Don’t blame the layoff; blame Justin Verlander for Game 1 loss

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Done in by poor fastball location, Justin Verlander got lit up by the Giants in Game 1 of the World Series, surrendering five runs and two Pablo Sandoval homers in four innings. Some facts from the outing:

– It was just the third in three years in which he failed to go five innings. The last was in the 2011 ALCS, when he allowed three runs in four innings in a loss to the Rangers. The only other time in the last three years that he was pulled before five innings was June 22, 2010 against the Mets (5 ER in 2 IP).

– Sandoval’s first homer was the fifth ever allowed by Justin Verlander on an 0-2 pitch, once in 2006 (Tadahito Iguchi), 2007 (Billy Butler), 2010 (Torii Hunter) and 2011 (Shelley Duncan).

– The five runs allowed matched his high total in 26 career starts against NL teams. He also gave up five runs in the aforementioned start against the Mets and in 2009 against the Cardinals.

– His 38-pitch third inning was his high total for any inning this year.

Of course, some will blame the rust for the Tigers’ struggles tonight. It’s an easy narrative, having been carried over from 2006 when they lost the World Series to the Cardinals after a lengthy layoff.

Verlander, though, wasn’t particularly rusty, having made this start on seven days’ rest. That’s just one more day off than he had for Game 1 of the ALDS. The offense wasn’t great, but it did come up with eight hits. One problem was the Tigers got nothing from the bottom of the order, which was also a big reason why the team had a disappointing offense in the regular season.

But the Tigers lost tonight because Verlander couldn’t find a way to keep them in the game. Maybe he deserves the free pass — he’s the biggest reason they’re here in the first place — but it sure would have been nice if he could have figured out a way to grind out a six-inning, three- or four-run outing, both to aid the pen and help the chances of a comeback. He needed some finesse tonight, and he simply didn’t have any.

Rockies acquire Pat Neshek from the Phillies

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The Rockies announced on Wednesday night that the club acquired relief pitcher Pat Neshek from the Phillies in exchange for three minor leaguers: infielder Jose Gomez, pitcher J.D. Hammer, and pitcher Alejandro Requena.

Neshek, 36, made the  National League All-Star roster and currently owns a 1.12 ERA with a 45/5 K/BB ratio over 40 1/3 innings. He’ll help bolster the 58-44 Rockies’ bullpen as they vie for one of the two Wild Card slots realistically, and hope to overcome the Dodgers’ 12-game lead in the NL West.

More on the minor leaguers shortly.

Cameron Rupp, who criticized Odubel Herrera for bat-flipping, flipped his bat on a home run

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Earlier, Craig wrote about the negative reaction within the Phillies’ clubhouse after outfielder Odubel Herrera A) flipped his bat on a fly out, and B) failing to run out a dropped third strike. Manager Pete Mackanin was one of Herrera’s critics, unsurprisingly, but so was catcher Cameron Rupp.

Via the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Matt Gelb, Rupp said that the Phillies’ frustration with Herrera is “not a secret.” He said, “Pete is the manager and what he asks us to do, we’re supposed to do. It’s a team thing and one guy can’t just not follow the rules. It’s not the first time. It has happened before and that’s something we don’t want to see. We want him in the game. He’s a good player. It’s hard for us. He’s a grown man. He has to learn on his own. We can only say so much.”

Though Rupp didn’t directly say his criticism of Herrera pertained to bat flips, we can logically deduce it as such. Herrera doesn’t commonly fail to run out dropped third strikes, but he does commonly flip his bat, particularly on non-homers.

Rupp had a good game against the Astros on Wednesday night, blasting a pair of two-run home runs. The problem? Rupp flipped his bat. In a 9-0 game.

The MLB.com video doesn’t really give a chance to see the full extent of Rupp’s flip, so here’s a .gif from Chris Jones:

And just in case anyone feels I’m interpreting the situation through a biased lens, Phillies beat writer Ryan Lawrence of The Philly Voice also saw it the same way.

We should probably expect Mackanin to bench Rupp for the next two games like he did Herrera, right? What’s that, you say? Certain players were more likely to be criticized for expressing emotion and perceived lack of hustle? Really makes you think.