Sunday, June 14, 2009

Red Wing Hangover?

That wasn’t quite the performance I was looking for after working for nine hours. After turning in three straight decent (but winless) outings, Galarraga kind of took a step back. I can’t comment on the specifics because he was gone long before I got home, but I will make a few generalized statements about what I’ve seen the past month from him. I’m still not buying the sabremetrics argument that “last season was a fluke and now his peripheral stats are catching up to him.” I’m hardly an expert on recognizing pitches in terms of location and movement, but from the unaided, amateur eye, his pitches look different than they did in April. And that’s obviously different in a bad way. It seemed as though when he was going good, his slider kinda started out over the plate and then would dive down and away outside. Now it’s like it starts out outside and moves even further outside and it’s too far away to entice the right-handed hitters, and if he tries to adjust by throwing it closer to the plate, it hangs. And there’s something he’s throwing that just breaks straight down, and I don’t recall ever seeing that pitch last year. If anything, this recent stretch kind of reminds me of how he pitched in the World Baseball Classic (okay, but not great), but he was able to get back into last year’s form early in the season. Galarraga insists that it’s a mechanical issue (though right now they’re trying to figure out how to make him less hittable in the first and second innings, because there isn’t as much of a problem with the middle innings), but more and more I’m starting to wonder if there’s an injury involved. If there is, he needs to admit it. That’s one of my cardinal rules of baseball: Don’t pitch hurt. Over the past two years, we’ve seen the likes of Jeremy Bonderman, Todd Jones, Kenny Rogers, Fernando Rodney, and Joel Zumaya all try to pitch through pain, and they all ultimately resulted in largely ineffective performances and cost the Tigers games. If he IS injured, I’d rather Galarraga get treated for it and come back in a month or so and return to form than try to pitch through it and not get the results he wants. I’ll stand by him, but few others will, and it’s starting to get lonely. At any rate, he had had three straight quality starts prior to this (starts that he would’ve won if he had gotten decent run/bullpen support, and if that had happened, there probably wouldn’t be this much scrutiny), and I think that’ll earn him at least one more shot. Nate Robertson was even less effective and was actually the one to let the game get away. Brandon Lyon ended up being the most effective pitcher of the night.

Today is the rubber match in this series, and I have no idea what to expect. Dontelle Willis battled his way through five innings against the White Sox and managed to hold them to three runs. That’s the good news. The bad news is that he’s had a tendency to follow up a “battle” start with one where he completely falls apart. Hopefully, he’ll reverse that trend. The Pirates counter with Ross Ohlendorf, a right hander whom the Tigers have seen very little of (as in, one relief appearance with the Yankees last year). I have no idea what to expect from him either, cuz the Tigers have only scored three runs in each game this series. Speaking of the offense, the lineup is one which is sure to cause much griping in the blogosphere. No Polanco or Magglio, and Josh Anderson is hitting third. I’m guessing this is an attempt at a “speedster” lineup, which hasn’t worked well recently because either the speedsters aren’t getting on base or the pitching has put the Tigers in a big hole early such that they can’t utilize the speedsters. I’m a bit surprised that Laird IS catching, because I figured that if you’re going to use the very light-hitting Dane Sardinha at any point in a National League park, today is probably your best opportunity, since you’ve got your best-hitting pitcher on the mound. And I’m sure every Tigers fan is eager to see Dontrelle hit. But I guess you gotta bear in mind that he hasn’t seen live pitching in two years (outside of Spring Training). Still, I get the feeling that everyone wants him to go 4-for-4 or hit a home run or something. It’s a Turn-Back-the-Clock promotion at PNC Park today, and the boys are going really old school, all the way back to 1909 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Pirates beating the Tigers in the World Series. Let’s rewrite history, shall we? I enjoy a throwback uniform every now and then, though hardly anyone ever looks good wearing them. Apparently, they’re going to use a retro scoreboard and no mascots or music to make it a little more authentic. Your Mood Music for today: The obvious choice would be a song from 1909, but the pickings are kinda slim, so instead I went with a rock song that when I first heard it (back in high school) reminded me of 1909 (or some year around then), for some reason. It’s Queen’s “Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon.” I was kind of torn between that and “Seaside Rendezvous,” which is also kind of 1909-ish to me (by the way, I’ve got a weird story about that song), but the former was more fitting. By the way, I’d like to make clear that it is I who will be “lazing” and NOT the Tigers. I don’t want to see any of the Tigers doing anything that resembles “lazing.” I want a full effort (but don’t try to press or do to much…let’s be reasonable).

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