News and links from last night’s 5-1 Tigers victory…
The Casey situation
So far the extent of Sean Casey’s injury still isn’t know and won’t be until 1. he wakes up, and 2. he gets some diagnostics (i.e. MRI). What we do know is that my fears have come to fruition and Neifi Perez will be getting the nod at shortstop with Carlos Guillen going to first.
This is my problem with Perez. It isn’t that he’s bad to have as a 25th guy, it’s that Jim Leyland uses him as a 10th guy. I know that we’re not supposed to criticize Leyland, but the decision to carry Infante/Perez/Santiago was a poor one. With Casey’s injury and Perez as the stop gap, the infield defense is measurably weaker at 2 positions and a hole has been added to the lineup. Even if you don’t like Chris Shelton’s stick (and he did look woeful that last week), the impact would have been limited to adding a hole to the lineup and keeping the infield defense intact had he been available.
Macha announces playoff rotatoin
Of course everyone thought that he had announced the playoff rotation, but apparently nobody actually asked him. It will be Esteban Loaiza tonight, but then it will be Rich Harden in game 3 and Danny Haren in game 4. It was anticipated that Haren and Harden would swap spots.
What others are saying
Yes, the umpiring was horrid. I found the non-strikeout call on Polanco to be the worst offense of the night. But our boys lost this game tonight. If that’s Zito’s last appearance in an A’s uniform, then that’s a sad way to go out. I was surprised that the Tigers were able to go against their stats and have a very patient approach against Zito. They looked more like Yankee hitters than Tiger hitters and for that they deserve kudos. I think the Twins could’ve done the same thing and had success against Barry because to me, the majority of Zito’s pitches were also out of the zone. The difference was that the Tigers gave the ump a chance to call them balls. When you throw 92 pitches and only 49 are strikes, you aren’t going to win many games.
They get on base, but then are erased by double plays and untimely hitting. Macha should really get the runners moving a little more often, but with free swingers like Swisher, Jimenez and Payton in the lineup, that may not be a great idea, either.
In chess terms, the A’s lost a bishop in Zito, who finessed and nitpicked and subdivided and struggled with the zone even in the first two innings. They also re-demonstrated their yearlong weakness by doing the absolute minimum with their 14 baserunners. If not for a hard smash off Joel Zumaya’s leg that scored Milton Bradley in the eighth, the A’s would have nothing to show for their first really big evening in 14 years.
That’s the work of somebody who doesn’t intimidate easily. And that has been Robertson’s act all season — the more daunting the obstacle, the greater the resolve. His best performances this season were losses in which the Tigers produced two few runs.
These were the Tigers we saw most of the summer, and most of that rollicking series against the Yankees. These are the Tigers the rest of the baseball world is getting to know. Timely hitting, clutch pitching, astute managing, a couple of huge homers, a couple feisty fist pumps, a few great catches, a few nifty double-plays, done.
Now, what the Tigers did was a huge step. No doubt about it, it’s a positive start and it’s okay to start believing in the next round. Just don’t set yourself up that Oakland is going to roll over, because I expect them to be mad at the way they played and a lot better with their back against the wall–and it is. Should the Tigers survive that, then, yes, you can really start to get happy. It’s not the key game in the series for the Tigers, just for the A’s. But it’s going to be a nice indicator.
The Tigers defeated the Athletics 5 to 1 in the first game of the American League Championship tonight. From the start, this game had a different feel from any game in the Yankee series. In contrast to the tension and excitement of the first round, this one felt almost like a regular season game. It’s now like June or July again where I expect good things to happen in each game.