Somewhere in Pennsylvania — While the baseball world marveled in awe at Aaron Judge’s 62nd home run Tuesday night, a much rarer feat went almost entirely unnoticed. And for a good reason. Both the Detroit Tigers and their utility rookie Kody Clemens (yes, Roger’s youngest son) have suffered through the seasons to forget them, and only the top 1 percent of the Tigers ill continue to have them through these irrelevant final weeks accompanied by the regular season. The team is 66-95, a full 20 games behind the nearest playoff spot. Clemens himself has a negative WAR through his first 126 MLB plate appearances and a barely noticeable .147 batting average and .509 OPS since he was called up around Memorial Day. (He will at least always have his strikeout from Shohei Ohtani.)
Tuesday’s double header in Seattle usually brought more pain. The Tigers put up a decent fight considering their low status, but the team, which actually has significant games ahead of them this year, weathered the underdogs, first 7-6 in a 10-inning game and then 9-6 in the nightcap . But in the top of the fifth game, with the Mariners leading 4-1, the Tigers stringed together three straight singles to put Clemens on the plate with loaded bases against Justus Sheffield (no relation to Gary), who made his first start to bring the season. Clemens went 2-1 down, fouled a tasty looking slider and then hit great on a similar follow up pitch. The ball sailed high and low into right field, leaving no doubt as it made its way over the wall and into the seats. Clemens had given the Tigers a 5-4 lead with his first career Grand Slam.
I missed seeing Judge’s 62nd home run live, so my memories of it will forever be scattered and unbound to any particular place and time. I didn’t see Clemens’ Grand Slam either, because I’m normal, but the consequences will never leave my brain. As you may have heard, Defector is gathering in one place for a whole series of meetings this week. In the evenings Kelsey, Luis and I invited the whole gang over to our party booth where we participated in behaviors like Nintendo 64 games and show basketball. Around midnight or so, people took off to find that Tigers supporter Maitreyi Anantharaman needed a ride to her own cabin.
However, that ride was delayed because Maitreyi wanted to see Kody Clemens get his Grand Slam confirmed in the ESPN2 final result. Mind you, not a real clip from the Grand Slam, just a mention in the ticker.
She left Jasper huddled in the doorway, halfway out, for what felt like five minutes while she waited raptly in front of the TV, watching the Champions League results roll by, only to get “Clemens: GS (1)”. Finally came the MLB Races section, the first Tigers-Mariners game passed, then the second appeared. The subtitle was “Doubleheader Game 2”. And then… nothing. Like a sandcastle being taken over by a wave, it was like the Grand Slam had never happened. Nobody who saw the channel would have been wiser about Clemens’ performance.
In the cold morning light, I challenged Maitreyi to explain herself, and she was brave enough to give me a glimpse of her state of mind:
Kody is pretty bad. Remember when he was drafted and how 0-for-25 was to start his major league career? I remember thinking to my brother that he would probably graduate with fewer MLB hits than his father. However, young Kody has a knack for insanely fun and unlikely home runs. I keep a running notes app list of 2022 Tigers silly moments and one is the homer he hit against unbeatable Guardians closer Emmanuel Clase and another is the one he hit against the All-Star relief Met Joe Mantiply in Arizona.
So I’d say it’s been exciting to see Kody continue that trend of popping up when you least expect it (you really never expect it with him) and also exciting to see the Tigers’ score move up 4-1 improved to 5-4 on the MLB app so I’ve been following the game. In the second between the score change and the app being play-by-play updated with what Kody Clemens was doing, my mind raced through all the possibilities. His batting average is a .145, so some kind of catastrophic four-run, multi-position field error definitely came to mind before the Grand Slam. Then I allowed myself to dream. “No…could it be?” And it was!
I asked her if she regretted following the Tigers so closely in such a pointless October, and she answered with impossible hilarity.
“Nothing but the usual regrets I have other weeks following the Tigers,” Maitreyi said. “I get bad separation anxiety when I’m traveling and away from my teams and my channels for too long, so I’m grateful for these little dots on the MLB app for keeping me informed. I curse my shitty tigers every night, but I know I’ll miss these guys when the season ends. So I’m trying to make the most of the time we have left together.”
Then she told me to make sure to mention on the blog that the Tigers actually won four straight series.
https://defector.com/at-least-one-person-appreciated-kody-clemenss-grand-slam/ At least one person appreciated Kody Clemens’ Grand Slam