Friday, June 26, 2009

Homemade Perfection

Photo: AP

Man, I think the Tigers escaped every single one of these games on the homestand by the skin of their teeth (hell, that statement could even apply to the entire winning streak), but the important thing is that they were able to do just that. Armando Galarraga got off to a rough start, and as a result, eventually got saddled with four earned runs in six innings, but I was encouraged by his pitching after the first inning. In some respects, he looked better than he did in the three quality starts he put up during his winless stretch. He made some mistakes in the strikezone that got hit hard, but he also threw a lot of pitches that looked like they belonged in the arsenal of the Galarraga of old. I saw quite a few good sliders in there. Perhaps there are three things about his final line that are especially encouraging. First, he only gave up six hits, which is not excessive for the time he was in there by any means. Second, he only walked one batter. Third, he struck out five batters, which is the highest number he’s gotten since the last time he won. And though I’m not real big on sabremetrics, he DID get quite a few swings and misses. So all told, he’s not quite back to being El Prestidigitador, but I think this start was a step in the right direction.

Once the Cubs got the three-run homer in the first inning, I was concerned because Ted Lilly had been pitching extremely well and I wasn’t sure he’d give up more than three runs. As it turns out, the Tigers’ history of punishing lefties won out. Ramon Santiago got the Tigers on the board first with a two-run homer (He’s got five now this year; at what point does he cease to be a “surprising” source of power?). And then a day after breaking the heart of nearly every woman in Tigerdom, Magglio OrdoƱez DID homer. I still stand by what I said previously, although I will add that the placebo effect is an amazing phenomenon. If you’re gonna be superstitious about it, you could just as easily argue that Maggs homered because I ate macaroni and cheese for lunch yesterday, or because one of the cats decided to climb up the window shade and broke the frame. That has a nice ring to it: “Every time a cat breaks a window shade frame, Magglio hits a home run.” Yes, I’m sure by now you’ve realized that while I can take major problems like bases-loaded walks in stride, I get mad at really stupid things that are largely inconsequential. By the way, Magglio is selling his hair on eBay. I know it’s for a good cause, but it’s still CREEPY. Anyways, back to the offense. Miguel Cabrera continued his hot streak (though he’s got a long way to go if he wants to catch Ichiro), as did Ryan Raburn. And thanks to all of them, here’s your broom:

Interleague play winds down this weekend as the Tigers head to Houston for one more taste of National League-style baseball. The Astros have been near the bottom of the NL Central for most of the season, which doesn’t make a lot of sense since they have okay pitching and with some of the hitters they have, you’d think their offense would be better. Still, remember what the Pirates did to us. At any rate, Justin Verlander takes the hill tonight. He bounced back marvelously from that bad start in St. Louis to beat the Milwaukee Brewers. He’s gonna have to give them some innings tonight, because I would think Bobby Seay, Brandon Lyon, and possibly Fernando Rodney are all unavailable tonight. Meanwhile, he’ll be up against Wandy Rodriguez, who has had a weird season, in that he started out pitching well enough to almost rival Zack Greinke, only to then go through a stretch where he got pounded every time out (which led to a mini-soap operaish controversy involving the catchers, the Astros’ GM, and whether or not he was tipping his pitches). Recently, he’s been either really bad or lights-out. Which brings me to the dilemma involving his batterymate. While I have become accustomed to not seeing him around Comerica Park anymore, I am still just as fond of Pudge as I was the day I picked him to be my favorite (and yes, I know he’s only batting around .250 this year, but he IS throwing runners out with a good amount of consistency). July 30th was the low point in the 2008 season for me, and truth be told, I’m not sure how I feel. It’s not that I can’t abide seeing him in another uniform (though seeing him wear a number other than 7 is exceptionally strange). It’s more that I don’t know how I would feel seeing him oppose the Tigers. I did not watch the one game last year where he came back to Comerica Park with the Yankees, marking the only occasion in the last three years that I have deliberately missed a game. It’s quite a conundrum. I don’t have very long to figure things out, though. Still, I’d like to think that Pudge has had a lasting impact on the Tigers that he was teammates with, and that that influence is part of the reason why the Tigers are playing well this season. That’s the beauty of catchers. Those intangibles. I’m not doing Mood Music tonight because I meant to use a slideshow that I myself started after Pudge was traded last year but did not finish. However, it’s still being uploaded to YouTube (literally), so it’ll have to wait until tomorrow or Sunday (unless it gets deleted for copyright issues before then). I would've used something from Michael Jackson, but I can't find one that's appropriate that allows embedding at this late notice. Yikes!

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