Monday, May 4, 2009

Return to Awesomeness

Photo: AP

At long last, it is fun to watch Justin Verlander again. He is showing off the form that attracted me to him in the first place, and even better, he did it against a team that has given him lots of trouble in the past. And I know that pitching is much more than just blowing fastballs by people (case in point: Justin had his curveball working real well, too), but this game featured the return of something we hadn’t seen in a very long time (not since the no-hitter, if memory serves): the triple-digit fastball. JV got one up to 101 in the seventh inning (and to prove my point about pitching being more than throwing fastballs by people, Matt LaPorta was able to foul off that 101 MPH fastball before Justin dropped a curveball on him for a called third strike). If anything bad can be said about the pitching yesterday, it was that Bobby Seay faltered a bit for the second straight day, and apparently he cannot throw a strike to Shin Soo Choo for some reason.

Meanwhile, the game actually turned out to be one of those excruciating pitching duels where you’re glad you won, but you’re totally exhausted by it once the final out is recorded. Cliff Lee was not bad, and therein lies something that I’m starting to notice about this team that is different from last year: While they are still prone to the Reyes Effect (that’s something that they’ve gotta work on), they have already won quite a few low-scoring games against other teams’ aces. Of course, in this case it helps that Brandon Inge is on fire right now and Cliff Lee was starting to run out of gas in the seventh inning. We all know Dane Sardinha is not going to hit very much, but this is now two games in which he’s made an important contribution. First there was the sacrifice fly in Kansas City that turned out to be the game-winner, and then yesterday he hit the leadoff double in the seventh and scored the go-ahead run on Granderson’s double. Granderson’s got kind of a strange line so far this year. He’s got eight home runs, but only 2 doubles and no triples. Plus, he’s hitting lefties better than righties. By the way, I’d like to congratulate Miguel Cabrera for not only getting three hits yesterday, but for managing to ALMOST get his pantlegs even. It’s still not a good look for him, though.

Our journey through the AL Central continues tonight (even though it really, REALLY feels like it should be an off-day), when the Minnesota Twins come to town for a two-game set. The Twins are definitely right in the thick of things, but they did just lose a series to KC at the Metrodome. Their pitching has been kind of up-and-down, though they’re not struggling as much as they did earlier in the year and certainly not as much as Cleveland. Also, Joe Mauer came off the DL on Friday and has been on fire ever since. Justin Morneau hasn’t been too shabby either, and that’s been a big help for them. At any rate, tonight features a matchup of Edwin Jackson against Francisco Liriano. I don’t remember much of Liriano from ’06, but I do know that the Twins missed him in ’07 when he had Tommy John surgery, and that the Tigers couldn’t do much against him last year. This year, he hasn’t won yet and his ERA is not pretty, but that kind of scares you cuz you know he’s overdue (though I’ve heard his last start wasn’t bad). Edwin Jackson had a really good outing against the Yankees, who have hit him pretty well over the years, but his career numbers against the Twins are downright ugly, with an ERA over 9. However, he did beat them in his only start against them last year (and pitched well in the process). It’s ‘80s Night at Comerica Park tonight, so I just had to come up with an appropriate ‘80s song for the Mood Music. I briefly flirted with using Styx’s “Borrowed Time,” but that’s actually from 1979 and the lyrics don’t quite fit, so I decided to go totally obvious and use “Eye of the Tiger,” which, by the way, has one of the lamest music videos ever. I could design a better music video in my sleep. I am in a creative mood right now and I really wanted to design a promotional “’80s Night” collage in Photoshop, but given that this is finals week at school, it’s probably not a good idea.

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