Game 78: Astros at Tigers

PREGAME: After beating up on Wandy Rodriguez last night, the Tigers will face a slightly more formidable challenge in Roger Clemens…I really don’t have much more to say. Roger Clemens is really good, and none of the current Tigers have had a great deal of success.

I’ve seen Clemens pitch in person one time. It was when he was with the Blue Jays and our seats were in the 2nd row by the visitor bullpen at Tiger Stadium. I don’t remember the game itself, but I distinctly remember being 15 feet away as Clemens was warming up. Very cool.

Big League Nate Robertson takes the ball for the Tigers. The Tigers are 2-2 in June when Robertson pitches, and he really pitched 4 winnable games. His bullpen let him down in 2 of his starts.

Game Time 7:05pm.

POSTGAME: I just got back from the game and it had exactly what I hoped for. The Tigers won. Roger Clemens was looking like a Hall of Famer. Nate Robertson battled and matched him.

Two of my favorite moments from this season came during the 7th inning of this game. In the top half of the inning, when Nate Robertson was in the midst of crawling out of a runner on 3rd no out jam, the crowd rose to its feet as Willy Taveras came to the plate. The park was electric as 40,000 willed Robertson to get that final out.

And then in the bottom half when Roger Clemens was taken out of the game, the Detroit faithful gave him a standing ovation out of respect for his effort that night, and for his complete resume. I’m tired of the Roger Clemens retirement/non-retirement saga every year, but I still fully recognize his stature in the history of the game.

I’ve been to sold out games at Comerica Park before, but they weren’t like this. Opening Day is a party, and the Yankees are the Yankees. Tonight was all about baseball. The fans were collectively engaged the whole game. The crowd sensed momentous turning points and rose in unison. This wasn’t a bunch of bandwagoners following a winner. These were baseball fans thrilled with finally having something to cheer about from the home team. This was a whole lot of fun.

16 Comments

  1. Kyle J

    June 27, 2006 at 5:42 pm

    Interesting (but fairly meaningless) stat: Clemens has a career ERA over 4.00 vs. the Tigers–4.02 to be exact. Pretty good W-L record, though: 25-10.

    Of course, this is a guy whose career actually stretches to back to the last time the Tigers were bona fide contenders.

  2. Joey C.

    June 27, 2006 at 8:19 pm

    I’ve long been skeptical about Nate Robertson’s ability, but his seventh inning tonight blew my head apart. What a performance!

  3. Steve

    June 27, 2006 at 9:46 pm

    Great job by Nate Roberston tonight. Its not too long ago that that would have been the deciding point at which we lost games. These guys are learning how to win and trust each other.
    I also thought that Z did a great job in the 8th. He looks a little scary sometimes but he usually come through. It will be interesting to follow his career.

    Later Tiger fans…………..

    Steve

  4. Nate

    June 27, 2006 at 10:20 pm

    Reading the Box Score, I was shocked to see only 4 Strikeouts today by Tiger hitters, and only 3 of those against The Rocket! Even managed 2 walks against him!

    Thats 4 straight games where Tiger batting has recorded 5 or fewer strikeouts. Those strikeouts have been largely from the usual suspects – Inge, Monroe, Shelton, Thames, Granderson – but its fewer of them. And I doubt it means anything (especially since the 1st game against the Cardinals and the series in Milwalkee, the Tigs fanned 10+ times each game), but those are numbers I like!

  5. Steve P.

    June 27, 2006 at 11:35 pm

    Great summary, Billfer. I watched the game on FSN (in Texas), and the baseball knowledge of the crowd really came through. Retiring the side in the 7th was huge, but an inattentive crowd might easily miss its importance. In Chicago they would have sang that disgustingly annoying Na Na Na Na song when Clemens left the mound, and probably threw some beer at him and maybe ran on the field and sucker punched him in the face.

    I’ve been to a lot of White Sox games, and the games where people don’t run on the field, there were ALWAYS violent fist fights in the upper deck or the concourse. And the fans only knew about Konerko and Buehrle.

    Proud to be a Tiger fan.

  6. Joey C.

    June 27, 2006 at 11:58 pm

    Wrigley isn’t any better.

    And you’re right Steve…the fan’s knowledge of the game did come through the broadcast.

    I gotta get back home for a game or two this season.

  7. Jeff M

    June 27, 2006 at 11:59 pm

    I was there too. It was exactly as Billfer described it. Heck, I missed a whole inning while waiting in line for the bathroom. When was the last time that happened??

  8. Pingback: The Big Lead » blog » The Roundup Has Nine Lives, and We May Loan Dusty Baker A Few

  9. Scott

    June 28, 2006 at 7:52 am

    yes, the much lower strikeout totals I like alot better, too. But, I suspect Clemens, at 43, just can’t get the same velocity on the ball that a younger Clemens could. He was throwing consistently at 93 mph. I don’t have stats from his earlier days, but I suspect he was maybe 96-97 at a younger age. The way Robertson battled back after that throwing error was huge; a turning point in the game. It was like the Tiges came alive right after he turned ’em away; scored 3 runs in the bottom of the inning and the ‘Stros cracked and made some errors of their own. So far, we’re 12-2 v the NL with 1 left v Houston and 3 v Pittsburgh. This is starting to remind me of ’68; a different hero every game….and the ’68 rally cry:

    Sockit to ’em, Tigers

  10. Anne

    June 28, 2006 at 8:34 am

    Sock it to ’em, indeed, and bless you boys just for good measure!

    Maybe I’ve got this wrong, but didn’t Clemens used to hit 100 mph with his fastball?

  11. Kyle J

    June 28, 2006 at 8:39 am

    IMO, Clemens cost his team the game last night. He was nearly unhittable all night and his pitch count was still well under 100 when he lost composure and started going after Buchner about ball/strike calls. Yes, it was a small strike zone last night, but it was small for Robertson, too. If Clemens keeps his composure, I think Garner keeps him in the game and it’s much less likely the Tigers score.

    I recognize Clemens’ position as arguably the greatest pitcher of all time, but last night his temper cost his team.

  12. Andrew

    June 28, 2006 at 8:39 am

    I caught the game on the radio on the way home last night. When I started listening it was the top of the 8th and Zumaya was in a jam facing the heart of the Astros order. Man, when Zoom-Zoom snuffed out the rally and the crowd was roaring I actually had goosebumps. Great game!

  13. Marshall in DC

    June 28, 2006 at 8:49 am

    I agree Kyle – I know that Clemens was around 86 pitches and that he had a pitch count – but with two on and one out – I was suprised to see him pulled in the 7th. Not sure it was his anger that got him pulled but a Mgr. can go out – calm him down and let him keep throwing the rock.

    That is what I woudl avhe done – especially since Monroe had had no success vs him earlier in the game.

    When he got yanked I cheered – not for Clemens – but for what I thought was a dumb managing move that would help the tigers win. Thanks Phil!

  14. Sam

    June 28, 2006 at 9:03 am

    You know,

    I loved Nolan Ryan when he was pitching great in his 40’s in the early 90s. But, I have always disliked the Rocket. I respect his legacy, but as a Human Being he as always inpressed me as being very arrogant and not a team player. He has a bad temper and has always let it get in his way (i.ee. playoff game against the A’s, Mike Piazza, Last Night).

    -Sam

  15. hawk

    June 28, 2006 at 10:49 am

    I too was at the game and enjoyed every minute of it. Thank you to Garner for pulling Clemens. No way you pull a HOF pitcher who has been dominating up to that point. Awesome to watch Robertson bear down and recover from his throwing error. That inning will be a big part of his maturation as a pitcher. Kudos to Leyland for hanging with him. That was probably to best midseason game I have attended!!!!

  16. Anne

    June 28, 2006 at 3:46 pm

    Rocket’s attitude may have cost him and his team, but the Tiger fans showed a lot of class, giving him a standing ovation as he left. I wish that kind of thing made the national news, but I guess it’s just not as interesting as chair-throwing or other boorish fan behavior.