Category Archives: Fernando

How could you, Fernando? How could you?

illustration by Samara Pearlstein

Look at this face. How could anyone let this face down? How could anyone allow the hopes and dreams of this sad wittle cartoon face to crash and burn on the dugout floor? Who could be so cruel?

FERNANDO.

The sad thing is that as soon as Verlander left the game, I felt like this was going to happen. A 0-0 game is not technically a save situation, and, as we have been forced to learn over and over again this season, Fernando + nonsave situation = HURP DURP DURP. Why? WHY??? Because he likes torturing us? Because he has a mental block in place that prevents him from understanding that he is on the mound in a real baseball game when he’s not in a save situation? Because his fragile arm is rebelling on its own against overuse? I don’t know. But there it is. I know some of you cats were with me on this– you saw Verlander leaving and Fernando coming in, and deep in your Tigers-fan-hearts you knew we were monkeybait.

The bats– nonbats– didn’t help matters either. Some of that was down to Ervin Santana, who pitched 8.2 innings and gave up only one run, at the very end. He managed all of that with a wad of tissue jammed up his right nostril, to stopper a nosebleed (he apparently thinks it had to do with temperature changes). Maybe the Tigers are delicate beasts and cannot stand the thought of a nosebleed. Maybe the possibility of Santana accidentally wiping some of his nose blood on the ball and then throwing it at them was distracting for the Cats.

But Santana’s pitching and Santana’s proboscis shenanigans can only account for so much, and after a point we have to look at the Tigers themselves and say, “Dudes, what is WRONG with you?” Only two Tigers managed to get a multi-hit game (Anderson and Magglio), and there were only two walks ALL GAME LONG. Did you know that when the Tigers swung on the first pitch against Santana, 8 times out of 10 the outcome was bad (i.e. the at-bat resulted in at least one out)? I’m not really fond of those odds, but what do I know, I’m not a professional baseball player.

Having Miguel Cabrera out of the lineup hurt, sure (he worked a walk in his pinch hit appearance late in the game), but you can’t lay the whole mess at his paws.

I just. ARGH. Verlander pitched really well. Really, really well. Eight innings, four hits, four walks. SEVEN strikeouts. ZERO runs. That should have been enough. In a kind, just, sane world– a world in which Fernando Rodney is not the closer and perfectly good hitters don’t undergo inexplicable team-wide slumps– that would have been enough. Instead the losing streak extends to four, and the Tigers have the ignominy of losing to a guy who pitched the entire game with a wad of Kleenex all up in his nasal passages.

Etc:

–Obviously Miggy was available tonight and thus should be available to play this weekend. Should. In reality, Miggy looked tentative and slow whenever he had to walk, and grabbed at his hamstring after every swing in his one at-bat of the game. I wouldn’t be too surprised if he sat out Saturday’s game, or even the entire weekend.

Paranoid? Maybe. But it’s better safe than sorry and DL’d.

–FSN did a brief X-mo (their super slow motion feature, for those of you who are not familiar with it) replay of Justin Verlander’s feet, close-up, as he goes through his pickoff motion. It is a thing of beauty. His footwork on the mound looks like ballet. I could watch X-mo of that all day.

–For some as-yet-unexplained reason, Fernando came out to the mound really late to start the 9th. Late enough that the umpires noticed and had started staring into the Tigers dugout as if to say, “Um, are you bringing a pitcher in, or is this like hockey where you go with an empty net and hope for the best?”

I have no idea what was going on there, and if there WAS something going on, maybe it had something to do with Fernando’s subsequent HURP DURP, but he’s guilty until proven innocent in my eyes. This ain’t the US judicial system. This here is a baseball blog.

–Bondo is slated to get the evening start of Monday’s double-header. Then we shall see for ourselves if he has returned to life, or if he’s still a member of the unquiet undead. Armando will start the afternoon game, because an Armando/Mark Buehrle matchup is surely just what we’ve all been craving.

Oh hey there Justin Verlander, where've you been?

photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein

Justin! Old buddy, old pal, where ya been? Nice to finally see you again… the real you, that is.

Seven innings, seven hits, no runs, NO walks (!!), NINE strikeouts (!!!!!). That’s the Justin Verlander we know and love. That other dude– the guy who threw a million pitches by the third inning, the guy who couldn’t get through a game without at least one disastrous frame– was VerlanderLite. And it’s not that I’m automatically opposed to the ‘lite’ versions of things, honest! I mean Paws knows that I prefer skim milk to whole. But when it comes to Verlanders, I prefer the full-flavored version. I don’t like to see my Verlanders attenuated. I think you may agree.

Verlander tonight was back in robust, dominant form. He was consistently hitting 98, 99 on the gun, dropping down to the high-mid 70s for his offspeed stuff. If he had been just a LITTLE more efficient, we might have gotten a complete or nearly complete game out of him, which would have been nice, because then we would have been spared the exposure to FERNANDO.

Actually I’m not entirely sure why we saw Fernando Rodney in the 9th tonight, in a non-save situation, when we had Zumaya ready in the ‘pen and Fernando had pitched just the night before. I know that he threw fewer than twenty pitches on Sunday, but it still seems weird to me. If nothing else I am not entirely comfortable with Leyland pitching a guy on consecutive nights when there truly is no need to do so at the time, AND that guy has a long, well-documented history of arm tendonitis/inflammation issues.

But whatever, I refuse to let Fernando harsh my Verlander squee. Justin Verlander dominated the Mystique and Aura right out of the Yankees. It was a thing of beauty. He was, as described by Rod and Mario, scowling intensely on the mound and in the dugout, I suppose as a sign that he was deep in The Zone. In fact the expression on Justin’s face at one point prompted Rod to say, in a half-admiring, half-gleeful tone, “You’d hate to meet HIM in a dark alley!”

Justin Verlander: he will beat you up. In dark alleys.

Magglio Ordonez hit a big home run that wasn’t actually TOO big (it dinked off the top of the outfield wall), but hopefully it will have the psychological impact that any homer would have had, and Maggs can stop psyching himself out at the plate now that that’s out of the way.

Tuesday’s game pits Phil Hughes against the awesome power that is Edwin Jackson. Let’s do this again, shall we?

The Tigers are saved! Saved, I tell you!

photo by Samara Pearlstein

WE HAVE SIGNED FERNANDO RODNEY AND THE RIVER THAMES. Thank cats. Now we know that all will be well.

Oh, you want the details? Both signed one year deals, and both get approximately $1 million raises. The fact that Fernando is actually GETTING A MILLION DOLLAR RAISE kind of blows my mind, but what can I say, I’m not the one cutting the checks.

By signing these contracts, both guys avoid arbitration and Dave Dombrowski, who seems to have a general dislike of the process, is temporarily appeased. The Tigers have 17 more days (until February 1) to avoid arb with the remaining eligible players: Verlander, Zoom, Seay, Gerald Laird and Edwin Jackson.

I’m not anticipating any shenanigans even if these guys DO go to arb, though. Zoom and Verlander certainly won’t be commanding top dollar after their varyingly FAILtastic performances this past season. Neither Seay nor Jackson made over $800,000 in 2008. And Laird is…. well, whatever, he’s a catcher, so we might be overpaying for him even if his salary remained at its current level ($1.6 million in ’08, a jump from a little over $400,000 in ’07). I reckon the official front office policy on overpaying for a catcher is something along the lines of, “Eh, such is our lot in life,” so they’re not going to be too freaked if it ends up that way.

I mean, now that we have our mostly-superfluous fourth outfielder and our Please-Holy-Cats-No potential closer in place, life is good in Detroit, wouldn’t you say? Gracious me, what GLORIOUS Tigers news. The River Thames and Fernando freakin’ Rodney. Your prayers have been ANSWERED.

Really I’m just happy for an excuse to post that photo of Marcus again. LOOK AT HIM. If that smile doesn’t make you smile, you are a bad person and you should feel bad.

the Tigers have a problem and that problem's name is BULLPEN


photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein

Aside from, you know, all the many other problems the Detroit Tigers have right now.

We were leading 4-2 going into the bottom of the 9th inning. I know that two runs is not a huge, wildly safe lead, but CATDAMN FERNANDO, ARE WE CALLING YOU A CLOSER OR NOT? And if we ARE, then THIS IS WHERE YOU CLOSE OUT THE GAME. Catdammiiiiiiiiiit.

This is the third time in as many days that the bullpen has blown a game in a big, huge, explosive, heart-wrenching way. These are not your garden variety blown games. These are EPIC blown games, where first you get way high up with happiness and the thought of a win, and at the last moment it is all cruelly snatched away.

Today Zach Miner allowed just 2 runs on 5 hits in 7.1 innings. He walked one and struck out three. He pitched a great game. He deserved to get a win. The bats, although once again suffering from the Extra Base Hit Allergy, managed to put the Tigs up by two runs. Miner’s win seemed possible… probable, even.

Fernando came in to pitch the 9th inning. This is how it went:

Michael Young walks. Jim Leyland objects MOST strenuously. More on this later. Zero outs.
Josh Hamilton singles, moving Young to second. Zero outs.
Marlon Byrd triples. Young and Hamilton both score. Game now tied. Zero outs.
Fernando intentionally walks Hank Blalock. Zero outs.
Fernando intentionally walks Nelson Cruz. Blalock to second. Bases loaded. General confusion about this strategy. Zero outs.
Chris Davis singles to deep left. Byrd scores. Walkoff win, Rangers.
ZERO OUTS.

Fernando blew the save, took the loss, gave up three runs on three hits and three walks, and DID NOT RECORD A SINGLE OUT. *insert variety of vomiting noises here*

I don’t like many things going into next season, but the bullpen situation has to be near the top of that list.

As for Jim Leyland, well, he thought that Young had struck out to start the inning. He admitted that the rest of the suck in the game was fully the fault of the Tigers, but he did not agree with that Young walk call. He was so angry that, after the game, he came out of the dugout and looked like he was going after the homeplate ump, screaming and gesticulating wildly and having to be restrained by the rest of the umpiring crew and eventually herded away by his own coaches.

From the postgame interview:

Shouldn’t have been a leadoff walk. Everbody thought Michael Young was struck out, including Michael Young. He was walking back to the dugout. Michael Young was struck out. Clearly. Clearly.

That has nothing to do with… that gives us no excuse for losing the ballgame, but Michael Young was struck out. Period.

We didn’t close it out. That’s been the story all year long. We just haven’t done enough… in the bullpen.

I mean I’m upset we lost the ballgame. I don’t put the blame anywhere, I’m just saying when you earn something you should get it and Michael Young was struck out… [stuff about how we lost the game and didn’t earn to win and he’s not saying we did]. In my opinion Michael Young should not have been on. Michael Young was walking to the dugout because he thought he was struck out, because he was.

Sigh. Whatever.

The Race to .500!

Screw the wins, we have only 1 loss left to spare. Oh humble dreams of mediocrity, I can feel you slipping… slipping away…

Wednesday. 8:05pm EDT. Freddy Garcia in his first big league start since early June 2007 vs. Dustin Nippert the Tall. I’m going to the dentist tomorrow afternoon. It will probably be more fun. Go Tigers!

Tigers bid a fond farewell to the Gopher Dome for the season


photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein

Later, Gopher Dome! We hate you and are not at all sorry to leave you.

On a more sincere note: wins! Two wins in a row, even. It seems unbelievable but it is Real Actual Fact!

Saturday was a stressful win, although it only really got stressful at the very end. Verlander’s day was just about the definition of ‘eh’: 5.2 innings, 4 runs on 8 hits and 4 walks with 4 Ks. Not up to his former standards and not a quality start, but decidedly better than his last outing, so we’ll call it a wash. It was enough to keep the Tigers in the game, anyways.

Magglio went absolutely bat-guano crazy, falling just a single short of the cycle, with his double and triple coming off of Baker and his homer off of Guerrier. It’s so weird to think that Magglio has not been able to help the team more than he has this season… he is batting .319, after all. But his OPS is only .874. Compare that to last season, where his OPS was (an admittedly astronomical) 1.029…

The stress came in the form of Fernando Rodney, of course, who pitched the 9th inning and shaved at least half a year off of all our lives. Cats forbid we have a nice, easily-closed-out game. No, first we have to LOAD THE FREAKING BASES, and only then can we close the game. Is Fernando Rodney the new Todd Jones? Rollercoaster Rodney? He handled Sunday’s final inning just fine, so maybe he’s learning.

Sunday! Yes, that second win! Chris Lambert’s VERY FIRST EVER Major League win! Awwwwww yay. It is basically meaningless, but I’m happy we were able to get at least one for the poor kid. He may as well get something positive out of the horrible situations we keep forcing him to experience. I didn’t actually see most of his day, because I was watching the Lions game. Why? Because I am an idiot and a masochist, apparently. Let’s not talk about it. More baseball.

Howzabout our title image dude up there, Dusty Ryan? This was his first ever Major League start (awww, yay) and he hit his first ever Major League home run (awww, extra yay!). It was particularly fun watching him play opposite Joe Mauer – it was like The Oversized Catcher Extravaganza out there. There were a couple of stolen bases against him, but Lambert is not exactly Justin Verlander when it comes to his move, so, whatever.

The Farns was throwing up around 99-100 today. I think it’s the first time I’ve seen him topping out his velocity since he’s been back with us. Not sure what that’s all about.

The Race to .500!

With these two wins, the Tigers now need 12 wins to reach the promised land, and we still have 7 losses left to spare. The joys of .500 still seem so very far away.

We’re back home in Detroit for Monday’s game, takin’ on the A’s at 7:05 pm EDT. Zach Miner vs. Gio Gonzalez. This is a rare instance where the opposing pitcher is actually much worse (on paper) than the Tigers starter for the day, so it would be nice to take full advantage of that… but Gio’s got the dread Small Sample Size hanging over his head, so who knows, he could surprise and torment us, as has happened so many times this season. Ho hum. Go Tigers!

of Tigers losses and baseball mustaches


photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein

The positives from Tuesday’s game: Chris Lambert didn’t get the loss. Miguel Cabrera had an amazing day at the plate.

The negatives from Tuesday’s game: Fernando Rodney is Fernando Rodney. K-Rod is K-Rod. Fernando Rodney is not K-Rod.

It’s hard to even get too upset about those negatives. So Fernando gave up the winning run in the 9th inning. That’s just how we roll, kids and kittens. It’s not like it’s anything new. I understand that this was a save situation and Fernando is the sort-of closer, but this still feels horribly predictable. And you can’t expect K-Rod to blow a save, although we did at least give him a run for his money.

Matt already got into the September call-ups over here. In brief: Chris Lambert (duh), Freddy Dolsi, Dusty Ryan, Mike Hessman, and Clay Rapada. I’m mostly interested to see what/how Dusty Ryan does, possibly because I’m obsessed with catcher disaster scenarios and on some level believe all of them will come to pass.

I don’t have much else to say and I am falling asleep at the moment, so I’ll instead share with you an email I received today.

Should the first ever “Goulet” award winner be the Yankees’ Jason Giambi, the late Gene Upshaw, Olympic champ Michael Phelps, recent Hall-of-Fame inductees Art Monk (NFL) or Goose Gossage (MLB), or Mike Ditka, who’s working hard to help NFL retirees? Let your audience help choose.

Search on for ‘Mustached American of The Year’

Sept. 3, 2008 (St. Louis) The American Mustache Institute (AMI) is looking for the first ever ‘Robert Goulet Mustached American of the Year,’ recognizing the most impactful Mustached American of the past year. The winner of the award will be announced Oct. 25 at ‘Stache Bash 2008, a benefit for Challenger Baseball, a baseball league for the disabled.

“The Goulet award allows us to honor a distinguished Mustached American,” said Dr. Daniel T. Callahan, AMI research director. “The winner must both champion the mustache and stand apart from his or her fellow Americans: a soup straining school teacher; Jason Giambi of the Yankees for helping popularize the cookie duster in baseball again; a mustached fireman; or, if he were American, Daniel Day Lewis for being the first mustached ‘Best Actor’ winner since Paul Newman in 1986.”

To submit a candidate for The Goulet award:

– visit www.AmericanMustacheInstitute.org and click on the entry link.
– Submissions will be accepted until Friday, Oct. 3.
– Beginning Monday, Oct. 6, online voting will open for a group of finalists selected by AMI’s certified mustacheologists.
– Voting will close Friday, Oct. 17.
– The winner will be named at ‘Stache Bash 2008 at the Lumiere Casino in St. Louis on Saturday, Oct. 25.

Tickets for ‘Stache Bash 2008, can be purchased at www.americanmustacheinstitute.org. For more information about the Goulet Award or ‘Stache Bash, call (877) STACHE-1, watch this video, or e-mail info@AmericanMustacheInstitute.org.

About AMI
The American Mustache Institute, the bravest organization in the history of mankind behind only the U.S. Military and the post-Jim Henson Muppets, is the world’s only facial hair advocacy and research organization, with more than 600 chapters around globally. AMI battles negative stereotypes and discrimination against the Mustached American race. Based in St. Louis due to the presence of the world’s largest mustache– the Gateway Arch– the organization is committed to recapturing the mustache’s glory years of the 1970s, when there existed a climate of acceptance, understanding, and flavor saving for Mustached Americans.

About Challenger Baseball
Challenger Baseball is a baseball league for youngsters and adults with developmental disabilities. The fundamental goal of Challenger Baseball is to give every player the chance to play. To realize that goal, Challenger has two basic rules: every player bats each inning, and every player plays the field. The league does not count strikes, and does not count outs. Every player scores and every player wins. Challenger Baseball participants learn not only the fundamentals of baseball, but also experience teamwork, being cheered on by a crowd, and being encouraged by peers. All players are named all-stars and all receive trophies.

I believe that this may be THE GREATEST EMAIL I HAVE EVER RECEIVED. This could be because I have been awake since about 5 am and it’s 1:30 am of the next day; it could be because it’s all for a good cause; it could be because my dad sports a mustache. Or it could simply be THE GREATEST EMAIL I HAVE EVER RECEIVED.

I suggest NOT nominating Giambi, if you’re going to throw some names at these folks. Todd Jones has a perfectly good walrus ‘stache, and there are other, worthier non-Tigers options out there, such as Sal Fasano or any of these brave/disturbed young souls. Go forth and lol.

Wednesday’s 7:05 pm EDT matchup will see a highly smirky Jon Garland pitching against Zach Miner. Worth watching? Sure, we all want to see what Miggy does next. Worth playing? FOR DIGNITY! Go Tigers!

Miguel Cabrera carries a bat so big, not even Fernando can ruin the game.


photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein

I was thisclose to being forced to use the Fernandooooooooo!!! screaming tiger to head up this post. Seriously: thisclose. On some level I still can’t believe that I’m NOT using the Fernandoooooooo!!! screaming tiger.

It was the bottom of the 9th. The score had gone from 4-1 Tigers to 4-3 (all thanks to Fernando, natch). David DeJesus on third, The Anonymous Jason Smith pinch running at first. Two outs. Fernando throws a COMPLETELY wild pitch that bounces almost all the way to the backstop. Everyone screams! Horror, terror, disbelief!!! Inge scrambles after it, Fernando races to cover home, DeJesus comes in from third to tie the game… BUT WAIT!! NO!!! Inge manages to grab the ball and flip it to Fernando, who has time to block the plate and tag DeJesus before he can slide in!!

Tigers win! Fernando, incredibly, gets the save!! Tigers fans everywhere pass out cold on the floor.

Fernando and Leyland shared a big hug after the insanity had ended. Leyland held onto him a little bit longer than he usually does. I expect he was taking the opportunity to say something like, “NEVER. DO THAT. TO ME. AGAIN,” in Fernando’s ear.

Thank cats Fernando did not screw this one up. Not that we EVER like to see him screw stuff up, but Verlander pitched a hell of a game, and if he had not gotten the win, it would have been even more infuriating than usual. It’s not that Verlander was untouchable, because he wasn’t– he gave up 11 baserunners (8 hits, 3 walks) over 6.2 innings. But he also struck out 6 Royals, and gave up ZERO runs. It was not the cleanest of Verlanderian outings, and he still threw 113 pitches in under 7 innings, but it was definitely gutsy. And, y’know, when it comes to Verlander these days, we may as well put some stock in entrails.

As for the offense… well, it was mostly Miggy. Polanco doubled in a run, and Matt Joyce grounded in a run, but Miggy… ah, Miggy hit TWO home runs in this game. The second homer was so huge that if there wasn’t a net in place, it would have hit a car the Royals have over the fountains (you can see it in this shot— it’s the little white car just to the left of the lightbank).

Miggy’s now slugging .527, best of all the Tigers starters (I’m not counting Joyce as a starter). His OPS is also the best among starting hitters on the team (just edging out Granderson). In a season where so very much has gone so very wrong, it’s nice to see one thing working out like we’d hoped it would. Heck, he’s even taken to first base pretty well, after all the drama involved with THAT.

PS: Nate Robertson has been moved to the bullpen. This is a good thing, because I want to see something like his last start again about as much as I want to contract ebola.

Saturday’s game is at 7:10 pm EDT, and features a scintillating matchup between Zachary Charles Miner and Hiram Kyle Davies. My excitement knows no possible bounds, despite the fact that (or possibly because) I will probably not see most of this game. Go Tigers!

Tigers salvage a tiny shred of dignity


photo by Samara Pearlstein

It’s not a huge honkin’ load of dignity. It’s not much at all. But it’s a little tiny shred, and it’s more than we had yesterday, so what the hell, let’s celebrate it.

Zach Miner had a quality start! Six innings! One earned run! Three Ks! ZERO walks! Second-lowest ERA for a starting Tiger pitcher! Third-lowest WHIP for a starting Tiger pitcher! Woo, woo, WOO! Yeah! ZACH MINER! Don’t you love that our second-best starter right now is Zach Miner? Zach Miner, with his doofy hair and his crazy awkwardly half-folded rally hats and his adorable tendency to hang out in the dugout with Arrrrrmando! Zach Miner, getting a shot again this season because everyone else is either dead or dead terrible.

Zach Miner: for the win.


photo by Samara Pearlstein

Miguel Cabrera had all sorts of hits! Three-for-three with 3 RBI! Two walks! Big home run! Twenty-one home runs now! Power! Hitting! Hitting for power! Totally justifying the trade we made to pry him out of Florida! He also made some nice stretches at first for double plays in this series! Plus the cuddling a couple of days ago! Miguel Cabrera, YEAH!

He got rid of the high socks, though, which is most assuredly NOT a good thing.

Carlos Guillen! Two-for-two with THREE walks! A double! A triple! Three runs scored! Especially good because Carlos has not been hitting all that wonderfully this season. But let’s not concentrate on that! Hitting TODAY! Happiness and sunshine!

Fernando Rodney! Another good outing! Two really good outings in a row for Fernando! It’s like Bizarro Baseball World! It’s like Fernando Rodney circa 2005-2006! Fernando is good at baseball! Fernando can throw his pitches for strikes that are not hit a million miles in the opposite direction! Maybe this is the start of a beautiful thing, where, having done it twice, Fernando realizes he really CAN do it, and no longer gets psyched out by tense pitching situations! Or maybe it is all a temporary illusion. Happy illusion! Happy illusion!

Ryan Raburn did not get any hits (he subbed in for The River and only had two at-bats anyways), but he made two amazing plays from the outfield to save our kitty bacon, and the game. I think in both cases the tying runs were on base. The first good play was admittedly half a bad play on the part of the Wrong Sox: they sent Jim Thome home when they probably shouldn’t have done so, and Raburn nailed him (via Santiago) at the plate. The second one was a glorious, heart-clenching diving catch to bail out Fernando. All’s well that ends well.

Tomorrow we welcome the skidding Oakland A’s into town for a 7:05 pm EDT game. Kenny takes on Dallas Braden. What is it with the A’s and pitchers with Texan city names? Frikkin’ weird.

Anyways, I am going to be in Florida from Friday afternoon to Monday night (sadly not a baseball-related trip), so it will be quiet around here until probably Tuesday. Play nice ’til then, don’t let the bigger cats steal your kibble, and Go Tigers!

I HATE NICK SWISHER


photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein

Hey Tigers fans, here are some words to make your blood run cold: Here comes Kyle Farnsworth in a one-run game.

Veins not frozen yet? Have some more: Nick Swisher wins the game in the 14th.

I hate Nick Swisher. I hate him so much. I hate his hair and I hate his swing. I hate his beard, in all its incarnations. I hate his homerun total. I hate his STUPID BUCKEYE FACE.

How do I hate Nick Swisher?

– Wicked bad.
– So hard.
– With the fire of a thousand suns.

How do I hate Nick Swisher? O let me count the ways: a million. Times pi. SQUARED, THEN RAISED TO THE POWER OF HOW MUCH NICK SWISHER IS EVIL I.E. UNTO INFINITY.

We needed this win. We NEEDED this win. Not because of the divisional matchup, not because of blah blah blah X number of games back: whatever! I don’t even care about that right now! We needed this game because it went 14 CATDAMNED INNINGS and Placido Polanco was LEAVING HIS ENTIRE SOUL OUT THERE AT THE PLATE and he was SNUGGLING WITH MIGUEL CABRERA IN THE DUGOUT (Miguel! Snuggling! Looking up at the camera, then RETURNING to snuggling, proving that he learned from his earlier, shy snuggling!) after he hit HIS SECOND HOMERUN OF THE GAME to put the Tigers ahead in the top of the 14th and ARRRRRGGGGH.

SCREW THE STANDINGS, SCREW THEM RIGHT IN NICK SWISHER’S LEFT NOSTRIL. We needed this game FOR THE TIGERS, AS A TEAM.

But no. No, we could not have this game. Why? Because Nate couldn’t go more than 5 frigging innings; because Kyle Farnsworth can’t be trusted with the dessicated corpse of a sewer rat right now, let alone a single catdamned run lead in the 8th catdamned inning; because E6gar Renteria EXISTS; because Jim Leyland puts WAY TOO MUCH FRELLING WEIGHT ON SAVE SITUATIONS and removed Freddy Dolsi from the game even though he’d only thrown 12 DONKEY-BITING PITCHES in favor of Joel Zumaya i.e. the nominal closer; because of NICK SWISHER AND HIS STUPID BUCKEYE FACE.

You know who I’m NOT mad at? FERNANDO RODNEY. Fernando threw 3 scoreless innings with 5 Ks on only 38 pitches for what may have been the longest outing of his Major League life and you know what? You know what? Fernando did great. Fernando Rodney THREW SOME GREAT STOAT-HUMPING BASEBALL. CHEW ON THAT, universe.

ETA: That bloody “This little light of mine,” song from the horrific Cornerstone Schools ad is RUNNING ON REPEAT in my head right now, ON TOP OF ALL THIS, so I am probably going to LOSE MY ENTIRE MIND. Seriously: does that ad make anyone else want to claw their own eyes out of their own faces, or is it just me? At the very end, where the little girl looks up from her candle and the sound is synched improperly… I go out of my freaking gourd, every single time. It’s like nails on the chalkboard of my soul. I want to throw money at them just so they’ll STOP RUNNING THOSE UNPRINTABLY AWFUL COMMERCIALS.

Wednesday’s game is at 8:11 pm EDT, Justin Verlander vs. who the hell cares. HEY, JUSTIN! I sure hope you feel like you’ve got 9 innings of baseball in that right arm of yours, because we used THE ENTIRE CATDAMNED BULLPEN TONIGHT. You think I’m joking, you think I’m exaggerating, but I’m not, we used EVERY SINGLE UNPRINTABLE ARM IN THE THOROUGHLY UNPRINTABLE BULLPEN in this game. Seriously: good luck, Justin. Good frelling luck. You’re going to need it.

Go Tigers!

Fernando takes the closing reins, much to our potential horror.


photo by Samara Pearlstein

Holy cats, even when we win we find ourselves assaulted by ridiculous difficulties. Difficulties such as THE ENTIRE BULLPEN. Let’s sum it up, in the not-necessarily chronological order in which I remember things:

1. Todd Jones has had a difficult and traumatic July, with his three blown saves all coming in recent times. Despite the fact that he has not actually blown more saves than, say, Jonathan Papelbon, Jonesy’s blown saves look so much worse because his overall numbers are uniformly scrod vomit. It is hard to understand how a professional baseball player at the closer position can have a 1.54 WHIP and be more or less successful, but that’s Rollercoaster Jones for ya: his career average WHIP is around 1.41, and he still manages to average about 22 saves per season, with only around 5 blown saves each year.

I know that the save is a kind of useless and certainly often arbitrary stat, but that’s still freakin’ weird.

2. Simultaneously because of and in spite of all that, the Rollercoaster has now been ousted from his closer role in the bullpen and that role has been (temporarily?) given to FERNANDO RODNEY.

3. (twenty seconds of uninterrupted shrill screaming)

4. Fernando has a better WHIP than Jonesy does. He’s more of a strikeout pitcher than Jonesy is. Opposing batters are OPSing slightly worse against him than they do against Jonesy.

5. Fernando has a history of psyching himself out; maybe the worst quality a closer could have that’s not a concrete pitching attribute. Fernando has a worse ERA than Jonesy, although to be fair this is partly a relic of his epically bad numbers coming off the DL and ERA is a ween of a stat anyways. Fernando has a history of repetitive muscle injury. Fernando has a beard that would make ancient Egyptian pharaohs huff in jealousy.

6. Freddy Dolsi has so far managed to avoid the DL, but was temporarily ‘unavailable’ due to ‘shoulder fatigue’, perhaps because, ever since he has come up, Leyland has used him ‘all the time’. He now claims he’s feeling better but this nebulous ‘shoulder fatigue’ will probably ‘recur’ if he continues to be ‘overused’ because that’s what ‘shoulder fatigue’ does.

7. Zoom had to leave the game today with ‘right triceps tightness’. That’s the back of your arm, like the opposite side of your biceps. Obviously it’s good that this isn’t his shoulder, and it could very well just be a cramp, twinge, whatever. It is still not great and I will nervously hope like heck that it’s not any kind of inflammation/tendonitis/SNEAKY ARM-OBLIQUES.

This is just so very much not what we needed right now. The Fernando-to-closer move smacks of irrational panic to me, and while I am aesthetically all in favor of irrational panic, I prefer to see it treated hilariously in blogs and on message boards and among fans, not among people ACTUALLY IN CHARGE OF THE TEAM. The Dolsi and Zoom pitching-stress-type injuries are just the sour icing on the Boo Yah, Fate Hates You and Your Bullpen! cake.

Tomorrow we pop on over to the no-longer-Jake to take on The Racist Logo. Gametime at 7:05 pm EDT. Kenny vs. misspelled avian. Go Tigers!