photo by Samara Pearlstein
To best sum up this game I will have to start this post with a quick onomatopoeic-esque, er, summary:
crack! dink! RAAAAAAAABURN!!!
woo. woo woo woo mmmmNate!
whiff. whiff. grrrrrrrr.
*Jonesy hyperventilation noises*
Just like reliving the whole thing, eh?
What a friggin’ game. I don’t know what I would have done if we had lost, but I assume vomit would have figured heavily into it. It would have been no fun at all to lose 3 out of 4 to the worst team in the AL, of course, but what REALLY would have sucked would have been seeing Nate Robertson’s outing wasted.
Nate, in case you’re new or something, has been one of our least-good starters this season. We’re talkin’ a 5+ ERA, a WHIP over 1.50, with opposing batters hitting better than .300 against him. Before today he was averaging a little under 6 innings per start, which meant lots and lots of lovely opportunities for the bullpen to choke to death on their own rosin bags. Basically the only thing he had not done was kill himself with walks (32 walks vs. 71 Ks).
But today? TODAY Nate pitched NINE WHOLE INNINGS, giving up only FOUR HITS and ONE SINGLE RUN. He issued two walks, both to Adrian Beltre, but BOTH were intentional, because Beltre was not the least tiniest bit protected by the presence of Richie ‘lol .215 average’ Sexson in the lineup behind him. Do you realize what this is? This is not a quality start. This is a WICKED AMAZING BEYOND MERE ‘QUALITY’ START.
Aquilino Lopez got the official win, but if there was any justice in baseball win stats (as we all know, there is not), this would have been Nate’s win. I cannot remember when I last saw Nate looking this good. Heck, I’m having a world of trouble trying to remember the last time this season I saw ANY Tigers pitcher look this EFFICIENT! Nate threw 100 pitches on the dot to get through 9 innings. Ho-leeeeee cats! A hundred pitches powers Verlander through four innings these days!
Amazing Nate was followed by two solid innings from Zoom (who, worryingly, still appears to have no idea whatsoever where his offspeed pitches are going once he releases them), two solid innings from Freddy Dolsi, one good inning from the aforementioned Aquilino, and one fairly lucky inning from the Rollercoaster (why didn’t the Mariners bunt? not that I’m complaining…). This was a veritable Pitching Unicorn of a game for the Tigers: an efficient starter who goes the distance, and more-than-competent bullpen pitching. This combination is so rare as to be considered near extinction in Detroit. It’s on the Audubon watch list, at the least.
And yes, your math is correct. Nine innings from Nate, six from the bullpen, for a total of FIFTEEN freakin’ innings.
Of course (of course) a game with unreal pitching had to be a game with pathetic offense. It is the Tiger way! Ryan Raburn avoids the coprolite list because he hit a homer in the 5th, and Pudge gets a grudging pass for going 4-for-7, even if all four hits were singles, but everyone else should hang their heads in shame. SHAME. The bases were loaded and left that way TWICE, which is simply disgusting.
Both teams combined for fewer hits than there were innings played (14 vs. 15), just to give you an idea of the amazingness of the pitching or the foulness of the hitting, depending on your outlook.
So how did the Tigers pull this one out, with an offense more pathetic than ARod’s love life? They were simply LESS CRAZY than the Mariners. A fifteen inning game is going to tax the pitching staffs of most teams, sure, and the Tigers were damn lucky to use as few guys as they did (thanks to Nate, and to Zoom and Dolsi). The weird thing is not that the Mariners, whose starter only managed a Verlanderian five innings, were scrambling for arms late in the game. It’s not even THAT weird that in the top of the fifteenth they turned to Jamie Burke, a backup catcher who had never pitched in the majors before (at least catchers usually have strong arms). Well, OK, it was pretty funny, but you know.
What is weird is that THEY STILL HAD GUYS SITTING IN THEIR BULLPEN WHEN THEY BROUGHT IN BURKE. One of the guys was RA Dickey, who is a knuckleballer and presumably has a knuckleballer’s famously rubbery arm, but who had still thrown 105 pitches the previous day. One was Brandon Morrow, who had pitched in like a billion games right before this one. The other guy was Arthur Rhodes. Why go to THE BACKUP CATCHER when you still have a reliever sitting out there?
Rhodes told [manager Jim] Riggleman before the game that he had slept on his pitching arm and wasn’t feeling good, saying that if he got up to warm up he needed to go in.
Rhodes warmed up in the sixth inning, but never entered the game.
Oh boy. Slept on his pitching arm? Somebody get that man a body pillow!
So the Mariners, being made of crazy, went with Burke, who gave up a double to the crippled Miguel Cabrera, threw an insanely wild pitch over The River Thames’ head that moved pinch runner Hollimon to third, then gave up a sac fly to The River to put the Tigers up by the glorious score of 2-1. Rollercoaster Jones came in for the bottom of the fifteenth, and that was that.
The stupid weird thing is that Burke didn’t even look that bad. Aside from a few poorly placed pitches that floated high or outside on him (and really, Zoom didn’t look any better when throwing anything but the fastball), he made a good show of it. I mean, think about it. He only gave up one hit, to a pretty good hitter; the one run he allowed was kind of freakish, meaning he didn’t get beaten by the long ball; and he didn’t walk anyone. Sure his velocity was junky, but I’ll take those results over some of the cat poop we’ve gotten from Fernando this season.
He also had a good sense of humor about the whole thing, which obviously endears him to RotT.
“That was a slider,” he [Burke] said to a chorus of laughter. “The ball was slippery. I almost didn’t want to throw it, but the one I threw before it to Thames I felt pretty good about throwing it, because I threw a good one, and I thought I could come back with it. But, obviously, I didn’t come back with it.”
When Thames lifted a deep sacrifice fly to left, Holliman tagged up from third for what would prove to be the winning run. Burke then retired Ivan Rodriguez and Edgar Renteria in order, even getting Rodriguez to swing and miss once.
“I thought he could have had a couple more strike calls [from the umpire] on top of that,” Clement said. “That was pretty fun to be a part of.”
And while Burke’s performance had the crowd buzzing and brought plenty of laughs — he even got a fist bump after the game in the clubhouse from pitcher Felix Hernandez — it also contributed to a loss.
“We can have fun with it,” Burke said. “Still, I’m going to take it as I lost, but that’s just the competitiveness I have. … I don’t want to lose. But it is kind of a funny thing also.”
Jesse Baumgartner/MLB.com article
Wacky, wacky game. But hey, a win is a win and cat knows we badly needed one today just to tread water in the AL Central. I’ll take it.
The only other ‘exciting’ Tigers news is that Carlos Guillen is our single All Star representative. Whatever. I am completely underwhelmed by the All Star game this year, maybe because its arbitrariness is showing. The players voted Jason Varitek in? Really? Jason Varitek, whose OBP is worse than PUDGE’S right now? (And that’s really saying something, because Pudge’s OBP sucks rat testicles.) I don’t know. All Star game malaise. Ho hum.
Tomorrow is an offday, then we’re back home against Cleveland on Tuesday at 7 pm EDT. It was supposed to be Verlander/Sabathia, but apparently Captain Cheeseburger is a Brewer now, so I’m not sure who the Indians will throw at us. It should of course be infinitely exciting to see Verlander struggle to throw fewer than 30 pitches per inning once again, so we still have things to look forward to regardless of which Racist Logo is pitching.
Also, Edgar Renteria needs to be destroyed, for the good of the Nation.