This is going to be shorter than it should be because I wasted time all day and now all of a sudden, the next game starts in less than an hour. It took almost everything they had, but the Tigers did manage to gain a split in the doubleheader. I only was able to listen to the ninth inning of the first game and I was surprised to hear Jose Valverde giving up a home run to lose the game. He proceeded to give up a home run in the nightcap as well, which is odd. I am wondering if it has something to do with the line drive he took off his knee to begin the ninth inning of the first game. In the first game, it was a shame, because by all accounts, Armando Galarraga was very strong. I had been worried that the Blue Jays would be a bad match for him because of all the home runs they hit (and he did give up a couple), but at the same time, I failed to realize that when he’s at his best, he can mow down an aggressive team. From what I hear (and not just from Jim Price), the movement on his pitches was better than it had been most of the year. In the nightcap, Bonderman was not as sharp as Galarraga, but he held his own for most of the game. It’s hard to keep track (since most of us were stuck listening to the radio), but it seemed like the Jays got an awful lot of infield singles. At any rate, the Tigers were running out of time when Ryan Raburn came through with a three run double to give the Tigers the lead. Some people in the media and some other bloggers were referring to that almost as if the Tigers should be embarrassed about Raburn being the hero, or that they should have lost “for their own good” in order to avoid false hope. I find it reassuring that the hero was not one of the usual suspects like Cabrera (though he did provide some heroics of his own in both games which shouldn’t be overlooked). I still feel like the Tigers can still hang in there if they can just get one more big bat. Also, I feel like I should note that it looks (or rather, sounds) like Brennan Boesch is beginning to come around. By all accounts, his at-bats were better in the doubleheader (though he only got one hit to show for it), and he was showing a lot more plate discipline. We’ll see what happens going forward.
Tonight begins what ought to be a grueling road trip through two of the three “Beasts of the East.” First up is four against the Rays. Oddly enough, the Rays actually have a better road record than home record, but they are still a formidable foe. The Tigers’ fortunes at Tropicana Field have been mixed over the last couple years. In 2009, they swept the Rays. In 2008, they got swept. Those were both three-game series. This is a four-gamer, and that old adage about wanting a split should be appropriate. Max Scherzer gets the start for the Tigers. He was stellar in his last start against the Rangers. He’s never faced the Rays before, and the only hitter of theirs that he’s seen is Matt Joyce. That came back when Scherzer was a Diamondback and Joyce was a Tiger. Joyce is 0-3 (I know Joyce hit a home run in that game and up until now I thought it was off Scherzer, but apparently not). Meanwhile, the Tigers will face Matt Garza. They’ve been successful against him in terms of wins/losses and ERA, but most of their hitters haven’t done much against him. Maggs was pretty much the only one who owned him. Other than that, Gerald Laird’s got the best numbers at 2-5. Cabrera’s only 1-6, but that one hit was a home run (I always seem to be saying that every time Cabrera’s only got one career hit off any particular pitcher).