Sigh. All right. Let’s break this one down.
After splitting the double-header yesterday, it seemed like the Tigers might have found a little momentum for themselves. Justin Verlander, who is not historically great against the Indians (22 losses before today, the most he has against any team), was taking the mound against Mike Clevinger, who has been strong for the Indians recently. Yet, there was some hope. Verlander is the Tigers’ ace, right?
Verlander went a mere 3.1 innings, allowing seven runs on nine hits, walking three, and striking out none. None. Yes, you read that right, and if it seems strange to you, there’s a good reason for it. Verlander had gone 331 consecutive starts with at least one strikeout. The last time he did not strike out a single batter, it was April 28, 2007, over a decade ago. On hand that day, playing for the Twins, was Gary Sheffield who happened to be in the press box today talking to Rod and Mario.
This is just another in a string of less than outstanding outings for the Tigers’ former ace, who has struggled this season. It’s especially difficult to watch, knowing just how tremendous he was last year, coming in second for the Cy Young.
The game today was not a fun one to watch. Between Verlander and reliever Chad Bell, the Indians managed to score a whopping 11 runs in the first six innings, even after an absurd double-steal by the Indians should have yielded some outs and somehow did not. Verlander’s command wasn’t there, and it showed.
I’m skipping the Roars and Hisses today, because aside from J.D. Martinez early and a ninth-inning surge, there wasn’t a lot to roar about. Just a tough, tough game to watch. You could tell, too, by the way the broadcasters talked about everything else. Rod and Mario discussed ketchup on hot dogs at great length; Willie Horton’s impact on the game; how old-school players used to help young guys buy suits. You name it, it was discussed, almost as a means to avoid the hard reality of the game unfolding before them.
Again: this game was not fun (the ninth aside).
Harder still is knowing that if Verlander is open to a trade in the hopes of joining a playoff contender, an outing like this didn’t do his trade value any favors. For those hoping to hang onto him until the end of his career, they’ll be thrilled by that news, but for anyone hoping to see a little sell-sell-sell action before the deadline, this fish might be dead in the water.
J.D. Martinez, however, won’t have a hard time finding a new home. He knocked the first two Tigers hits of the day and was responsible for the first RBI. The rest of the Tigers offense was basically asleep for the whole game, unable to take advantage of the opportunities provided by five walks given up by Clevinger.
James McCann got another RBI after coming in to replace Alex Avila behind the plate, and Avila moved to first base to give Miguel Cabrera some bench time.
In the ninth inning things got interesting. Avila scored an RBI, McCann hit a three-run home run, and suddenly the Tigers had driven reliever Boone Logan from the game and were within five runs of a tie game. Unlikely, sure, but at least they showed a little fire. Then Castellanos hit a two-run home run. Wtf? Where was this for the whole darned game? Tigers trailed by three.
A Mikie Mahtook single chased Shawn Armstrong out of the game and, just like that, the Indians were using closer Cody Allen in a game that had recently been 11-2. Allen was able to successfully get Andrew Romine for the third out. Game over.
The Tigers tried, but it wasn’t enough, and it ends the first half of their season on a sour note. Let’s take a look at this charming stat:
Assuming a loss today, #Tigers (36-45) will have their worst record at the 81-game mark since 2003, when they were 20-61.— Noah Trister (@noahtrister) July 2, 2017
Yes, you read that right. Worst since the brutal ‘03 season. Anyway, here’s my bottom line on the game:
And if you’d rather end on a happy note, let’s please remember this amazing highlight from yesterday’s double-header.