World Series Game 3: Quit Kidding Around Guys
Yesterday was a tough game to watch. I can’t remember too many games this season where there was less to cheer about as a Tiger fan. When your best offensive weapon appears to be passed balls by the other team, you can be pretty sure things aren’t going to go well for the good guys. If you weren’t watching, what I mean by that is the Tigers managed only three hits, and I don’t think they ever got the leadoff man on base. Their best chance at scoring came when Inge hit a one out single, was sacrificed over to second by Nate Robertson, and then moved to third on a passed ball. The very next pitch bounced in the dirt, glanced off Yadier Molina’s shoulder, but went forward rather than behind him and Inge wisely chose to stay at third. Granderson then grounded out to end the inning. That describes their best offensive inning.
Speaking of Granderson, his struggles coupled with Polanco’s really seem to be strangling the team’s offense. Neither has a hit in this series, and that has allowed the Cardinals to pitch tough against both Maggs and Guillen. That’s because they both always seem to be either leading innings off or coming up with two outs. When you throw in the o-fer by Pudge, you get a pretty impotent offense. The worse news is that of the three (Pudge, Curtis and Placido), I can only remember Polanco having any good swings yesterday. That came in his last at bat when he smoked a line drive that was snagged by Pujols at first.
On the mound, Robertson did his usual high wire act. He threw five innings, allowed the same number of hits and walked three batters. In the fourth inning, he faced a bases loaded situation with nobody out again, just like in the Oakland opener. He retired Ronnie Belliard, and got to two strikes against Jim Edmonds, but left a pitch out over the plate and Edmonds ripped it down the line for a two run double. It still seemed like a victory at the time when Robertson wriggled out of the inning with no more damage than that, but as things went that was all the Cardinals needed.
The most sickening moment of the game came when Joel Zumaya, pitching for the first time in two weeks, walked two batters to lead off the seventh. Walking Eckstein and Wilson was bad enough, but worse was that Pujols was coming up. Well, Zumaya got him to hit a comebacker and for some reason decided to cut down the lead runner rather than turn what probably would have been an easy 1-6-3 double play. His throw to third was wide and behind Inge and allowed both baserunners to score. This was bad enough, but Tim McCarver dwelled on this decision ad nauseum for almost the rest of the night. Here's where it seems most appropriate to say how much I hate Tim McCarver. I'm so sick of him getting a woodrow every time he gets to mention the Cardinals' World Series in the 60s. In case you didn't know, he played for the Cardinals back when he was a crappy catcher. Anyway, with Zumaya's crucial mistake – that wasn’t so crucial since they never scored – and McCarver blathering on and digging to find the last time a pitcher tried to start a 1-5-3 double play, it was very difficult not to just cut my losses and go to bed.
But as gloomy as the loss was, Tiger fans should know by now that there is no such thing as momentum in baseball. I think the Tigers have the better pitcher on the mound tonight in the matchup between Bonderman and Jeff Suppan. I’m also going to just take it on faith that the lineup will start hitting the ball to spots on the field where there are no Cardinals. Looking back over the pitch-by-pitch for the game, their approaches at the plate didn’t seem too bad. They took the first pitch quite a bit, and seemed to be trying to work the counts, but Carpenter was throwing strikes and they just couldn’t hit the ball hard when they were forced to swing. My final hope is that everybody has knocked off the rust and shaken the jitters, because it’s now the time to step up and start putting this thing away. Just think like this. If the Tigers win this series, tonight is likely to be the night their fortunes turned.