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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.