World Series Game 1: Cardinals at Tigers

PREGAME: In case you hadn’t heard, there are 2 rookies hooking up today. It will be Justin Verlander for Detroit and Anthony Reyes for the Cardinals.

First, we look at Reyes. This will be the first time the Tigers have seen Reyes, and anectdotally they seem to struggle with pitchers they face for the first time. In this case they’ve had plenty of time to prepare, but will it help?

Reyes is a predominantly fastball/change-up pitcher. He’s a flyball pitcher, with only 35% of balls in play on the ground. Because of this he’s prone to the long ball with 17 homers in 85 1/3 innings.

Righthanders hit for a lower average
(249 vs 278), but post the same OBP(338) and a higher slugging percentage(525 vs 493) than their left hand counterparts. This would seem to be a favorable match-up for Marcus Thames, but Sean Casey looks to get the nod at DH.

Reyes is typically hit hardest early in the game (944 OPS in innings 1-3) so it will be important for the Tigers to shake off the rust of a week long layoff early.

On the other side will be Justin Verlander. I think I’m the only one who doesn’t think Verlander has pitched that well in the off season. He hasn’t been bad, but he also hasn’t made it out of the 6th inning in either game and it’s taken him 106 pitches to get that far each time. That said he’s been good enough as the Tigers posted wins in both his starts.

He’s been allowing baserunners, but he did that all season. Like he did all season, he’s done a good job stranding them with a 78% LOB rate because his OPS against with runners on drops to 684.

When he faced the Cardinals earlier this year, Yadier Molina had 2 doubles and Albert Pujols reached base twice. He had Scott Spezio tied up to the tune of 3 K’s.

Game Time 7:30pm

POSTGAME: Was it rust or was it Reyes? In any case the Tigers turned in their worst performance of the playoffs despite Justin Verlander seemingly having a solid command of his curve ball.

I’ll have a full aftermath post tomorrow morning, but some quick thoughts on tonights game first:

  • Reyes baffled the Tigers. Most of those non-groundballs were simply pop-ups or soft liners to Belliard. It’s not like the Tigers were hitting at-em balls. They just weren’t hitting the ball hard and the only “Oh man” moment was Pudge’s flyball to the warning track.
  • The patience the Tigers displayed in the past rounds was gone. Magglio Ordonez was the only Tiger to walk, and the only Tiger to reach a 3 ball count off of Reyes. Reyes deserves some of the credit, but the Tigers didn’t make him work and enabled the Cardinal bullpen a night off.
  • You can question the decision to pitch to Pujols and you can lament the error filled 6th inning, but the Tigers hitters inability to get anything off of Reyes was the difference in the game.

40 thoughts on “World Series Game 1: Cardinals at Tigers”

  1. Hey Bilfer,
    I enjoy your blog, very excited for this series. I was wondering if I could interest you in doing like a little mini-interview/preview of the Tigers/Card series @ my blog. It’ll just be a few questions, and if you want you can ask me a few thoughts on the Cards.

    Let me know,


  2. Interesting stuff. Hopefully the fly-ball pitcher things works to the advantage of a team that tends to live and die with the HR.

    Agree that Verlander hasn’t been quite as good in the playoffs as people have made him out to be (mainly the national media), but in a match-up of rookies, I like our changes with the presumptive Rookie of the Year on our side.

    Go Tigers! A game 1 win would help appease my concerns about us being too heavily favored in the World Series. (Anyone think this is a concern any of us would ever have?!)

  3. On top of getting hit early I think Reyes on average lasts something like one less inning compared to Verlander, so hopefully we can pile on and knock him out. He could get a lot of flyballs in that park, but I think he’ll let a couple of fastballs really get away from him.

  4. Thank you Bilfer!

    I discovered your blog two years ago and I’ve enjoyed every since! In the past, one the high points were your minor league updates (thanks for the hard work), this has been a little different!

    I now live in north Idaho and its been nice to be part of a online Tiger community.

    One Thousand Thanks for DetroitTigersweblog!!!

  5. The Day is finally here, Go Get Em Tigers!!!!!!

    (this might have been the longest week of my life)

  6. I am whiling away the hours until game time by watching last Saturday’s win over Oakland (downloaded legally from 😉 ) and enjoying the wonderful view outside as the red and golden leaves are falling.

    What a looonnnggg week this was. I am so tired of all of the pre-series hype and ready for them to go out there and play the game.

    This weeklong layoff (for us Tigers fans at least) reminds me of the extra week leading up to the Super Bowl. By the time it’s game time everyone is slobbering at the mouth in anticipation of the game finally being played.

    Go Tigers!

    Hey, do you think they’ll show the clip from the ’68 series of Tim McCarver popping out to end Game 7 and seal the deal on the Tigers win?

  7. Knobler says the lineup is this:

    Granderson cf, Monroe lf, Polanco 2b, Ordonez rf, Guillen 1b, Rodriguez c, Casey dh, Inge 3b, Santiago ss

  8. I like several things about the lineup:

    A) Neifi’s omission
    B) Casey not being rushed back to first base
    C) Neifi’s omission
    D) Polanco sticking in the 3 hole
    E) Neifi’s omission

  9. Just want to remind everyone that in every one of Verlander’s starts in the postseason, we’re behind at some point.

    Like right now. 4-1 Cardinals.

  10. Has anybody else noticed that Verlander isn’t getting velocity? His fast balls are only hitting 90 mph… Wonder what’s up with that? Any insights?

  11. Yep, Verlander’s velocity is gone for some reason.

    We really need offense, it’s time to put Casey at first and pinch hit Thames for Santiago his next time at bat…

  12. Too late for that. 7-1. Scott Rolen totally flew into Inge on purpose – hell, I would too if I knew they’d just give me home plate for doing it.

    Look forward to game 2.

  13. I’m not willing to quit on this team in any game. The quit you display is weak, Adam. C’mon man, hasn’t this team shown you enough not to give up on ’em in any game????

  14. I’ve been really worried lately…that since the Tigers are favored, that they’re screwed.

    Remember the Royals?

    Hopefully this turns into the series against the Yanks.

  15. Realizing this sounds like hindsight, but I’ve been out of town.

    Don’t like the rotation choice for several reasons.

    #1: Rook pitched game 1 against the worst starter on the Cards. Course we know now how that works out. Verlander might have the bset “stuff” in this rotation, but he’s the 4th best pitcher in the post-season rotation.

    #2: Bonderman only pitches once. Ummm, why?

    #3: Bonderman pitches only once. Ummm, why God why!!

    #4: The L-R-L-R mix has worked well all along, why not now?

    Non-pitching stuff: Why is Casey batting if he can’t field? If he can run the bases, he can field — that’s how I’d look at it.

  16. It’s math, Pete. If this were the second or third inning, I might be optimistic. But Reyes has been lights-out, and it’s the seventh. We need seven runs.

    Not even we come back from that. I’m allowed to display some quit, otherwise the loss would be too painful. Who can stand the constant hope and letdown?

    I still think we’ll win the series, but it’s going to be a battle. Don’t count out the Cards.

  17. Hey guys. There are potentially seven games. Expect a little rust from the Tiggers, and remember, one game does not decide a 7-game series. Just a little more pressure for the guys to get it done. But, this is a game you can probably turn off. 7-1 comebacks don’t happen in the postseason. Now, the next three will feature the top 3 “pitchers” for both teams.l

  18. Well, this guy Reyes really made us look stupid tonight. You can say what you like about Verlander, but one run doesn’t win many games. The last several innings have looked especially pathetic. Lets hope this is some six day rust and serves as a wake up call. Going to be a tough series, I think.

  19. Things I am concerned about:

    1. Even with the game one loss at Yankee Stadium, I came away from that game feeling okay…that game was really a lot closer than the score indicated. Also, the deficit didn’t seem to affect the Tigers…they were aggressive and continually chipped back at the Yanks. This game, the Tigers are playing flat … against the Cards weakest pitcher. I don’t buy that Reyes is pitching a “gem” The Tigers are flat.

    2. Granderson, Inge, Casey… ice cold. (might as well throw in Mags, & Polanco).

    3. Errors… can’t win in post season with three or four errors.

    4. Even if we win tommorow, we hand over home field advantage

    5. Momentum, momentum, momentum. The Tigers tend to roll on highs and lows like paper on wind. So this series now becomes a matter of managing the momentum. We need to change the momentum quick.

    6. Eighth inning. Three outs on three pitches? (I wasn’t counting, but I think it was actually three pitches!)

    7. Weaver, Carpenter, Suppan.

  20. I think it is safe to say that the Tigers are no longer favored to win this series. St. Louis is showing how tough of an out they will be.

  21. A few comments:

    1) I really hate Reyes’ hat brim.

    2) For as much the announcers focused on the decision to pitch to Pujols when he the HR, no one pointed out how he hit that ball off the very end of the bat. I couldn’t see any bat head beyond the ball on the replays. 99% of players fly out to right on that swing. He’s truly an amazing player.

    3) It’s somewhat encouraging that the Tigers only struck out five times. Hopefully, this is just a case of timing being a little off after a week layoff.

    4) Let’s hope Rogers didn’t lose his mojo over the last eight days.

  22. Well now,that effin’ stung.The Tigers rotation wouldn’t have made a damn bit of difference tonight,with Reyes pitching like he did-he should have gotten a chance to finish the game with a 5 run lead.

  23. I caught the first half of the game on the radio at work, and was shocked and appalled that Jim Price and Dan Dickerson’s place on WSGW had been usurped by ESPN radio’s duo of Jon Miller and Joe Morgan. Does MLB always strip teams of their announcers for the World Series?

    That 6th inning was brutal. 2 very bad errors. The obstruction call was weak too. Yes, it was technically correct, but it looked like Rolen stopped his turn after crossing 3rd base and just kept right on running into Inge. Certainly not the reason the game was lost, but I’m frustrated anyway.

    Nefi actually made a nice play there in the 9th(would any other SS have had to dive?), that almost turned into a double play. I also approve of how Leyland approached the game after that point. I like that he started cycling players into the game to get them active, especially out of the pen, kind of looking big picture. It didn’t feel like a total throw in the towel move. The pitchers were brought into good short situations, and the bench players also were used in good spots.

    Kenny throws game 2 and I’m sure he’ll do better. And I’d love to see Tiger batters beat the snot out of Weaver.

  24. This was before my birth, but something to think about:

    * Game 1: October 2, 1968 at Busch Stadium

    4-0 Cards (famous Bob Gibson K game)

    * Game 2: October 3, 1968 at Busch Stadium

    8-1 Tigers

    * Game 3: October 5, 1968 at Tiger Stadium

    7-3 Cards

    * Game 4: October 6, 1968 at Tiger Stadium

    10-1 Cards (Series 3-1, you can still hear the echoes of ’68 Tigers fans giving up)

    * Game 5: October 7, 1968 at Tiger Stadium

    5-3 Tigers

    * Game 6: October 9, 1968 at Busch Stadium II

    13-1 Tigers

    * Game 7: October 10, 1968 at Busch Stadium II

    4-1 TIGERS!!!!!!

    Point is…we’re in a dog fight in 2006, and ’68 showed that there is no such thing as home field advantage in the World Series. This year’s games are not for the faint of heart…at all…that’s for sure.

    Go Tigers!!!!!

  25. I really didn’t think Reyes pitched all that well tonight. I mean, you have to give the guy credit for throwing strikes, that’s the best way to pitch with a lead, BUT, he wasn’t painting the corners — we were just missing pitches on the fat part of the plate. That’s a little frustrating to see after we clocked anything over the heart the previous 2 series. Granderson, Maggs & Casey looked worst missing those fat pitches and I always believe Curtis is the key to the lineup.

    Also, I love Placido, but if he isn’t going 2-4 or better, it’s a real problem having him hit third, b/c all he does is hit singles. I’m not sure how to order the lineup differently, with the way Casey was swinging, 7th might not be low enough for him. Maybe just flip-flop Craig and Placido tomorrow?

    Also for game 2: we need Kenny to channel that emotion, we need to play better defense, we need to forget the pick-off attempts (Juan’s not running) and we need to see the Jeff Weaver we know and love. It’s a must-win.

  26. While whining about the time change of ALCS Game 3, I made a derogatory comment about the fans sitting in the seats by the on deck circle. I was called out for it and I apologized. I take it back. In an unbelievable break of a life time, I scored free tickets to the luxury suite for WS Game 1. I can only speak for my suite, but most people could have cared less about the game. I mean they literally didn’t even watch it, even in the first inning. It was so bad I took a cell phone video to show my buddies.

    I play a lot of softball, and hit like crap after a week off. I couldn’t imagine trying to hit during the World Series after a week off. Tiger’s offense will be roaring back tomorrow.

    The rotation change is an oddity to me. So is not putting Shelton on the roster. However, in Leyland I trust.

  27. Just got back from the game.

    Some oberservations:

    Verlander did not have his velocity at all. He did have a good curveball. I hated the decision to start him in Game 1. I wanted Bonderman with Verlander pitching game 4.

    They looked like a team that hasn’t played in 7 days. They had a lot of rust. The errors were bad.

    Reyes threw strikes. He is a flyball pitcher who gave up 17 dingers in 85 innings this year. The wind was blowing in the whole night. This helped give Reyes confidence as the flyballs he was giving up were not carrying at all.

    It doesn’t matter if you win the 1st game of the World Series. The only thing that matters, is that you win the last!


  28. Verlander’s curve ball was nasty looking. It was is fast ball that looked dull. Did he ever top 94 mph? (I could be totally wrong on this) Even watching him warm up I had a bad feeling that is fast ball looked flat. If that was the case, Pujols should not have been challenged.

  29. Something I wrote on my blog that I thought I’d repost here.

    “Detroit fans are used to disappointment. Whether it’s the Lions, struggling to win four games in a season, or the Pistons, who seem unbeatable only to falter in the playoffs, to the Red Wings, largely dormant in the last five years after the Age of Yzerman, or the Tigers who have had twelve straight losing seasons, we’ve all had to turn our heads at some point.

    Now, losing game 1 of the World Series, analysts who have picked the Tigers are silently kicking themselves, because it’s clear now that Detroit is Detroit – and the Tigers can’t bring it home.

    This, of course, is complete bull.

    Even if the Tigers lose this World Series – even if they get swept by the Cardinals, this season is a success. Going from 119 losses three years ago to the World Series, truly bringing it home (to Detroit) for the first time in 22 years.

    And if we lose, that’s a failure? Come on.

    Do you think Jim Leyland expected to come on as manager of the Tigers and get to the World Series in his first year? Do you think that if he lost he’d be crushed? I don’t. He wants to win, that’s clear. He’ll manage his team to win. But if he loses, if our Tigers lose, it gives him something to work for next year, or the year after that.

    Our guys played not so good tonight. The Cardinals’ Reyes pulled a no-hitter on all but 2 of our batters. It’s impossible to win a game with that combination. Impossible.

    You’ve got a hundred sports analysts ready to jump off the Tigers’ bandwagon at any moment. Looking for any sign that they might have been wrong. For many, tonight was that sign.

    Tonight, you’ve got guys saying words like “shock,” and “upset.” But is there such a thing? In baseball, or even a best of seven series? I don’t think so. Just because a game is on a national stage, and it’s called “The World Series” doesn’t mean it’s not baseball. And in baseball, these things happen. Any given day, the worst team takes the best team to the ground. Any given day, something new happens – something you’ve never seen before. Scott Rolen plowing Brandon Inge over to get awarded home plate. That’s something I’ve never seen.

    It’s impossible to predict baseball, and that’s why you’ll find that baseball analysts are routinely wrong, and in hindsight have predictions that are laughable. Look at the Tigers against the Royals, last series of the season. Look at the ALDS versus the Yankees. Look at the ALCS versus the A’s. Look at tonight’s game, and you’ll know what I’m talking about.

    If you want to know what’s going to happen, take the opposite of the “analyst” consensus. More often than not, you’ll be right more than they are. That’s why I want the analysts off the bandwagon. Now.

    Tell us we’re going to lose. That we’re going to be swept. That we can’t hold our own. That we’re embarrasments to our fans. That we can’t come through in a clutch. That we can’t hold a lead. That we can’t come back to win a game.

    Tell us that.

    And then watch.”

  30. This game stunk…
    My big question-why was it Verlander to begin with?
    I think Leyland wanted to pitch his lefties back to back in games 2 and 3, so I don’t mind that. But why, why oh why, was it Verlander in Game 1 and not Bonderman? I don’t understand. Verlander has clearly struggled the last couple of months, he’s just tired. And Bonderman has been great in the postseason. So it just doesn’t make sense.
    Also, why is Casey playing if he can’t play first?
    Realize this is all nitpicking and that hindsight is 20/20, but both of these things don’t make sense to me, even before we had lost.
    Oh well. Let’s go get ’em in Game 2! I think we’ll win and be right back in this thing.

  31. Does it bother anybody that we’re essentially batting a pitcher (Santiago) in the 9th spot? If Casey really can’t go in the field, does his lack of speed and power really warrant the DH sport over Marcus Thames? Why has Omar Infante, who has good gap power been passed by by Santiago AND Perez? Where before the Tigers had 9 “threats” in the lineup, by starting a banged up Casey and Santiago you’re down to a National League lineup basically. Just some questions, I just can’t make sense of it, and my own opinion is that Leyland has been more lucky than genius alot of times this year.

  32. What is with everyone second-guessing the decision to pitch Verlander? Tony freakin Reyes pitched for the cards and shut us down. it is not like Reyes is a 12 year vet. He is a rookie pitcher without any success. Lets face it…The tigers stunk last night offensively , defensively and on the mound. It is one game. And for all of you who are so sure the the Tigers would be up 1-0 right now had Bonderman pitched, if Rogers can get a win tonight Bonderman will be pitching the biggest game of the year…a 2-1 series(either way) in St. Louis.

  33. Infante has hardly played shortstop this year, so Leyland said he doesn’t want to throw him into the fire. Santiago plays excellent defense. I’m fine with that decision.
    If Casey isn’t healthy enough to play first, maybe he should rest and allow Thames to DH. But on the flip side, it’s not like Thames has done anything in the postseason to warrent it. Just seems like six-in-one-hand-half-a-dozen-in-the-other things. But the thing is, it’s not about the ninth batter in the lineup being scapegoated, it’s about the other eight not doing their jobs.

    I thought Verlander should pitch game four so he was guaranteed to only have that final start for the season, for his arm as much as for the declining effectiveness of it. I believe yesterday he passed 200 innings when you include playoff innings. Of course, wouldn’t have mattered even if he pitched a 2-run contest. It was still shocking to see an eight strikeout, seven run performance of him. How strange!

  34. J

    I think its pretty safe to say offensive performance and pitching performance are related. Reyes settled in only after he had a lead. Baseball is a funny sport. If Reyes was pitching to hold a 1-1 tie, or to keep the Cards in the game with a 1-0 lead, I think we would have seen an entirely different performance from him. I think we would have got to him and it would have spiraled out of control.

    Like so many others, I scratched my head when I saw the rotation. Verlander has “electric” stuff, as they like to say, but he’s basically spent this year. I was agape when I saw some of his fast balls at 89 mph in the first inning… either the gun was incredibly slow, or he was completely out of gas. At least when he pitched the Yankee game, he was hitting 99 and 100 mph. And then Leyland pulled him mid count in that Yankee game when his fast ball went down to 94… I’m not sure he hit that once last night….

    He did have a good curve and breaking ball going, but he just didn’t have his fast ball. That has been his bread and butter pitch all year.

    Kenny Rogers is going to make or break this series for us. Maybe Leyland set the rotation like that by design. The question is, then, is Kenny that guy? The two gems he pitched were on the flow side of momentum. Now let’s see if he can repeat on the ebb side and turn this thing around.

    Tonight is a very important game in this series.

  35. Just a note… the Fox radar gun was “off” all night. On one pitch that showed Verlander throwing 89, they showed FoxTracker on it, and the FoxTracker velocity read 94.

    So Verlander was at his usual velocity, and Reyes was throwing his fastball at 90-91 rather than 84-85. Verlander wasn’t struggling with his velocity, and Reyes wasn’t soft-tossing.

    Radar guns can be “off” depending on subtleties – remember Game 1 of the Oakland series, where Zumaya was at 103-104 and Rodney hit 100. That gun was “off” in the opposite direction.

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