And This Game Will Be Henceforth Known as The Fall of the House of Aroldis Chapman

picture of people in baseball uniforms

Our main character is sitting in the corner of the room. This room was bare except for a chest of drawers sitting on an ancient wooden floor. This chest of drawers was empty; if there had been anything in them our main character would have put them on. As it was, our main character wore no clothes. Our main character was shivering. Not from being cold, but from the alcohol that was being dumped down a dry throat. A glass bottle of Jim Beam, you know, the one you buy in bulk from your local warehouse grocery, the bottle was nearly gone, and on the old wooden floor another bottle lay on its side, as empty as the chest of drawers. A slow roar began to grow from the other side of the room. A small television, not seen before, was suddenly glowing with flickering lights. The roar kept growing louder and louder, it became distinct, the sounds of a crowd. Our main character threw the bottle to the ground in surprised glee. Our main character leapt from his crouch and exposed himself to the television, his drunken depression a sudden forgotten memory.

I attempted to write up this narrative in the event that Detroit blew their first game on National Television. Through seven innings I was fairly certain that this narrative would be defined as a success. I assumed that there was no victory here, this evening on Sunday Night Baseball, for these baseball Tigers. I assumed there was no wee bit of light to be found in this gloomy narrative, no hope to cast it afire.

Then the top of the eighth inning happened. The narrative, to my joy, was destroyed.

The Detroit Tigers had teased us all for six and two thirds of an inning. They scored two measly runs in six and two thirds of an inning of painfully bad baseball against Homer Bailey, a pitcher who has allowed 32% of all runners to get on base this year. The Tigers then went and scored four times in the span of five outs against arguably the best relief corps and best reliever in baseball. Here are how many times batters get on base against the four relievers who allowed four runs before getting five outs:

Jose Arredondo: 26%

Sean Marshall: 31%

Logan Ondrusek: 32%

Aroldis Chapman: 17%

Left handed Aroldis Chapman came into the game with a 6-3 lead. Granted, there were two on and there was no one out. But up to this point he had faced 11 batters on the year and struck out 54. There was nearly a 50% chance he would strike someone out. Coming up for the Tigers were a limp pinch hitter in the lefty, Brennan Boesch, a career minor leaguer and lefty batter Matt Young, and Austin Jackson player who struck out 181 times last year. Even if he allowed contact, players have his .191 on balls in play this year.

Chapman promptly allowed a single to Boesch, hit Young with a pitch (it grazed his jersey, which is a good thing. Have you seen Matt Young? Have you seen an Aroldis Chapman fastball? He would have died!) to score a run, and then with the bases loaded Austin Jackson hit a ground rule double to tied the game.

Baseball makes no sense. BASEBALL MAKES NO SENSE.

What makes even less sense is the fact that the Tigers then had the game tied, had the bases loaded, and had Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, and Delmon Young up next. They scored one more time. On a wild pitch with Cabrera up at the plate. Chapman got Miggy out on a weak ground ball, struck Fielder out, and got Delmon Young to bounce out to second to end the inning.

But the Tigers lead 7-6 and Joaquin Benoit and Jose Valverde came in to shut the door on the Cincinnati Reds and won a series. THEY WON A SERIES!!!!!!!!!

***

Drew Smyly started, went three innings, and got hurt. I think that’s an adequate way of summarizing his performance; the rest is just filling in details. He worked through a scoreless first inning, then became the victim of a double steal and single in the second inning, allowed a leadoff home run in the third and then apparently developed a blood blister, retired the side, and didn’t live to see the fourth. I don’t mean to suggest that Drew Smyly died today in between the third and fourth innings, but his middle finger died after straying too close to a thrown grenade (which is a metaphor for a baseball that is being hit hard by the opposition!).

So, in summary, on Sunday evening the virgin Drew Smyly started the first Sunday Night Baseball game of his career. He flopped like a limp noodle, stymied by a bloody middle finger (which is also a symbol of the Tigers season). He got hit hard, and he didn’t pitch that well. No one can really blame him though. That blister was totally disgusting. I don’t know if you had a chance to see it, and if you didn’t faint then you are a stronger person than I. (Really. Well, maybe not, but it was gross!).

You know what, I don’t want to talk anymore about this blister, but I do want Jason Beck too:

Smyly gave up three runs on four hits in three innings, including a Todd Frazier two-run single in the second and a Zack Cozart home run leading off the third. That’s the pitch, he said, where he first felt it.

“I had a mini-cut from my last start,” Smyly said, “but it wasn’t a blister or anything. So I had some type of stuff on it to keep it safe. It was holding all the blood in, so it was getting mushy. So every pitch, it was getting mushier and mushier, and it started going down my finger.”

Impressively, Smyly retired the middle of the Reds’ lineup in order after Chris Heisey’s third-inning double, using offspeed pitches to try to avoid breaking it open. As soon as he got to the dugout, he went to head athletic trainer Kevin Rand.

Once they went to manager Jim Leyland, he couldn’t believe what he saw.

“It’s the worst one I’d ever seen in my life,” said Leyland

As a fan of the Tigers should not be shocked by Smyly’s struggles, even without a blister problem, for two reasons. One, Drew Smyly has slowly began to face reality and while he hasn’t been smacked around, he hasn’t had a game where he gave up less than three runs since May Ninth. Observe:

Date IP H R ERA WPA
Apr 12 4.0 4 1 2.25 0.044
Apr 17 6.0 7 1 0.90 0.232
Apr 22 6.0 5 1 1.12 0.237
Apr 28 6.0 2 1 1.23 0.093
May 4 6.0 7 2 1.61 0.077
May 9 6.0 2 1 1.59 0.166
May 14 5.0 5 4 2.31 -0.122
May 19 4.2 7 4 2.89 -0.255
May 25 5.0 6 4 3.14 -0.072
May 30 6.0 8 4 3.46 -0.174
Jun 5 6.0 6 4 3.71 -0.179
June 10 3.0 4 3 3.96 -0.158

Now, I think we all know that Drew Smyly wasn’t going to have a 1.59 ERA all season, and I think closer to a 4.00 ERA is what most of us expect.So what can we expect from here on out? Does Smyly continue to allow 3-4 runs per start, provide negative win shares and basically make sure the offense needs to score 5-6 runs every time out?

I sure hope not! But like you, I have no clue. I sure hope these blisters don’t keep showing up like those annoying talking warts on those wart-b-gone commercials!

Austin Jackson is the other name I want to focus on here, simply because in the second game back from his DL stint, he flat out wont the game for the Tigers.

What is Austin Jackson doing different this year for the Tigers?

If you didn’t catch it on the first couple dozen clips, you see Devin Mesoraco setting up low and inside to receive Homer Bailey’s fastball. Bailey slips on the damp mound, the ball tails outside, and Jackson simply goes with the pitch, launching it into the opposite field and over the fence for his sixth home run on the year.

Why focus on this play instead of the eighth inning double? Well, the eighth inning double that tied the game was power against power. Jackson knew what he was going to get, and he was just quick enough to turn the 100 MPH fastball around.

No, this home run was certainly more impressive. I can’t tell you how many times he got that pitch last year where he rolled his wrists over and tried to pull the ball, simply resulting in a soft ground ball to the left side.

Yeah, so I’m smitten by Jackson, and gosh darn-it I’m so stinkin’ glad he’s back. Not only does it mean we can stop hearing about how Quintin Berry could be an everyday player (hahahahaha, who am I kidding?), but it means that the Tigers get their most dynamic firestarter back right when most of the Tigers offense is starting to heat up.

Well, Sunday Night certainly was a really poorly played game that turned into a really great comeback. What’s better is we get to marinate on this victory for nearly 45 hours! That’s right the Tigers play no one on Monday, and then on Tuesday they go to Wrigley Field to play the Cubs.

The Cubs. Huh. You mean the team that is supposedly the worst team in baseball?

Silence falls as the television slowly fades to black, our main character slowly returns to his bottle, in the corner of the bare room. He brushes a spider web from his face as he drains the last of the Jim Beam. He looks around wildly, desperately, for another distraction…

  • Louis

    No, it will not be known as that… because practically no one reads your blog.  Good luck, however, and keep it up.

    • http://www.walkoffwoodward.com/ Josh Worn

      I’d delete this but its a classic

      • Kevine640 (Practically No One)

        Actually, this Louis guy is right when he says

        “because practically no one reads your blog.  Good luck, however, and keep it up.”

          While my tag line says. “Kevine640″ but my God given (and mother given) name is *First name* Practically – *Middle Name* No  -* Last name*

        So yes, I am legally named, ”Practically No One”

        This has not made my life easy.

        So before you crucify Louis – please offer him a show sympathy, due to his shout of kindness towards me, and my unfortunate name.

        • Kevine640 (Practically No One)

          ughh… that is unfortunate… that should read

          *First name* Practically – *Middle Name* No  -* Last name* One

          How sad is that? I am so insignificant I screw-up my own name!

          • http://www.walkoffwoodward.com/ Josh Worn

             It’s okay Mr. Practically No One, at least you weren’t trying to decide whether or not to shut your blog down since no one reads it.

    • Derek

      How can you comment on this if no one reads this? I read this, I know a ton of people who read this! If Louis says that no one reads this, and its true, what are we reading?!?!?!?

    • Tanner

      I read this every day, despite how horribly fucking frustrating the Tigers are this year. Thanks Josh, and keep up the good work. 

      • http://www.walkoffwoodward.com/ Josh Worn

        Thanks Tanner!

    • verlander

      Damned lies.

  • Tony

    Probably a pissed off Reds fan. I for one, enjoyed the narrative.

  • Erik J.

    What a troll.

  • cestma

    “…up to this point he had faced 11 batters on the year and struck out 54. ”

    Shoot, and I thought I was beginning to understand baseball…

    Delightful write-up!

    • http://www.walkoffwoodward.com/ Josh Worn

      Damnit! 111!

      • cestma

        :D

        Actually, it was pretty obvious from the subsequent sentence that you’d just dropped a digit.

        Happens when you buy Jim Beam in bulk…

        • http://www.walkoffwoodward.com/ Josh Worn

           I kept thinking that I was seeing 4 ones!

  • Lapin

    Crap. Now I’m a “no one”. Life sucks. I probably have cancer.

    • Marron

       There seems to be a ton of people who are “no ones” now. Shucks.

  • Highoway

    I don’t comment on blogs often, but when I do, I comment on Walkoff Woodward.

    • almost

      I dont always comment on blogs, but when i do, i prefer walkoff woodward.

      • How About….

        “He doesn’t need to read blogs, blogs read him.”

        • good one

          Ha! 

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/XXV5SKO3AXMTUCNGLLEKOQT3ZU Derek

    This game seemed to have alot of close plays that could have gone either way and in the last couple innings they finally started going the tigers way. Something that hasnt seemed to happen alot this year.

    • http://www.walkoffwoodward.com/ Josh Worn

      I agree with that 100%

  • AdSal44

    Good post, man. I’m one of the probably 50K Tigers fans living in Chicago (and that’s being conservative) and I can’t wait to see our boys _____ (fill in the blank with non-jinxy stuff) this Wednesday. If I didn’t have a job, I’d go to every game this week. Alas, I have a job and a liver to consider.. so Wed night will have to do. Crosby taking the place of Sir Smiles in the rotation we thinks? 

    • http://www.walkoffwoodward.com/ Josh Worn

       I believe they are waiting to see how Fister responds in his next side session, and furthermore, from what Smyly says he doesn’t think he’ll miss a start.

  • Blaxpheme

    Josh: I believe in the fateful inning of note, Miggy smoked a ball, with the inf. in, that Phillips made a decent play on, and Prince also hit his hard, at Phillips as well.

    • http://www.walkoffwoodward.com/ Josh Worn

      Prince struck out, and from what I saw, Miggy’s grounder wasn’t “smoked”. He got on top of the ball. If he “smoked” the ball very few people can catch it.

      • Blaxpheme

        I thought Miggy hit it well. I see Prince DID strike out, it was Delmon that hit it hard, at Phillips. Frustrating still, that with those 3 up, we failed to do ANYTHING. Been a HUGE issue so far, winning or not.

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