Yes, many things happened in this game, and many of them were located somewhere on the good-to-awesome spectrum. We will get to those. But the MOST important thing, the most GLORIOUS thing, first.
PLACIDO POLANCO WAS WEARING A HEAD SNOOD.
If you were watching this game, and you saw this, and you did not want to just give him a great big hug and maybe some mittens, then you are not a real person. Oh my HOLY CATS if that was not the cutest thing in the universe, I don’t know what is. A COLD WEATHER SNOOD! Under his hat! Oh Placido. I suppose it makes sense, too. After all, he’s got that gigantic skull, there’s a lot of surface area there just radiating all his body heat out into the air. He probably gets cold faster than the average second baseman! He’s got to CONSERVE! With a SNOOD!
For more snood goodness, have a look at some Dogs in Snoods.
Now, this was one method of heat retention, as opposed to the method used by Marco Scutaro, who was wearing a knit ski cap OVER his regular baseball hat. I mean, it was still green and gold, and it had the A’s logo on the front and all, but is that legal? See, I thought Placido was fine because he was wearing his snood under his regular gear, and baseball players wear all kindsa goofy stuff under their uniforms. But can you actually wear something OVER it? I mean, I guess it wasn’t overtly against the rules, or presumably someone would’ve said something, and I think everyone’s trying to be accommodating about the fact that the games have got to be played in Detroit and Detroit right now is deciding that yes, October IS in fact the proper time to begin winter. It just struck me as odd.
Anyways. Kenny Rogers.
What on earth has gotten into him? Whatever it is, it needs to keep getting into him because, uh, wow. Nate pitched just well enough to get us through, Verlander pitched just well enough to get us through, Kenny DOMINATED. Even at the end of his night… he walked Swisher to start the 8th, and Leyland came trotting out. Kenny turned around, put his glove over his mouth, and swore so violently that it was surprising that the glove didn’t burst into flames. He then said something convincing to Leyland and got Scutaro to ground into a fielder’s choice, eliminating Swisher at second, before finally giving way to Fernando Rodney, who promptly teased a snazzy double-play ball out of Bobby Kielty to end the inning. This pleased Kenny, who jumped around in the dugout screaming.
Two hits, 6 Ks, 3 walks, no runs over 7.1 innings. He’s not a big hulking dude, he’s not a terrifying power pitcher. He threw a pitch that hit Frank Thomas in the thigh yesterday and quite frankly I think the ball came away with more of a dent in it than Frank did (although given the fact that Frank Thomas’ thigh is about the size of my entire torso, and a lot more solid, maybe that’s not such a good example). But I would venture to say that Kenny Rogers is the most intimidating man on our pitching staff right now.
And if you disagree, he’ll punch you in the spleen.
Rich Harden did a lot better than it initially looked like he was going to: it took him 8 pitches to throw his first strike, but then he settled down (or maybe warmed up). Three runs and 5 hits over 5.2 for a guy coming off a long layoff with a wonky elbow and pitching in joint-stiffening, freezing weather is very respectable. You’ve got to tip your hat (or SNOOD) to him for that. He’s definitely got the testicular fortitude to be a seriously scary pitcher; he just has to stay healthy. Yet another example of Nature spitting in the face of the 100 mph fastball.
–Thom Brenneman, on a big empty swing that Pudge had just taken: “That fastball just ate him out.” Me: “……”
–While the FOX guys were talking about Zumaya’s wrist, the camera focused on Verlander in the dugout. Why do they do this? Just because they both throw hard? Or do TV guys honestly confuse the two? Remember, Jon Miller called Verlander “Zumaya” at least once.
–I finally, finally figured out what it is that Jason Kendall looks like. This had been driving me nuts, because he was, with his current facial hair, reminding me very strongly of SOMEthing… but I just could not for the life of me put a name to it. Finally got it.
He’s a schnauzer. Tell me I’m not the only one who sees that.
–Alexis Gomez pinch hit for Omar in the 8th and got a single. Said it before and I’ll say it again. Alexis Gomez: the anti-Neifi.
–Curtis Granderson walked 3 times in the 4 times he was up to the plate, and the only time he didn’t walk he hit an excellent ball into the outfield that was only caught because Kotsay made a ridiculously good running grab on it. For any Tiger to have 3 walks in one game is a big, big deal; to see Granderson, with his love of the K, do it… ah, this must be what happiness is like.
–Brandon Inge going into the stands and coming out with the ball? Oh man. Oh man, how much do we love this kid? (I say ‘kid’ as though he’s not 8 or 9 years older than me.) That was about as sweet a defensive play as you’ll see, and because it wasn’t made by Derek Jeter, everyone in baseball will have forgotten about it in a couple of months.
–Magglio made a nice catch to start off the 6th. He went down on one knee and slid to get it. I know this isn’t too spectacular in the grand scheme of outfielding, but since Magglio was playing a little shy of it at the end of the year, it was great to see him do that.
–Pudge in the dugout, arms wrapped around himself, jumping up and down to stay warm. Hee.
–Fernando pitched to one batter and, because he induced the DP, had it count as 0.2 innings. This means that basically only Kenny and Jonesy pitched. This means that the bullpen is better-rested for today and beyond (if need be). Without Zoom in there, and I’m not expecting him back today, this is a very, very good thing, and yet another reason to bow before the greatness that is Kenny Rogers.
–PLACIDO POLANCO WAS WEARING A SNOOD.