illustrations by Samara Pearlstein
Normally Justin Verlander has to bail out the offense. This is the way of the world: Verlander pitches ridiculously well, the bats give him a meep of an effort, maybe the bullpen does something offensive, Jim Leyland leaves Verlander in until he has thrown more pitches than three other starters on that same day combined, and sometimes the Tigers win. Nature. But on Tuesday, the offense bailed out Justin Verlander!
Granted, the bailing didn’t happen quickly enough to actually get Verlander the win, but it did get the TEAM a win, and kept Verlander from having to swallow a loss. These are important things, because it is awfully nice to see the rest of the team offer a few helping paws on a night where Verlander was not his usual Verlanderian self (6 innings, 104 pitches, 6 runs).
It was Alex Avila who did much of the heavy lifting. He was responsible for some errors, yes, but he also hit TWO home runs. In the same game! With his very own catcher arms! Home run, then home run again! After the second one they cut to a shot of his dad sitting high up in the ballpark behind glass, not celebrating, just sort of quietly smiling as if to say, “Yeah, I made that. Bow down, mortals.”
(No, I don’t know why he’s holding the bat like that in the cartoon. I think I originally had him posing with the bat up on his shoulder and then I had to finish it after I got home from work and was falling asleep, and whatever that is ended up happening. Smile and nod.)
Miguel Cabrera also homered in the Verlander-support effort. It was a three-run homer, which was oddly enough the first three-run homer the Tigers have had all season. This says something depressing about leaving cats on base, I’m sure, but let us choose to turn our minds away from such thoughts right now.
The funniest moment of the game came when Andy Dirks hit a fly ball into the right field corner. Matt Joyce chased it down and caught it, awkwardly slamming into the wall and losing his footing after. He never let go of the ball, but Dirks apparently couldn’t see the play, because he didn’t stop. He just kept running around the bases at full inside-the-park-home-run-wantin’ speed.
Funny? Maybe a little, but mostly that’s just a rookie showing some serious effort. The funny bit was Gene Lamont windmilling like mad as Dirks rounded third, hurrying him home as if the catch had not been made. It’s one thing for Dirks to not have seen the outcome of the play; he was on the basepaths, trying to run hard and not fall over his own feet or whatever. But Lamont should have known that Joyce had already made the out. It’s like he saw Dirks running hard (so very hard) and questioned the evidence of his own eyes. Or something. I don’t know. When Dirks crossed home plate, umpire Gerry Davis held up one fist in the ‘out’ sign like, “Hate to do this to ya, kid, but…”
I wish it HAD been an inside-the-parker, obviously, but it was a nice moment of levity (for fans– Dirks seemed fairly embarrassed), and it was actually very encouraging to see Dirks running that hard. Big effort from the kittens: we can always use more of that.
Phil Coke is on the DL. He stepped off the mound weirdly while pursuing a bunt, turning over his foot. At first it looked like it might have been an ankle injury (eek), but it’s just a bone bruise in his foot. If that is TRULY all it is, he should be ok to come back once the 15-day DL time has run its course.
How did his misstep result in a bone bruise? Well. It turns out that
PHIL COKE IS A MUTANT
Yeah. This is a fact. An MRI showed that he has an extra bone in his foot. This previously silent mutant bone banged into one of his other innocent, non-mutant footbones when he landed awkwardly, causing the bone bruise. Phil Coke’s own body is conspiring against him! His mutant parts inflict pain upon his regions of genetic normalcy! WHAT A TERRIFYING WORLD THIS IS.
It was Brad Penny’s birthday on Tuesday. He turned 33 years old. Happy birthday, Brad Penny!