On Friday night during the "'Pen Pals" bullpen panel, Bobby Thigpen discussed how Tiger Stadium was his unlucky charm. "Something weird would always happen there," he asserted.
He described a game there (which appears to be this one) in which the White Sox led 4-2 in the 9th. Thigpen was in his second inning of work (imagine that for a closer - borderline abusive!) and he threw a wild pitch, which scored a run. Then Alan Trammell hit a pop-up to shallow right field. Second baseman Fred Manrique and first baseman Russ Morman went out to get what surely should have been the second out of the inning.
Instead, Manrique and Morman fell over one another, the ball dropped and another run scored to tie the game. The next batter was Dave Bergman, a first baseman, batting cleanup, who never hit more than seven homers in a season during his 17-year career.
On the first pitch, he promptly hit a two-run walk-off homer.
The anecdote obviously suggests an unusual string of occurrences in that game. But his overall numbers at Tiger Stadium support his belief that it was his personal Bermuda Triangle. While his ERA at Tiger Stadium was an unremarkable 3.60 in 17 games, his WHIP was 1.75, and his record was 0-3. That's certainly suggestive of a closer who blew some games.
Later, when a fan asked a question about whether maybe any of the guys -- *cough* *Matt Thornton* *cough* -- on the panel approached different situations -- *cough* ninth inning* *cough* -- ifferently than other situations, Thornton somehow picked up, I don't know, I guess some kind of subliminal message that the fan was actually direction the question at him.
"When I've been closer, things have not gone right," Thornton said. In the ninth, "things will happen [when I'm in the game] that will blow your mind."
He specifically pointed to this game from April 2011, from which he recalled the White Sox committing "three errors against Tampa Bay" (officially, two errors) while he was attempting to close a game to significantly aid Thornton in coughing up a 7-4 lead in the ninth inning.
We have documented the "Thornton Luck" phenomenon many times on South Side Sox. The man is aware of it and is good-humored about it - although he appears to be still be in some denial, as the ninth inning occurrences are only one manifestation of what is a more generalized syndrome for Thornton.
Hopefully, Thigpen now understands that he has a fellow chronic sufferer and can be his sponsor at Fallen Closers Anonymous.
Remember the first step, Matt. You shall overcome.