For all my fears of Papi wrenching a hammy during interleague play, I must say that jaw hit floor in my house when Youk was nailed by a pitch in the eighth inning of yesterday’s 8-3 blowout. Watching him recoil and fall, I was reminded just how thin our bench is, and that if we ever came down with a serious case of Yankee-itis, with key cogs dropping out of the equation, I’m not so sure we’d weather it as well as New York has done. Theo, I don’t give a crap if you’ve gotta coat these guys in kevlar at the start of every game: We need ’em healthy. All of them, every last one. Sure, I love JT Snow. But if I have to watch him start, say, 37 games in a row, I’m gonna be taking up residence at the corner of Aneurysm and Full Mental Collapse.

Other than that truly frightening moment, I felt good about this one early on. Like, the moment Alex Gonzalez hit that two run home run. Because when A-Gon goes yard, the Gods of Baseball are smiling on us. And like the giant you can only kick in the nuts so many times, the behemoth that our offense can become awoke again yesterday, after finding itself oddly chloroformed over the series’ first two games. The result: 11 hits, 8 runs and four long balls. The kind of output that, I’m certain, leaves Wakefield shaking his head in the clubhouse as he pulls from a bottle of Jameson’s.

Of course, everything in yesterday’s game was merely an appetizer for the headline event: Old Man Goes Batsh-t, featuring Jim Leyland unloading a torrent of senior angst on the home plate umpire, highlighted by an Inside the Actors’ Studio-worthy pantomiming of a ball travelling over the plate. It inspired a bigger crowd reaction than anything the Tigers had done over the past 48 hours, and it was brilliant and horrific all at once. I kept thinking the poor guy was just gonna keel over mid-antics, but then I remembered that Jim Leyland is fueled by cigarettes and whiskey and pure badness of ass. So this was all in day’s work for the guy. I’m certain that later on he shivved the clubhouse kid, then perhaps punched a deli-counter clerk square in the nose for failing to stock his favorite smoked ham.

And even though he’s with the good folks in Baltimore, I can’t help but believe that every time Kevin Millar homers against the Yankees… he’s thinking of us.

See you tonight at 7:05.