Toy Beckett vs. Toy Verlander by Samara Pearlstein
I wanted to get this written last night, but I fell asleep. So… whatever. Thoughts on yesterday’s game and a series that was at least one game too short, or two games too long, depending on how you look at it.
–I have no idea how obvious this was on TV, but it was COLD and WET again. It started out slightly better than the Wednesday game, but the mist returned towards the middle innings and it was unpleasant thereafter. Somehow it was warmer out on the street than it was in the ballpark.
–No BP, but Little Papi and Little Victor were out playing catch again. This time they were joined by Little Okajima. The Ortiz kid kept telling Little Victor to give him higher throws to field, and Little Victor obliged him with higher and higher tosses. At one point Jose Iglesias, who at 21 is the youngest current member of the Red Sox, came out to play with them. I hate to be all waaaahhhhh so adorable but seriously, you guys, it was stinkin’ adorable.
–It was Brandon Inge’s birthday. He turned 34.
We tried to take advantage of this by yelling, “Go Brandon! It’s your birthday!” when he came up to bat, but the results were not as spectacular as one would have hoped.
–Leaving the bases loaded. This is a Thing now, and I do not like it.
–There was a period of time, around the 3rd-5th innings, where it suddenly became The JD Drew Show. He was responsible for six of the nine Tigers outs in those innings, and he hit a solo home run in the midst of Justin Verlander domination. I promise you that this was as shocking to Red Sox fans as it must have been to the Tigers.
–Victor Martinez was cheered again, at least for his first at-bat of the game.
–Justin Verlander was a beautiful pitching beast. I didn’t have any problem with the home runs (although balls were not flying well in the cold, mist-filled air, and I’m sure some of the power that allowed them to go out was Verlander’s), and he was relatively efficient (114 pitches through 8). The run that he gave up in the second inning was not my favorite, but since the Tigers had done similar things to Josh Beckett in the top of the inning, it wasn’t so terrible to see. He completely shut down the top of the Red Sox order and he was throwing around strikeouts like so much K-shaped confetti. Good stuff.
–I want to blame the bullpen, but as soon as Al Alburquerque loaded the bases, I felt there was no way the Tigers were getting out of the game. I was PRETTY sure of this after Ortiz singled and Iglesias (who had pinch run for Youkilis) went from first to third with nobody out. Then they intentionally walked Drew to load the bases… still with nobody out… and it became a near-certainty. The crowd was on its collective feet, screaming its collective head off, filled with a lust for walkoff wins and a furious Bostonian desire to not be subjected to extra innings on a freezing cold night.
And AlAl was supposed to be able to get himself out of that situation? Really? REALLY, JIM LEYLAND? The fact that Iglesias was not the one who scored the winning run was a freak of fielding; even after he’d been tagged out at home, I still thought the game was out of hand. And it was. Ho hum.
–My seatmate, a Red Sox and Brewers fan, declared that Andy Dirks was her Tiger (in the WHO’S YOUR TIGER? sense). She was tempted by Verlander but she is not allowed to have pitchers as her favorite players, because it tends to end badly for them (ex: Chris Capuano).
–Andy Dirks got his first career RBI, and I was there to see it. FEAST UPON THAT.
–Justin Verlander pitching to Jason Varitek: JV vs JV.
–Speaking of Varitek, having watched the Varitek/Saltalamacchia tandem this season is making me appreciate the heck out of Alex Avila.
–The Avila=catcher, VMart=DH thing has led to a weird situation, though. When the catcher is delayed getting his gear on, it’s usually the backup catcher that day who warms up the pitcher between innings. But Victor is the DH, so he can’t go out there and do warmups. I have seen teams use a coach for pitcher warmup duty under similar circumstances, but the Tigers have been making Don Kelly do it. We were treated to multiple Don-Kelly-as-catcher scenes last night, which was funny because
a) as my seatmate pointed out, he is not really built like a catcher, and
b) he likes to run out to the plate and back to the dugout with his hockey-helmet-style catcher’s mask on. He doesn’t take it off or flip it up, he just runs with his head fully encased. I am guessing that it makes him feel like Iron Man.
–I don’t know if I’m glad the Tigers only had to play two in Boston, or if I’m mad that they don’t get a chance to scrape at least one game from the series. For what it’s worth, the sun is out right now and Jon Lester (near-5.00 ERA so far in the month of May) is starting tonight. I know that I am annoyed that I was deprived of all Tigers batting practice.