The first inning of this game lasted longer than the innocence of Miley Cyrus. There were 5 runs scored over a total of 45 minutes. And Justin Verlander, who I just said is totally fine in the preview, needed 44 pitches to get through it. JV bounced back strongly with an 8 pitch vintage second inning but still seemed a little off all night, serving meaty fastballs to players like Yoenis Cespedes and Brandon Moss, who should never see anything straighter than Richard Simmons, and getting behind in the count too often. He hung another over the outer half of the plate in the 5th and Oakland made him pay hard yet again, with a 2-run homer off the bat of Brandon Moss. Two big doubles and a home run in the odd innings killed Justin’s hopes of a bounce back win. Through five, JV gave up just 4 hits yet surrendered 5 runs.
Did I mention the rain? It looked brutal and persistent from the get-go. Like “please just cancel this thing before it goes nine soggy hours” persistent. It got a bit nastier right after the 2-run shot from Moss put the A’s up 5-3 in the top of the 5th, with the grounds crew coming out to spread quick-dry in between at bats. Woof.
Meanwhile, A’s starter Tommy Milone settled down late in the third and retired 7 in a row after allowing 2 ultimately harmless runners in that inning. All 3 of his runs through five innings were given up in the first.
In a sixth inning that many thought they would not see, Bruce Rondon took over for Verlander. JV’s final line: 5.0 IP, 4 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 3 K’s, 1 HR. 104 pitches, 68 strikes.
The first batter Rondon faced, Seth Smith, went yard. This is a guy that was hitting .102 since the All Star breaking coming in. Just goes to show you that it doesn’t matter how fast you throw it if it’s right down the GD middle of the plate. These guys are in the show for a reason. I lost my patience here for a brief moment. Good thing this is a blog and not a live vlog. With Oakland’s lead at 6-3, I started wondering if I was bad luck for this team. (They’ve lost the last 5 games I recapped now). Then I realized how utterly stupid that sounded and nearly cancelled the volunteering opportunity I’d just scheduled for the next time I’m due to cover our boys.
All four A’s batters in the sixth reached base (with one touching them all, obviously) and some number of fans turned up their internal cheering for the Braves (they played Cleveland tonight). With the bases loaded and no outs in the same top of 6, a rain delay was issued and many Tigers fans, including myself, were calling for an end to the madness – one loss is just one loss, as long as a key player isn’t, well, lost. Safety first, UMPS! If not for the unbalanced schedule in place, the game probably would not have lasted this long in the first place. When all was said and done, the rain won… oh and so did the A’s. Again.
Game officially called with three Oakland A’s on base and none out in the top of the 6th. A’s win, 6-3. Justin Verlander took his 10th loss of the season, and the world kept spinnin’.
Still, I vote for “yes” for waking up tomorrow and pretending these last two games never happened, if you want to hold a poll.
Doug Fister is on the hill Wednesday against a guy with a losing record and a bad ERA. The Tigers, for the third game in a row, will have a superior starting pitcher. Maybe this time it will matter.
Let’s end this on a good note. The Braves beat the Indians 2-0 in Atlanta tonight, so the Tigers are still up 5.5… and will ultimately be just fine. (They still have the 2nd best record in the AL, folks. That’s damn good.)
Thanks for reading. Hump day is on the horizon and the Tigers are… due? (Commence arguments over the validity of that concept in 3, 2, 1 and go.)