I was a little worried going into game 2 that perhaps the Athletics had got poor defense, poor clutch hitting and sloppy starting pitching out of their system in game 1, turning into a team that could be due to for a big game. My worries about game 2 increased exponentially when the lineups were released, including spots for oft-criticized Neifi Perez and utility outfielder Alexis Gomez.
As it turns out, a couple of my worries and pre-game thoughts were unjustified in an 8-5 win for the Tigers. Alexis Gomez, who has made his mark as nothing more than a defensive substitution this season, drove in 4 runs in very key moments. This was good news. The A's ability to score runs in game 2, however, was the bad news.
Justin Verlander definitely did not bring his best stuff to the table, despite high K numbers. At several points during his time on the mound you could tell he could not hit his spots with his fastball and breaking pitch, which would ultimately result in 7 hits and 4 ER in 5.1 innings. What's worse is the fact that 2 of the 7 hits were big homeruns off the bats of Milton Bradley and Eric Chavez. Like Lou Piniella was saying, sooner or later people getting base will score...well, the homerun is a quick way to get runs across.
The bullpen for the Tigers got the job done, despite keeping the game interesting the whole time. Wil Ledezma did a great job before surrendering a 2nd homerun to Milton Bradley. To make things more scary, Todd Jones finished up the ninth by making Frank Thomas pop-up with the bases loaded.
Overall this was a game about not getting down when things weren't looking too good. The Tigers got down 1-0 in the 1st, only to fight back and tie it up in the next half inning. After the 2 run homerun by Bradley that put the Tigers up 3-1, the Tigers socred 4 runs and took a 5-3 lead directly after. Combining this ability to claw back into the game with pitching that did just enough, the Tigers are up 2-0 in the ALCS and headed back home in impressive fashion.
I'm sure Comerica is going to be rocking for Kenny's start on Friday. It's going to be a fun atmosphere, hopefully one that includes a performance similar to Rogers start against the Yankees last Friday.
A Couple of Quick Notes
- Obviously a lot of what was going on on the field last night was overshadowed by what was going on off the field with the death of pitcher Corey Lidle. I would like to say that we at BYB sends out condolences to the Lidle family, friends, teammates and baseball in general in regards to this loss.
- Polanco went 3-4 with an IBB. He is having a great series and continues to dominate Oakland A's. If you look back at it, how much did this team miss his presence down the stretch run while he was injured? He clearly brings a lot to this lineup.
- Fernando Rodney was AWESOME last night. He looked dominant out there with his fastball and changeup working to perfection. If he can continue at that pace and we have Zumaya looking like he's very dominant in a short situation, I would not want to go up against the Tigers bullpen at any point in the playoffs.