photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein
Wham! Bang! Kapow! Bazam! Onomatopoeia that hurts Yankees!
You know, I had heard that Mike Mussina was having some… oh, let’s be generous and call them ISSUES. I had heard that if he had one more bad outing he might get demoted to the minors. So, do you think this qualifies as a sufficiently bad outing? Heck, it was only 6 runs and 9 hits over 3 innings (although if that sounds bad, Henn’s subsequent 9 runs given up– tho’ only 7 earned– over 2.2 innings looks downright apocalyptic). He was as aware of the demotion talk as well as everyone else, and in response he spun this, ahem, gem. Maybe he wants a break and was actively trying to bring it about.
The little interview he gave in the lockerroom afterwards didn’t make it seem like something he wanted to do, though… he looked like death very lightly warmed over. I’m sure the lighting had something to do with it, and Moose always looks like he’s got those bags under his eyes, but wow, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him looking quite so terrible as this. Sickly, tired, defeated… well, he WAS that last, at least.
If the Moose was pale clammy death, then Verlander was fresh green life. He hasn’t looked that Verlanderish in a while and it’s nice to see that the pitcher who can throw a no-hitter still exists somewhere in that gangly kid. The Yankees only got 3 hits against him (Damon, ARod, and Melky, all of whom are darn good hitters), and they were all singles. Chew on THAT, baseball analysts who claim that Detroit no longer has the best lineup in baseball!
We all know that Verlander’s a good pitcher with a great future, but this latest stretch, with his depressed fastball and his bewildering inability to locate, had started to concern me…. not for his career as a pitcher, obviously, but for his career as a pitcher this season. The truth is that we NEED Verlander to be on top of his game, most especially since Bonderman’s issues have gone from the small adorable monkey on his back to the 400 lb gorilla turning his spine into powder. Verlander can’t “make up” for that deficiency in the rotation, but by pitching well he can make it sting a lot less. Hopefully this start will jolt him right back on track.
SPEAKING of getting back on track…
With 20 collective hits, everyone got in on the fun. It’s like they just needed to know that Gary Sheffield is actually on the DL and not coming back right away, and only then could they rally ’round and get all their bats going. It’s not really indicative of much (for each individual player) except for the fact that the Tigers are good enough to take advantage of some really atrocious pitching… but! Brandon Inge! Three-for-four with 2 runs scored and 4 RBI! All of his hits were doubles! All of his awesome was on display!
The thing with Inge is that an outing like this will HOPEFULLY jump-start him in a big way. Again, it doesn’t say much about an individual player when the whole team is spraying the outfield with baseballs, but if a guy’s been struggling sometimes all he needs is one really good game to remind him that he CAN hit, and to get his timing back. This might be that game for Brandon Inge.
Too bad for the Yanks. You know your pitching is having problems when the current incarnation of Brandon Inge’s bat gives you tsuris…. and when Sean Casey hits/legs out a triple, you may just want to lay your pitching down to rest once and for all. I love the Mayor and all, but him running sufficiently fast to get a triple is NEARLY as (un)likely as a Molina doing it.
If you’re Sean Henn and you’re watching the Mayor motor towards third with all the speed and grace of a train crashing into a giant vat of molasses, what are you thinking? Are you thinking that this is the lowest point of your life? Are you thinking about the best ways to pack your bags when you get back to the hotel and get sent down to AAA? Are you thinking about cat food?
Also awesome in this game: Curtis Granderson. Three-for-six, 2 runs scored, 2 RBI, a double, and a stolen base off of the Moose. His average is up to .291… if he can get it to .300, the Tigers will have 5 men in a 9-man lineup batting .300 or higher (admittedly, this counts good-hitting-but-small-sample-size-friend Raburn). His strikeouts are still inexcusable in a leadoff hitter, but his OPS is so marvelously boosted by the fact that when he DOES get on base, it so often is for MULTIPLE bases, because his slugging percentage is better than Manny Ramirez’s right now. So I guess you can say that Granderson was awesome in this game, but he’s mostly awesome in GENERAL.
Polanco, Guillen, the usual hitting suspects had their fun (Maggs had a quiet game with only one measly single, but I guess he’s human after all. O noez, batting average down to .355! The horror!). Cameron Maybin got in for a couple of at-bats and hit a double, making the entire Detroit region salivate with anticipatory glee, as it does every time he hits. Ryan Raburn continued to hit startling well for Ryan Raburn. Even Pudge had a couple of hits and an RBI, which is good, because he hadn’t had any hits at all in this series or in the earlier series back in New York.
Zach Miner rounded out the game with 2 scoreless, hitless innings. At that point he was pitching against guys like Wilson Betemit and whichever-Molina, but it’s still pretty nice to see a guy who had just been sent down to the minors in a sulk come back and do something like this, PLUS it saved the rest of the bullpen from having to come out in a blow-out.
(WHY couldn’t the STUPID R. Logos lose yesterday? Knowing that they won and that our glorious win doesn’t vault us over them or anysuchthing is like the fly in my baseball contentment ointment.)
I do enjoy a nice hit parade, and I do enjoy a nice Tigers hit parade even more. But when it comes against the Yankees, and is not just a blow-out, but a shut-out as well…. why, then it’s also a YANKEE SHAME parade, and that’s the best kind of parade of all.
Oh, and I also wanted to point out that, a couple games ago, I was stuck with the Yankee announcers, and Michael Kay declared that it was interesting to see Ramon Santiago up in the big leagues again, since he is “the shortstop of the future” in Detroit. Good job knowing things about baseball, Michael Kay!