Exhausting, Exhilirating, Exhale

Now that was some baseball. I listened to the bulk of the day game. Watched the night game. I’m worn out.

It was a tremendous day of baseball. I can look back and say that because the Tigers held on in the nightcap. If that doesn’t happen then it’s a different adjective I use. But in the end we’re right back where we started. After 19 innings of baseball the Twins and Tigers essentially played to a draw. Well, not quite a draw because the seasons for both teams have been shortened.

Game 1

Once again the Tigers got terrific pitching and not enough hitting. And they lost. But oh what a game it was. Rick Porcello was dealing. Nick Blackburn struggled a little early on and the Tigers didn’t take advantage because Blackburn either dialed in or the Tigers got themselves out.

Rob Neyer and Kurt Mensching already broke down this game and some of the decisions implemented by Leyland. Maybe I’m just to use to Tigers baseball, but very little that Leyland does really phases me at this point. I know he’ll make some mistakes, but very few are egregious and many are expected. Maybe that is a free pass, I don’t know.

If the Tigers had won this game though, I’m certain I would have written something about how big Zach Miner came up pitching out of a jam and bridging the gap once again. Wait, I just wrote that anyways.

Finally, there has been much angst written about Gene Lamont’s decision to hold Clete Thomas. I’m generally of the mindset of forcing the issue at home plate and wouldn’t have been upset had Thomas been thrown out at home had he been waved around. But this wasn’t a case of being excessively conservative. Kubel had scooped the ball at the same time Thomas hit 3rd and Kubel wasn’t deep. I think it is a stretch to say the decision cost the team the game.

You hate to see a game lost in large part due to wild pitches, and those were the culminating events. But both teams battled (yeah cliche) and both teams played pretty well (cliche). These were 2 pretty good teams (cliche) and you knew it would go down to the wire (cliche).

It’s easy to read too much into this game and the team’s psyche and compare it to the Twins. The Twins blew some chances as well. They just cashed in first. I don’t know if that has anything to do with heart or choking or any of the other stuff.

Game 2

Yeah, there was some pressure. Nobody really wanted this to be knotted up at the top of the division with 5 games to go. So the effort by not only Justin Verlander but by the offense getting to a pitcher who hadn’t been gotten to was HUGE.

The Tigers, got those big hits that had been missing the previous 2 games. Magglio Ordonez’s 2 out 2 run double might have been the biggest of the night because it provided a cushion and at least in the fans minds made everyone relax a little.

But like so many times when things go well, there were contributions from many. Grandy, Inge, Miggy, Everett. Hits throughout the lineup. Good times.

Now as for Verlander, he had moments of unhittableness, and then some of those unfortunate moments of quite hittableness. The first 2 runs that scored were on Verlande.r The last 2 not as much. The 2 singles that started that 8th inning rally were on good pitches that resulted in seeing eye grounders. And there is room to question the wisdom of Verlander staying in the game as deep as he did. When Leyland went to the mound I was sure Verlander was coming out, but in Leyland’s presser the conversation went something like:

“I told him I don’t have anyone better. That’s my line but with Verlander I mean it.”

Fernando Rodney was also quite good pitching around some shoddy and uncharacteristic defense from Polanco and Granderson. Rodney threw 20 pitches, and 16 of them were for strikes. He was good.

Parting Shots

Both teams went into today hoping to sweep and really put the other team in an uncomfortable position. But both teams went into today really hoping not to get swept. In that respect both teams can walk away somewhat satisfied. With both games being so close both teams can also walk away knowing how close they came to sweeping the day.

  • Granderson carried over his Chicago success and added 3 more extra base hits and has homered in 3 straight games. One of those came off of Nathan which is pretty big.
  • Polanco kind of had Inge’s Chicago series all in done day. A couple misplays (not routine but we expect more from Polly) and an 0’fer in the first game. Okay, he had 2 hits in the night game and didn’t strike out in 3/4’s of his plate apperances. So it wasn’t that bad at all.
  • Speaking of Inge he left that series in Chicago behind him as he had a few hits today
  • Does Gerald Laird get the day off tomorrow? I’d hope so. My knees hurt thinking about it.
  • How about some props for Andy Van Slyke? He had the left fielders positioned perfectly tonight. There were some hits that looked like bloopers that Ryan Raburn barely had to move for.


  1. Kevin in Dallas

    September 29, 2009 at 11:57 pm

    Great work billfer.

  2. mdoc

    September 30, 2009 at 12:48 am

    Hey Billfer, I move around a lot for work but I always keep tabs on your blog because it’s the best Tigs one out there. It feels good to be in New Mexico (current temp location) and read your stuff and feel like I’m home, especially in a series like this. Keep up the good work.

  3. NWO

    September 30, 2009 at 2:59 am

    Maggs has to start tonight despite this lefty/righty stuff. Too many of the other guys are just not cutting it. Laird definitely gets the night off. I would also be tempted to play Raeburn at 3rd, but Inge maybe redeemed himself partially with a couple of hits (though his at bat in the 9th ofgame 1 was bad).

  4. Sam

    September 30, 2009 at 8:32 am

    I think leaving Ordonez on the bench during game 1 was a huge mistake. he should of pinch hit for someone.

    Is it time to bench Huff/Thames??

    They could put Guillen as the everyday DH and platoon Thomas and Raburn in left?

    • rings

      September 30, 2009 at 9:21 am

      In that PH situation, there were 2 out & nobody on…Thames definitely gave you a better chance at an xtra base hit or dinger than Maggs did. They needed “instant runs.” If the game had gone farther or there was a RISP, you probably would’ve seen Maggs.

      • Kurt

        September 30, 2009 at 11:34 am

        In the ninth, Ordonez should have pinch hit with the winning run on second and his ability to hit for average. That was the best chance to get the run home and celebrate.

        In the eighth, pinch-hitting Thames was a good idea for the instant run, like rings said.

  5. Andrew

    September 30, 2009 at 8:51 am

    Huff and Thames can ride the pine on out of town as far as I’m concerned. Thames – it was fun while it lasted, but like Craig Monroe the time has come to say goodbye. They are a liability at the plate right now and I bet opposing pitchers love seeing them as the DH. No protection at all for Cabrera.

    My thoughts yesterday between games was to have Guillen DH and Raburn in LF. He’s shown of late that he can bat on either side of the plate again so there is no need for Leyland to play Huff thinking he needs that lefty bat.

    • Dave in New Have(n)

      September 30, 2009 at 11:32 am

      Have to disagree on Thames, at least on how pitchers view him. He has drawn a bunch of walks with RISP this month, mainly because pitchers know better than to get burned by him. (Also because the 6-9 hitters behind him in the lineup are hitting in the low .200s).

      • Andrew

        September 30, 2009 at 12:21 pm

        I’ll agree with you on the 6-9 hitters being anemic.

        Some meaningless trivia – I never knew his full name was Marcus Markley Thames until today.

    • Coleman

      September 30, 2009 at 3:00 pm

      Maybe–just not tonight. Guillen career OPS vs Pavano: .000 in 13 AB.

      • Mark in Chicago

        September 30, 2009 at 3:09 pm

        he’s due!

  6. D Glenn

    September 30, 2009 at 10:10 am

    Laird’s AB with a runners on the corners and 1 out in the 6th or so was easily the worst AB I’ve seen all year. And everyone that watches every night can realize the magnitude of that declaration.

    • Kevin in Dallas

      September 30, 2009 at 11:12 am

      Boy, those are some strong words. Remember that AB Everett had (I think it was a late AB v. CWS, runners on 2 & 3 with 1 out…), and I can think of one that Inge had on Sunday night that made me question his choice of a profession.

      That said, I can’t say that I disagree with you. Even Uribe and his wild-@ss swing looks like he steps up to the plate with a purpose.

      • Dave in New Have(n)

        September 30, 2009 at 11:38 am

        might be thinking about Everett’s 8th inning AB against the Red Sox, runners on second and third and one out, down by one. (this was the game before Porcello took down Youkilis). Everrett struck out on three pirches, two of which bounced in the dirt en route to the plate.

  7. Andre in Chi

    September 30, 2009 at 10:43 am

    I’m going to try to find a clip to link to, but I just heard this about a tv-spot for the Tigers game ESPN just picked up:
    “it has inge grabbing robertsons fu manchu like handlebars and then doing a kickstart motion with his foot, then robertson starts shaking like inge just started a motorcycle”

  8. Mike in CT

    September 30, 2009 at 11:07 am

    Hope the guys woke up this morning realizing if they win the next two they can party over the weekend.

    The Carl pavano hoodoo ends today.

  9. Dave in New Have(n)

    September 30, 2009 at 11:35 am

    “Does Gerald Laird get the day off tomorrow? I’d hope so. My knees hurt thinking about it.”

    What about Joe Mauer? Given that he’ll probably be back behind the plate, and given that Pavano has yet to have had a runner attempting to steal get caught since he joined the Twins (that is, attempting stealers are 13/13), you think we’ll go for a few steals tonight?

    • Coleman

      September 30, 2009 at 2:48 pm

      If ever there was a day to start Wilkin Ramirez…and he hasn’t been Pavano’d yet so maybe he’s immune.

      (On the other hand, I think Pavano has a pickoff move and Wilkin was an easy pickoff yesterday)

  10. Rick G

    September 30, 2009 at 5:32 pm

    After game 1 yesterday there was a caller (named Brian) to AM 1130 (Shep & Sharp) who suggested that Clete running on contact with runners on 1st and 3rd was a smart play even though he got thrown out.

    The rationale for this is that you’d rather have runners on first and second with one out than a runner on 3rd with two outs, assuming they turn the double play on Huff – which is a safe bet. It’s counter-intuitive, but an interesting idea that deserved some discussion. Is the extra out worth not having a runner on 3rd?

    Poor Brian was ridiculed as Shep called it the most asinine thing he’d ever heard, and they’ve used parts of that call as a lead-in on today’s show to further embarrass him.

    The best part? Caller Brian was 100% correct and the pompous jackasses on AM 1130 were wrong! I pulled out my copy of “Baseball Between the Numbers” and looked on page 129 to see that if you have a runner on 3rd with two outs, you have a 25.4% chance of scoring a run, but if you have runners on 1st and 2nd with one out, you have a 41.4% chance of scoring.