Gods Aligned Against Tigers


When your starting pitcher gets hit in the head by a line drive, when one of your best players gets tagged on the butt and doesn’t know it, and when the other team gets the winning run on a double play you know your luck has turned worse than someone who is tapped out in the first round of the World Series of Poker.

The San Francisco Giants are batting 1.000 in the luck category and the Detroit Tigers are batting .000. That’s obvious after Thursday night’s 2-0 Giants victory to take a 2-0 lead in the other World Series. Doesn’t matter what the Tigers do, it goes askew. Doesn’t matter what the Giants do, they land on their feet with goofy grins plastered on their faces–like when Gregor Blanco‘s bunt simply died fair for a hit.

This has moved beyond the realm of simple baseball skills. The Tigers need reinforcements from the spirit world. The first thing I thought of when the Blanco shot in a different at-bat bounced off Doug Fister‘s head and landed 100 feet behind him was “Brandon McCarthy.” A similar line drive nearly killed the Oakland A’s pitcher during the regular season. My second thought was that the Tigers’ next move was to take Fister out of the game and rush him to the hospital for X-rays.

Detroit Tigers pitcher Doug Fister throws a warm up pitch as members of the coaching staff including manager Jim Leyland look on after Fister was struck in the head with a batted ball in the second inning during game two of the 2012 World Series against the San Francisco Giants. Fister stayed in the game after the scary play.

It was a very worrisome scenario. The baseball world had just been through the McCarthy situation and it was known that lack of attention to a similar injury had resulted in the death of actress Natasha Richardson after a skiing accident. So the intelligent, responsible thing to do, whether he wanted to or not, was for Detroit manager Jim Leyland to yank Fister from the game and make him get his head checked out.

The fact that Fister did not go down from the blow was surprising. The fact that Fister was coherent on the mound when talking to the trainer and that he said he felt OK was miraculous. The Tigers left him in the game, he pitched great, and I was just hoping we wouldn’t be confronted by a headline this morning that Fister woke up dead because he didn’t go to the hospital.

In a completely different sense of the word it was the Tigers who woke up dead this morning, or at the least very much in need of paramedics. One would hope by now someone told Prince Fielder he was really out at the plate on Buster Posey‘s slick tag and he did not get jobbed by the umpire. Third-base coach Gene Lamont takes the fall for sending Fielder because he must have confused him with Usain Bolt. The big man just doesn’t have it in him to go from 0 to 60 in 2.3 seconds like a Porsche.

Apparently, Kung Fu Panda Sandavol used up his home-run quota for the millenium in Game 1, but the Giants were better than the Tigers in other ways. Madison Bumgarner, who beforehand might have been 50-50 to get shelled, pitched two-hit, shutout ball for seven innings. Sandoval, who would appear to have the vertifical leap of an ant, jumped in the air to snare a line drive and rob Miguel Cabrera of a double. Marco Scutaro temporarily shelved his surreal hitting, but making like Marco Polo, far from home, he positioned himself all of the way across the infield from where he is usually stationed for a critical cutoff catch and throw to the plate.

Then Sergio Romo wrapped it up. With his Brian Wilson junior-beard, the ear rings, the way he makes silly faces to tease teammates in the dugout and wags his tongue on the mound, the casual observer might think he is a pretend pitcher, or from Berkeley, but Romo is the Giants’ Mr. Fun. (I love this guy.) And he never has more fun than when he is mowing down batters in the ninth inning as he did three in a row with the Tigers for the save.

So good luck to Detroit. I hope Doug Fister doesn’t have a headache, but the Tigers definitely do.