Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Kids Get It Done

Photo: AP

I’m not sure if this is the first time this has happened or not (if it’s not, it’s one of only a handful of times), but last night, the three pitchers the Tigers used were all younger than me. I’m 25 years old. I probably should not be feeling old yet. At any rate, I got off work during the bottom of the eighth inning, so I had to raid the archives of to catch up on this one. Rick Porcello did another nice job. It seems like every time he ran into trouble, his defense bailed him out, be it Josh Anderson, Brandon Inge, or Miguel Cabrera. Ryan Perry followed him up with two solid innings. Joel Zumaya was indeed Jim Leyland’s choice to try to nail down the save. It got hairy for him, but he got himself out of it when he had to. By the way, I have heard that traditionally, National League pitchers were known for throwing lots of fastballs, while AL pitchers preferred offspeed pitches. I can’t imagine that that’s really true anymore (given the frequent switching between leagues), but it seemed to me like the Rockies had Zumaya’s fastballs timed a lot better than any of the other teams he’s faced so far this year. Maybe I’m just making things up.

By all accounts, Ubaldo Jimenez was at the top of his game. The Tigers got just enough offense through a little bit of timely hitting and a lot of good baserunning, particularly from Laird, Polanco, and Larish. Laird had a good day at the plate, and he was able to go first to third on Santiago’s single, which set up the opportunity for him to score on the wild pitch that really didn’t get that far away from Chris Ianetta. Polanco and Larish both aggressively broke up potential double plays in the eighth inning, leading to the critical tack-on run that proved to be the difference.

I’ll spare you the obvious pun for tonight’s game and just say that it’s Armando Galarraga against Jason Marquis. The Tigers haven’t faced Marquis since 2002, and as a result, no one’s had a lot of at-bats against him except Cabrera (who hits him pretty well) and Polanco (who does not). Meanwhile, do I have to rehash that Armando Galarraga needs to pitch well tonight? I’m pulling for him all the way, but I’m sure there’s some added pressure because Jeremy Bonderman isn’t going to be on that rehab assignment forever. It sounds as though he’s got a pretty good idea of what he thinks the problem is and what he thinks the solution is. Now he’s just gotta execute. I was trying to think of some other good pitchers who have been struggling recently, and I came up with four off the top of my head: Scott Kazmir, Gavin Floyd, Andy Sonnanstine, and Ricky Nolasco. Kazmir was placed on the DL yesterday, but the other three all pitched last night. Floyd and Sonnanstine both turned in very good outings, while Nolasco gave up eight runs in two innings and has now been sent down to the minor leagues. As for Galarraga, I’ve come to the preliminary conclusion that unless he's hiding some sort of injury (a real possibility), the initial problem is mechanical, but I think he might be letting it get into his head too much, kind of like Justin Verlander earlier in the year. It’s like once something bad happens, he just lets it snowball out of control. That needs to stop. If someone hits a home run off him or he walks someone or something like that, he needs to just let it go and not let it affect him. Magglio is back in the lineup tonight as the DH, while Ryan Raburn mans left field. Everyone else is where they normally are. Your Mood Music for tonight: Well, my attempt at being tongue-in-cheek regarding Galarraga last time he pitched backfired badly and now looks really tacky, so this time, I’ll try to be inspirational. And to me, nothing’s more inspirational than hearing my favorite band of all time: Styx. Enjoy!

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