And with that, the Superman reference well is just about dried up, and not a moment too soon (It could be worse; I had Star Wars references peppered all through last season’s posts). I was at work until 9:00, resulting in me missing the first five innings, though I did listen to the top of the fifth on the radio on my way home. As a result, while I know Armando Galarraga’s performance wasn’t particularly good, I can’t really comment on the specifics. He seemed decent enough in the top of the fifth, but I guess he wasn’t able to make the adjustment until it was too late (and usually he’s pretty good at making adjustments on the mound). He didn’t walk as many as he did in his last start, but that doesn’t really tell me how much he was falling behind hitters (though according to Dan Dickerson, he did give up quite a few two-strike hits). I will say this, though: I believe that is only the second time in his career that he has given up more than 3 runs in an inning (the other time came in Minnesota when he gave up a grand slam to Justin Morneau). He has given up five runs before, but usually it’s one or two runs spread over multiple innings. Last night he apparently just couldn’t tap into that consistency. The bullpen was okay, but unfortunately the one run that Nate Robertson gave up turned out to be the difference. And I know Leyland wasn’t happy with Ryan Perry (something about hanging sliders), but I think it was important for him to come back out and find the strike zone. On the bright side, Brandon Inge probably made the web gems again last night.
And that makes five games in a row where the offense has been stymied by a previously struggling pitcher (though, admittedly, only Ponson and Pavano could be characterized as Reyes Effect performances, because the other three were either aces or very talented young pitchers). Rod Allen finally happened upon the discovery that I made two years ago: The Tigers sometimes have a maddening tendency to get handcuffed by normally mediocre pitchers. And the problem with the pitching giving up big innings recently is that it negates any ability the Tigers may have to manufacture runs through steals, bunts, whatever. Nevertheless, it should not have taken until the bottom of the eighth inning to finally figure out Pavano, because what happened is similar to what happened with the Yankees: The Tigers were only given two outs with which to work with the struggling parts of the opposing bullpen. It was nice to see Miguel Cabrera put a charge into one (and I am amazed that they even gave him a pitch to hit in a 3-1 count, even if walking him would not have been the “proper procedure), and hopefully that’s a good sign for this point onward, but once Guillen grounded out to end the inning, all the Indians had to do was bring in Kerry Wood for the ninth and it was over (and I still don’t know why his ERA is so big).
It seems that ever since Ryan Perry’s four-pitch walk to Melky Cabrera in the second game against the Yankees, all the Tigers pitchers (with the exception of Joel Zumaya) have been in a constant losing battle with the strike zone. Hopefully, Rick Knapp can get ‘em back to being strike-throwers for today’s game on big FOX, cuz it’d be nice to actually put up a good show on national TV for once (though I use that term loosely). At any rate, I’m not sure Zach Miner is your ideal stopper candidate, but we don’t have a choice. It’s unfortunate that Galarraga was not able to set the tone well against the Tribe, cuz coming into this series, he was the only scheduled starter with good numbers against Cleveland. Verlander’s struggles against them border on legendary. Zach Miner has never made a start against the Indians, but he’s struggled against them in relief. One good thing is that the string of pitchers “finding it” against the Tigers will stop today, because Aaron Laffey has not struggled since joining their rotation. I know he’s a left-handed sinkerballer whom the Tigers have faced before, but it’d be nice to at least work him and get him to 100 pitches in the fifth or sixth inning for once. I’m at work until 5:00, so I won’t be home for the early part of the game.