Friday, June 18, 2010

Sweep Times Two

Photo: Getty Images

I couldn’t find a really funny picture for this one, so I’ll just give you the postgame high fives. Apparently Jeremy Bonderman’s day began with some really loud outs, although at the time I did not know this, since Gameday’s description of “Ryan Zimmerman flies out to center fielder Don Kelly” doesn’t tell you a whole lot beyond that. Luckily, class ended early and I was able to listen to or watch most of this game, and by then Bonderman had made an adjustment and settled in. Tigers pitching sure did rack up a lot of strikeouts in this series. And Valverde got a bit of a break, so I’m guessing he should be fresh and ready to go tonight if he’s needed.

It was a good day for just about everyone in the Tigers lineup. Every starter except Don Kelly got multiple hits. For the first time on the homestand, no one hit a home run, but they didn’t really need to. Two Tigers hit doubles right to the wall. One was Alex Avila who drove in two, and the other was Miguel Cabrera, who added to his league-leading RBI total with three on the day (which is good, because Vladimir Guerrero was starting to catch up again). And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Ramon Santiago, who had himself a 4-hit game.

And so this has been a very good homestand so far. Next up: The last-place Diamondbacks with a slew of former Tigers. This has the makings of one very awkward series, especially considering that tonight’s matchup essentially features the guy the Tigers cut loose against the man who replaced him. You didn’t think we’d see Dontrelle Willis again so soon, did you? Since departing for Arizona, he’s made two starts for them. In the first, he pitched quite well, throwing six shutout innings. In the second, he gave up two runs in four innings and walked six (also had two wild pitches and two balks). Do I even need to tell you what the game plan should be? A word of caution, though: Those of you who have watched all season know that Dontrelle has been quite good at getting himself out of trouble, usually in the form of a key double play. There’s no reason to think that won’t continue (It has to stop sometime because allowing that many baserunners will catch up to you eventually, but it hasn’t yet). And there actually are a few Tigers with history against him (Johnny Damon, Carlos Guillen, and Brandon Inge), but it’s been several years. Meanwhile, since replacing Willis in the rotation, Armando Galarraga has pitched three really good games, but has only come away with one win (no points for guessing which one that was). The Tigers have won all three of those games, but for the most part they have taken the lead very late in those games (This is a very plausible scenario for tonight because the Diamondbacks’ bullpen has been awful this year). He faced the D’Backs once before, back in 2008. He got the win and gave up only one hit, but he walked five in that game (That was a very strange game for all sorts of different reasons. That was the infamous sock rally game, Galarraga drew a walk when he was at the plate and actually scored the first run for the Tigers, Pudge made one of the most heads-up defensive plays I have ever seen late in the game, and the starting pitcher for Arizona that night was Max Scherzer). The only current Diamondback with a hit against him is Adam LaRoche, who is 2-2, but as I said, several of the others have at least one walk. One thing to watch for is that with the lefty starting for Arizona, Gerald Laird will likely be behind the plate tonight. He has only caught Galarraga once this year, and it was the one bad start against the Dodgers. Now, I’m a firm believer that both catchers should be able to catch all the pitchers, but Galarraga and Avila have had a nice rhythm going during these past three starts (and even last year, Avila seemed slightly better at keeping Armando focused and not overthinking). Still, I don’t mean that as a knock on Laird, and I would hope the two work just as well together. It’s just something to look out for. But you’ll have to do the looking out because I’ll be at work.

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