DETROIT - For the second time in two years, Detroit Tigers right-hander Max Scherzer got ready to pitch an American League Championship Series game that never happened because of a bogus rainout called by Major League Baseball.
He didn’t care for Wednesday night’s faux rainout any more than he did for the ALCS Game 2 postponement in 2011 in Arlington. In that one, MLB banged the game six hours before the scheduled start time and not one drop of rain fell at the ballpark. Scherzer pitched the next day and the Texas Rangers won the game 7-3.
That prompted Tigers manager Jim Leyland to remark, “In Texas, somebody buys an umbrella and they cancel school.”
“We all wanted to play, but MLB wanted to cancel it, so it is what it is,” said Scherzer Wednesday night. “I’m not the commissioner. He’s the one in charge. Who knows what will happen tonight. The forecast was rain and it never came. That’s the weather for you.”
Wednesday’s game was scheduled for an 8 p.m. EDT start. The game was called at about 9:15 and by 10 p.m. a light mist began to fall. Twenty minutes later, heavier rain came down and the game probably would have been delayed at that point. But by then it’s reasonable to believe that six or seven innings would be in the books.
Ever since the first game of the AL Division Series last year between Detroit and the New York Yankees was washed out in the second inning, and both CC Sabathia and Justin Verlander had to be scratched, MLB has been gun-shy when it comes to the potential for rain.
A-ROD’S FALL FROM GRACE
In less than a week, Alex Rodriguez has gone from being an institution in the middle of the Yankees batting order, to being pinch-hit for, to being benched, to having one foot out the door of the clubhouse.
The wedge between the future Hall of Famer and his employers seems to get larger by the moment, to the point that you begin to wonder how this will play out over the long haul.
In the last two games of the ALCS, manager Joe Girardi has had to decide between A-Rod at third base and a guy who doesn’t yet have a hit in the post-season. Both times, he’s opted to go with the hitless guy, Eric Chavez.
What does that say about how the organization views Rodriguez?
“That doesn’t mean that he’s done, that he’s finished, that he is not capable,” said Yankees general manager Brian Cashman. “He’s still a big threat, but we are adjusting to what we are seeing.”
Asked if there could be long-term repercussions, Cashman acknowledged “it doesn’t mean that we’re not going to have to deal with legitimate questions like you just asked.”
Rumours that the Yankees have discussed a trade with the Miami Marlins were flatly dismissed by Cashman.
“I can tell you there are no discussions whatsoever,” he said. “(The rumours) are false. One-hundred percent false.”
THE FAB FOUR
Verlander is so good, so dominant and so much the face of the Tigers pitching staff that it’s easy to forget that Scherzer, Doug Fister and Anibal Sanchez have been as good as, or better than just about every other starting pitcher not named Verlander in these playoffs.
The three ‘lesser lights’ on the Detroit starting staff have a combined earned-run average of 1.35 with 31 strikeouts in 32 innings. Add in Verlander’s sizzling numbers and you have an ERA of 0.96 and a walks plus hits per innings pitched of 0.89 over 56.1 innings pitched by the four Detroit starters, with 56 strikeouts and a .168 opponents’ batting average.
QUICK FINISH MEANS LONG WAIT
You couldn’t really tell 50,000 rabid Tigers fans this with any shred of credibility, but there is a downside to a Detroit ending this ALCS in four or five games. No, really.
Remember 2006? Well 2012 is shaping up eerily akin to that season when the Tigers swept the Oakland Athletics in the ALCS, finishing that assignment on Oct. 14. They then sat around for a week waiting for the St. Louis Cardinals to take out the New York Mets in seven games. By the time the World Series started on Oct. 21, the Tigers had lost their mojo and they slipped quietly beneath the waves of Cardinal red, beaten in five games by a David Eckstein-led outfit.
TRADE: TIGERS BIG WINNERS
On Dec. 8, 2009, the Arizona Diamondbacks, Yankees and Tigers completed a three-way trade that, in hindsight, has been a key component in the construction of the Tigers as a force in the AL Central division. The Tigers dealt Edwin Jackson to Arizona and Curtis Granderson to the Yankees. They got back centre-field prospect Austin Jackson, bullpen lefty Phil Coke and Scherzer. The Diamondbacks got Ian Kennedy from New York.
“I’ve always been one that wants trades to work for both teams, and I think they have,” said Leyland. “That is the best way to sum it up. You’re talking about a guy that hit 40âsome home runs this year for the Yankees.”
He was referring to Granderson, who was benched for Game 4 after going 3-for-29 so far in the playoffs.
Austin Jackson has become a superior outfield defender and a premier leadoff man for Detroit. Coke is a key man in the bullpen and was chosen to close Games 2 and 3 with Jose Valverde struggling. And Scherzer is the No. 2 starter behind Verlander.
Kennedy and Edwin Jackson have both been effective pitchers, Kennedy with Arizona and Jackson with Arizona, then the Chicago White Sox and now with the Washington Nationals.
But it’s clear that nobody has prospered post-trade as much as the Tigers have.