You know the game. Delmon Double.
I had taken the afternoon flight the day before to get in that morning with enough time to get to the game. Honolulu to Detroit (heh) to Baltimore. Not knowing the score of game one until I'd landed in Detroit, I didn't sleep. Honestly, I was expecting a loss when I took my phone off airplane mode. Checking the score, I may have fist pumped in my seat. Okay... I did. It was the smallest of fist pumps as I was fairly exhausted.
By the time I arrived in Baltimore, I had enough time to get in a shower and about 30 minutes of sleep before heading off to the game. My head was killing me and I didn't care. Playoff baseball is as powerful as any pain killer. We took our seats in left field. First row. My first time in the front! Nothing could ruin this.
Wei-Yin Chen was cruising, allowing only one hit in the first three innings. I had my Wei-Yin shirt on! This was definitely gonna be a great outing for him. In the bottom of the third, Markakis hit a 2 run shot. It felt like it might be enough. I had that much faith in Chen. I flew halfway across the world without rest, so clearly the celestial being of your choice was rewarding me for my efforts. And then...
Wei-Yin got destroyed. In the top of the fourth, Wei-Yin Chen, hand of the divine, couldn't buy an out. Single. Double. Single. Run scored. 2-1 now. And then J.D. Martinez, total butthole, crushed the ball, our lead, my good damn feelings... Home Run. 4-2. Nick Castellanos followed with another Home Run. 5-2. My headache was back. Chen got 2 outs. Too little too late, buddy. After a single, he was pulled for Kevin Gausman, who came in and struck out Ian Kinsler to end the temporary nightmare.
In the bottom of the inning, J.J. Hardy managed to bring in Adam Jones to cut the lead to 2. It felt like they wouldn't get anymore. My head was pounding. I figured I'd take anything I could get at that point and took much enjoyment in young Kevin Gausman holding the line through the 5th, 6th, and 7th innings. But then in the 8th they got to him. I didn't care that they cut down Miguel Cabrera at the plate. The run that scored ahead of him felt like the nail in the coffin. And then...
The Tigers bullpen let out a familiar roar. It sounded like, "We suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck!!!" And the sucking that had been told in countless games before and many games since commenced. That days suckage started courtesy of everyone's favorite Hutt, Joba Chamberlin. With one out, he hit Adam Jones. He followed that by giving up a single to Nelson Cruz. (Miss you, Cruuuuuuuuuuuuuuuz!) And then 2014 Duquette's Dumpster MVP Steve Pearce laced a single to right, scoring Jones. That was it for Joba. Goodbye, Joba. I'll remember you fondly.
Tigers sacrificial lamb #2, Joakim Soria came in to put out the fire. But instead of water, he decided to use lighter fluid. Bad choice, friend. After walking JJ Hardy to load the bases, up came Delmon Young with the tying run in scoring position. The stadium was loud, drowning out any remainder of my headache. I was in that haze you have the afternoon after missing a night of sleep. I was clapping. We all were clapping and yelling. It was a frenzy. And up was the ever eager Delmon. Had the at bat been a longer affair, I don't know if the crowd would have maintained that intensity throughout. No one will ever know, because Delmon drove Soria's hanging slider, pitch one following a walk, into left field! And not just into left field, but right at us! As the ball skipped across the grass to the wall, I was still clapping. I was not in control of my body. As JD Martinez bent over to retrieve the ball, I, still clapping, yelled, "Bobble it!!!" Martinez, wonderful human being that he is, obliged. Cruz scored. Pearce scored. JJ "Wheels" Hardy scored. The crowd's enthusiasm rang to the heavens. I turned around to celebrate with the random stranger behind me. He offered a high five. My exuberance demanded more. I bear hugged him, my face right in his crotch. While this may be a faux pas in many other public situations, here it was acceptable.
What once was lost was now found. The lead. And it would not be relinquished. Zach Britton made quick work of Detroit's finest in the top of the 9th. It wasn't quite the end of Karate Kid, where Daniel LaRusso kicks Johnny Lawrence in the face, grabs the trophy, and gets a nod from Mr. Miyagi, roll credits, but it was close enough. We were all still riding the wave of Delmo's Double when the last out was recorded.
Actually, I'm still riding it right now.