Tag Archives: Justin Verlander

Tigers @ Rays 6-29-12: David Price is Really Good

If it feels like Tigers starters have given up an inordinate number of home runs this season, believe me, it feels much worse when you’re watching the Rays hit solo homer after solo homer off your ace.  But let’s not dwell on the outcome, because I have pictures!  I’ll post the whole set somewhere and have a link at some point, but for now, I’ll give you the highlights.  Please feel free to share with a credit back to this blog.  Enjoy!

Coke pitches in the bullpen

Action Coke!  Tampa’s bullpen is on the field, so photo ops are easy.

Avila and Yong during BP

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JV tries to kill us, Inge kills the internet, and this is only week 2

(This was written yesterday, FYI, so assume this was all yesterday morning after JV’s start.  I forgot to e-mail the post to myself from the work computer.  Oops.)

Why do I feel like this season has been at least a month long already? My heart should not be litterally pounding during the 10th game of the year. Insanity.

And speaking of insanity, this team (and the fans, actually) has rendered me incapable of coherent speech multiple times over already, so here’s a collection of disjointed thoughts for you.

– At some point during the third game against the White Sox, I had completely transformed into the “Y U No” guy and found myself screaming at the television:

TIGERS OFFENSE Y U NO HIT BASEBALLS?

BULLPEN Y U NO THROW STRIKES?

LEYLAND Y U NO KILL SCHLERETH?

PRINCE Y U INJURE OWN STARTER?

DELMON Y U NO LIKE RUNNING?

DUNN Y U HIT BASEBALL NOW?

FANS Y U NO LIKE OWN TEAM?

And so on. Thank God for Porcello and his rediscovered sinker. When you are reduced to meme-speak this early in the season, you know you’re in for a long summer.

– Boys, I know it is self-preservation, but you’re supposed to protect your pitcher. One of you couldn’t have stood still or knocked down that foul ball or something and kept it from hitting Wilk?

– I guess if you’re going to pass sinus infections and strep around the clubhouse, best to get it out of the way this early in the season. Maybe you don’t want to give it to your broadcaster who just went through chemo, though. Just a thought.

– The fan panic continues at a level that is so ridiculous that I can’t even read Twitter during games if things are going badly. Ryan Raburn should be burned at the stake! Miguel Cabrera is ruined! Jim Leyland should be fired because we lost a game/for leaving JV in/taking JV out/ever using his bullpen/using statistics to compose a line-up/breathing! After last night, it turns out I can’t even read Twitter during games when things are going WELL. I hopped on after Inge’s homerun of majesty last night to see if Samera was gloating (heh) and check the feeds of the few other Tigers fans I can stand to follow. According to a few of those folks, people have such a deep hatred for Brandon Inge that they were actually angry that he hit a home run. That broke a tie. And ended up being the difference in the game. And gave JV a chance at his first win.

… I don’t even know what to do with this information. If you hate a guy so much that you can’t tip your hat and say “huh, good job, I guess”, or even acknowledge that he might have changed the outcome of an entire game, I don’t want to know you. You might call yourself a fan of the team, but we have very different definitions of the word “fan”.

– Along that same line, should we really be upset that the bottom part of the order is stepping up to win games when the middle is so clearly slumping? I love you, Gerald Laird.

– I hate to get my hopes up, but I kind of want to marry this version of Austin Jackson. Never leave us Austin Jackson Who Hits Balls and Takes Walks!

– The MLB Tonight commentary during their live lookins during the 9th inning last night were hysterical. They were utterly convinced that Leyland had gone out to pull Justin during his mound visit and had been talked out of it. Having watched far many, many mound visits during Justin’s starts, my husband and I believed that, after his last start, Leyland was absolutely going to leave Justin in, even if he lost the lead. We never for a moment thought that mound visit was anything more than a “Look, you need one out, just get this done”. I even told my husband that it was all probably some sort of psychological thing for him after the last start and Leyland was letting him work through it. The reactions and expressions of pure relief and glee on Avila and Verlander’s faces after the final out confirmed this long before the quotes from MLB.com did. Do I agree with letting your star arm throw that many VERY FAST pitches in April? No, I do not. But I kind of get it, even if it almost KILLED ME DEAD.

– I hate the White Sox. I hate them in their stupid White Sox faces.

 

The Tigers prove they’re capable of losing, fans promptly lose their minds

::sigh::

Okay, listen Tigers fans.  Come over here and have a seat.  Don’t worry, I have tissues and beer.

Here’s the thing, you guys.  You’re all sports fans, and what’s more, you’re all TIGERS fans.  You know how this works.  Sometimes, teams lose.  In baseball, with the season lasting the better part of a year, the odds of this happening frequently is actually pretty high.  And, sometimes, your team will lose in a way that is so soul-crushingly, mind-numbingly, yell-obscenities-at-the-radio-and-nearly-drive-off-the-road terrible that you will question why you ever chose to put yourself through following them.  Do you all remember That Twins Game?  Yeah, you do, even if you try to pretend you don’t.

Yes, it is completely infuriating that Justin could pitch THAT WELL for 8 innings (I mean, less than 80 pitches?  What?) and blow it in the 9th.  It is more infuriating that Schlereth and Valverde gave back-to-back walks after he left the game and broke the tie.  And it is just BLISTERINGLY INFURIATING that Fernando Rodney, FERNANDO, could put down Cabrera, Prince, and Peralta in order.

Give me a second, I need to take a breath…

Okay, I’m better.  Look.  You can Monday morning quarterback this all day long, but here’s the truth.  The way Justin was pitching, no one could have guessed he would look that different the next inning.  Even after he started to struggle, fans were booing when Leyland went out to talk to him because they thought he was getting pulled.  Was Schlereth a good choice for the next pitcher?  Probably not.  Was it a good plan to put Valverde into a non-save, bases loaded situation?  Maybe not.  But statistically, it was probably just as likely for them or Verlander to blow the lead.  The manager has to make these choices, and if it works, he’s a hero.  If it doesn’t, fans wail and gnash their teeth, calling for his head.  After this team won the first four games of the season.  You know how many teams were undefeated this morning?  The Tigers.  You know how many wins the Twins had this morning?  Zero.  Just think about that for a minute before you start mentally firing the whole team.

I hate to have to bring this up again, but @catswithbats mentioned on Twitter that she really hoped she wasn’t hearing booing on the broadcast at the end of the game.  The only, ONLY reason I hope those people had was that they were expressing their displeasure for Rodney’s new-found abilities.  The Rays are a good team.  They swept the Yankees and, last season, beat them to make it to the playoffs.  Aside from the final inning, Verlander pitched like a master.  Shields also pitched a great game and we were frankly lucky to get the runs we did.  This was just one of those games.  If there were people booing simply because we lost, I’m frankly ashamed to call them fellow fans.

Valverde isn’t going to get every save, Cabrera and Prince aren’t going to get back-to-back hits every time through the rotation, Verlander isn’t going to pitch a no-hitter every outing, and we’re going to lose sometimes.  This team is made of win and magic and we’ll all enjoy this season a lot more if we can calm the hell down.  If we don’t, this is going to be a long, miserable season.

Take heed, American League teams

Oh, you all know we have this guy . . .

. . .  and this guy . . .

. . . and you may have heard we had this guy.

But, with all of that going on, you may have forgotten that we still have this guy . . .

. . . and this guy . . .

. . . and, of course, this guy.

So, you know, good luck with that!

Open letters from opening day

Tragically, I was at work for the majority of the game yesterday.  Not nearly as tragically, I was at home in front of my television in time to watch Austin Jackson work some magic!  Through the magic of technology, I was following the game as closely as possible and have some open letters to our dear players for the start of the season.

To Prince Fielder, Please keep being adorable with Cabrera in the dugout.  Rubbing his back?  Hugging him from behind?  Priceless.  Maybe having a hetero-lifemate will keep him happy and out of trouble.

Jhonny Perlata- People said that there was probably no way you could have another season like last year.  They said that, based on your career numbers, last year was a fluke.  Well.  You quietly went about your business having a ridiculous spring, and no one talked about it.  And then?  Three-for-three with a walk on opening day.  You just keep doing your thing and we’ll keep laughing that no one seems to notice.

Dear, dear Austin Jackson, THIS.  That’s all I can say.  Do this, always, and maybe you can earn a small piece of the love that we had for Curtis Granderson and help us to heal.  Obviously, you loved it, too.  Did you see the replays of your smile after you hit the game winning run?  Be still, my heart!

Miguel.  Listen, buddy.  We’re not going to worry about the hitting, because you took three walks and they had the balls to walk you intentionally to get to Prince.  We laugh at that strategy.  And your ridiculous roll after catching the foul fly?  Adorable.  But what happened on that error?  That wasn’t even a ranging play.  The only thing I can imagine is that you had a flashback to the exploded face incident and balked.  And, honestly, I don’t blame you, but you’re out to prove something, and that something is not my lingering fear that you won’t make it as a third baseman.  Get it together.

Dearest Papa Grande, I don’t blame you.  Those people who apparently booed when you finished the inning?  They’re ungrateful idiots.  You weren’t going to stay perfect and everyone knows that.  Granted, blowing it on opening day was not ideal, but at least the monkey is off your back and you can start a new streak, right?  Please don’t ever change.

Oh, Tigers fans.  Speaking of booing, I have a note for you, as well.  Stop.  Booing. Your.  Own.  Team.  Stop it.  Did you really boo Inge when he was announced, on opening day, even though he’s on the DL and not playing?  Seriously?  I know you’re fickle when it comes to Inge, but that’s a new low.  And those of you who booed Valverde when he blew a save?  After all he did for the team last year?  Disgusting.  Please don’t start the year this way.

Justin, Justin, Justin.  Did you think I forgot about you?  How could I?  105 pitches, 8 innings, 1 walk, and 7 K’s.  I love you.  I love you so, so hard.  My in-laws sent us boxes of Fastball Flakes this week.  You have your own cereal, that’s how hard we love you.  DO THIS ALWAYS.

I love you, team.  Keep this up, and we’ll be just fine.

 

Final spring training update- Tigers vs. Braves, again

With nothing planned on the day and the Tigers playing at Disney, husband and I decided to take in one last game before the team heads north.  And, because y’all seem to love pictures (hi, Google Image search hits!) and the suspense of whether or not Inge will be on the roster is giving me tics, this is going to be mainly a picture post.  I’m figuring you guys are okay with that.  Also, honestly, there’s not a whole lot to say at this point in the spring, especially after Verlander goes out and pitches exactly like Verlander and the game gets called in the 7th due to torrential downpour and thunder.  A few quick bullets:

– Verlander did, indeed, pitch like Verlander, and I don’t think he’d hit his pitch count yet when the game ended in the 7th.  With the exception of a ball that was hit to the center field wall, none of the Braves hit anything particularly hard off him.  Hooray!

– Every game I catch, Avila looks like he’s having so much fun.  I’m glad he’s adjusted so smoothly to being a daily, All-Star catcher.  Prince seems like he’s having an equally good time.  When I got to the park, the two of them were cracking each other up and chattering away while stretching.

– Jackson got on base, stole second immediately, and came into score later.  It was nice to see this work out exactly as we want it to on paper before my very eyes.  Please keep doing this, Austin!

–  Thomas absolutely killed a ball over the deep right field wall.  It was a thing of beauty, and probably didn’t hurt his chances of making the roster.  This whole Dirks/Worth/Thomas/Inge madness is going right down to the wire, folks.

–  Balester came up to sign autographs and people started yelling “Mister Fister!” trying to get his attention.  “I’m not Fister” he sighed diplomatically.  And, really, now that I look at them, Balester is pretty much a scruffy Fister.

Jackson, Avila, Fielder

Jackson, Fielder, and Avila joke around while stretching.

Brennan Boesch

Brennan Boesch looks imposing.

Dave Dombrowski observes batting practice.

Cabrera

Miguel and friend both jump for a ball.

Benoit, Coke, and Balester

Benoit, Coke, and Balester half-heartedly stretch during batting practice.

Avila, Raburn, Worth, and Peralta

Peralta, Raburn, Worth, and Avila watch Cabrera during batting practice.

Avila, Peralta, Raburn, Worth

Peralta, Raburn, Worth, and Avila admire a Cabrera practice home run.

Verlander

Ladies and gentlemen, The Man.

Cabrera and Fielder

Cabrera and Fielder, a blossoming bromance.

Jackson, Fielder, and Cabrera

Fielder hangs out with Jackson and Boesch. He seems to be fitting right in.

Cabrera and Fielder mess around between innings.

Cabrera and Fielder. Run, Fielder, run!

Cabrera and Uggla were very touchy and friendly over at second. Right here, Cabrera was giving him crap about something.

Spring training update- Tigers vs. Orioles

For full disclosure, I was also at the Nationals game on Tuesday night, but a) have very few pictures from that and b) really don’t feel like talking about the unmitigated disaster that was Strieby at first base or how Below struggled through his outing.  As Lynn Henning pointed out to me on Twitter, however, it was a lovely evening at the ballpark!  So there’s that, anyway.

Instead, let’s talk a little bit about this afternoon!  I woke up this morning talking myself out of going to the game, but when my husband pointed out that Verlander was pitching, I lost my resolve and bought a bleacher ticket at the gate.

Game notes:

– Hi, Wilson Betemit!

– So, THAT Verlander showed up today.  They actually had the radar going in the park today and he stayed right around 93-94 mph.  Oh, is that all?  Gave up a lead-off homer, which . . . yeah.  That happens.  Moving on.  I was in sporadic conversation (or near constant) with the sweet young boy from Tennessee for the first 3 innings and wasn’t counting strikeouts but definitely saw a lot of them.  I was surprised when Verlander was pulled before the last out of the 4th inning so I pulled up At Bat to check for a pitch count and thought for sure their score keepers had made a mistake.  8 K’s?  Seriously?  In 3.2?  But, yes, that was indeed correct information.  No wonder he hit his pitch limit so quickly.  Holy God, JV, save some for April.

– Pitching in general was impressive, which was nice to see after the last few games of shaky outings.  Balester looked strong again, Valverde came out and promptly struck out the side with ease, Benoit was Benoit, and Stohr did a nice job closing things out.  Well done, boys!  Only 2 walks between you!

– Unfortunately, this also held true for the Baltimore starter Matusz, who struck out 6 of his own and induced 5 incredibly anemic ground ball outs.  It was impressive to watch him mow through the lineup we put in front of him.

– The only iffy moment was a throw from JV to Fielder on a pick-off.  My section thought the error would go to JV for basically throwing it into the dirt but it was instead given to Fielder for not picking it out of said dirt.  Anyhow, moral of the story, I hope the pitchers are taking extra practice throwing to first, what with a new first baseman and all.

– Danny Worth had a great day, with two hits and a stolen base!  And Laird, again, with the two RBI’s!  Patterson tripled, Raburn continued to fuel my inner conflict with a beautiful double . . . Really, the A lineup wasn’t able to put much together, which allowed us to once again showcase just how much depth and flexibility we have on this team.

– Jackson struck out twice.  Yep.

– Cabrera made a fairly sweet play at third.  Nice backhanded grab followed by a throw to first.  Excellent reaction time, but it honestly didn’t require him to move much, and that’s where most of my concerns come in with him playing at third.  His reaction time is good, but watching him try to get to a ball quickly is about what you would expect.  It isn’t quite lumbering, but it definitely makes you miss Inge.

Verlander is king

Justin Verlander, doing what he does best.

Betemit

Wilson Betemit the Oriole.

Verlander

One more of Verlander, just because.

Swing

Whoosh!

Mound visit

Verlander leaves the game after striking out 8 but throwing too many pitches doing it.

Prince

Prince Fielder in the box.

Valverde

Jose Valverde sets awesomely.

Valverde

Stay awesome, Big Potato!

Stay tuned this weekend as husband and I catch the Saturday game against the Cardinals.  Expect crap pictures because we have crap seats.  Hooray!