News

Rogers leads Tigers past A's

Claire Smith
The Philadelphia Inquirer

DETROIT -- Just as a bat has a sweet spot, so do major-league pitching rotations.

It's the turn teams depend on when they need their sagest, most undaunted arm to dominate and inspire.

In Detroit, that spot belongs to Kenny Rogers, the veteran pitcher who has refused to allow the opposition so much as a postseason run in two starts.

Rogers stretched his scoreless streak to 15 innings in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series on Friday against Oakland, allowing the mesmerized Athletics just two hits over 71/3 innings.

When sizzling second baseman Placido Polanco delivered a first-inning RBI single, Rogers had all he would need for what ultimately became a 3-0 victory at Comerica Park.

Because Rogers put the Athletics' bats in an even deeper freeze than the one that gripped Detroit on Friday, a storied franchise pulled within one victory of its first World Series since 1984.

The A's will send righthander Dan Haren (15-13) to the mound on Saturday to try to prevent a sweep from the best-of-seven series in four games.

Detroit will counter with righty Jeremy Bonderman (15-8).

Of the previous 28 league championship series best-of-sevens to start 3-0, 22 have resulted in four-game sweeps. Only the 2004 Boston Red Sox survived such a deficit (against the New York Yankees).

It will be the second time Rogers has made it possible for the 23-year-old Bonderman to clinch a series, thanks to his having awed a series opponent for a second consecutive outing.

"You can't pitch better than that," A's rightfielder Milton "0-for-4" Bradley said. "I had respect for Kenny Rogers before, but - this may tick people off - I almost felt like going over there and giving him a high five, he pitched that good."

Only one A's batter reached scoring position against Rogers, and that was in the first inning.

Rogers (17-8 regular-season, 2-0 postseason) cleaned up the thin threat by inducing Jay Payton to hit into an inning-ending force-out.

Frank Thomas, the A's powerful designated hitter, was especially frustrated. The only hit associated with him was the one he absorbed when Rogers plunked him in the side in the first inning - on purpose, a message pitch, Thomas later speculated.

Message or not, from then on, Rogers bruised more egos than the A's would bruise his pitches.

"Crafty pitcher ... pitches to the park ... lot of off-speed stuff," said Thomas, reciting a now familiar litany of the hitters left in Rogers' wake. "Ground balls, pop-ups. ... That's Kenny, a veteran - he's been doing that for years."

The hard-luck loser was Rich Harden. Little could the A's starter know that walking Curtis Granderson to lead off the bottom of the first, then yielding consecutive singles to Craig Monroe and Polanco and a run-scoring grounder by Magglio Ordonez was, for all intents, the ball game.

When the two runs grew to three on a Monroe homer in the fifth inning, the Tigers had a lead as secure as Fort Knox.

Rogers pitched into the eighth. After a walk and a force-out, his day was done. Seconds after he left the field waving his cap to the standing, roaring crowd of 41,669, Rogers saw his shutout preserved when reliever Fernando Rodney got pinch-hitter Bobby Kielty to ground into an inning-ending double play.

Rogers has pitched 15 scoreless innings in two playoff games, the first 72/3 against the Yankees in the AL division series.

All told, the 41-year-old Rogers has surrendered all of seven hits in his two starts, proof that the self-deprecating pitcher who claims to not have A-caliber stuff has perhaps something even more important.

"I believe in myself," he said. "I believe I can make pitches and I'll find a way."

Tigers manager Jim Leyland declined to say these were the most dominant back-to-back postseason performances he's ever witnessed, reminding all to remember a guy named John Smoltz, owner of a record 15 postseason victories.

"But I tell you this: It couldn't be any better," Leyland said. "It's a little bit different type of stuff, but nobody could have pitched better than what Kenny has the last two outings, including John Smoltz."

For Kenny Rogers, how sweet that is.

Music


Books


Film


Recent
Books

Political Cartoonist Art Young Was an Aficionado of all Things Infernal

Fantagraphics' new edition of Inferno takes Art Young's original Depression-era critique to the Trump Whitehouse -- and then drags it all to Hell.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

OK Go's Emotional New Ballad, "All Together Now", Inspired by Singer's Bout with COVID-19

Damian Kulash, lead singer for OK Go discusses his recent bout with COVID-19, how it impacted his family, and the band's latest pop delight, "All Together Now", as part of our Love in the Time of Coronavirus series.

Books

The Rules Don't Apply to These Nonconformist Novelists

Ian Haydn Smith's succinct biographies in Cult Writers: 50 Nonconformist Novelists You Need to Know entice even seasoned bibliophiles.

Music

Siren Songs' Merideth Kaye Clark and Jenn Grinels Debut As a Folk Duo (album stream + interview)

Best friends and longtime musical collaborators Merideth Kaye Clark and Jenn Grinels team up as Siren Songs for the uplifting folk of their eponymous LP.

Music

Buzzcocks' 1993 Comeback 'Trade Test Transmissions' Showed Punk's Great Survivors' Consistency

PopMatters' appraisal of Buzzcocks continues with the band's proper comeback LP, Trade Test Transmissions, now reissued on Cherry Red Records' new box-set, Sell You Everything.

Music

Archie Shepp, Raw Poetic, and Damu the Fudgemunk Enlighten and Enliven with 'Ocean Bridges'

Ocean Bridges is proof that genre crossovers can sound organic, and that the term "crossover" doesn't have to come loaded with gimmicky connotations. Maybe we're headed for a world in which genres are so fluid that the term is dropped altogether from the cultural lexicon.

Books

Claude McKay's 'Romance in Marseille' Is Ahead of Its Time

Claude McKay's Romance in Marseille -- only recently published -- pushes boundaries on sexuality, disability, identity -- all in gorgeous poetic prose.

Music

Christine Ott Brings the Ondes Martenot to New Heights with the Mesmerizing 'Chimères'

France's Christine Ott, known for her work as an orchestral musician and film composer, has created a unique new solo album, Chimères, that spotlights an obscure instrument.

Music

Man Alive! Is a Continued Display of the Grimy-Yet-Refined Magnetism of King Krule

Following The OOZ and its accolades, King Krule crafts a similarly hazy gem with Man Alive! that digs into his distinct aesthetic rather than forges new ground.

Books

The Kinks and Their Bad-Mannered English Decency

Mark Doyles biography of the Kinks might complement a seminar in British culture. Its tone and research prove its intent to articulate social critique through music for the masses.

Music

ONO Confronts American Racial Oppression with the Incendiary 'Red Summer'

Decades after their initial formation, legendary experimentalists ONO have made an album that's topical, vital, uncomfortable, and cathartic. Red Summer is an essential documentation of the ugliness and oppression of the United States.

Film

Silent Women Filmmakers No Longer So Silent: Alice Guy Blaché and Julia Crawford Ivers

The works of silent filmmakers Alice Guy Blaché and Julia Crawford Ivers were at risk of being forever lost. Kino Lorber offers their works on Blu-Ray. Three cheers for film historians and film restoration.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.