Finally, finally, finally a game where both Nate and the offense were in agreement. TOOK YOU ALL LONG ENOUGH. Sheesh.
This was not one of Nate’s most spectacular starts: 6 hits over 5 innings is fairly eh and could’ve been horrible, but the A’s obligingly stranded 5 men over that time, and the only reason the other baserunners weren’t “stranded” was because they were thrown out on double plays and fielders’ choices. The Tigers also had 6 hits over the first 5 innings (or 7, if you count Eric Chavez’s bobbling of Magglio’s ball in the third as a hit, which I don’t, so nyah), but they clustered them together instead of spreading them apart, and the result was 5 runs in 2 of those innings. The moral of the story is: clumping is good for you.
The bullpen did their thing, ‘though again, not without their moments. Fernando had a couple of almost-strikes called balls and seemed to work himself up into a furious lather as a result (Pudge, recognizing this, went out to talk to him. It wasn’t just Fernando, though. The ump had a pretty tight zone all game). Zumaya gave up the sole run and was saved more damage via a nifty play by Inge where a ball bonked off his (Zoom’s) foot and Inge came charging halfway across the infield to grab it and chuck it to first for the out. If Inge didn’t make that play Payton would’ve been safe at first and who knows how the inning would’ve spun out. The crowd didn’t like it but replays showed Payton was plainly out, so I stick my tongue out at you, Oakland.
Jonesy looked pretty good, except he walked the leadoff guy, and in his case the leadoff guy was Nick Swisher, and I hate Nick Swisher. Thus, not OK.
The A’s bullpen looked equally good, actually, but fortunately for the Tigers, Zito did not. I’ll admit, after the first couple innings I started psyching myself up to yell things like, “Barry Zito is pitching a perfect game!” if I had to, because DAMN was that curveball ON. The sink on that thing when it’s going well really kinda takes your breath away. And it looked very much like that was going to continue in the 3rd when all of a sudden who should come along but MR. BRANDON INGE, edging a home run around the foul pole and generally being awesome, you know, as he does.
Inge’s homer was an unfortunate turning point for Zeets, because after that he gave up a double, a walk, another walk, and Magglio’s RBI hit/Chavez’s error before he could get the final out of the inning. He no doubt harbored hopes of getting back to his pre-Inge form in the next inning, but Pudge said, “Nuh uh, Cali boy,” and homered to lead it off. From there it went walk, fielder’s choice, RBI double, groundout to first, RBI single, single, and that was it for Zito.
Zito’s a veteran, so I would normally hesitate to say that a couple of home runs rattled him up and threw him off, but gosh, it sure looks that way, doesn’t it?
The most worrying story to come out of today (for Tigers fans) is of course the possible exploding of Sean Casey’s calf, something that FOX felt the need to replay in slow motion over and over again until you, the hapless viewer, could actually feel your own calf exploding in sympathy. Reports right now range from “spasms”, which sounds like something that can be massaged out with some temperature therapy and a skilled pair of hands, to the more vague and ominous “strain”, which could mean anything from “mild soreness that will go away in a couple days” to “oops, I tore it clean off the bone.”
To be honest, we can’t really afford to have ANYONE get injured. Looking over our lineup tonight, you take any one of those guys out (except for Craig on one of his cold nights, and even he made a spectacular catch to get Fernando out of the inning tonight) and you’re looking at a big, ugly, suppurating hole of a wound in the lineup. Casey’s a fairly vital left-handed bat and he’s been pretty bloody helpful since he got here. Not to mention how the Tigers started playing the LAST time one of their infielders went down…
Still, it was a win, and we saw some good things. As Jay Payton said, “For a team that’s supposed to be hackin’, they’ve been sittin’ [patient].” And we were treated to the sight Dan Haren flossing in the dugout. You just don’t get to see that every day.