It was pouring all the way to Detroit, and our hopes weren’t being raised by any of the forecasts. It was raining on and off by the time we got to the city, so instead of entering Comerica Park right away we decided to grab food right next door at Elwood Grill. I got a delicious turkey sandwich with roasted red and yellow peppers and Swiss cheese melted into the toasted rye. It was awesome. It wasn’t too crowded when we first sat down at this popular bar/grill, but by the time we were done eating it was packed with both Tiger and Yankee fans, hovering over us waiting for us to vacate the table.
The rain let up to a drizzle so it was looking a little better for the game to start. We walked around to the main entrance of Comerica Park, noticing dozens of stone tiger heads (with baseballs in their mouths) protruding from the top of the brick wall in between each of the tall windows. The main gate had a huge tiger statue in front, with more oversized tigers perched on top of the wall with some pretty mean-looking stances.
Once inside, we walked around the concourse and saw a bunch of tall diorama-type structures composed of different objects and pictures commemorating each of the decades of Tigers baseball, beginning in the early 1900s. That first era was dominated by Ty Cobb, who to this day still holds the lifetime batting average record of .367.
There’s a couple of features catered to the kids that I really wished I was small enough to take advantage of. First was a big carousel with dozens of colorful tigers to ride (yes, white tigers included), and the other was a 50-foot-tall Ferris wheel where you can sit in oversized baseballs. Both were out of service because of the weather, but I’m sure they’re usually huge attractions for the kids.
Over the left field brick wall you can see 6 statues of Detroit legends, including Willie Horton (4x All Star), Ty Cobb, Hank Greenberg (2x AL MVP), Charlie “The Mechanical Man” Gehringer (hit .371 in 1937), Hal Newhouser (won pitching triple crown in 1945 – most wins, strikeouts, and lowest ERA), and Al Kaline (18x All Star, 10x Gold Glove). They reminded me of the statues in Washington, showing the players in motion with a sort of blurry movement following a swing or a batted ball (shown below to the right in Greenberg’s statue). I actually can’t stress how dominant Ty Cobb was, so I’ll just list some of his achievements… you can skip this if you’re not a baseball fan. Then again, if you’re not a baseball fan you’re probably just looking at the pictures anyway. Cobb has the MLB batting average record of .367 (winning 12 batting titles, including 9 in a row), MLB record for steals of home (54), second all-time with both runs scored and stolen bases, and led the American League with a .350 batting average at age 20 – second youngest in history. Wow that was a lot.
The weather held up, so the game started just a half-hour late. From our third-level seats you can see the whole city of Detroit right over the outfield bleachers with the big scoreboard all the way by the left field foul pole. And even more tigers were perched on top of the scoreboard (they really found every spot possible to showcase their team mascot).
A great pitching matchup between the Yanks’ Hiroki Kuroda and Detroit’s Doug Fister was set, and with two heavy-hitting lineups it was bound to be a close game. New York started the scoring early in the second when ex-Phillie Raul Ibanez hit an RBI triple and Ichiro followed with a single to score him. After that inning, Fister didn’t allow another run, and was backed by a 3-run Tigers 5th inning (2-run homer by Alex Avila and RBI double by Andy Dirks). The double by Dirks led to some controversy though, when it landed just on the left field line (clearly fair). The third-base umpire immediately put his arms up as if calling it a foul ball, but then quickly pointed to the right to change his call to “fair.” Yankee manager Joe Girardi came out and argued for quite a while with the ump, most likely claiming he can’t change his initial call. He’s right, but was still thrown out of the game for yelling and carrying on and getting in his face. I tried to get a picture of the umpire giving Girardi the signal to get out, but it just looks like he’s poking his co-worker in the head and Girardi is saying, “hey stop that!”
The call was held, so going into the 8th inning the Yankees are down 3-2. But Mark Teixeira blasts a homer to right field to tie the game… and on the very next pitch Eric Chavez went deep to left to take a 4-3 lead. A lead switch on 2 home runs in just 2 pitches – definitely the first time we saw that this summer. And in the bottom of the 9th, down by 1, everyone gets pumped with “Eye of the Tiger” playing (and the eyes of the tigers on the scoreboard actually glowing), anticipating a comeback.
But even after a lead-off double followed by a single (which would normally score the man from 2nd, but he was pretty big and slow), the Tigers lined out to second, popped out to short, then flied out to end the game.
Final score: Tigers 3, Yankees 4
Starting pitchers: Doug Fister (ND) – 6.1 IP, 8 H, 1 BB, 2 ER, 4 Ks; Hiroki Kuroda (ND) – 6.1 IP, 10 H, 3 ER, 5 Ks
Homers: Mark Teixeira, Eric Chavez
After the game we tried some Lebanese food at a restaurant near the hotel (where we later saw some Detroit Lions, who were staying there before their preseason game the next day). I never tried Lebanese before, so the waiter recommended a beef Gallahba dish which was awesome.
Next stop: 8/10 Toronto Blue Jays (vs. Yanks again)