photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein
Verlander for 7 innings (7 hits, 1 run, 1 walk, 7 Ks), Zumaya for 1 (perfect), Jones for 1 (perfect): is this not PRECISELY what we want to see with our pitching? Our young fireballing starter throws 7 innings about as well as we could ask. Our young fireballing reliever/future closer throws a perfect inning even though a vital fingernail on his throwing hand has a thoroughly wonked fingernail. Our veteran closer throws a perfect inning. Game over. Tigers win. If we could write scripts of baseball games, that would be a perfect plotline.
This is now the 4th game in a row that Justin has pitched quite well, and with the win today he has become the first Tigers pitcher to have back-to-back 17-win seasons since, I think, Jack Morris. If you’re going to get compared to a former Tigers pitcher, you could do far worse than Jack Morris.
As in the previous game, the Rangers had a hard time getting extra-base hits. They didn’t get any in the Wednesday night game, and only Michael Young managed a measely double against Verlander. It seems like this reflects less on Tigers pitching and more on Rangers hitting… but when you consider the Wednesday afternoon game, where extra-base hits were raining from the sky and klonking Tigers on the head, you have to wonder. Maybe they saw the Rangers get SO many extra-base hits there that they figured out what swings they were using to do it and have been able to avoid it ever since. Or maybe the Rangers just have flukiest offense this side of Tampa Bay.
With Bondo now all busted up (his MRI didn’t show any structural damage, but the inflammation was bad enough to bench him for the rest of the season if the team should be so inclined), the health and pitching skill of Verlander become incredibly important. We did more or less manage last postseason without Zoom (thank you Guitar Hero), but if he’s able to go and none of this pitching is going to screw up his fingernail permanently, that would obviously be an improvement. If we do find ourselves still playing baseball in October it’s going to be because we scraped in by the skin of big tiger fangs, and, to recklessly switch metaphors, we’re going to need all hands on deck if we want to pull this thing off.
Which we TOTALLY CAN DO, mind you. Sure, we need some help from other teams (and I do hate counting on other teams, so very uncontrollable). But Mathematics says that our playoffs hopes are not yet dead, therefore our playoff hopes are not yet dead.
Photos etc. from the Tigers bloggers game will probably be up in what would have been the game slot for today (i.e. posted in the wee hours and up all day tomorrow). The offday works well for that. So get psyched, readers!
edit: The photos are going up right now. I have genetics discussion this afternoon, and a post will be up here after that, as it’ll give me something to do while I’m doing laundry. Very exciting? Yes.