Thursday, May 20, 2010

Justin Verlander is the Man

Photo: AP

This might be a short post, since I’m in class right now, but we’ll see where I go with this (There’s a stream of consciousness for you). The sleep deprivation (and subsequent gagging down of iced mocha something-or-other) was worth it. Justin Verlander made it worth it all by himself. And he says he didn’t have his best stuff, yet still went the distance. We should all be so lucky. I was kind of hoping for a low pitch count game, but 116 pitches in nine innings is a lot better than 116 pitches in five or six innings. He hasn’t really had a high-strikeout game yet, but those will come if he keeps pitching the way he has, which is awesome.

Most of the game was an epic pitching duel between Verlander and Braden, until Brandon Inge opened the scoring in the seventh with a solo home run. I had observed that he was swinging the bat a little bit better in recent days, and finally got rewarded. And on his birthday, no less (That makes him the second Tiger to homer on his birthday this year; Miguel Cabrera was the other, and in case you’re interested, the next birthday among position players is Ramon Santiago’s on August 31, so you’ve got a long wait). Gerald Laird’s bunt base hit chased Braden from the game, and the Tigers were able to get some breathing room after that. It was a good game for a lot of the rookies. Casper Wells had his first big league hit and later his first RBIs. Austin Jackson had two hits, and Danny Worth had three. The only rookie who didn’t really join in on the fun was Brennan Boesch.

I meant to discuss this yesterday, and I forgot. A lot of the Tigers writers have taken up a vigil on who will be the last mohawk standing. Much to the chagrin of some Tigers fans (not me), the number of players with mohawks is shrinking rather than increasing. Not including Scott Pickens (who I rarely ever see) or the two fauxhawks (which look okay), we currently stand at two down, six to go. Alex Avila got rid of his at the “suggestion” of his fiancée (I like her already) last week, and Brandon Inge disposed of his a couple days ago (though I don’t buy his explanation that it was because he wasn’t hitting with it, since he doesn’t strike me as all that superstitious; more likely, he either just plain got tired of it or his wife got in his ear about it, despite his statements to the contrary). Yes, Brandon looks terrible right now, but he’ll look okay in a few weeks (Alex Avila can grow a full beard in the span of about four innings, so his hair will be back in no time).

The Tigers wrap up this brief two-game series in Oakland today, and this is a place where they’ve had a tough time winning series (although in this case they’re either gonna sweep or split). The last time we saw Jeremy Bonderman, he pitched a solid inning of relief against the Red Sox. He was also solid in his last start, which was against the Yankees, but took the loss because he didn’t get any run support. I don’t even remember the last time he faced the A’s. It’s been quite a while, because he only has a history against three batters, and the only one with significant history is Eric Chavez (6-15 with 2 doubles). The A’s are starting rookie Tyson Ross, who has mostly pitched out of the bullpen this year, but did make one spot start. Apparently it was the plan that he go back to the bullpen, but he’s getting another start (no explanation provided as to why, although the A’s have had some injuries to the starting rotation recently). Obviously, no Tiger has faced him before, although he’s a former college teammate of Brennan Boesch.

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