Tuesday, May 25, 2010

I Finally Got My Vin Scully Game

Photo: AP

I meant to do this yesterday, but you’ll have to deal with the lateness. Baseball is a funny game. I think there were at least two or three other games this season where Rick Porcello lost or gave up more runs and yet had his pitches working better than in this start. I suppose the law of averages would have them even out, but the important thing is that he won. It was certainly target practice, though. Rick had at least three line drives hit right back at him (one of which he managed to catch), so he’s a little beat up, to say the least. Still, he probably saved his best pitch for last, getting Manny Ramirez on an easy grounder to third to end a bases-loaded threat. At any rate, all is well now and I can go back to liking the Dodgers as my NL team.

It was a pretty decent all-around day for the offense (though they didn’t do much in the middle innings). They might have benefitted from the fact that Hiroki Kuroda was lifted when he was (since his pitch count was still quite low, but that’s one of those rare instances where National League rules worked in the Tigers’ favor), since they didn’t do anything against him after the first and they were able to do damage against the Dodgers’ bullpen. Everyone’s favorite Venezuelans each hit a home run in this game, and the tack-on runs in the ninth came via a unique set of circumstances. I was a tad disappointed that Dontrelle Willis ended up not getting a chance to pinch-hit (though Leyland hasn’t ruled out using him as a pinch-hitter during the second round of Interleague play, though we probably won’t see him pinch-hit in an AL game). I found it amusing that Joe Torre respected Dontrelle as a hitter enough that he brought in a lefty to face him. Of course, that burned Dontrelle and brought in Adam Everett, but it worked out okay with the suicide squeeze (which I know Leyland hates doing, but he has to do it at least once in a while so that opposing managers can’t automatically rule it out).

The Tigers spent yesterday as an off-day in Seattle. Tonight and tomorrow there’s a 2-game series, and then another off-day, which doesn’t make much sense, especially since they’ve spent most of the season playing in long stretches with no off-day. There has been a TON of speculation about how these off-days are going to manipulate the rotation, and whether starts are gonna be skipped or someone put in the bullpen or anything like that. I really don’t think starts need to be skipped (and both of the two most likely candidates to be skipped, namely Willis and Galarraga, have shown that they don’t do especially well on a ton of rest and they’ve been a lot better as starters than relievers), unless Rick Porcello could use a few extra days for the bruises to heal (then you head back into the “too strong” argument). And right now the ‘pen is at full strength, though you don’t know what will happen in these two games. Still, with Justin Verlander going tonight, you would hope the bullpen wouldn’t have THAT much work in this series (and again, the off-day on Thursday would serve as another recharge). However, JV hasn’t beaten the Mariners since 2008, and it’s been a really long time since he pitched a good game at Safeco Field. He’s 3-3 in six starts there with a 4.14 ERA, but that win/loss total means he won his first 3 games there and now he has lost three straight (because I remember the three loses; one each in the past three years). He’s never given up a home run there, which I found interesting, but then again it’s not a home run-friendly park and the Mariners don’t have a lot of power hitters. The Mariners’ offense has been struggling for the most part (though they did score 15 runs on Friday). I guess what I find shocking is that Chone Figgins (who I admittedly fantasized playing left field for the Tigers) is only around .200. However, they’re pretty much the only team the Tigers have seen who have demonstrated that they will run on any pitcher/catcher combo there is. Meanwhile, the Tigers will face Chip Caray’s favorite pitcher: Doug Fister (if you’ve watched TBS postseason, you will know what I mean). Fister is a right-hander with a ridiculously low 1.89 ERA. I know nothing else about him, and the only Tiger who has faced him before is Johnny Damon (3-7 with a double). To complicate matters more for the offense, they will be without the services of Miguel Cabrera for this series, as he has flown to Florida to be with his wife for the birth of their second daughter (so I hereby congratulate the Cabreras, and I look forward to seeing Miguel back in Detroit on Friday). I’m guessing the plan will be for Don Kelly to play first base tonight and Ryan Raburn tomorrow, but no word on who will be batting cleanup. That might depend on how Austin Jackson’s swollen eye is doing. Last I heard, the training staff was optimistic that he’d be able to play, but we’ll see. And with that, here’s your Mood Music, in honor of the final late-night game of the season:

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