Friday, April 24, 2009

Can We Blame the Earthquake?

I don’t know about you, but I’m sure tired of all these west coast games. I went to bed right after the top of the fifth, and while I decided against having the game up on my computer this time (I found that I ended up paying too much attention to the game and therefore not sleeping), but I still had the player up, complete with the live updating scores, so I noticed that the Angels had pulled ahead in the bottom of the fifth before nodding off (although it happened so quickly I thought Bobby Abreu was the one who hit the home run). I wasn’t as surprised by the final score as I was the first two games. As far as the earthquake is concerned, well, I had always wondered how, with so many sports teams in southern California, there has never really been an earthquake during a televised game (there was the 1989 San Francisco quake, but I believe that happened BEFORE the game started, and the World Series broadcasters ended up kind of guiding the coverage themselves). We finally got one last night, but I totally wouldn’t have known it if Mario & Rod hadn’t said something. Still, it happened in the midst of one of the bases-loaded walks that Edwin Jackson gave up, so you could at least make a reasonable argument that it DID influence the game in some fashion, but I’m not going to. By the way, in case you’re wondering, around these parts, we get an earthquake about once every 15 years or so, and only at about, like, 3 or 4 on the Richter scale (I think the last one we got was when I was in high school, and I didn’t even feel it). I can’t really comment on the errors (though it’s a shame that Cabrera made one, cuz he made a really nice play early in the game), or on Eddie Bonine cuz that all happened once I fell asleep, other than to ask: What else do you expect on the west coast?

Apparently the offense fell asleep before I did last night. Could it be we got ourselves our first Reyes Effect of the season? I suppose the jury’s still out until Matt Palmer has another start, but given the fact that he hasn’t been successful at the big league level and his Triple A ERA was around 11, the evidence is kinda pointing that way (He DID apparently lead the PCL in strikeouts last year, however). The Tigers got a lot of hits and two runs off him early, and then a whole lot of nothing until he finally ran out of steam, but their bullpen stopped the bleeding. Seems kind of a shame to snap the “eight-hits-in-every-game” streak in this type of game, though.

I may turn out to be wrong about this, but I’m starting to sense a pattern, and it relates to playing surface. The Tigers did not play well (pitching or defense) in Toronto (artificial surface). They played very well at Comerica Park and at Safeco Field (both natural grass). They then played badly at Angel Stadium (natural grass that is so short and hard that it plays like Astroturf). So far, the small sample size is suggesting that there are some issues with artificial surface, which is a bit of a concern when you think of all those games the Tigers have yet to play at the Metrodome this year (not to mention one series at Tropicana Field). I suppose this observation will be truly tested this weekend, as they will go back to playing on (normal) natural grass.

Well, it is time to leave the west coast and (hopefully) its weirdness behind. It’s time for the first trip into Kansas City, who are part of a three-way tie with the Tigers and White Sox for first place in the division right now (the last three days were also odd in that either all three teams won or all three teams lost on a given night). Obviously, one way or another, that won’t be the case on Sunday. The Royals have gotten some very good pitching from their starters and their closer. Zack Greinke’s been on a roll recently (I guess that’s an understatement), but he has to give up a run sometime and it might as well be now. That’s probably what Rick Porcello is hoping. Kansas City’s offense has not been particularly strong, so if you can get an early lead, you’ve got at least a reasonable shot at having it stick. I know Mike Jacobs is by far their biggest home run threat. There are also a couple of guys in their bullpen that have had some struggles. Kyle Farnsworth in particular seems to have picked up right where he left off last season in terms of giving up home runs. This’ll also be our first chance to see the newly re-vamped Kaufman Stadium, which I’ve heard looks almost completely different now. And hey, I might actually get to watch the whole game for a change. It’s on at a reasonable time and I don’t have to get up until 8 AM tomorrow (By the way, I probably won’t get tomorrow’s game post up until sometime in the early evening). A lot was said about how the Tigers might have some sleep-deprivation sluggishness tonight (except for Porcello, who was sent on ahead of the rest of the team), given that they weren’t expected to arrive in KC until 5 AM Central Time. The thought crossed my mind this morning that they were arriving just as I was waking up (6 AM Eastern Time). There’s something ironic about that. By the way, Joel Zumaya is expected to return sometime during this series (and there’s something ironic about THAT, too), but probably not tonight, by all accounts. If/when they do activate him, I’m hoping I get plenty of advance notice, cuz I have a good (albeit cheesy) idea for the Mood Music for that game.

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