Monday, July 5, 2010

Wrong Kind of Fireworks

It seems to me like the Tigers usually don’t fare well on the 4th of July, but I’m not about to go look that up. I said Cliff Lee was beatable, but that he would have to be outpitched. Jeremy Bonderman didn’t do that. The first group of runs he gave up were on a hanging slider to Russell Branyan and that’s Bonderman’s fault, plain and simple. After that, things got a little more complicated. There were several pitches that looked to be right down the middle that were called balls. Granted, Bonderman let that get into his head a bit too much, but I’m not sure where he was expected to throw his pitches for strikes. Anyways, that unraveled quickly and both Bonderman and Laird got tossed (Leyland tried his hardest to join them, but did not succeed in that endeavor). Meanwhile, the Tigers had several situations where they got the first two men on, but then nothing else happened.

Unfortunately, the BYBers, who cheered the Tigers to a victory on Saturday (pics), couldn’t bring the same mojo to the Mud Hens (pics), who lost their tenth straight game. Rick Porcello had one bad inning where he gave up four runs and only two balls left the infield (one of which was an out), otherwise he looked pretty strong. Larry Parrish was ejected arguing a close play at home plate. And the game actually turned out to be a rematch of the Tigers’ home opener, because the starting pitcher for Columbus was David Huff, but the Hens could do nothing against him. Twice, they had situations where someone doubled with a runner on first, but the runner was held at third and the next guy made an out, stranding two. The highlight of the night was when Alli, Jason, and I met Robbie Weinhardt and Scot Drucker, which was cool.

By the way, congratulations to Miguel Cabrera and Jose Valverde, who were named to the All-Star team yesterday. Cabrera actually won the player vote over Justin Morneau. It sounds as if he’s going to participate in the Home Run Derby as long as he gets over the kidney infection in time (Jason Beck finally learned that those aren’t cured with a single dose of antibiotics, and Cabrera is exhibiting other symptoms besides flank pain). However, that’s still a week away, so he should be feeling better by then. Meanwhile, Valverde’s definitely had an All-Star-worthy season, but it feels like he was flying under the radar so I thought he might be overlooked, but he wasn’t. If there were any snubs with the Tigers, it was Boesch and Verlander. I didn’t really expect Boesch to be named to the team, but I thought he’d have a real strong chance at the Final Vote. I’m not sure why Delmon Young was picked for that instead. Verlander’s ERA was probably a bit too high, but there’s still a chance for him to make it since any starting pitcher who pitches on Sunday will be ineligible, and right now there are several who are in line to start that day. However, Joe Girardi has already said that CC Sabathia will be replaced by Andy Pettitte, and as far as other potential replacements are concerned, I would think that Felix Hernandez and Jered Weaver would get preference over Verlander.

Today is an unusual day game to start a series (since the 4th of July was on a Sunday this year), and the last-place Baltimore Orioles are coming to town. For a while they looked like they had a shot at overtaking the 2003 Tigers for futility, but they have been playing slightly better recently. For instance, today’s starter, Kevin Millwood, started the season 0-8, but has now won three of his last four starts. His ERA isn’t pretty, but those more into sabremetrics than I am believe he’s pitching in a lot of bad luck and his peripheral stats would indicate that he’s actually doing better than what his ERA says. In the past, I have seen the Tigers light him up, and I have seen them get shut down by him. Cabrera and Maggs have hit him very well (.323 and .375, respectively, and Cabrera’s hit two home runs). Damon’s not as good from an average standpoint (.261), but he does have four doubles. Not of the other Tigers have really hit him well. Meanwhile, the Tigers have flip-flopped Andy Oliver and Armando Galarraga in the rotation, and so Oliver will start today. I like this move. First, it puts the hard-throwing lefty in between Bonderman and Galarraga (good idea, since I think those two feature similar stuff). Second, it sets the rotation so that Galarraga will not have to face the Twins this weekend, which does him a favor as well as the Tigers. Anyways, Andy Oliver is still looking for his first win. He was not as good against the Twins as he had been against the Braves, so hopefully he can bounce back against the Orioles, who don’t really have a good offense this year (and the Tigers have caught a big break because Luke Scott is on the DL right now).

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