I was afraid of something like this.
I saw Jon(athan) Papelbon’s first major league start a few weeks ago live, and the first thing everyone noticed was how bloody hard he was throwing. Then we noticed that he basically threw nothing but fastballs for the first few innings. Then we noticed that he was striking people out left, right, up, down, strange, and charm.* Then he gave up a couple of longballs (as a hard fastball pitcher will do), and then he started walking people like mad. The worst damage was done when he was walking guys and the other team started taking advantage.
“OK,” I thought. “So he’s trouble when he gets guys to chase his stuff, and he’s in trouble if they sit back on their heels and wait for it.”
Now, the Tigers… well, they seem almost offended when given a base on balls. It is an affront to their manly Tigerness, or something. They’d much, much rather bring the bat around and see what happens, even if what happens is a weak popup or a swinging strike, and even if that’s what happens all the bloody time. I’m starting to think that planarians learn faster than this.**
Pitcher who only gets into trouble with patient teams, meet Team with less patience than a Michigan State student in a keg line.
The results are about what you would expect them to be.
The saddest story of the night, of course, other than ‘What New and Terrible Injury Has Befallen Us Today’ saga (newsflash: Pudge Rodriguez apparently has an old rusty nail and some bits of tarnished copper wire for a hip flexor), was the wasting of Nate Robertson’s outing. 8 innings with 2 earned runs, and he’d only thrown 90 pitches through 8… that should be enough to win. Alas, alas. Fernando Rodney and his Goatee were put in for the 9th and the blown save, prompting Detroit to cry out for Alan Trammell’s head to be removed from his body, or at least removed from a position of team management.
It’s hard to be upbeat after a loss like this, especially following such a ridiculous high as last night’s Old McDonald with the Walkoff OMG WTF YAY YAY YAY TIGERS WIIIIINNN! game, but I will say this: a) Tram did not blow the save, Rodney did; b) Tram was not hitless for the night, stranding men hither and yon, that was Brandon Inge; c) for better or worse, Fernando is our closer now, unless we try to do some sort of closer-by-committee thing, which would probably cause me to boil my head in a pot of hot cooking oil and; d) what’s the point of having a closer if you don’t use him in save situations?
I know Nate’s pitch count wasn’t very high, and I personally was in favor of letting him try to close the game. But I don’t think you can fault Tram for putting in his closer. And even when Ortiz went deep off of Fernando (something that could very well have happened had Nate stayed in… it’s David Ortiz we’re talking about here, he does this stuff against basically anyone he wants to hit) I thought we still had a chance at the game. It was the collective implosion of Dingman (DINGMAN WATCH: 3.29. Career ERA, heeeeere we come!) and Walker in extra innings that killed us right dead.
Craig Monroe’s grand slam was a lovely thing, but at that point all it did was make the final score less embarrassing.
Plus side! Plonkers had a nice game at the plate, as did Shelton. It’s good to see that Big Red’s little minislump was just that, mini. And Nate did look really good out there, even if it was all for naught. Don and Remy, the Red Sox announcers, went off on a little tangent about how, with his scruff and his goggles, Nate looked like Ben Weber. I do see what they’re talking about, sort of. Weber even sometimes had the scary facial hair like Nate.
Minus side! Everything else. No, OK, fine, poor Curtis Granderson going hitless, although he did have a nice sac bunt. Inge continuing to suck wicked hardcore. Rondell having ground meat for a shoulder and Pudge suddenly suffering from random bouts of intense soreness. The bullpen. The fact that Kyle Farnsworth had a scoreless inning in relief in Atlanta. Not that I’m following Atlanta now or anything. Um.
I don’t know what’s wrong with this team right now. Obviously something is, and none of us really know for sure, but I have a sneaking suspicion that it runs a bit deeper than the manager, and that trashing Tram would be, at best, a superficial fix. See: Tony Pena, Kansas City.
In any event, it’ll be interesting to see what the team can do to back Bonderman tomorrow (er, later today). They can usually get themselves all gung-ho and fired-up for his starts, although this hasn’t been the case recently. Maybe we can get back on form now, even if ‘on form’ means ‘a really twisty and ugly banged-up form’. So long as it’s the kind of ugly we can recognize and comprehend.
Maybe we needed another streaker.
*If you don’t get this joke, it just means you’re not quite as big a dork as I am, so don’t worry about it.
**A physics joke and a biology joke in the same entry? You know the game must’ve been sad.