If you happen to be looking at just the numbers, you might say that Prince Fielder has been conspicuously quiet in the ALDS thus far, notching just one hit and walking once in the first three games for the Detroit Tigers.
What the numbers don’t tell you, however, is that Fielder would have broken out in a big way in game three against the Oakland Athletics, if not for a play-of-the-year catch by Coco Crisp on what looked like a sure-fire homer, and another key robbery later at the hands of Yoenis Cespedes.
No one would deny Fielder tonight.
Facing a 0-2 count with no outs and the game tied in the fourth inning, Fielder put one of his signature swings on an AJ Griffin fastball, putting it on a collision course with the seats in right field, and potentially endangering the (un)lucky spectators that happened to be there. Josh Reddick could only stand and watch helplessly; not that he had to do it for long, however – the line drive homer left the park in a hurry.
The home run would prove to be for naught, thanks to the Tigers’
shaky bullpen Jose Valverde, as the closer was unable to hold on to a 3-1 lead, blowing the save situation and giving up the walk-off hit to Crisp. All that, after the rest of the pitching staff had held the A’s to just a single run prior to the ninth; a run that, ironically, went unearned against Tigers starter Max Scherzer due to an error by – you guessed it – Fielder.
So it wasn’t all roses and puppies for the Tigers and their biggest off-season acquisition, as the team will now face a do-or-die game five with the momentum squarely on the A’s side. Still, with a two-hit night that included what was the winning home run tonight’s game heading into the ninth, I’m sure the team is just glad that Prince finally broke out at the plate, and made the impact that they paid him all that money for – even if the breakout came a day later than it should have.
The Tigers will need more of that (and less of what Valverde did) in game five, if the team hopes to salvage the former stranglehold they held in the series.