Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Armando Deserves Better

I rather wanted this one to start with, and as the game went on, I wanted it more. But it was not to be. Armando Galarraga was pretty damn good. He walked the first batter of the game, but after DeJesus was caught stealing, he settled down and didn’t walk anyone else. His pitches looked very, very good. There were very few of those “bad” different-looking pitches. It was certainly a joy to watch. I’m not going to proclaim anything just yet, though. We’ll see how he does against Cleveland first, since the Indians are much more patient and have a better offense than the Royals (And with Porcello being skipped in the rotation, that means that Galarraga will have the “honor” of pitching wearing that baggy Detroit Stars uniform). And I know Leyland wanted to discuss the lack of offense rather than the ‘pen (dismissing it as “those things happen”), but what happened with Zumaya and Rodney was kind of irrelevant to the offense anyways, especially Zumaya. Even if the offense is going well, you’re still going to have a one-run lead at times, be it 1-0, 2-1, 5-4, 9-8, or 16-15. Zoom’s gotta find some way of protecting that lead (although when he does get burned, it’s usually either walks or bad pitch selection; this time it was a little of both). Rodney’s struggles in non-save situations are well-documented, so there’s no need to elaborate.

It’s tough to tell what to make of the offense. Placed within the context of what has been going on, it seems that the struggles continue. However, when you consider that it was a Gil Meche start, it’s par for the course, at least in my experience. It seems like anytime he pitches against the Tigers, Meche gives up a bunch of baserunners, but not a lot of runs. Whether that is the result of the Tigers being ineffective or Meche making a pitch when he absolutely has to, I don’t know. But this is definitely not the first time I’ve seen it happen. And the Tigers were definitely grinding out at-bats. Many of them saw seven or eight pitches, but they just didn’t come up with much. Leyland says the double play ball that Everett hit to close out the second was hit hard, but in the wrong place (obviously). In the sixth inning, Laird smoked a ball right to Mark Teahen to close out the inning and strand runners. However, a lot of those hard-hit outs came from the bottom of the order. The top really hasn’t done much in the past several days.

Tonight, it’s Justin Verlander against Bruce Chen. Justin is coming off a loss in Oakland in which he gave up two two-run homers. If he’s gonna rebound, Kansas City might be the team for him to do it against. Meanwhile, Chen has not won a game for the Royals yet, but his earned run average isn’t bad. There are some Tigers that have had some at-bats against him, but they haven’t come since, like, 2005, so they may as well be facing him for the first time. Which has presented some difficulties this year (For what it’s worth, however, the previously struggling Brett Anderson who stymied the Tigers in Oakland threw a complete game shutout against the Red Sox last night, so take from that what you will). With the lefty on the mound, Leyland’s loaded his lineup with righties (except Granderson). And while you’re watching the game, make sure you stay right near your computer and vote for Inge the entire time. He did take over the lead (briefly) last night, but Ian Kinsler passed him this morning, so Brandon needs your help. Your Mood Music for tonight: It’s Elvis night at Comerica Park, so I had to naturally come up with something of his. Given Verlander’s tendency to work quickly (hopefully, not too quickly), I settled on “A Little Less Conversation.” Besides, the Tigers’ offense could use “a little more bite and a little less bark, a little less fight and a little more spark,” so to speak. And if Verlander loses a close pitching duel (say, 1-0 or something like that), I’ve got a headline for tomorrow. Hopefully, I won’t have to use it.

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