And we have ourselves a best of 5 series. It was very comforting to see the team come out and shake off a bad game.
The Tigers seemed to get their hitting timing back, even if they couldn’t get timely hits. They knocked out 10 hits and put runners in scoring position in each of the first 6 innings. They should have had more than 3 runs to show for their efforts, but getting the guys on in the first place was an important part of the equation. Weaver was constantly having to work under pressure.
On the other side, Kenny Rogers allowed only 2 walks in the 2nd through 7th innings. He made it through 8 innings on only 97 pitches (by my count, certainly not unofficial). Kenny’s pitches/strikes by inning:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 19/13 14/9 10/6 8/5 11/8 13/6 16/10 6/4
As for the Tigers approach, they were a little more patient and worked four 3-ball counts off of Weaver which was 3 more than the night before off of Reyes.
Keeping score at home, I made some notes throughout the game:
- It was great to see the Tigers score again in the first inning. It was even better to see Kenny Rogers protect the lead with an easy 1-2-3 inning in the top of the 2nd.
- I was actually a little worried that the Tigers were reverting to their impatient ways in the 2nd inning. They managed a couple hits and a hard hit double play ball from Curtis Granderson. But Weaver threw only 8 pitches in the inning. Fortunately the longer at-bats returned in the subsequent innings.
- Kenny Rogers was awesome again, but he also benefitted a couple times from luck. In 5th inning he allowed a walk to Jim Edmonds. Preston Wilson hit a ball well to center where Curtis Granderson made a diving play out near triple-ville to save a run. In the 6th a walk to Scott Spiezio was followed by a rocket to Craig Monroe off the bat of Albert Pujols.
- Todd Jones will get skewered tomorrow morning. But like the tricky Oakland save, it’s not like he pitched bad. He got Pujols to hit a weak grounder and was 1 strike away from a 1-2-3 inning. A bloop hit, an error, and another blooper and next thing you know the game is in doubt. I would love to see Jones spend a little time improving his defense. Anything through the box is an adventure with Jones.
Now there will be quite a bit made of the gunk on Rogers hand. He had it there in the other playoff games as well. I don’t know what to make of it, and when I say that I don’t know what Rogers gains from it. He certainly didn’t struggle after it was removed. He also didn’t seem to be trying to hide it. But if the Caridnals had a chance to get Rogers out of the game, and perhaps the series, I’m not sure why they wouldn’t have tried to do it.
I’ll have the commentary round up appended here early in the morning.
What others are saying
Others get more attention but Carlos Guillen continued his amazing post-season with a triple, double, single and a walk. He is now batting .432/.463/.703 in 10 games. What a great hitter he has been this year.
On the flip side, there was that whole thing with loading the bases with no outs and putting a goose-egg on the scoreboard. And, of course, Todd Jones made the ninth interesting WAY, WAY, WAY too interesting, as he is wont to do. He’s done it once each playoff series (and many times during the year) and rebounded to pitch fine. That, too, is Tigers baseball. Just Tigers baseball we havent’ seen in awhile.
This series is headed back to St. Louis tied at one game a piece and it’s still anyone’s series. Similar to the Tigers heading into their series with Yankees, the Cardinals were almost written out of this series from the very beginning. Now, with the Cardinals ace, Chris Carptenter, set to start Game 3, it looks very likely that the Tigers could fall behind in this series once again before it’s all said and done.
So when one Tiger hitter likes to hit against a certain type of pitcher, chances are that a number of other Tigers are going to like to hit against him as well. Conversely, when a pitcher like Anthony Reyes seems to have the Tigers’ number, the problems are likely to run throughout the whole lineup.
Weaves did his job, but once again the offense has failed to put runs on the board against a soft-tossing lefty. Kenny Rogers has officially made my least-favorite-pitchers list, although it’s been fun to see sportswriters pretend they had nothing to do with his old Playoff Choker persona.
And really, handwashing? After all, it’s not like he could put pine tar on his glove, or his hat, or his uniform, or — you get the idea. With the recent evidence being what it is I don’t trust Kenny Rogers to throw sans substance short of pitching in front of a black light. And the way things are shaping up right now, I’d feel a little cheated if Rogers pitches game six without a better explanation than a reappearing dirt spot and bad sanitary habits.
Could La Russa have pressed the issue? Sure he could have. But why should he? That’s not the way he plays the game. That’s not the way his players play the game, either. They have their World Series destiny firmly in their own hands right now, and with the next three games at home, and Carpenter, Suppan and possibly Reyes ready to go to the mound this week, why cheapen the thrill of a potential world championship by eliminating the opposition’s best weapon on a technicality?