While I maintain that both Justin Verlander and Edwin Jackson could have pitched better at Yankee Stadium, Armando Galarraga truly deserved better. For one thing, you can’t expect him to be overpowering and dominant the way Verlander and Jackson are capable of being, so with last night, you could not have asked for more than what he did. For another thing, he was downright masterful, and for all intents and purposes, he shut out the Mariners (I know he ended up being charged with one run through some quirky rule about runners who are erased on FCs, but he wasn’t in the game when that happened). For some reason, the bullpen hates Galarraga (They did the exact same thing to him in his start against the Mariners last year. Galarraga left the game with a 2-1 lead, only to watch Fernando Rodney give up a two-run homer to Jeff Clement in the bottom of the eighth). The offense is taking a lot of flak for only scoring one run, but it’s hard to draw any conclusions from that because Felix Hernandez is the sort of pitcher who would hold just about any team to one run (or fewer). What it boils down to is that it was a one-run game. It doesn’t matter if the score is 1-0, 2-1, 3-2, 5-4, 9-8, or 16-15, the relief corps has a job to do, and they didn’t do it. If the score had been 9-8, nobody would be complaining about the offense when Bobby Seay gave up the home run. They’d be complaining about Bobby Seay. I don’t hold it against him. He just picked an inconvenient time to throw a hanging slider to a guy who finds the seats with regularity.
A couple of injury updates for you: First, Joel Zumaya apparently first started feeling pain in his shoulder about four weeks ago, “but it wasn’t major and he could still throw 100 MPH.” Um, four weeks ago is about the time he started to majorly struggle. Coincidence? I think not. Don’t pitch hurt. Also, we got a little more detail about Brandon Inge’s knee problems (perhaps a little more detail than we wanted). Inge and Kevin Rand tell the story a bit differently, but the gist of it is that there are tears in both tendons (moreso in the left) and that a short stint on the DL probably wouldn’t be enough to relieve the pain, so Inge is determined to keep playing. I’m okay with this, as long as: A) He can’t do any further damage to the tendons, and B) Both his offense and defense remain reasonably high.
Today is the rubber match in this series. The Tigers will face another pitcher who is having a great year in Jarrod Washburn. The lefty has an earned run average that is under 3.00. However, the Tigers have won seven straight games against him. Some of those have been pitching-dominant, low-scoring affairs. More recent meetings have resulted in the Tigers scoring a bunch of runs against him. Something’s gonna give. He’s apparently a sinkerball pitcher, so double plays are a concern (especially since the “righty” lineup is slower than the “lefty” lineup). Luke French is coming off a decent start against the Yankees in which he only gave up two runs (one earned) over six innings (He could conceivably have shut them out if not for some defensive miscues). Brandon Inge is back in the lineup, and Jim Leyland finally remembered that he DOES have two catchers on the team, because Dusty Ryan gets a rare start (though I’m guessing he’ll start one of the games of the doubleheader tomorrow, likely the second game).