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Drama among the boredom
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - There are 2,430 games in a major league baseball season and not all of them are exciting - despite what you might hear from major league baseball. For many fantasy owners it's just another game full of statistics to be added to the rest during a six-month marathon season.

But that isn't always the case.

Let me tell you about the drama that took place late on Friday night in a game that from the outside didn't seem to have much.

I'll set the stage.

In one of my many fantasy leagues, we have a few rules that are out of the ordinary.

First, we play a split season. There are many advantages to this option, one being that since Draft Day is one of the most fun events of the year, you get to participate in two of them. Secondly, in leagues where your team is devastated by injury, the entire season isn't a throw away, just the first half.

The shortened season also adds importance to each game along the way.

This same league did away with pitching, substituting a team category where fantasy owners get three points for a win and a point for each run scored.

It also includes a seven-point bonus when your team throws a shutout and a seven-point penalty for getting shutout. It is this category where yesterday's drama took place.

I selected, actually it was an auction draft so I bid on and won, the Detroit Tigers.

The formerly hot Tigers' bats have cooled recently. They managed just two runs in 14 innings on Wednesday and were shutout on Thursday. They couldn't mount much of an offense on Friday against the Los Angeles Angels and pitcher Tommy Hanson either. Hanson yielded just six hits over six shutout innings and was followed successfully by Mark Love, Sean Burnett and Scott Downs each of whom held the Detroit batters in check.

Through seven innings Anaheim owned a 3-0 lead. I sat unhappily as all this was unfolding and was looking a second consecutive shutout in the face with just six outs left in which to do something.

In the eighth the Tigers put a runner on second base with two outs, but catcher Alex Avila couldn't get the job done and my chances to avoid another shutout grew even slimmer.

Things looked up when the Angels' offense put a five spot on the board in the bottom of the eighth. It might not seem like a good thing, but when Los Angeles expanded their lead to 8-0 it absolutely was. It meant that manager Mike Scioscia wouldn't bring in his top closer - Ernesto Frieri (0-0, 1.69 ERA, two saves).

Instead, in came Dane De La Rosa. He hasn't pitched much in the majors over the past two-plus seasons and owns a career 7.91 ERA in 18 appearances.

But De La Rosa must not have heard my quiet pleas for help. Ramon Santiago grounded out second to first and Austin Jackson lined out to right.

None on with two outs.

My last hope was for hot-hitting Torii Hunter (.418 batting average) to get a two-out rally started. The count went to 1-2, I was done to my last strike.

Hunter doubled to right and I still had a glimmer of hope.

Up to the plate walked last year's Triple Crown winner - Miguel Cabrera. Still, even a batting champion is only successful about three and a half times out of 10 and this game had, for all intents and purposes, been decided.

Would his head be in the at-bat? Or did he just want to get it over with and head out for a nice late supper at a top quality Los Angeles restaurant?

Back-to-back shutouts would be a devastating blow to my championship hopes even in the third week in April.

Luckily, Cabrera laced the first pitch to center field and Hunter scampered home to break up the shutout. The Tigers still lost when Prince Fielder flied out to center three pitches later, but I had pulled off a Houdini-like escape and my fantasy team lived to fight another day.

All this took place while most fantasy owners were sound asleep and even those still watching the game were barely paying attention to an 8-1 Angels' blowout win.

You see, even a lopsided win in the middle of a long season can be exciting if you know where to look.




Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at sschwarz@sportsnetwork.com.

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