A Tigers loss is never fun, but to me, it’s especially painful when the loss gets pinned on either Justin Verlander or Armando Galarraga (by the way, the title is a quote from an Indiana Jones movie, just so you know). Once again, the fact that it’s Minnesota prevents me from knowing for sure whether or not I can extrapolate anything from this start. I’ll try, though. This is actually the first start of his in quite a while that I’ve been able to watch. I was at work during the Cleveland game, and in his Chicago start, I was studying for a final, so I really didn’t pay much attention. This time, I saw everything except the bottom of the first. This game went was more typical of a Galarraga loss than the last two were, in that the Twins didn’t have a big inning against him. Instead, there were two two-run innings and a one-run inning. However, I now feel fairly confident in saying that I don’t think this is the result of sophomore slump-type adjustments by the other teams (i.e. I think Galarraga still has a lot to contribute to the team). That means that this is either physical, mental, or mechanical in nature, but I honestly don’t know which one it is. You don’t want it to be physical, because that suggests injury, and that would be bad (though, given Galarraga’s elbow problems in his minor league career, it is a legitimate concern; another cause for alarm is that seven pitchers who participated in the WBC have spent time on the DL already). According to Rod Allen, Jeff Jones made some comments about Galarraga opening up too soon. I’m not sure quite what that means, but apparently it causes his slider to hang, and that’s a mechanical problem. Mechanical problems can be fixed, but they can’t necessarily be fixed quickly. Just ask Verlander, although he is probably not the best example, given how stubborn and obstinate he can be. I would think Galarraga would be more receptive to the advice of Rick Knapp and Jeff Jones. However, Leyland’s post-game comments would seem to suggest it’s a mental problem, as did his little heart-to-heart with Galarraga on the mound during the game. Galarraga did pitch better after that. I know he gave up the one run in the sixth, but even though he allowed the first two hitters to reach, I think he deserved a better fate in that inning. He got the routine, tailor-made, ground ball he needed not once, but twice, and on consecutive batters. And the Tigers weren’t able to turn either double play. The last one resulted in a Polanco throwing error. So it seems the trend of the Tigers infield not playing well on artificial surface continues, which is a concern when you realize we got eight more games at the Metrodome, as well as three at the Trop. And, just by reading his body language, it looks as though he lost focus after the second double play was not turned. He walked Punto, and was clearly displaying frustration with either himself or the umpire during that entire at-bat (a rare show of emotion for Galarraga). Ryan Perry (who is apparently going to he converted to long relief now that the trio of Seay, Zumaya, and Rodney have seemingly been established) was not bad, but he also gave up a run due to a play that was not made. The weird part about his outing was that Laird was having a really difficult time catching him.
By the way, I need to make a correction regarding my preview for this game. I referred to the Twins’ starting pitcher as Kyle Slowey, when, in fact, his name is Kevin Slowey. This is not the first time I have made this mistake, either, which leads me to believe that it won’t be the last time (unless the Tigers simply never see Slowey again), because apparently my subconscious is convinced that his name is Kyle and will not be persuaded otherwise. Regardless of his first name, “Slowey” could also be used to describe the Tigers’ offense with runners in scoring position. Believe it or not, the Tigers actually outhit the Twins. Actually, against Slowey, I think they got the leadoff man on in all but one inning. Perhaps it’s just my amateur status, but I always thought that getting the leadoff man on INCREASED your chances of scoring. And yet the only scoring came on two solo home runs. They could’ve had five or six runs in the first two innings. Instead, there were an awful lot of pop-ups and double plays.
It’s now time to hold tight and get set for game 2 of this series, featuring (for the first time this season) a battle of southpaws. Dontrelle Willis makes his return from the DL, though judging from the comments at BYB, none of the fans seem tremendously excited about it. Personally, I wish he had made a start at Toledo in which he didn’t walk anybody or only walked one, but it is what it is. At this point, the Tigers can afford to see if he’s gotten anything back, so long as they don’t let him linger in the rotation if he’s not effective. I’m hoping he is effective, because it would be nice to have a solid left-hander in the rotation. He made two “comebacks” last year, and both of them turned out pretty similar. In his first game back, he’d walk four or five, but he’d manage to pitch out of it without giving up too much damage and actually leave after five or six innings with the lead, only to have the bullpen give it up and lose. It was the second start that really caused problems. To make room for him on the roster, the Tigers have designated Juan Rincon for assignment. He has three days to decide whether or not he’ll go to Toledo. If he doesn’t, well, it’s a shame that he never really displayed the form that he had in Spring Training. You hate to see stuff like that go to waste. Glen Perkins is starting for the Twins. He’s off to a decent start this year, ERA-wise, though he does have a losing record. The Tigers never did much against him last year, save perhaps one game. Your Mood Music for tonight: Well, given the fact that Dontrelle Willis was once one of the top pitchers in the game, having won a World Series in ’03 and winning 22 games and finishing second in the Cy Young in ’05, and is now basically hanging by a thread to save his career, I figured that “Viva la Vida” was an appropriate song. It’s kind of a downer, but it fits.