When you think of clutch Tiger pitching in the playoffs, the names Mickey Lolich, and Jack Morris come to mind. Well now after today's 2 hit 6 strikeout performance, Kenny Rogers enters that conversation. This was one of the best playoff pitching performances in the history of the Tigers. The 2 hits sets a record for the fewest hits allowed by Tiger pitching in the playoff. The previous low being three, set most recently by Milt Wilcox in the 1984 ALCS. It seems as though Kenny has made it his personal mission to exorcise the ghosts of all those losing Tigers teams over the last decade and a half, by ridding his legacy of playoff implosion of the past. How else can you explain a guy that previously was winless and an ERA above 9 , into 15 scoreless innings (he has recorded 16 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings if you count his last appearance in 2003 with the Twins) 14 strikeouts and two wins? It's not like he's a soon to be free agent, young, power pitcher. He's 41 years old. At 41, he is the second oldest pitcher (Roger Clemens at 42 in 2005) to win a playoff game. Clemens got his win by entering an 18 inning game in the 15th and pitching 3 scoreless innings. His next start (Game 2 of the World Series) he left 2 innings into his start with an injury, and began his second retirement. Kenny Rogers has shut down and humiliated one of the best offenses in the game with the Yankees, and the #1 run scoring team in the league since the all-star break in the A's. He has taken the mound in arguably each playoff series biggest game, and pitched two of the best games of his life. Being at Game 3 of the ALDS last Friday, and hearing the 43,000+ shake the upper deck with shouts of "Kenny! Kenny!" will be one of the things that will always come into my mind when I look back on this season. Now the Tigers are just one more win from those chants taking place in the World Series.
I will be at Game 4 tomorrow, and I will try to get some pictures and recap here on Sunday, with a liveblog of Game 5 if there is one.