Friday, May 14, 2010

Exclamation Point

Photo: Getty Images

As expected, I did not see this game (except for the top of the first), but I did watch the replay later in the evening. Justin Verlander, Miguel Cabrera, and Brennan Boesch served to prove that you don’t need a mohawk to be badass. Verlander seems to be in the midst of another fine May. Perhaps this wasn’t his best start ever (he walked a few more than I’d like), but when you don’t have your best start ever and you still shut out the Yankees, that’s impressive. And with the exception of the ninth inning in game 2 of the doubleheader, the pitching on the whole was very, very good in this series. Now they just need to cut down on the errors.

One particular phrase kept popping up in the news reports on this game: Sabathia was efficient, while Verlander was effective. Sabathia didn’t throw many pitches, but the Tigers scored six runs off those few pitches. The brunt of the damage was done by Cabrera and Boesch, the latter of whom was only in the lineup because there are no right-handed outfielders on the bench right now.  I still say it’s likely he gets sent back down to Toledo whenever Guillen’s ready to return (simply because there would not be enough at-bats for him in Detroit), but there’s no harm in milking him for all he’s worth in the meantime. And Tigers fans are starting some early MVP whisperings for Cabrera (though the national media, by and large, has yet to catch on). However, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Gerald Laird’s two RBI hits. After enduring lineout after lineout, the balls are finally starting to fall in, even if one of them was a checked swing that made it into right field.

So after a very satisfactory series against the Yankees, it’s time to take on the Red Sox this weekend. Rick Porcello and Jeremy Bonderman put up very encouraging starts this week. It’s time for Max Scherzer to do the same. He did look better in his last start, which was against the Indians. Not all the way there, obviously, but better. He’s never faced the Red Sox in his career, and the only two Red Sox players who have faced him were both in the National League last year: Bill Hall (2-3 with a double) and Jeremy Hermida (1-3). Not a big sample size. Josh Beckett was supposed to start tonight, but he injured himself taking batting practice in preparation for Interleague play so his start his being skipped. It’s kind of a shame, because he had been struggling recently. Instead, the Tigers will face Clay Buchholz. Buchholz had been pitching well until his last start, when the Yankees got to him. However, he’s been pitching very well on the road. The Tigers have seen him twice before. In 2008, they scored five runs off him and ended up winning the game 10-9 (Buchholz received a no-decision). Last year, he got outdueled by Justin Verlander in a 2-0 Tigers win at Fenway Park. No Tiger has more than six plate appearances against him (Strangely, former division rival Johnny Damon has only seen him three times). Every Tiger who has seen him has at least one hit off him, but only one extra-base hit (Damon has a double). In addition (and this was only made official a few minutes ago), the Tigers have called up Casper Wells. To make room for him, Alfredo Figaro has been sent back down to Toledo. There will likely be other roster moves before too long, since the Tigers need a spot starter on Sunday (no way will Rick Porcello be pitching on short rest). Unless they want to go with a bullpen start again (not an ideal situation, since the Red Sox are known to tax your bullpen anyways), it’s looking like they’ll turn to Armando Galarraga for that honor (which will necessitate another roster move). Your Mood Music for tonight: How about some Ozzy Osbourne?

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