Talk baseball all season long with SI.com's Jacob Luft in Baseball Chatter, a journal for hot topic debates, Sabermetric ramblings and reader-driven discussions.
10/23/2006 12:44:00 AM
Game 2 Grades
Todd Jones nearly booted away Game 2.
St. Louis Cardinals
Starting Pitching Jeff Weaver once again showed the moxie we never knew he had prior to this postseason, especially in the fourth inning when he emerged unscathed out of a bases-loaded, nobody out pickle. He had another fine moment in the third inning when, with two runners on and two outs, he rallied from a 3-1 count to retire Pudge Rodriguez. Weaver left after allowing three runs in five innings, but he kept his team in the ballgame and remained aggressive in the strike zone. Grade: B
Once again the Cardinals’ young bullpen came through as five relievers combined to limit Detroit to one hit in three innings. The ‘pen was the unsung element to the Cardinals’ NLCS upset. The Tigers will have to crack it sooner or later to win this Series. Grade: A
First the Yankees, then the A’s and now the Cardinals. Neither of these three offenses were able to score a run off Kenny Rogers, so we can’t come down too hard on the St. Louis batters. Still, I can’t help thinking that Juan Encarnacion could have batted a dozen more times against Rogers without having a prayer of getting a hit. Grade: C
Weaver put himself in a hole when he got in Pujols’ way while trying to field a sac bunt attempt in the fourth. Overall, though, this was another solid effort, with the highlights being the play turned in by Aaron Miles and David Eckstein in the second to double up speedster Curtis Granderson. Grade: B
It’s hard to do much managing when your team only gets one hit in the first seven innings. As always, Tony La Russa did a nice job matching up his bullpen in the late innings. My main critique is with his lineup: What does So Taguchi have to do to earn more playing time? Much like Encarnacion, Preston Wilson had no chance of doing damage off of The Gambler. Grade: B-
Between his great fielding plays and the way he was spotting his fastball on the black, Rogers was the closest thing to a left-handed Greg Maddux you will ever see. Rogers hasn’t allowed a run in 23 postseason innings, yet New Yorkers still aren’t buying into him as a clutch pitcher. Grade: A+
Bullpen Todd Jones nearly blew the Series with his implosion in the ninth. Two games now and we have yet to see Joel Zumaya, which leads me to wonder if all is well with the fireballer. Grade: D
Offense Craig Monroe’s first-inning home run was the biggest hit of the night, and Carlos Guillen again showed he’s the best hitter on this team, going 3-for-3 with a walk. Overall, however, it wasn’t a strong performance as they failed to deliver the knockout blow to Weaver. Detroit managed only three runs on 10 hits, two walks, two hit batters and an error. Grade: B-
Rogers was the star here again as he robbed Wilson and Miles of base hits on comebackers. Rogers also had to work out of a jam in the first inning thanks to third baseman Brandon Inge’s misplay on Scott Rolen’s grounder. Jones’ ninth-inning error almost caused the whole game to unravel for Detroit. Grade: B
Managing Jim Leyland needed to leave Rogers in for the ninth inning. He had thrown only 99 pitches and was nearly untouchable. To hand the game over to Jones, who is the nominal closer but is really about the third-best pitcher in the bullpen, nearly put his club in an 0-2 hole. Grade: C
Todd Jones is a disaster. His stuff is average. Please make Zumaya the closer. Save Jones for the position of after-closer. What is wrong with Pudge? Relax Pudge and have some fun. Granderson needs to get on base more hitting in front of Monroe. Go Tigers.
So Kenny Rogers goes from All-time playoff goat (20 ER in 20 Post-season Innings) to having one of the longest scoreless innings streaks in Post-season history?
I know a ton of people out there are going to read the Tigers explanation (oh it was dirt) about the dark patch on Rogers hand and say "nothing wrong with that", however if you really LOOK at the photos there was a sheen or shine to that patch. I've gotten plenty dirty in my life and no dirt clump that's stuck to me has ever been shiny. That looked like pine-tar, period.
Also, if it was just dirt why could you CLEARLY see the remains of the discoloration AFTER he washed his hands? Finally the statement that after he "cleaned up" he was still unhittable doesn't mean anything. So he moved it to his cap, glove, jockstrap or whatever.
People are missing the point, he wasn't doctoring the BALL (thus the Umps couldn't prove it) he was using a substance that gave him a very tight grip on the ball allowing for tigher rotation and more "bite" to his breaking pitches.
There are also reports that the same type of "dirt clump" was visible on his pitching hand when he took the mound against Oakland in the ALCS and that photos were being circulated around the press box during last night's game.
I watched the Cardinals slip past my Mets in the NLCS and I was hoping the Tigers would wipe them out (sore loser? probably) but now it seems to me it's the Tigers that don't deserve to be in the Series and I (and I hope all real fans of the game) am pulling hard for the Cardinals to overcome a team that would so blatantly cheat on Baseball's biggest stage.
Anyone that thinks "Psycho" Kenny Rogers wouldn't cheat is fooling themselves. He got paid big dollars this offseason to join Detroit and going out in the playoffs and doing his Batting Practice Pitcher impersonation wasn't going to cut it this time.
The Detroit fans will believe what they believe (and honestly the home town fans should support their team regardless) but for the rest of us this whole episode is a disgrace. The Detroit Ownership, Management and Players should be ashamed.
This is a HUGE black mark against Jim Leyland's reputation. Kenny Rogers is a nutcase anyway, but I honestly expected more out of a manager I had a great deal of respect for before last night.
I guess the Yanks and A's were right to wonder exactly HOW Rogers stymied them so easily in the playoffs. If the Tigers win the World Series now, it's a complete travesty.
Sounds like mister 9:06AM is a pretty sore loser. I can't tell for sure what it was, but if it is tar, it's nothing that isn't done by the vast majority of pitchers, just done much more subtly. Pine tar also doesn't get 23 straight innings of no run ball. He pitched better without the substance than he did with. Detroit outplayed the Yankees and Athletics in all aspects of the game. This "incident" does not diminish at all what they've done. They deserve to be where they are and hopefully will win the World Series.
I would like to know how the previous poster explains rogers pitching for the remainder of the game after he washed his hands. People in this country are always looking for a controversy and are full of sore losers. Dont you think the Cardinals would have put up more of a fight if they thought there was the slightest chance it was pine tar? Its the world series.. they want to win.. if they thought they were being screwed over they would do something about it.. yet all they are doing is saying there are no merits to these claims and for people to get over it. I'd follow the advice of your teams coach sir and give the tigers some credit. Look at the yankee and a's series and hush your mouth. Calling a tigers win a travesty is a slap in the face to the many tigers players that have worked so hard this year. Detroit teams are constantly undervalued and un appreciated. But we persevere anyways. No one likes a sore loser, so lets just watch the games shall we?
Rogers is a cheater, but what makes me upset, is not Rogers, athletes cheat and Rogers still pitched unreal after the first, infact even better. Its LaRussa, this guy is the worst manager in the history of baseball. The Cards should have 3 world series by now, does anyone realize that 3 years ago Jeff Suppan was their 4th best pitcher on staff that had an injured Chris Carpenter, hes know number 2. Their lineup featured hall of fame player Larry Walker with healthy and younger Edmonds, and Rolen not to mention Renteria at shortstop..Im so sick of people calling LaRussa a genius the guy over manages all the time and finally hes letting the worst team hes had in a while just play and their winning..he should have been fired from st.louis along time ago with the teams they had. And last night, to protect his buddy Leyland he didnt get rogers tossed out and suspended for the rest of the series, pretty much costing the Cards a win and maybe another one too if it goes six and rogers is still lights out..YOU A BUM LA RUSSA do me a favor and quit, one world series with all the hall of famers youve coached, I could do that!
3 things in defense of Kenny Rogers (a sentence I never thought I'd say) 1: pine tar doesn't make your fastball about 5 mph faster 2: Rogers was actually better last night after washing whatever it was off his left hand. 2 runners reached in the 1st, but just 3 more reached in the next 7 innings. 3. There's no proof that he was cheating. Yeah, it would make sense given his track record, but what exactly has made sense this postseason?
The point is that the pine tar on your fingers gives you a better grip on the ball, thus a tighter rotation and greater effect on your breaking balls. The very same mysterious "clump of dirt" has appeared in photos and video since the ALDS against NY in game three. The bottom line is that Rogers is a cheat. Even after he "cleaned the clump of dirt" last night, there was still enough residue on his palm for him to be able to press his middle and fore fingers into it to make them plenty sticky for extra grip. Maybe without the tar, or "dirt" he's not as unhittable in game three against NY, the Yankees win the game, and there should have been a game 5 in NY. The simple fact is that Rogers has cheated his way through this post-season, and frankly I'm surprised that St. Louis did NOT press the issue last night and insist that he be inspected, if for no other reason than to get inside his head.
Mr. 9:06, is this the same Cardinals franchise for which Mark McGwire played? The only thing that made andro not a steroid was that baseball wasn't wise to it yet. By any other definition, it was always a steroid.
The Tigers "don't deserve to be in the Series?" Mr. Steinbrenner, why don't you go back to micromanaging your team? Let the rest of us enjoy a competitive World Series.
I see the trend is to accuse anyone who questions Rogers integrity of being a sore loser. I'm not a fan of the Tigers or the Cardinals but I was so disgusted with what I saw and all the subsequent excuses that came to light during Game 2 of the World Series. As a baseball fan I hope this isn't the last we hear of this and something actually gets done.
His scoreless inning streak is amazing and yes, he did pitch great after he washed his hand. But that's not the point. It's a matter of integrity, and if he had the intention of cheating in the World Series he should be investigated.
It amazes me that people think Rogers didn't cheat because he pitched better after washing his hands. Are people this naive?
Forme teammates attest to his love of dark uniforms so he could hide the stuff.
If he cheated on the hand he'd cheat on the cap too. I think LaRussa is smart. He helped stir this up, but by giving Rogers props after the game he can let the controversy rage without being the source of it and without having to comment further!
Sorry for the weekend off but I have been under the weather some. Here goes, Jeff Weaver showed once again he can keep his ball club in the mix of any game. Is a B fair? NO! If you consider Kenny Rogers pine tar aided pitching performance an A+ then Weavers is at least an A-. Or was that + supposed to be an asterisk * for the pine tar? I have played baseball on a competitive level through high school and umpired up to the junior college level. I have used pine tar on a bat for better griping. I have never pitched but I know how it can affect the baseball and the batters ability to hit it. It is undeniable there was something on the palm of his hand. Dirt isn’t shiny, pine tar in this application can be. I have had it on my hands and unless he used soap with oil based solvents in it there is no way he gets all the residue off. So, even though his hand looked clean it can still be sticky to the touch. If he can make the ball stick longer or tighter in his hand he can snap off better breaking pitches. Ask any pitcher who has pitched beyond high school and they will tell you griping the ball is half the battle. Rogers is a cheat and should be banned just like Julian Tavarez was a couple years ago for pine tar on the bill of his cap. How does a two start suspension sound?
Bullpens: On the mark with both teams and I was happy to see Rogers exit the game it let me know the Cards would score. Once again the Kiddy bull pen has done a fantastic job of keeping the game close and not giving up runs for the Cards. Detroit showed its Achilles heal that their bull pen can be hit for runs.
Offense: Both teams have shown they can score runs and who knows with out the aid of a foreign substance the Cards may have even scored more. Note to La Russa: BENCH JUAN ENCARNACION – Free So Taguchi play his hot hand in the post season. Put Preston Wilson in right or if you want to get Scott Spiezio his swings play him in right. Let Taguchi play left it will help your defense also. Keep the line up like this: Eckstein Eckstein Taguchi Taguchi Pujols Pujols Rolen Rolen Edmonds OR Edmonds Wilson Wilson Molina Molina Miles Spiezio Pitcher Miles All of this is mute if the rest of the Tigers staff starts to use the pine tar since it is legal apparently. For Detroit they look to have a formidable line up and should hold up well.
Defense: Taguchi in left Wilson in right sit Encarnacion he seems more interested in being on TV with the mic on than playing ball. Let his talk from the bench. Detroit has a few errors both teams seem to be evenly matched.
Managers: So far it has been La Russa making the moves needed even though he came up short last night but again see the pine tar comments. Leyland should have left Rogers in with such a low pitch count but he wanted to work his bull pen I guess. If that is the only knock on him the entire post season it will be a great post season for him.
I refuse to let this pine tar incident alone, it was blatant and answers some questions on how Kenny Rogers goes from 20 runs in 21 innings of post season baseball to looking like Roger Clemens. In this day and age there is so many cameras on the players it wasn’t like only one person saw it the world has now seen it. Bud “Used Car Salesman” Selig should do something about this situation. But if he knew about and let steroids go on for a decade or better with our any repercussion how can we expect him to act now. My prediction for the series is the Cards in 6 over Detroit. Beware Cards fans Carpenter is going for us Tuesday night but don’t expect greatness something isn’t right in his delivery he has been just a little off. If the Cards win it will be by scoring more than 5 runs.
If you're going to accuse Kenny Rogers of cheating, then you'd better do it for the entire year. So what if he'd previously given up 20 runs in 21 innings; how long ago was that? It would be better to compare his playoff performance with his performance during the rest of -this year-.
If we're going to make that kind of comparison, then Jeff Weaver is also cheating. The man has been dropped by several teams, including the Angels in mid-season.
Find something on the ball or quit your whining. While you're at it, fire all the umpires.