Sunday, July 25, 2010

These are the Times that Try Men's Souls

When all else fails, get literary. Anyways, I’ve got some analysis, reporting, cheerleading (because no one else will), and previewing to do, and not much time to do it in. First, last night’s game, minus the injuries (I’ll get to those in a minute). Rick Porcello was not as sharp as he had been in Cleveland, but he still looked pretty good, definitely well enough to win. The three runs he gave up were on a groundout, a bloop single, and a fielder’s choice (this from a team who lives and dies by the home run and isn’t really known for their manufacturing). They got some good work out of the bullpen as well. As far as offense goes, you’d say that two runs on ten hits is inefficient, and it is, but those hits sure were scattered. They had a hit in every inning except the ninth, but a lot of those came with two outs, and they only got the leadoff man on once.

Of course, the more serious blow had nothing to do with the score. All day yesterday, I had a really odd feeling about this game, like something would happen that would set off a chain of events leading us all down an unpleasant and undesirable path. I think I found what was bothering me. Magglio fractured his ankle sliding into home plate and will be out 6-8 weeks. Was it because he was already dealing with soreness in that ankle? I don’t know. It looked like he got his spikes stuck in the dirt as he was beginning his slide. Perhaps that was the final blow that snapped an already weakened ankle, although if that’s the case and the ankle was already that feeble, it was probably only a matter of time before that happened and he should not have been playing anyways (It’s hard to say, because they were really vague about what the original injury was other than it was “sore”). On the other hand, it could have just been a freak thing that would have happened even if his ankle were completely healthy. The Tigers have also had to place Carlos Guillen on the DL with a calf strain. There’s no timetable on him, although I can’t imagine he’d be out as long as Magglio. All signs point to the Tigers calling up Jeff Larish and Will Rhymes. Larish you already know from his previous stints with the Tigers. Will Rhymes has been one of the hottest hitters for the Mud Hens recently. He doesn’t have a lot in the way of power (though he did homer in a Mud Hens game I was at recently), but he has some speed, having stolen 20 bases for the Hens. And he’s not real tall, but then again, neither is David Eckstein. And now I’m going to get on the soapbox, because no one else will. There’s a lot of doom and gloom in Tigerdom, and that’s understandable, but I say to you: The season is not lost! Magglio certainly wouldn’t want them to give up, and if they do, shame on them. This is still a very winnable division, and the White Sox and Twins are both dealing with key injuries of their own. Plus, all this has happened before the Trade Deadline. It’s entirely possible that Dave Dombrowski can go get a bat or two. There are two, and only two, players who are the true lifeblood of this team. Those would be Verlander and Cabrera. The loss of either of those two would be a season-killer. Only in that case would I give up this early. There is just too much baseball left to be played to pack it in now. The Tigers got oh-so-close last year, and they only had consistent production from two, maybe three guys. There’s no reason that some of the underperformers this year can’t step it up. As the Twins taught us last year, sometimes all it takes is one hot month. And I will remind you that the Tigers still have fourteen games remaining with the division leaders (as well as six against the Twins). And so I tell you: Do not go gentle into that good night.

At any rate, the Tigers don’t have a lot of time to cry over spilled milk. There’s a lot of baseball to be played today with a day-night doubleheader. Unfortunately, I work today, so I will miss the day game. This is especially frustrating because they switched the starting pitchers, and so now Armando Galarraga will start the day game. Also, I am fairly certain that this will be his last start for the Tigers, although I am not as certain of that as I was before last night’s game. For a while there, it looked like the Tigers were going to acquire a starting pitcher, and that may still happen. It’s possible that Galarraga would be included in such a trade, but either way, the new starting pitcher would almost certainly replace him in the rotation. Also, the Tigers need a spot starter on Wednesday. I heard from Dan and Jim on the radio last night that they would prefer to have someone in the bullpen start and not have to make a roster move, but that’s entirely dependent on what happens the next few days. If Galarraga can give some good innings and spare the bullpen like he did in his last start, he might be okay. But I still think the odds are against him. It’s probably not a particularly good matchup for him, because he’s prone to giving up home runs (always has been; that’s fine as long as they are solo shots) and the Blue Jays hit a lot of home runs. He hasn’t faced them since 2008, where he made one decent and one very good start against them. The Blue Jays will start lefty Brett Cecil, who I admittedly know very little about. He struggled in three starts toward the end of June, but his July numbers have been pretty good (against the Yankees, Twins, and Royals). Johnny Damon is the only Tiger who has faced him (0-3). The nightcap will feature Jeremy Bonderman against Jesse Litsch. Bonderman was shaky in his last start against the Rangers, although he came away with a no-decision. Litsch does not have a real good ERA, but I seem to remember him getting locked into a pitching duel with Armando Galarraga back in 2008 (which the Tigers eventually won).

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