That’s right, the first pitch in the third game was thrown out by a monkey. Click to actually, y’know, be able to see the monkey.
I’m not sold on the Verlander Is Meeeelllltttiiiiinnngggg theory just yet, but I am considerably more worried now after seeing him live in this game. He just… couldn’t locate. Anything. I guess he was saying after the game that nothing but his fastball was working? Which, again, was what used to happen to him when he first came up to the majors.
Could be any reason, at this point. I tend to think that he did it before because of nerves… all his pitches were working more or less OK in the minors, but when he came up to the big leagues he didn’t trust his stuff as much, and so stuck with his best pitch, i.e. the fastball. And if he didn’t think it was gonna work, it wouldn’t. Psyching himself out a little. And it feels a bit like that’s what’s happening here. He had that bad outing, right after he’d been benched for a start with ‘fatigue’, and even if that benching was planned all along, I’m sure he was none too pleased about it. He’s still young; it’s getting late in the season. The ability is still there. He’s not tapping into it for these last couple of starts. I think it’s the same thing that happened before.
What was with all the pick offs in this series? Two, three? I think two. Pudge got picked off first in this game, which was downright embarrassing. That’s just stupid fundamental stuff that no one should be screwing up.
The 6th inning was a nice surprise. Magglio’s homer caught everyone off guard and almost wholly silenced the ballpark, which had been rumbling nicely after Ortiz’s two-run homer in the previous inning. There was a whole lot of “great Wells, give it right back why dontcha ya bum”-type grumbling going on.
Clevlen’s homer was an absolute bomb. I can’t accurately describe how immense it was. I can still see it if I close my eyes. Seriously. It caught that much air. It cleared the Monster by a lot, probably ended up denting someone’s hood on the Mass Pike. Manny Ramirez was asking around to see if it violated his home run copyright or something. It was a huge, huge, huge freakin’ shot.
It just didn’t feel like the Tigers’ night here. The previous two games were either exciting or tense. This was both, at times, but it never had that “we can really take this” feel that the first two had. I don’t know why. Maybe because it was my fourth game in four days (I, perhaps inadvisedly, went to a CanAm League game the Sunday before this series started) and I was more tired than Scott Proctor’s shoulder. More likely it was the way that Verlander’s lack of control made the game seem eminently lose-able even when the bats got going.
I can’t even pretend to be too upset about it. You all know my divided loyalties, and with the Yankees coming to town for a 5-game series, I at least half wanted to see the Red Sox going in with a win. And the Tigers already had the series, so at least we got that. Two out of three in Fenway ain’t bad.
All the photos from this game can be found here. Definitely the least interesting of the 3 sets, due to a combination of bad light and seats the farthest away from the field of the 3 nights (actually the same as Monday’s seats, but most of Monday’s shots are from BP, so), but eh, dark and grainy photos never stopped me where baseball was concerned.
Oh, and you know what?
Mad crazy props to Vance (formerly referred to ’round these parts as “44th round”) for his two-year deal. The first time he’s ever had a multiple-year deal, is it? And it came when he was 33 years old. Good for him, for sticking with it through all that cruddy up and down with the minors and all that cruddy backing up of Mike Piazza. Good for the Tigers, for recognizing a solid backup catcher when they had one, a guy that every pitcher he works with here seems to like, and a guy who’s actually not hitting all that badly (although, the OBP, yeah. Could stand to improve there).
Of course I absolutely reserve the right to grumble angrily about this contract a year hence when he’s back to hitting .120 and everything is sulk sulk sulk woe.