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?
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.
–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.