Game 121: Tigers at Yankees

PREGAME: The Tigers head to the Bronx to take on the Yankees, and they’ll continue their battle with the flu as well. Carlos Guillen is still sick, but will play. Pudge Rodriguez is back in the lineup, but Placido Polanco is still out. Todd Jones is available, but Zach Miner isn’t.

Regardless, it’s always special playing the Yankees because, well they’re the Yankees. Add in the fact that they are the hottest team in baseball, and it will be the first time the Tigers have faced them since October, and the 2 teams are battling for a playoff spot, and Gary Sheffield returns to New York, and there is a little extra juice tonight.

As for the pitching match up it will be Justin Verlander taking on Mike Mussina. Verlander returned to form against Oakland with 6 strong innings and 7 K’s. His pitch count was run up a little, but a solid 2 run effort regardless.

Mussina has had 4 straight strong outings and hasn’t walked a batter in his last 3 starts. The Tigers always seem to struggle against Mussina, but then again it’s an older Mussina and a different Tigers team so maybe things will better.

For more on the Yankees check out the esteemed Bronx Banter.

Game Time 7:05

DET @ NYY, Thursday, August 16, 2007 Game Preview –

: A very delayed post game today. After running a workshop at work this week, I was exhausted and decided to just enjoy a bottle of shiraz and retired to bed immediately following the game. But enough about me.

The Tigers picked up an important win in the opener of the series. While a loss wouldn’t have been the end of the world, getting that first win out of the way has to make it easier in what is essentially a playoff atmosphere. Of course, if they drop the next 3 the point is rendered moot.

The offense, led by everybody really, beat up on Mussina. For a pitcher that hadn’t walked a batter in his last 3 starts, getting the ball over the plate proved to be a struggle and the Tigers waited until he came with pitches in the zone. What was really nice to see is that after the initial onslaught, featuring the Carlos Guillen granny, the Tigers kept tacking on runs and got into the Yankees pen in the 6th.

Getting to the pen early was especially relevant with Justin Verlander throwing a ton of pitches. He also uncharacteristically fanned only 2 in 5 1/3 innings. It was a rough and draining performance for a guy who is fighting the flu.

And the Tigers bullpen is a whole ‘nother thing, but in a good way. Tim Byrdak allowed a hit, and fanned a batter. Zach Miner allowed a walk, but recorded all 4 of his outs on the K. Fernando Rodney allowed a hit and a walk, but recorded all 3 outs via the punchout (kinda like in Cleveland the other night). Todd Jones scuffled a bit, but picked an opportune time to give up a couple runs but the lead was never really threatened and even he ended the game with a, you guessed it, a strikeout.

Now the downside is that the Tigers used their top 2 relievers to protect a 5 run lead. Jones and Rodney threw 22 and 21 pitches respectively in a game that wasn’t really in doubt. So despite chasing Mussina early, the Tigers expended more bullpen juice. Hopefully it’s a nonissue for the rest of the series.

86 thoughts on “Game 121: Tigers at Yankees”

  1. Pulled this from the Yankee’s blog:

    On the flip side, the Tiger offense is second only to the Yankees in runs per game this season. The key difference being that, unlike the Yankees, the Tigers have some soft spots in their batting order, specifically third baseman Brandon Inge (.239/.316/.391), 35-year-old catcher Ivan Rodriguez (.278/.288/.426), and left fielder Craig Monroe (.222/.264/.373). Monroe has been so bad, in fact, that he appears to be losing his job to the recently reactivated Marcus Thames, starting only when Thames shifts to first base to spell Sean Casey against lefties.

    We really need this game from Verlander. I don’t like the match-ups moving for the rest of the weekend.

    What a set this is going to be. I’m thrilled.

  2. I was thinking to myself that Guillen’s bat looked slow the couple of days, probably because of the flu, that changeup Mussina threw helped him out…either way…we are 4-0…come on Justin.

  3. I hope the bullpen is rested, because Verlander will be over 100 pitches by the fifth inning again. This 6-1 lead could evaporate real fast.

  4. Wow, great start.

    But Justin has now over 60 Pitches in the 3rd with no outs. Hopefully he can last as long as possible. I don’t want to see the Bullpen too early 😉

    Maybe I should do my usual “routine” when the Tigers lead after 3 Innings…….go to bed 😀 (It’s 2:20 am here in Germany)

  5. This game is on pace to end at 4 am. Verlander really doesn’t have anything close to his best stuff tonight, but he’s gutting it out. I hope he can get through 5 or 6 and we’ll just have to pray we can get to Rodney in the 8th with a lead. We are going to have to keep scoring tonight, they aren’t going stop.

  6. Pudge really crushed that ball on the hit-and-run, haha. Oh well, I’ll take it.

    We’re gonna need to keep pouring on runs because Verlander isn’t long for this game, and I actually FEAR who Leyland will go to out of the bullpen.

  7. That was a poorly executed hit-and-run. Rayburn needs to swing at a fastball down the middle, and Casey got a terrible jump.

  8. Oh, man – it would be nice to squeeze one more inning out of Justin but he looks like crap right now.

  9. I know it’s probably not gonna happen, but I would say put him out there in the seventh. We got three more games ahead of us, and I say push the envelope. We need 120 pitches out of V. If he gets in trouble, you can always pull him.

  10. V made it through 5, but he is at 110 pitches. With a switcher and two lefties coming up next inning, I suppose you bring in one of the LOOGYs. I would be nice if we could score some more runs here to make the decision a little easier for Leyland.

  11. I think it may depend on what the Tigers do this inning. If we break it open, no way you’ll see Verlander next inning.

  12. T,

    Gotta get through the 6th first. If Verlander is out there in the 7th, he’s prolly at 130 pitches. 😉

  13. I meant the “sixth”

    Al Leiter just said he was surprised Leyland put him out there… but I’m certain he’s not as “intimate” with our LOOGYs as we are.

  14. Pretty gutty effort from Justin playing sick. Wish he coulda gotten thru the inning. We need to finish this game.

  15. I’ve noticed over the last few weeks lookinng at the Cardinal boxscores that LaRussa is now hitting his pitcher in the 8-spot. Not just for some pitchers, but all of them. Kind of unusual, yes? Has anyone heard anything about this; what LaRussa’s reasoning is? Anyway, since he started doing it, the Cardinals are playing a lot better; now only 2.5 games out of first in the weak NL Central.

  16. According to the Cubies announcers LaRussa is batting his pitchers 8th so he can use the 8th spot for a switch hitter in the last innings, the theory being that the man in the 8 hole is more likely to get another AB than the man in 9th. But thats from a Cubs announcer, they tend to be as bad as the team the represent.

    ////Cubs suck
    ///Fire Grilli

  17. The strike 3 pitch to A-Rod looked a little low on, I have to admit. But Alex didn’t argue, so who knows?

    That was actually a nice inning by Miner, once he settled down.

    Good to see all the Tigers pitchers throwing inside (and for strikes, no less). I feel like they haven’t been doing that very much lately.

  18. Great start from Verlander considering he’s got the flu as well. If we can wrap this up, I think we can slug our way to a win when Durbin and/or Robertson starts, and then I’m fine with Bondo starting. I think there’s a real chance of taking 3 of 4, so long as our bullpen doesn’t get blown up in the games Robertson or Durbin start.

  19. Billfer: Remember when the Mets came to town and the Mets blogger interviewed you a bit so his teams could know more, I think it’d be cool for pre-game things if that happened more. Especially like who’s been hot the last handful of games for whoever we’re playing at that time, etc. You know what I’m saying?

  20. Wasn’t the prettiest inning I’ve ever seen, but Rodney got it done.

    It’s not a save situation, do you bring Jones in for the 9th, or use Rodney for another inning and burn him for tomorrow?

    Or use another pitcher entirely?

    My guess is they go to Jones.

  21. I’ve gotten used to the pitch f/x feature, and I am kind of irritated that it isn’t available tonight. Spoiled, I guess.

  22. i can’t believe i’m saying this, but i wish with a five run lead we didn’t need to go to our closer for this. this gonna be a long weekend.

  23. Nate:

    Thanks for the link. I remember reading a few years ago that LaRussa is a big proponent of statistical analysis. I don’t know what I was doing in 1998, but apparently I wasn’t paying much attention to baseball or I would have been aware of the fact that he did it 78 times that year.

    Oh Oh! Jones is in with a five run lead. I don’t like this. Where are those tanquilizers when you need them?

  24. One down. Seven to go.

    (You just knew Jones wasn’t getting out of the ninth without allowing a run or two).

  25. *deeeeeeeep sigh of relief.*

    Way to go boys, tough it out while you’re under the weather. This was a nice opening game. And hey, maybe stop breathing on each other so as not to spread this virus further??

  26. great win. i just wish our closer didn’t have to throw twenty plus pitches in a non-save situation. I know, there was no else but the Cheeseman out there, but still..
    Meanwhile, the deadspin comments on cheeseman are absoultelu hilarious

  27. great win. i just wish our closer didn’t have to throw twenty plus pitches in a non-save situation. I know, there was no else but the Cheeseman out there, but still..
    Meanwhile, the deadspin comments on cheeseman are absoultely hilarious.

  28. my favorite post to the tune of the beatles’ i am the eggman…

    I am, he is, you are, he is, you are me, and we all all together
    See how they score runs like the Indians, watch the ball fly
    We’re crying…
    Sitting on a lead, waiting for the hook to come.
    Corporation wind-shirt, stupid bloody Tuesday.
    Man, you been a naughty boy, you hid the skipper’s smokes.
    I am the cheeseman, they are the cheesemen.
    There goes a grand slam, goo goo g’joob.
    Mister city middle relief sitting
    Pretty little middle relief in a row.
    See how they fly like Todd Jones pop flies, see them score some runs.
    I’m crying, We’re crying.
    I’m crying, we’re crying.

  29. OK. Needed that. Please carry this over to the next game. The Yanks have been hot since the AS Game and should be due for a little slump. After Rivera’s blow-up last night agaiant the Orioles (after our old friend Jamie Walker gave up a 3-run homer in the bottom of the 9th to let the Yankees tie it), they should be a little down. And we need to kick them while they are there.

  30. Is Aquilino Lopez still on the roster? If so, why wasn’t he in there for the ninth inning? He’s done a nice job in his latest stint with the Tigers. I don’t understand wasting your closer (22 pitches to get thru the ninth) with a five run lead. What if tomorrow and Saturday’s game are one run leads heading into the bottom of the ninth? Will Jones be able to pitch in three straight games? Combine that with the fact that Jones is known for pitching poorly in non-save situations and its a real head scratcher to me. Another curious in-game decision from the Skipper.

  31. This is a pretty sweet one, here in the heart of Yankee country…but there’s seven more to go. Hopefully Robertson and Durbin aren’t throwing batting practice tomorrow. Still, for tonight, good stuff.

  32. Stephen, the takeoff on “Eleanor Rigby” was also well-done, other than some meter problems:

    Jason Grilli picks up the confetti in the stadium where the other team one
    Lives in a nightmare
    Waits in the bullpen, wearing a glove that he keeps in a jar by the door
    Who is it for?

    All the baserunners
    Where do they all come from ?
    All the baserunners
    Where do they all belong ?

    Father Leyland, writing the words of a winning press conference that no one will hear
    No one comes near.
    Look at him sitting. Refusing to change pitchers though the bases have been loaded
    What does he care?

    All the baserunners
    Where do they all come from?
    All the baserunners
    Where do they all belong?

    Jason Grilli gave gave up a homerun and lost the lead
    No more runs came
    Father Leyland wiping the dirt from his hands as he walks from the mound
    No game was saved

    All the baserunners
    Where do they all come from?
    All the baserunners
    Where do they all belong?

  33. I, personally, prefer Lennon’s later work:

    Imagine we’ve got a bullpen
    It’s easy if you try
    No hellish late innings
    No more leads go bye-bye

    Imagine all the Tigers
    Wining for today

    Imagine there’s no meltdowns
    It isn’t hard to do
    Jonesy gets ’em one, two, three
    With Rabelo catching too

    Imagine all the Tiger fans
    Watching the ninth in peace… You..ooh..ooh…ooh..ooh

    You may say I’m a dreamer
    But I’m not the only one
    I hope some day you will join us
    And the team will actually finish one

  34. Timely hitting and good enough pitching. These are the Tigers we know and love. It’s good to be a Tiger fan in NYC. Three more would be terrific. I’ll be at the game tomorrow. Nate will take care of business.

  35. Comments on the game:

    I listened/ to the first four innings and then watched the condensed game – as much as I hate the Yankees, their announcers are great. The Guillen grand slam was called by the Yankee TV guy with quite a bit of enthusiasm. The radio team doesn’t have much cohesiveness, but they call a good game.

    Raburn is mashing. I love what he brings to the team.

    All around great hitting from the team, I’m confident to say that the hitting slump is over. Carmona was really dealing last game.

    Verlander’s pitch count was really the only trouble spot.

    Thames was 3 for 5 vs. Mussina going into the game, he paid off.

    Yeah, Jones gave up 2 runs, but other than Matsui’s double, he wasn’t hit that hard.

    Miner was a huge boost tonight.

    Rodney, WOW. What else do I need to say? I can’t wait to see him pitch again. I saw the gun hit 97 once.

    Sheffield is going to go yard twice this series.

  36. Rodney has been flat-out awesome since his return…5 IP and 1 hit. 46 out of 78 pitches for strikes.

    we need to send Grilli to see Rodney’s doctor.

  37. I’m liking the Beatles renditions, gang. I think my favorite has to be Imagine due to it’s relevance and emotional appeal. I can’t wait to hear Sargent Grilli’s Lonely BlownLead Pen. Note to Stephen and T Smith: Ms Lead was all over us last night. We’re doing something right.

  38. Not sure if anyone is still reading this post 14 hrs after the game, but the Free Press is reporting that Maybin has been called up.

  39. allright cool. can’t wait for tonite’s game

    long as we can keep focused on getting ahead in the count and enticing the hitter to swing at a hard to hit pitch we will be all good

    love to see Jar throw one against these Yankees!

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