PREGAME: Did you know the Tigers are 0-3 in Friday night games this year? Hopefully that doesn’t have a bearing in tonight’s game. Regardless, it has to go better than last night’s game against Mark Buehrle doesn’t it? Then again the Indians are probably thinking the same thing after the Red Sox hung 12 on them – in the 6th inning – last night.
POSTGAME: This is one of those postgame’s I struggle to write. There are so many different ways to write the story with lots of irony and symmetry and in general awesomeness. Fortunately it is a happy story which makes it a little easier.
Justin Verlander was amazing again. He’s been money in his last 3 starts, and the one thing that may have been holding him back a little (and I mean a little) was efficiency. No problem with that tonight as he notched a complete game shutout. He fanned 11 Indians tonight, the second time he’s turned that trick in a week. And this is a team that had beat him like that annoying drum in the bleachers over Verlander’s career.
It was only a couple weeks ago that people were questioning who the ace of the Tigers staff was. There is no question in my mind as we sit here tonight. Verlander has actually been pitching good the whole year, save for that Toronto stuff. But he was being undone by ridiculously poor defense. Tonight, things evened out a little. Here’s where that irony comes in.
Polanco made a leaping grab of a liner, Raburn laid out for a ball and came up big, Everett started a nifty double play on a liner, and Curtis Granderson made a nice play in centerfield.
Yeah, that was kind of an understatement. Amazing, unbelievable, athletic, super hero-ish, game saving, those are probably more apt descriptions. And this is where some of that symmetry comes in. Grandy and Grady are two of the best centerfielders in baseball. And here was one robbing the other, not only of a home run, but a walk off home run. Granderson’s career signature play has probably been the time he robbed Wily Mo Pena in left-centerfield. Does this catch top that one?
As for the Tigers run, it scored with out a real hit. Heck, it scored without a ball leaving the infield. The run was the result of a walk, Curtis Granderson stealing 2nd on a hit-and-run where Placido Polanco whiffed (Polanco is 10th in baseball in contact %) and Grandy was dead at second except Kelly Shoppach threw the ball high. A bounce out advanced Curtis to third. And the run scored when a second baseman failed to throw a ball quickly enough on a routine grounder. And that was the difference.
The highlight reel is here. I don’t think I’ll ever tire of seeing that catch (please disregard the nicknaming of Curtis as “The Cougar”: