Saturday, April 24, 2010

Too Many Walks

I’ve been trying to think of some sort of introductory sentence, but I just can’t come up with one, so let’s just get with the recap. This was the first time I got to see a Max Scherzer Tigers start from the beginning. He seemed to do a good job with the exception of pitching to Vladimir Guerrero. Alex Avila helped out by throwing out a couple runners (he’s caught 3 runners now, and all three have been with Scherzer on the mound, which is kind of weird). He then took back one with a balk/error when he touched the ball with his mask (He said after the game that he lost his balance and used his mask to balance himself and the ball happened to roll into it, but if you look at the replay that’s clearly not what happened; he was definitely trying to scoop the ball into his glove with his mask). The bullpen walked too many people, though, and that proved to be their downfall. Unlike a lot of the other bloggers, I don’t have that much of a problem with keeping Ni in the game for the bottom of the ninth. He was pitching to the bottom of the order and the bullpen’s been taxed recently, so I’m sure Leyland wanted to make as few pitching changes as possible (The command issues in the previous inning were there, but the free pass to Guerrero looked to me like an unintentional intentional walk). Ni committed the cardinal sin of walking the leadoff man in the ninth, a rookie making his major league debut. The next two moves were dictated by that: A bunt and an IBB. No sense in bringing Perry in for that. I did wonder why they didn’t go after Garko, since Cruz is a better hitter, but Ryan Perry gave no indication that he would’ve thrown strikes to either of them. And when he got ahead to Elvis Andrus, he threw a terrible 0-2 pitch that Andrus was able to line into right for a game-winning hit. By the way, was Jim Leyland really pissed last night and didn’t talk to the media? I haven’t seen a single solitary quote from him in any of the news stories I’ve read. As another aside, the lefties in the ‘pen have all walked way too many this year. And don’t think that Daniel Schlereth will come to the rescue in that regard. He’s walked eight in 8.1 innings at Toledo (and the Mud Hens have their own problems right now).

Considering the Tigers’ bad numbers against Harden coming into the game, I wasn’t surprised that they didn’t do much against him. They finally chased him in the fifth due to a lot of walks and Cabrera’s two-run single. Then they couldn’t do anything  against the bullpen until they got to Neftali Feliz, who is regarded as a superstar in the making. They had an excellent approach against him. Don Kelly struck out but it took seven pitches. Ramon Santiago also made an out but he had the key at-bat of the inning, battling Feliz for thirteen pitches and basically wearing him down, setting up the heroics of Jackson, Damon, and Magglio. None of them hit the ball especially hard, but it was good enough to briefly tie the game. Plus, the Tigers combined to make Feliz throw 31 pitches, which means he probably won’t be available tonight. Brennan Boesch had a successful debut at the plate, with two hits, but needs to work on the baserunning a bit. He didn’t tag up on a play he should have, and then got doubled off with the bases loaded in a key moment.

Tonight’s game will send Dontrelle Willis to the mound. He pitched the best he’s done all season on Monday but still got the loss. Texas is the only team he’s beaten as a Tiger. As a matter of fact, he had a really good start against them in that win, throwing a one-hitter. That was at Comerica Park, though. I’m not sure if being in Ranger Ballpark (much more home-run friendly) will make a difference. Most of the Rangers, obviously, don’t have much history against him. Ryan Garko’s gotten him pretty good in their brief meetings (3-for-6 with a home run, a triple, and 6 RBIs). Scott Feldman was supposed to start last night but he was sick. He didn’t do too well in his last start, which was against the Yankees, lasting only 2.1 innings. He was the Rangers’ best pitcher last year, winning seventeen games. His ERA against the Tigers is over eight, and when they saw him last year, they knocked him out pretty early. Most of that historical damage must have come from former Tigers because there’s nothing eye-popping about the current crop (I do remember Granderson hitting two home runs off him). There’s a couple guys with decent enough numbers. Cabrera’s 2-for-5 and Everett is 3-for-8. Everyone who’s faced him has at least one hit against him except Gerald Laird (but that’s 0-for-2, which is pretty meaningless). I’ll be at work until 9:00 tonight, which means I’ll miss the beginning of the game.

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