Random Thoughts Following Game 1, ALCS


Well, the armor that has been Justin Verlander has taken a few hits as of late, reaching back to the very stretch run of the regular season.

And now there’s a hole in it.

Verlander lost his first game since July 15, giving up 3 runs, on 5 hits, and 2 walks in his start in Game 1 of the ALCS, good enough to lose it 3-2 in a rain filled, clutch-searching game.  Though in my humble opinion the weather was no factor, JV was the factor.

A tight Tim Welke strike zone it may have been, but Verlander didn’t adjust to it, like many of us expect him to.  Instead, he went back to the JV of old and tried to ramp it up, to no avail.  Ultimately, a Tigers loss, and in a game where they had CJ Wilson on the ropes in the early going.  Magglio Ordonez grounding into a double play in the first inning, with the bases loaded, is my leader for futility early in the game.

Oh, and any time Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, or Alex Avila would like to show up and hit, that’d be lovely.  Tigers fans would love it.

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Maybe Delmon will be missed.

The lineup doesn’t take shape like it does with him batting third, and as much as it pains me to say, we just might need him there.  DY, out of the ALCS with an oblique injury suffered in Game 5 of the Yankees series, only has 5 hits in the postseason, but 3 of them have gone over the wall.  Young’s disappearance from the lineup has meant moving Cabrera, Martinez, and even Magglio up in the lineup, and having Maggs bat 5th didn’t work out too well (aforementioned GIDP w/ the bases loaded). I’ll eat some crow here by admitting that his SPOT in the batting order is needed, but at the same time the usual suspects need to step up, and so far, not so good.

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It’s probably too late this season, but can we get Austin Jackson out of the leadoff spot?

At this point, I’d rather have Brandon Inge bat leadoff… at least some of the time, he’s putting the ball in play.  Your leadoff man should NEVER be amongst the league leaders in strikeouts, yet Austin is way up there.  And with 3 more K’s in Game 1, the organization at some point needs to realize that this kid is not yet ready for prime time.  And I’m not even talking about that blown catch early in the game either…

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Game 4 projected starter, Rick Porcello looked reasonably well in his post-rain delay outing tonight.  Despite the poor strike zone, and maybe a missed pitch or two, he looked like he was locating well, which bodes well for his future start in this series.  Another thought that ran through my head tonight, rather than see Porcello, I was wondering to myself if Brad Penny would be in the mix tonight, after all the delays.  No mention of him, no sign of him.  Guess he’s the ultra-emergency pitcher.

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Last but not least, some real good react tonight from temporary Fox color analyst Terry Francona tonight.  I’m particularly critical of most broadcasting teams, especially national broadcasts, but Francona was sound, fair, and most of all, entertaining in Tim McCarver’s place.  Sadly, Fox will never see this as a plus, and bring back the dinosaur that is McCarver, but at least we know that Francona has a place in broadcasting if he ever decides to never manage again.  And as for the pre-game coverage, surprisingly, A.J. Pierzynski (White Sox catcher and resident punching bag) was also very lucid and poigniant in his temporary place tonight.

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Game 2 tomorrow night, and we need a better than perfect Max Scherzer. Or else this will be a very short series. No one wants that.

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Follow me on Twitter, @DisplacedTgrFan, and read more at my personal blog, The Displaced Tiger Fan.

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  • spartynation1

    Man, you didn’t miss a trick. JV was, well, sadly human. Magglio was horrid in the 5 hole, and I say that having sung his praises all season as a veteran hitter. I didn’t turn cartwheels when Delmon was signed. Free swinger, only moderately effective. With him gone, however, there isn’t anyone left in the clubhouse worthy of hitting at the top of the order. Santiago is as close as they have to a contact hitter off the bench. Everyone else is a Rob Deer clone. Inge, Raburn and Betemit swing big and miss often. Too often. Since no major changes can be made now, the best lineup I can muster is: Jackson, Santiago, Dirks, Cabrera, Martinez, Peralta, Ordonez, Avila, Kelly. Honestly though, if 3-6 don’t kick it in gear soon the Tigers are in a lot of trouble. Squeaked by with role player contributions and Delmon HRs against the Yankees. Going to need more offense than that in this series. Sorry to ramble, but there was a lot wrong with that game.

    • MCBjohnverburg

      Verlander really hasn’t been that good in the playoffs. Needs to step it up.

  • ChrisHannum

    JV was great. The Ump was calling a very one-sided game. Glad to see somebody else agrees with me as far as AJax in the leadoff spot.

    • MCBjohnverburg

      @ChrisHannumJackson is just a poor offensive player, there is no other way to slice it. He shouldn’t have been in the leadoff spot, ever.

  • NathanD

    Very nice analysis. The most important point you made was Jackson still batting leadoff, day after day, when a person could get rich betting on his striking out. Totally incomprehensible. Is there a newspaper reporter anywhere out there who will press Leyland to explain why he is doing this? What don’t we, the fans, understand about this strategy?

    • MCBjohnverburg

      @NathanDSadly Nathan it doesn’t seem that anyone ever has the guts to question Leyland. Would love to see him in NY or Boston and have to talk to their media after a game. Haha.

    • ChrisHannum

      @NathanD I would like to believe that if he actually had a “true leadoff hitter” on the roster, even Leyland would be willing to make the switch. I’m not sure that’s true, though. The man is powerfully wedded to the idea of “roles” as part of his ego-management approach. Changing anyone’s role for any reason would be seen as potentially detrimental to team chemistry.

  • BobNotBrian

    Magglio has on an 18 game hitting steak hitting out of the two-hole during the stretch run, and the lineup as a while was on fire during this time. Why was this strategy abandoned for the playoffs?

    • MCBjohnverburg

      @BobNotBrianNot sure. I would rather have Magglio in the 2 hole and Raburn batting 5th. His success against the Rangers pitching is good enough to warrant that, and while he did strike out twice, he got on base 3 times last night.