Friday, May 15, 2009

A Matter of Bad Timing

Herein lies a game where the extra innings the night before had a direct consequence on this game, and that is how it was lost. Simple as that. You can’t really blame any of the management, cuz their hands were pretty much tied. Justin Verlander was awesome again. It’s quite an accomplishment to reach a career-high in strikeouts against the Twins, a team that does not strike out often (Meanwhile, his ERA is still over 4. It takes an annoyingly long time for those to go down). However, you pay a price for thirteen strikeouts, and that is that you’re at 122 pitches one out into the seventh inning. And when that 122nd pitch is ball four to Nick Punto, well, you could sense the trouble brewing. Maybe it was the quick turnaround, or maybe Bobby Seay was just due for a bad outing (happens to everyone). It just happened at an inconvenient time. On an ordinary day, you’d simply bring in Zumaya once Seay started to falter. But Zoom had thrown 50 pitches about 12 hours earlier, so Leyland’s only two choices were Zach Miner and Luke French. Obviously, you’re not gonna put Luke French in that situation. The thing is, I’m not real wild about having Zach Miner as a reliever. I know Leyland likes having him in the ‘pen because of the potential of a double play with his sinker (though that was not needed in this situation), but that potential has never really been realized because when he pitches out of the ‘pen, Miner just doesn’t throw strikes. I don’t get it. He doesn’t walk nearly as many when he’s a starter. But he had a typical relief appearance yesterday by walking the first man he faced. I’m not sure why he was so careful with Michael Cuddyer with Joe “There’s-That-Bear-Again” Crede standing in the on-deck circle, but he got burned for it, although Crede did it by hitting a pop-up into the no-man’s land between center, short, and second. By the way, I had another nosebleed after the game yesterday, this time while I was at work (though we got good news at work when we found out that Dr. Oxycontin was finally arrested). Can I blame Crede again?

For a long time it looked like the offense would kinda slumber through this one. Then they finally got productive in the sixth inning, especially with two outs, with big hits from Santiago, Maggs, Cabrera, and Thomas. However, after that, zip, nada, nilch, other than a couple singles. You’d kinda hoped they would’ve shown more life or something, but generally, with the pitching we HAD been getting, five runs would normally be enough.

Well, let’s nip this thing in the bud, shall we? Our tour of the AL Central is done for about 10 days, as the Tigers head back home to face teams from the AL & NL West. First up, the Oakland Athletics. This is a team that, for the first month and a half, had been characterized by a tremendously underachieving offense. They have Orlando Cabrera, Jason Giambi, and Matt Holiday, and yet they still weren’t scoring runs (in fact, their most productive hitter has been Kurt Suzuki, their catcher, whom I liked from the first time I saw him back in ’07). However, they’ve just come off a two-game sweep of Kansas City in which they put up quite a bit of offense, so perhaps their bats are starting to wake up. If that’s the case, it’s bad news for the Tigers. Edwin Jackson will have to stay out there a while, cuz I feel that it’s going to be at least one more day before the bullpen is back to full strength. I know Ryan Perry is available, as is Fernando Rodney, but Zumaya and Lyon will still be out, and I’d be amazed if Bobby Seay was available after pitching in stressful situations in back-to-back games. Jackson’s opponent is a bit of a mystery. Depending on which website you look at, it’s either Dallas Braden or Brett Anderson, with the other one starting tomorrow night. After careful consideration, I’m leaning towards the rookie Anderson. He’s a lefty who has struggled somewhat, and there have been injury concerns about him. However, we’ve seen the Tigers lineup get shut down before by pitchers who shouldn’t be shutting them down. I’ll be at work tonight (and not with the Tiger fan pharmacist, so no chance of checking the score), so I’m only in for the late innings. Your Mood Music for tonight: According to Jason Beck, MC Hammer will throw out the first pitch. I considered that, but ultimately decided against it (mostly because the YouTube search function is not working right now). Instead, I figured a rally cry of sorts to get us off this skid is warranted. And thus I bring you “Die Another Day.” Besides, it’s got Madonna fencing against herself.

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