Monday, August 31, 2009

Windblown, But a Win

Photo: AP

I will tell you this much: The Game Thread on
Bless You Boys went from a lot of negativity to happy dance time very, very quickly. I suppose Justin Verlander gave it all he had. He was better against them than the time I saw him pitch against them in person. Jim Leyland did him the kindness of letting him pitch the eighth inning, which put him in line for the win. He did not have as many strikeouts as one would expect, given the fact that the Rays strike out a lot. Rodney actually had kind of a quiet ninth inning for him, though Inge did close the game out with a terrific play (Are people meant to jump that high?).

Meanwhile, the offense could not get much going against Jeff Niemann. In particular, the righties really couldn’t figure him out. All five hits he gave up were to left-handed batters, and Clete Thomas had three of them. But once Niemann was out and Balfour was in, the offense woke up just enough. Particularly, Polanco’s bat woke up. Balfour pitched around Granderson, and apparently that caused him to lose sight of the strike zone long enough to fall behind Polanco. And the home run itself was a mix of emotions. I thought he hit it well off the bat, but Mario Impemba’s tone in the play-by-play and the fact that Carl Crawford was momentarily camped on the warning track suggested otherwise. Even when Crawford was slowly backing up towards the wall, I still thought it was going to be caught. Hell, I thought he had a chance to catch it after he climbed the wall. It just barely eluded his grasp. The home run led to Rod Allen shouting “I told you they’d be asking for trouble!” which caused no end of giggling on the Game Thread.

Today, it’s another day game (and I have class at 1:00, which sucks) as Detroit and Tampa Bay wrap up this series. Jarrod Washburn recovered from a shaky beginning in Anaheim to gut his way to a quality start and his first win in a Tigers uniform (though the Tigers are 4-1 in his starts). He’s 12-3 lifetime against the Rays, although, like most pitchers/hitters with good numbers against the Rays, I’m guessing most of that was pre-2008. These are the Rays 2.0, so to speak. He’ll be opposed by James Shields, who has a good earned run average but a losing record. Apparently, the Rays haven’t given him a lot of run support. His best pitch is his changeup, which has been working well for him recently. Shields has very good numbers against the Tigers in his career (2.13 ERA).

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Fox Saturday Flatness

I’m not gonna have much to say about this game simply because I didn’t see it. I was able to sneak away from work from time to time and listen to a few seconds here and there on the radio, but that’s it. From what I’ve heard, Nate Robertson wasn’t that bad, but the defense wasn’t very good. Meanwhile, it’s hard to gauge the offense against David Price. Price has had his ups and downs this year, but he has very good stuff and there’s a reason why he was a #1 pick. Dan Dickerson and Jim Price just seemed mystified by his really good command. They kept asking “Where’s the wildness?” I wonder how much it throws you for a loop as a hitter when your game plan is to be patient because the guy has been wild and then he becomes a strike-thrower.

Today is a Sunday matinee affair, and the last game that I’ll be able to see in its entirety until next Saturday. Justin Verlander was mowing through his last start against the Angels until the sixth, when things fell apart for him, for some reason. He did get out of it with the win, though. He beat the Rays once last year, but several of the Rays have good numbers against him. He’ll be opposed by Jeff Niemann. Niemann began the season as the Rays’ fifth starter, but he’s had one really good year for the Rays. He’s not overpowering, but he throws a lot of different pitches, changes speeds effectively, etc. Laird starts behind the plate for the third day in a row, while Magglio gets the day off.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Soggy But Sweet

Photo: AP

As an aside, yes, Brandon Inge is making a really weird face in that picture. I got home in time to see the seventh inning onwards, so I missed most of the action. This also means that I didn’t see Porcello or Garza. Porcello did well, obviously, though from what I’ve heard, he did have to pitch his way out of trouble. And it was nice to see the Tigers get a win on a night where the middle of the order really didn’t do anything. The bottom of the order really came through. Inge had a home run and a single (and that is a nice story about Noah). Laird had a double and a single (yeah, the double was a gift, but he’ll take it), and Everett came up with a big two-run double. All in all, a nice night, though it got really wet at the end.

Today, the Tigers will be on Big Fox with Kenny Albert and Mark Grace as your broadcasters (I’ll take it…beats Joe Buck and Tim McCarver any day). Nate Robertson will make his first start since last year. He did well with the Mud Hens. However, Triple A hitters are one thing. The Tampa Bay Rays are something completely different. As far as Armando Galarraga is concerned, they made some offhand comment on the radio about the elbow/forearm inflammation bothering him “for a while.” If this is true, why does it not surprise me? At any rate, I hope he gets it cleared up so he can rejoin the rotation soon. The Rays will start David Price, the hard-throwing lefty. He really struggled when he was first called up, but he’s made some effective starts lately. However, most of his good starts have been at the Trop. His ERA on the road is over eight. He also throws a lot of pitches, generally (though the Tigers aren’t exact patient). I’m working 3-9, so it’s unlikely that I’ll see any of this game.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

It Was a Long, Strange Trip...But You Gotta Be Happy With It

Be honest. Coming into this series, how many of you were of the mindset that it would take a miracle for the Tigers to win one game? Considering that, a sweep was probably near-impossible to start with. Edwin Jackson did not have good control and he couldn’t keep the Angels anchored at whichever base they started out at (And I think Gerald Laird just flat-out got frustrated and that affected his throwing, because while the first two steals were really close, the third and the fifth were bad throws. The fourth steal came on a pitch in the dirt. However, Laird made a nice heads-up play to pick off Torii Hunter at third to close out an inning). The funny thing is none of the steals really led to a run. The game also featured a strong bounce-back outing from Ryan Perry (sans hair), although he needs to not just assume time has been called (Brandon Inge bailed him out big time). Meanwhile, the offense never really got much going against Saunders outside of the Everett home run and the inning where the first two reached, only to run themselves into a double play with Miguel Cabrera striking out on what was probably ball four. Brian Fuentes made things interesting in the ninth by hitting two (nearly three) batters (hope Laird’s knee/shin is okay) and throwing a fastball right down the middle to Adam Everett (according to Gameday, Everett, and Leyland), but do you really think Everett would hit two home runs in one game? Even the west coast isn’t THAT strange. But hey, after the way this team has been playing on the road, a .500 trip is certainly acceptable (It is what you shoot for, after all). It just happened the opposite way of what you would think it would.

And so, we say goodbye and good riddance to the west coast for the rest of the season (and maybe make a sadder goodbye to the AL West; the Tigers did good against them this year). Enjoy the off-day today, and tomorrow, it’s time for another homestand (I originally typed “homerstand,” which may or may not come true). The Tigers get to see the Tampa Bay Rays for the first time this year (Really? The last weekend of August?). As good as the Tigers have played against the AL West, they’ve been just the opposite against the East. And the Rays are a good team and have been hot recently. They’re on the fringes of the Wild Card race, and yet they have a better record than the Tigers. Their pitching has been much better than it was earlier this year, and while their offense is not as hot as it was at the beginning of the season, it’s still producing with regularity (Carlos Peña in particular has been on a home run tear). And by the way, they run just as much as the Angels, if not more. Yesterday notwithstanding, I’d like to see Gerald Laird behind the plate for most of this series (He’ll definitely get the call Saturday with the Rays starting a lefty, and on Sunday, when Verlander pitches). With Armando Galarraga having been sent to Toledo with elbow inflammation (This revelation does not surprise me, and I wonder if it’s not the first time he’s dealt with it this season), they’re gonna take advantage of the off-day and send out Rick Porcello on regular rest. He didn’t do so well against the A’s, falling behind hitters regularly and paying the price by giving up a couple of long balls to Jack Cust. He’ll be opposed by hard-thrower (and reigning ALCS MVP) Matt Garza, who has pitched well of late. He has never beaten the Tigers (and actually credits Rick Knapp for the success he had last year). I work tomorrow night, so it’ll be the late innings for me.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Two Blogs In the Space of One

Photo: AP

This’ll be a different sort of post (fitting for a west coast swing), since I was unable to do a recap of game 1 yesterday (between school, work, and computer problems). So I’ll discuss both games, beginning with Monday night’s. Angel Stadium lived up to its billing as a bastion of strangeness. I watched the game on TV until there were two outs in the bottom of the sixth, at which point I decided to go to bed (normally I would not do this no matter the score, but school has started and I have a 6 AM wakeup time). I don’t have cable in my bedroom, so I brought up Gameday Audio and figured I’d drift off to sleep with Dan Dickerson and Jim Price in the background. And that’s when everything started going to hell. Obviously, I was too stressed out to get to sleep, so once Leyland removed Brandon Lyon from the game, I turned the radio off, but that didn’t really work either, because then I lay awake wondering what was happening (However, I DID fall asleep without looking at the score again, so I did not find out that the Tigers won until 6 AM yesterday morning). The offense suddenly woke up but the pitching had a mini-meltdown. Bobby Seay was not in there long enough to make an assessment, but both Verlander and Lyon started out strong. Remember, most of the trouble occurred once there were two outs in the respective innings in which they were chased. It’s like the Angels offense is the Borg: Once one adapts, they all adapt. But it’s the west coast. What else would you expect?

Photo: Harry How (Getty Images)

I stayed up for last night’s game in its entirety (figuring that I wouldn’t have to do it again, and that even if I went to bed, I would still just lie awake wondering what was happening, like I did on Monday). It was nice to see the offense alive for two consecutive nights. Miguel Cabrera is red hot right now. Maybe he will get to 100 RBIs after all. He only needs fourteen now, and there’s still about 38 games left to play. Meanwhile, defense was the big story. Jarrod Washburn was very, very shaky to start out with. He got bailed out in the first inning by incredible plays from Curtis Granderson and Brandon Inge. He really struggled through the second, and the bewilderment over the rash of home runs he’s given up as a Tiger started to resurface. However, from the third inning on, he wasn’t so bad. He never really had an easy time of it except for the bottom of the fourth, but he did a good job maneuvering his way around the traffic the Angels had on the bases (And even though he has an unsightly ERA since the trade, the Tigers are 4-1 in games he has started. I don’t understand it either, but that’s really the only stat that ultimately matters). It really took until the bottom of the seventh inning for the west coast weirdness to show up. Zach Miner came out and became extremely gun-shy regarding the strike zone. That’s not so unusual (and actually pitching problems like that are par for the course when the Tigers play in Anaheim). But he got out of it by nailing Bobby Abreu trying to score on a wild pitch with the bases loaded. Fernando Rodney did that once last year to end a game. And one more defensive gem came in the eighth courtesy of Clete Thomas, who bailed out Bobby Seay.

By the way, it has been a while since I’ve discussed personal grooming, so I’d like to take the time to do that now. By now you must’ve noticed the new tattoos that Brandon Inge has on his arms. They are of his sons’ names, and that’s nice, but dear God, they’re enormous. I don’t think I’d ever want a tattoo that covers my entire arm (I have kind of wanted a tattoo for a while, but I’m too indecisive as to what to get and where to put it, not to mention the fact that the profession in which I am going into would necessitate having it somewhere inconspicuous). Plus, what happens if he has more kids? Then there’s Ryan Perry. For most of the year, I’ve been fairly indifferent about his looks. I thought he was nice-looking (especially at the beginning of the season), but his appearance never stirred any sort of girlish emotion or anything like that (unlike Justin Verlander, who I find very attractive except for the hairy arms). However, at some point in the past couple days, for some unknown reason, he shaved his head and he looks AWFUL (Several of us voiced our displeasure on
Bless You Boys last night). Did he lose a bet or was he that desperate to get Sunday’s meltdown out of his system? Yuck. Hopefully this is not something that will catch on with the rest of the team.

And now, the Tigers are in the somewhat unlikely position to sweep the Angels in Anaheim. Edwin Jackson was very good against the A’s last Friday. He’s had one good start and one bad start against the Angels this year. The good start was a complete-game victory at Comerica Park. The bad start was in Anaheim. He issued two bases-loaded walks in a game that also featured an earthquake. Both of those happened at the same time, if I remember correctly (At the time, we jokingly blamed the earthquake for his poor performance). The Tigers will face lefty Joe Saunders, who is coming off the disabled list. His season has been sub-par (perhaps related to the injury), but he has made some good starts here and there.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Stay Tuned for Jeopardy

Okay, I've had massive technical difficulties with my main computer today, not to mention a full schedule of school and work. And since I'm right down to the wire, that means that I have no post for you tonight. To make up for it, I'll recap both games tomorrow. So for now, enjoy tonight's Jarrod Washburn-John Lackey showdown.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Talk About Bad Timing

I meant to get this up WAY earlier, but between school and the fact that my computer restarted itself, I’m down to the wire again. At any rate, it was a rather uninspiring game yesterday. The offense DID score four runs, and while that’s nothing to write home about, with our pitching staff, it’s usually enough. Unfortunately, Porcello and Perry both faltered, big time. Porcello kept falling behind and leaving pitches up. Normally, he gives up home runs to guys who normally don’t hit home runs. That wasn’t the case this time. Jack Cust definitely hits lots of home runs. It was Perry who gave up the home runs to the guys without power. Now, there has been a little bit of criticism regarding Armando Galarraga and the number of home runs he’s given up, but with the two bombs that Cust hit, Porcello has now given up twenty. Galarraga has given up twenty-one (which is nothing new; he gave up a lot of home runs last year as well). At any rate, it was not a good day for the pitching staff.

Now after a rather unproductive series in Oakland, it’s bound to get harder and stranger from here on out on this road trip, cuz we’re in Anaheim tonight. The Big A is the bastion of west coast strangeness. No other ballpark can match the oddities and horrors that likely await. The Tigers tend to not pitch well or play good defense in Anaheim. It’s up to our big three to reverse that trend. Justin Verlander gets the first crack at a very strong Angels offense (seriously; they recently had all nine in their starting lineup hitting over .300). He did not fare very well earlier this year. They scored seven runs off him in a game the Tigers eventually won. Now, the Angels’ pitching has not been especially good, but both Weaver and Lackey have, for the most part, been effective, and Brian Fuentes does lead the league in saves. The Tigers will face Weaver tonight. He’s 2-1 career against the Tigers despite an ERA of over seven. Granderson in particular hits Weaver well. It seems like every time he’s faced him, he’s homered off him. Maggs also has good numbers against Weaver, and against the Angels in general. And with the way the Angels run wild on the bases, I would much prefer Laird get the bulk of the playing time behind the plate in this series. Your Mood Music for tonight: It’s another late-night affair, and I tried to post this once before, only to have YouTube screw up my upload. Well, since then, someone else has uploaded it, so I’ll use that one. Fittingly enough, it is Styx’s “Just Get Through This Night.”

Sunday, August 23, 2009

I Am NOT Crazy

The full explanation of that title will come at a later date. At any rate, outside of the fact that the score was 3-2, this game really did not exhibit much of that west coast strangeness. Armando Galarraga (who looks like he’s gotten a little bit of that weight back, but the jersey is still rather baggy) did a good job. He got a little out of whack in the second inning, and unfortunately that’s what allowed the A’s just enough runs to hang around until winning in the ninth, but other than that, the slider and the fastball looked good. And as for the play that ended it, well, I wonder what would’ve happened if Raburn hadn’t tried to dive for the ball and if Avila didn’t let the ball get past him. At any rate, the offense couldn’t do much against Cahill to start. The swings were definitely getting better starting around the fourth/fifth innings, but at that point, the Tigers mostly hit balls right at people. And Oakland has a good bullpen. That pretty much sums it up.

Today marks the last game for me before school starts (which means that I’ll miss a great deal of the Anaheim series, which may not be a bad thing). Rick Porcello was good for five innings against Seattle, but ran into trouble in the sixth. His lone start in Oakland (back in June) was not a good one. Meanwhile, the Tigers will face Brett Tomko, who was released by the Yankees, picked up by the A’s, and proceeded to shut out the Yankees. I believe the Tigers saw him on Opening Day last year. If I remember correctly, Carlos Guillen hit a home run off him.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Always Nice To Do That

Photo: AP

I’m sure you’re just as exhausted as me. Jackson pitched well, and it was definitely a nice win, although it was not without its west coast strangeness. Raburn had a couple of miscues in the outfield (He made up for them with the home runs, though). There was Jackson’s errant pickoff throw, plus a couple of wild pitches (one of which looked like Laird would’ve had a chance to throw out Ryan Sweeney, but it appeared as if he slipped on the grass or tripped over his shin guards). Cliff Pennington, not known as a particularly good defender, made a couple of dazzling plays. And Polanco made a sparkling play of his own to save Rodney from blown save. Not to mention the play at the plate.

Tonight’s game has a slightly more manageable start time of 9:05. Armando Galarraga was very impressive last Sunday against Kansas City, especially when you consider that he’d been sick the previous week and was clearly running on fumes. His pitches looked really, really good for the most part. He beat the A’s last time he faced them and only gave up one run, but he walked six in that game. He’ll be up against Trevor Cahill, whom he faced in his other start against the A’s (that was at Comerica Park, and neither starting pitcher fared very well). Cahill was handed a 5-0 lead in that game before he even took the mound, and could not hold it. I’m just hoping for good things from Galarraga. Lots of good things.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Rain Delay Turn of Momentum

Photo: Duane Burleson (AP)

Once again, things looked dim, but somehow that home field mojo found a way. I don’t really know what to make of Jarrod Washburn’s outing. I mean, it wasn’t good, by any means, but six runs on five hits, one walk, and a hit batter is a really strange final line. Okay, Russell Branyan hit a BOMB, and Jose Lopez’s home run was a line drive, but the other two home runs, though hit well, were definitely wind-blown. And in between all those home runs, he got some really easy outs (and Brandon Inge made two sensational plays that only netted him #3 on the Web Gems list). This game also featured some really good, crucial, scoreless innings from Zach Miner and Bobby Seay.

Meanwhile, once the rain stopped, the Tigers’ swings got a whole lot better, and apparently Leyland pushed the right buttons at the right time, cuz all three pinch-hitters he used came through with some sort of contribution, from Huff’s RBI groundout to Avila’s 2-run single to Guillen’s walk leading off the ninth. After the eighth inning, it looked as though any win the Tigers would have was snatched from them by the Seattle defense. But then David Aardsma had some control problems in the ninth. Give credit to Brandon Inge, who hit a fly ball that was just deep enough to score Guillen (collision or no) and to Clete Thomas, who hit the game-winner.

Tonight, the Tigers begin their final west coast swing of the year (thank goodness). First stop: Oakland. Since they last saw them, the A’s have pretty much traded away or released every veteran on their roster, save for Mark Ellis and Nomar Garciaparra. They’ve gone from being what I would term an “underachieving” offense to an offense that you’re probably as much as can be expected from (for the record, I DO term the Tigers’ offense as “underachieving”). Still, the last time I checked in on them, they did score quite a bit of runs against the White Sox. And the Tigers generally don’t play well at the Coliseum, no matter what the name is. At any rate, they’ll face lefty Gio Gonzalez tonight. He struggled for most of the year (including a loss to the Tigers, although they only scored three runs off him), but had put together a really good stretch prior to his last start, when he was shelled by the White Sox. Meanwhile, Edwin Jackson could use a good, stress-free start. He won his last start and only gave up three runs, but it was a bit of a struggle. I know. I was there. However, as I've said numerous times, strange things happen on the west coast. It’d be nice if the Tigers could get a nice, quick win, as well, because I have to get up at 7 AM tomorrow morning.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

And Sometimes, All it Takes is One Mistake

Just like last time, I can’t offer a whole lot of insight into this game, as it was the bottom of the eighth when I got home. I did get to listen to most of the top of the fifth on the radio, and that’s when all the damage was done. Justin struck out ten, but from what I hear, when they did make contact, it was hit hard somewhere. And I suppose the moral of this story is that you may as well let Ichiro get his pesky little infield singles, cuz it beats giving up bombs to him. Meanwhile, I did caution you that the Tigers only beat Ian Snell in Pittsburgh because of Rick Porcello’s bat, as odd as that sounds. And it’s not like Snell was stranding baserunners left and right. The Tigers never did put up much of a threat. They had six hits for the game, but Magglio had three of them.

I want to talk about Pudge just a bit more, and then I promise I’ll shut up about him (unless something meaningful happens further down the road). After the Tigers’ game ended, I loaded up and started watching what remained of the Twins-Rangers game. Pudge was 3-for-4 in his return. I only saw his final two at-bats, and he grounded out his final time up (against Joe Nathan), but he had a solid single to right in the sixth or seventh inning (can’t remember which). I’m not one to memorize batting stances or particular types of swings (unless they’re really distinct like Ichiro’s, and in that case you can’t help but memorize), but when Pudge gets base hits like that, he has a swing that looks like no one else’s. I realized that I missed seeing that swing. I watched him a couple of times with the Astros, but seeing him in a Rangers uniform, it felt (almost) right (Which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, since I don’t really remember him from when he was a Ranger the first time. I know I saw him, but I have no memory of him prior to his days in Detroit). Maybe I’ll watch Rangers games a little bit more than I would have (as long as the Tigers are not playing, of course). Okay, I’ll shut up now.

Today is the rubber match of this series, and the last game before the Tigers have to head out to the west coast. Given the fact that the Tigers generally don’t play well on the west coast, it would behoove them to win today. Jarrod Washburn had a good start his last time out against the Royals, and now has the task of facing his old team. That ought to induce a few mind games. And since I don’t work today, I’ll FINALLY get to see him pitch. The Mariners will send out the Australian lefty, Ryan Rowland-Smith (and the fact that he has a hyphenated name just blows Rod Allen’s mind). The Tigers have faced him a few times as a reliever and once as a starter. You should remember that game, though you may not remember Ryan Rowland-Smith. It was that 15-inning game last year in Seattle. The Tigers finally won that game 2-1 because the Mariners ran out of pitchers and sent backup catcher Jamie Burke to the mound to pitch the fifteenth inning. It was also probably Nate Robertson’s best start of the 2008 season (nine innings, only one run). However, that also means that they only got one run off Ryan Rowland-Smith. It came on a solo home run from Ryan Raburn. With a lefty on the mound and Granderson in his typical August slump, he gets the day off (and he might get tomorrow off, too, with Oakland starting a lefty). Clete Thomas gets the nod in center field.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Finally Some Late Heroics

Photo: AP

REALLY short post today, as I have to go to work in about half an hour. It was the top of the eighth inning when I got home from work, so I arrived just in time to see two normally rock-solid relievers have meltdowns, one on each team. For some reason, Bobby Seay has not pitched well against the Twins and the Mariners this year (I still remember the two-run homer he gave up to Russell Branyan last month). However, he managed to vulture a win when the Tigers put up four against Mark Lowe. That home run that Alex Avila hit was a BOMB. Even Cabrera was impressed by it, judging by his postgame interview. The Tigers followed that up with some really good at-bats to retake the lead. And one game after making three errors, Ryan Raburn made up for it with some really good baserunning, first by tagging up on Aubrey Huff’s deep fly ball, then by turning Cabrera’s mistake into a steal of home.

There was some big news yesterday concerning a beloved former Tiger. Yes, Pudge Rodriguez has gone home, so to speak. The Rangers acquired him from the Astros to back up Taylor Teagarden. He must really want the chance to get back into the postseason for him to give up a starting job like that (Though maybe he also took a look at the fact that Teagarden is currently hitting .198). I like the Rangers better than the Astros anyways. And if he can’t be in Detroit, then the next best thing is for him to be with the team he came up with and where the fans absolutely love him (This news created quite the Pudge lovefest on
Bless You Boys last night). So this is great news, for the most part.

Tonight, Justin Verlander takes the mound for the Tigers. He was sensational against the Red Sox. He hasn’t faced the Mariners since April, where he had a really bizarre loss. He was perfect and downright dominant through four innings, only to give up five runs in the fifth. He stayed in until the eighth and gave up six runs. Hopefully, this outing looks more like the first four innings of that start and less like the last three. He’ll be opposed by Ian Snell, whom the Tigers last saw with Pittsburgh. In fact, that was the only game that they won in that Pittsburgh series. They won that game 3-1, with two of those RBIs coming off the bat of Rick Porcello. I’ll be at work tonight, so you know what that means.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

You Had To Figure We Were Due For That

After the thrill of actually being at Saturday night’s game, Sunday had somewhat of an anticlimactic feel. The Tigers stranded runners left and right, and yet it didn’t really feel like they did. At the same time, it DID feel like they should’ve scored more runs. And you can’t really say that Kansas City took advantage of their scoring opportunities, not that they had many. And I know Brandon Inge needs a break, what with his knees and all, but three errors from Ryan Raburn sure does make you miss him. Still, if there’s a bright spot to be had, I think it’s that the loss did not get tagged on Armando Galarraga. He had kind of a shaky first inning, but after that, he gave the Tigers all he could, and it was pretty damn good for someone who wasn’t 100%. Rod Allen said Armando had lost fifteen pounds while he was sick. Based on how baggy his jersey was, I’m inclined to believe him.

For it being an off-day yesterday, it sure was busy. There were, of course, draft picks to sign, which I won’t comment on further because that’s an area I don’t know a whole lot about. The other big news of the day is that it appears as if we FINALLY got the big left-handed bat we’ve been looking for for so long. Aubrey Huff is on his way to Detroit. You wonder if this has something to do with the White Sox getting Alex Rios. Regardless, I would’ve preferred Luke Scott, but Huff provides plenty of left-handed power himself. His average is down from years past, but he’s hitting over .300 with runners in scoring position and he’s been hammering the AL Central. The only snag may be in finding a position for him to play. From the little bit I know about him, he’s best suited as a DH, though he has been playing first base for Baltimore most of the year, and he’s played third and the corner outfield spots in the past. Guillen’s still stuck in the DH spot. Obviously, Huff won’t be playing much first base, so I have no idea what they’re gonna do. For some reason, the Tigers’ news page have a picture of a guy in a Braves uniform accompanying this story. I don’t know who that is, cuz Huff never played for the Braves. The other question is who gets the heave-ho. I’d prefer sending someone down versus DFA’ing someone, because then you can just call them back up in two weeks. If we go that route, then it would either be Ryan Raburn or Clete Thomas. But Dave Dombrowski never seems to do what you speculate, so I’m probably wrong.

Tonight, the homestand continues with the Mariners coming to town. Rick Porcello’s suspension has ended and hopefully his outing against Seattle looks more like the one he had at the beginning of the year and less like the one he had last month (or, even better, have it look like his last outing against Cleveland). He’ll have to be on top of his game, because the Mariners are starting Felix Hernandez. He was, for all intents and purposes, outdueled by Armando Galarraga last time he faced the Tigers, but vultured a win because the bullpen couldn’t hold the lead. The Tigers will NOT see Adrian Beltre, who is back on the DL with a rather painful-sounding injury for men: A contused right testicle. Couldn’t they be less embarrassing about it and just say he had a groin injury? At any rate, let that be a lesson to all you guys out there: Always wear protection. I’ll be at work tonight, so it’ll be the late innings for me.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

My Night at the Ballpark

Photos: ME!

Last night was a blast. When I went to my one game last year, the Tigers scored 10 runs and hit four homers. This year, the Tigers scored 10 runs and hit 4 homers. What a coincidence. However, I always seem to attend on a night where the starting pitcher has to battle. And I’ve yet to see a Tigers’ starting pitcher NOT give up a home run. Andrew Miller gave up a solo home run to Josh Fields and a grand slam to Juan Uribe. Justin Verlander gave up a two-run homer to BJ Upton. Armando Galarraga gave up a solo home run to Frank Thomas. Now, I have Edwin Jackson (who, if you will recall, I have seen in person before, albeit as a member of the Rays) giving up a two-run homer to Billy Butler and a solo shot to Brayan Peña. Suffice it to say, Jackson did not have the best command and he was hit pretty hard, but he made the pitch when he needed to. And now, our four home run hitters:

Never in my life did I think I would see Ramon Santiago hit a home run, although now that he has seven, you have to think about when you’re gonna stop saying that. For what it’s worth, I HAVE seen Sean Casey hit a home run before. By the way, this photo IS from the at-bat where he homered. Also, he’s got the best batting music of anyone in the lineup.

In the two games I went to in ’07, Guillen hit a triple in each one. I did not see him last year because that was around the time he developed back problems. This time, he homered. By the way, for someone who isn’t used to hitting left-handed against left-handed pitching, Guillen’s not been doing bad. This is NOT the at-bat in which he homered. He did get an RBI single in this at-bat, though.

I was a little bit surprised to see Alex Avila in the lineup, but considering that they made public that he was catching Edwin Jackson in side sessions, maybe I shouldn’t have been. Also, when did the pronunciation of his last name change? I noticed that when I watched part of the FSD replay after I got home last night. Also, the public address announcer at the ballpark says his name in a really annoying fashion (“Alex A-VEEEEEEEEEEE-la”). By the way, my Personal Baseball Guru is on my side when it comes to taking a wait-and-see approach with Avila. It’s too soon to know whether or not he is truly a “catcher” and not merely just a “hitter.” For what it’s worth, though, one of the things I was worried about was his ability to hit left-handed pitching. It’s a small sample size (and Ron Mahay doesn’t exactly shut down lefties), but so far, so good. Like Guillen, this is NOT the at-bat in which he homered.

For some reason, I ended up with more pictures of Cabrera than anyone else. I assure you, I did not plan that (Trust me, if Verlander had been pitching, I would’ve had, like, a hundred pictures of Justin). Miggy had himself quite a night, with four hits and three RBIs. This is probably the best photo I got of anyone all night (I’m not that great a sports photographer). It is of his first at-bat. I do have a picture of him right before he homered, but that shot came out kinda blurry (Ironically, right before he hit the home run, I was thinking to myself “If he homers here, I want to get a picture of him right before he does it”).

For more pictures, go to the album I set up on Flickr.

Today, the Tigers can go for the sweep. From what I hear, Armando Galarraga still isn’t back to full strength, but whatever illness he had seems to have passed, and he’s hoping for six good innings. He hasn’t done so well in August, but he’s put up two good starts against Kansas City this year. Still, given the fact that he was sick and didn’t eat for three days, I don’t think it would be fair to make any sort of conclusions should he stumble in this start. He’ll be opposed by Kyle Davies, whom the Tigers have scored lots of runs against this year. Leyland has loaded his lineup with righties, as Davies is actually more effective against lefties despite the fact that he’s a right-handed pitcher. Meanwhile, Galarraga’s not exactly going to have the best defensive alignment behind him. You’ve got Thames and Maggs in the outfield (not the best range for either of them), Raburn at third (Inge rests, although don’t be surprised if he makes an appearance should the Tigers have the lead late), and Guillen at first (with Cabrera DHing).

Saturday, August 15, 2009

With Pitching Like That, All You Need is One

Photo: AP

Yep, I STILL haven’t seen Jarrod Washburn pitch. When I got home from work, it was the bottom of the eighth inning. But obviously from all accounts, Washburn pitched a gem. And he had to, cuz Zack Greinke wasn’t giving anything up himself (though he did walk four). But then, Brandon Inge came up big in the ninth. And with the struggles he’s had in the second half (which I’m convinced is caused by the knee injury), that had to feel good. I hope they took it easy on him at home plate, though.

And with that, Tigers pitching has now thrown back-to-back shutouts. Can they keep it up? Edwin Jackson is a real good candidate to do so, but he wasn’t so sharp last time out against Boston. He gave up four runs and only lasted four innings. Leyland says his breaking ball has been inconsistent in the second half. He lost his only start against the Royals this year, giving up four runs (three earned). I should point out that that came against Zack Greinke. The Tigers will face Luke Hochevar, who has a somewhat elevated earned run average but pitched okay his last time out. I don’t remember much about Hochevar except he shut the Tigers out once last year (marking the only occasion that Justin Verlander has lost to Kansas City). I will be at tonight’s game, live and in person, so hopefully I will have my own pictures for you tomorrow. Your Mood Music for tonight: This is why I’ve held off using Kiss’s “Detroit Rock City” until now. Those of you who have been to Comerica Park know that they play this song when the Tigers take the field. So I thought it’d be fitting for me to play it on the night I go to a game. Enjoy!

Friday, August 14, 2009

JV is Clutch

Photo: Elsa (Getty Images)

Through all that’s gone on in the past week, there was one especially disturbing trend: Prior to yesterday, the last time that Tigers pitching had given up fewer than six runs in a game was the final game against the Orioles. Now, that’s pitching as a whole, not necessarily starting pitching, but the starters were hardly getting the job done. In that stretch, the most effective start was Galarraga’s against the Twins, and considering he gave up four runs in five innings with five walks mixed in, that’s not exactly one to write home about (In terms of giving up runs, Porcello only gave up one, but he didn’t quite last long enough for that to be considered “effective,” now, did he?). We needed someone to calm the storm, and finally Justin Verlander (who had been a guilty party in that stretch) was able to deliver in a big way. And he came out of the gate throwing some serious heat. Normally he starts out at about 93 and builds his way up to 97 or 98 as the game goes on, but he was reaching 97 in the first inning. And one his last two pitches of the afternoon (which came in the eighth inning, something the Tigers had desperately needed), he reached 100 on the radar gun, the last time to strike out Jason Bay. And Fernando Rodney’s ninth inning? Well, it was pleasantly uneventful, if I might say so myself. Meanwhile, Ryan Raburn provided nearly all of the Tigers’ offense, AND made a fine play at third base. Brandon Inge couldn’t have done it any better.

Tonight, the Tigers have come back home to face the Kansas City Royals. The Royals are relatively hot of late. They just took two of three from the Twins at the Metrodome (not easy) and scored quite a few runs in the process. Plus, they’ve got Zack Greinke starting for them tonight. He won his last time out, which broke a pretty long winless streak for him. However, it should be noted that a lot of those were tough-luck losses where he only gave up a couple runs. He’s faced the Tigers every time the two teams have squared up. He won both starts at Kaufmann Stadium and the Tigers beat him at Comerica Park. Meanwhile, Jarrod Washburn needs to find some way to get on track. He DOES have good career numbers against Kansas City, though. I’ll be at work tonight.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


Yes, I did have that post up before Galarraga was officially scratched. With that in mind, this game kind of seemed to be set up for failure. I would’ve been shocked had they won this game, but they could have at least kept it closer than they did. Zach Miner, for someone who was pressed into duty mere hours before the game and who had just pitched two innings on Monday, was not too bad. The home run ball bit him, though. He was one strike away from getting through five innings, but it didn’t happen, and Freddy Dolsi proceeded to remove any shred of dignity from this game. Meanwhile, the offense only managed two solo home runs, a walk, and a groundball single off Josh Beckett, but I’m not sure what all you can make of that. Beckett’s a good pitcher. Leyland kind of criticized the approach, saying the Tigers were TOO patient. That’s…interesting.

Well, we have now FINALLY come to the end of this godforsaken series at Fenway Park (Those of you who believe the Tigers should play extra series with the Yankees and Red Sox are just plain crazy). It’s up to JV to save us. However, he proved to be human against the Twins his last time out and he generally has not pitched well against the Red Sox, save for one game back in ’07 at Fenway where he pitched seven strong innings. The Red Sox will start Clay Buchholz, whom the Tigers saw last year and actually scored a few runs against. Miguel Cabrera IS back in the lineup at first base, but Brandon Inge apparently gets the day off.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Be Careful What You Wish For

Sigh. BOYS.

During the latter part of Monday night’s game, folks over at
Bless You Boys were expressing their desire to see the benches clear (we hadn’t had one since the Sheffield-Carmona brawl last year). Well, they got one, and it probably screwed the Tigers royally. All the fireworks were pretty much over with by the time I got home (by the way, our lone Tiger fan pharmacist is being transferred to another store, so the odds of me getting on GameCast at work from now on are very, very slim). I did watch the re-airing on FS Detroit, right up until after the brawl. Hopefully Cabrera’s okay and will only miss a game or two at the most (especially since I’m going to the game on Saturday and I want to see him…he hit two home runs the last time I was at a game). Now, whether or not Porcello intentionally hit Youkilis or not is up for debate. He says it wasn’t intentional, but you’re not gonna say it was (something that does lend suspicion is that it was only Porcello’s second hit batter of the season, though I do find it amusing that both times, he hit Youkilis). I hope it wasn’t, because intentionally hitting someone to lead off the second inning with your team up 3-0 is not a smart thing to do, especially since the previous night’s starting pitcher only lasted four innings and the following night’s scheduled starter is sick as a dog (more on that later). If you’re gonna do that, it’d be a much better idea to do it in the sixth or seventh inning when you’re about ready to come out of the game anyways. At any rate, while the blogosphere cheered on Porcello’s takedown of Youkilis, it totally screwed up any chance the Tigers had at winning. First of all, it forced Chris Lambert into the game. Lambert has a real good ERA at Toledo, but whatever it is that’s working down here apparently does not work in the big leagues. Second, Mike Lowell took Youkilis’s spot in the lineup and made the Tigers pay. Meanwhile, after scoring three runs in the first inning, the Tigers really didn’t do anything else until the ninth, when Avila doubled and Granderson homered, but by then it was too late (and there were some really funky strike/checked swing calls there in the ninth inning; I guess the umpires just wanted to go home).

Okay, so when I got home last night, I obviously knew that Edwin Jackson had only pitched four innings on Monday, and I found out on the radio that Porcello had been ejected, so I knew that the bullpen was not in good shape at all. I did not find out about Galarraga until the rain delay. It was already shaping up to be a long night, with Galarraga coming off two shaky outings (though he did win his last one) and going up against a team that would probably give him problems even if he was in his April form (by the way, I am not the only one who suspects that he may be injured). Now he has the flu. There were serious doubts that he would even be able to start, but as of an hour ago, he was still the scheduled starter. Hopefully, if nothing else, this flu will buy him another start, as it would be somewhat unfair to bash his pitching while sick. Meanwhile, the Tigers will be up against Josh Beckett, the guy who had a no-hitter for 6 2/3 innings against them at Comerica Park. Yeah, good luck with that. Your Mood Music for tonight: Considering it’s Galarraga and all the turmoil he’s had, I selected Styx’s “Crystal Ball.”

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Not Quite Enough

This was kind of a peculiar game in that it lent totally different perspectives regarding media vs. bloggers. If you listen to the bloggers, this is one of the toughest losses of the season. If you listen to the radio, it’s a loss that may be the start of something good. At any rate, Edwin Jackson did not have a lot of command, something that you can’t get away with against the Red Sox. Fu Te Ni was probably the most effective pitcher the Tigers used. He did give up a home run to Jason Bay, but it was one of the worst-hit home runs you’ll ever see (I seriously thought it was a popup to shallow left when it came off his bat). The offense DID show more life than it normally does on the road. Polanco in particular seems to have heated up, and Magglio had a really good night at the plate. The fact that Adam Everett was not pinch-hit for in the eighth inning has caused a lot of debate online. I agree that you’d probably want someone better at driving in runs in that situation, but it’s not like the alternatives were that attractive. Raburn and Santiago are far more likely to strike out than Everett (plus, Leyland probably wanted to save Raburn in case he needed to pinch-hit for Guillen later), and Leyland has explicitly said that Avila is off-limits as a pinch-hitter.

Tonight, Rick Porcello tries to maintain the momentum he’s built from his last couple starts, which have been good. He did not fare so well against the Red Sox back in June. This’ll be even harder than that. This was supposed to be John Smoltz’s spot in the rotation, and the “win at all costs” side of me really wishes that it still was. In his career, Smoltz has a 10.32 ERA against the Tigers, and that was BEFORE his struggles this year. Alas, it’s not to be. Instead, the Tigers will face Junichi Tazawa, whom they themselves were interested in during the offseason. Tazawa took the loss in relief during that extra inning game at Yankee Stadium, but he’s put up some real good numbers at Double A. I’m at work tonight, but considering how long Red Sox games tend to be, it may only be the fourth or fifth inning by the time I get home.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Exhausting, From the Sounds of Things

Photo: AP

As I expected, I did was not able to see this game. I was able to listen to some of it on the radio during my lunch break, and I was able to find out that the Tigers had won, but that’s about it. I had mentioned before that none of the Tigers’ pitchers had pitched well against Minnesota this year, so why should Jarrod Washburn be any different? So far, he has not had a good time of it in a Tigers uniform, but as someone pointed out on
Bless You Boys today, Justin Verlander gave up almost the same number of runs and hits in HIS last two starts against the same two teams that Washburn faced, so it’s kind of hard to be ultra-critical. Another thing that complicates matters is that I still haven’t seen him as a Tiger. Therefore, until that happens, I feel that, out of fairness, I must withhold an opinion (It might be a while, as I’m scheduled to work Friday). Still, those home runs he’s given up in these two starts have been absolute bombs. Normally you think of hard throwers giving up home runs that long (It’s a physics thing). Washburn is not a hard thrower, so that doesn’t make much sense. And after being shut out the night before, the offense woke up again against Scott Baker and, of all people, Matt Guerrier. Cabrera and Polanco in particular each had a nice series against the Twins. Brandon Inge didn’t have a hit, but he did contribute a sac fly RBI and a Web Gem.

Just like the rest of the season series, it took pretty much everything the Tigers had to beat the Twins. You would’ve liked to have had the homestand wind down with some relatively stress-free games, but the wins are the most important. And I suppose the ‘pen is in relatively good shape, though it could be better. And it’s important to not have a taxed pitching staff, as the Tigers begin a four-game series at Fenway Park (ack). The Red Sox are kinda reeling right now. They were just swept in a four-game series by the Yankees, during which they had a 31-inning stretch where they didn’t score a run (and they only scored two runs last night). However, that was at Yankee Stadium. The Red Sox tend to play much better at home, and the Tigers don’t score runs on the road. Plus, Boston’ll stress out pretty much any pitching staff. The Red Sox swept the Tigers back at Comerica Park in June, a series in which the Tigers neither pitched well nor scored many runs. At the time, a big excuse for why they got swept was that they didn’t have Verlander or Jackson pitching in that series. Well, both of them will pitch in this series, so that theory will be put to the test right away (on the flipside, the Tigers will not have to face Jon Lester, but they WILL see Josh Beckett). Edwin Jackson is coming off a very good outing against the Orioles. Obviously, having played for the Rays, he’s very familiar with the Red Sox, but he’s never won at Fenway Park. The Tigers will face Brad Penny, who has not been particularly good for the Red Sox (though he’s certainly better than John Smoltz was). The Tigers saw him last year with the Dodgers during Interleague play, and they beat him up pretty good. Still, he is a hard-thrower but I don’t really know a whole lot about him other than that.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

No Rainbows This Time

Quick post today, as I have to go to work shortly. Last year on Fiesta Tigres, it rained a lot before the game, which gave way to an incredible-looking rainbow during the game (I was at that game, and that’s where the profile picture comes from). This year, it rained a lot before the game and that was probably the highlight of the night. Justin Verlander simply continued the trend of Tigers not pitching well against the Twins (and with that, the entire pitching save is now guilty of this at one point or another this season, save Jarrod Washburn). The odd thing was that it was not your typical JV-type of struggle. Usually when he’s struggling, he walks more people, everyone has long at-bats against him, he can’t put hitters away, and the pitch count climbs rapidly. That didn’t really happen last night. Chris Lambert absorbed a lot of punishment in order to spare the bullpen, although eventually Zach Miner had to come in and bail him out (and probably pitched the best of any of the Tigers last night). Meanwhile, the offense continues to not solve Carl Pavano. If you listen to the game on the radio, the general attitude seems to not be “Why can’t the Tigers (and White Sox) solve this guy?” It’s more like “How come the rest of baseball has him figured out?” Whatever it is that he’s doing, it’s genuinely impressed Dan Dickerson and Jim Price (It’s also impressed Mario and Rod, but they seem to be more easily impressed by opposing pitchers than the radio side of things).

Today, the Tigers will try to take the series, and Jarrod Washburn seeks to bounce back from a bad outing in his Tigers debut. His lifetime numbers against Minnesota are generally good, with an ERA only a tad over 3.00, but remember, the Tigers have not pitched well against the Twins this year, and it doesn’t seem to matter who is on the mound. The Twins’ll send out Scott Baker, who has seen the Tigers once this year and cruised along until the Tigers erupted for five runs against him. The Tigers still lost that game because of some bad bullpen outings, and they haven’t seen Baker since. The game starts at 1:00, but I’ll be at work until 5:00, so it’s highly likely that it’ll be over before I get home. And oh yeah, it’s supposed to be really hot, so everyone better drink a lot of water and stay hydrated. We don’t need any hamstring cramps or injuries such as that.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

At Long Last

Photo: AP

What, you thought it was gonna be easy? Armando Galarraga’s night was done by the time I got home, but by all accounts, it was a battle. The five walks weren’t good, but with enough run support, he was finally able to get win #1 against the Twins. Maybe now he’ll settle down next time he faces them. And I feel I should point out that almost no one on the Tigers’ pitching staff has pitched well against the Twins this year. Rick Porcello shut them out back in May, and Justin Verlander had that 13 strikeout game against them, but that’s pretty much it. Why should Galarraga be any different? Even the walk to Nick Punto is par for the course, because just about everyone else has already done it, including Verlander and Jackson (I swear, “Don’t walk Nick Punto” is going to become one of my big rules of baseball, right behind “Throw strikes” and “Don’t pitch hurt”). Because I didn’t see him, I can’t really make any more educated comments on him, but my guess is that there were plenty of those bad different-looking pitches that I don’t like. But I suppose it somewhat makes up for those games in July where he pitched real well but didn’t win. And it’s not like Ryan Perry or Fernando Rodney fared much better. Galarraga got the win thanks to big nights from Cabrera and Avila. The thought had not occurred to me until I read an article about it yesterday, but Cabrera’s gonna have to go on a monumental tear in order to get to the 100 RBI mark, and that’s kinda depressing. Meanwhile, there’s still a lot we haven’t found out about Alex Avila, but he’s doing more than holding his own for now (And I like what he’s doing, but I don’t really like how the guys on the blogosphere went from “skeptic” to “mancrush” in the span of one game). Hell, the Tigers even got a run against Joe Nathan, although that might have been a bad thing. Do you suppose Rodney might have pitched better had he only been given a three-run lead?

Last night may have been somewhat ugly, but it was still a win and tonight the Tigers’ll look to get another one. I was originally planning to go to tonight’s game instead of next Saturday’s, but my dad had a previous commitment and then I was scheduled to work, hence the change in plans. It’s a shame, because all of a sudden, Justin Verlander gets the ball tonight instead of Luke French. Verlander did a damn good job his last time after having one really bizarre first inning where he gave up five runs. As I already mentioned, he struck out 13 Twins in his only start against them this year, but that meant he threw a lot of pitches, only making it a couple batters into the seventh, and the Tigers’ overworked bullpen couldn’t hold the lead. Glen Perkins was scheduled to pitch tonight, but instead it’ll be Carl Pavano. I warned you. Not only is he 3-0 against the Tigers this year, he’s also 2-1 against the White Sox. You think the Twins were looking at that when they acquired him? At least Galarraga doesn’t have to deal with him this time. We’ll see how Verlander’s luck goes against him. At any rate, the Tigers just saw him last Sunday and didn’t do much against him. Not that you need a refresher course. Your Mood Music for tonight: It’s Fiesta Tigres at the ballpark tonight (another reason why I’m sad I can’t go, as last year was a lot of fun). There isn’t quite as much Latino diversity amongst the Tigers as there once was (just Venezuela and the Dominican Republic; Colombia and Puerto Rico are both gone from the roster), but it’s still a vital part of the team. And I’ve taken quite a liking to salsa music. So to mark the occasion, I’ve got Marc Anthony’s “Se Me Sigue Olvidando.” I’m not trying to convey any sort of specific message with the lyrics (and by the way, the title loosely translates to “You Keep Forgetting Me”). I just like the beat.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Youth Is Served

Photo: AP

While not as outstanding as he was against the Indians, Rick Porcello did do a good job against the Orioles. Thinking “no-hitter” after four innings is a bit premature, but sometimes you can’t keep the idea out of your mind, as evidenced by the multitude of news stories that mention it. He started hanging a few breaking balls about the fifth inning or so, and the Orioles pounced, so he probably got taken out of the game at the right time. Meanwhile, it was nice to see the power come back for Brandon Inge. Perhaps those knees are feeling a bit better? He also scored from first base on a double. On another injury front, I don’t know what the deal was with Cabrera, but hopefully it’s nothing major. Meanwhile, Alex Avila had quite a nice debut, which did a total 180 to the opinions on the blogosphere. One game is way too small of a sample size, but I did like how he was able to work the count and hit the ball hard. There’s still a few more things we need to find out about him, though. We have yet to be able to gauge his throwing ability, and we have also yet to see how he fares against left-handed pitching. There’s also the matter of how he’ll respond once the league gets a full scouting report on him and makes adjustments. Until that happens, though, I see no harm in milking him for all he’s worth.

Tonight marks an AL Central showdown as the Minnesota Twins come to town. They have been struggling of late, but you can’t count them out right now. Tonight it’s (presumably) Armando Galarraga against Anthony Swarzak. Galarraga is coming off a very rough outing in which he didn’t have a thing, but pretty much became the sacrificial lamb for a team with a depleted bullpen. And he knew it. He was able to stick around long enough to get the bullpen back in shape, at the cost of his dignity and his earned run average. His struggles against the Twins are well-documented. It’s up to him to stay aggressive and not get gun shy simply because of those past struggles. And not throw those bad different-looking pitches. I want the good fastball and the good slider. He’s in a rough stretch of starts right now, because his next start will be against Boston at Fenway before he gets a chance at a reprieve against the Mariners. Anthony Swarzak is in the Twins’ rotation because Kevin (not Kyle) Slowey had to undergo season-ending surgery. He’s done a good job for them up until his last start, which was against a red hot Angels team. The Tigers have never seen him. However, the Twins just acquired Carl Pavano today. Evidently, they must’ve seen what he’s done against the Tigers this season. Plus, he hasn’t pitched since Sunday, so it’s a fair bet that we’ll see him sometime this weekend. Could you imagine if it was tonight? Galarraga would be having nightmares about Pavano for the rest of his life. Your Mood Music for tonight: Given Galarraga wasn’t particularly good his last time and how the odds are kind of stacked against him, and yet at the same time, I can’t bring myself to dislike him, I figured Daughtry’s “It’s Not Over” would be fitting. By the way, I apologize for using this particular video, because the person who provided the lyrics can’t spell to save her life, but it was the only one that allowed embedding.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

How Jackson Got His Groove Back

Photo: AP

This heavy work schedule is cutting into my blogging ability (though I suppose in the end, work is more profitable). When I got home, it was the bottom of the eighth inning and the Tigers had just finished scoring three runs that turned out to be huge. As a result, all I saw of Jackson was the hit batter and Adam Jones home run in the ninth, which I’m guessing is not reflective of how he pitched for the rest of the game. Apparently he found his offspeed pitches again and was able to outsmart the Orioles hitters by not letting them sit on the fastball like they did with Verlander. Another good sign is that Magglio got two hits again, including a home run, and both were on fastballs.

Today is the day-game wrap-up of this four-game series (How many hyphens can I put in one sentence?). Rick Porcello had the best start of his career against Cleveland last time out, going eight innings and only throwing 91 pitches. Hopefully he can keep up that mojo against the Orioles, a team that hasn’t seen him yet. He’ll be opposed by David Hernandez, who beat the Tigers in his major league debut back in May. There was a lot of grumbling about that at the time, but from an earned run average standpoint, he’s done a good job since then. Today is also the Major League debut of Alex Avila. According to Dan Dickerson on the radio last night, the plan is to have Avila catch all of Porcello and Galarraga’s starts, although I’m sure performance and opposing pitching matchups will have a say in that as well.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


I don’t really have a lot to say about this game, mainly because by the time I got home, it was pretty much all over with but the shouting. I tend to form a lot of my perceptions of players (pitchers especially) based on the first time I see them. The first time I saw Jarrod Washburn, it was 2007 and the Tigers put a beating on him. Therefore, I have always thought of him in those terms. This doesn’t necessarily mean anything, as I have virtually the same perception of Zack Greinke (the first two times I saw him, the Tigers had no problem against him). But essentially, I don’t know if Washburn getting roughed up last night is a bad sign or not. It would not make sense for him to fall apart after putting up good numbers for so long. Some Mariners fans think he’s destined to fall because he’s a flyball pitcher and Seattle’s outfield defense is “better” than the Tigers’, but when Nick Markakis is hitting balls off Ernie Harwell’s name on the right center field wall, it doesn’t really matter who’s in the outfield. And both Justin Verlander and Edwin Jackson tend to be flyball pitchers and their ERAs are okay. Zach Miner did not help matters. Of course, the finger got pointed at the offense, which didn’t do a whole lot, but when your starting pitcher gives up six runs, offense is not the problem in this particular game.

Tonight, I go to work again and Edwin Jackson will try to bounce back from being fouled off to exhaustion against the Indians. He shut out the Orioles back in May (of course, Jarrod Washburn also pitched a shutout against the O’s earlier in the year and that meant nothing last night). Baltimore will counter with Jeremy Guthrie, who is tagged as the ace of their staff but is having a down year. You don’t want to take him lightly though. Detroit’s made a bunch of roster moves in the last day or two. I totally missed out on Wilkin Ramirez, as he wasn’t called up until after I went to work and he was out of the game by the time I got home. He’s been sent down along with Dusty Ryan, and the Tigers have called up Chris Lambert and Alex Avila to replace them. The general consensus online seems to be that Lambert has earned a spot in the ‘pen, where he would likely serve as the long man (especially with Zach Miner not pitching well recently). The Avila call-up seems to be more of a headscratcher, as he is considered to be the Tigers’ top catching prospect, but most don’t think he’s ready yet. Personally, I have serious trust issues with left-handed hitting catchers (not sure where that stems from), so my opinion probably is not valid at the present time. The Tigers have not indicated whether they intend on Avila to be the backup catcher (in which case, I can’t imagine he’d get much playing time at all, if Dusty Ryan is any indication) or whether they want him to supplant Gerald Laird as the starting catcher (in which case, it’s probably not a smart move to have a young catcher learning on the job in the middle of a pennant race).

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A Walkoff Wrapped in a Big Bow

Photo: AP

I finally got what I wanted for my birthday. The Tigers always seem to lose on August 3rd, so I’m glad they turned that around (One thing I forgot to mention yesterday is that I have the exact same birthdate as Diamondbacks third baseman Mark Reynolds, and all he did yesterday was hit two home runs and come up with a Web Gem). It didn’t look good at first. After one third of an inning, Justin Verlander had given up five runs. However, that whole business just seemed so alarmingly random to me. I was not under the impression that he was struggling (Usually when he struggles, he’s walking guys and throwing a lot of pitches). Therefore, I felt like he had to improve. And improve he did. And the offense showed some fight, especially Miguel Cabrera, who drove in three, including himself as the tying run. And Clete Thomas sent all the fans home happy, parking one into the center field shrubbery.

Tonight marks game 2 in this series, and it will feature the Tigers debut of Jarrod Washburn, who faced the O’s earlier this year and threw a complete game one-hitter against them (And with the good offense the Orioles have, that’s impressive). Hopefully, the adjustments he made and lessons he learned in Seattle will carry over. On the other side, Brian Matusz will make his Major League debut for the Orioles. This guy’s numbers in the minor leagues are outstanding: 11-2 with a 1.91 ERA with 121 strikeouts and only 30-some walks. Yikes. Starting today, I will be working every day from now until next Monday, so I’m going to miss a lot of the beginning of games. And as it’s bound to be a stressful week at work, I’m hoping the Tigers can put up a really good homestand.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Just Plain Ugly

The title kinda says it all, doesn’t it? Unlike a lot of other bloggers, I have been supportive of Armando Galarraga throughout this season, even through the month of May when he struggled, and barring anything unforeseen, I will continue to be supportive. I have tried my best to get to the bottom of why he has not been as dominant as he was last year, but if you think about it, this was his first truly rough start since early June. It just seems like he’s struggled more since then because he has only won two games since, and he didn’t win any in July (despite a very good earned run average for the month). Sometimes neither the win-loss record nor the earned run average tells the whole story. In light of that, can’t we explain yesterday’s disaster as he simply didn’t have anything working for him? I will do more soul-searching (as it were) if I need to down the road, but for now, I see no harm in chalking it up to a bad outing. Yes, those bad, ineffective, different-looking pitches were back with a vengeance, and as a result, he couldn’t throw strikes with regularity (though he only walked two). It seemed like he found the good slider briefly in the fifth inning and also the sixth right up until Grady Sizemore came to bat, and then he lost it again. Regrouping is gonna be a tough task for him, as his next two starts will be against Minnesota (his personal nemesis) and Boston (the nemesis of a lot of pitchers and their offense is on fire right now). Still, if there was anything good to be taken from this outing, it’s that he accepted his punishment like a man and gave the Tigers enough innings to spare the ‘pen. Leyland only had to use Casey Fien and Fu Te Ni, and neither of them had thrown on Saturday, so the bullpen (or at least the “important” pieces) should be near full strength for tonight.

Well, the Tigers are at home for a spell, so hopefully that perks up the offense (they could do with some better defense, as well). First up is the Baltimore Orioles for four. The Tigers split four games with them at Camden Yards, and it was a battle just to get that split. And though they’re actually near the bottom in runs scored in the AL, the Orioles still have a very good offense (pity we just couldn’t get Luke Scott into a Tigers uniform). However, it’s my birthday today, and I got my first choice of pitchers to watch tonight in Justin Verlander (which makes me halfway wish that I had chosen to go to tonight’s game instead of the one on the 15th, although as it stands right now, I would get Edwin Jackson in that game, which is not a bad consolation prize). Verlander was a strikeout machine against Texas, fanning 13 batters, and was pretty dominant outside of a bizarre fifth inning where he gave up quite a few consecutive hits. He’s already beaten Baltimore once this year, but even he was not immune to giving up home runs to Luke Scott (I think Jackson was the only one to keep Luke Scott under control). Meanwhile, the Orioles, by the numbers, have some of the worst pitching in the AL, but the Tigers had trouble with just about everyone they sent out back in May. Hopefully that’s not the case against Chris Tillman. Your Mood Music for tonight: It’s my birthday, so I’m gonna play my favorite song even though it really has no relevance to anything that’s happened recently. I just want to get myself pumped.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Stars Have Better Luck In Extras

Photo: AP

For the second night in a row, the starting pitcher was gone by the time I got home. However, this time it was because Rick Porcello was amazingly efficient with his pitches. I can’t tell you how he looked, though I did follow the game on ESPN’s GameCast, but 91 pitches in eight innings is incredible for any pitcher. If it had been anyone other than Porcello, I’m convinced that Leyland would’ve had him back out there for the ninth. But with them watching Porcello’s every move, you knew that Porcello’s night would be done after eight innings. And as far as Rodney goes, well, it had to happen sometime, didn’t it? I’m sure we were all hoping for a Brad Lidge-type season, but that was pretty unrealistic (And what is it with the number 22 being so elusive? Bobby Seay had 21 straight scoreless appearances and then gave up a run, and Rodney had 21 saves before blowing his first). Oddly enough, as Rodney started to rack up the saves, I started developing gut feelings about what his first blown save would look like, and it pretty much met my expectations: 1) It came at a very inconvenient time; 2) It was NOT a spectacular pitching meltdown (Rodney was actually quite sharp and throwing strikes; pretty much the only bad pitch he made was the changeup that went for a triple, and even then I think Clete could’ve played that off the wall better); and 3) There was a particularly cruel twist involved. Not only did it deny Porcello a win, but after Rodney made good pitch to Peralta that broke his bat and caused him to pop up, Granderson made a spectacular diving catch, only to have that go as a sacrifice fly because Granderson couldn’t get back up in time to throw. Still, as long as Rodney gets back up on the horse next time, I have no problem with it. The rest of the bullpen pitched fine, although Zach Miner demonstrated that he will never be a closer. The offense had more issues with stranding runners, but according to some of the commenters on
Bless You Boys, it had a little bit more to do with bad luck this time than anything else, as there were several lineouts and the Indians made some great plays of their own. And with that, they finally had a throwback uniform win.

Today marks the end of this road trip before the Tigers get to come home for quite a spell (They have a lot of home games in August, as a matter of fact). And Armando Galarraga NEEDS to give the Tigers some good innings today because the bullpen is taxed. He had a really strange start against Texas. He was cruising along before the Rangers all of a sudden put up four runs against him, and then he settled down again after that. He has alternated “good” and “okay” starts. Last time was an “okay” start, so he’s due for a good one, and he dominated the Indians last year. However, this year has been a different story, and he’s been mysteriously gun shy when it comes to the Tribe. However, like most of the Tiger pitchers, he has not gotten a lot of run support. He may not get a lot of run support today, either. Carl Pavano has beaten the Tigers twice this year, and both times it was against Galarraga (And if his postgame comments are any indication, Rod Allen remembers none of this).

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Long and Anticlimactic

For such a long game, I don’t have much to say (although, truth be told, I really CAN’T have much to say because I have to get ready for work soon). Edwin Jackson was gone before I even got home from work, which isn’t a good thing. As a result, I can’t give a first-hand assessment of his pitching, but from what I’ve heard, apparently when Victor Martinez was traded to Boston, the Indians got three pitchers and the Red Sox’s ability to foul off pitches in return. The big problem was that the game went for another 9 innings after that. For some reason, both lefties out of the ‘pen struggled and gave up runs. That turned out to be huge as well. After the first inning, the Tigers weren’t able to get anything else off of Carmona, but they got his pitch count up and drew a lot of walks. That’s probably the first time they’ve been able to follow through on being patient against Carmona. Carlos Guillen came up clutch in the ninth inning and tied the game, but that was all they could manage. There were a couple instances where they had runners on base and whoever was at the plate hit the ball hard, but it was always right at somebody. Still, when the offense scores five runs on a night when Edwin Jackson is pitching, that should be enough to win the game. They shouldn’t HAVE to score a sixth run.

The big problem with going 13 innings and using everyone in your bullpen is that Rick Porcello starts tonight, and he’s been having trouble getting through five innings recently. Up until his last start, his M.O. had been to cruise through the first few innings before struggling in the fourth and fifth. His last start was just the opposite. He had serious issues in the first inning and gradually settled down. He’ll need to be on his game tonight, because the Indians’ offense is red hot right now, Victor Martinez or no Victor Martinez. They scored a ton of runs on their recent road trip. The Tigers will face Jeremy Sowers, whom they’ve had success against in the past. However, Sowers won his last start (and pitched well in the process). He also beat the Tigers the last time he faced them, although it was last September. The Indians have also called up Jensen Lewis and Justin Masterson should arrive in time for the game, so in principle, the Tribe’s bullpen will be less of a sieve, which might pose a problem. By the way, according to the Indians’ website, tonight is THEIR Negro Leagues game, so presumably it’ll be the Stars and Buckeyes, Round 2.