Sunday, June 27, 2010

Did Atlanta Move to the West Coast When I Wasn't Looking?

More on crappy strike calls in a moment, but first I gotta talk about the pitching (surprisingly, the game was still going on when I got home, but they were in the ninth inning). From what I hear, Max Scherzer did pretty well, although he had some issues with walks near the end of his outing. Walks victimized Joel Zumaya even more (and again, I point out that wildness has been a warning sign of injury in Zumaya’s past), but all I heard from Jim Price the last two days is that Chipper Jones has no batspeed. If that’s true, how was he able to catch up to 100 MPH and launch it? Talk about lack of offense all you want, but once the setup men come in and you have a one-run lead, they’ve gotta protect it, whether the score is 1-0, 3-2, 5-4, 9-8, or 16-15. There’s no such thing as run support for relievers. If you’re eighth inning guy needs a 3-run cushion to pitch effectively, then he shouldn’t be pitching the eighth inning (and I don’t mean that as a knock on Zumaya at all). The Braves somehow got an insurance run in the eighth, which turned out to be big. The offense finally started to rally in the ninth, starting with a long home run by Cabrera. Then the walkathon followed. Everyone keeps complaining that those were gifts and that the Tigers should’ve hit more, but at least give Brandon Inge some credit. That was an epic at-bat, one of the best I’ve ever seen from him. He earned that walk. The walks to Worth and Laird were probably gifts, but the called third strike to Johnny Damon was a gift from the umpire to the Braves. I know it’s probably because I’m a Tigers fan and I watch all their games, but it seems like the Tigers get victimized by blatantly bad calls more than any other team (and I’m not talking about borderline strike/ball calls or bang-bang plays where it could’ve gone either way, but the replay shows that the guy was technically out/safe, and no, the Jim Joyce call is NOT included in that category). They say it all evens out, but I’ve yet to see a blatantly bad call go in the Tigers’ favor. Maybe that Denard Span call, but as I said at the time, Span had his back turned to the umpire, so I’m not sure there was a good way to see that he had caught it.

And so it is time to turn to Justin Verlander to avoid the sweep. He didn’t have it in his last start against the Mets. He’s faced the Braves once before and beat them, with their only run coming on a Chipper Jones solo shot. The Braves will counter with hard-thrower Tommy Hanson, who was lit up even worse than Verlander in his last start, giving up nine earned runs in 3 and two-thirds innings. However, Hanson, like Verlander, is a much better pitcher than that. The only Tiger he’s faced before is Max Scherzer, which isn’t a big help. Maggs is supposed to get the day off today as well, so things get a little tougher for the offense. And I’ll be at work, with no chance of seeing any of this game. Boo again.

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