photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein
I’ll get to Nate and his gopher in a minute.
I don’t know who was announcing today’s game, the FOX one, because I came in late and so missed any intros. But one guy kept saying over and over, after Verlander had left and the bullpen was suffering, that the relievers were going to get the blame for this but it was really the starters who deserved the blame, especially today. Verlander, he said, had thrown way too many pitches and was more responsible for the outcome of the game than the bullpen.
I don’t know what game this guy was watching, but I was watching a game where Justin Verlander pitched 6 innings and left the game with a lead. Yeah, a slim one-run lead, and the bullpen’s already thin with Zumaya’s busted arm and Fernando’s “biceps tendonitis” (isn’t that what The Farns had?), but a slim lead is still a lead, and it’s not Verlander’s fault that our relievers are made of cardboard and duct tape these days. He threw too many pitches? Sure did; over-100 pitches in 6 innings is a lot. But the Racist Logos were working him over and HE STILL MANAGED TO MAKE IT THROUGH 6 INNINGS. With a LEAD.
Verlander gave up 2 runs over 6 innings. The bullpen (combined) gave up 4 runs over 3.
So shut up, random announcer dude whose voice I probably should have recognized. Maybe in your magical Happyfuntime Yayyyyyy Bullpens Yaaaaaay baseball world, starters get blamed for games like that, but not in the real world.
This could definitely feed into my “Baseball guys are often completely out of touch with reality and seem to live inside their own personal imaginary worlds” rant, but I won’t get started.
Tim Byrdak did OK. I really wish he could’ve held Grilli’s guys on base when he came in. I hate seeing Ryan Garko score on anything other than a home run (not that I enjoy that either) because Garko’s so ponderous on the basepaths that him scoring means someone else has hit a ball incredibly infuriating for a Tigers fan to watch. At least in his own inning Byrdak kept the Racist Logos’ noses clean.
I also am not happy with Mr. Garko right now because of that “double” he hit off of Jason Grilli. If you weren’t watching the game, Garko hits a ball screaming back up the center, it ricochets off of Grilli’s knee so hard that Grilli crumples to the ground and the ball bounces all the way to right field. That’s a single or more probably an out if the ball doesn’t happen to be a pitcher-destroying beast. There ought to be a way to score that so the hitter doesn’t get credit for a double. Score it a 1B with the running taking second on PA… Pitcher’s Agony.
Grilli, even though the hit looked pretty awful at the time, seems to not be as badly hurt as he could have been. It apparently was not a direct blow to the patella itself, hitting more on the side of his knee instead. X-Rays were negative. It’s at the very least going to be bruised as snot though, and no matter what they shoot him up with, it’s probably going to swell and stiffen for a bit. Alas, it would be easier to let him sit a few games and shake it off if we weren’t already missing Zoom and Fernando.
I know this is gonna piss my Bobby Seay apologist off, but the dude should not be in the game when there are righties up. Period. Not at all. To start off the 6th it was Barfield, Sizemore, Blake, and Hafner. Sizemore and Hafner are lefties, but Barfield and Blake are not. He got lucky and Barfield grounded out to first…. but he couldn’t even get the lefty he was brought in to face out, as Sizemore tripled. Grady Sizemore isn’t hitting chopped liver or anything, and in most non-Comerica parks that’s a double, but he’s generally terrible against left-handed pitching… Bobby, what’re you DOING out there? Then of course Blake doubled him in for a run… Blake, the righty… I don’t know.
Bring it on, Bobby Seay apologist. Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m the Bobby Seay Curse, because every time I watch him pitch, he seems to become filled with The Fail.
Oh, and Polanco had to come out of the game with a strain or muscle spasm in his oblique. That’s the big muscle along the side of his torso, mind you. They called it a strain during the game and are calling it a muscle spasm now. A strain would be bad, because those take forever to heal up completely and can recur like rabbits repopulate. A muscle spasm sounds more like a cramp or something, and would obviously be preferable for its temporary nature.
Polanco says he’s OK and would be fine to play tomorrow, although it’s likely we’ll get an eyeful of Omar or, if we should be so lucky, Neifi!!! instead. Hopefully he’ll be back a game or two after that, though. If he’s not, we’re gonna have to start suspecting strain, and we’re going to have to start worrying.
Back to Nate and his gopher…
On Friday, as you all know by now, Nate Robertson managed to give up three home runs to the Indians in 5.2 innings. Two of them came in the first inning. It wasn’t pretty. Although the bullpen continued to give up runs then too, THAT game could be fairly hung on Nate: the Tigers were losing when he left the game, and he hadn’t pitched well. (Do you see how that works, announcer dude? Do you see why that makes sense, as opposed to your strange backwards land?)
Casey Blake, Victor Martinez, and Josh Barfield were the gopher-makers (there was a man on when Barfield went yard).
Ledezma pitched quite well, Byrdak gave up an RBI triple (after a walk), Mesa gave up a sac fly (which was credited to Byrdak). Although walks and triples both always make you tear out your hair a little, it just wasn’t anything compared to the spectacular sight of Nate giving up two home runs before most of the stadium even has their rear ends properly in their seats.
Hopefully it was a one-time kind of deal, because some crrrrrrrazy intuition tells me our bullpen is still going to be in injured, overused, and generally sorry shape by the time his slot in the rotation comes up again.