Sunday, May 16, 2010

Walk of Irony

Photo: AP

It’s not often when I return home from work during the seventh inning and I get to watch almost an entire game’s worth of innings, but there you go. Then again, the walkathon sponsored by the Tigers’ pitching staff kinda made that possible. A lot of that was Dontrelle Willis, who was gone before I got home (though I did manage to sneak onto Yahoo Sports during the game, which doesn’t tell you anything beyond a bunch of numbers and some play-by-play).  I meant to make an assessment during the replay of the game on FSD, but I ended up only half-paying attention to it. I am told that the majority of his walks were on pitches that were definitely not strikes, but not absurdly wild. I did see some of the “knock the catcher over” variety, but that was in one at-bat to Scutaro (I think). However, I’m not sure if I’m supposed to take anything away from that start. There are too many confounding variables. He hadn’t pitched in 11 days, and if he had been as sick as they made it sound earlier in the week, well, that would’ve taken a lot out of him. He looked tired out there, that’s for sure. At any rate, he needs to be given another start in order to see if he can bounce back. As an aside, I noticed that he was wearing one of Miguel Cabrera’s Duquesne t-shirts under his jersey last night. The bullpen held down the fort for the most part, although they too walked an excessive amount of Red Sox hitters.

As I alluded to in the title, on a night where the Tigers walked twelve batters, they scored the winning run on a bases-loaded walk. Of course, Ramon Santiago almost forgot to take his base and the shot of Magglio jogging home while frantically pointing to first was hilarious. Maggs had sparked a big rally himself with a solo home run (He had three hits last night to go with three hits the night before; perhaps he’s starting to get into a groove again). Brennan Boesch? Just keep milking. Brandon Inge caught some flak for not delivering the winning run, but he had 2 RBIs, including a game-tying double, so I’m not gonna complain.

It’s time for the rubber game of this series, and it comes in the wake of a flurry of roster moves. Armando Galarraga is not just making a spot start, he’s joining the rotation for the time being. He’ll be taking the place of Max Scherzer, who was sent down to Toledo after the game last night. Scott Sizemore, who has been really struggling recently, was also sent down, and Carlos Guillen will be the starting second baseman once he comes off the DL. This is not too terribly surprising. I was not in agreement with those who wanted to move Guillen back to shortstop or third base. The Tigers already lead the league in errors, and with that in mind I did not want to sacrifice any more defense. Sizemore, on the other hand, has had issues defensively, so it’s unlikely that there will be that much of a downgrade. Besides, odds are Brennan Boesch will cool down at some point, and Guillen’s demonstrated a knack for hurting himself no matter what position he’s playing, so it’s not necessarily a permanent move. In the meantime, Danny Worth has been called up and will split the second base duties with Ramon Santiago and Don Kelly until Guillen is ready to come back. Back to Galarraga, though. The rotation has been shuffled somewhat, with Verlander going on Tuesday instead of Bonderman. Bonderman goes on Wednesday in Oakland, and Dontrelle Willis will take what would have been Scherzer’s turn in the rotation so that Galarraga can pitch on normal rest Friday at Dodger Stadium. But he’s gotta get through this start first. He began the season at Toledo pitching exceptionally well before getting lit up for seven runs in four or five innings against the Norfolk Tides. That was two starts ago. He pitched pretty well in his last start (7 IP, 3 ER), but he gave up a lot of baserunners in those seven innings. And I feel really bad for him. The Tigers want to take this series, but the bullpen’s going to be really short today (By my estimation, it would be limited to Ni, Coke, Valverde, and maybe Perry). Basically, Armando’s under an enormous amount of pressure right now. And the Red Sox are not a good matchup for him. He has not really pitched well against him in the past, and a lot of his success lies in getting hitters to swing at stuff outside the strike zone (that’s not a bad thing; lots of pitchers rely on that). The Red Sox generally don’t swing at stuff outside the strike zone. I wish he’d drawn an easier opponent for his first trip out. But this is a golden opportunity for Armando. He’s been given a second chance, so to speak, and I really, really want him to take advantage of it. Meanwhile, the Tigers will be up against the former Angel, John Lackey. He was the ace of the Angels’ staff, but probably is thought of as the #2 or #3 starter in Boston (although he is pitching better than Josh Beckett right now). The Tigers did beat him the last time they saw him, which was last August in Anaheim. Maggs, Cabrera, and Inge all have hit well against him. Laird has not (which is probably why he’s not in the lineup today; that and extra innings/day game after a four-and-a-half-hour night game). Austin Jackson gets the day off, but there are still four rookies in the lineup (Avila, Boesch, Kelly, and Worth).  Your Mood Music for today: I thought about going with a Dudley Do-Right cartoon in honor of John Lackey (Seriously, have you ever heard him talk?), but I finally decided that “Under Pressure” was more appropriate given what I’ve discussed in this post.

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