There are some people claimed that the series against New York was going to be an important one for the Detroit Tigers. Granted, that depends on what you define as “important”. If you think that it’s an important series for the season then you are somewhat correct, as every game is important, but there’s a lot of baseball to be played this year and there’s not very much discussion about division races or playoff dreams yet. So I give you a half correct answer, with a little bit of a hand wiggle. “Eh, okay it may be important, but it’s still early.” If you think that it’s an important series because the Tigers were just swept at home by the Seattle Mariners and the Tigers would like to win a few games to avoid dropping below .500, and the Tigers would like to win a few games because that’s the point of winning games, and the Tigers would like to win a few games so that the collective Tiger fan base could lower their blood pressure medication, then you would be considered a winner in this silly little guessing game.
So the Tigers began Friday morning with some not so very good news to top off a not so very good week and as 7pm rolled around, I’m pretty sure a lot of the players were glad to take the field and focus on baseball. I know I was glad they did that, and I’m pretty sure you did too. It would make the day just a total suck-fest after all the drama and news-you-don’t-want-to-hear-about plus if they ended up not playing a game.
Of course, Tiger fans have been through a lot this week and so the game that they played would have been extremely enjoyable if they could actually end up winning it, but alas! that would not be the case, even with Justin Verlander on the mound.
I’m going right to the bullet holes! Bullet holes! Because that’s what the Tigers feel they got drilled by tonight, the last one being a wild pitch/passed ball that scored Derek Jeter in the bottom of the ninth inning to walkoff the win for the Yankees.
- First inning: Austin Jackson lead off the game with a single and a stolen base. Oh, happy day! Finally, a start to a game where a Seattle Mariner didn’t lead off with a base hit. In fact, it was the start of a very good game for Jackson, but we’ll get more to that later, as the inning started nicely but didn’t exactly end that way. Brennan Boesch struck out looking, Miguel Cabrera flew out to center field, and Prince Fielder flew out to left. Justin Verlander, making his first start since the last time the Tigers actually won a game couldn’t even keep an opposing team off the board in the first inning. I did some research. I’m bolding it and UN-bullet-holing it.
In games where the opposition scored in the first inning, the Tigers are 1-6 (now 1-7).
In game where the opposition did not score in the first inning, the Tigers are 9-3
- Wow, that’s some amazing research. I had to look at 20 different box scores to figure that out! Anyway so Verlander allowed a run in the first inning on a Curtis Granderson double and Alex Rodriguez single, so the research doesn’t help the expectations for the rest of the game. Crap, guys.
- Second inning: I’ll admit it, I was very interested in seeing how Brad Eldred approached the plate in his first at bat. After Don Kelly walked, he stepped up and settled into his stance. You know what, just take a look since we have a GIF of it.
- I feel I should mention that the Tigers scored a run, but it was a partial gift since Raul Ibanez was in left field to allow the triple. Eldred was on third base with no outs, remember, and Alex Avila, Jhonny Peralta, and Ryan Raburn failed to move him 90 feet.
- Third inning: with the game tied 1-1 the Tigers began the third inning with four straight singles from Jackson, Boesch, Cabrera, and Fielder and before Ivan Nova could even blink, he was down 3-1. Well, then he blinked and struck out Kelly, Eldred, and got Avila to ground out. Just like the previous two innings the Tigers had runners in scoring position with no outs and failed to score them. Yeah, they got three runs. How many more should they have gotten? Six at least.
- Fourth inning: After the Tigers did nothing with Ryan Raburn’s single (granted he wasn’t in scoring position!), Alex Rodriguez lead off the Yankee fourth against Verlander with an opposite field home run. Verlander pumped in a 3-2 fastball on the outside corner that caught a little bit too much of the strike zone, and Rodriguez did what he was supposed to with the pitch. 3-2 Tigers lead.
- Fifth inning: Cabrera led off the inning with a walk, but Fielder and Kelly lined out and grounded out respectively. Kelly’s was a fielder’s choice. Eldred came up for his third at bat and singled to short on a first pitch fastball. (Early reports are telling us he likes to swing immediately if he gets his fastball….). With runners on 1st and 2nd, Avila came up and struck out. It would be the fourth inning where the Tigers failed to drive a runner in from second. Meanwhile, Eric Chavez singled to lead off the bottom of the fifth and Russel Martin promptly hit a two run home run to give the Yankees a 4-3 lead.
- Sixth inning: But the Tigers responded. In what was their first inning to actually hit Nova hard (the third inning was the result of a couple seeing-eye singles), the Yankees scored three runs to take a 6-4 lead, and still managed to strand runners, Alex Avila notably. Peralta doubled, Raburn singled, and Jackson doubled them in. After Boesch lined out and Cabrera was intentionally walked, a pitching change brought in the lefty Boone Logan to face the lefty Prince Fielder. The Tigers giant first baseman singled, as is his mantra, and Jackson scored the third run. Cabrera tried to take third base on the throw and was gunned down for the second out of the inning. Can’t give him too much slack – it was a nice throw by Ibanez and the play was in front of him, he simply thought he could challenge Raul’s arm. After Kelly walked, the righty Corey Wade came in to face Eldred, bounced it back to Wade. Wade made an error on the play and everyone was safe, the bases were loaded for Alex Avila. He struck out swinging.
- Eighth inning: after a scoreless seventh and top of the eighth, the Yankees came up in the bottom half of he inning down 6-5. Joaquin Benoit was on for the Tigers at this point and he was inefficient Benoit tonight. Rodriguez singled on a fastball, Robinson Cano singled on a changeup that sent Rodriguez to third, Mark Teixeira sent a deep fly ball to warning track that Jackson hauled in, but couldn’t do anything with as it was deep enough that both runners tagged. Tie game. Benoit struck out Nick Swisher, intentionally walked the lefty Ibanez with first base open, then struck out Eric Chavez (who also happened to be a lefty but I suppose the strategy worked, and it’s too late to look a the splits…) to get out of the inning. But the win was blown and the Tigers were going to face an interesting situation since Justin Verlander’s average outing had cost them the early use of Phil Coke and Octavio Dotel. That left Brayan Villarreal and Jose Valverde for the ninth and extra innings. Because the Tigers were away, if they scored they’d still need a closer…rather, an arm that they could trust to close a game…which happened to be Valverde.
- Ninth inning: The Tigers failed to score in the top of the ninth so Villarreal was the really only choice. There could be an argument that Valverde would be better in a tie situation, but any situation at this point would be high leverage and so Villarreal would be a risk regardless. And a risk the Tigers had to take. After Martin grounded out, Villarreal lost Derek Jeter to a walk, and he flat out fell apart after that. Fastball after fastball after fastball, he pounded the area around the plate with no idea where the ball was going. Again it’s late, you’ll have to trust me….he wasn’t hitting his spots. Granderson’s at bat finally accumulated in a wild pitch as ball four and Jeter went all the way to third base on the play. 1st and 3rd, one out for the active leader in home runs, Alex Rodriguez. No biggie After two straight balls, Villarreal launched another fastball that tipped off Alex Avila’s glove and Jeter came in to score the winning run, in fitting fashion. The Yankees didn’t even have to hit the ball. Villarreal threw one slider all inning.
Just a few more bullet holes, which have become points at this…well, er, point. It’s been a long day.
- Austin Jackson, your leadoff hitter is hitting .296 with an on base percentage of .388. That’s um…excellent.
- The Tigers had 13 hits and left 12 men on base. Alex Avila himself left 8 on base in his 0-for-5 night.
- Brad Eldred went 2-for-5 with a triple, a single and two strikeouts. Those strikeouts will be very common but that’s fine…if he is a Three True Outcomes player (HR, SO, BB) then I’m fine with that…although hes probably not going to walk much…so he could be a Two True Outcome player? Sigh. Here’s Eldred’s last five years in Triple-A (only 212 was with Detroit).