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.

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