Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Has YOUR Head Stopped Spinning Yet?

Photo: AP

Well, I don’t think that’s how any of us would draw it up (to paraphrase Jim Leyland), but all wins are precious, no matter how ugly. Dontrelle Willis? Hard to tell. He wasn’t consistently bad. Most of the walks came in the fifth inning, and really it looked like the only hard-hit ball off him was the Brian Anderson home run (though he has no business giving up home runs to Brian Anderson in the first place). Give him some credit for continuing to battle with a banged-up knee, I suppose (though some of that gets taken back for wearing that wretchedly awful red sweater in his postgame interview). So obviously it wasn’t nearly as good a performance as we’d hoped, but (and this is going to sound odd), for some reason I feel better with him in the rotation versus Bonderman. For the time being, at least. How weird of a night was it for the bullpen? Zach Miner was the most efficient reliever. In fact, he looked very good. Everyone else had serious issues with the strike zone. WAY too many walks, even if you don’t count the five that Dontrelle issued. It appears that Rodney is indeed in of *those* phases. As I’ve said before, he’s done that for his whole career, as far as I know. The difference in 2006 is that he was able to limit it to one or two appearances at a time, sandwiched in-between long good stretches. I’d expect him to still be the closer, so it’s up to him to bounce back. There seems to be some confusion as to whether Rodney gets charged with a blown save or not. Jason Beck seems to think he does (as does the Yahoo fantasy updates), while the box score only charges Brandon Lyon with a blown save. I suppose we’ll find out next time Rodney pitches. The combination of Raburn and Everett saved Brandon Lyon’s bacon, who got himself a win out of the whole thing. By the way, this is the third straight Tigers win in which a reliever has kind of “vultured” a win by giving up a tying/go-ahead run and having the Tigers take the lead again in the following frame. In Lyon’s defense, though, he got thrown into the worst possible situation for a reliever in the ninth, and he was pretty good in the bottom of the 10th.

It was nice to see the offense perk up a bit, especially against a pitcher like Buerhle, who, when it was all said and done, was downright wild for him. Hey, Dontrelle only walked one more than Buerhle did. And the Tigers got it done with a mix of small ball and big ball. Brandon Inge was on base just about every time he came to the plate, with a home run and three walks. As for small ball, Raburn bunted for a base hit, while Laird (who hasn’t hit much recently, but I still think he’s better than a .225 hitter) laid down two perfect sacrifices. And all those runs were cashed in. Miguel Cabrera (who has been slumping lately, though the hamstring is probably the primary cause…I’ll get into Fashion Police issues later if I must) became the extra-innings hero and did his best Kirk Gibson impression by hitting a home run and then limping around the bases. However, he DID look like he was moving better at first base for most of the game (and there were a couple instances where he needed to be able to move, including the two plays on Pierzynski).

Well, after getting that win, you’d have to think the Tigers have a reasonable chance of winning at least one of the two remaining games. Tonight, it’s Justin Verlander’s turn to try his luck. This’ll be the first time this year that he’s faced the White Sox. It hasn’t been pretty in the past. He was able to get past his struggles against the Indians. Can he do the same against Chicago? Several of the White Sox have some really gaudy numbers against him. Jim Thome has six home runs career off him, which is downright ridiculous. The Tiger hitters, meanwhile, will face yet another lefty in Jon Danks. Danks has not been as good this year as he was last year, but the Tigers haven’t been able to do much against him recently. This’ll be their first meeting this year, though. I’m working tonight until 9:00, so this’ll be one I’ll have to join “in progress.” Your Mood Music for tonight: I’ve always been a big fan of Verlander, even last year and in April when he was struggling, but he’s made me feel especially good this year. I played some Queen last night, so I’ll continue that with “You’re My Best Friend.” And this video has lyrics in case you feel like doing some karaoke or something.

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