Friday, June 25, 2010

The Great Escape

Photo: AP

Going into this series, I said that the Mets were kind of a middle-of-the-road offense, but the Tigers’ pitching staff had almost as much trouble getting them out as they do the Twins. I saw very little of Armando Galarraga (it was the bottom of the sixth when I got home), but it looks as though he did a good job for most of the game (Leyland’s comments indicate as much), even though Pitch f/x indicates a rather tight strike zone. He ran into trouble in the sixth, but his issues mostly centered around the first three batters he faced. The other two runs scored on a very weak ground ball to short and a bloop single. The bullpen had a very trying time with holding the Mets down and it seemed like every single pitch was a pressure pitch. Phil Coke came up big in the seventh against two dangerous hitters in Wright and Davis. And then in the ninth inning, after all the stress that everyone else on the staff has been pitching in during the last three days, Jose Valverde came in, set down Reyes, Feliciano, and Wright in order, and made it look easy. I’m not going to devote a paragraph to the offense because all the scoring happened before I got home, so I really have no insight to give on that.

And so we have come to the final Interleague series of the year, and it comes against the Atlanta Braves. They just got swept by the White Sox, and so it is my hope that they will be just as accommodating to the Tigers. However, they have the best home record in the major leagues (they’ve only lost seven games at home all year). They will start Kris Medlen tonight, who took Jair Jurrjens’s spot in the rotation when Jurrjens went down with an injury. Jurrjens is slated to return soon, but Medlen has pitched pretty well in his stead. He gave up four runs in his last start but the Braves won that game. Johnny Damon is the only Tiger hitter who has faced him. He’s 1-2 (Yes, Max Scherzer has also faced him, but he’s not a hitter). And for the Tigers, lefty Andy Oliver will make his major league debut tonight, having been called up from Erie. You can find more detailed scouting reports elsewhere, but he throws pretty hard for a lefty (usually 92-93, but can get as high as 96). His secondary pitches are still kind of a work in progress, and some fear that promoting him now will cause him to go the way of Andrew Miller, but I feel that would only happen if they let him linger in the rotation too long. Two or three starts probably wouldn’t break him, so to speak. And Rick Porcello pitched very well for Toledo last night, so hopefully he’ll be back soon.

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