I will never question Jim Leyland again. I never like second guessing managers because I figure they know a million times more about matchups, scouting, personal issues, and health then I do, (at least I hope they do. They get paid millions of dollars to make those decisions, and I expect that entails more then looking up split stats on Yahoo! like I do). But I can't say I was happy to hear from my friend T.J. that Alexis Gomez was starting at DH tonight in place of Marcus Thames. I was at the law library printing out a case for my Con. Law class at about 7:30 when T.J. first informed me of the lineup change. I know its rude to answer my phone in the library but this is how the conversation went.
Me: Make it quick, I'm in the library.
T.J.: Leyland's starting Gomez at DH for Thames.
Me: (Silence) Hang on. (Calmly and quietly gathering my books logging off the computer and stepping outside the library). HAS HE LOST HIS FUCKING MIND !?!? (spit flying everywhere) What's his love affair with Gomez? The guy sucks, he's like a seventh outfielder on most teams and it's not like we are using him for his defense because he's DH'ing, and his defense sucks anyways. I watched him airmail a throw over the screen behind home plate last season. Jesus Christ. And you know he's gonna come up with the bases loaded and strike out or ground into a double play because he ALWAYS does this. This is just fantastic, two black holes in the lineup with Gomez and Neifi Perez. What are you going to tell me next Neifi's batting second tonight.
T.J.: He is.
Me: (Passing out onto the floor) ......
Thankfully I regained consciousness in time to see the first pitch and was in a foul mood when Neifi strode to the plate, and squared to bunt on the first pitch he saw, even though there was already one out, no runner to advance and Neifi's to fat and slow to run out a bunt single, and then struck out looking and I'm ready to pour gasoline on myself instead of watching the Perez/Gomez duo submarine the Tigers offense.
Top of the fourth, the Tigers are losing 3-1 and start a rally loading the bases after a run scoring RBI single by Monroe. I'm excited and standing on my futon before remembering whose coming up next. I flop down. Shit. Gomez. Just don't ground into a do........ground ball left side Chavez ranging over to turn two killing a Tigers rally as Thames stews on the bench. That's what should have happened but you can't script the Postseason, (oh no did I just quote those terrible Fox commercials? I'm sorry we've only been subjected to them 5,000 times over the course of a three and a half hour game, I couldn't help it I've been brainwashed.) Instead the ball rolls under Chavez's glove into left field , base hit Tigers take a 4-3 lead they wouldn't relinquish.
Fast forward again to the top of the sixth, Tigers clinging to a 5-3 lead, Monroe doubles with one out off Loaiza and Gomez strides to the plate with one career homerun (which he hit during a game I was at this year against the Astros, I missed it because I had left to go to the bathroom thinking he was an automatic out. The more I think about it I think Gomez only plays well to spite me). Gomez gets a 2-1 count and then crushes one into right center field. 7-3 Tigers. I'm running back and forth between the T.V. and my bedroom pumping my fist and screaming "Leyland's a genius, a crusty old sage, I was wrong to doubt you Leyland, please God forgive me." It was also at that time that I realized this is a team of destiny. I can say with the utmost confidence that the Tigers will win the ALCS and make it to the Series. Even Todd Jones, who was just dying to give this game away in the last inning couldn't do it. Something more powerful then Jones suckitude is at play here. For Alexis Gomez, the absolute definition of a fringe/hanger-on/journeyman player to come out and play the best game of his career is just more evidence that this Tigers season, which began with few experts picking them to finish .500 let alone make the playoffs, is destined to have a magical ending.
(Note: Please remember that this is my first playoff experience and I may be getting swept up into some kind of overly optimistic frenzy. If the Tigers go out and lose the next four games after suffer multiple injuries/blown out elbows, I'll take full responsibility. 100% my fault based strictly on this post.)