Category Archives: sweet victory

the Return of the Hit Parade

image by Samara Pearlstein

The Hit Parade returned to Comerica in STYLE on Monday. There was a lot of commotion and there were lots of loud noises and it might have been a bit overwhelming for the new guys up with the expanded roster who aren’t really used to it yet, you know, maybe Jacob Turner had to go sit in the clubhouse for a bit to calm down since he is still just a kitten and all.

But when the dust all settled the Tigers were left with 14 runs on 18 hits. This included 5 doubles (two for Victor), a Rhino triple, and a three-run homer from Delmon Young. Ubaldo Jimenez lasted 5 innings and probably could have been pulled before that. Doug Fister went 8 and allowed only 3 hits (all singles). The Racist Logos did not score a single run.

The Hit Parade was very one-sided, you see, and that was good because the best Hit Parade is the wholly tiger-striped variety. Everyone knows that.

The only Tigers who did not get hits in this one were the two pinch runners (Inge and Worth, both of whom never came up to bat) and the one pinch hitter (Omir Santos, who had one at-bat and struck out). And the pitchers, of course. Every starting batter got at least one hit. Miguel Cabrera got three, because Miguel Cabrera is beautiful.

Mister Fister looked amazing. He pitched well. He fielded his position well with a particularly nice back-handed grab early in the game. He got another Win, further proving that he was being criminally wasted in Seattle and Detroit is the proper place for him and his talents. He continued to be the Tigers pitcher whose body type and posture most resembles that of a praying mantis.

Q: What is better than a huge, lurid Tigers Hit Parade?
A: A huge, lurid Tigers Hit Parade that comes at the expense of the Racist Logos.

Scherzer tomorrow, then FredFred. Let’s keep this up. I would like the team to be positively brimming over with Good Feelings as they saunter into the postseason.

It’s a pretty good time to be a Detroit fan.

illustration by Samara Pearlstein

The Tigers are division champs and are going to the playoffs (ooo, still fun to type). The Lions are 2-0. The Wolverines are 3-0 and Denard Robinson has the best smile in all of college football. You had better enjoy the heck out of this right now.

Yesterday was especially enjoyable. The Lions beat the Chiefs. They beat the Chiefs 48-3. I mean, if you are not a longtime Lions fan, you do not understand. Even when the Lions did get one of their rare wins in the recent past, it was NOT a 48-3 blowout. That’s the sort of thing that happened TO the Lions.

But the Chiefs committed and were called for all sorts of stupid penalties (this used to be the Lions’ favorite thing to do! [actually, as long as Gosder Cherilus is on the team, it will be to some extent. But they were clean compared to KC yesterday.]) They turned the ball over 7 billion times. They were unable to stop the juggernaut (!) that was the Detroit offense (!!). Matthew Stafford threw the ball where it needed to go and, more often than not, it got there! He was able to come out and watch the backups get some reps in the 4th quarter! The crowd was even able to get in one resounding SUUUUUUUHHHH at the end of the game.

Roary got completely taken out by a Chiefs player on the sideline and popped right back up, while the Chief had to be carted away with some sort of horrific-looking knee injury. It was that sort of a game.

Meanwhile, the Tigers (AL Central division champion Tigers!) handled the A’s. They had a hangover loss on Saturday, but bounced back strong thanks to the magical wonderbeast that is Justin Verlander. And, you know, some other cats too.

Guillermo Moscoso, whom you may remember we traded away for the privilege of experiencing Gerald Laird, had a no-hitter going for much of the game. Austin Jackson ruined that with a home run, the rudest sort of no-hitter ruination. Brandon Inge later pinch hit and doubled in a run, just to make the haters choke on their bile a little. Ramon Santiago sacrificed in the third run, because why not.

But it was really the Verlander (and Valverde) show, as per usual. Justin went 8 innings and gave up 3 hits (all singles) and 3 walks with 6 Ks. He got his 24th win. Justin Verlander has more wins than Rick Porcello has years of life. Papa Grande got his 46th save, keeping his streak perfect.

Savor this, Detroit. Bask in it. There’s no telling how much longer it will last.

Detroit Tigers, champions of the AL Central. Yes, that sounds nice.

illustration by Samara Pearlstein

Get back on the bus, folks! We’re going to the playoffs!

With this win over the A’s, the Tigers secured the AL Central title. No going down to the wire at the very tail end of the season. No Game 163 shenanigans. No making Doug Fister cry the traumatized tears of one who has all too often seen his excellent starts go unsupported. It is September 16 (well, technically 17 here by now). The Detroit Tigers are division champs.

Tip your fuzzy tiger ear headband to the unlikeliest extra base hitting ever: Ramon Santiago and Wilson Betemit with triples, Don Kelly with a home run. Raise your giant foam clawed tiger paw in honor of Doug Fister’s magnificent effort. Do a little dance for Papa Grande. And solemnly place a band-aid on your forehead, in solidarity with Alex Avila.



I could announce this to myself in my head all night, and I probably will.

tearing into Cleveland

illustration by Samara Pearlstein

Look, don’t feel bad. Everyone knows that Slider is an abomination against decency and Nature, one that exists only because a logo-based mascot would be so racist that even a team with a racist logo realizes it would not be acceptable. Karmically speaking, Slider deserves every indignity the universe can think to heap upon his frazzled magenta head-dollop.

Verlander was nowhere near his best, but the offense picked him up. And when I say ‘the offense’, I mean “Victor Martinez”, and when I say “picked him up”, I mean “hit a grand slam”. Victor is not literally picking up Justin Verlander. He may be strong, but Verlander is concentrated pitching power, so his density is very high, like a black hole. A black hole where other, non-Tigers teams go to die.

There was a squirrel on the field. It was chased into the Cleveland bullpen, where the relievers had some fun trying to effect a capture before the squirrel climbed a fence and made a flying leap off into the brush. It’s no mantis (obviously– Cleveland lost), but it’s clearly worth a mention.

The previous game was a 10-1 crushing victory. Al Alburquerque came back, struck out two guys, then started looking very shaky. Recovery is a process. It’s ok that his first day back was not perfect. Rick Porcello looked good and the offense looked great. That was plenty.

The bit about Jason Kipnis not being back until after this series turned out to be a lie, but even that worked out just fine. That is how you knew things were going to be OK.

The Tigers sweep the series, the RLs are dejected, Slider rubs his bare patch while Paws cackles and starts claw-felting his own personal hot pink tribble. Good things.

moonshots for victory

illustration by Samara Pearlstein

I was going to wait until the end of the weekend and do a wrap-up post, but yesterday’s game really demanded some sort of response.

The Tigers were down almost the entire game. After the top of the 5th they were losing 8-1. If the Tigers were going to make up that difference, it would have to be their largest comeback in three years. Brad Penny was being Brad Penny. It was by all accounts excruciatingly hot, making the slow Pennyish pace of the game even more intolerable for fans and fielders alike. The crowd was annoyed, the Wrong Sox were feeling feisty, and if the Tigers had actual tiger tails, they would have been dragging. You don’t come back from that.

Except when you do.

Austin Jackson tripled in a run. Delmon Young hit a two-run homer. (8-4) Wilson Betemit homered. (8-5) With a man on second, Jhonny Peralta singled in a run. (8-6)

At this point it was the bottom of the 9th. Betemit struck out to start. Action Jackson tripled (again!). Ryan Raburn came up, representing the tying run. No way, right?

Oh, but he did. The Rhino hit one 424 feet, a soaring moonshot that tied the game at 8. Rain had lowered the temperature on the field. The Wrong Sox were stunned.

It was still far from inevitable that Detroit would win the game, but there is a certain inexorable slide towards Tigers victory that begins when you give up the tying run in the 9th inning and leave time for Miguel Cabrera to come up to bat. After Raburn, Delmon Young struck out (2 outs), and then Cabrera came to the plate.

He only needed one pitch.

With nobody on base, the only way he could win it immediately was with a home run, and that is what he proceeded to do. Boom, moonshot #2, game over, walkoff Tigers win and a great big pile of happy hugging cats at home plate. It was such an extreme turnaround that it was hard to even remember what Penny had done to the first half of the game. And that is good; that is as it should be.

Action Jackson’s cannon arm.

illustration by Samara Pearlstein

This was a game of great indecision. At first it was not clear where the Tigers stood on the question of WINNING THE BASEBALL GAME. In the third inning it seemed evident that they DID want to win, as they methodically went about stripping the dignity from Ubaldo Jimenez to the tune of a lot of runs all in a single inning. As Ubaldo Jimenez is employed by the Racist Logos and not the Detroit Tigers, the removal of his dignity would seem to indicate a desire to achieve victory on the part of said Tigers.

But then in the very next inning, there were a great many SHENANIGANS and the RLs scored a whole bunch of runs of their own, stripping the dignity from Rick Porcello. Now each team had a starting pitcher who felt most at ease sitting on the bench while letting his head droop in shame. They sat in opposing dugouts, staring at one another across the infield, only not staring, because of the drooping heads. And the shame.

It went on and on like that, a tense battle between two teams, neither behaving as if it wholeheartedly wanted to win, yet neither wishing to lose. Wilson Betemit steals a base, all is well. A questionable call is made and Jim Leyland gets himself thrown out of the game in 0.2 seconds, all is lost. Travis Hafner gets an RBI, all is RL-well. Travis Hafner’s leg implodes while he tries to stretch a single into a double, all is RL-lost. Etc.

In the final throes of torturously overlong Sunday afternoon baseball, the score was 8-7, Tigers holding the scant lead. Papa Grande entered the fray. On five pitches, he walked Kosuke ‘Still a Cub at Heart’ Fukudome. Then, with the count 0-2, he hit Jason Donald in the back. Legendary Lloyd emerged from the dugout to try to speak of pitching things, even though his Legend is in hitting and not in the throwing of baseballs.

There was a sac bunt, moving the runners to second and third. All was nervousness, uncertainty, fear. Matt LaPorta pinch hit for a shard of Cliff Lee bait. LaPorta hit a long fly ball to center. The Cub set forth for home.

BUT THERE WAS TO BE NO TIE, FOR AUSTIN JACKSON WAS IN THAT CENTER FIELD. He caught the ball (out number two), then fired a THROW OF SPLENDID PERFECTION. It sailed through the air, touching not one blade of grass, not one speck of dirt. It landed squarely in Alex Avila’s glove, a little ways up the third base line, not too close to home, giving Avila plenty of room to set a block and prevent the Cub from reaching his goal.

Out number three, your basic 8-2 double play, game over, Tigers win.

Austin Jackson and his cannon arm cannot and will not be denied.

Also, Jim Leyland said this:

We kept trying to milk outs and almost ran out of milk.

… OK.

Tiger bats continue to love Texas, or maybe hate Texas if you consider the fact that they’re being kind of mean to Texas

old as dirt illustration by Samara Pearlstein

Here’s the creepy bit: I didn’t just draw this, I found this drawing lurking in my photobucket… from 2008. Which you can totally tell, but you know, whatever. I guess the Cats have done this before, that’s my point.

Yesterday everybody got a hit, and today ALMOST everybody did. The only exception was Ramon Santiago, who came in for the Rhino and only had one at-bat anyways so he doesn’t really count as not getting a hit because if he had been in the game longer he definitely would have gotten a hit. Or two hits. SEVERAL. Although the home runs were down– nobody went yard, after 6 balls left the field last night– we still got to see a boatload of hits, even if they were all singles and doubles. The ridiculous offensive output of the Tigers in Texas remains fully ridiculous.

What was tonight’s dose of Tiger-bat-diculousness? The Tigers hit 5 doubles in the game. Two players hit two each. Those players? Alex Avila and Casper Wells. Not so crazy for Avila to be hitting, since he is a Catching Savior after all, but Casper Wells has had to prostrate himself before Jim Leyland and tearfully beg for a start, so for him to come hopping lightly off the bench like all the time he’s spent cemented to it has been no big deal is ridiculous. Splendid and ridiculous.

You just know that as soon as everyone comes home to Detroit they will suddenly forget how to hit a baseball, but we’ll enjoy this while we can.

Soon enough I will do my Tigers Draft 2011 post. Rod and Mario were talking about the draft, and they mentioned that Dereck Rodriguez, SON OF PUDGE RODRIGUEZ, was drafted by the Twins. He’s a teenager! Pudge is still playing! I’m not ready!

In any event, the draft post will be where I make up facts about the new kittens, and probably repost the kitten drawing from last year. Get psyched.

Justin Verlander hates hits so much.

illustration by Samara Pearlstein. I know this no-hitter came against the Blue Jays, not the Royals. The TC is from a previous thing, ok. Deal.

Remember when Justin Verlander threw a no-hitter?

Yeah. That happened again.

I fully expected to not see this game, but a series of work-related shenanigans involving people in two states and mostly hinging upon the location of a portable tent conspired to send me home early. As with any Verlander start these days, I thought I would see a bunch of strikeouts, a ton of pitches thrown early, and a generally good pitching performance with flashes of stupidly overpowering brilliance, probably not supported by the bats. You know, the usual.

On the whole I was still glad that I was going to be able to watch it, because, hey, a Verlander start is usually going to be better baseball-viewin’ than a Phil Coke start, if you know what I mean, and I suspect that you do, even the rabid Phil Cokeanistas among you.

I got in around the third or fourth inning. I remember hearing that Verlander had seen 9 batters and sent 9 batters right back to their bench, and thinking that this sounded oddly efficient for him. It was: he needed only 108 pitches to blast through this entire game. Compare that to his last outing, where he needed 127 pitches just to get through 6 and I became fractious as a result. I’m just saying.

As in his previous no-hitter, he was hitting triple digits all over the place even in the 8th and 9th innings, and making it look effortless (as effortless as the highly unnatural and arm-stressing motion of any major league pitch can look, anyways). This is because Justin Verlander is a beast who consumes the sweet terror of opposing batters and excretes pure fastballs.

Oddly, he did not actually strike out many Jays (4 over 9 innings), but since this relative lack of Ks certainly contributed to his efficient use of pitches, I am pleased. It also probably makes the defense feel good about its collective self and that can only be a positive thing.

It would have been a PERFECT GAME if not for JP Arencibia and an intense 12 pitch at-bat that resulted in an eventual walk, the only baserunner of the game for Toronto. Perfection and cleanliness of the bases marred by the offensiveness of persistent bluebirds. Bah, tarnation, etc. After the game Verlander kept saying how it was an impressive at-bat, ‘especially from a young guy like him’, as though Arencibia is not a mere three years younger than Verlander.

I know that it’s Good Baseball and all that, but DAMMIT, Arencibia! Couldn’t you just flail a LITTLE? The Tigers were already cruelly deprived of one recent perfect game, why make us suffer through it again? Have you no sympathy for human and tiger suffering? Have you no HEART?? At least this time it was legitimate, and there is the no-hitter to give us and Verlander warm comforting metaphorical hugs.

Speaking of HUGS, the one that Verlander got immediately following the last out, from Alex Avila, was a beautiful thing to behold.

He also got a tub of ice water dumped over his head in his postgame on-field interview, all college-football-style. I couldn’t see who did it, but they got him quite squarely. Trevor Thompson, who had been holding the mic, took a fair hit himself and had to glisten his way through the rest of the interview.

Justin Verlander has thrown two no-hitters. One of them was a single battle-walk away from being a perfect game. Meditate upon that. Let that marinate in your brain for maximum deliciousness.

I should have downtime at work tomorrow for drawing, so expect some sort of large overwrought Verlander-celebratory illustration here in the near future.

Things we learned from a series sweep of the Wrong Sox.

illustration by Samara Pearlstein

–Max Scherzer is good at throwing a small white ball near the midriff sections of Chicago-employed creatures. Like, really good. Really REALLY good. There are people out there who will talk about Max Scherzer’s arm and Max Scherzer’s knowledge of the lineup and even Max Scherzer’s rapport with Savior Avila. But we all know the real reason for his success.

Max Scherzer is so good because he is seeing the strike zone in extra dimensions, far beyond what normal human beings can see. And this, of course, is because of his magical eyes.

–Every time the TV cameras zoom in for a closeup on Max Scherzer’s eyes, a kitten gets gently, lovingly hugged somewhere in the world.

–Brent Lillibridge is a wood elf. Brent Morel is a mushroom. Nobody should trust a team with this many Brents on it.

–Alexei Ramirez is an alien who crash-landed at Roswell and is trying to remain hidden in plain sight by joining a professional baseball team. Evidence.

–It doesn’t really matter how the bats perform when Ryan Raburn gets the start at second base, it is still going to give us a horrible spine-tingling shiver every time we see him penciled in next to that 2B.

–Miguel Cabrera is what opposing pitchers and managers see when they fall into uneasy, nightmare-riddled sleeps. So he’s going to be walked intentionally 5,000 times until Victor gets healthy again, and a couple thousand more times after that.

–Brandon Inge has been kind of yippy in the field lately, but we must take deep breaths and remember that things will be OK and we can’t let the words of the haters take up residence in our minds. Make your mind a happy place for Brandon Inge, and happiness for you will follow.

–Sure is nice when good pitching is backed up/rewarded by good hitting.

–When mascots interfere with FSD broadcasters, everyone wins. On Sunday Trevor Thompson got bothered by both Paws and the giant Easter bunny, and it was good.

–Rod Allen eats his hot dog with mustard, a little ketchup, and a few onions. He also likes it slightly burnt.

–Casper Wells takes a foul ball to the shin, Brandon Inge decides this means he needs to draw an Easter egg on it. This actually happened. I want to know who thought it was a good idea to allow Inge a silver sharpie.

–The essence of true happiness cannot be found in something so prosaic as the result of an early regular season baseball game… but when you decisively sweep the Wrong Sox, you can come quite close to it.

Tigers drag in Leyland’s 1500th win with agonizing slowness, but there it is.

illustrations by Samara Pearlstein

It may not have been quick, it may not have been tidy, but it was a win. And that makes it Jim Leyland’s 1,500th win as a manager! Only Tony The Russa has more. This is something to be celebrated, preferably with a dedication to achieving the 1,501st win, the 1,502nd win, and so on.

–This win also puts the Tigers back at .500 with a 7-7 record. Weak yay!

–Someone had a vuvuzela at this game. Impossible to know if it was an Oakland or a Detroit fan, but whoever it was stuck around for the whole thing, because that sucker was buzzing away alllllll night long.

–Rod recognized some of Kenny Williams’ ‘lieutenants’ in the stands, scouting the Tigers. Look, nothing gets past Rod Allen, ok? He spies on the spies. He knows everyone, and he knows all. You aren’t going to pull any wool over our eyes so long as Rod Allen is on high watching, Wrong Sox.

–Extra innings in a game that started after 10:00pm for many of us are just… ugh. I appreciate the effort and all, but it’s almost 2:30am now because I forced myself to write this stupid blog and there were extra innings and, you know what, I blame Brian Fuentes. He seems responsible.

–Coco Crisp cut his ‘fro way back. I know it’s wicked difficult to maintain one as large as the puff he was sporting yesterday, but from a pure fashion standpoint, it’s disappointing. Anyways, this is what it USED to look like:

–The game felt so filled with struggles and angst and Not Hitting in the sixth that it was really remarkable that the score was only 1-0. It felt like the Tigers should have been down 10 by that point. Somehow, they weren’t. This failure on the part of the A’s to take advantage was what left the door open for the late feline rally, and turned a soul-crushing drag of a game into an unlikely Tiger win. If you let a not-awful team hang around for that long, they’ll make you pay for it eventually. Let this be a lesson to you all.

–Phil Coke was a wrestler in high school.

So when he challenged a Tigers reporter to a match during an early Spring Training appearance, he was being serious.

“I had a two-inning start and didn’t break a sweat,” Coke said. “I didn’t even get my adrenaline going. So I asked ‘Want to wrestle?’ He kept saying, ‘No, no, no.’ I said ‘There’s a soft sofa I can body slam you against.’ It wouldn’t have hurt at all.” Eymer

I… what?

–According to Rod, Al Alburquerque was so excited to be up that he got to the ballpark 6 hours early yesterday. Mario’s reaction: “What was he doing??” Good question. Rolling around on the grass, that’s my guess. It’s what I would do, anyways.

–He was wearing his socks up. YES. Also, when he came in, it was AlAl replacing FredFred, pitching to AlAv, which is the very thing we had all hoped for so much. There may or may not have been tears of joy in my eyes at the time.

–Rod: “Got that Mr. T starter kit on, I see!… That’s a big rope!”
Mario (laughing): “Did you just call it a rope?”
Rod (indignant): “That’s what they call it!”

They were talking about Alburquerque’s chain necklace. Although really it wasn’t all that big, he was just wearing it along with a beaded rosary, and the two together looked like one massive necklace at times.

–Brayan Villarreal’s hair looked extra soft and fluffy– dare I say snuggly?– in this one. I’m sure under the hat it looked like wet roadkill but the bit sticking out from the back was particularly nice tonight. I dunno. I wanted to pet it.

–At one point, after the game had gone to extras, they showed Miguel Cabrera sitting with Austin Jackson in the dugout. They were both kind of slouching on the bench, talking about something. Miggy says something that makes Austin laugh. They bump fists, bro-tastically. End scene. WITH LOVE.

–It was Jackie Robinson Day, so everyone was wearing 42. With no names on the uniforms and no identifying numbers, Jackie Robinson Day forces you to pay attention to and recognize the players themselves, by their faces, if you want to keep things straight. As an unintended consequence of the tribute it’s actually quite fitting.

Anyways, I drew a thing.

Could’ve used more reference… oh well. Deal.

–You know what’s the worst? I will tell you. It’s when the last thing you watch is a very late night FSD Tigers broadcast, where they play April in the D commercials at seemingly every single commercial break, so one of the last things you hear before trying to go to bed is the April in the D song. Yeah. You know where this is going.

The April in the D song gets stuck in your head when all you want to do is sleep. Sweet, sweet unconsciousness, I just want to slide headlong into you, but I cannot, because APRIL IN THE D APRIL IN THE D FOX SPORTS DEEEEE TROIT OH BLESSED PAWS SEVER MY BRAIN FROM MY SPINAL CORD AND END THIS AGONY