I think the time off for the Tigers hurt. I don’t think there’s any doubt about that, because you can practice all you want and practice against regular pitching, but once you get into game action, it speeds up. The game speeds up. And that’s what happened last night. Our guys did go after a lot of bad pitches, but they got jammed a lot, right-handers and left-handers.
Anthony Reyes took advantage of that week off, I think. He pitched off his fastball, but from the scouting report, the Tigers are thinking going into the game that maybe his fastball wasn’t that good. But you ask our hitters, that was a pretty good fastball last night.
Justin Verlander‘s issue, I thought, was movement. I just didn’t think he had the bite at the plate that he normally has, even in the low 90s. I don’t think he had it last night, and to me, that’s the difference. The one thing about Verlander is he can throw in the low 90s during the regular season and have bite, and in the high 90s and have more bite. It’s a rare combination. But last night, I didn’t see that movement at the plate.
The pressure, the anticipation — Justin’s a rookie, and he might have thought about it a lot. That was not the real Justin Verlander that we saw last night. It was one of those rare occasions where if he did make a pitch that was hittable, they hit it. And a lot of strikeouts — it was a tough combination.
This is a must-win tonight, no question about it. In ’68, we lost the first game and won the second game — momentum, momentum, momentum. Against the Cardinals, the Tigers can’t afford to lose tonight. I don’t think there’s any doubt about that. The Cardinals play so well at home. But I said it last night, the Cardinals are battle-tested, battle-weary and battle-scarred. That says a lot for being in stride like they were last night.
There is no other sport like baseball where momentum can swing on one day, because you normally play back-to-back games. I’m not sure of many other sports where you actually play back-to-back. You might have a day or two off in between. I think baseball is unique from that standpoint. Even inning to inning, momentum can change. Look at the first inning last night — we could have scored maybe three runs. It could have been a whole different ballgame. But we weren’t able to do it. And then Reyes got more pop in his pitches.
The Cardinals heard what we heard when we went to New York before we played a game and heard everybody talking about a Subway Series. We hadn’t played a game. The Cardinals came here after a grind-out win over the Mets in seven games, and all they heard was Tigers in four, Tigers in five. If you’re with the Cardinals, you’re not saying much. You’re listening to this and you’re digging deep. They handled themselves quite well. They really did, a really professional team.