Tag Archives: Verlander

welcome back Nate! and other bits from the weekend

photo by Samara Pearlstein

This past Saturday, Nate Robertson returned from the dead, looking more like a reasonably well-preserved human being than a mothily decaying corpse. So I have been told, anyways. This was supposed to be the FOX afternoon game but instead FOX was showing the Kennedy funeral, or wake, or memorial service, or whatever the hell it was. Did that happen in Detroit also, or was it just in Massachusetts because Massachusetts is insane when it comes to Kennedys?

Nate gave up two runs in four innings, but only one of those runs was earned. He gave up four hits, none of which went for extra bases. He threw 70 pitches, which is not great, but he only walked one dude and he struck out four, so I feel OK about it.

When was the last time I was able to say that about a Nate Robertson start without all sorts of sarcastic nudges and winks? Honestly can’t remember.

The Tigers lost the game, but it wasn’t actually Nate’s fault; the bats were just shut the hell down by David Price. Actually they were shut the hell down on Sunday too, by Jeff Niemann this time. Lots of bat-shutting-down this weekend.

All that came to an end in the eighth inning, though, when Placido Polanco, of all cats, hit a three-run homer to put the Tigers in the lead. I always imagine him doing this when he hits one out, and then I imagine the pitcher lying prone on the mound because he has been struck down by his own shame over the fact that he has given up a home run to Placido Polanco, whose slugging percentage, after all, is a majestic .385. Miggy’s SLG is .565, just to give you a point of comparison.

The homer meant that the Tigers and Justin Verlander would get the win. Number 69 on the year for the Tigers, number 15 on the year for Verlander. Did he throw 100+ pitches? You don’t need me to type the answer to that question. You know the answer in your hearts.

Rosters expand on Tuesday! Get psyched, get psyched, we gonna see us some kittens.

Monday’s game is at 1:05 pm for some reason. I mean really, mid-day on a Monday? What is that, a makeup game or something? I keep opening up the schedule and looking at it because I think it’s a typo, but every time it is still there. Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome is a sign of madness, isn’t it? Damn.

Clete saves the day

illustration by Samara Pearlstein

You hear “walkoff homer to dead center in Comerica” and you don’t automatically think “Clete Thomas”. Unless maybe you are Clete Thomas. But tonight all of Clete’s walkoff dreams came true, and thank cats they did, because the Tigers REALLY did not need to lose a Verlander start, especially after what happened this weekend.

It was the bottom of the 9th, the game tied at 5. Granderson had run the count full, then struck out swinging; Polanco looked at four pitches before grounding out second. Clete stepped up with two outs and the entire team fervently praying that he would not make another one. After all, the Tigs had just played a zillion innings in a row, with back-to-back 12+ inning games followed by a day game that turned into a rout. And then they had to travel back to Detroit. Definitely not circumstances that would lead a Cat to look forward to the prospect of yet more extra innings.

Clete fouled off a couple pitches, giving everyone reason to fear, and then got something from Danys Baez that he felt good about. He felt so good about it that he dumped it 424 feet away over the center field wall. Apparently it was his very first walkoff ever.

Thank cats. Fernando had pitched the top of the inning and, given the way he’s been used lately, I was really, REALLY not

looking forward to seeing what would happen if this thing had extended into a 10th frame.

This was a fast game, under two and a half hours, and that was partly because Justin Verlander was so good for innings 2-through-8. About that first inning? He threw 25 pitches in the first inning and allowed 5 runs, including a leadoff homer for Brian Roberts. He gave up 9 hits in 8 innings, and 6 of those hits came in the first inning.

The fact that Verlander was able to get past that first inning and go on to pitch a fairly good game is worth noting. It shows good mental fiber, or whatever, and an ability to make adjustments, or whatever. It shows that while the Orioles may have made a very good study of him, they only came prepared for one version of Justin Verlander, while Verlander (and Laird, and Rick Knapp) had at least one other version lurking in the wings, waiting to be trotted out on the mound. Fine Pitching Qualities.

But what in the HELL happened in that first inning? The Roberts homer came on only the second pitch of the game, so maybe that shook Justin up… or maybe the Orioles really did have excellent Verlander video and had prepared so that they knew exactly what to do with his fastball, and when he started mixing it up a little bit more, they were lost. Maybe the Orioles were all set to bust butt out of the gate, and when the Tigers attacked right back with three runs in the bottom of the first, it took the wind out of their little orange wings.

Whatever it was, it needs to NOT HAPPEN ANYMORE, because with that many pitches early, Verlander was well over 100 pitches for his outing. AGAIN. You have to go all the way back to June 16 before you hit a game where Verlander threw fewer than 100 pitches. That’s ten starts ago. He’s already thrown 2,531 pitches this season, which is the MOST out of ALL THE PITCHERS IN THE MAJOR LEAGUES OF BASEBALL.

I love that he’s able to go deep into games, I love that he’s able to fight back so that he doesn’t need to be taken out after a first inning like the one he had today. I love that he hates seeing the bullpen pitch just as much as I do. But I DON’T love the number of pitches he throws on a regular basis with his history of tiring late in the season/in the postseason, and I don’t love how Leyland is so cavalier with his arm while at the same time treating Rick Porcello with unnecessarily starched kid gloves. I realize that I have been harping on this but I was probably traumatized by Jeremy Bonderman, I see doom and gloom at every corner now, and I will keep harping until Something Is Done.

Ahem. Anyways.

How about that River Thames? He made two good catches today: a running, diving grab to rob Matt Wieters of a hit, and then a leaping catch at the wall later in the game, which ended with his glove coming off his hand. The River held up the glove, with the ball still in it, to general overjoyed applause. In fact this post was mostly going to be about The River’s defensive display, but then Verlander just kept going and going, and then Clete went and got all heroic and whatnot. Good stuff.

Tuesday we get our first look at Jarrod Washburn in a Tigers uniform. ‘Most everyone looks good in the Olde English D, of course, and the Tigers have been much better at home than on the road, but it’s still worth saying that we really need this series, so, yanno, you want a warm Detroit welcome, Wash, please do all you can to earn it.

Verlander hits his career high in Ks, again, but this time something is different…

photo thing by Samara Pearlstein

I will admit that I just enjoyed how startled Verlander looked there, like he’s totally surprised to find himself surrounded by Ks. All these fine letters, where have they come from, what am I doing here, so on and so forth!

As you may recall, back in May Justin Verlander set his career high in strikeouts with 13, and then the bullpen made a feeble blargle noise and the Tigers lost the game. You will of course recall how ridiculous this was. Well, it turns out that all was NOT lost, at least not entirely, because on Wednesday Justin Verlander hit his career high in K-throwin’ once again by striking out 13 Rangers.

And this time the Tigers won!

~*~don’t faint, my children, it’s a miracle~*~

Was Verlander perfect? No he was not: in fact, he gave up four runs (three earned) in seven innings, which on a ‘normal’ Tigers night these days would not be nearly enough for a win, because the bats would be too busy making feeble blargle noises of their own to get more than one or two runs. In this game, however, the Hitting Vortex was temporarily banished, and the Big Cats managed to put up 13 run on 19 hits.

The River Thames, Miggy, and G-Money all doubled. Polanco doubled twice. The River and Miggy also both homered, with Granderson hitting two homeruns all on his own. Eleven Tigers had at-bats in the game, and only two failed to get a single hit: Magglio, who was 0-for-4, and Inge, who pinch hit and thus only had one at-bat to work with.

Ryan Raburn and Adam Everett both had 3 hits on the day. G-Money stole a base, basically forced a bad throw home, and manufactured a run with his catcher’s legs. Miguel Cabrera went 4-for-6 with 4 RBI.

Crazysauce? You bet your pants it’s crazysauce. Where did this come from? How is it possible for the Tigers to pry themselves away from the Hitting Vortex, which has been sucking them dry on the road ever since, like, June? And was this just a temporary reprieve, or are they going to fall right back into the Vortex’s gravitational pull since they’re continuing on a road trip? And, and, and…

I need to calm down. Justin Verlander is not asking these questions. Right now he’s probably just happy that he finally got a win to go along with his top K contribution, and he’s probably happy that the bats gave him a really big cushion, so that he didn’t have to worry about the bullpen Ruining Everything once he left the game.

(Yes, he threw over 100 pitches again. If you haven’t been keeping track, this means that out of 22 starts this season, Verlander has thrown 100+ pitches 18 times. He is averaging a little over 104 pitches per start this year, but at the same time he’s averaging somewhere between 6 and 7 innings per start, so it’s not like he’s accumulating all those pitches by throwing complete games every time out.)

And I’m slipping into nitpicky paranoia again. This was a pretty good game, and the bits that weren’t so good were masked by the much larger and noisier bits that WERE good. The Tigers have an offday on Thursday, then start a series in Cleveland against the Racist Logos.

Weather permitting, I will be at the ballpark for Saturday’s FredFred/Carmona matchup! I will be wearing a Brandon Inge All Star Game jersey and I’ll be clutching a huge dorky camera like a huge dork. If you see me, feel free to come say hi. RotTin’ will recommence after the weekend, as usual.

Carlos Guillen returns on a high note, has not reinjured himself yet

photo by Samara Pearlstein

This series with the Wrong Sox was huge. Huge! Four games compressed into three days, the division lead hanging in the balance, the lives of many kittens at stake. And while the last game in the series was not so hot, the Tigs managed to win the first three, which is, to be honest, way more than I had expected from them. They’re two games up on the Incorrect Footwear, a lead that is not in the least bit comfortable or safe, but is better than it could have been had this weekend gone differently/more evilly.

Maybe the biggest news is the return of Carlos Guillen from the DL, where he has been languishing seemingly for all time, even though apparently it’s only been since, like, early May. Feels like years. We’ve basically gotten used to the idea of a Guillen-less Tigers team and have been expecting the team to behave accordingly, but with the trade deadline coming up and the Cats hitting in weird, inconsistent and unreliable little spurts, his name started coming up again as a possible no-trade bandaid.

Behold! In the three games he’s been back, Carlos has gone 5-for-12 with a homer and 3 RBI. One of those was a walkoff RBI single on Saturday, in the 10th inning. He’s had at least one hit in every game and no part of his body has exploded yet (surely helped along by the fact that he’s DH’d all three games).

Of course it’s too early to tell if Carlos will be the regular offensive boost the team has needed post-All-Star-break. It’s quite possible that the Hitting Vortex will re-form, or that the inconsistency of the other hitters is contagious and because nobody ever uses tissues or washes his hands in a baseball clubhouse, Carlos will soon catch the disease.

But this was an encouraging return, even more so because it came in a big series where the Tigers desperately needed it.

Etc.

— Casey Fien made his big league debut on Sunday. He pitched 2.1 innings of scoreless ball, which is even more impressive when you consider the fact that he came in with the bases loaded and stranded all three runners. I hope he feels good about himself.

Is it pronounced “feen” or “fine”? The crew last night was saying “feen” but you can’t always trust those ESPN types.

— Lots of little moves lately. Freddy Dolsi got sent to Toledo when Eddie Bonine was called up for his spot start on the back end of the Friday doubleheader, then Fien was called up when Bonine was sent back down. Josh Anderson was DFA’d when Guillen was activated.

— The fact that Verlander threw a complete game on Friday is nice, in the sense that we always like to see starters go the whole way so that we don’t have to gaze upon the bullpen, but it was another zillion-pitch outing. Yeah, he ran up the worst of his pitch count early and settled down later in the game, but I still don’t think it’s a particularly sustainable long term strategy, allowing/encouraging him to run himself out there for 100+ pitches every single time.

In 21 starts this season, Verlander has had FOUR games where he threw under 100 pitches (97 and 96 pitches in one close and one blowout win, 80 and 73 pitches in two blowout losses).

— Bondo and Nate have both been throwing. For whatever that’s worth.

Mr. Beck had a cute headline today about the Galarraga/Laird battery returning home. Arrrrrmando got his start in Arlington, throwing to Laird, who was not yet G-Money in those long ago Texan days.