Saturday, May 9, 2009

Justin Verlander is the Man

Photo: AP

I don’t know how many of you listen to Tigers games on the radio (given the general dislike of Jim Price amongst Tigers fans, I’m going to assume it’s not that many), but for those of you who don’t, I need to explain something: On the radio, they always play the intro to “Detroit Rock City” when they come out of commercial for the ninth inning (whether it gets played for the top half or the bottom half of the inning depends on whether the Tigers are at home or on the road and whether or not they have the lead). So imagine my surprise when, on my drive home from work (9:00), I hear “Detroit Rock City” being played. Damn, that was a short game. At any rate, through a combination of the radio and the TV, I was able to experience the bottom of the ninth along with the rest of you (and yes, luckily I saw the final two outs on TV). I have since utilized to watch most of the rest of the game (“most” as in the bottom halves of innings as well as the top of the eighth, when the Tigers scored their only run), so I can at least provide a little bit of my own insight, though what more can you say, really? I think Justin Verlander is trying to serve Zack Greinke notice. He totally fought off all those demons he had at Progressive Field and locked ‘em all away, at least for one night. He sure has been racking up the strikeouts and notched complete game #1 for the Tigers this season (with the way he’d been throwing, you kinda felt like he would do it at some point). Of course, none of this happy talk would have been possible without an amazing, spectacular play by Curtis Granderson, who showed off his basketball skills as he leaped up to rob Grady Sizemore of what would have been a heartbreaker of a walk-off home run. Of course, I was immediately reminded of the play he made a couple years ago at Comerica Park to rob Wily Mo Peña in a game against the Red Sox. That play may have been flashier from a visual standpoint, but the play he made last night was definitely more significant.

Tonight’s game features sinkerballer Fausto Carmona against hard-thrower Edwin Jackson. Jackson’s been haunted by lack of run support and a really bad seventh inning his last time out. He has good numbers against Cleveland in his career, though he’s only made one start at Progressive Field. Carmona started off the season really rough, but has pitched better recently and always seems to stymie the Tigers now matter how much he’s been struggling. However, the Tigers all of a sudden have a lot more left-handed bats at their disposal (Anderson, Thomas, Granderson, Larish, and the switch-hitter Santiago), as well as more speed from those left-handed bats. Leyland has said as much, and he also said that Cabrera might DH and Maggs might get the night off. I work tonight (and, for the record, I hate closing on Saturdays), so I’ll be limited to the late innings once again.

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