illustrations by Samara Pearlstein
When your team reaches the postseason, it is a time of great excitement. Just making the postseason is not the big Win, of course, but it is the first step along the way, and it signifies a year in which at least some things got done properly. The players feel good and you get to watch them feeling good, usually with goggles and plastic sheeting and carbonated alcohol. Your artificially selected tribe has triumphed in some small way, and as your reward, you get to care about baseball for just a little bit longer.
And hey, we’re not just talking about the postseason here– the Tigers won the division! All the other players on all the other AL Central teams must spend the winter on call, catering to the needs and whims of various Tigers, whether that be snow shoveling duties (for that one insane Tiger who lives in the midwest year-round [we still have one of those, right?]) or babysitting duties or taking Astro for really long walks and scooping up all his leavings when David Price is just too dang tired and also it is rainy outside. That is why it is such a big deal, winning the division.
Here is the problem: the Tigers, for much of this year, have just not been that good a baseball team. Obviously they have very good parts, and they have had very good stretches, and these things combined to get them into October employment. But anyone who has watched the team consistently this season has seen that their Dark Side is not so much a couplefew aberrations and bad luck moments, but is instead a constant shadowy companion, always almost perfectly in lockstep with the good bits of the team, ready to leap to the fore at the slightest stumble or hesitation.
And now that the Tigers are in the postseason, without the comforting buffer zone of large sample sizes, this is becoming incredibly obvious and visible to everyone— to casual fans, to normally oblivious national TV broadcasters, to that super annoying dude in your office who like really does not follow baseball but every year come October starts behaving as if he is practically a beat reporter who’s been watching games all year long and pronounces Nick Castellanos’ name some wild kind of inaccurate way.
There have been good things. Miguel Cabrera is Miguel Cabrera. Victor Martinez has been hot. JD Martinez has been the pleasantest surprise named JD this team has ever known. These cats are off and running. Certain other members of the team are having a, uh, let us say harder time keeping up.
And meanwhile, out in the bullpen…
That, quite plainly, is a problem.
Sunday the Tigers will either go on, or they will not. They will stand a chance of advancing to the next stage of ‘won some stuff that’s not the big Win but is still pretty nice’ victory, or they will not. The dual Martinez threat will lead the offense to spectacular victory, or Joba Chamberlain will lose a finger playing with explosives. Comedy or tragedy. Playoff baseball.
illustration by Samara Pearlstein
Onwards to the ALCS.
illustrations by Samara Pearlstein
You all know this story already. The Tigers attempted to kill us all on Sunday. They played as ridiculous a game as they could possibly play. It came down to the very last at-bats of the very last inning. With one out and the bases loaded, the big cats already stashed safely on first and second, Don Kelly came up. And what did he do?
He did not hit a towering grand slam of a home run into the center field foliage. He did not ground into a double play. He did no more and no less than what he absolutely needed to do, which was simply hit a ball far enough to score the cat on third. Not flashy. Not dramatic. Just Don Kelly– just baseball.
Also this happened: for those two of you who somehow didn’t see it/haven’t heard about it yet, AlAl fielded a huge out, and kissed the ball before tossing it to first. Was it a little hot-dog-ish? Sure. Was it a little rude? Sure. Was it premeditated? Absolutely not. Was it hilarious and sort of endearing? You bet your tiger-striped tail it was.
I know the A’s are all surly about it, but quite frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.
Game 1 was nice too.
Now, given the way the Tigers played going into the postseason, I had low expectations. I honestly had a hard time envisioning them making it out of the first round. Yet here we are, up 2-0, needing to win just one more game out of the coming three. Of course, all three are in Oakland, and it is not at all out of the realm of possibility for the Tigers to completely muck that up, especially as Verlander and Mister Fister have already pitched, and as we all know, things get a bit thin behind them in the rotation. But this is already so much better than I had dared to dream.
I mean, Don Kelly, you guys. The Tigers are heading west in this best of all possible positions thanks to Don Kelly. Roll that one around in your mind for a while.
illustration by Samara Pearlstein
There, there, Rick Porcello. It’s ok.
Did last night’s game start to lose cohesion while you were on the mound? Sure. Four runs in six innings, that’s not great. I mean, you hit Jorge Posada, then gave up hits to Russell Martin and Derek Jeter. You don’t want to let Jeter start the scoring, FredFred. It gets the Yankee fans too excited; it’s almost indecent. Think of the children.
In the next inning, nobody scored, but you hit Mark Teixeira. I don’t object on principle, mind you– hit Teixeira as much as you want on your own time, or in nominal garbage time during the regular season. Not a great thing to be hitting dudes left and right during the playoffs, though. I’m not trying to make you feel any worse than you already do, FredFred. I’m just saying.
Victor homered and it started to seem like things might be OK. But that’s where you started to lose it. Martin singled, again. Gardner singled. Jeter did a bunt-thing. Then Curtis Granderson hit an RBI double, striking at the very heart of Tigers fans everywhere. Then A-Rod hit a sac fly to score Jeter, which is also just disgusting. Think of the kittens, FredFred.
After that most of the damage can be attributed to the bullpen, and to the curious failure of the bats, but it was already too late. And it was your very first postseason appearance, FredFred– we know how you were SO looking forward to it.
BUT IT’S OK! We are here to tell you that the blame is not yours. You are the victim here, my kittenish friend. You are the victim of your own teammates, and a victim of the unimpeachable fact of Curtis Granderson’s awesomeness, and the latest in a long line of victims to the Yankee regime.
There there, Rick Porcello. Dry your tears, raise your head, and go help Paws turn Yankee Stadium into his own personal litter box.
illustrations by Samara Pearlstein
Win, but terrify everyone first.
It is difficult to discuss these last two games in any coherent way. We survived them, obviously, but now when I try to force my brain in that direction, it just starts gibbering and screaming nonwords into my skull. First there was the ASFDGLIJA; and then there was the GGGLARLIASLDFJK and then they all ASDL;KFJAS;DLKFJSWS!!!
It all started with the rainout, which was continued with the incredibly painful loss. Then Max Scherzer pitched so well for 6 innings, and the bullpen VERY NEARLY lost it, and Papa Grande threw ALL THE PITCHES but somehow the Tigers scraped through.
The game was briefly and horrifyingly prolonged when Alex Avila, pursuing a foul ball that should have been the last out of the game, slipped on the stupid Yankee Stadium on deck circle patch and fell down, missing the ball. Unlike Comerica or, say, Fenway Park– CIVILIZED ballparks– the on deck circles in New York are these rubbery Yankee logo’d things. When it rains, they get slick. Then they become HAZARDS and DANGERS and they should be BANNED because the Yankees are FILTHY BALLPARK CHEATERS.
Anyways, the Tigers got out of that one, but it should not have been quite so drama-laden. Death to the Yankee Stadium on deck circles. AS IF ALEX AVILA HAS NOT HAD TO DEAL WITH ENOUGH THIS SEASON.
Tonight Verlander was not at his sharpest (neither was Sabathia, who gave up the same number of runs but lasted only 5.1 innings to Verlander’s 8. Rain situations like the one that started this series ruin everything for everyone). The Yankees tied the game up in the top of the 7th. The crowd was stunned, appalled, filled with a sense of foreboding and dread.
But Delmon Young stepped up in the bottom of the inning and hit a ball over the wall, all YAY DETROIT and TAKE THAT YANKEES ON BEHALF OF MY TWINKIE SERVICE. If you were watching, you know what it was like. If you were not, I cannot describe to you the sense of relief this home run generated. The game was not yet over, but to get the lead back after everything had seemed to be slipping irrevocably away… holy cats.
And then there was Papa Grande, tired out after those many, many pitches in the previous night’s efforts. He threw a ball that almost murdered Derek Jeter in the head, but he recovered for the save and the Tigers win. He did not do much of a dance, but he did make a fancy upward motion with his arms that gestured to the sky and pulled his jersey out of his pants at the same time.
This is what I have been like while watching the games:
FredFred tomorrow. No matter what happens, remember: he’s still just a kitten. Be nice to him. Go Tigers.
photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein
FSN is replaying the Tigers’ postseason victories on Mondays, and of course I watched it tonight. Game 2 of the ALDS, which, as we all know, the Tigers won in New York, 4-3.
I totally had forgotten some of this stuff, like when Morgan was insisting to Jon Miller that the Yankees didn’t count their season successful unless they won the World Series, while every other team just wanted to get there. Holy freakin’ cats Morgan, NO, I am pretty sure that most teams do not dearly wish to get to the World Series only to lose in some horrible embarrassing fashion once there. Pretty sure everyone wants to win the World Series. Small children and Tampa Bay Devil Rays do not dream of the bright lights and crushing shame of crumbling before the Yankees in October.
It is nice to know that my disgust for Joe Morgan remains as gloriously intact as ever even in the middle of the most barren stretch of the offseason.
After seeing this game, let me reiterate how much I do not want to see Gary Sheffield at first base. Granted, most of the plays he missed were either not REALLY his fault (error on the Jete) or else plays that, say, Shelton or Casey wouldn’t make anyways, BUT! totally plays that Carlos Pena would make. And I KNOW WE DON’T HAVE CARLOS PENA ANYMORE I KNOW THAT OK, but it’s the PRINCIPLE of the thing. If I am going to have to deal with a defensively inept player at first, I at least want it to be someone I like (Casey) or someone I am amused by in an “aww, lookit you, also please don’t procreate, ever” kind of way (Shelton). Not someone whose spleen I would like to see bloodily removed at midfield by Kyle Farnsworth in a bout of righteous anger.
Also I hate Johnny Damon so hard.
How hot was that play where Inge didn’t even see the ball until it was practically on top of him, and he still made a great play on it? Super freakin’ hot. I know I actually blathered about this at the time (‘tho you can’t see it because the archives are still in transit– soon, my patient little readerlings, soon), but it’s still SUCH a wonderfully understated play, the kind of quietly amazing thing that us mere mortals cannot do, and Brandon Inge CAN do.
Of course, this time around, it also set me and semi-roommate Derek off, attempting perhaps to recreate the heady feeling of being Joe Morgan and Jon Miller in the booth.
“He’s actually blind, he had no idea what was coming at him.”
“Right, but he knew it was SOMEthing! He was ready to field it.”
“It could’ve been anything.”
“Could’ve been Johnny Damon’s head, bouncing down the line.”
“But he was there, he was ready for it.”
“Actually, he plays by sense of smell.”
“Deaf, dumb and blind kid sure plays a mean baseball.”
The moral of the story is, NEVER WATCH A BASEBALL GAME WITH US.
Oh, and I just wanted to mention this. Posada ran into the railing and the Morgan/Miller genuismachine went on and on about how he maybe got a bruise from it or something. This is especially ridiculous to me because a) Posada showed no particular signs of being hurt, there was no need to talk about it for a good solid 5 minutes, and b) I just got through watching the Winter X Games (I know, I know, shut up), where people are HURLED THROUGH THE AIR, sometimes while attempting to ride 400 LB MACHINES, and sometimes they come CRASHING DOWN WITH THOSE MACHINES ON TOP OF SOME PART OF THEM, and these people more often than not GET UP AND WALK IT OFF. I love baseball, and I accept that it stops for rain and that hangnails are the end of the world sometimes, but really, come on now.
After the game: “How hard is it to do special things, when you are trying very hard to do special things?” That was our very own John Keating, to Marcus Thames. Because we are all 5 years old.
From this game we learned:
-The Moose, his bowels be loose.
-Brandon Inge is a superhuman.
-The people love Joel Zumaya.
-It is fun beating the Yankees in New York.
JEREMY FREAKIN’ BONDERMAN.
YANKEES WHUT WHUT?? BEST LINEUP IN THE HISTORY OF EVER, I’M SORRY, YOU’LL HAVE TO SPEAK UP BECAUSE I CAN’T HEAR YOUR BATS!!
I of course did not see this game, because I was busy watching the Wolverines BEAT THE GREEN OUT OF MICHIGAN STATE, but let me tell you, the Michigan people understood how much this meant much more than the TV jerkoffs who scheduled it at the same time did.
When the Tigers scored, they would show it on the big screens, and the crowd would go NUTS. Soooooo many “Yankees suck” chants, sooooo many “Let’s go Tigers!” chants. There were even several rounds of “Go get ’em Tigers!”, which I swear I thought no one under the age of 35 actually knew the words to.
So I am still FREAKIN’ PISSED that I had to miss this game, and the postgame celebration, because of the asinine scheduling, but there was something nice about celebrating with 111,000 like-minded people (well, minus the Yankee fans; there were a few, but they were sorely outnumbered).
Yankees. HA. We weren’t supposed to win this series, so many analysts were even saying Yankees in three. TAKE THAT, NATIONAL MEDIA! TAKE THAT! AND SOMEA THAT!! AND A BIG FAT GLOB OF KENNY ROGERS TO THE FACE! TAKE THAT TOO!
BITE! OUR! BLACK! AND ORANGE! STRIPED! POSTERIORS!!
I can’t even talk about this anymore, I literally JUST got home from the Michigan game and I need to eat dinner before I lie down and die for a bit. Robertson/Zito in Oakland on Tuesday, 8 pm. I dunno what channel it’s on yet. Oakland wasn’t supposed to win either, so this should be an interesting series.
ALDS CHAMPIONS!!! GOOOOOOOOOOOO TIGERS!
Ah, there are few things in life sweeter than listening to ESPN rag on a guy all game long, and then watching him proceed to do everything they said he couldn’t. Thank you, Kenny Rogers. Never have poor postseason stats been so loudly trumpeted. It was almost as loud as the Jeter adoration.
No one was expecting this game to turn out like this. Tigers fans who’d seen Kenny pitch recently might have expected him to do well, especially if they were, like me, willfully ignoring all his numbers from previous years. But a shutout! Who would’ve thought it possible? A shutout of THE GREATEST LINEUP OF BASE BALL PLAYERS TO EVER BE ASSEMBLED ON THIS PLANET IN THE HISTORY OF ALL TIME (according to espn)??? Surely that is IMPOSSIBLE.
Only once, all game, did a Yankee batter advance beyond the base he initially reached, and that was Posada moving to third on Matsui’s groundout after his leadoff double in the 7th. After Matsui, Bernie Williams struck out swinging and Cano grounded out to first, and that was that. The Yankees managed 4 other hits, 2 walks, and ARod was nicked by a pitch, but every time, when someone got on, everyone behind them failed to do anything.
Zoom came in for one batter, ARod, in the 8th, and got him to fly out harmlessly. Jonesy, for once, had a nice and easy 9th with two flyouts and a swinging strike to end the game. Man, it’s weird even just typing that. I like bringing in Zoom for just the one guy… hopefully it won’t tire him out too much, and Kenny’d thrown well over 100 pitches at that point. There wasn’t a whole lot of game left, but no sense in tempting fate with that lineup. (see, I acknowledge the ability of the Yankee hitters, I recognize their skill and their WoahScary factor, but I do not FAWN UNNECESSARILY over them)
Keeping Sheffield out of the lineup in favor of The Ancient Bernie Williams worked well for Torre, as Bernie contributed two strikeouts and a line out to Inge at third on the evening. There is such a thing as playing the numbers too much. Again, it would be absurd to say that anyone predicted Kenny would pitch as well as he did, but given his recent performances, it would’ve been a little silly to expect him to suffer a postseason meltdown as he maybe has in the past.
Leyland decided to stick with his men, and just shuffle them around. Yes, even though his hitters are not SO MARVELOUSLY FEARSOME as the Yankees, they were good enough to all stay in the lineup against the Wizened Unit. Polanco, leading off, went 2-for-3 with an RBI. Casey, moved from third to seventh, went 2-for-4 with 2 RBI. Granderson, moved from leadoff to ninth, went 1-for-3 with 2 runs scored and 2 RBI (he drove in Pudge on a fielder’s choice, and later had a solo shot). Really the only guys who did nothing at all were Craig and Inge. Craig’s very hot and cold and it’s impossible to tell how he’ll be on any given day, and Inge I don’t mind so much so long as everyone else is hitting and his defense stays up to snuff.
As for the two controversial calls in the game, eh. I say they cancel out. Pudge was out in the 2nd when ARod tagged him at third, and yeah, that safe call led to a run. But Polanco’s hit in the 5th was fair when it was called foul, and that ended up keeping the inning scoreless. So far as I’m concerned these are like offsetting penalties in football and we’re all good.
I am starting to wonder if maybe Jon Miller has been hanging out with Tim McCarver too much. The night before he called Verlander the wrong name TWICE (once he was “Jason Verlander” and once he was “Zumaya”), and tonight he said “Kaz Matsui” when he meant Hideki. He realized his mistake two out of the three times (Jason Verlander went uncorrected) and instead of just saying, “Whoops, my bad,” and going on with the game, he felt the need to stop and talk at length about his mistake. So we got a whole schpiel about how so very different Kaz and Hideki Matsui are even though, chortle chortle, they both played in New York.
The best bit of the whole night, of course, was Ernie Harwell showing up in the booth and doing some of the play-by-play. He was his usual Ernie Harwell self, full of stories and great strikeout calls (“He stood there like a house by the side of the road and watched it go by.” “Strike 3, he’s out for excessive window shopping, he looked at one too many.”) and he had Miller and Morgan in stitches most of the time.
Like Johnny Pesky in Boston, Ernie’s one of those guys you just feel good about seeing around the game of baseball, and it was nice to listen to him call the game as it happened in front of him and you could almost forget, for a brief second, that you were watching a highly polished and Yankee lapdogging ESPN broadcast.
Wright/Bonderman at 4 today. I would like to be told who decided that this game should not be a night game, because I don’t know about you kids, but I am IN MICHIGAN, therefore I am going to be AT ONE OF THE BIGGEST COLLEGE FOOTBALL GAMES IN THE STATE OF MICHIGAN THIS YEAR. I assume that many of you will also either be there or will be keeping a close eye on it. Seriously, SOMEONE at FOX or MLB had to know that the Michigan/Michigan State game was at 4:30, and SURELY someone would know how many Michigan folk are going to be all over it.
I mean. It’s MICHIGAN/MICHIGAN STATE. Almost THE ENTIRE STATE OF MICHIGAN is going to be watching it in some way or another. And the kind of people who, around here, care about college football deeply are also likely to care a bit about baseball. Scheduling the Tigers game at the same time is stupid. The Big House is going to have over 110,000 people in it today; assume only a THIRD of them would watch at least part of the Tigers game if it wasn’t at 4 (and I think you can assume a higher percentage than that, but to be conservative) and you’re talking about AT LEAST 37,000 people who are AUTOMATICALLY lost ad revenue. And that’s not counting people who will, instead of keeping their TVs on the Tiger game, flip back and forth between the two from the comfort of their couches.
At least the Tigers can’t be eliminated today, but I am really quite pissed off about this. Someone in MLB or at FOX is either incredibly ignorant about all things Michigan or is just a really big excretory exit site.
Took some creative maneuvering, but I managed to swing it so that I could watch the game. I had to wake up much earlier than I like to on Friday to make up for it, but it was worth it.
I know some of you were stuck at work or school or whatever and were unable to see this, so I kept notes on the interesting bits and now you get this running blog.
About last night, when Verlander went out to stretch and Moose didn’t, they’re saying Dombrowski was listening to MLB, who were saying 10 pm, whereas Cashman had access to the radar and didn’t think Moose, who takes a while to warm up, would be ready to go by 10, so he didn’t even send him out. Allegedly when he saw Verlander go out, he sent a groundskeeper to tell him it wasn’t happenin’. Take that with however many grains of salt as you like.
Moose Ks Granderson to start. His first called strike didn’t look great to me, a little inside, but he got the call. Well, he’s Mike Mussina and he’s pitching in Yankee Stadium. The other called strike was a good one, and Curtis swung at the last one.
Another bad-ish call, looked high, Placido pulled back a bunt (first pitch) and it was called a strike. Leyland started barking from the dugout and the ump turned around to bark back. IN THE FIRST INNING. Wound tight, much? Ultimately 2-3 K on Plonkers.
Oh my god. Miller and Morgan have some numbers or other, Miller’s say 70% of the time such-and-such happens, Morgan’s say 68%. So Miller is good-naturedly ribbing Morgan about it, saying he’s using the Alias Sports Bureau numbers, which is the official stat keeper of MLB, and Morgan’s using unofficial numbers. Morgan says he’s just using what he was given. Then he pauses and says, “That’s why I don’t like numbers, they’re different depending on who gets them, you know?” Someone alert the FJM guys.
6-3 throw, out of the glove of Sheff. It popped out as he was bringing his hand up and Casey ran him over because Sheff got in his way. Casey safe at first. In slow mo you can see Jeter turning his wrist over the ball. E6.
Looping fly for Damon to left field, Guillen and Monroe going for it… Guillen slowed a little, I think he saw Monroe, and the ball dropped between them. Seems like it should’ve been Craig’s ball, but he didn’t look like he was going very hard the whole way down.
Jeter bunts, pops it up, Pudge catches it and chases Jeter to first to make sure Damon stays there. Dropped the head of the bat way down at the last second. Possibly the first truly useful use of that superslowmo camera thing they’ve got.
Joe Morgan thinks that Bobby Abreu is what made this Yankee lineup great. Because before they had ARod sometimes hitting third. And they sucked like that. Sure thing Joe. Abreu draws a 4-pitch walk. Leyland’s disgusted, the last pitch was off the plate but the third one could’ve been called a strike.
Justin throws 99mph far inside to Sheffield. Sheffield swings so hard that he twists himself all the way around onto the backs of his heels and Morgan says he wasn’t overwhelmed by that high fastball. I know Sheff does that ‘swing and miss so badly it looks like he threw out his shoulder’ thing a lot, but dude, he was overwhelmed there. Is Joe Morgan watching this game? Then he throws somethin’ offspeed (curve?) to Sheff and gets him to swing, K.
Bases loaded, ARod up. Hmm. We have the possibility of a beautiful thing here. 101 mph, blew it straight past ARod, who takes a huuuge cut. 101, in, ARod fouls it straight back. 85 mph curve, BEAUTIFUL drop right into Pudge’s glove dead center, ARod takes, K! There was another word following that K in the original notes I took, but I removed it because the MVN Master doesn’t like us usin’ de swear wurdz.
Two outs, Craig grounds sharply riiiight down the line, barely fair, hit the line, actually. A fan knocks it down, GR double.
Thames singles into center, Cano leaps but there’s no chance, Craig comes around to score, 1-0 Detroit!
First pitch high and inside, almost takes Brandon’s ear off, he twitches away from it. Morgan says it’s a purpose pitch to make sure they’re not sitting on the breaking ball, which is what the last 2 hits came on. I thought Moose didn’t do that, though? Hrm. Miller is shocked at the power of the bottom of the lineup. O NOES, YOU GUYS! HE JUST NOTICED THAT THE TIGERS HAVE HITTERS IN THEIR LINEUP TOO! And here we thought it was only the Yankees who had people playing for them who could hit a little. K according to the first base ump, who says he went around on a mostly checked swing. Eh.
Matsui quickly singles to right.
Dear Bonnie Bernstein, there’s one on and no one out, shut the kibble up and let us watch the game in peace, we don’t need to hear about how excited Verlander is about pitching in Yankee Stadium. WE CAN SEE THAT WITH OUR OWN EYES.
“With all the great names in this lineup, Posada doesn’t get all the credit…” -Morgan. Right, no one gives Posada any credit. “Just a clutch player… a leader!” -Miller. Oh god, it’s like baseball cliche central out here. Miller just mentioned how “a guy who almost won the batting title is on-deck, hitting 9th!” This is the seven billionth time this fact has been mentioned. Posada walked. Two on, no one out, Cano up. Chuck Hernandez comes out to visit again and the whole infield comes in, Yankee style, to discuss the defense.
Jon Miller: “Cano, who is not married, keeps a photo of he and his mother in his locker in the Yankee clubhouse.” Um. Cano bounces it to third, Inge initially didn’t see it (!!), stands stock still in his tight crouch for two beats, then visually picks it up, hustles over to get it, steps on third and throws across to first too late to get Cano by far, but at least the lead runner is gone. Scary moment.
Damon skies it and Granderson, battling the super bright sun, catches it, no one moves up.
Miller just called Verlander “Zumaya”. Corrects himself thereafter, but still.
Jeter grounds sharply to Guillen, who sends it to second to force out Cano. Verlander’s thrown something like 44 pitches through 2.
Nothing happens in this inning.
Abreu shoots one out hard, hard enough to go for a home run but low so it hits the wall and caroms back so hard that Maggs is able to play it and keep Abreu at first. Wow. Nearly a home run and instead it’s a single.
Sheffield hits into a 4-3 double play.
Curve, Giambi swings big, K! Beautiful how Verlander could have been terrified into weeing his pants when Abreu hit that shot, and instead he comes back stronger than before. Hugs and kisses for Justin Verlander’s intestinal fortitude.
Am I the only one frightened by Fudgeums?
Guillen RIPS it past Sheff down the line, bounces around a tiny bit in right, enough so Carlos can cruise into second standing up. It’s so strange to see Sheff at first. Looks undignified, he’s slightly uncertain.
Pudge grounds out 6-3, Carlos goes to third.
Craig bunts, would’ve been a great bunt if they needed to move a guy over, but he hits it and it dies a little in front of home, Moose picks it up and throws Craig out easily. What? Why not swing?? THERE ARE TWO OUTS. The only way that would’ve worked, the ONLY way, is if Craig beats it out to get to first. Did he forget how many outs there were or something?
Hm, Morgan says the position of ARod…. ah, he was really deep, apparently that’s why Craig bunted. But, the ball was inside and so when he bunted it fell in front of him straight instead of off towards third and ugh, I still just don’t like this play right here. Bad play! Bad. No cookie!
Oh god, ARod flies out, it came more or less to center, Granderson and Craig nearly collide but Craig slides and catches it, even though that’s generally a centerfielder’s ball. I guess Craig has… um, seniority. Yes, that’s it.
61 pitches with one out in the 4th. Matsui rips it hard to right, another single.
Two straight strikes to Posada, then 4 straight balls, walks The Chinless Wonder.
Pudge and some of the infield come in briefly to talk. Two on, one out, Cano up.
Cano flies to Craig, no one moves up.
Damon drives one to the right field upper deck. 3-run homer. 3-1 Yankees. Curtain call, well ain’t that cute. And now of course the crowd is all “rabblerabblerabble”. Ugh, I mean, a 1-run lead over the Yankees wasn’t ever going to be enough, but still, this kinda bites the proverbial posterior.
Jeter doubles to deep left center, Monroe plays it off the wall. Standup double. The crowd is now all “rabbleMVPrabbleMVPrabbleMVP”.
Leyland comes out to talk to Justin. Ledezma is up in the ‘pen. Oh kittencakes. I don’t really want him facing the Yankees. Abreu grounds out to Casey at first to end the inning.
Thames chops at the first pitch, bounces a ball into the left field crowd for a ground rule double.
Morgan: “One thing the Tigers do, is they do not quit.” Joe, isn’t that something they’d DON’T do?
Curveball in the dirt escapes Posada’s grasp, I think it hit off his knee or something? Thames moves to third, they’ve done Brandon’s job for him. WP. Inge Ks on an outside strike that might have been a liiiiittle too far outside but is called. Morgan says “That’s just Mussina knowing how to pitch.” No. Really? Mike Mussina knows how to pitch. Huh.
Granderson skies out to center, Thames scores because Damon has a noodle arm made of limp noodley noodles. 3-2 Yankees.
Polanco checks his swing sharply and shears a bit off his bat. Count’s 1-2, new bat. Hit hard past Sheff, who dives for it, Abreu was in good position to get it and fire it back in, holding Plonkers to a single.
Someone sitting near their CF cam (the main view, from behind the pitcher in to batter) is a Tigers fan. Every time Moose throws a ball and a Tiger takes it, this voice is saying, “Attaboy!” Big props for the Tigers fan.
Leyland on Verlander: “Well the average guy woulda been outta the game by now, but because he’s got such good stuff [he’s been able to stay].”
79 pitches through 4 for Justin.
Called K on Sheffield, might have just nicked the inside middle edge. Debatable, but Sheffield was turning away from it protectively and so didn’t complain. Curve, I think.
Giambi, ooosh, super high and hard hit, hooked foul to the right. PHEW. Mini heart attack there. Giambi grounds out to Casey. Miller says, in a grandiose, quavering voice, “Casey, miiiiiiighty Casey.”
Miller on ARod: “He came up with two outs in the first inning, and Justin Verlander abused him.” Oh MY. Naughty, naughty.
Curveball, called strikeout! Scattered booing in Yankee Stadium. Awesome to see Verlander recover after last inning.
69 pitches through 5 for Moose. Grr.
Carlos Guillen INTO THE PORCH IN RIGHT FIELD, HOME RUN, TIE BLEEPIN’ GAME!! Tons of boos in Yankee Stadium. In the dugout, after walking down to the end and high five-ing everyone, he gets to the camera… and, with a tough, hell-yeah glint in his eye, points right at the lens. Oh, love.
Pudge grounds out 6-3, Jeter throws it wiiiiide, Sheffield stretches all the heck out and keeps his back foot on the base for the out, but man, he goes into a full split and for a second there I think maybe he’s torn his groin or something. He gets up looking… not hurt, but pissed off, at himself or Pudge or Jeter, it’s impossible to tell.
92 pitches coming into the 6th for Justin. Walker and Rodney up in the ‘pen.
Posada, 9th pitch of his AB, drops a single into left.
Zoom and Walker up. 105 pitches for Justin. Leyland, uh, is bringing in Jamie. 1-1 count, Morgan says that Leyland didn’t like the way that last pitch came out of Justin’s hand. I don’t think this is an injury thing, this is Leyland seeing fatigue.
Walker takes the 1-1 count on Cano to 3-1 quickly. Cano grounds into a 6-4-3 double play. Miller says, “Jason Verlander leads the cheering from the Tiger dugout.” Wow, we have a new pitcher? I had no idea. TODAY IS JUST FULL OF SURPRISES.
Thames drives it hard to left, but Matsui tracks it down quickly and easily enough to hold him to a single.
Inge shows bunt, the ball squirts away from Posada, it’s like the bat got in the way of Posada seeing the ball. No contact, of course, so it’s a passed ball and the ball is far enough away to move Marcus to second. Brandon persistently shows bunt and lays down a beauty right in front of home, which moves Marcus to third and there’s only one out now.
Granderson TRIPLE OH OH OH into deeeeep left, triple! Triple! Hustled for it!!! Marcus comes home, 4-3 Tigers. I didn’t see the initial hit, I have to admit that once it was 0-2 I had my hands clasped, eyes closed, and was repeating, “Please Curtis please please please” over and over in my head. THAT IS NORMAL BEHAVIOR, OK.
CF cam guy yells, “C’mon Polly!”
ARod caught Polanco’s hit for the out, but Granderson dives back fast so ARod can’t double him up.
Casey flies out to Damon, he takes his helmet off and briefly stuffs it over his face in shame. This could be bad, bad, bad later. Stranding a man on third, BAD.
It’s still so good to see Peter Gammons, bright and talking and as alert and lively as ever. Modern medicine makes me really happy sometimes.
Walker still pitching, Zoom still warming in the ‘pen.
Damon pokes it off the end of his bat, Polanco stumbles forward and catches it in the air. Now they’ll bring in Zoom. Excellent work by Walker today.
Obligatory shot of Jeter’s parents and discussion of why he didn’t grow up a Tigers fan. I reject all their explanations and insert my own: “His inherent evil nature.”
Foul tip off the bat into the glove of Pudge, strike 3 on Jeter! He tried to check his swing. I hate when they know a fastball’s coming, I prefer when Verlander’s in and they don’t necessarily know what he’s going to throw them. This is why Justin starts and Zoom doesn’t, I guess.
To Abreu, 100mph pitch followed by an 84mph slider. Hoo, that’s a difference. Zoom grew up a Padres fan.
102mph followed by 81mph, then, Abreu grounds out 4-3. 21mph difference. You can’t do anything with that.
Proctor in. Second pitch was PRETTY high, Maggs says something to the ump, looked very much high to me and Maggs both but it was called a strike. FOX actually shows a good shot of the ball coming in, closeup, showing how it’s super bright white and then suddenly turns dark gray in a flash as soon as it crosses into the shadows. Useful, for once! You can see how this would screw with guys; your pupils can’t contract easily and quickly enough to see that ball when it changes. Maggs walks after going down 0-2. There have been some pretty patient Tigers out there today.
Carlos flies to deep center and Damon catches it in some painful sunlight. Maggs stays put. The outfield is so drenched in sun that it looks neon and more yellow than green.
Pudge sends one to deep center, another sun-battle catch for Damon, 8 or 9 pitches in the AB for Pudge, again Maggs has to stay put.
Craig scoops it up hard and high into left, Matsui catches it for the out. Grrr.
Zoom still in to face Gary Sheffield, first pitch swinging to centerfield, line shot as Morgan says but Granderson catches it.
ESPN is going to pee itself in collective glee about the fact that Boomer (David Wells) is pitching the San Diego game, and Boomer (Chris Berman) is announcing it. Oh god, the hilarity of it all. THE HILARITY OF IT ALL.
Giambi swings, 103!, Miller says he didn’t know the radar gun went up that high. Giambi swings right through it, strikeout.
Gun says 103 to ARod, who also swings straight through it. Pudge goes out to talk because even though ARod swung through, Zoom missed his target… Pudge wanted outside and Zoom threw it in. I wish Pudge’d just punched his shoulder instead of ruining Zoom’s rhythm by going out to talk… oh strike 2, 103 mph, this time it’s away and he hits it this time, Morgan keeps calling Pudge Ivan. Why the insistence on that, Joe? His nickname is Pudge, everyone else calls him that. 101, ARod swings through again, Zoom punches his fist, crowd boos lustily. Miller says ‘woo’, as he has manlove for Zoom’s fastball, clearly.
Was that seriously just an ad to come work at the CIA? What. The. Blubbernuts. I understand wanting to have ads for the military, make it look exciting and/or glamorous so kids will sign up, but for the CIA??
Brian Bruney in to face Thames. Wow, 0.87 in 19 games? Bruney’s been better than I thought, I guess. Thames hit it foul near the right field side dugout, Posada and Sheffield both go over… Sheffield slides into it, Posada runs into it so the railing hits him in his chest, which he then rubs like he’s bruised himself. Neither gets the ball. Bruney ties Marcus up inside and he can’t stop his bat, strike 3.
Bruney comes back from 3-0 to strike Inge out on a big swing through a 98 mph fastball.
Granderson grounds out 1-3 easy oh god oh god oh god it’s gonna be Jonesy oh god oh god oh god oh god oh god oh god oh god oh god oh my god Todd Jones on no no no no only a one run lead oh oh oh god yankee stadium todd jones oh god oh god
Matsui base hit to center, single. Bleep. BLEEP. Melky’s gonna pinch run. Bleep BLEEP BLEEP BLEEP. MOTHERBLEEPING BLEEP BLEEPING YANKEES. Leyland goes out to talk to Jones.
Posada up. Strike 3 called, wasn’t watching eyes closed hyperventilating oh god god oh god oh god
cano up craig catches it long atbat oh god oh god oh god oh god oh god oh god
This is the first time Morgan has seen Jones pitch in person on telelvision, how is that even possible? Doesn’t he… get paid to watch baseball games?
damon up damon fouls it off himself knee or shin pudge comes out to see how he is, it was off his knee back knee hes smillin hes too stupid to know when hes hurt, remember that from his sox days
pudge takes moment to talk to jonesy
i cant watch this omg
GRANDERSON CATCHES POP UP TIGERS WIN TIGERS WIN TIGERS WIN TIGERS WIN TIGERS WIN TIGERS WIN TIGERS WIN WTIGERS WIN TIGERS WIN TIGERS WIN TIGERS WIN TIGERS WIN TIGERS WIN TIGERS WIN TIGERS WIIIIIIINNNNNNNNNDNNNNJNNNNFN
Kenny Rogers vs. The Wizened Unit at 8 tonight, and we’re back in Detroit. Go Tigers!