Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Pitcher's Fielding Practice. Need Some.

This one’s kinda frustrating, and that’s something when it comes from me. Usually losses don’t really gnaw at me unless it’s Verlander or Galarraga and they didn’t pitch well, which is obviously not the case here. I think this one gets to me because the Tigers DID have the lead for most of the game. They had a chance to make a statement and beat Zack Greinke at his own game, and they blew it. Edwin Jackson kind of sealed his own fate by making two throwing errors. He didn’t really look any worse for wear from his 132 pitch performance in the previous start, but he didn’t seem to throw a lot of first-pitch strikes and I thought it was a bit odd that he only struck out two.

Meanwhile, Greinke looked vulnerable early. The Tigers actually got quite a few hits off him in the first few innings, but would then almost immediately hit into double plays, even when they started the runner. I don’t remember Greinke being that severe a groundball pitcher. Then again, my perception of Greinke has always been a little bit skewed. I didn’t really watch a lot of baseball while I was away at college, which included 2005, so I did not see Greinke then. Therefore, the first time I saw him was in April of 2007 in a game where Pudge hit a grand slam off him and the Tigers made him throw 50 pitches in 2/3 of an inning (Greinke didn’t survive the first inning). The next time I saw him, they beat him up again. I think they hit, like, three 2-run homers in one inning against him. As a result, whenever I see him dominate the Tigers nowadays, my initial gut reaction is to scream out “What’s the problem?!” Obviously, cooler heads prevail and I know it’s not as simple as that, but I still can’t entirely erase that first impression. I mean, I’m sure Indians fans had the same reaction when Verlander dominated Cleveland earlier this month. But it seemed like the Tigers had some decent at-bats against Greinke until after Jackson gave up the lead. That’s when they started striking out more and making easier outs (Hell, Cabrera struck out on a pitch that bounced into the left-handed batter’s box). At what point will Greinke’s dominance lie solely in his ability to get into the opponent’s heads? I mean, with an ERA that low, psychology has to have some prominence, right?

Today is getaway day and the rubber match between these two teams. The aces have done their jobs, and now it’s down to Rick Porcello and Kyle Davies. This’ll mark the first occasion where Porcello pitches against a team for the second time. He didn’t pitch particularly well the first time against Kansas City, but he’s been pretty good recently, regardless of the opponent. The Tigers got to Davies the first time they saw him this year, but he pitched well in his last start against St. Louis. Plus, the problem with having faced Greinke is that you don’t know if the offense has gone back to sleep or not. I would imagine that Zumaya and Rodney will pitch regardless of the score, because it has been a LONG time since either of them have taken the mound (Rodney’s last appearance was last Thursday, Zumaya’s was Friday). This game is going to drive me crazy, because it starts at 2:10, and I have to be at work at 4:00, so obviously it won’t be over until after that. Luckily, the Tiger fan pharmacist is working tonight, so maybe I can get word of the score before 9:00. By the way, it’s a strange night when you have to put your radio announcer on the DL. The Tigers Amateur Analysis sends out best wishes for a speedy recovery to Dan Dickerson, who suffered a knee injury while jogging yesterday. John Keating handled the play-by-play last night, but there’s no word on who will fill-in for the rest of the week.

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