Thursday, July 22, 2010

Unlikely Sources

Photo: AP

Nice to put that photo credit up again. I figured it would take something like a shutout to get the Tigers back on track, and they got one (technically, it wasn’t a shutout, but still). Max Scherzer did very well. I knew it was probably the Tigers’ night when he allowed a leadoff triple to Michael Young and Young didn’t score. The only blip on the pitching was that Jose Valverde was extremely, and uncharacteristically, wild. With the way he kept looking at his hand after almost every pitch, I thought that he might be battling a blister or torn callous or something, but after the game he said he didn’t know what the problem was. It’s possible he could still have a blister and not be telling anyone, but for now, that’s just speculation, and hopefully it’s a one-time thing and we won’t have to worry about it.

Another way to beat a losing streak is to get contributions from guys who have been struggling, and I would say Laird would qualify. It had even been a long time since he got robbed or lined out. But he came through this time with a home run and a single. And it was refreshing to see the Tigers turn a pop-up into a sac fly for once, instead of being victimized by it. Something else worth mentioning is that Austin Jackson had himself a rather good series.

Now it’s time to welcome in the Toronto Blue Jays for four games. If they were in the AL Central, they’d be right in the thick of the division race, but in the AL East, they are a distant fourth place. Their calling card: Home runs. And lots of them. And their pitching isn’t too bad. They’ll start lefty Ricky Romero in the day game today. He made his Major League debut against the Tigers back in April of last year. He also faced them in September. He has one win and one loss against them. He’s pitched well this year, as his 3.50 ERA will attest to, but I’ve seen a couple games where he’s laid an egg, so he is beatable. Every Tiger who has faced him has at least one hit, except Ryan Raburn (Raburn is still in the lineup to give Brennan Boesch a mental day off). No one has faced him more than seven times. Meanwhile, Justin Verlander, like Max Scherzer, is looking to bounce back from a wild outing against the Indians. He has faced the Blue Jays three times in his career and he has not pitched well against them. His ERA is over eleven, with two losses and a no-decision (that no-decision came courtesy of an Aubrey Huff pinch-hit home run in the ninth inning; that’s why I can’t dislike Huff entirely, because that home run was awesome). Most of the Blue Jays only have three or four plate appearances against him. Vernon Wells (who is enjoying a bounceback season) has owned him to a 5-7 clip. John Buck has faced him the most (thanks to playing for the Royals for many years). He’s 7-26, but one of those hits is a home run. It’s Christmas in July at Comerica Park, one of my least favorite promotions. I’m about ready to ask Santa for a long Tigers winning streak, though.

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