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Playoff Prowl: On narratives, Verlander, and strike zones

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Writing a links post in the playoffs can be fun. Or it can be frightening. It all depends how your team did the night before. Fortunately, this was a fun one.

ALDS 2011: Justin Verlander grinds out win - ESPN
Jerry Crasnick on JV's start:

Here's the most amazing part: Verlander cracked 100 mph on the radar gun 15 times on the evening. He did it on five straight pitches during that A-Rod at-bat, when logic tells you his needle was pointing on empty.

Verlander and Narratives - Joe Posnanski
JoePos was not a a fan of Justin Verlander's start. He had an interesting stat about starters who allowed four runs. In short, things normally don't turn out well for them. And Pos felt like the narrative was already written no matter how Verlander pitched. He pointed out allowing four runs just didn't fit into it, but media tried to fit it in anyway. Well, maybe. It seems to me this is the Jack Morris debate all over again. Verlander didn't have a big goose egg next to his ER, but he did have 11 strikeouts and pitch eight innings of baseball against the best offense in the playoffs. I think if you step back and see the big picture, you can respect the performance.

Update: Verlander was fantastic! Um … wasn’t he? | HardballTalk
Craig Calcaterra's "rebuttal":

As for Verlander: no, his performance was not “great” last night in an objective way. But it was dazzling. And enjoyable as all hell unless you’re a Yankees fan. And if people want to talk that up to the heavens today, I see no real reason to take any issue with that.

Michael Rosenberg: Justin Verlander doesn't dominate, but he shows guts in win - Detroit Free Press
I feel like Michael Rosenberg caught the theme right when he wrote

This was not Verlander's best performance, but it was one of his finest moments.

Big stage, big game. Rosey notes JV struck out seven out of nine Yankees at one point in the game. This is a game we're going to remember Verlander for, regardless.

Justin Verlander answers challenge - SweetSpot Blog - ESPN
Christina Kahrl notes the importance of Verlander returning to the game in the eighth to face Curtis Granderson, Robinson Cano, Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira before handing the ball off to the closer.

Shades of 2006: Tigers are one win from ousting the Yankees - The Detroit News
Bob Wojnowski was right when he said:

This was curious theater, mixed in with thundering Verlander theater. It was a night billed as electric, and it was — just different electricity from different sources.

It wasn't the heavyweight fight everyone imagined, the aces going blow for blow with a shutout in the 8th. But it was nothing short of electric.

Game Three: Must See JV...Live - DesigNate Robertson
Rogo was at the game, and has a laundry list of thoughts and comments with less swearing than you're typically accustomed to.

what to do in the ALDS -- Roar of the Tigers
I think Samara captured it pretty well with her lede:

Win, but terrify everyone first. It is difficult to discuss these last two games in any coherent way. We survived them, obviously, but now when I try to force my brain in that direction, it just starts gibbering and screaming nonwords into my skull. First there was the ASFDGLIJA; and then there was the GGGLARLIASLDFJK and then they all ASDL;KFJAS;DLKFJSWS!!!

Burning Questions After Game 3 of the Tigers-Yankees ALDS - Greg Eno
Greg Eno interviews Greg Eno to get his take on things.

Avila update: Tweaked knee, feels fine - Beck's Blog
Frightening moment last night when Alex Avila looked hobbled and pained in the dugout. Fortunately he came back out and resumed catching duties anyway. Ironman.

Detroit Tigers - MLB | Unsung Don Kelly ends up one of Tigers' Game 3 heroes | The Detroit News
Don Kelly, baseball wizard, has turned into Don Kelly, playoff wizard.

Ramon Santiago an unlikely hero in Detroit Tigers' Game 3 ALDS win over Yankees |
Or is Ramon Santiago the "sneaky" one, as he drove in a couple of runs in the biggest game of his life?

Tigers’ Young makes Smoltz look psychic with first-pitch home run - Big League Stew
Call him "Smoltzstradaum" David Brown writes. Lansing native John Smoltz, color commentator for TBS, knew Delmon Young had the potential to do some damage and called it before it happened.

Detroit Tigers - MLB | Kenny Rogers recalls Tigers career fondly | The Detroit News
It had to be a good sign when Kenny Rogers threw out the ceremonial first pitch at Comerica Park, especially after he handled the Yankees in 2006. But did anyone check his hat first?

Yankees' Joe Girardi doesn't like umpires' inconsistent strike zone in Game 3 of ALDS - NY Daily News
The Yankees manager wasn't a fan of the strike zone. It was a pretty small one. It was a bit inconsistent. But it cut both ways.

CC Sabathia was to blame for New York Yankees' Game 3 loss in Detroit - ESPN New York
Ian O'Connor writes that Sabathia is the person to blame last night. Sabathia agrees, saying it's not umpire Gerry Davis' fault. "I just didn't make pitches when I needed to."

Last Night's Strikezone - Tigers vs. Yankees - Pinstripe Alley
You can decide for yourself if the strike zone "squeezed" Sabathia, was too big for Verlander, or whatever else you want to think. (Reminder: If you choose to visit PA you represent BYB, do it well.)

2011 ALDS -- Game 4 comes down to New York Yankees bats, not A.J. Burnett - ESPN New York
ESPNNY's Wallace Matthews writes there is no pressure on Yankees AJ Burnett tonight, because expectations are so low it's impossible for him to disappoint. Sure, I guess that's one way of looking at it. The other way of looking at it is if he has a particularly bad game the Yankees are making vacation plans on Wednesday and fans are eviscerating him. That sounds a lot like pressure to me.