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.

Marty Brennaman announces that 2019 will be his last season

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Cincinnati Reds announcer Marty Brennaman announced a few moments ago that 2019 will be his last season in the broadcast booth.

Brennaman, 76, has broadcast Reds games since 1974 and stands as every bit an institution among Reds fans as any announcer ever has among his local fan base. In 2000 he won the Ford C. Frick Award award, presented annually by the National Baseball Hall of Fame. He called Hank Aaron’s 714th home run, Tom Seaver’s no-hitter, Tom Browning’s perfect game and every other major moment that occurred in a game involving the Reds for the past 44 years. He also, of course, has called three World Series clinchers for the Reds.

Brennaman, also, has been no stranger to controversy, primarily due to his penchant for criticizing Reds players for whom he seems to not to care, with Ken Griffey Jr., Adam Dunn and Joey Votto being among the more notable examples. There are, of course, many Reds fans who share Marty’s views in such instances. It’s an open question as to whether Brennaman has merely shared or reflected that mindset on the one hand or if, on the other hand, he has encouraged it. However you want to view that, there is no denying the fact that Brennaman has never hesitated to speak his mind and that a great deal of the considerable love for him among Reds fans is due in no small part to that.

Brennaman will get and will deserve a farewell tour in 2019. And, in 2020, he will leave some very large shoes to fill.