ALCS Game 2 – The day after

The Tigers just took the first 2 games on Oakland’s turf. In the first game they won despite a pitching match-up that didn’t appear to tilt their way. In the 2nd game they did it with an unconventional lineup on a night when their starting pitching was merely average. And yet I’m still nervous.

It was only 2 weeks ago that the Tigers played a home weekend series against the worst team in the league needing merely 1 win. They couldn’t do it. Now the Tigers need 2 wins against a team that has proved to be very good, even if they haven’t shown it yet this series. Some people are saying that the Tigers learned from that series, and that it made them a better team. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but as fans it would be silly to forget what went down.

There’s no denying the Tigers are in the best position possible. They’re coming home for 3 games and the A’s needing to win 4 of the last 5 games to knock off the Tigers. They’re hitting well, playing solid defense, doing enough on the mound, and they have momentum. But this series is far from over. We’ve seen how tenuous even a sizable lead can be and how easily things can change. Last night the Tigers had a 3 run lead with 2 outs in the 9th inning having struck out 6 consecutive A’s batters. Five minutes later Todd Jones was throwing a belt high fastball to Frank Thomas with the bases loaded. Be happy, but remember that the Tigers have 2 more wins to go and I’m pretty sure the A’s aren’t just going to lay down.

The Injuries

Joel Zumaya’s absence was definitely conspicuous last night. We saw Grilli, we saw Ledezma, we saw Rodney. All were very good, but where was #54? It turns out that the forearm stiffness he experienced late in the season has crept back. Extent and timelines aren’t available yet. When he does pitch again, I’d be surprised if Leyland went multiple innings with him.

One thing that was not conspicuously absent last night was Sean Casey’s jersey which Fox repeatedly showed hanging in the dugout. I thought was a nice gesture by the team to kind of keep Casey’s spirit around while he was back in Detroit getting treatment. Only he wasn’t in Detroit. He was in the Coliseum. Why they just didn’t show Casey I can’t figure out. In any case he appears to be done for the season with an outside shot at the World Series should the Tigers be participating.

As for Craig Monroe who received some treatment on the field for what appeared to be his calf (what is it with calves in this series), I didn’t see any news this morning. Seeing that he stayed in the game, I’m guessing he’s fine.

What others are saying

Mack Avenue Tigers: A Detroit Tigers Blog » ALCS Game 2: Alexis WHO?

And so Detroit returns to the cold confines of Comerica Park with a 2-0 lead in the ALCS. That’s not insurmountable in its own right. But right about now, it looks like the Tigers are not going let this series even get back to the west coast. I’m starting to get that team-of-destiny feeling. I keep trying to push it away for fear of disappointment. But it’s there. This is getting pretty fun.

Athletics Nation :: An Oakland A’s Blog

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like going down 2-0 at home. The A’s are now officially the underdogs in the series no matter how you slice it, having simply been outpitched, outhit, and outfielded in two home games, off to face their nemesis, Kenny Rogers, in less friendly confines.
But tonight’s game was a microcosm of why there is hope for the series as a whole. Tonight, the A’s looked like they were cooked only to rise up and get Milton Bradley to the plate representing the tying run, only to go a step further and get Frank Thomas to the plate representing the winning run. Perhaps the series will follow the same script and the A’s have some rising yet to do.

Baseball Toaster: Catfish Stew : No Satisfaction

Perhaps I felt a sense of redemption, that even though the A’s were losing, they were going down fighting. Things have not gone the A’s way so far this series; the hits aren’t quite timely enough, the defense always seems just half an inch from making a play, and the starting pitchers have let them down. The A’s could have easily rolled over and let the Tigers just walk away with this game, but they slogged their way back into the game, with the help of some home runs by Eric Chavez and Milton Bradley.

Bob Wojonowski: DAZZLING! – 10/12/06 – The Detroit News Online

It’s all working now, all the magical stuff and all the practical stuff, and even the bizarre stuff. Seriously. When a seldom-used hitter bounces off the bench to become the star of the game, the Tigers are living right and playing right, and looking more unbeatable by the inning.

DREW SHARP: Roarin’ home!

The Tigers are very good, but they also understand the importance sometimes of being charmed. They won’t fight it. They’re perfectly content riding this wave of momentum until it throws them.

Ray Ratto: Looks like the end is nigh for A’s

So now the A’s go east to either cheat fate or meet it face first. Teams don’t spot the other team two at home and hit the road thinking that it’s clear sailing and free beers all around. It is not accurate to say that the A’s are finished (Chavez said, “All that stuff is numbers and percentages, but it doesn’t mean anything until we’re eliminated”), but it is fair to say they can see “finished” from here. They have reached this point by being a radically different team than the one that got them here — they are the A’s of April trying to make October last a little longer than two or three days in Greektown.

Inside Bay Area – Strengths shockingly failing A’s

The teams that move on at this time of year are the ones that show themselves best. Oakland is completely out of mulligans. Now it’s time to get it in gear or call it a year.

ALCS: Tigers vs. A’s: Tigers Take Control — The Hardball Times

Detroit is in very good position to take control of this series when Kenny Rogers takes on Rich Harden in Detroit on Friday. Harden has awesome stuff—maybe better than Verlander—but he last pitched on Oct. 1, when he overthrew his fastball and left it up in the zone while struggling with his command. It’s not over for Oakland yet, but Detroit has thus far pitched better, hit better, and fielded better in the series.

FOX Sports – Playoffs – No easy outs in Tigers’ lineup

That’s a long-winded way of saying that you won’t find many easy outs in the Detroit lineup. That’s why the Tigers in the 2006 postseason are averaging almost six runs per game. The rotation and bullpen have been solid since the calendar flipped to October, but mostly it’s because of the offense that the Tigers are two wins from their first World Series since 1984.

The Aftermath: Game 2 « Baseball By Paul

I said before the game that the lineup construction was absolutely awful and I was, of course, referring to Neifi Perez’s presence not only in the lineup, but in the ever-crucial #2 slot! Despite that horrendous error in judgement, the lineup worked, to the tune of eight runs as the Tigers leave the Bay Area with a 2-0 lead in the League Championship Series! One lineup adjustment that did favor the team was the insertion of Alexis Gomez. Gomez took home player of the game honors with a 2-for-4, 4 RBI performance that included a home run. Placido Polanco remained white hot with another three hits driving his postseason average to .440 (11-for-25).

26 Comments

  1. Coach Jim

    October 12, 2006 at 9:14 am

    Once again Billfer, another fabulous piece of blog.

    Let me be the first to echo: Why is Neifi Perez playing?

    Then let me add that it seems Chris Shelton will be on the World Series roster. I would hope Perez is not. Though I can’t understand why Infante wasn’t playing for his bat or Santiago for his glove.

  2. Kyle J

    October 12, 2006 at 9:22 am

    Great quote re: Leyland’s lineups:

    “When Jim [Leyland] puts out the lineup it’s the right nine. He’s the only one who has to know the decision. If I walk in there on Friday and see my name as the cleanup hitter, I’d expect to get a hit.”

    – Tigers closer Todd Jones

  3. Bob S.

    October 12, 2006 at 9:40 am

    0 for 5,one ball hit out of the infield(I’ll concede the sacrifice bunt).Perez is not a major league hitter,let alone a guy you want getting more at bats by hitting him second.My head hurts.

  4. Joey C.

    October 12, 2006 at 9:51 am

    Great wrap-up Billfer. Thanks for the updates.

  5. Chris Y.

    October 12, 2006 at 10:19 am

    Nice work Bilfer, but I don’t think it’s fair to make any real comparisons to the post-season Tigers and the Tigers that got swept by the Royals. Clearly, we choked the division two weeks ago, but I don’t know how anyone could be at all worried about their current mindset. Clearly, eliminating the Yankees has solved any self-confidence issues they might have had, and Leyland is doing the rest and steering the ship. Not at all the situation. Though as a fellow life-long Tigers fan, I too am living and dying with every pitch. A 3-run lead with two outs in the 9th and I still couldn’t relax. And Jonesey didn’t help any of my staunch efforts to try and do just that — relax. Luckily, the Tigers seem to be a bit more comfortable than I have been.

    That said, the team has to stay loose and can’t just lay down these next three games. But I really feel that with a 2-0 advantage, that may have just gotten a bit easier. I think the guys have sense enough to know that this is the LCS and NOT the WS. You don’t get any points for winning or playing well in the LCS. You get cred by winning the WS. And we all know there’s a long way to go until then.

    And, as a season-long basher, I have to give Rodney credit for last night’s performance. He looked fantastic. Let’s hope we see more of what he is completely capable of doing — shutting ‘em down!

  6. J

    October 12, 2006 at 10:51 am

    We need to make sure that Chris J (“Trammell”) disagrees with Leylands line-up on Friday night. That would mean the Tigers have a real good shot.

  7. Don

    October 12, 2006 at 10:56 am

    First, I’d rather have pudge at first and vance wilson catching than have neifi in the lineup anywhere, nevermind batting 2nd. Kenny rogers and zack miner both have higher slugging percentages than neifi this year.

    second, this is funny stuff:
    http://www.theonion.com/content/node/53979

  8. Dave from 'The ATL'

    October 12, 2006 at 11:09 am

    Hey what’s up with Zoom? Is he going to be able to play Friday night in the tundra?

    By the way, is it just me or is Bradley (and Swisher) totally frigin’ brutal or what?

    Hey Milton (nice name by the way Monopoly-boy), why don’t you stare down your own homers a little more? You act like you’re surprised you actually hit one!

    Cute little dance in the dug-out with Swisher afterwards, too. These guys shoud be wearing pink, the way the primp their facial hair! Nice glasses, Milton. Don’t worry everyone’s looking at you. Look at me! Look at me! What a clown.

    You won’t see any ‘look-at-me’ people playing for Leyland. This guy’s all about the team. That’s why the A’s are gettin’ smoked!

  9. J

    October 12, 2006 at 11:25 am

    I agree…Swisher and Bradley are redic! Swisher sure can dance for someone who has not gotten a hit all series. By the way, I would rather have the line-up that wins irrespective of stats/splits/averages or anything else that you plug into a computer.

  10. Dave from 'The ATL'

    October 12, 2006 at 11:27 am

    Is Granderson turning into a star or what?

    Everyone was all over him for striking-out so much, but now look at him!

    Still want to make a move for Vernon Wells?

  11. Don

    October 12, 2006 at 11:56 am

    Granderson’s a stud indeed. A lot of great hitters strike out a lot when early on, before their pitch recognition develops, but look at the walks and the extra base hits and his athleticism and you can be pretty sure he’ll be something special, think a shawn green type career, at least a reggie sanders.

  12. Kyle J

    October 12, 2006 at 12:46 pm

    Very funny Onion article, Don. I still love the one from earlier this year about Leyland being a bandwagon fan. “I’ve never seen him wear a Tigers hat until this year.”

  13. Chris Y.

    October 12, 2006 at 12:54 pm

    Don, I personally think Granderson projects more as a Granderson.

    All kidding aside, worst-case scenario I always thought he had at least Jacque Jones-type tools.

    Wells would be a bad idea. Not only based upon what he wants to get paid, but his numbers are not all that gaudy (in light of the money/hype). Plus, I’d say Maybin isn’t all that far away from patrolling some section of Comerica’s spacious outfield.

  14. Paul

    October 12, 2006 at 1:58 pm

    Dave, while I love Granderson a good bit and think he’s becoming a very solid player, I’d take Vernon Wells 100 out of 100 times over Granderson and twice on Sundays as the saying goes.

  15. Sam

    October 12, 2006 at 2:36 pm

    MLB is doing it again:

    They moved the start time for the game on Friday to 4:30pm. They did it so the Mets will be the night game. Weather wasn’t a factor as I doubt NY will be much nicer than Det.

    For all of us who have jobs, babysitters, etc. to arrange it is a pain in the *ss. Thanks Bud. Just make sure you get those NY teams in primetime!

    -Sam

  16. Kyle J

    October 12, 2006 at 2:49 pm

    Moving the game time on short notice is annoying. But look at the bright side:

    1) Should be (marginally) warmer.
    2) Less chance of showing up and then having game postponed due to weather–although there is a chance of showing up and not having the game completed until 6 or 7 hours after the game is supposed to start.

  17. Kyle J

    October 12, 2006 at 2:50 pm

    Re: Granderson–I’ll take Wells in CF and Granderson in LF, or vice versa.

  18. Dave T.

    October 12, 2006 at 2:53 pm

    In regards to Neifi:
    I would rather see Infante start…ie..get the offense early, then see Neifi as the defensive sub…starting Neifi puts you at a disadvantage early. Omar can drive in runs and Neifi can keep them off the board. Leyland does not like Infante at all, seems like he will be part of “the huge offseason trade” everyone is talking about.

  19. J

    October 12, 2006 at 2:56 pm

    The offense really seemed to suffer last night due to Leyland’s blunder with the line-up

  20. Kurt

    October 12, 2006 at 3:34 pm

    I’m with Kyle. Actually, that Mark Teixera talk, which caught me out of the middle of nowhere, didn’t sound half bad, but really, I am not going to give up Bonderman at this point in time.

    I’m probably the only one who doesn’t mind a 430 start, as I work in the evenings and quite likely high school football would have pre-empted the Tigers game on the radio. So I’d have not seen or heard it!

  21. Dave T.

    October 12, 2006 at 3:53 pm

    The offense did well in spite of Neifi not b/c of him

  22. Brian A.

    October 12, 2006 at 3:58 pm

    hey guys. ticketmaster just released some tickets for game 4. get ‘em while they’re hot. cheer loud for those like me who can’t go.

  23. Anne

    October 12, 2006 at 4:17 pm

    Thanks for that link Don, it was hilarious. This was my favorite line:

    “The Yankees have a long tradition of winning, and the Detroit Tigers failed to respect that.”

    Ya got that right!

  24. J

    October 12, 2006 at 4:30 pm

    Certainly, the offensive production was not because of Neifi. I think that goes without saying. I dont like Neife anymore then the next guy. However, if he is who Leyland feels most comfortable with defensively AND the Tigers can score 8 runs while he is in the line-up then I have no problem with the decision to play him.

  25. Andrew

    October 12, 2006 at 5:10 pm

    Right now you could put Rosie Perez in the Tigers lineup and they would win.

    They are on an unbelievable run here in the postseason. Let Leyland be Leyland and watch the results.

    In Leyland We Trust.

  26. Steve

    October 12, 2006 at 6:53 pm

    Hello,

    Dave from Ehe ATL ….you have a great memory, we had that discussion 2 weeks ago.

    I too would like to see Pudge at first with Vance behind the plate. I hope the guy we gave up for Perez-i-dent does not turn out to be decent. If I remember he was a catcher and we seem to be short on catchers in the system.

    Billfer great job as always on the info

    Good luck to anyone going for World Series tix.

    As far as moving the game to 4:30, its fine with me, great excuse to leave work early, catch the game and hang with the family.