Monday, October 5, 2009

We're Not Dead Yet

Photo: AP

I know the timing of this post is kinda bad, considering the whole Cabrera thing has just exploded. I have a post on that forthcoming, but first I want to focus on yesterday’s game. The Tigers needed Justin Verlander to be at his most awesome, and he was nearly all of that. For seven innings, he cruised through the White Sox, and showed us why he is one of the best pitchers in baseball. It looked like he ran out of steam in the eighth, giving up three runs and leaving the tying runs on the bases for Fernando Rodney. It was then that Curtis Granderson made the catch that probably saved the season, running a long way to make a diving snag on a shallow pop-up that Carlos Quentin hit.

And, hey, the offense got to John Danks, which is no easy feat usually. Raburn and Magglio led the charge, and Raburn didn’t even have good numbers against Danks coming into the game (Magglio already did, in case you were wondering). That all didn’t matter when Danks threw him a hanging changeup. Raburn later hit a second home run. He must love Chicago-style pitching. He had that 7-RBI game against the White Sox as well. Meanwhile, it was nice to see Maggs hit one out. And hey, after all the offensive struggles through the middle of the season, his average is up over .300. I’d say that’s an accomplishment, even if the vast majority of it is made up of singles.

Unfortunately, the Tigers got absolutely NO help from Kansas City (Damn you, Zack Greinke!!!), so they remain tied with the Twins (making you wonder why we played those 162 games in the first place). Which means that we’ve gotta go back to that godforsaken Metrodome after all. And I never did finish my slideshow cuz I figured we’d never see it again. And because of Brett Favre, they’re holding this makeup game tomorrow night instead of tonight. Damn it. I work tomorrow (4-9, which means I will not get to see one single solitary second of this game). I don’t work tonight. Our entire season is quite literally hanging in the balance, and I’ll be completely in the dark. And our entire season now lies in the right arm of Rick Porcello. He just faced the Twins last Tuesday and did a good job, coming away win a no-decision, but giving up just the one run. He has pitched significantly better against the Twins at Comerica Park than at the Metrodome. If there is something good about the numbers, it’s that he’s only given up two home runs to the Twins: One to Cuddyer, and one to Morneau (and we don’t have to worry about him). Delmon Young hits him well (over .400), but Jason Kubel absolutely KILLS him (.727). Both of them have been hot recently, to boot (Rod Allen blames Jeremy Bonderman for “waking up” Delmon Young). On the other hand, he’s controlled Joe Mauer pretty well. Mauer’s only 1-for-9 off him. The Twins are sending out Scott Baker (NOT on short rest, as some media outlets would have you believe). The Tigers had scored quite a few runs off him all season up until his last start, when they only managed one. I read one assessment of that game that the Tigers had the right approach: Work the count, see a lot of pitches, and get Baker’s pitch count up. They just didn’t get rewarded for it. Leyland has already said that Ryan Raburn will start in the game. The question is: Who is he gonna replace? (And to make things clear, I do NOT consider replacing Cabrera to be an option). It would have to be Guillen or Thames, but both of them have really good numbers against Baker (for the record, Raburn has never faced Baker). I do know this: Every time the Tigers have HAD to win, they’ve done it. Hopefully, that is the case tomorrow. My gut wants to go with the Twins, simply because it’s their home ballpark (which is bound to be the loudest place on Earth) and because they’ve been on fire for the past three weeks. But I hope I’m wrong about that.

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