illustration by Samara Pearlstein
You know how sometimes your brain stops processing things normally? So instead of thinking about something in words, or in images, or in coherent sounds, there’s just this amorphous screaming, bouncing off the interior walls of your skull– you know?
That was me, in the 9th inning of last night’s game. That was all of us.
If you missed it, I guess you need some context. HERE IS YOUR CONTEXT.
–Bottom of the 9th, Tigers leading 3-1. Justin Verlander in, having already thrown 104 pitches over the previous 8 innings.
–Billy Butler singled. 108 pitches.
–Jeff Francoeur grounded out, moving the runner over to second. 111 pitches.
–Mike Moustakas grounded out, moving the runner to third. 115 pitches.
–Humberto Quintero singled in the runner. 3-2 Tigers. 120 pitches. DEEP BREATH.
–Mitch Maier walked. Quintero to second. 125 pitches. DEEP BREATH, DEEP BREATH.
At this point Jim Leyland went out to the mound to pull Verlander. Papa Grande was ready to go, JV was at 125 freakin’ pitches. Surely that meant it was time to… no, no, Leyland was just gathering the infield and talking to Verlander and LEAVING HIM IN THE GAME.
We did not find this out until after the fact, but apparently one of the things Leyland said to Verlander on the mound, as he was leaving him in to end it all one way or another, was, “You’re going to get me fired.”
In any event, this is where my brain started screaming.
–Alcides Escobar was hit by a pitch. It was a 98mph fastball and it got him in the wrist. Of course he went down like a sack of Royal blue potatoes and had to roll around in agony for a bit. 126 pitches, oh, and the bases were at this point loaded.
–Alex Gordon came in and got AngryVerlander. The first pitch he faced (#127) was 100mph. So was the next one. And the third. The fourth pitch was a changeup that went in for a called strike, because what in the hell are you supposed to do with an 88mph changeup when you’ve just stared in at three 100mph screamers and your teammate has just been wounded by a similar beast?
The last pitch that Verlander threw, pitch number 131, was 100mph. It was a called strike. Gordon was out, the Royals left the bases loaded, and the Tigers won the game.
SCREAMING. SCREAMING INSIDE MY HEAD.
How is this a normal way to handle an April game against the Royals? Obviously the Tigers are taking every game seriously. Obviously Leyland has a great deal of faith in Justin Verlander. Obviously Verlander’s arm can take more abuse than logic, science, and sanity would normally dictate. Obviously Justin Verlander gets angry when he feels like he’s losing control of the game, and when Justin Verlander gets angry, velocity results.
This was still a completely deranged way to end the game. One hundred and thirty-one pitches! Four of the last five at 100 miles per hour! Justin Verlander taken to the brink by the Kansas City Royals!
I just don’t know, guys. I can’t take many more like that right now. I need the offense to step it up early tonight, and for Drew Smyly to keep a lid on KC. Please, cats. Please.