October 17, 2013 at 2:23 am

Terry Foster

Tigers rekindle hope in even die-hard fans

Detroit — Beneath the steady drumbeat from street entertainers pounding on plastic buckets Troy Fisher of Saginaw grabbed two of his buddies and loudly joined into the crowd noise.

“Miggy walked to second base,” he screamed. “Miggy walked to second!”

During an evening where the Tigers scored seven runs, introduced a new lineup and tied the ALCS, 2-2, with a 7-3 victory over the Boston Red Sox, Fisher was most excited about hobbled third baseman Miguel Cabrera trotting to second on a stolen base during a two-run fourth inning.

There was something significant to the Cabrera play. The Tigers offense was alive and kicking and the team was doing as it pleased when it pleased.

James Rodarte of Bridgeport and Jessie Brown of Saginaw screamed like school kids as they jumped in a circle with their pal Fisher. There was an offensive explosion at Comerica Park and the rowdies that gathered in the standing-room-only area beyond left-center field enjoyed every moment of it.

Team had to make move

It was the Tigers’ second-highest-scoring game of the playoffs and it couldn’t have come at a better time for the Tigers and their followers. Doubt began to creep into the city as the offense limped through much of this series. After Tuesday’s 1-0 loss manager Jim Leyland shook up the lineup and created an afternoon of debate on talk radio and in the corner bars and bleachers.

People had been playing a vicious game of Blame this Tiger. It seemed as if Austin Jackson and Prince Fielder drew most of the fan’s ire. But Leyland shook things up, sending Jackson to the eighth spot and moving Prince to the third spot. Torii Hunter batted leadoff.

Some loved the moves. Others questioned them. But the Tigers needed to do something. They could not stand around swinging and missing at pitch after pitch. The night before this stretch of left field was filled but mostly silent as the Tigers fell behind 2-1 in the series.

Now there is new hope and a new desire as this series turns into a best-of-three series that will be decided in Boston no sooner than Game 6 on Saturday.

The outfield creatures said they had no doubts even as the Tigers chased bad pitches and failed to get clutch hits on Tuesday.

“Hell no, there was no doubt,” said Rodarte. “We are all die-hard fans and we believe to the end.

“I stand behind this team all the time. This is Detroit. This is what we do. We believe.”

It was a night to believe the impossible. Who thought Austin Jackson would find first base again. But he did and his revival after being moved brought smiles to the crowd. He appeared more relaxed at the plate. Jackson came into the game batting 3-for-33 in the playoffs. He recorded two singles and walked twice on Wednesday.

“We are going to tea party Boston,” someone screamed from the fences that guard Comerica Park.

Fans have passion

The Tigers needed any kind of spark. But before we get ahead of ourselves and proclaim this series turned, let’s not forget that Jake Peavy turned in a horrific performance. He could not throw strikes even though the Tigers continued their annoying habit of chasing pitches.

But they exploded for five runs in the second and two in the fourth, sending a crowd of 42,765 into a frenzy. It was a different scene 24 hours earlier. The roar of silence was deafening and I even ran into a woman at Cheli’s Chili Bar who cried as the final outs were recorded.

This is a passionate fan base and Rodarte showed his allegiance by wearing an orange Mohawk and painting his face orange and his beard blue.

“There is no bigger Tigers fan than this guy,” Fisher said of his buddy.

Rodarte led the party. People took photos of him and he wore a smile the entire game.

“We will never die,” he screamed. “I was never worried about it.

“We are going to take this all the way to Boston,” Brown added.

There was a drumbeat and a new vibe in the stands. Many of these same people will return to Comerica Thursday night. You won’t have to look at the scoreboard to determine how the Tigers offense is going. If you hear the drums beating and see people hugging, then it means the Tigers are doing just fine.


Jhonny Peralta celebrates his second-inning run with Torii Hunter as the Tigers put up five to finally break out the offense. They added two more runs in the fourth and went on to a 7-3 victory. / Robin Buckson / Detroit News
More Terry Foster