Tuesday, May 26, 2009

My Hat's Off To You, Justin Verlander

Photo: AP

Actually, I’m not wearing a hat right now, but if I were, I would take it off. Verlander was tremendous despite that ugly hat that didn’t go with anything (I know it’s a patriotic promotion, and as much as it clashed with the Tigers’ uniforms, I’m gonna agree with Ian over at Bless You Boys: The red hats made the Royals look like
Bomb Pops). I saw a picture of him on the sports page of the local paper and at first I thought it was a photo from one of the high school baseball playoff games. At any rate, Justin’s certainly become such a joy to watch again. And he didn’t rack up the high pitch count in this one, needing only 96 pitches to get through seven innings. He probably could’ve gone at least another inning, but with his next start coming on regular rest (no off-day this time), I suppose it was wise to conserve him in case he’s needed to go longer in Baltimore (Hopefully Galarraga and Willis will both turn in good performances against the O’s, but you don’t know).

After snoozing their way through Colorado pitching, the Tiger hitters didn’t seem to have a problem with the Royals. Granted, Gil Meche was obviously not healthy, and the Tigers took advantage of that, but you’d expect the Royals to do the same if one of our guys were trying to pitch hurt. The reassuring thing is that pretty much everyone contributed. Every member of the starting nine had at least one hit, everyone scored a run except Clete Thomas, and everyone had at least one RBI except Jeff Larish (who I guess drew the collar by striking out four times). It was good to see guys like Clete, Granderson, and Cabrera kinda rebound from the slow weekend. Hey, this game even featured Ryan Raburn playing first base for one inning. I didn’t even know he COULD play first base. It’s like Spring Training all over again.

I think it’s safe to say that no baseball fan on the face of the earth expects the Tigers to score 13 runs tonight. On paper, it’s one hell of a pitching matchup: Zach Greinke and Edwin Jackson. Granted, it’s not as intriguing as a potential Greinke-Verlander duel (which is what I originally thought it was gonna be), but Jackson and Greinke are both in the top 5 in ERA (Jackson had been second, but Jered Weaver and Roy Halladay must’ve both spun gems in their last starts). Jackson threw 132 pitches in his last start against the Rangers, but got the win. Hopefully, there’s no repercussions from keeping him in the game that long. He DID walk five in that game, which sends off just a little bit of an alarm bell. Meanwhile, Greinke’s coming off a no-decision against Cleveland. I followed this game a little bit on Gameday, and from what I could tell, he either wasn’t at his sharpest or the Indians had a good approach against him, because his pitch count was elevated early and he was out of the game after the sixth inning (as of the third inning, his balls-to-strikes ratio wasn’t too good, but I couldn’t tell you what happened after that). Now, in general, the Tigers are not as patient as the Indians, and they were lucky to scratch one run across against Greinke in their lone meeting with him so far this year. Hopefully, Gerald Laird has well and truly busted out of his slump, cuz he’s pretty much the only one that had good swings against Greinke last time. Your Mood Music for tonight: These types of pitching matchups rarely live up to the hype (and when they do, it is excruciating for me). Nevertheless, I suppose it warrants some sort of dramatic music, so here I have Clint Mansell’s “Requiem for a Dream.”

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