Wednesday, October 11, 2006

ALCS Game 2: Tigers 8 Athletics 5

The big news coming into the game was the injury report on Sean Casey. Casey has a partially torn muscle in his calf and will likely miss the rest of the championship series. There is also a good chance he won't be able to play in the World Series if they make it. The new first baseman is Carlos Guillen who played there 9 times during the regular season. Tonight, Neifi Perez was the starting shortstop and inexplicably batted second. Most Tiger fans around the net agree that Infante should be the shortstop. According to Danny Knobler, Jim Leyland wants Perez at shortstop because Infante did not play there much during the season.

Justin Verlander had trouble locating his curve again tonight and the Athletics did a good job working the count. He went over 100 pitches in the 6th inning and left after giving up 4 runs and 7 hits in 5 1/3. The bullpen was excellent as Wil Ledezma, Jason Grilli, Fernando Rodney and Todd Jones allowed 1 run in 3 2/3 and struck out 6 in a row at one point. Jones made us all uncomfortable in the 9th by loading the bases on 3 singles after 2 were out but he got Frank Thomas on a shallow fly to center field. Fernando Rodney was especially impressive easily striking out the side in the 8th. He looks to be back on track again after struggling a little at the end of the regular season.

Milton Bradley kept the Athletics in the game almost single handed going 4 for 5 with 2 homers and 4 RBI. Bradley can get hot at any time and he is really hitting the ball hard in this series. Thankfully, the Tigers contained Frank Thomas who went o for 5 with 3 strike outs. The Big Hurt and Nick Swisher are now 0 for 14 with 8 strike outs in the series. The Athletics won't get too far unless those two get going.

Because Athletics starter Esteban Loaiza has trouble with left-handers, Leyland started Chris Gomez in place of Marcus Thames at designated hitter. The move paid off with Gomez getting a home run and a single and 4 RBI. Every night, it's somebody different. The one constant has been Placido Polanco who got 3 more hits tonight and seems to be back in 2005 form. He is now 11-24 in the post-season. Curtis Granderson went 2 for 5 including his 3rd post-season home run. The whole team seems to be consistently having good at bats. They are looking as good as they have at any point this season.

The Tigers, now up 2-0, go back to Detroit for 3 games (or maybe just 2 the way things are going!). Friday night, it will be Kenny Rogers against Rich Harden.

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