In the season series against Baltimore last year, the Tigers, for some reason, got pummeled in just about every game by the two-headed monster of Luke Scott and Melvin Mora. This time, they were able to keep Mora under control, for the most part, limiting him to two singles that really didn’t impact the game that much (He didn’t have an RBI, nor did he score a run). The same can’t be said for Luke Scott. He is becoming the left-handed Joe Crede. Why don’t we have a player who hits ridiculous amounts of home runs against another team? I mean, Cabrera hit eight home runs against the Indians last year, but he’s only hit one against them this year, so you can’t even count that. Still, I’ll echo the words of RichardZ on last night’s BYB game thread: If this game gives us the Armando Galarraga who goes seven innings and gives up three runs or fewer for the rest of the season, I’ll take the loss. I said as much on the game thread, and I know a lot of people disagree with me, but Galarraga was a lot better, and certainly pitched well enough to win. As I’ve said before, he’s going to give up home runs, and as long as he limits them to solo shots (which he does when he’s going well), it’s something you can live with. Hell, if you want to get picky, the first Luke Scott home run went 413 feet, according to HitTracker (I found a new toy last night, although it contains a lot more numbers than I care for), which means, given the area of the park it was hit to (center field), it would NOT have gotten out had this game been at Comerica Park (Scott’s second home run was also measured at 413 feet, but it was hit to left center, so that one’s harder to picture). Galarraga threw more strikes, only walked one (and hit a batter), threw several good sliders, and induced three double plays (including one very nifty DP started by Inge). A lot of people are concerned over the fact that Galarraga gave up 10 hits for the first time in his career. Here’s my sabremetrics-less take on it: If you stick around in the big leagues long enough, you’re eventually going to have a game where you give up 10 or more hits. Even Justin Verlander had four games in ’06 where he gave up ten hits or more, and one in ’07 (Interestingly enough, in ’08, which was by far his worst season, he didn’t have any). If you want to be more pertinent to the situation, Jeremy Bonderman had four games in ’06, three games in ’07, and one game in ’08 of 10-or-more hits. Kenny Rogers seemed to average about three or four a year, and Derek Lowe seems to follow that pattern as well (if you want to use a sinkerball pitcher for comparison). Plus, the Orioles DO have a good offense. If he continues to give up 10 hits in a game, yes, that’s a problem. But we haven’t reached that point yet, and let’s hope we don’t reach that point (though given the fact that his next opponent is the Red Sox, you might not want to use that game as comparison either). Bottom line: I don’t think he’s all the way back yet, but this game was definitely a big step in the right direction.
Meanwhile, the blogosphere probably wouldn’t have gotten so nitpicky about Galarraga had he been given even a decent amount of run support. This is something that has kind of been overlooked for the past month. Throughout Galarraga’s struggles, the Tigers haven’t scored a lot of runs for him while he’s been on the mound. Whether or not this is the Reyes Effect remains to be seen (for all I know David Hernandez could end up like Matt Palmer and pitch surprisingly well in his next few starts), but when you’re given seven walks and two errors, you have to score more than one run. Instead, there were a lot of pop-ups and double plays (not so much strikeouts, though). Polanco and Cabrera were probably the biggest culprits in that department. By the way, this is rather incidental, but Maggs should really look into getting a different shipment of bats. I think he’s had a bat shatter in his hands in, like, five straight games now (and they make really weird noises when they shatter).
By the way, I forgot to mention this yesterday, but I really don’t like four game series. Bad things always seem to come from them. At any rate, Dontrelle Willis takes the hill tonight for the Tigers. He had some control issues against Colorado, but he didn’t let it get out of hand and he really wasn’t the reason the Tigers lost that game. I know Baltimore has a good offense, but I haven’t gotten a feel for how patient or aggressive they are yet (If I had to make a guess, I’d lean towards aggressive, but it’s just a guess). He’ll be opposed by Brad Bergesen, who apparently has allowed at least three runs in all of his starts this year and has an ERA of over 5, but as last night proves, that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. Tonight will also feature the Major League debut of Baltimore’s number one prospect, catcher Matt Wieters. By the way, it’s my parents’ wedding anniversary tonight, so a Tigers win would be most appreciated. I’m working tonight, so it’s just the late innings for me.