I don’t know why, but the Tigers tend to play some of their worst games on ESPN. This definitely wouldn’t fall into the category of “worst” (they’ve had Sunday night games against the Twins, Angels, and White Sox over the past couple years that were downright disastrous), it’s not exactly the type of show you’d like to put on for the national audience. Add to that some really bad weekday ESPN games against the Red Sox and Yankees earlier in the year, and no wonder everyone else keeps predicting the Tigers to finish in last place. At any rate, it was another bad outing for Rick Porcello, but it was a different kind of bad outing. In this rough stretch, he’s generally gotten through the first few innings or so okay, only to have a bad time of it starting around the fourth inning. This time, he got roughed up in the first inning and didn’t pitch badly after that, though his control was off for most of the game. And it’s kind of his own fault, too. His error in not covering first base on what should’ve been a double play kinda opened the floodgates (Yeah, I’m aware they gave the error to Everett). But with the ESPN crew blathering about anything and everything except the game, one thing that went unnoticed was that the White Sox did not get a hit after the third inning. Perhaps this is because Ryan Raburn made a really dumb error and Zach Miner walked the bases loaded, so the White Sox weren’t hurting for baserunners, but they didn’t score after the second. Meanwhile, the Tigers actually had the same number of hits as the White Sox, but theirs were all singles, and whether Clayton Richard was just that good or the Tigers just weren’t that motivated, I don’t know (though given that Leyland didn’t seem too unhappy about it after the game, I suppose they were motivated enough).
As I said, the sweep was rather unlikely, but the Tigers have come out of the weekend in first place with a 2-game lead, which is more than what they had going into the weekend. Granted, luck played a part in a couple of those wins, but I’m not gonna complain. Now they need to start winning on the road with a decent amount of consistency, and to do that, they need to score more runs. You have to make your own luck, after all. They gotta find a way for teams to stop pitching around Miguel Cabrera so he can drive in more runs, and Brandon Inge has gotta get going again and bust out of his slump (injury or no). At any rate, the first stop on this trip is Texas (and I hear that the boys did not get into Arlington until around 3 AM, so there’s gonna be some sleepy Tigers). The Rangers are no longer in first place in the AL West, but they’re still hanging around, and they’re still pitching well, despite a bunch of injuries to their starting rotation. Their offense has been on the quiet side recently (which scares you a little bit), but they’ve still been winning a lot of games (sweeping the Red Sox and taking two of three from Kansas City). And through all of this, they’ve been dealing with an outbreak of swine flu in the clubhouse, though most of the affected players are just about recovered (However, I urge the Tigers to take all the necessary precautions, and just so you know, H1N1 spreads by droplet transmission, meaning that, for example, you’d have to touch something that one of the Rangers sneezed on. It is not airborne). That’s good and bad (good because the last thing the Tigers need is a flu outbreak in THEIR clubhouse, bad because some of the Rangers might perform better now). The Tigers have owned the Rangers so far this year, but all those games have taken place at Comerica Park. Things may be different in their yard. At any rate, Armando Galarraga gets another crack at his former team (and, given the late arrival time, I’m surprised he wasn’t sent down to Texas early). I sure do hope his recent resurgence is for real, especially with Rick Porcello starting to fade. He last faced the Rangers in the Tigers’ home opener, and pitched beautifully. I would be so totally ecstatic if he could come up with a similar outing. He’ll be up against Tommy Hunter (and whenever I see “T. Hunter” I always think of Torii Hunter). Hunter has made a couple of really good starts for the Rangers and he has a miniscule ERA of 2.17, so the Tigers will have their work cut out all around. By the way, with Texas scheduled to start three right-handers in this series, expect to see lots of Guillen and not much Magglio. I’m not sure how much of this game I’ll get to see, as I’m headed off to the nearby drive-in movie theater to see Harry Potter (not the first time I’ve seen it, by the way), but I’ll try to follow the game on my mini-radio, if I can.