Saturday, July 11, 2009

Run Support is a Beautiful Thing

Photo: AP

(Semi) quick post today, as I just got home from work and I don’t have a lot of time to elaborate on the finer points of last night. Suffice it to say, Edwin Jackson pitched superbly. He may have fallen behind hitters a little bit more than I’m comfortable with, but it doesn’t really show up in the boxscore, and he’ll be going into the All-Star Break on a high note. And while I can’t say the offense was rolling, they did get three runs for him early, which is more than they usually do. Ironically, the big hit was a two-run single off the bat of lefty Josh Anderson (who was thrown out trying to advance to second on the throw; while I appreciate his aggression on the bases, it has gotten him into trouble recently). By the way, is it just me, or is Brandon Inge maybe caught in a bit of a cold snap? He had an important base hit early last night, but didn’t really do much after that. And that’s pretty much how he’s been on the entire homestand. The Marcus Thames home run in the eighth inning was both a blessing and a curse, because it provided much-desired insurance, but also ensured that Fernando Rodney would not pitch well. Why couldn’t Brandon Lyon pitch the ninth and not Rodney? I don’t remember Leyland ever using Todd Jones in this many non-save situations before. Finally, a couple injury notes: Zumaya was taken out of the game in the eighth inning with a bloody thumb. There seems to be some confusion as to whether it’s a cut or a blister, but I know I saw him messing with his thumb while he was warming up in the bullpen, so it’s something he knew about when he took the mound. Also, some of us have observed that Cabrera has slowed down at the plate over the past week to ten days. Could he be banged up as well? There were a couple shots of him in the dugout last night talking to Leyland and Kevin Rand, and they seemed to be looking at his knee. If that’s the case, hopefully the time off during the All-Star Break will do him some good.

But Edwin Jackson’s fine performance was definitely not the highlight of baseball last night. Back when I did my season preview, I made the “gut feeling” prediction that there would be one no-hitter this year, and it would be in the National League. Whether I was right about there only being one remains to be seen (though if one of the Tigers’ pitchers wants to throw one, I’ll gladly be wrong), but I was correct about the league. Congratulations to Jonathan Sanchez of the San Francisco Giants. I watched the ninth inning, and it sure was exciting. His only baserunner reached on an error in the eighth (If I was Juan Uribe, I would make myself scarce for some time). The Tigers saw him last year in Interleague play, and fittingly enough, it took them until the fifth or sixth inning to get their first hit. I also remember Ryan Raburn hit a pinch-hit home run that either tied the game or put the Tigers ahead (It was a game that the Tigers eventually won). But it’s a great redemption-type story. Sanchez is a very talented lefty, but he was struggling this year to the point where he got sent down to the minors, and then called back up and put into the bullpen. He was only inserted back into the rotation because Randy Johnson is on the DL. I’d say he earned himself another start. And the great thing is that his dad had flown in from Puerto Rico to see his son, and it was the first time he ever saw him pitch in the majors in person. So good job, Jonathan Sanchez.

Tonight is the Negro Leagues Tribute Game in which the Detroit Stars host the Cleveland Buckeyes, and everyone wears those wacky, baggy throwback uniforms. The pitching matchup features Armando Galarraga against Carl Pavano. Those two faced off back in May, and it wasn’t pretty. For Galarraga, it touched off a long two months worth of struggles. He has shown signs of turning things around, first by gutting his way to a victory against the Cubs, then battling control problems to beat the A’s before a fantastic performance his last time out against the Royals, only to settle for a no-decision. This could be the telling start. Prior to his disastrous outing against them in May, Galarraga had pretty much dominated Cleveland, but the Indians are much more patient and have a much better offense than the Royals. I’m cautiously optimistic, but I am nervous nonetheless. Carl Pavano hasn’t been all that bad for the Tribe. He’s had some really good starts (including one against the Tigers in the aforementioned May game), and he’s been pretty good recently. I think the only reason his earned run average is so high is because when he does have a bad start, it’s a REALLY bad start. The Tigers have already lost one throwback uniform game. It’d sure be nice for them to win this one. By the way, this marks the first time since 2005 that Justin Verlander has NOT started the Negro Leagues game. I love Justin, but I was getting curious as to how silly the other starting pitchers look in those wacky Detroit Stars uniform.

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