Well, that was fairly HORRIBLE.
I almost would’ve rather seen the Tigers get blown out. At least then you could shake your head sadly and think to yourself that maybe it just wasn’t meant to be. The pitchers aren’t used to throwing this late into the season; the hitters are overwhelmed by what is, by all accounts, a very good Cardinals staff.
But that DIDN’T HAPPEN. And what DID happen was infinitely, infinitely worse. Because Bondo pitched well. Yes, it would’ve been nice to see him go deeper into the game, but he left with a lead and, judging from his reaction in the dugout, a lot of energy left over. The bats finally came alive in a lot of places where they’d been quiet, making Leyland’s lineup-juggling look genius once again. If the game was counted on earned runs, we would have won this one.
The game is not counted on earned runs, however, and that 7th inning was ONE OF THE WORST THINGS I’VE HAD TO WATCH in AGES. Granderson’s error can be chalked up to the wet outfield, I guess, but that doesn’t make it any easier to swallow. You HATE to see a game determined, basically, by something like field conditions. And I don’t know what the official scoring on that play was, but I scored the game and didn’t give Eckstein a hit on it, because if Curtis doesn’t fall down, he HAS that ball, and that’s a straight-up out.
Then So Taguchi tries to sac bunt Sir Scrapsalot over to third, and Fernando, instead of tossing easily to Polanco covering at first, somehow manages to send the ball sailing way up into the air and nowhere near first base. That is a freakin’ UGLY way to score a run and you can put that all on Fernando. I don’t know what is the matter with our pitchers. Verlander and Zumaya’s errors you can say are because they’re young, it’s their first postseason, they’re nervous, etc. Todd Jones… well, that was just Jonesy being a cloaca like he sometimes is, when he tries to make the 9th inning as exciting as possible. We can laugh about it because we won that game. This one, I don’t know. It’s possible that Fernando was rattled by Curtis’ error, I GUESS, or maybe the ball was wet and slipped out of his hand, but ugh. UGH.
When you had to watch the second run in the inning scoring like it did, with Pujols hanging up just long enough between second and third to let Taguchi come home… triple ugh. I freakin’ HATE plays where it’s the last out of the inning and a run STILL manages to score.
Bondo looked pretty good. The offense looked pretty good. The bullpen got hit a little, but nothing catastrophic. And we still lost, in the most agonizing way possible, because it felt like we COULD win for so much of it.
OK, and did this HAVE to be the game where Scooter made his triumphant return to television? Isn’t that just adding insult to injury? And can someone explain to me why Jeannie Zelasko, in the process of ‘introducing’ Scooter, said both that he was “back by popular demand” and that he had been “you know, in the pineapple under the sea.” First off, what FREAK OF NATURE was demanding that Scooter be brought back? Secondly, WHAT ARE WE SUPPOSED TO MAKE OF THIS HINT THAT SCOOTER HAD BEEN HANGING OUT WITH SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS IN HIS FREE TIME??? Was anyone else as completely blown away by that offhand remark as I was? WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN!
And as if Scooter by himself isn’t bad enough, we also had to deal with JEFF SUPPAN’S FLOATING HEAD NARRATING SCOOTER. This was completely and utterly terrifying and I cannot have been the only one screaming in terror when this happened.
So many “did that just happen?” moments in a FOX broadcast. I really want to know how they come up with this stuff. Seriously. For instance, did they really lead into the bottom of the 4th inning with a video montage set to “Sexy Back”? Because I’m pretty sure that they did, and I’m pretty sure that I’m not OK with that.
McCarver did not help, saying things like, “That’s where the Cardinals have tried to pitch him… breaking balls.” Tim, kiddo, “breaking balls” is (are?) not a location. A McCarver-aided broadcast is just one long puzzling head scratching moment. Oh, and he’s not allowed to praise Pudge’s defense ever, ever again, because as soon as he does, Pudge immediately bollockses up in some sort of twisted anti-McCarverish karma.
Really the only great things to come out of this game were a couple shots of Bondo in the dugout, one right after Fernando had gotten out of the 6th and finished up Bondo’s night for him. I suppose he knew that Leyland wouldn’t be too thrilled with the little hissy fit he’d thrown when he got taken out of the game, so Bondo went up to Leyland and sort of cuddled him around the shoulders while, presumably, apologizing for flipping out about Leyland’s decision. Very cute.
The other ‘moment’ was shortly after, when FOX cut to Pudge sitting on the bench right in front of the rail or something, with Bondo standing right behind him. Pudge reached up and back and wrapped his hands around the sides of Bondo’s head, pulling him forward for a second before they both looked over and were sort of like, “Oops, cameras.” The thing about this gesture is that it’s something I see around my apartment all the time… it’s something that my roommate and her boyfriend do immediately prior to an affectionate peck on the cheek or something. So when I saw Pudge do it with Bondo here my brain kind of went, “Awww, that’s sweet…. woah woah woah, wait a second.”
Game 5 tonight, assuming it doesn’t get rained out, which I guess is a pretty big assumption. Everyone’s been saying such-and-such a game is a ‘must-win’ for the Tigers, but this one actually IS, finally, a must-win game. Lose this, and that’s it. End of the season. I really, really don’t want that happen, and I don’t think you do either. Verlander/Weaver. Death and destruction. Go Tigers.