GUEST AUTHOR MAX DEMARA GIVES US HIS TAKE ON JOEL ZUMAYA BEING BACK!

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Zumaya’s Return a Welcome Sight and Sound

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Some moments in sports catch us off guard with their beauty, poignancy and even importance. Such was the case when Joel Zumaya returned to the Tigers after months of grueling surgery, rehab and perhaps most painful of all, waiting.

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For months, Zumaya has been itching for this moment again; His moment. Times when fans are on the edge of their seats, biting their nails, pacing and every other nervous cliché you can think of. A one run game in the 7th inning with a runner on first base is what Joel Zumaya lives for and it’s what he got on Tuesday night.

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Tiger fans at Comerica Park were placed in a tough, noisy predicament. They had to erupt not only for Zumaya’s return but also for rookie hurler Jair Jurrjens who tossed a masterful game with only one run and one hit allowed into the 7th inning. It was a time in the game where manager Jim Leyland’s sixth sense came about. As good as the kid was; he didn’t want his rookie making one simple rookie mistake at this stage of the game. It was time for Zumaya once again, the sight for the sore eyes of Tiger fans who have watched leads evaporate in the late innings this season. Not on this night, and not in his moment.

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Zumaya poured fastballs all over Ryan Garko touching 97, 98 and 99 miles per hour on the radar gun. Pudge Rodriguez’s glove made the familiar pop. Garko looked almost helpless as he took a mighty cut at a fastball and missed. Finally, he knocked a grounder to the second base side. The inning was over, the threat was averted and most importantly, the return was completed. After the out was made, Zumaya gave his trademark mighty fist pump as the crowd went wild. It had been a while since anybody on the team showed this kind of fire. It was this raw emotion that got their juices flowing to finish the job and win the game by a score of 2-1.

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Most importantly, this win sent the Cleveland Indians and the rest of the American League a message. It displayed that the Tigers may no longer be the beaten, wounded animal they have been for the better part of the season. They are getting healthy again where they need it most; the back end of the bullpen and the starting staff. This will give the offense a mental boost and allow them relax at the plate for the stretch run. They have felt the pressure to score multitudes of runs for a tattered pitching staff which has been by committee for the better part of the year. A scary thought indeed given what they have already accomplished.

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Zumaya’s return was brief and we will certainly need to see more from him to know if he is completely alright. However, on this night he was in fine form. Sometimes, teams need to make the smallest play, see the smallest display of emotion or catch the smallest break to get back on the winning track and march toward the playoffs.

It seems to me at the right time of year, the Tigers may have just caught their lightning in a bottle.

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Or, lightning in a fastball.