Category Archives: ALCS


turn out the lights

rally cat

photo by Samara Pearlstein

For Game 4, I declared that before every half inning when the Tigers were batting, I would kiss the cat. I did this very thing. The results speak for themselves.

This is Kaylee, internet, and you have her to thank.

This is Upsetting and I am Upset.

illustrations by Samara Pearlstein

Seriously! What else was Justin Verlander supposed to do? He was more than good, and he left the Tigers more than enough chances to swing themselves back into the game. I am not a happy cat right now.

Also, John Lackey, gross.

Games 1 and 2 of the Conflict ALCS

illustrations by Samara Pearlstein

Now that the Tigers have lost a game, we can safely bump Maneki-Paws from the top spot here. Not that we are giving up on the good luck power of Maneki-Paws, of course… we’re just acknowledging this momentary lapse in his ability to influence the world around him. I’m sure he will be back at full strength tomorrow night.

Game 2 can be safely summed up in the image above. Max Scherzer was pitching firmly on the side of the blue eye, the offense had for once managed to exert itself for more than the absolute minimum of runs, Torii Hunter laid himself all out on the line in a near-literal sense if you call the outfield fence ‘the line’… but it came down to Big Papi’s tendency to be, well, big, in the ‘coming up huge’ sense of the word. As a Bostonian I can assure you all that this is just what he does, especially in the postseason, and it’s nothing personal. Not that this makes last night’s game any better, but there you are.

Game 1 had a rather different outcome.

What happens when Anibal Sanchez and assorted relievers very nearly no-hit the Red Sox? ALCS victories happen, that’s what. That the Tigers should get such a pitching performance out of NotMax/NotJustin is inestimably valuable. Anibal did his bit and then some in the effort to move onto the next round, and in commemoration of his efforts I hereby present him with this Terrible Cartoon.

It has been, as is usual when the Tigers and Red Sox play each other, a brain ‘splodey experience for me. This time it’s ramped up to a particularly high and squealy pitch because of the playoff factor, and the fact that I conduct much of my daily life within technical walking distance of Fenway Park. I am honestly a little surprised that my Olde English D’d car has not been keyed yet, but maybe Boston has mellowed out. Certainly everyone was perfectly pleasant when the Tigers were in town during the regular season, even when I was wearing more Tigers gear in public than anyone other than an actual Detroit Tigers employee would ever reasonably need, and I haven’t gotten more than a side-eye for wearing a Tigers hat out and about this past weekend.

The tough thing is that, when they aren’t playing the Tigers, there has been precious little reason to dislike this 2013 version of the Red Sox. It’s hard to not be sort of fond of David Ortiz swearing in public, or Koji Uehara’s various weirdnesses; the beards, while objectively horrific, are actually pretty fun. So I do like these Sox. They aren’t quite as cranky and drunk as they have been in the past, they’ve provided the city of Boston with a highly entertaining season, and they have absolutely no sense of tonsorial propriety. I don’t especially like rooting against them.

But I do especially like rooting for the Tigers. That’s pretty unambiguous. And John Lackey’s starting Game 3, against Justin Verlander. Nobody likes John Lackey, and all right-thinking folk like Justin Verlander. Should make things easier.

Go Tigers.

The Tigers are going to the World Series.

illustrations by Samara Pearlstein

It started on Wednesday in a rain delay without rain and ended on Thursday in a screaming victorious Phil Coke glove slam behind the mound. The Tigers are going to the World Series.

CC Sabathia was never the Sabathia that we feared, and came out of the game in the 4th. Max Scherzer struck out 10 over 5.2 innings. The Tigers are going to the World Series.

Phil Coke pitched two innings to close out the game. Valverde and Benoit were warming, but neither was needed. Phil Coke owned the back end of the bullpen in the ALCS. The Tigers are going to the World Series.

During the trophy ceremony after the game, Mike Ilitch stood there supported by Dave Dombrowski and Jim Leyland. The president of the American League said some dumb things, very poorly. Mr. Ilitch described the team as not having “one hot dog in the bunch.” The Tigers are going to the World Series.

The offense finally decided to put in a decent night’s work. Miguel Cabrera homered. Austin Jackson homered. Jhonny freakin’ Peralta hit TWO home runs. The Tigers are going to the World Series.

It didn’t rain even a little bit. The game was not at all delayed. The park was full. The cold weather encourages fans to show up in fuzzy costume tiger suits. The Tigers are going to the World Series.

The Tigers beat the Yankees. The Tigers swept the Yankees. The Tigers are going to the World Series.

The Tigers are champions of the American League in 2012. The Tigers are going to the World Series.

The Tigers are going to the World Series.

Phil Coke leads to victory and other oddities.

illustrations by Samara Pearlstein

First things first: we are up 2-0. We are up 2-0 in the ALCS. We are up 2-0 in the ALCS against the Yankees and the first two games were in New York. We are up 2-0 in the ALCS, against New York, in New York, and Justin Verlander has yet to pitch in the series. Can I just take this moment to gesture in astonished mute hysteria? Yes? Thank you.

Secondly, the facts.

–Phil Coke had a two-inning save. In New York. In the ALCS. In place of our nominal real closer, who suddenly cannot be trusted with a hard-boiled egg in a wet paper bag, let alone anything less than a 10-run lead in a playoff game. In a crucial Game 2, when the Tigers desperately needed someone to step into that bullpen void, someone did step in, and that someone was freakin’ Phillip Douglas Coke, our noble knight of tonsorial mutability and carbonated beverages. Wow.

–Jhonny Peralta has been doing some crazy fielding of the baseball.

–Anibal Sanchez shut the Yankees out over seven innings. The useful formulation of that statement would be: A Tigers pitcher not named Justin Verlander shut the Yankees out over any significant number of innings. That is absolutely crucial, because Verlander is going to do what Verlander is going to do (Paws willing), but if nobody else in the rotation is able to operate on a comparable level, it’s just not going to go well.

–Hiroki Kuroda was throwing a perfect game for way too long to be considered polite.

–Even when there are a dozen umpires on the field, they are still going to screw things up. This is fine when it negatively impacts the Yankees and a travesty against every aspect of human decency when it negatively impacts the Tigers, obviously.

–Everybody likes to say Avisail Garcia’s name, and everyone likes to see him standing around with Miguel Cabrera so that all can marvel at how they are actually the same person and one of them is clearly just a time traveler.

–Meanwhile, in the TBS studios:

The Tigers are trying to kill me.

illustrations by Samara Pearlstein

These Terrible Cartoons are old, but still applicable today. Not that this is a good thing, mind, but it is definitely a Thing, because the Tigers must have been trying to kill me then, and now they have renewed their efforts.

Jim Leyland is trying to kill me with his (non)decision-making. Doug Fister is trying to kill me with his comebacker off the wrist. Delmon Young is trying to kill me with cognitive dissonance. Papa Grande is plain old trying to kill me, just straight up murderous intent and all that. By the end of the game I felt like I had run a marathon and been hit over the head with a large mallet. I needed a pile of kittens and probably a hug. It was not passive baseball viewing; the Tigers made sure that was not going to be possible.

If they’re all going to be like this, I may not survive the week. Fair warning.

Apparently the Tigers are not quite dead yet.

illustration by Samara Pearlstein

–Justin Verlander threw so many pitches. So many pitches. I recall at one point Joe Buck and Tim McCarver were talking about the bullpen and how it should get going right away. I looked up at the score bug and realized it was only the 6th inning. What the heck, FOX? Why would you be turning dewy eyes to the scandalously thin Detroit bullpen this early? And on a day when Justin Verlander is starting, no less!

Then they showed Justin’s pitch count, through 5-and-a-bit. I think it was 110 pitches or something like that. Definitely over 100.

He ended up going 7.1 innings and throwing 133 pitches, because of course he did. Of course. Justin Verlander is secretly pitching in the NPB inside his own heart.

–Miggy doubled. Victor tripled. Avila, Delmon, and the Rhino homered. All of this came off of CJ Wilson, except for the Rhino’s contribution. Is good. Alex has been struggling so much lately, his homer was especially special and generated all sorts of warm happy feelings.

–Delmon actually homered TWICE, and this with a strained/busted/sore/otherwise-wonked oblique. Has there ever been a player so manifestly relieved to not be playing for the Twins anymore?

–The rain more or less held off. Also good. Further rainouts or rain delays are no longer the fault of Detroit.

–THANK YOU PHIL COKE. He was far from perfect, but he was good enough to stay in the game and not give it away. This preserved the rest of the bullpen, which was extra important today because there was actually nobody else available in the bullpen.

Well, there was Brad Penny, but that doesn’t count. We’re only considering viable options here.

–I HAVE A RALLY TOWEL. MetsGrrl had a family connection to one and offered to send it along, because she is made of cupcakes and kittens and magic. It arrived this afternoon, prior to the game. RotT gets a rally towel; Tigers win a game. Coincidence? I SUSPECT NOT.

Extra bad things happening in extra innings.

illustration by Samara Pearlstein

I don’t like it. No, I don’t like it one bit.

Tigers still win at injuries, with a real win thrown in as an extra.

illustration by Samara Pearlstein

Wins are good. Immensely successful Doug Fister outings are good. Austin Jackson, Strikeout Machine, going 3-for-5: good. Home runs from Victor Martinez, Jhonny Peralta, and Miguel Cabrera: wicked good. Sending a sell-out Comerica crowd home happy: super wicked good.


Magglio, as we said last time, is done for the season/forever. Delmon Young has a strained oblique, but was given Magglio’s roster spot for occult reasons known only to the Detroit training staff. He was scratched from tonight’s lineup because he was so sore that he could not play. Shocking that he’s sore, what with his strained oblique and all. I don’t understand how the one follows from the other. It just doesn’t make any sense!

You would think that was it. You would think that was enough– surely the Tigers and by extension Tigers fans have suffered enough for one series. But no. Tonight Victor swung for the fences, and yay! it was a home run! And yay! it was the tying run! But he made his way around the bases gingerly, and went storming unhappily down the clubhouse steps as soon as he got into the dugout. Why?

Because he had strained his oblique.

NOW LOOK HERE, UNIVERSE. I know that the Tigers have a bit of history with oblique injuries. I know– we all know– that obliques have it in for the Tigers, and the Tigers in turn can never trust an oblique. But this particular beast had not reared its unattractive head for a while. We managed to make it through almost the entire season without being repeatedly struck down via oblique, right up ’til now. The ALCS. The playoffs. When suddenly all the obliques realized, Hey, we still have to torment the Tigers this year! Better get on that right away! LOL! We’re obliques!

Then, after ALL THAT, you have Alex Avila, The Most Abused Catcher in the Majors. He is hurt and hurting. What is his precise injury? Who knows. He won’t acknowledge it and the team certainly won’t acknowledge it. His knees are definitely going to be causing him pain. Probably his back hurts. I’m sure he has some giant hideous contusion-y bruises on his body that hurt like hell right now. Maybe he has jammed fingers, foot problems, jaw pain from tension tooth clenching or whatever.

Does he have a strained oblique? Who knows! Why not?? STRAINED OBLIQUES FOR ALL! It’s not like it would make a difference. Alex Avila will play through Hell and high water and pain, sickness, exhaustion, the stench of unwashed Lloyd McClendon underpants, etc, so long as Leyland keeps running him out there and telling him to get behind that plate.

But hey… Doug Fister, right? Great stuff. So much fun to watch a Tigers pitcher do something OTHER than look totally lost out there. So nice to see the team win by more than one run. And there was another save for Papa Grande, of course. Yay. Yaaaaay. Happyface. Honest.

ETA: Injury quotes!

“You want to be limping,” Avila explained. “You don’t want to be completely out. You want to be on crutches. That’s the thing.”
Jason Beck/

If you’re a non-Tigers fan who happens to be reading this blog right now, you may think I’m kidding when I talk about what Avila will play through in the service of his team. No. I’m not kidding.

“The only way I don’t play [in Game 4],” Martinez said, “is if I wake up and I’m dead.”
Jason Beck/

Don’t wake up dead, Victor.