The Narrative: With their backs against the wall, the Detroit Tigers looked to their ace and likely American League Cy Young Award winner to deliver them from elimination. While a quick glance at his line from today (7.1IP, 8H, 3BB, 4ER) would probably fail to impress most, watching Verlander throw 133 pitches at such an impressive range of velocity and movement left a crowd at Comerica Park cheering to the point of insanity.
Of course, it takes more than a mere pitching performance to win a game, and the Tigers won this one thanks to a sequence of events in the sixth inning that started with a single odd bounce from a Miguel Cabrera grounder that hit the third base bag, jumped over Adrian Beltre and rolled into the corner in left field, driving in the go ahead run and inspiring a very long run on sentence. From there, the previously impenetrable C.J. Wilson was battered with a triple from Victor Martinez, followed by a home run from Delmon Young, completing a team cycle in order.
The four runs gave Detroit a 6-2 lead, which despite a brief scare in the top of the ninth, allowed the Tigers to coast to a 7-5 win, and ensure that the ALCS lasts for at least one more game.
Anatomy Of Stamina
Leading up to this afternoon’s game, Joaquin Benoit and Jose Valverde had appeared in all three games that had been played over the last three days with a work load that inspires the use of a “fumes” hash tag.
- Benoit: Four innings, 12 batters faced and 63 pitches.
- Valverde: Three and a third innings, 20 batters faced and 61 pitches.
With Detroit’s bullpen exhausted, Justin Verlander took the mound knowing that the Tigers’ two best relievers would not be available to pitch. He went seven and a third innings, facing 34 batters and throwing 133 pitches, 94 of which were strikes. On his final pitch of the game, which ended up being hit out of the stadium by Nelson Cruz, he threw a 100 mph 4-seam fastball.
The Most Important Play Of The Game
Miguel Cabrera’s double in the bottom of the sixth scored the go ahead run and opened the flood gates for three more runs in the inning. It also increased his team’s probability of winning by 16.7%.
The Biggest Disappointment Of The Game
With the bases loaded and one out in the top of the sixth, Ian Kinsler, a normally patient batter hacked at the first pitch he saw from Justin Verlander, grounding into a run saving and inning ending double play. The run expectancy in that situation was 1.63. The GIDP cost his team 21.3% WPA.
The Shamsky Award
Named after Art Shamsky, who single handedly increased the Cincinnati Reds’ chances of winning by 150.3% in a losing effort during a game in 1966, The Shamsky Award is given to the player on the losing team who contributes the most to them winning.
Josh Hamilton went two for four, knocking in two runs and scoring another for the Rangers in a losing cause. His contributions at the plate increased his team’s probability of winning by 15.7%
The Michael Young Cruelty Of The Game
Michael Young is having a horrible postseason, this chain of pitches from Justin Verlander in the fifth inning was just cruel.
- Ball (somehow).
- Swinging strike.
- Swinging strike.
- Caught looking.
The Statistics You Won’t Believe
During the regular season, Justin Verlander allowed nine runs in the first inning of his 34 starts. In the postseason, he’s allowed four runs in the first inning of his four starts.
Likewise, C.J. Wilson gave up just 16 home runs all season, but has given up six in only three playoff starts.
Austin Jackson has struck out 17 times in 36 at bats in the playoffs.
During the regular season, Al Albquerque (43.1 IP) had seven fewer strikeouts than Brad Penny (181.2 IP) this year.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, the Tigers lineup hit for the cycle, in order. It’s the first time that’s ever happened in the MLB playoffs.
Delmon Young has more home runs in eight playoff games for the Tigers than he collected in 84 regular season games for the Twins.
Koji Uehara: Eight homers in 19 innings pitched as a Ranger.
The Aggravating Thing That The Manager Did
The sixth inning was not C.J. Wilson’s friend. Was Ron Washington contractually obliged to allow him to flail out there?
The Split Second Internal Monologue Of Last Night
From General Manager Jon Daniels: “Do I treat the owner’s wife as an equal or with respect? I think I’ll go with something in between and look super awkward.”
Stray Observations Of The Game
Ian Kinsler continues to impress. After watching Brett Lawrie a lot in Toronto this summer, I think there might be some favourable comparisons, especially in approach at the plate and visible effort.
C.J. Wilson’s reaction to giving up the solo home run to Alex Avila was perfect.
Blaming Elvis Andrus for that error is like blaming a woman for getting pregnant.
I have a feeling that Delmon Young and the Detroit Tigers are going make arrangements so that they’re still in each others’ lives after this season.
Nelson Cruz’s eyebrows are so thick I keep expecting him to put on glasses and start smoking a cigar.
Does David Murphy look more like Ed Helms or Ferris Bueller’s best friend?
Describing Miguel Cabrera’s double in the sixth that brought in the go ahead run for the Tigers, Steve Goldman summoned Casey Stengel: “Perhaps God can do something about such a play; man cannot.”
The New York Yankees are loving this. C.J. Wilson now costs $50 million less than he did when he came out to start the sixth inning.
Oh, Koji Uehara! Why must you make it so hard for us to love you?
Phil Coke’s three run save is typical Tigers relief work, if you ask me.