Saturday, April 18, 2009

I Warned You About the West Coast

Man, first game on the west coast and ALREADY we’re in Twilight Zone Hell. What happened? Justin Verlander pitched the best game I’ve seen from him in a long time (better than the start against Texas), and he STILL gave up six runs. And for the most part, it was just that fifth inning (you can’t even call them fluke hits, because the balls were hit hard, moreso than any out he got). Peripherally, you got everything you would’ve wanted out of him: 7.1 innings, a low pitch count, lots of strikes, only one walk, eight strikeouts, and 99 miles per hour. Even Leyland can’t figure it out. There is only one parallel I can try to draw, and it actually isn’t one of Verlander’s games. It was in ’07 during Interleague play in a game against the Atlanta Braves. Kenny Rogers and John Smoltz were locked in a scoreless pitching duel. Both pitchers were totally on their game and pitching very, very well. Then all of a sudden in the sixth inning (with two outs), the Tigers strung a bunch of hits together and scored 5 runs against Smoltz. It’s somewhat reminiscent of last night’s game cuz that just came out of the blue as well. Of course, in Verlander’s case, he got victimized by his defense again. For some reason, the defense just hasn’t been there for him in his first three starts this season. All the other pitchers get spectacular plays, and he gets costly errors (mostly from Inge). The errors cost him an inning (and a win) against Texas, and last night it may have cost him the game. Had Inge been able to not make the error, Russell Branyan would’ve been a dead duck at the plate and there would’ve been two outs, meaning it would’ve been unlikely that Franklin Gutierrez would bunt. But it looks as though Seattle has evolved into the type of team that you can’t allow them opportunities to force the issue. Verlander said he’s going to have a séance to the baseball gods. He’s probably joking, but he’s certainly welcome to do so provided he doesn’t do anything stupid that’ll piss me off.

By the way, the Tigers DID outhit the Mariners, but all nine of their hits were singles. Granted, Miguel Cabrera probably could’ve had three doubles, but he hit the ball so hard each time that it got to the outfielder really quickly (apparently there are times when you can hit the ball TOO hard). And the only reason his first single was not a home run was that he didn’t get it up high enough. He’s really the only one who hit the ball hard in the second inning when the Tigers got their three runs. Guillen had an infield single that was really a double-play ball bobbled by Beltre (so both Gold Glove-caliber third basemen made miscues in this game, though Inge’s was more costly), and Inge hit a ground ball in the right spot. And I don’t know why Santiago was given a sacrifice while Gutierrez got credit for a bunt single.

By the way, I had a dream last night that Brandon Webb no-hit the Tigers. Does anyone else find this disturbing?

It doesn’t get any easier for the Tiger hitters tonight as they’re up against Erik Bedard, who seems to have regained his form. I was taking a look at the press pass online, and to my surprise, most of the Tigers have had very few at-bats against Bedard (a lot of 0-for-2s or 1-for-4s or the like). The only one with a significant number is Laird, who has had 14, but not much success. Miguel Cabrera is only 1-for-6 off Bedard, but that one hit was a home run. Edwin Jackson has good career numbers against the Mariners, but so did Verlander. Please, no more Twilight Zone Hell. By the way, I have a small request that Gerald Laird switch to wearing long pants, not because of any Fashion Police issue, but because I keep getting him mixed up with Brandon Inge when he’s at the plate. They have, like, the exact same legs. Your Mood Music for tonight: Well, as most of you know, Safeco Field is apparently right next door to a train yard, cuz you can hear the trains throughout the whole game. In honor of that, I thought it would be most fitting to present Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train.”

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