Tuesday, July 27, 2010

That Sucked Just As Much As I Thought It Would

The last time the Tigers were no-hit, I was six years old and I didn’t even know what a no-hitter was. Hell, I believed that the only out you could make was via strikeout, a ball was any pitch that was not swung at, and that any ball put in play was automatically a hit (therefore the concept of walks and double plays were completely mind-blowing to me by the time I learned them). That was June of 1990. I will turn twenty-seven a week from today, so the odds that I would live out the rest of my life without the Tigers getting no-hit again were extremely low. It had to happen sometime. I’ve sat through a couple close calls where the opposing pitcher was no-hitting the Tigers into the seventh or eighth, but they always managed to avoid it. I did see the Tigers get no-hit by Ricky Nolasco in spring training last year, but I bet I’m the only one who remembers it. Still, the fact that it was ultimately inevitable doesn’t make last night any less humiliating. And it’s not necessarily reflective of a team’s offense (as in, having a poor offense doesn’t necessarily increase your team’s chances of being no-hit, otherwise the Mariners probably would have been no-hit about six times already this year). I mean, the other teams this year to have been no-hit were the Braves, Rays (twice), Marlins, and Indians (insert asterisk here). Of those teams, I’d say only the Indians had a poor offense. I figured that the Rays would get their team’s first no-hitter sooner rather than later, just based on how good their pitching staff has been the last couple years. And actually, I had a sense that Matt Garza was a real strong candidate to do it (that may have come from the fact that he almost no-hit the Marlins a couple years ago). But it’s completely mind-blowing that of the 120 pitches he threw, a whopping 101 were fastballs. That’s insane. His breaking pitches were not really working at all last night. And I even got the feeling that Jim Leyland and Johnny Damon (who were the only ones interviewed about it last night) felt like that wasn’t really no-hit stuff, because there wasn’t any of that diplomatic “he could have no-hit anybody” talk from either of them. They both remarked that there were a lot of fastballs, and both of them mentioned that they felt the Tigers should have gotten better swings at them.

It should be noted that this game featured dueling no-hitters for a long time. Max Scherzer actually looked more impressive than Garza because he was striking more guys out and it looked like his secondary pitches were working better than Garza’s. However, that all fell apart in the sixth inning; He said later that his mechanics broke down. I know his command broke down, because he walked two and went to full counts on two others. He finally got burned by ex-Tiger Matt Joyce, and in that situation, it might have been preferable to just walk in a run. Also, there was a lot of complaining that the strike zone was different for the two pitchers. I will have to investigate that further, but I do know that the Tigers were again victimized by two blown calls. And I get the sense that Leyland’s had enough.

Hopefully the healing can begin tonight. Justin Verlander certainly has the capability of no-hitting any team on the planet. However, against the Rays, it seems like he has to work harder to get his outs, though his ERA isn’t bad against them. On the flipside, the Tiger hitters face James Shields, who has struggled this year to the point where his ERA his almost five, but I have to believe that’s deceptive, because his strikeout to walk ratio is excellent. It seems like every time he faces the Tigers, he gives up exactly three runs. Who knows what happens tonight, though?

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