Sunday, June 21, 2009

This is What You're Supposed to Do to the National League

Photo: AP

Well, it turned out to be quite an enjoyable afternoon. Alfredo Figaro (who looks a lot like Freddy Dolsi) allowed a whole lot of baserunners, but managed to wiggle out of several jams, mostly by striking out seven in five innings. And a lot of those strikeouts came on what was described as a slider (I’ll take their word for it, cuz usually the only slider I can recognize is Galarraga’s, and I haven’t been seeing it a lot recently). Whatever it was, it moved a lot. Ryan Perry got wild, and Brandon Lyon picked the wrong situation in which to walk someone, but escaped with minimal damage. The Tiger pitchers got a lot of defensive help from Miguel Cabrera. Not bad for someone who’s generally considered a defensive liability.

It seems the offense has perked up over the past few days, to say the least. They kind of beat up Dave Bush, but they also managed to push some runs across against some bullpen pitchers with good earned run averages. I will say this: There were a couple of LONG home runs hit, one by Braun and one by Cabrera (Polanco’s went into the Tigers’ bullpen). The interesting thing is that all of the starters either had multiple hits or no hits (Granderson, Inge, and Everett were hitless, though Inge had a sacrifice fly).

I enjoy watching Arizona Diamondbacks games every once in a while because I find Darron Sutton and Mark Grace to be funny (though, truth be told, they tend to be funnier when the Diamondbacks lose, which is fine by me, as I’m not a Diamondbacks fan). I know Mark Grace does Big Fox games on Saturdays, so I had been kinda hoping he’d do a Tigers game, and I got my wish. Actually, I’m kinda glad this wasn’t the “A” matchup on Big Fox (Sorry to those of you who live out-of-market), because if we had Joe Buck, Tim McCarver, and Ken Rosenthal, this whole situation with Magglio would’ve descended into nonstop gossip talk. I thought both Kenny Albert and Mark Grace handled it a lot more professionally than the frontline broadcasters would have. Mark Grace in particular sounded very sympathetic towards both Maggs and Leyland. By the way, I discussed the situation with my Personal Baseball Guru. He’s actually a friend of my dad’s, but he’s a total baseball expert, albeit very old school (i.e. no sabremetrics or anything like that; he also doesn’t care for expansion teams). He’s a Yankees fan, but not your typical Yankees fan (he also likes the Tigers). Anyways, his take on the matter is that the fans and the media are overreacting (“This is the first big slump he’s been in with the Tigers and everyone assumes his career is over”) and that Jim Leyland would not sit Magglio just because of the contract option. So for what it’s worth, he still has faith.

Well, the Tigers have the opportunity to sweep a team for the first time in forever. Call me selfish, but when I first saw the Interleague schedule late last year, I immediately did not want Verlander to pitch in the series. Reason being: He could pitch a gem, and we’d still be disappointed. But, this time I did not get my wish. No, I do not expect Verlander to throw another no-hitter (Milwaukee’s offense is just too good), but hopefully he’ll bounce back from his last outing and turn in a good performance. He’ll have to, because his opponent is Yovani Gallardo, Milwaukee’s ace. At this point, I have no idea what to expect from the Tigers’ offense. Here’s an amazing coincidence for you: Ron Kulpa, who was the home plate umpire for Verlander’s no-hitter, is scheduled to be calling balls and strikes again today. How weird is THAT?

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