Thursday, October 25, 2012

Why the layoff isn't why the Detroit Tigers lost World Series opener to Giants

No excuse necessary:  Verlander was just hit hard
I don't know if the Tigers will win the World Series. I do know this: It is not over simply because they didn't win Game 1. If they win tonight, the series is even and the Tigers will be in tremendous shape coming home for three games.
But I strongly don't believe they lost Game 1 because they were off awhile after sweeping the Yankees in four games, while awaiting the outcome of Giants and the Cardinals in the NLCS.
Justin Verlander had pitched 262 innings before Wednesday. The extra time should have helped him, not hindered him. His issues were not command of the baseball. Instead, the Giants put together several good at bats against Verlander. They didn't give in to him at all. Pablo Sandoval had the game of his life, and did hit Verlander hard in the All Star Game, too.
Offensively, it should come as little surprise the Tigers struggled against soft-tossing lefty Barry Zito. The Tigers have been a flawed team all season. One of those flaws is hitting against that type of pitching. It was one of the reasons manager Jim Leyland was so determined to bring along Ryan Raburn when it became apparent to everyone else he was a lost cause, and stuck with Delmon Young. The Tigers have dodged the bullet with their flaws remarkably well in the postseason, including the lefty issue. Brett Anderson, Tommy Milone and Andy Pettitte all pitched well against the Tigers in the ALCS and ALDS before they broke through against C.C. Sabathia.
The comparisons to 2006, and the layoff before the Tigers were beaten in five games by the Cardinals, aren't valid. That year, the Tigers opened the World Series at home. It made the Game 1 loss more devastating. Verlander was a rookie. His subpar outing was more understandable. Zito may have seen better days, but he is a former 23-game winner and has a Cy Young Award. The Cardinals' Anthony Reyes, who stymied the Tigers in Game 1 in '06, was one of the worst pitchers in history to win a World Series game.
Also, in 2006, the Tigers won Game 2 behind a terrific pitching performance by Kenny Rogers, who was pitching on eight days rest. The layoff didn't bother him, did it?
There were no excuses for the way the Tigers performed Wednesday. They were simply beaten by a team which was better that night. It remains to be seen if the Giants are better in a seven-game series.
If the Giants do beat the Tigers, it won't be because of the layoff, though. They were the world champs in 2010, remember? They also won six more regular season games than the Tigers in 2012, while playing in a much stronger division.


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