Saturday, July 31, 2010

By the Skin of their Teeth...

Photo: AP

Winning at Fenway never seems to be easy. Armando Galarraga got off to a bit of a shaky start, but looked pretty strong after the first inning. His pitches looked to have decent movement on them, although his command was a bit spotty (It did not help matters that the home plate umpire was not calling the low strike. He was consistent with not calling the low strike, but it was more to Galarraga’s disadvantage than Lester’s because Lester has better stuff). And then Kevin Youkilis hit a line drive off his ankle and for a few minutes it looked as though the Tigers would sustain yet another major injury. Fortunately, it turned out just to be a bad bruise and while he’s really sore, he should be able to make his next start (if he has one). Unfortunately, it meant that he had to leave the game one out shy of qualifying for the win. Following that was some solid work out of the bullpen until the ninth inning. I don’t know what happened with Valverde there. I’d like to think it was just a fluke because of what he showed during the first half. I did wonder again if there was some sort of injury. He said afterwards that he had trouble gripping the ball, similar to what happened in that outing against Texas. I’m pretty sure that the David Ortiz grand slam would not have been a home run in Comerica Park because the walls are lower at Fenway Park (not 100% sure, because that’s right around that area with the camera well, where the wall is a bit lower), but it still would have been big time trouble and it would have cleared the bases. One thing’s for sure: Valverde will not be making another appearance in this series.

It was really, really weird to see Jhonny Peralta in a Tigers uniform. I mean, I’ve seen the game long enough to have seen guys I’m familiar with from other teams come and play for the Tigers, but I think this is the first one from a division rival. The other guys I spoke of I saw maybe a couple times a year. I’ve seen a ton of Peralta and due to my dislike of the Indians, I generally rooted against him. All of a sudden I find myself rooting for him. However, Peralta knew exactly what to do to endear the skeptical fans: Hit two home runs in his Tigers debut. Aside from that, the whole “game of inches” thing really came into play, and every one of those plays turned out to be crucial. Will Rhymes’s RBI double just bounced off Mike Cameron’s glove. Gerald Laird laid down a bunt that Kevin Youkilis missed the tag on. Laird would later score in the inning.

Well, after that hair-raising adventure, it’s time for a big Fox game (and hopefully the win last night will tone down the no-hitter crap). Max Scherzer will take the ball for the first time since he almost no-hit the Rays before being outdone by Matt Joyce. He faced the Red Sox earlier this year and it was disastrous, leading to him getting sent down to Toledo. David Ortiz hit two home runs in that game. Meanwhile, the Tigers will face Daisuke Matsusaka. He’s the type that could throw a no-hitter or walk nine in a game, sometimes at the same time. He’s been good in his last couple starts, though, and against the Tigers, he generally gives up a lot of baserunners, but not a lot of runs. Nothing really stands out in terms of individual matchups. Miguel Cabrera is 2-for-6, and Gerald Laird is 2-for-5, but Jhonny Peralta is 0-for-11.

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