I’m almost, almost ashamed of that pun. But not really. Because the Tigers should be more ashamed.
Not to take anything away from Anthony Reyes, of course, not a bit of it. The kid pitched his little red feathery tail off out there, and after a dicey first inning he just was never in trouble. That’s crazy. You’ve gotta just nod in respect. And his socks were fantastic. Not so keen on the flat hat brim, but one can’t have everything.
But what I saw, what a Tigers fan would have seen (and again, taking nothing away from the Cards, who played good baseball) was some striped sloppiness. I’m not even talking about Inge’s two errors, I’ll get to those in a minute. I mean the Tigers took one walk, ONE, a SINGULAR WALK, all game long. Part of that was Anthony Reyes pitching the game of his life, but part of that was Tigers batters NOT TAKING WALKS, something that we who have followed the Tigers for a while now (heck, even people who just started following them this season) are all too familiar with. This is not a patient team. I guess we’ve all made our peace with it in one way or another, and it worked out OK this season, but. But but but.
You remember how startled the A’s pitchers were by the fact that the Tigers were taking a lot of pitches and not taking a lot of reckless cuts? Some of them were miked up and were even caught marveling over it with their teammates. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the Tigers showed some patience and the Tigers blew away the A’s. Just because hacking away more or less worked all regular season doesn’t mean we should stick with it, boys.
Anthony Reyes, as good as he was pitching, did not manage one walk over 8 innings all by his lonesome. I’m looking at YOU, bottom 4 batters in the order.
And Verlander, oy, poor kid. He was throwing hard all game (as the many strikeouts, and in a way the two home runs as well, show), but he was in trouble a lot, and you just can’t be in trouble a lot against a lineup that has Albert Pujols in it. If there was any doubt that he was letting his head get in his way, the throwing error in the 6th should have dispelled it. Justin Verlander, possessor of one of the best right-handed pick-off moves in baseball, throwing the ball wildly away at first? I don’t know if it was nerves or frustration or what, but there was something going on in his head that was affecting his play, and that error was a glaring symptom of it.
Alright, alright. Speaking of errors…
Two errors on the same play? Ouch, Brandon, ouch. You wound us. That whole play (and indeed that whole inning) was as hideous as a closeup of Jason Giambi’s face. That said… the initial error on Inge, yes, he failed to field the ball. But in his defense (unintentional pun ahoy!), the ball took a MIGHTY STRANGE hop there before it got to him. So he didn’t make the play, but it wasn’t going to be an easy play to make in the first place.
The second error, the obstruction call… um, what? I would probably benefit from seeing the play a few more times, and my understanding of the obstruction rule and its application is sketchy at best (and, nearing 3 am, I am not inclined to go digging for the precise wording of it), but, seriously, what? From what I saw (which, again, disclaimer, was only the play, a couple of times, while also keeping at least one eye on everyone else in the room at the time to make sure no one ate my Chinese leftovers or anything) it looked like Rolen had a much better chance of seeing Inge than Inge had of seeing Rolen.
I can’t remember if Inge glanced back over his shoulder or not, but nothing about that play looked like he meant to get in Rolen’s way. He just staggered off to the side, bent with the horror of the error he had already made, and Scott Rolen came charging wide off of third base, huffing and puffing like a man who knows that if he doesn’t hustle his skipper will finally have a solid excuse to cane him in front of his teammates. With Inge facing, as near as I could tell, down the basepath towards the plate, Rolen ran into the back of him and did a little Captain Kirk shoulder roll onto the grass before getting up and hurtling messily home, where he was out, but later called safe on this mysterious “obstruction” business.
Now, this was the difference between 6 and 7 runs, so it wouldn’t have mattered in the end anyways, except for Brandon Inge’s bruised pride and confidence. But it really didn’t look intentional on Inge’s part, and it seemed like if Rolen had been running with his head up, or hadn’t turned quite so wide and had stuck more closely to the line, he could have pretty easily avoided a collision. If someone feels like enlightening me, please do. I just find it a little puzzling.
A bad loss, because it was frustrating to see Verlander show such vulnerability, and it was frustrating and a little scary to see the bats revert to that end of the regular season form. No. We went through that once already, we DON’T WANT TO SEE IT AGAIN. About the only good thing you can point to is the bullpen, which managed to flip through almost everybody, but almost everybody was perfect.
I’ll be at the potential rainout that is tomorrow’s game, so there should be some cruddy, too-grainy, dark, far-away photos you can look forward to eventually. Hopefully Kenny can set his foot down sternly and slap some sense into his teammates; I’d feel a lot better if we could actually, y’know, win some games at home.