Since the Tigers’ 7-2 loss to was so craptacular, I’m going to start with just about the only good news to come out of the game. Placido Polanco broke the record for consecutive games played without an error by a second baseman. It’s not going to get the pub of just about any offensive record somebody could set – Stats, Inc. didn’t even notice at first when Luis Castillo set the record earlier this season – but anytime you do something nobody’s ever done in baseball’s long history it’s pretty cool. Congratulations, Polly, and if Samara were here I’m sure she’d photoshop you as a vacuum cleaner or something more clever to show her appreciation.
The funny thing about this record to me is the fact that I was at the game when he last made an error. It was in Pittsburgh, and we got tickets through a sales guy at my wife’s work who knew we loved the Tigers. It was the Pirates, so I naturally expected a win but the Tigers had one of those complete meltdown innings where they just couldn’t make a play. I think they made about four straight errors – or at least misplayed balls that could have been called errors – and I assume Polanco’s was one of them. I was averting my eyes from the horror, so I may have missed it.
Anyway, on to the current Tigers and this turd of a game they played last night. In retrospect, I think the Tigers might have lost this one in the first inning when Chad Durbin gave up the two run home run to Mark Ellis. Sure, they came right back and tied it up but something must of caused Durbin to start pitching around this lineup and the home run seems like the most likely cause. It sure as hell wasn’t the Athletics’ stats.
There was one guy who cleared a .450 slugging percentage in their lineup last night and going down that same lineup, I think there might have been two, maybe three guys who’d bat higher than seventh if they were in the Tigers’ lineup. Yet, there was Durbin walking four guys in 4 1/3 innings. This was a lineup where he should have just been pumping strikes and seeing what they could do, but too often all they had to do was not swing the bat. As a result, Durbin threw 86 pitches in less than five innings and forced the bullpen to once again throw more than four innings. To borrow from Sam’s running theme, he was decidedly unpimplike.
When he was taken out, we were once again treated to the Jason Grilli show, which now apparently begins with boos every time it airs. I feel bad for Grilli having to listen to the boos – you really shouldn’t boo your own players for anything but a lack of effort – but he’s definitely not helping his cause. When he first came out for Durbin, he did pretty well. Sure, he gave up a two run single, but the hit was a slap up the middle and it would have only scored one run if not for Guillen’s ridiculous throwing error on the previous play. But when he came out the next inning, he gave the kind of performance that will get him booed the next time he takes the mound. He gave up two singles before walking Dan Johnson and Marco Scutaro on eight pitches to bring in a run.
Can we have a rule from now on where if a reliever is pitching in an inning he started – especially if it’s not his first inning – and loads the bases on a walk, he is automatically pulled? I mean as soon as the ump calls ball four he should just start walking off the mound. Because twice in this series a Tiger pitcher walked a guy to load the bases and both times I thought the pitcher who did it was done for the night. I was wrong both times and the results were a grand slam and a bases loaded walk on four pitches.
I shouldn’t give the impression that it was only the pitching and defense that were disappointing, though. The offense sucked plenty as well. I was amazed at the groove they let Chad Gaudin settle into after that first inning. When I saw Maggs hit that two run single and then saw Kurt Suzuki setting up way outside for pitches that ended up coming in on the inside half of the plate, I didn’t even think Gaudin would throw enough innings to be eligible for a win, much less actually get one.
But after that single he didn’t give up another run and when he finally walked off the mound, he had struck out nine batters. He did a particular number on Marcus Thames and Brandon Inge. I love Marcus, but he looked pretty bad both times he struck out on those low and away breaking balls. As for Inge, I am afraid I’m going to snap the next time I see him strikeout on a checked swing.
Oh well, this was obviously just one of those games where they didn’t have it, and let’s hope they were saving it for this upcoming stretch of thirteen games with the Indians and Yankees. I think the importance of the much ballyhooed games is overstated a little when everybody says it will make or break their season, but it is important that they come close to at least splitting the games with these two teams. If they break off some putrid 3-10 stretch, it could throw some dirt on the season but that’s usually true of any thirteen game stretch in late August when you’re in a pennant race.
–GUEST BLOGGER, Matt