Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Burning Questions After Game 4 of the Tigers-Yankees ALDS

Burning Questions in the wake of the Tigers' 10-1 loss to the New York Yankees in Game 4 of the ALDS:

Any silver linings?

Maybe. The Yankees would love to play tomorrow. You always do after the bats wake up. The Tigers, on the other hand, get to regroup and by the time the first pitch is thrown on Thursday night, Game 4 should be a distant memory for them.

Hard to find a key to a 10-1 game, but was there any?

Sure. If Curtis Granderson doesn't recover on Don Kelly's drive in the first inning with the bases loaded, the Tigers might have jumped out to a 3-0 lead against A.J. Burnett, which would have been a huge blow to Burnett and the Yankees' psyche, given all the dissing Burnett received prior to the game.

The other was Austin Jackson, who's made some terrific plays in center field this season, coming up inches short of catching Derek Jeter's two-run double, which opened the scoring.

After four games, what stands out to you?

The Yankees' lower third of the order is killing the Tigers. The trio of Jorge Posada (almost left off the playoff roster), Russell Martin and Brett Gardner have been getting on base with ridiculous frequency---much more than 7-8-9 batters should be doing.

That threesome canceled out the poor performances of the heavy hitters above them, which negated any advantage the Tigers gained by retiring the A-Rods and Teixeiras of the Yankees.

Also, and I know I said it last night, the collapse of Alex Avila at the plate has been complete and stunning. He's nowhere near the same player as he was in the regular season.

Jim Leyland started Don Kelly in RF and batted him sixth. Thoughts?

They're not fit to print here.

Kelly is a good guy and has come up with some clutch hits here and there, but Cabrera/Martinez/Kelly just doesn't work for me. I would have batted him behind Jhonny Peralta, in the seven hole.

Ironically, it was Kelly who could have broken the game open for the Tigers in the first inning. Still, I like the experienced playoff bat of Magglio Ordonez in the lineup. But the Kelly decision was hardly the reason the Tigers lost.

What's with Wilson Betemit and swinging at balls in the dirt?

For whatever reason he loves that curve ball that breaks into his ankles. Horrible at-bats from Betemit tonight. He wasn't too swift in the field, either, aside from that throw he took from Rick Porcello on Derek Jeter's bunt.

In fact, Betemit was so bad, fans on Twitter were clamoring for Brandon Inge, who they tried to run out of town in July.

Yankees starter A.J. Burnett was supposed to crash and burn in Game 4. Why didn't he?

TBS announcers Ron Darling and John Smoltz---two former pitchers---noticed that Burnett and pitching coach Larry Rothschild had a private chat in the runway after the rough first inning, in which Burnett walked the bases loaded. They said Burnett had a mechanical flaw while throwing his curveball.

Well, apparently Burnett corrected that flaw. And the Tigers helped him out with some bad ball chasing.

Plus, it's not like Burnett hasn't done this before. Witness what he did in Game 2 of the 2009 World Series.

And sometimes isn't this the way things work out, when NO ONE gives you a chance? For the 21 hours after Game 3 ended, we've heard how bad Burnett is and how the Yankees are toast. In the back of my mind I was fearful that Burnett would do what he did tonight---especially after the Tigers failed to score in the first.

And Rick Porcello?

Not bad. Stung by Jeter and Granderson's two-run doubles. But other than that, I thought Porcello gave the Tigers a solid start. Certainly enough to allow for a win, given the Tigers' usually potent offense.

The Yankees put this one away with a six-run eighth inning. Only a matter of time, huh, when their offense poured it on?

Well, they DID score nine runs in Game 1. But I know what you mean. Seems that since then, the Yankees have been below par, but mainly because A-Rod, Teixeira and Nick Swisher have been relatively quiet. Tonight, everyone got into the act. Besides, Game 1 was the Robinson Cano Show.

So does this mean the Tigers ought to be fearful heading into Game 5?

I think you should always be fearful against the Yankees. You can't keep them down forever.

But the Yankees only needed two runs to win tonight. The other eight don't carry into Game 5. In other words, new game, fresh slate. Momentum is the next game's starting pitcher.

Which brings us to Doug Fister---Justin Verlander Lite. Are the Tigers in good hands?

It's funny. I'm inclined to say yes, but that would be the same as everyone saying the Yankees were in bad hands with Burnett going in Game 4---and look how that turned out.

In other words, I don't want to jinx Mr. Fister. But truthfully, yes, I like Fister in Game 5---as long as Justin Verlander isn't available, which he isn't.

It's the same matchup as in the resumption of Game 1---Fister vs. the rookie Ivan Nova. I like Fister rebounding in the rematch, and I don't think Nova will shut the Tigers down two starts in a row.

Finally we have a day off in this wild ALDS. What are you gonna do on Wednesday?

Long for the days of the 1960s, when studs like Sandy Koufax and Mickey Lolich pitched their teams to World Series victories on two days' rest. But obviously Verlander is too prized a possession to try something like that nowadays.

If only.

Meanwhile, here's to Doug Fister. May the Force be with him against the Evil Empire.

(Come back here in the hours after every Tigers post-season game---played or not---to read me answer the "Burning Questions")

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Blogger xman said...

IMO, the key play was still Leyland inexplicably asking Santiago to bunt in the FIRST inning against a pitcher who couldn't find the strike zone.
He failed, as we know, but AJax stole 2nd anyway and it accomplished the same thing.
It was going to take more than a run to win that game and I saw no point in playing for 1. While Ramon later bounced into a DP in the same situation, they took the bat out of the hand of a hot hitter and wasted an out. Had he walked - which 3 others did in the 1st - they had an excellent chance at a big inning. At a minimum, Kelly's liner would've been a SF and Peralta is batting with two out and up 1-0 or 2-0. Instead, Granderson's near misplay ended the inning...and the game.

3:12 PM  
Blogger Greg Eno said...

Good call. It was weird playing "small ball" in the very first inning, I agree.

3:16 PM  

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