Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Game 1: Keep Hope Alive

I don’t have a wealth of time today, but I just wanted to get some thoughts in on the Tiger game. First, I saw nothing yesterday that tells me the Tigers have no chance in this series. I also saw nothing that tells me the Yankees are a freight train that cannot be stopped on their way to a 27th World Series ring.

I hated the call in the second inning to send Ordonez and Guillen on a hit and run with no outs. I’m not a fan of the hit and run, but I’m a stark opponent to doing it with runners and first and second, especially when somebody like Maggs is the guy on second. That is especially true when you have put your first two runners on and it looks like you may be starting something. It reeked of desperation, and I don’t think the Tigers need to play like that.

Oddly, the next inning the Tigers weren’t aggressive on the basepaths when Marcus Thames wasn’t sent home from second on a single to right by Curtis Granderson. I had no problem with that call since there was only one out and I assumed they would be doing another hit and run with Polanco that probably get the run in. Yet, they didn’t put any play on with Polanco batting and he hit a sharp grounder that Jeter and Cano did a great job of turning into a double play. So, hit and run with no outs and guys on first and second, but no hit and run with a contact hitter up, a good baserunner on first and a runner on third. I don’t get the inconsistency.

In the Yankees’ third, things looked like they were going to get ugly when the Yankees dropped five runs on Nate Robertson. But think of how that inning started. Nate botched a dribbler by Damon. Then Jeter hits a line drive right at the vacated position of Guillen who was pulling toward second to cover as Damon was running. Damon shouldn’t have been on base, and if the Tigers do a conventional cover play there (Polanco covering), Guillen grabs that ball and doubles up Damon easily.

Later, the Tigers had pulled the game back to 5-3 and Robertson found himself in trouble again. He had two outs and a runner on first and he felt he was squeezed on his first pitch to Jeter. He was visibly upset as he received the throw from Pudge, and Jeter pulled the next pitch into left field for his second double of the game. No problem, I thought – there’s two outs. Robertson makes a nice pitch to Abreu who fights it off to get a slow grounder in the hole between Polanco and Casey. Polanco dove, but couldn’t reach it, two runners scored and Robertson was done for the evening.

Even then, the Tigers kept their composure. With two outs in the seventh, Torre pulled Wang to get a lefty-lefty matchup with Granderson and put in Mike Myers. To Yankee fans’ chagrin, Granderson didn’t think much of the matchup and pulled a pitch over the right field wall. Polanco and Casey followed with hits, and with Ordonez coming up down by three, we saw why the Yankees are not unstoppable. The Yankees fans they showed in the crowd were visibly worried, and guys like Scott Proctor and Kyle Farnsworth were not concerning the Tigers. Proctor ended up getting the strikeout to end the inning, but I doubt a lot of people are very confident he will do the same next time.

No, this game didn’t worry me too much, as the Tigers were sure to lose one in Yankee Stadium. I was impressed that all the Tigers who were supposed to be in shock and awe played well and kept fighting. It won’t be easy for them to get to Mussina tonight, and Verlander faces a tough task of his own, but I think anybody who says the Tigers don’t have a chance tonight wasn’t watching closely enough last night.

Go Tigers.

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