A's 6, Tigers 3: Justin Verlander's 44 pitch first inning leads to a rain shortened loss

Duane Burleson

Justin Verlander continued to battle both command and inconsistency, dropping his tenth game of the season. The game was stopped due to rain with no one out in the top of the sixth, and called official after a 1:21 delay.


Final - 8.27.2013 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Oakland Athletics 2 0 1 0 2 1 0 0 0 6 7 1
Detroit Tigers 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 3 1
WP: Tommy Milone (10 - 9)
LP: Justin Verlander (12 - 10)


Playing the final three innings in increasingly wet weather, the Oakland Athletics topped the Detroit Tigers 6-3 in a rain shortened match up.  The game went into a delay in the top of the sixth, and was deemed official after waiting 1:21.

A's starter and winner Tommy Milone was rocked for three runs, two earned, on two hits and a pair of walks in the first inning. But Milone settled in to hold the Tigers scoreless over the next four innings to earn the victory. Milone allowed just three hits, striking out three and walking three.

"Obviously, I wasn't very good" "I've been through this before. I'm a better pitcher now." -Justin Verlander, when asked if he was concerned by his performance

Justin Verlander (12-10) had a very disappointing outing, the loss ensuring the second double digit loss season of his career (11-17 in 2008). The A's worked Verlander hard in the top of the first, resulting in two early runs and a career high 44 pitch inning. The Tigers' starter would ultimately be pulled after five innings and 104 pitches, allowing five runs, three earned, on just four hits. Bruce Rondon pitched to five batters in the sixth, not retiring a single batter, giving up one run before the rain set in for good.

The A's were led on offense by Brandon Moss, who homered, drove in a pair and scored twice. Seth Smith also homered, Jed Lowrie and Yoenis Cespedes chipping in with run scoring doubles. Prince Fielder supplied the Tigers with all their offense via a two RBI single in the first. The Tigers' third run scored on a fielding error by Alberto Callaspo.

The night became all about Verlander's struggles and the increasingly bad weather. Verlander ultimately lost to the A's, while Mother Nature was the clear victor.

There was one small bright spot. The rain saved the Tigers from going deep into a short handed bullpen. Small favors...

Top of one, Justin Verlander quickly put the Tigers in a two run hole. He also put a shorthanded bullpen on high alert, needing a ridiculously high pitch count to get out of the inning.

Verlander got ahead in the count on Coco Crisp, but walked him. He did the same with josh Donaldson, and allowed a single. Jed Lowrie at the plate, Verlander wild pitched the runners into scoring position. Lowrie proceeded to make Verlander pay with a two RBI paper cut, dropping a bloop double in short right.

Verlander finally retired a batter 22 pitches and two runs into the inning, striking out Brandon Moss. He went to full count on Yoenis Cespedes before blowing a high fastball by him for the second out. Unfortunately, the third out had to wait. Seth Smith would draw a walk as it appeared Verlander was now getting squeezed.

Two on and two out, Verlander was 44 pitches and 25 MINUTES into the inning when Alberto Callaspo flew out to short left. all that and the A's were only up 2-0. Was Verlander's opening inning a train wreck? It was damn close.

As it started to rain at Comerica, A's starter Tommy Milone did his best to give Verlander some rest and put the Tigers right back in the game.

Milone had sat for over a half hour, and pitched like it. Austin Jackson led off with a walk. Torii Hunter slashed a single to center, Jackson holding up at second. Wanting no part of Miguel Cabrera, Milone walked MLB's leading hitter on five pitches, loading the bases.

Milone, struggling with both his command (only four of his first 15 pitches were strikes) and a tiny Will Little strike zone (the pitches being called strikes were knee high), went to a full count on Fielder. Forced to throw a strike, Fielder lined a single to right center, Jackson and Hunter scoring to knot the game at 2-all.

"That many pitches that early spells lack of command." -Jim Leyland, when asked about Justin Verlander

Milone had outdone Verlander, needing 23 pitches to record his first out. It turned out to be two for the price of one, Victor Martinez bouncing into a 6-4-3 double play, Cabrera taking third.

Just as Verlander had to deal with bad luck, so did Milone. Omar Infante topped what should have been an inning ending slow roller to second, but Callaspo allowed the ball to roll under his glove and into short right field. The E4 allowed Infate to advance all the way to second, while Cabrera gimped his way home to give the Tigers a 3-2 lead.

It was 45 minutes into the first when Milone struck out Matt Tuiasosopo, ending a miserably long, 78 pitch inning. Amazingly enough, the tigers were leading 3-2.

More amazing was Verlander needing one pitch to get the first out of the second, Daric Barton bouncing out to Jose Iglesias. In a complete 180, needing to get his pitch count back to a semblance of normalcy, Verlander would retire the A's in order on eight pitches. The difference being he was forcing the A's to put the ball in play instead of trying to blow pitches by them.

Milone turned in an relatively easy second inning as well, needing only ten pitches to set the Tigers down in order. From 78 pitches to 18. How? Because baseball.

Verlander had set down eight straight A's before walking Moss with two down in the third. As usual, a walk would come back to bite the Tigers in the you know where. Cepedes narrowly missed a home run, his 330" fly ball landing a foot right of the foul pole. He didn't miss on the next pitch, Cespedes lining a low 90's fastball into the left field corner. Moss came all the way around to score on the two base hit, the A's tying the game at 3-all.

This season Verlander is reminding me of Al Alburquerque, in a bad way. You just don't know what you're going to get from appearance to appearance, let alone inning to inning. That's something I never thought I would type, but Verlander has been maddeningly inconsistent, the same as the far less talented Alburquerque.

Bottom of three, Milone found himself in a two out jam. Fielder walked, then advanced to third on Martinez's single, which looked when it left the bat to be a ground ball double down the line. But the ball hit the kickout in the right field stands, bouncing right to Moss, likely costing the Tigers a run. The threat ended when Infante, moved up in the order to take advantage of his bat, bounced to second.

Verlander tossed another 1-2-3 inning in the fourth, his pitch count standing at 84. He needed 40 pitches from the second through fourth after the bizarre 44 pitch opening inning.

While Milone was retiring the Tigers in order in the bottom of the fourth, the rain continued to fall. By the top of the fifth, it was really coming down and the game should have been in a delay. Yet the game marched on, Infante booting Donaldson's ground ball with one out. When two were down, Verlander's miserable night got worse. Moss launched an 0-1 fastball into the A's bullpen in left center. Moss' 22nd home run of the season allowed the A's to retake the lead at 5-3.  The weather forecast looking progressively worse, Moss' big fly felt as if it would be the game winner.

As the top of the fifth came to an end, the rain was coming down even harder. Three more outs would make it an official game. Once Jackson, Hunter and Cabrera went down in order against Milone, it became just that.

"The umpires did a great job. They got through it" "They got the game in." -Leyland, when asked about the game not being called until the sixth

Verlander's night was over after five innings and 104 pitches. Jeremy Bonderman and Jose Alvarez having been deemed unavailable by Jim Leyland, so Bruce Rondon was called in to pitch the top of sixth, an inning or two earlier than usual. Worse, it was in a driving rain.

The second pitch to Smith was a 97 MPH fastball ... right down the middle, a meatball which was deposited over the scoreboard in right. Smith's seventh home run of the season pushed their lead to 6-3.

Callaspo followed up the big fly with a single to center. Despite Leyland having stated he did not want to use Alburquerque if at all possible, the right-hander was warming up. Rondon slipped in the mud while throwing a pitch to Barton, grabbing his hamstring. After an injury delay, Rondon missed the strike zone by a foot and walked Barton, the third straight A's batter to reach base.

This was beyond ridiculous the game wasn't being stopped. The field been an injury waiting to happen for a couple of innings.

Stephen Vogt became the fourth straight batter to reach base, singling through the right side to load the bases.

No one out and the bases loaded in the top of the sixth, the morons in blue finally called for the tarp. A Tigers loss be damned, players were risking injury by playing in a heavy rain for the past few innings.

"It was the hardest rain I ever pitched in." -Verlander, when asked if the weather affected him

Considering the Tigers' short bullpen, all around crappiness of the weather, and it already having passed the fifth inning,I would not be surprised if the game would be deemed official fairly quickly.

It turned out it wasn't exactly quick, but the game never resumed. At approximately 10:36, after a 1:21 rain delay, the game was officially called for rain.

A wet, miserable game over.

Your final score is A's 6, Tigers 3.

The less said about this game the better. Verlander was a little bit unlucky and a whole lot bad. I can't remember the last time I saw a 44 pitch from anyone, let alone someone as talented as Verlander. Rondon was hit hard, but considering the increasingly inclement weather, I can't hold him entirely responsible. The Tigers had Milone on the ropes in the first, but couldn't finish him off.

All in all, it was a night to forget.

Losers of two straight to the A's, the Tigers fall to 77-55 on the season, now second in the AL at 583. Thanks to the Braves knocking off the Indians 2-0, the Tigers' lead in the Central holds steady at 5 1/2 games.

The penultimate game of the A's - Tigers series features right-hander Dan Straily (6-7, 4.56 ERA) taking on Doug Fister (11-6, 3.54 ERA). Straily has had a rough second half of the season, his last victory recorded on July 9. In his seven starts since that win, Straily is 0-5 with a 5.20 ERA. In the second half, opposition offenses are raking Straily to the tune of .299/.372/.486, an .858 OPS. Fister has pitched well of late, having given up two runs or fewer in six of his last eight starts. The Tigers are 7-1 in those starts, Fister 5-1 with a 2.39 ERA. Wednesday's first pitch is set for 7:08 PM.

WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:


Source: FanGraphs

BULLETS:

Recovered from a concussion and back in the lineup, Alex Avila debuted his new and supposedly far more protective catcher's mask.

Avila_bane_medium

Midway through the marathon first inning, the game was proceeding at the pace of a death march:

After 2 1/2, things had improved slightly.

Midway through the fourth, the game's pace was slightly more bearable.

Middle of the fifth, the Comerica grounds crew was doing their damnedest to dry off the field.

Field_medium

A bad night gets worse.

When asked about the health of Bruce Rondon in the post game, Jim Leyland wasn't concerned.

"It was his lower back, it's nothing serious."

Here's your Detroit sports talk radio topics for tomorrow:

THREE ROARS:

Prince Fielder: A first inning bases loaded single drove in a pair, reached base in both at bats.

Victor Martinez: A single in two at bats raised his batting average to .290. Hard to believe Martinez was hitting .233 seven weeks ago.

Atlanta Braves: While the Tigera were in a rain delay, the Braves were wrapping up a 2-0 win over the Indians. So something good happened for the Tigers tonight.

FOUR HISSES:

Justin Verlander: A 44 pitch first inning set the tone of the night - DOOOOOOM. The end result wasn't pretty - 5 IP, 4 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 1 HR. 104 pitches, 68 strikes. It back to looking at video, I guess.

Bruce Rondon: Was badly roughed up, allowing all five batters he faced to reach base. There is a caveat, Rondon was pitching in a hard rain on a muddy mound.

Umpire Will Little: His joke of a strike zone ran from the thighs to the knees.

The entire umpiring crew: Allowing the game to go as long as it did was sheer incompetence. They must have been taking weather advice from Carl Spacker - "I don't think the heavy stuff is going to come down for quite a while..."

ROLL CALL:

Roll Call Info
Total comments 1,424
Total commenters 53
Commenter list 42jeff, AAnth, Alex Baker, BadCompany22, Bent82, BigAl, Cabbylander, DJ Screw, Dale S, Designated for Assignment, DetroitSports, ExTeeBallPitcher, Freddyd, HookSlide, House by the Side of the Road, JWurm, J_the_Man, Jacob30, JerseyTigerFan, Joaquin on Sunshine, Kwisatz Haderach, MSUDersh, MakeItTrizzle, Mark in Chicago, Michigan&TrumbullinLA, NCDee, NorthLeft12, Rob Rogacki, SanDiegoMick, Scherzerblueeye, Singledigit, SouthOf8Mile, SpartanBoiler, SpartanHT, Starsailor, There Can Only Be One Verlander, Thorpac, Tigerdog1, TomduhB, Trout Jefferson, Verlanderful, WestsideTigersfan, XFizzle, dishnet34, frisbeepilot, keepitcomplicated, kland83, knucklescarbone, lithium, rbbaker, sauce1977, stevenyc, texastigerfan
Story URLs http://www.blessyouboys.com/2013/8/27/4664762/game-132-as-at-tigers-7-08-p-mhttp://www.blessyouboys.com/2013/8/27/4665918/game-132-overflow-as-at-tigershttp://www.blessyouboys.com/2013/8/27/4666292/game-134-rain-delay-overflow

TOP TEN COMMENTERS:

# Commenter # Comments
1 Scherzerblueeye 126
2 texastigerfan 96
3 JerseyTigerFan 87
4 SpartanHT 78
5 SanDiegoMick 77
6 Jacob30 70
7 stevenyc 69
8 DetroitSports 56
9 JWurm 55
10 Trout Jefferson 52

TOP RECS:

# Recs Commenter Comment Link
7 stevenyc So, I promised a story
5 SpartanHT Where did you find that picture of Brady Hoke?
4 texastigerfan I hate to bring this up..
3 NCDee Rain Delay Separated at Birth
3 rbbaker In other news, CJ Wilson can't run
3 Trout Jefferson So nothing changes except I'm now rich and have an awesome suit.

GAME 131 PLAYER OF THE GAME:

Miguel Cabrera's 43rd home run and two RBIs narrowly topped Victor Martinez's four hits, a home run and one RBI in the PotG balloting, 51% to 46%.

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