Monday, April 13, 2009

Quid Pro Quo

Sorry, no photo today

In Edwin Jackson’s first start of the year, the Tigers had the game stolen away from them. In this Edwin Jackson start, it was the Tigers who did the stealing. I suppose we’re square now. This time around, Jackson had trouble with giving up two-run homers and a bunch of extra-base hits, but give him credit for battling through it, limiting the damage, and keeping the Tigers in the game. And before you knew it, he had gone six innings. And I know it’s just one series and we’ve still got a long way to go in the season, but considering the powerful offense of the Texas Rangers, the bullpen was incredible this weekend. The defense was also a big part of that as well. Brandon Inge helped out Rodney in the ninth inning fielding Nelson Cruz’s bunt (I’d also like to congratulate Rodney for giving way to Inge, cuz he initially thought about fielding the bunt himself). Brandon Lyon helped himself out a couple of times, first by catching a popped-up bunt, then by snaring a line drive. And hey, Miguel Cabrera started a nifty double play when Jackson had two on and nobody out.

This marks the second consecutive Easter game in which the Tigers have staged a dramatic, late-inning, come-from-behind rally to win (last year doesn’t count because Easter 2008 was during Spring Training). Last time, the hero was Pudge, who hit a three-run homer in the ninth inning of a game in which the Royals were shutting out the Tigers 2-0. This time around, the hero was Brandon Inge, who briefly became tied for the league lead in home runs, until Evan Longoria hit a home run later in the day. They DID get lucky, because there were several bloop hits and seeing-eyed singles, not to mention an error, but they took advantage of it. By the way, if you’re a Rangers fan, I will tell you this: Ron Washington made absolutely the right strategic move by walking Cabrera intentionally, so don’t go after him for making that decision. Cabrera’s been absolutely bombing the ball, and Guillen’s off to a slow start (not to mention trying for the double play). I don’t often discuss managerial decisions (either agreeing or disagreeing), but if I were Ron Washington, I would have made the exact same move. Guillen is a good hitter in his own right, and he came through in the clutch for my guys (hopefully, the Achilles is all right). And as far as Warner Madrigal goes, well, not surprisingly, shaving his head didn’t make his pitching any better (and therein lies the reason why I’m usually tolerant of the team-wide Sock Rally, cuz THAT is usually the alternative, and I do NOT want to go there).

So what started out kinda rough turned out to be a pretty good first week for the Tigers, and now comes the real test: the AL Central. The White Sox come to town today. Obviously, it’s no secret that the Tigers have to be a LOT better against their own division, and one of the things that made it hard for me to gauge them at the start of the season was that they didn’t play any AL Central teams during Spring Training (not surprising, considering that Chicago, Cleveland, and KC all train in Arizona, and apparently Twins camp is just too far away from Lakeland). This does not project to be an easy series, either, because the White Sox have gotten very solid starting pitching in just about every game so far. Their record doesn’t really indicate that right now, cuz they were basically outpitched in the games they lost (even in the one loss to the Twins that looked like a blowout, most of the damage was done against Chicago’s bullpen, though Contreras DID take the loss in that game). First up is Tiger-killer Gavin Floyd, who, for the longest time, dominated Detroit but sucked against everyone else. He has since gotten over that particular hump and now beats other teams with regularity. On the flip side, Zach Miner is certainly capable of turning in a good start against the White Sox. I’ve seen him do it before. By the way, I don’t know about Detroit, but it sure is windy here in Toledo.

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