-Ramon Santiago taps out to Haren to begin the inning.

-That brings up Granderson. Grandy was so fun to watch before he got homer happy and ruined his swing.

-#CurtisGrandersonStrikesOut

-Two outs.

-That brings up C-Mo and his confused looking face. Another check swing at a pitch low and away for strike two as Haren has the Tigers very uncomfortable up there.

-C-Mo strikes out looking at a fastball right down the middle. Ugh. Inning over.

TOP OF THE FOURTH

-Chavez flies out to center on the first pitch.

-Cut to Kenny Rogers talking about mentoring the other Tigers starters. I’m glad they still bring him back during Spring Training.

-Jay Payton launches one deep to left…gone. Dickhead.

ATHLETICS: 3, TIGERS: 0

-Comerica sounds like a morgue.

-DudeBro Swisher is next. The announcers say the A’s are waiting for him to start hitting like he’s capable of in the playoffs. After this, the White Sox, Yankees and Indians would, too.

-Nick singles to right and almost gets picked off after Magglio hustled the ball back in.

-If you’re not sure why I’m picking on Swisher in the playoffs, it’s because he has a career .165 average in 47 playoff games. Also because I can’t stand Nick Swisher.

-Scutaro taps to short where Inge decides to show off and cut in front of Santiago to throw Marco out. Swisher advances to second.

-Jiminez lines out to center.

BOTTOM OF THE FOURTH

-Polly leads off and grounds a base hit between third and short. The dude just found holes in the defense all the time. Man, it was a pleasure to watch him play in Detroit.

-Magglio steps in as the crowd begins to show signs of life for the first time since the beginning of the game. 1-1 pitch is in on his hands and he pops out to center. One down.

-Carlos steps in and I’m a little sad that I’m not watching him face Jered Weaver. Can I order that DVD somewhere?

-Pitch in the dirt and Polanco takes second. He was such a smart ballplayer. I miss you, Mr. Potato Head.

-Brennaman says Ordonez hasn’t produced much this series. Remember that later.

-3-0 pitch to Guillen is a walk putting runners at first and second with one out. Crowd is happy.

-Pudge Rodriguez is next as they show a doofus holding up at “Eat ‘Em Up Tigers” sign. No, not THAT guy.

-RIP Eat ‘Em Up Tigers Guy.

-Pudge strikes out on three pitches. Great pitch by Haren.

-Two down for Gomez.  Broken bat grounder to short ends the inning.

TOP OF THE FIFTH

-Top of the order starts it for Oakland. Kendall still looks completely lost against Bonderman and weakly grounds out to Little Ramon at short. One down.

-Mark Kotsay flies out to center as Piniella is talking about Leyland’s minor league career.

-Bradley flies out.

BOTTOM OF THE FIFTH

-Announcers try and convince America that Detroit isn’t as bad as they think. They mention how they were in Greektown the night before. I immediately imagine a drunken Lou Piniella cursing and playing nickel slots.

-Inge is up first and grounds it weakly to third. Chavez hurries and throws it away! Inge takes second on the play. The crowd wakes up again.

-Official scorer gives Inge a hit on the play.

-Wee Ramon taps to second and advances Inge to third. So many people slobber over Don Kelly’s utility contributions and no one ever mentions Santiago. I’d take Ramon every day of the week over DK.

-Granderson is up needing a fly ball to get the Tigers on the board. Pitch in the dirt is stopped by Kendall as FOX has a replay camera in the dirt by home plate, too. This one also looks stupid.

-We get the famous story from the announcers about how Andy Van Slyke said if he had a daughter, he’d want her to marry a guy like Granderson.

-Curtis singles Inge home and hustles into second on the play to get the Tigers on the board! Grandy can marry my imaginary daughter, too!

ATHLETICS: 3, TIGERS: 1

-Monroe steps in as the crowd is fully awake now. Line drive to left MISPLAYED BY PAYTON! Granderson scores and Monroe takes second! Comerica is beside itself!

ATHLETICS: 3, TIGERS: 2

-Payton looked like Delmon Young on that play.

-At this point at the game back then, I turned to my buddy Craig and said “We’re gonna win.” I’m sure several thousand other mildly drunk people in the stands did the same.

-White towels are waving everywhere as Polanco comes up and Joe Kennedy gets up in the bullpen.

-Polanco lines to second and Monroe is easily picked off for the double play. Brennaman tsk tsk’s Monroe’s bad baserunning.

TOP OF THE SIXTH

-Frank Thomas walks on four pitches.

-Eric Chavez is next and Guillen nearly turns a double play on a grounder to first but Chavez beat it out. Piniella can’t believe Eric swung at the first pitch after a four pitch walk. Neither can I.

-Jay Payton taps to second. Polanco tries to turn the double play himself, but Payton beats it out. If he would have flipped it to Santiago, they’d have got the DP. Not sure what he was thinking there. Good hustle by Payton, though.

-Two down for Swisher. Nick has long hair and even longer, thin sideburns here. It’s not a good look. It is a Nick Swisher look, though.

-Bondo’s at 79 pitches entering this at bat. I think 60 were in the first inning.

-Swisher grounds out to end the sixth.

BOTTOM OF THE SIXTH

-Magglio leads off AND TAKES THE FIRST PITCH DEEP…GONE! THAT TIES THE GAME! A line shot out and Comerica is going nuts. I may have messed my pants…

ATHLETICS: 3, TIGERS: 3

-…

-…yes, I messed my pants.

-MAGGLIO FOR EL PRESIDENTE!

-Or maybe mayor.

-Next up is Carlos and he lines one to right for a single. Haren’s at 86 pitches and is gassed.

-Haren stalls for time and Ken Macha finally comes out and brings in Joe Kennedy.

-They show Mr. I in the suite. It’s alarming how different he looks today compared to just 8+ years ago.

-Grounder to third by Pudge and Chavez leaves his feet to get to it. Ball in the dirt snagged by Swisher and they get him. Nice play on both sides.

-Guillen takes everyone by surprise and steals third on a ball in the dirt to Gomez. So heads-up there.

-Why the hell is Gomez still batting against the lefty? One out, tied game, runner on third and he’s facing the lefty? FIRE LEYLAND!

-It’s fun to imagine if Twitter was around in 2006 for this.

-And Gomez strikes out. Everyone in the free world saw that coming. Eff you, Jimbo.

-Two down for Inge. Kennedy’s giving him nothing but junk off the plate with Santiago on deck. At 3-0, they give Brandon the intentional ball four. Boooo.

-Sneaky Ramon is next .

-I just saw me in the crowd! Man, I was handsome!

-I think that was me.

-Hope that was me.

-Full count and Santiago flies out to left to end the inning. Imaginary Twitter was probably pissed Ramon batted there.

TOP OF THE SEVENTH

-Marco Scutaro is up first as Jamie Walker and Jason Grilli are warming up in the bullpen. Wow. That’s one of my personal favorites off all time in Walker and the antichrist himself in Grilli. What a combo.

-Grounder in the hole and Santiago makes a nice play to get him. One out.

-Next is Jiminez and Bondo gets him looking on a NASTY fastball at the knees. I make fun of Bondo a lot for being dumber than dirt, but the kid was money in this game after the first inning. He had the mistake to Payton, but the dude kicked ass otherwise.

-Kendall is up with two down. Brennaman says Bonderman remarked that he was upset Oakland gave up on him so early after drafting him in 2001. Bondo said “I will make them pay someday.” Nice.

-Kendall singles off of Bonderman’s foot. Sadly, Detroit pitchers being unable to field their position would come back to haunt them later on against St Louis. But enough about that...

-Leyland is out to yank Bondo. Thank you, Jeremy. Amazing job.

-Seriously. Thanks, man.

-Jamie Walker is in to face Kotsay with two outs and the runner on first. The count runs full as Kotsay drills one DEEP, just foul. That was scary and close.

-Walker strikes him out with a great changeup. I miss you, Jamie Walker. Inning over.

BOTTOM OF THE SEVENTH

-Granderson is up to face Kennedy as Fernando Rodney warms up for the Tigers.

-Fly out to left for Curtis.

-C-Mo steps in wile Kiko Calero warms up for the A’s. I have no idea why Calero isn’t in for Kennedy here. FIRE MACHA!

-Monroe takes the 3-1 pitch down the line…JUST foul. And Craig walks on the next pitch.

-That’ll bring up Polanco.  0-2 pitch banged to center for a base hit! Polly was amazeballs before disappearing in the World Series.

-Two on, one out for Ordonez. Macha finally decides to bring in Calero, a couple batters too late. What a maroon.

-Magglio’s up to face Kiko who throws pretty much nothing but sliders. Maggs takes a 3-1 pitch that I could have hit out. Yikes.

-Full count and Huston Street is throwing in the bullpen.

/cue ominous music

-Ordonez walks. Bases loaded for Carlos Guillen. One out.

-Here comes Huston Street. I forgot that Macha brought him in this early. It was the right call. Leaving him in too long? Maybe not so much. Too bad Leyland wasn’t paying attention for Fernando Rodney in Game 163 a couple years later.

-Ugh. I hope a DVD of Game 163 doesn’t exist. Scariest DVD ever.

-Guillen grounds into a 5-3 double play.

TOP OF THE EIGHTH

-Jason Grilli is in for the Tigers. Zumaya had to be hurt, I guess. What happened to Rodney, I wonder?

-FIRE LEYLAND!

-Bradley is the leadoff man and he lines a single to left. Fucking Grilli…

-Frank Thomas is next to face Cheeseman as I was in the crowd bargaining with every God I could think of for the Tigers to get out of this. I believe I even offered my soul to Zeus.

-The Hurt his into a 4-6-3 double play. Thank you, Lord Zeus. Rogo is your slave in the afterlife.

-Replay shows Grilli SUPER excited about the double play. What a tool.

-Chavez steps in as the announcers speculate why Grilli is facing him. Imaginary Nonexistent Twitter was probably screaming for Wil Ledezma at this point.

-Grilli walks him on four pitches because he’s awful.

-That brings up Payton. Grilli throws a 98 mph fastball for ball one. I forgot he threw that hard. Ball two sees Pudge run out to the mound to call him names. Man, I hate Jason Grilli.

-Brennaman mocks the A’s for never playing small ball. Brennaman loses my respect.

-Grilli walks Payton on four pitches, too. MAKE IT STOP.

-Zach Minor is up with Ledezma in the pen as Jimbo is letting Grilli face Swisher. Unbelievable.

-Ball one is nine straight balls. Ball two makes ten as the crowd is ready to riot.

-Ball three. Eleven straight balls.

-Ball four.

-I remember wanting to lynch Jim Leyland at this point.

-Scutaro is up and Leyland FINALLY ambles out of the dugout and calls for Ledezma. Ledezma?

-Yup. Ledezma. The lefty to face the right-handed hitter. Imaginary Twitter would have shit itself.

-Zeus? It’s your boy again. Once more, okay?

-Scutaro had better numbers against righties than lefties, according to the announcers. So props to Leyland for trusting the scouting reports.

-1-1 pitch is popped up and Pudge puts it away. A’s are retired in the eighth. Phew.

-Jason Grilli tried to give away this game. Tigers got so lucky…

BOTTOM OF THE EIGHTH

-Pudge leads off against Street. 3-1 count and the crowd is on their feet. Ball four is called strike two because umpires are terrible. Replay shows it was indeed outside. Pudge K’s on the next pitch on a ball way outside. Blame the ump.

-Gomez is next. They show replays of Ledezma celebrating getting Scutaro out. He peaked as a pro right there.

-Alexis strikes out.

-Two down for Inge. Brennaman remarks that Street hardly ever allows home runs. LOLZ

-Inge grounds out to short. Onto the ninth.

TOP OF THE NINTH

-Bobby Kielty pinch hits to lead off against Ledezma. He hit .270 with 8 HR’s off the bench. Must be nice to have depth.

-He pops out to Guillen.

-Kendall is next as again, the announcers talk about Zumaya’s health. Makes me sad.

-The 2-1 pitch is punched into left for a one out single.

-Ledezma’s throwing right down the middle now, and Kotsay can’t catch up to the fastballs. Terrible location.

-He’s late again and he flies out to left. Two down. Terrible at bat.

-Milton Bradley is up, currently 3-4 on the day on one good leg. Dude was a heck of a hitter. It’s a shame he was nuts.

-They tell us Bradley is 4-6 in his career against Ledezma with 2 home runs. Imaginary Twitter just exploded at Wil staying in the game.

-Fly ball. Deep! Magglio catches it at the track as Leyland, Ledezma, the Tigers, and all of us dodged a massive bullet.

-Onto the bottom of the ninth. SPOILER: It gets good here.

BOTTOM OF THE NINTH

-Replay shows Bradley thought it was gone. Tough break, nutcase.

-Marcus Thames sighting! Country Strong is pinch hitting for Santiago and he flies out to center.

-Granderson is next as Todd Jones is shown with his rally hat on. What a goofball. I miss Jonesey now that I don’t have to watch him pitch anymore. Give him Monroe’s studio job, someone.

-Dave Dombrowski is shown looking approximately 30 years younger than he does today. Yikes.

-Grandy drives one in the gap that Bradley somehow runs down for the second out. Nice play. Enjoy it, Oakland. You won’t get another one.

-They show DD going “ooooh” at Bradley’s catch.

-Base hit to left center for C-Mo. I can’t stand the dude personally or professionally, but he had a good run in ’06.

-Polanco is next and singles to right on the first pitch! Two on…

-…for Magglio.

-Excuse me while I take my pants off.

-…

-Cool.

-Crowd is on their feet for Ordonez, yours truly among them. They show Ilitch who looks like he’s going to have a heart attack. If they showed me in the crowd, I’d probably look similar. Except younger and with less hair.

-Ball one inside.

-The pitch…


-Euphoria.

FINAL SCORE: TIGERS 6, ATHLETICS 3

I can’t tell you what this meant to me as one of the many long-suffering Tigers fans that were there. It had been 12 straight losing seasons before this. 2003 saw Detroit be the butt of so many jokes with how bad they were. It was unexpected and amazing. It was my 21st year as a Tigers fan and most of them had been sad. Magglio made it all worth it.

My friend Craig, who was next to me there, likes to tell the story that Magglio swung, he heard the crack of the bat, then my voice: “It’s gone…IT’S FUCKING GONE!”, followed by Comercia exploding. I remember bedlam…the good kind. Joel Zumaya jumped into the stands right in front of us. He was less than a foot from my face screaming, “FUCK YEAH!” I responded with the same to him.

Everyone was jumping down hugging each other. Strangers hugging strangers. Parents hugging kids. An old man near us was weeping saying he never thought he’d live to see the Tigers in another World Series. Craig was bawling. We stood there in shock as the team celebrated and after received the AL Championship trophy.

Before we left, I went back for one more look at the field. At that point, I finally started crying, too.

It was the greatest night of my life. Thanks for reliving it with me.

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