Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Dancing Knuckler

Somewhat short post today (again), because I didn’t see a lot of this game and I’ve got an exam and work coming up today. I suppose Jeremy Bonderman pitched all right, but he could not get Jose Reyes out. It was a rare night where I did have internet access at work, but Yahoo messed up and never indicated that Joel Zumaya was in the game (It also got stuck after the wild pitch, which it said was on the exact same play as the preceding single, and at that point the pharmacy closed so I just went home). When I got to the car, the first thing I heard was “3-2 pitch way out of the strike zone, and you’ve got to believe that’ll be the end of his night,” and I still believed Bonderman was in there. Zumaya had not had a real rough outing up to this point, so the only concern I have is that in years past, control problems have been an indication that he was hiding an injury. And I swear Dan Dickerson later said something about someone (Ike Davis, I think), getting a bunt single on an 0-2 pitch, but I have not been able to verify this. Meanwhile, as I said yesterday, if the knuckleball is working, the hitters are in for a rough night. And with what is now a 6-0 record and an ERA in the low twos, R.A. Dickey’s had it working for a while now. The Tigers are far from his only victim. And this random thought has occurred to me: It’s been a full two weeks since the batting order’s been “normal.” The last time the Tigers had their top four hitters in their typical spots was the final game in Kansas City. Magglio then missed the next six games, and after he came back, Austin Jackson was out. Now Austin Jackson is back, but they’re in National League ballparks and therefore someone gets squeezed out of the outfield every night. And Miguel Cabrera has not hit well in that span. Still, association does not imply causality, but I’m going to have to wait until the lineup is intact before I can figure out if that’s a coincidence or not.

And so the Tigers are in the position where they are trying to not get swept. And so far the only pitcher on their staff who has been capable of getting Mets hitters out without hemorrhaging runs is Enrique Gonzalez. This all adds up to quite a bit of pressure on Armando Galarraga. He had a rough outing in his last start, which was blamed on a combination of tentativeness and fatigue from the heat. Last I checked, it was supposed to be pretty warm in New York today. Galarraga has gotten a lot of attention from the New York media, which seems to have surprised him (It didn’t surprise me; he’s probably going to get extra attention just about every time the Tigers go somewhere they haven’t been this year, so he better get used to it). At any rate, he’s going to have to figure out how to shut down the Mets, because he is in need of a bounceback start and his next opponent will be much tougher. I’m not sure what he’s gonna do against Reyes, who is hitting just about everyone right now, but if he doesn’t have any better luck than his teammates, then it’ll be imperative for him to shut down the right-handed hitters in the lineup (namely, David Wright). Obviously, he’s never faced the Mets before, but he has a brief history with two of their hitters. Jason Bay is 0-2, and Rod Barajas is 1-2, with that one hit being a home run (that I don’t remember). The Tiger hitters (and Galarraga, for that matter), will face lefty Hisanori Takahashi (Wow, there are a lot of syllables in the starting pitcher matchup). He started the year in the bullpen, struggled, was moved to the rotation once John Maine was injured (I think), and has excelled ever since. Obviously, since this is his first year stateside, none of the Tigers have faced him before. And I’ll give you some Mood Music to rally around tonight (I stupidly thought this was a day game and switched shifts with someone, only to find out this was a night game).

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