Wednesday, May 5, 2010

But There is No Joy in Detroit-ville...

Or in a great deal of Michigan and parts of Ohio, I would say (and yes, that was a really bad attempt at evoking “Casey At Bat”). The Red Wings (who would have no problem with the San Jose Sharks, or so I was told by a great many people who know much more about hockey than I do) lost and are now on the verge of getting swept (with dire consequences). The Tigers lost and are also on the verge of getting swept (with sucky-but-not-quite-so-dire consequences). And, of course, the passing of Ernie Harwell kind of pushes all that aside (as evidence of that, the Bless You Boys post on Ernie currently has 42 comments, while the post on the game recap has one). I’ll work on my requisite Ernie Harwell piece over the off-day and have it for you on Friday (It’ll be short, as I don’t have a lot of memories of him, regrettably). For now, there is still baseball to discuss.

Dontrelle Willis started off shaky, but finished fairly strong. If that’s going to be a rough outing for him, I’ll take it. He kept the Tigers in the game, as did Zumaya. Meanwhile, perhaps I was wrong about a guy’s sinker not sinking on extra rest, cuz the Tigers sure did pound a lot of pitches into the dirt. Nick Blackburn managed to vulture his own complete-game win. The final inning of this game was characterized by rookie power followed by rookie failure. Brennan Boesch hit one of the longest home runs I have ever seen (398 feet? Really? That thing just about made it out of the stadium). Alex Avila doubled, though I’m not sure why that wasn’t called an error (He hit the ball hard, but Young dropped the ball in a similar fashion to the Raburn clank-job from last week and that was called an error). After that it kind of went downhill. Avila rounded third too aggressively and didn’t see the stop sign when Santiago’s bit for a run-scoring single was snagged by J.J. Hardy and he got trapped off third for the final out of the inning. In the bottom of the ninth, what probably should have been a double by Hardy got played into a triple by Jackson and Boesch, both of whom got too close to the wall (although, in fairness, no one, rookie or veteran, really knows how that wall will play yet). Then came the wild pitch that scored Hardy for the winning run. And it was ruled a wild pitch, but to me at least it looked like it was a blockable ball (Let’s not forget that Avila is still learning the finer points of catching). I’ve seen passed balls charged on tougher plays than that.

Well, if the Tigers don’t want to get swept, they’ll have to get some good work out of Rick Porcello, or else chants of “We want Galarraga” will echo throughout the land (though, to tell you the truth, considering Armando’s bad history against the Twins, he probably wouldn’t be much help in this particular game). Now’s the time for the stat geeks’ predictions to come true. He looked better in his last start, though the final line doesn’t indicate that. He was getting more groundballs, but didn’t get away with any mistakes. However, there seemed to be fewer mistakes. Rick hasn’t pitched against the Twins since game 163, which was one of his best starts. Jason Kubel has mashed against him, as has Delmon Young. Everyone else’s numbers are pretty pedestrian. The Tigers will face Kevin Slowey, and here’s where I give you that warning I give every year: At some point this season I will call him “Kyle.” I don’t know why. I just have an incredible urge to call him Kyle. His mother totally should have named him that. Anyways, Kevin (not Kyle) Slowey is 3-0 with a 6.50 ERA against the Tigers. He must get some massive run support with those numbers (either that or the ERA ballooned in one outing, cuz I really don’t remember the Tigers knocking this guy around). Plus, that damage must’ve been done by guys who have moved on, because the current numbers would not seem to indicate that ERA. No Tiger has homered off him (hell, there are only two extra-base hits off him), and there are several people in today’s lineup whom he has not faced (or has seen very little of). Johnny Damon is 4-for-10 against him, while Magglio is a respectable 3-for-9, but Cabrera’s only 1-for-10. Ouch. The Tigers will begin wearing patches on their sleeves honoring Ernie Harwell starting today (I imagine the patches were made up before the season started; it was just a matter of them getting sewn on).

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