Motown Meltdown

What started off very poorly, ended in the same fashion. The Tigers dropped their second straight game to the New York Yankees despite erasing a five run deficit late in the game. Roman Colon was rocked in his first start since substituting for Mike Maroth in the rotation, allowing five runs in 2 1/3 innings of work. After Ivan Rodriguez‘s 4th home run in the bottom of the third, the Tigers were down 6-1. Their comeback was spurred by a Derek Jeter error that led to two runs in the three run fifth. Runs in the 6th and 8th innings tied the game and sent it to extra innings. After a scoreless 10th for both teams, Todd Jones came unglued in the top of the 11th. A solo home run by Jason Giambi was good enough to seal the victory, but the Yankees piled on four more insurance runs. Mariano Rivera polished off the win in his third inning of work with a 1-2-3 11th inning for the 11-6 win.

I am very displeased by the back-to-back losses, as expected being that I’m a Tigers fan, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t even more angry because they have come against the Yankees. Though the team was able to come back, I had a bad feeling about the game as early as the first inning. It was during that inning that the first three batters got on against the Aaron Small and the Tigers managed ZERO runs! You simply have to convert that opportunity for at least one run and get your pitcher a lead. Despite posting three runs in the fifth inning with Pudge’s triple and Magglio Ordonez‘s RBI single, I’m still a bit miffed they weren’t able to have a real big inning considering they had no outs after Ordonez’s at-bat. Instead, it was three straight outs. Then in the 8th inning, they had the bases loaded with no one out and score just one run. That is abysmal and unacceptable for a team that strives to be one the league’s elite. The hitters left 22 men on base (8 left on as a team), which is actually fewer than the Yankees’ 23 and 12, but it was the situations that the Tigers did that cost them this game.

Fernando Rodney‘s control, or lack thereof, almost prevented this game from going to extra innings in the first place. After a walk to Jorge Posada, Robinson Cano grounded into a busted double play that ended up being a fielder’s choice with an error by Rodney that allowed Cano over to second. Bernie Williams was intentionally walked, a move I hate in general though it was at least justified because there were two outs. After reading Baseball Between the Numbers by the guys at Baseball Prospectus, I’ve seen that it is never a good idea to increase the expected runs of a team even to set up a force play. Walking a man to get runners on 1st and 2nd is especially bad if your pitcher throws a wild pitch to the next batter moving those runners to 2nd and 3rd. Not only have you eliminated the edge you aimed to get by walking that batter, but the expected runs for the opposing team goes from 0.457 to 0.661. Then, in an attempt to get me to throw my monitor out the window Rodney threw another wild pitch, but Pudge chased it down and threw a BB to Rodney to nail Cano at home. Upon further review, it was an excellent call by homeplate umpire, Tim Tschida.

Even with that great escape and the comeback to force it into extras, the Tigers were still dropped for their third straight loss. In terms of the big picture, they remain a game and a half ahead of the Chicago White Sox as they were dumped by the Indians, 4-3. On a smaller scale, the Tigers have started off a huge 13-game stretch down 0-2 to the New York Yankees and I don’t like the possible effects it could have on their confidence if they don’t grab the final two wins of this series. Not an easy task with Mike Mussina (6-1, 2.72 ERA, 5.4 K:BB) on the hill tomorrow against Nate Robertson (5-2, 3.02 ERA, 1.7 K:BB).

By the way, I’ve dubbed the nine games after the Yankees series as the All American Stretch. I realize it contains three against the Toronto Blue Jays, but it is against the Red Sox, the White Sox, and the Blue Jays in that order.

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