October 18, 2012
Tigers reliever Phil Coke goes with the flow
By MORRIS DALLA COSTA, QMI Agency
DETROIT - The Detroit Tigers aren’t sure who their closer will be on any given night in the post-season, but if they are looking for someone with the personality to fill the role they have a guy who could step right in.
Left-hander Phil Coke came on in the ninth inning of Game 3, closing out the Yankees 2-1 to give the Tigers a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven American League Championship Series. It was his second save in the series.
Coke gave Tiger fans the heebie-jeebies, putting a couple of batters on base before striking out Raul Ibanez with a slider to end the game.
Tigers fans and players were melting with anxiety. Coke was asked what he was thinking about during the final pitch.
“Don’t hit it, don’t hit it, don’t hit it, don’t hit it,” he said. “I actually had no thoughts whatsoever outside of locking on my target and letting it go. There was no second guess. There was no ‘please break.’ There’s no prayer in between bringing my hand out of my glove and releasing the ball. Nothing like that.”
As he spoke, Coke put together his hands together prayer-like.
When a questioner began “Phil, I know you’re a professional athlete ... ”
“Thank you, man,” Coke interrupted.
Coke was asked if his better play in the playoffs is due to being more energized.
“I don’t have any idea what’s going on. I just know I’m having a good time,” Coke said.
“How would you describe Delmon Young?” he was asked.
“He has been phenomenal for us on the field and in the clubhouse. He keeps the mood light. I mean, he’s a good dude,” Coke said.
Is there an example of that?
“Maybe it’s just because his is good at pulling wool, man, right over your eyes,” Coke said.
Coke isn’t bothered by much. It’s an ideal temperament for a closer even though he hasn’t been anointed as such.
“Thank you so much for coming in,” a reporter said.
“Thank you so much for having me,” Coke said.
The Tigers are just thankful they have someone in the bullpen who can throw the ball by someone.