Wednesday, April 29, 2009

And That Is Why You Can't Walk People and Make Errors

That was excruciating, from about the second inning on. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before or not, but I do not like pitching duels. They are so incredibly stressful to watch because the game can hinge on one little mistake. And even though the final score is what it is, the same principle actually still applies to this one. Edwin Jackson was pretty good against a team that normally has his number, but Robinson Cano kinda singlehandedly cost him an inning (though given the fact that if the score had still been tied in the top of the eighth, which is quite likely, Perry still probably would’ve been first out of the ‘pen, and things probably would’ve proceeded in exactly the same way, so maybe in the long run that didn’t really have an impact). Now, let’s delve into the seventh inning. A lot is going to be made about Josh Anderson’s error (which is merited, cuz it IS a play he needs to make), but I really think it was the four-pitch walk to Melky Cabrera (who was trying to bunt the whole time) that kinda sealed Perry’s fate. If he’d’ve just let him bunt, there would be no runner at third base, and therefore, no sac fly opportunity in the first place. After that, there were just too many walks mixed in with everything else that was going on, and not enough strikes being thrown.

However, I beg of you a bit of perspective: This isn’t even the most runs that the Tigers have given up in a game this year. If you’d’ve just looked at the score itself without that “runs per inning” grid that usually accompanies it, you’d just think of it as your average, run-of-the-mill blowout. Hey, chances are on any given night, it’s going to happen to SOME team (you just hope it won’t be the Tigers again for a long, long time). Second, in a big inning such as that, once you’ve given up more than about six or seven runs, it usually means something weird has happened, unless you’ve walked more than six guys in the inning or given up more than two home runs. I’m talking about broken-bat singles or infield hits or what have you. At that point it kinda loses all sense of reality and should probably just get categorized into “really big inning” (say, more than 7 runs) as opposed to an actual number. Nate Robertson’s stint was odd because he gave up hits to all the lefties he faced and his only out came from the switch-hitter. Nate’s probably more suited to long relief and he’s not my first choice as a lefty specialist, but with Bobby Seay undoubtedly unavailable, I guess there was little choice. Still, I don’t think Robertson had good numbers against the Yankees coming in to last night. Anyways, I missed Damon’s single, but on the replays, it looked like kind of a funky swing, and I could be wrong, but I can’t imagine that the ball was hit hard with that kind of swing. Matsui hit a lined shot bullet that was precipitated both by the fact that Nate had fallen behind and by the fact that Matsui hits lefties well anyways. The final hit he gave up was a ground-ball single off the bat of Cano (I think), and I don’t have a good sense of how hard it was hit (though given how hot Cano is right now, there’s a good chance it was torched), but from the naked it, it looked like something that Cabrera could have snared without too much difficulty. Brandon Lyon is becoming a concern in the sense that he is currently pitching out of character. If you look at his numbers over the past couple years, you’ll see that he’s been a guy that throws strikes and keeps the ball in the ballpark. That hasn’t been the case this year, and I would like to know the underlying reason for that before making any further determinations. As for Juan Rincon, well, you knew Nick Swisher was going to hit a home run at some point in this series. Might as well get it over with.

As far as the offense is concerned, where’s Chien-Ming Wang when you need him? I know he’s tough when he healthy, but with the way he’d been pitching so far this year, the Yankees could still score 10 runs in the seventh and the Tigers might’ve still won. Now, I don’t like being on the losing end of blowouts and I don’t like pitching duels, but I really, REALLY hate being shut out. I had enough of that last year to last a lifetime. There are exceptions, but oftentimes I feel like I’d rather lose 13-2 than 1-0. This is the third starting pitcher in a row that the Tigers have faced who has totally defied his scouting report (Sidney Ponson went from command problems to not walking anybody, CC Sabathia went from throwing over 110 pitches in five innings to throwing 99 in eight, and Phil Hughes went from throwing a lot of breaking balls to throwing lots of fastballs). One somewhat disturbing trend over the past few games is that with the exception of the middle game in Kansas City, the Tigers haven’t exactly worked the starting pitchers. I know that Greinke and Sabathia (and to some extent, Hughes) are very good, but there are still ways to get the pitch count up faster (Case in point: Edwin Jackson was very good last night and the Yankees were still able to get him to 117 pitches in six innings). In any case, I spent the last three innings silently begging the offense to scratch out a run. Even just one run would be enough for a bit of a moral victory. It looked as though they just might get me that run in the bottom of the ninth. Alas, no dice, as Everett flied out to end the game. You know, I’ve often heard the talking point that attempts to justify an offense going dormant in a blowout by saying that the bad pitching “is discouraging to the hitters.” That might be true, but it’s still not a good excuse. I mean, you certainly wouldn’t condone the opposite situation (i.e. a pitcher not pitching well because he’s “discouraged” from a lack of run support). On a side note, we’re all breathing a sigh of relief that Miguel Cabrera seems to be okay after being hit in the wrist, and not just for the obvious reason. With Larish being sent down to Toledo and Thames on the DL, the Tigers don’t have another first baseman. A healthy Guillen could probably be serviceable in an emergency, but right now he’s pretty much confined to DH. I’m not sure what they would’ve done if Cabrera had to come out of the game.

Well, when it comes to a game like this, the last thing you want is for it to linger. If I were able to talk to the pitching staff, I would say this: Do NOT let it snowball any further (and throw strikes). At any rate, Rick Porcello probably gets his biggest test so far tonight. Logic dictates that he’ll have to get the changeup working to all those lefties and switch-hitters the Yankees’ll run out at you. I guess if there’s been one noticeable hiccup, it’s that Porcello’s developing the strange habit of giving up home runs to guys who don’t hit home runs (which means that Ramiro Peña is probably licking his chops right about now). As long as they’re solo shots and there aren’t many of them, I suppose that’s something that can be worked around. But either way, I guess it’s a good probability we’ll see what he’s made of. He’ll be up against Joba Chamberlain, who hasn’t given up many runs but he’s had quite a few baserunners in his starts. The Tigers have only seen him in relief before (and the first time they saw him, back in ’07 at Yankee Stadium, he blew 100 MPH fastballs by the middle of the Tigers order, and I’ll admit that was the single scariest inning I’ve ever witnessed in baseball, because it’s the only time where our big guys looked totally and convincingly overmatched and powerless, and I’d very much like to never see that again). No Mood Music for tonight, as I’ve got an exam in an hour and I still haven’t had lunch, so no time to go browsing around on YouTube.

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