Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Yeah, That Makes Perfect Sense

Photo: AP

You have a series between the two top pitching teams in the American League. So naturally the game turns into a slugfest, of course (The Mariners must've brought some of their west coast weirdness with them). I’m not sure what to make of Rick Porcello’s start. At the beginning of the game (like, the first three innings or so), he gave up a lot of hits, but only the Jose Lopez RBI single seemed to be hit hard (everything else seemed to consist of bloops and infield singles). Then came the home runs. Those were definitely hit hard. And they did not stop after Porcello left the game. It seemed no Tigers pitcher was immune except for Brandon Lyon. Yikes.

Meanwhile, the offense apparently just needed to come back to Comerica Park. Or see Garrett Olson, one of the two. The Tigers were almost as home run happy as the Mariners. The big blow came on Magglio’s grand slam (his first since ’02, which ironically came AGAINST the Tigers). I know it came on a hanging breaking ball and not a fastball, but you know, at this point I really don’t care. You still have to hit it (something that Marcus Thames demonstrated in not one, but two of his at-bats where he got hanging breaking balls and just missed ‘em). He needed that, and the team needed it even more, as it turns out.

Okay, the “easy” pitcher is over and done with, and the Tigers did what they needed to do against him. Now comes the hard part. They gotta try to do the same thing against one of the best pitchers in baseball in Felix Hernandez, who seems to be entering his prime this year (with that record and that earned run average, I’m surprised that he isn’t really mentioned as a dark horse Cy Young candidate). The Tigers have faced him once this year, and it came at Safeco Field (duh). They did manage to score three runs against him (of the “manufacture” variety, which include a successful squeeze play), but ultimately lost because Justin Verlander had one strange and bizarre inning in which he gave up five runs. The last time Hernandez was at Comerica Park (back in ’07), the Tigers got to him for six earned runs, but he still won that game because Jeremy Bonderman imploded (He was also in the midst of hiding an elbow injury). Once again, I really want good things for Armando Galarraga. He went from “better” against Oakland to “really good” against Kansas City to “a step backwards” against Cleveland. I want to see those good sinkers and sliders again, not those different-looking pitches that aren’t effective (and please do a better job of keeping Seattle in the ballpark than the guys last night did). He faced the Mariners once last year at Safeco Field. He had serious issues with throwing strikes in that game but somehow was able to hold the Mariners to only one run (This is a game that the Tigers eventually lost because Fernando Rodney gave up a two-run homer in the eighth). Suffice it to say, I don't think the Tigers have the luxury of giving up seven runs tonight, be it from Galarraga or the bullpen. Jim Leyland has every lefty he can get in the lineup, and Ryan Raburn starts at third base tonight in place of Brandon Inge. I suppose Brandon needs a blow. He never really had rest over the All-Star Break, he’s in a bit of a mini-slump, and perhaps the reason for that is the sore knee that’s been bothering him.

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