ALDS Game 2: Aftermath

I’ve finally had a chance to watch this game through the magic of ReplayTV.  It was a great and thrilling win.  The Tigers hit with decent power and make the most of their scoring chances.

As for Justin Verlander’s performance…I’ll just say that he survived the Yankees lineup.  The 105 pitches in 6 1/3 innings and the 4 walks were probably enough to tell you that.  His only “easy” inning began when Bobby Abreu just missed a home run on a line drive that was hit so hard it only resulted in a single.  Fortunately it was a single because Gary Sheffield hit into a double play to follow it up.  Verlander certainly had plenty of gumption on his fastball.  He also threw a few tremendous curves and one that had Sheffield ducking on a pitch over the plate.

I heard Joel Zumaya’s performance described by Doug Karsch as “classic, vintage Zumaya” which I find hard to classify seeing as I don’t know if a rookie can do anything classic or vintage.  That said he was awesome.  And the guy he took the ball from, Jamie Walker, induced a double play and retired Johnny Damon to lead off the 7th.  I doubt that Zumaya will be available to pitch 2 innings Friday night, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see Leyland use him for an inning.

CG2 – Curtis Granderson and Carlos Guillen are certainly making names for themselves in this series.  Marcus Thames certainly doesn’t seemed phased by Mike Mussina and is now 6 for 7 against him.

In the end the Tigers did enough to win.  They took advantage of their chances while the Yankees weren’t able to.  Verlander wasn’t great, but good enough to get the game into the hands of the back of the Tigers bullpen.  The Tigers have put themselves right into the thick of this series and will be coming into an electric Comerica Park for 2 games.  The pitching appears to tilt the Tigers way in these next 2.  Now they just have to take advantage of the situation. The Tigers beat the Yankees and it had nothing to do with not facing Mariano Rivera this time.

What others are saying

(keep checking back, I’ll add more in the morning)
WasWatching.com

Now you have a situation where it’s a best two-of-three and the Tigers have the homefield advantage. The game tomorrow night, for Randy Johnson, is “must win.” And, if the Yankees lose tomorrow, they have to think about bringing Wang back a day early to pitch Game Four.

The Tigers won a playoff game at Yankee Stadium today. It does not get any better than that. This game absolutely showed that they can play with the Yankees. It’s still going to be a really tough series but I feel more confident right now than I did after game 1. They now have the home field advantage. That doesn’t usually help this team much but I’d much rather see them play at home than at Yankee Stadium in post-season.

Mack Avenue Tigers: A Detroit Tigers Blog

That win was incredible. Beating the Yankees in Yankee Stadium in October when you’re down 0-1 in the series was just so incredible a feeling. I’d actually say it’s better than winning the AL Central title would have been. This is what baseball is all about. That was the best feeling I’ve had as a baseball fan when Granderson caught the final out.

Baseball Musings: Verlander Starts the Sixth

The big difference between the Tigers and Yankees today is the power. That’s the fifth extra-base hit for the Tigers to just two for New York. Detroit’s slugging percentage was much higher this year away from Comerica, and that’s coming through today.

Pinstripe Alley :: A New York Yankees Blog

Mussina choked too because he couldn’t minimize his mistakes. They are going to get hits, but he didn’t hold them down when they had their chances. He got two quick outs and then gave up back to back hits to allow Detroit to grab the early lead. I thought he would have carved up the Tigers today, but they converted three scoring opportunities. Giving up the home run to Guillen was the big hit. It brought them even and made them believe after Damon’s three run blast gave the Yanks the early 3-1 lead.

Tigers bring the heat and then a victory home from their trip – Tom Gage

When that turned out to be the case, the bizarre feeling of a souring season suddenly changed.The Tigers had lost the American League Central, a prize they felt was theirs, by losing the last five games of regular season. They had played well in Game 1, but had lost – and were behind 3-1 in the fourth inning of Game 2. A special year was ending badly – but now it might not be ending at all.

ESPN.com – INSIDER – Keith Law Blog

The Yanks should have scored more than three runs off Verlander, and Mussina should never allow four runs to an offense as undisciplined as the Tigers.

FOX Sports – Dayn Perry – After Game 2, all signs point to Detroit

Detroit’s tactical missteps aside, this is now a series in the balance. The Tigers, by splitting the first two in Yankee Stadium, claimed home-field advantage, and the pitching match-ups in Games 3 and 4 also favor them. If they can lay off a few pitches going forward, then it’s entirely possible this one won’t come back to New York.

Tigers Live: They are now worthy

So coming into the House that Ruth Built and defeating a lineup that is power personified perhaps did a little more than even the best-of-five series. It might also given them some much-needed respect.

…and here’s some more…
Baseball Prospectus | Articles | Prospectus Today: Division Series, Day Three

The Verlander/Zumaya tandem is just ridiculous. Verlander struggled with his command and seemed to spend much of the game nibbling against the Yankee power bats. Every now and then, though, he�d pull it together and just own someone. He had Alex Rodriguez bent into a pretzel, following up two 98-plus fastballs with a curve for a called strike three. Twice. He didn�t look nearly as good when Rodriguez�s teammates were at the plate, but he did what Nate Robertson couldn�t do Tuesday: kept it close.

New York Daily News – Baseball – Bill Madden: Tigers earn stripes

Verlander didn’t, nothing negative happened to the Tigers after that point. Rather, they headed home with nothing but positive feelings about themselves. They may not win this thing, but at least now, as Leyland most assuredly told them, they can celebrate the fact that those 95 wins were legit and so are they.

YET ANOTHER CHANCE FOR JOHNSON TO EARN ‘STRIPES By JOEL SHERMAN

The Yankees are now in the same precarious spot as last year, tied at a game apiece in the Division Series and – on paper anyway – having a huge Game 3 starting pitching edge. But in Game 3 last year, the Angels’ Paul Byrd pitched poorly, yet Johnson was even worse. The Yankees lost, when victory very likely would have meant advancement rather than the first-round ouster they suffered.

ALDS: Tigers vs. Yankees: We’ve Seen This Movie Already — The Hardball Times

And now, stunningly, the Tigers are in control of the series. Not just because they have home field advantage—though the Yankees have a better road record than the Tigers have a home record, and won three of four at Comerica earlier this season. No, the Tigers’ advantage is in that they don’t have to rely on Randy Johnson and Jaret Wright in the next two days. They don’t have to hope that an epidural injection will allow them to keep the game close, they don’t have to wonder who they’ll pitch in the sixth inning of Game 4 when their starter runs out of gas, no matter how well he pitches. They’re not running two aces out there, but in comparison to what the Yankees have, they might as well be. And the Yankees will have to find a way to win one of those two games to stay alive.

16 Comments

  1. Jeff

    October 5, 2006 at 10:18 pm

    *** The Yanks should have scored more than three runs off Verlander, and Mussina should never allow four runs to an offense as undisciplined as the Tigers. ***

    Keith Law, what a schmuck.

  2. Paul

    October 5, 2006 at 10:46 pm

    First thing I noticed, too, Jeff. Just because that clown predicted a sweep, he’s not going to give the Tigers any credit for a helluva game played. As if I could lose more respect for the institution of ESPN. What a joke of a network.

    For those interested in my take on game 2:
    http://pauls.wordpress.com/200.....up-at-one/

    /end self promotion 🙂

  3. Cameron in Singapore

    October 5, 2006 at 11:23 pm

    Awesome, awesome win.
    I was thrilled to get to watch a whole game, uninterrupted by work! Of course, I had to get up at 1 AM to do it…it was well worth it.
    I have a great feeling about our chances now, the next two games at home and both pitching matchups favor us. We could really, really win this thing.
    Go Tigers!

  4. Kevin

    October 6, 2006 at 12:02 am

    Keith Law is one of these statistical analysis clowns that has become huge in baseball in the past decade or so since the explosion of the use of computers. He worked for the Blue Jays for a while as their statistical guru/fraud.

    Not that I don’t think that statistcal analysis doesn’t have a place, but it drives me nuts how these statheads seem to think team chemistry, leadership, clutch hitting, stolen bases, etc. are absolutely worthless and can make insane arguments on how to build a team based on statistics.

  5. Bobber

    October 6, 2006 at 12:34 am

    “Keith Law is one of these statistical analysis clowns that has become huge in baseball”

    You’re right, he’s painting by numbers here, from a palette that covers only the last fifty regular season games. Doesn’t seem like he was watching this particular game.

    Funny thing is “an offense as undisciplined as the Tigers” sounds like an echo from these parts from those last fifty games.

    He just hasn’t caught the spirit.

  6. ron

    October 6, 2006 at 12:56 am

    The yankees have scored eight of their eleven runs in two of their eighteen innings played so far. The tiger pitching is fine except for two blips.

  7. Joey C.

    October 6, 2006 at 1:45 am

    Dudes…

    I am loving these responses to Law’s blog. I just read that worthless piece of crap and came straight the DTW to drop a link and a tirade down.

    Of course Billfer beat me to the punch with the link and then I find a whole bunch of guys beat me to the tirade.

    What kills me about this guy–and others such as Neyer–is that they speak in such absolutes. Like they are tapped into some reality that the rest of us aren’t able to access.

    Here’s the trip: the tone of that piece is exactly the same as the tone of his piece describing an impending Yankee sweep. It never changes with these guys. If the Tigers pull out the series Law will drop down a bunch of numbers, and kick the “I know all” tone of voice and tell us that it was inevitible that the Tigers would win the series.

    In reality, Keith Law doesn’t have any more idea of what the hell is going on in baseball than some guy calling a sportstalk radio station on his cell phone while he’s stuck in traffic. The only difference is Law can throw a bunch of numbers at you and pretend that they somehow innoculate his arguments from debate.

    The quote pulled here by Billfer–and further highlighted by Jeff–is a perfect example of Law’s tactics.

    Law begins by stating his conclusion: “The story of Game 2 isn’t so much the Tigers beat the Yankees as it is the Yankees beat themselves with an embarrassing performance.”

    He then drops a few specific examples down that really don’t do much to support an argument that the Yankees hitters blew the game with bad at-bats; then he rolls out some totally irrelevant paragraph about how Leyland was actually managing by the book, though everyone else is too stupid to recognize it; and finally he gives one specific example of Mussina failing to victimize the Tigers hitters as he should have–which does even less to support an argument about Mussina blowing the game than did his evidence of bad at bats supported his argument against the Yankees hitters.

    And finally he rewords the conclusion from the first paragraph with the quote Billfer pulled:

    “The Yanks should have scored more than three runs off Verlander, and Mussina should never allow four runs to an offense as undisciplined as the Tigers.”

    So basically he made a conclusion; weakly supported it with a couple examples that certainly don’t tell the full picture–but lend a sense of authority to his writing; and then presents a restatement of his conclusion as further evidence supporting that conclusion.

    If one of us were to write an email to Law that made the inverse claim regarding Tuesday’s game–the Tigers beat themselves with an embarassing performance–the dude would respond by telling us that’s a simply a baseless claim, unsuported by any quanitative evidence.

    But because the equally baseless claim he makes about today’s game is built on spurious evidence presented authoritatively, we aren’t allowed to discredit it on similar grounds.

    Schmuck is right.

  8. Anne

    October 6, 2006 at 7:54 am

    “The story of Game 2 isn’t so much the Tigers beat the Yankees as it is the Yankees beat themselves with an embarrassing performance.”

    I almost wish this was true. $220 million payroll and you can’t buy a good performance? Steinbrenner must be pretty embarassed. :-p

    Of course we all know the real story. Zumaya humiliated the best hitters in baseball.

    And speaking of Steinbrenner, how much do you want to bet he’s got “steal Verlander and Zumaya from the Tigers” on his to-do list? How many years before they’re eligible for free agency?

  9. billfer

    October 6, 2006 at 8:14 am

    With regard to the Law article, I was a little surprised by it. As a stat guy he should understand randomness and small sample sizes. I do agree that the Yankees should have scored more off of Verlander. He really wasn’t that good yesterday.

    But I strongly disagree with the second part of the statement where he says Mussina should have never allowed as many runs as he did to an undisciplined offense. The Tigers actually posted an above average run total this year. They did it because they have a bunch of guys who can hit the ball hard, and for 2 straight games the Tigers have swung the bats as well as the Yankees.

  10. Kyle J

    October 6, 2006 at 9:41 am

    “. . . and for 2 straight games the Tigers have swung the bats as well as the Yankees.”

    Right on. Stats through two games:

    Tigers: 20 hits, 8 doubles, 1 triple, 3 HR, 3 walks
    Yankees: 22 hits, 4 doubles, 0 triples, 3 HR, 5 walks

    That’s 12 extra base hits for the Tigers vs. 7 for the Yankees.

  11. Joey C.

    October 6, 2006 at 11:23 am

    Anne your post just gave me chills. You know he’s eyeing them.

    I actually agree that the Yanks didn’t get it done in key situations against Verlander–and watching ARod K repeatedly in front of the angry home crowd is truly wonderful.

    But now I’m going to say something that I really can’t back up with much evidence, but I feel is an accurate observation.

    I wrote yesterday that Justin looked fierce. By that, I meant that he just wasn’t about to cave in to pressure–or that brutal lineup–when he got himself into Jams. The double-play ball hurt the Yankees a lot–maybe you can chalk that up to luck–and Cano’s first pitch flyout was pretty dumb, but other than that I really felt that Verlander got nasty, got focussed, and threw a lot of really good pitches when his back was against the wall.

    And as far as some of the jams he worked himself into, lets not forget who he was facing. That lineup is unbelievably patient. Verlander would have looked much better against a lot of other, lineups. Didn’t he throw like 25 of his 105 pitches to Posada? The number 8 hitter? It’s really hard to get through that lineup without letting men on base and getting dinged up a little. I think he really showed a lot of toughness yesterday and I give him a ton of credit yesterday’s victory.

  12. T Smith

    October 6, 2006 at 11:31 am

    Anne,

    I was thinking the same thing. I was at the “Yankee game” (most of the fans didn’t even know who they were playing until the first pitch)…and explaining to a Yankee fan next to me that Verlander and Zumaya are pratically auditioning for a job here…

    I hope it isn’t so, but guaranteed Steinbrenner put out the order to Cashman after seeing that JZ performance…get this guy at all costs….

    I’m not sure what JZ or Verlander’s contract details are, but I hope we have them both a least a couple more years…

  13. Kurt

    October 6, 2006 at 12:04 pm

    I would imagine neither are eligible for free agency for five seasons after this. I know Verlander got 2 starts last year, but I don’t think that would be enough for his “MLB clock” to record 2005 as his starting point. For Zumaya, he didn’t pitch in the MLB until this year.

    Now anyone correct me if I’m wrong, but tha’ts the way it works unless you choose not to offer arbitration after a few years. They are around for six major league seasons before they can choose to leave on their own. Example, Bonderman is eligibible after 2008.

  14. Anne

    October 6, 2006 at 3:26 pm

    Thanks Kurt, those links were helpful. So we’ve got Zoom-zoom and Verlander for a few more years, at least. I hope the team does all they can to make them happy while they can, if that will help prevent them bolting for a richer team later. Although even winning a World Series with Boston wasn’t enough for Johnny Damon.

  15. Kevin

    October 6, 2006 at 3:30 pm

    Joey C. also brings up a good point, I hate reading articles from these stat gurus, as they always write from the point of view that they are all knowing and everyone else is wrong. I think they all write like this because the godfather of the movement, Bill James, has a writing style like that.

    The truth is, in these 5 game series, anything can happen. If the Tigers had to play the Royals in a five game series right now, would the Tigers decisively beat the Royals. As we saw last weekend the Royals could take the Tigers in a five game series, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are the better team.

    I like the Tigers odds from here on out, since we will have our #1 and #3 pitcher going on full rest, while we get the Yanks #3 and #4 or #1 going on three days rest and we have home field advantage for the rest of the series.