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 – Baseball-Reference.com
POSTGAME: 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.