Saturday, June 12, 2010

Outsmarting the Smart Guy

Photo: AP

While most of you were stuck in a soccer hangover, I was enjoying a Tigers win. I’ll believe Justin Verlander when he said his fastball command was all over the place. He walked quite a few and there were some loud outs, but combine the fact that he has some of the best raw stuff in baseball with the fact that the Tigers have been playing defense the way I know they’re capable of playing and it only added up to giving up two runs, one of which came after Phil Coke gave up a base hit. Austin Jackson made a spectacular catch in deep right center, and Don Kelly made a nice catch in the seats against Neil Walker (His brother-in-law later returned the favor).

The Tigers couldn’t do much against Ross Ohlendorf early, and then a solo shot by Brennan Boesch that went a really long way kind of opened the flood gates. I knew very little about the stuff that Ohlendorf features, but I do know that he’s smart, and the way you defeat smart people is to get them to overthink the situation (I think this is what got Galarraga in trouble a lot last year; you could tell that’s what he was doing whenever he got really slow on the mound). I know this because I myself am prone to this weakness. Just about every smart person has this weakness. At any rate, the Tigers were able to do that in the sixth inning. They had him making multiple throws over to first and taking a long time on the mound, and he finally made a mistake to Santiago and paid for it. All the Tigers runs scored with two outs and there was a lot of contribution from the bottom of the order. Miguel Cabrera went 0-4 again, which wasn’t real pleasant to watch, but his slumps usually don’t last too long. I think he misses having Magglio in the lineup, though.

Tonight is the Negro Leagues Tribute game, and so it’ll be the Detroit Stars against the Pittsburgh Crawfords (or, if you’re Ryan Field, the Pittsburgh Keystones). It’s been a really long time since Jeremy Bonderman pitched with the throwback uniform. I’m pretty sure he had it in 2005, then Justin Verlander had it for three straight seasons, and then last year it was Armando Galarraga (and I’d like to point out the irony of having a white guy be the starting pitcher for the Negro Leagues game in at least 5 of the last 6 seasons). Bonderman got lit up in his last start, which was against the Royals. He last pitched against the Pirates in 2006, but he’s only seen four of the current crop. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh sends their ace to the mound in lefty Paul Maholm. And he is a very good pitcher. The Tigers probably won’t have such an easy time of it tonight. The only two who have seen him before are Miguel Cabrera and Johnny Damon.  

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