Until the Last Out
It’s more than two hours before game time. We’re about to go out to batting practice. Will this be our last BP? You try not to think about it. You try to do what all of us have been doing since we were down 0-2 to Cincinnati: Focus on just this game. Forget what happened yesterday. Don’t worry about tomorrow. It has worked for us so far.
If you walked into our clubhouse right now, you’d think we were about to play a game in August instead of the fourth game of the World Series. Everyone’s relaxed and low-key. There’s loud music playing through the speakers. Some guys are sitting at their lockers, half-dressed, with headphones on and iPads open. Some are watching football on TV. The usual.
I’m guessing, though, that most of the guys didn’t sleep real well last night. I woke up three times. I kept thinking that I’m in a dream. I can’t take it all in. I think I’ll be sitting at my house one day about a month from now and say to my wife, “I think I was in the World Series.”
I also thought last night about my triple in the second inning that scored Hunter for the first run of the game. I was so excited when I reached third base. I hit a triple in the World Series! It was funny, too, that right before that, while I was in the batter’s box, Miguel Cabrera kind of yelled at me for calling time as the pitcher went into his windup. Mostly he was yelling at the umpire. “He can’t call time out right there!” he said. “You got to do a better job!”
Miguel was just playing mind games. I stepped out of the box because Sanchez, the Tigers’ pitcher, was trying to throw too quickly. He does that to knock the batter’s timing off. So I stepped out to slow him down. I guess it worked because he threw me a curveball that I lined into the gap.
Cabrera and I are good friends. He played with my brother when they were 14 or 15 years old, and everyone already knew Miguel would be a star. We played together in winter ball in Venezuela in 2007 and in the World Baseball Classic three years ago. He’s a great player and a great person. We talked and joked during batting practice before Game 2. He was saying how great our pitching staff was and how loud our fans were. He also joked that he would be stepping it up that game so watch out.
I’m happy about the triple, but not happy about the mistake I made in the seventh inning. I hit a chopper to Cabrera at third. The throw was low and Prince Fielder had to stretch and, as it turned out, he pulled his foot off the bag. I was called out, though replays showed I was safe. But I’m mad at myself for sliding into first. It’s the dumbest thing you can do. I had no intention of sliding but I wanted to get to first base so badly that I just found myself diving for the bag. Hunter told me as soon as I got back to the dugout that it makes no sense to slide into first. “I know, I know,” I said.
I didn’t write a blog after Game 2, so I’ll share a few things about that. Yes, I was actually trying to hit Crawford with my relay throw. We practice that play a lot, but I think Brandon was farther out in the field than usual. I threw to the spot I usually throw to, closer to the infield. Marco was there and made an unbelievable throw to nail the runner at home.
As for the bunt that stayed fair — of the thousands of bunts I have hit in games and practices, from the time I was a kid until now, I have never, ever hit a bunt that perfectly. I knew a good bunt right there could change the game. I told myself to calm down in the batter’s box. Be patient. As always, I asked my mother for help. And the ball seemed to actually flutter off my bat and die right inside the line.
There is definitely something special at work with this team. It’s like how the interaction of certain kinds of electrons produces energy. We’re a bunch of the right kinds of electrons interacting in a way that generates good energy. When I’m out in the field, I pray for the pitcher to throw a good pitch. When I’m in the dugout, I pray for the batter to get a hit. Praying is like sending energy. Angel, Marco, Joaquin, Crawford – they all say they pray during the game. I actually feel it when I’m at bat and in the field, like everyone’s with you when you’re in a pressure situation.
When we win, I look to the sky and thank God and my mother for hearing my prayers.
Today, after my restless night, I woke up at around 11. My family and I ate at P.F. Chang’s then I took the bus to the field around 3. For so many guys in here, this is the most important game of their lives. It certainly is for me. W know our pitchers and defense have saved us. But we have to score more runs. The Tigers can do a lot of damage at any time We have to face Miguel and Prince Fielder four times each. That’s a tough thing. One pitch to either one of those guys can change the whole game.
I like that the last two games have been so close. That’s what the World Series is supposed to be. The best teams fighting until the last out.