Even this early in the series, it was a must-win game for the Tigers and they did just that. Behind a masterful performance from veteran Kenny Rogers, the Tigers tied up the series 1-1 before heading out to St Louis for the next three games. It’s still possible that the city of Detroit has seen its last game of baseball for 2006, but few would bet against a game six or seven decider in Motor City.
Rogers was the main focus of attention after the game, both for his pitching and for his dirty left hand. In some ways I was surprised at the restraint shown by Dave O’Brien and Rick Sutcliffe (an English name, as Rick helpfully explained pre-game!) on the matter. They accepted it had been dealt with and moved on once they had established what had happened. Some commentators would have referred to it constantly throughout the rest of the broadcast to turn it into a big story, but they just let the baseball tell the story instead. Good for them. That being said, there’s an interesting article at Baseball Prospectus that examines the conspiracy theory of Rogers scuffing his pitches at Comerica Park.
What can’t be argued is that, even after the first inning, Rogers was dominating. Not in the flame-throwing sense, but in the way he smothered the Cardinals lineup. None of the Cards looked comfortable in the batters box as Rogers did a great job of keeping them off balance. Credit should go to Jim Leyland and his staff for the way they have helped Rogers channel his aggression and passion in a positive way. Now he is destroying opponents rather than water coolers, cameramen and his own reputation. It’s good to see someone learn from his previous mistakes and to perform so well on the biggest stage of all (muddy controversies aside).
Todd Jones did his best to make a game of it by loading the bases in the top of the ninth. I’m not entirely convinced about Jones and it seems crazy to use him when you have a guy like Joel Zumaya to turn to instead. It didn’t cost Jim Leyland last night, but if he keeps pushing his luck with Jones he may regret it later in this series.
These opening two games have really set up the rest of the series. St Louis will be happy heading back to their home town with the series level and with their top two pitchers starting games three and four. The Tigers quickly recovered from their game one rust and will be confident that they can bring the series back to Detroit where they will really fancy their chances. Like every neutral, I just want a competitive series with two teams battling hard right until the end. It looks as though we won’t be disappointed.
- I wonder who Dave will interview in St Louis?!
- Following on from the above, will Dave and Erik have time to interview anybody with all that St Louis cuisine to sample?
- Finally, various sources (MLB.com for one) are reporting that a new labour agreement has allegedly been tentatively agreed. After years of acrimony it looks like there is a positive working relationship between the Owners and the Players Union. That can only be good news for everyone who has the best interests of baseball at heart.