Game 128: Yankees at Tigers

PREGAME: The Tigers take another crack at Roger Clemens who they had no trouble hitting last week, they just had trouble scoring. The Tigers mustered 10 hits in 6 innings, but only 2 runs thanks to 8 strikeouts which all seemed to come with guys on base.

For the Tigers it will be Andrew Miller making his fast start since going on the DL on August 4th. Despite the great stuff, Miller struggles a little to put guys away and his lack of command can lead to hefty pitch counts. He hasn’t recorded an out after the 5th inning since July 6th.

I’ll be heading down to this game, and hopefully the result will be similar to when I saw Clemens pitch against the Tigers last year.

Who’s your Tiger tonight? I’m going out on a limb and going with Brandon Inge.

Game Time 7:05
NYY @ DET, Friday, August 24, 2007 Game Preview – Baseball-Reference.com

POSTGAME: You know you got your money’s worth when on the way home from a game you start to ponder where it ranks in terms of the greatest games you’ve ever witnessed live. When you’re doing at at 4:00am, you know it’s a special situation.

First things first, thanks to all of you for the awesome comments throughout the game last night. I was reading them on my Blackberry throughout the night and was amazed so many of us were toughing it out together.

On to the game, I made several good decisions last night. First, I had an unused ticket and was really debating taking my 6 year old son. I ended up not doing it, because while I love him to death and love going to games with him, this was the first time since Opening Day I had plans to go with my friends and I just didn’t want to be a dad that night. Second, we took a couple cars to the game because one friend had commitments in the morning and we didn’t know how late he’d want to stay. Worked out great with the one friend being able to leave at 8:30 when he recognized any baseball would be way late. So those staying were happy to be stayinig, and no one had to leave prematurely.

The theme for the night was pretty much, “there’s weird s*** happening tonight” and that held up throughout the game. Witness:

  • Placido Polanco makes an error. That never happens.
  • Pudge battles back from an 0-2 count to take a walk. That never happens.
  • The game started at 11:05.
  • Jason Grilli pitches not only a scoreless inning in Comerica Park, but he does it uneventfully.
  • Pudge took another walk. Intentional and all, but still.
  • I’m drinking coffee at a game in August – normally an activity reserved for those cold nights in April or September

So there we were at 2:30 in the morning concocting the most improbable ways for the Tigers to pull this off. Like having the Tigers load the bases against Mariano Rivera and then have Inge come through. Well, that one got half way there, and only some bad luck kept it from coming through.

Still the crowd stayed, and sure it was whittled down after a while. After that 10th inning the numbers really dwindled and I said to the usher, this place looks like 2003 right now. But it sounded much louder. And at that point everyone had formed this big kind of friendship, the kind of friendship that can only come from staying at a ballpark until ridiculous hours of the morning as everyone individually questions their sanity for staying and yet being too afraid to leave and miss something. It was kind of like one of those West Coast Red Wing playoff games that goes into OT, and you think to yourself “I can’t quit now, I’ve made it this far.”

Fortunately for those who stayed, they got the pay off. After a nice walk by Polanco it looked like a hit and run sign was missed with Sean Casey up and Polanco was picked off. And the Tigers went from a runner on 1 out situation to a 2 out none on situation. As so often is the case, the next batter gets a single after the runner is wiped off the bases.

I was imploring Leyland to pinch run for Casey, figuring that a gapper would go to waste with Casey on the basepaths. Instead Leyland stuck with Casey who managed to go first to third with relative ease on a blooper. Setting the stage for the Carlos Guillen. When he hit it I didn’t know if it was gone. I just new it was well hit and I didn’t care if it were a homer, I just wanted it to get over Matsui’s head. When it landed on the roof of the bullpen it was euphoria, it was relief, it was “I get to go home now, but I’m not tired anymore,” it was so worth it all.

I know the above thoughts are incoherent, but I’m working on a couple hours of sleep right now. For the bullets:
Continue reading Game 128: Yankees at Tigers

On Pudge’s Defense

Last year about this time there was a pretty popular post about Pudge Rodriguez’s ability to thwart the running game. Last year, Pudge’s caught stealing numbers have suffered a little bit, but his reputation made him the catcher that was least likely to be run on. He led Major League Baseball with .51 stolen base attempts per nine innings despite throwing out only 29%. This year a slimmer and quicker Rodriguez gunned down 45% of would-be stealers. However, he was no longer the most feared catcher in the game, as 3 other starting catchers had fewer attempts.

Player                  Inn         SBA        SBA/9 Inn      CS%

Yadier Molina         959.1          35           .33         55%
Brad Ausmus          1065.2          57           .48         26%
Joe Mauer             999.2          54           .49         38%
Rod Barajas          1025.1          67           .59         32%
Ivan Rodriguez       1032.2          68           .59         45%

The table shows the catchers who had the fewest attempts per 9 innings. Not included in the table, but right behind Rodriguez was Chris Snyder. What’s interesting is that while the attempts against Pudge increased modestly in 2005, the attempts against the leaders were significantly below Pudge’s leading mark from last year.

So was this a league wide phenomenon? Comparing total attempts the last two years, the difference was only 55 fewer attempts (out of approximately 3000). I’m not sure what caused the shift, but a handful of catchers had the luxury of not being tested nearly as much as in the past.

As for what this means for Pudge, his reputation didn’t loom quite as large. In 2005 opposing managers probably noticed Rodriguez that Rodriguez had slipped in 2004. Will his reputation come back in 2006? He certainly will stand to benefit from having 3 left handers in the rotation, two of which are amongst the best at holding runners. The Tigers should be able to control the running game. The bigger question will be keeping the runners off the bases in the first place.

detroit tigers,ivan rodriguez,baseball