Ah, there are few things in life sweeter than listening to ESPN rag on a guy all game long, and then watching him proceed to do everything they said he couldn’t. Thank you, Kenny Rogers. Never have poor postseason stats been so loudly trumpeted. It was almost as loud as the Jeter adoration.
No one was expecting this game to turn out like this. Tigers fans who’d seen Kenny pitch recently might have expected him to do well, especially if they were, like me, willfully ignoring all his numbers from previous years. But a shutout! Who would’ve thought it possible? A shutout of THE GREATEST LINEUP OF BASE BALL PLAYERS TO EVER BE ASSEMBLED ON THIS PLANET IN THE HISTORY OF ALL TIME (according to espn)??? Surely that is IMPOSSIBLE.
Only once, all game, did a Yankee batter advance beyond the base he initially reached, and that was Posada moving to third on Matsui’s groundout after his leadoff double in the 7th. After Matsui, Bernie Williams struck out swinging and Cano grounded out to first, and that was that. The Yankees managed 4 other hits, 2 walks, and ARod was nicked by a pitch, but every time, when someone got on, everyone behind them failed to do anything.
Zoom came in for one batter, ARod, in the 8th, and got him to fly out harmlessly. Jonesy, for once, had a nice and easy 9th with two flyouts and a swinging strike to end the game. Man, it’s weird even just typing that. I like bringing in Zoom for just the one guy… hopefully it won’t tire him out too much, and Kenny’d thrown well over 100 pitches at that point. There wasn’t a whole lot of game left, but no sense in tempting fate with that lineup. (see, I acknowledge the ability of the Yankee hitters, I recognize their skill and their WoahScary factor, but I do not FAWN UNNECESSARILY over them)
Keeping Sheffield out of the lineup in favor of The Ancient Bernie Williams worked well for Torre, as Bernie contributed two strikeouts and a line out to Inge at third on the evening. There is such a thing as playing the numbers too much. Again, it would be absurd to say that anyone predicted Kenny would pitch as well as he did, but given his recent performances, it would’ve been a little silly to expect him to suffer a postseason meltdown as he maybe has in the past.
Leyland decided to stick with his men, and just shuffle them around. Yes, even though his hitters are not SO MARVELOUSLY FEARSOME as the Yankees, they were good enough to all stay in the lineup against the Wizened Unit. Polanco, leading off, went 2-for-3 with an RBI. Casey, moved from third to seventh, went 2-for-4 with 2 RBI. Granderson, moved from leadoff to ninth, went 1-for-3 with 2 runs scored and 2 RBI (he drove in Pudge on a fielder’s choice, and later had a solo shot). Really the only guys who did nothing at all were Craig and Inge. Craig’s very hot and cold and it’s impossible to tell how he’ll be on any given day, and Inge I don’t mind so much so long as everyone else is hitting and his defense stays up to snuff.
As for the two controversial calls in the game, eh. I say they cancel out. Pudge was out in the 2nd when ARod tagged him at third, and yeah, that safe call led to a run. But Polanco’s hit in the 5th was fair when it was called foul, and that ended up keeping the inning scoreless. So far as I’m concerned these are like offsetting penalties in football and we’re all good.
I am starting to wonder if maybe Jon Miller has been hanging out with Tim McCarver too much. The night before he called Verlander the wrong name TWICE (once he was “Jason Verlander” and once he was “Zumaya”), and tonight he said “Kaz Matsui” when he meant Hideki. He realized his mistake two out of the three times (Jason Verlander went uncorrected) and instead of just saying, “Whoops, my bad,” and going on with the game, he felt the need to stop and talk at length about his mistake. So we got a whole schpiel about how so very different Kaz and Hideki Matsui are even though, chortle chortle, they both played in New York.
The best bit of the whole night, of course, was Ernie Harwell showing up in the booth and doing some of the play-by-play. He was his usual Ernie Harwell self, full of stories and great strikeout calls (“He stood there like a house by the side of the road and watched it go by.” “Strike 3, he’s out for excessive window shopping, he looked at one too many.”) and he had Miller and Morgan in stitches most of the time.
Like Johnny Pesky in Boston, Ernie’s one of those guys you just feel good about seeing around the game of baseball, and it was nice to listen to him call the game as it happened in front of him and you could almost forget, for a brief second, that you were watching a highly polished and Yankee lapdogging ESPN broadcast.
Wright/Bonderman at 4 today. I would like to be told who decided that this game should not be a night game, because I don’t know about you kids, but I am IN MICHIGAN, therefore I am going to be AT ONE OF THE BIGGEST COLLEGE FOOTBALL GAMES IN THE STATE OF MICHIGAN THIS YEAR. I assume that many of you will also either be there or will be keeping a close eye on it. Seriously, SOMEONE at FOX or MLB had to know that the Michigan/Michigan State game was at 4:30, and SURELY someone would know how many Michigan folk are going to be all over it.
I mean. It’s MICHIGAN/MICHIGAN STATE. Almost THE ENTIRE STATE OF MICHIGAN is going to be watching it in some way or another. And the kind of people who, around here, care about college football deeply are also likely to care a bit about baseball. Scheduling the Tigers game at the same time is stupid. The Big House is going to have over 110,000 people in it today; assume only a THIRD of them would watch at least part of the Tigers game if it wasn’t at 4 (and I think you can assume a higher percentage than that, but to be conservative) and you’re talking about AT LEAST 37,000 people who are AUTOMATICALLY lost ad revenue. And that’s not counting people who will, instead of keeping their TVs on the Tiger game, flip back and forth between the two from the comfort of their couches.
At least the Tigers can’t be eliminated today, but I am really quite pissed off about this. Someone in MLB or at FOX is either incredibly ignorant about all things Michigan or is just a really big excretory exit site.