Monday, April 20, 2009

Safeco Field: Still Weird, But No More Hell

Photo: Otto Greule, Jr. (Getty Images)

Considering that getting swept in this series was a very real possibility, given how well Seattle had been playing, taking two of three is certainly something I’ll take without any complaint whatsoever. As far as Porcello’s outing, I sensed a little bit of teetering on the brink, but he never got there, so that’s the important part (I guess you could contrast that with Verlander, who didn’t have any teetering whatsoever and still lost). The bullpen had maybe a few too many baserunners and they did give up a run, but it didn’t really matter at that point (the run-scoring single was not hit very hard, and it had been set up by an infield single). I think Porcello got pulled at the right time, cuz the Mariners were starting to hit some loud outs in the seventh inning (nice play by Inge, after basically being out-highlight-reeled by Adrian Beltre all weekend). And given that I certainly know what happens to rookies after they get their first Major League win, I was waiting for the inevitable towel full of shaving cream in Rick Porcello’s face. And sure enough, during his postgame interview, I noticed Justin Verlander in the background, walking just a little too casually toward the camera. Apparently they also poured beer on Porcello in the clubhouse.

I guess kudos goes to the team for demonstrating that they can win a series without hitting a home run (By the way, has anyone else realized that only five guys on the team have homered this year?). Outside of a few doubles, they mostly got it done with singles, bunts, stolen bases, hit-and-run, and taking advantage of errors. Unlike a lot of TV broadcasters, I don’t find “small ball” to be that exciting, but it’s still important to be able to manufacture runs when you have to, and the boys demonstrated an ability to do just that (However, I strongly discourage anyone from trying to turn the Tigers into the Twins or the Angels). Miguel Cabrera made a bid for a home run that probably would’ve made it out in most parks, but apparently the ball just doesn’t carry in Seattle. Once again, with the exception of Matt Treanor, there was a lot of production out of the bottom of the order. As far as the middle of the order goes, Maggs has been hitting the ball a lot harder over the past couple days, plus he’s taken a lot of walks. Guillen, who’s been the one really struggling, has had some long at-bats over the past couple days, and he was rewarded with two hits yesterday (granted, they were both hit-and-run singles, but it’s a start).

Today is another off-day, but starting tomorrow night, the Tigers will be down the coast in Anaheim, and if you thought strange things happened at Safeco Field, that’s usually nothing compared to Angel Stadium. The Angels are kind of in a tailspin right now. They just got swept by the Twins, their top three starters are on the DL, another pitcher was tragically killed by a drunk driver, Vladimir Guerrero is on the DL, and their bullpen is having serious issues, especially with walks. If ever there was an opportunity, now would be the time. However, they are still a good team capable of stepping up at any time, and the Tigers have not played well in Anaheim over the past couple years. Plus, they are going to be facing the Angels’ two best (healthy) pitchers. First up is Armando Galarraga against Jered Weaver. Galarraga has made three starts against the Angels in his career, two good, one bad (that was the one start he made when he was still with Texas). Jered Weaver has had several good starts and one very bad start against the Tigers. So it’s more late-night action, only this time I won’t be staying around for the whole game. I love ‘em to death, but when you gotta get up at 6 AM the next day, it just ain’t gonna happen.

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