Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Fitting that Todd Jones was There

Photo: AP

If you’re still hyperventilating, think of it this way: The Tigers won’t get swept in this series. And they got a rather good pitching performance from Max Scherzer. I thought he fell behind in the count too many times, which got his pitch count up, but against the Yankees, it was a valiant effort. Still, it kind of taxed the bullpen. Phil Coke definitely won’t be available tonight, Ryan Perry probably won’t be available, and Jose Valverde is probably questionable. I can’t give any insight into what may be behind Valverde’s control problems, although in some of his other rocky outings he’s said that he’s been having problems gripping the ball. They did interview him in the postgame show last night, but he talks so fast that he’s extremely difficult to understand. However, I realize that most Tigers fans don’t know Valverde that well, since his entire career was spent in the National League, and there are some wondering whether he collapses in the second half or if this is the “real” Valverde, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Career-wise, his second half numbers are actually far better than his first half numbers. His ERA goes down by over a full run, the walks go down, the strikeouts go up, and the opponents’ batting average goes from .218 to .182, and the opponents’ on-base percentage and slugging percentage also go down (the only odd thing is that he has given up more triples in the second half, but that’s probably some wacky thing that doesn’t mean anything). Therefore, this year is unusual, but I couldn’t tell you the reason for it.

The Tigers’ offense made Javier Vazquez throw a lot of pitches and they got a lot of baserunners against him, but not much in the way of runs. The only blemish that Vazquez ended up with was Ryan Raburn’s 2-run homer. That ended up being enough (barely). There seemed to be a lot of stranding runners on called third strikes (I certainly couldn’t figure out the strikezone, that’s for sure). Johnny Damon got a very warm reception from the Yankee crowd (though that revamped mohawk was hideous; I’m guessing he did that deliberately just so he could show it off to his former fans and teammates). Meanwhile, the Yankee pitching staff didn’t pitch around Miguel Cabrera like a lot of teams have been. He did walk once, although Vazquez had such bad control I’m not sure if he was pitching around him or not. They may not be quite so aggressive in the rest of the series, since Cabrera homered in his last at-bat, but it’s something to watch out for. By the way, as expected, it looks as though all the guys involved in Sunday’s dugout brouhaha have made up and buried the hatchet (and if Rod Allen’s interpretations of events is the correct one, which I know is a dangerous assumption, it would be hypocritical of me to chastise Armando Galarraga for not taking the high road, because I can easily see myself doing the same thing were I in his position; when I mess something up, I don’t like being told that I messed up or what I was supposed to do, especially if I’m already frustrated). I did (inappropriately) find it funny that Galarraga inadvertently and in a really backwards way referred to himself and Avila (or Laird) as an old married couple (“It’s like your wife. Sometimes you disagree with your wife”).

This series continues tonight, and guess what? It’s another Verlander-Sabathia battle. This will be the fourth series in a row with the Yankees that those two have matched up against each other (plus, they opposed each other at least twice while Sabathia was with the Indians). Since Sabathia has become a Yankee, Verlander holds a 2-1 advantage, but that one loss came at Yankee Stadium (although it was a 2-1 loss for Verlander, so it’s not like he pitched badly). This year, Sabathia has more wins and a lower ERA overall, but his career numbers against the Tigers are around average (and he’s had a lot of decisions against them because of his days with the Indians). He’s 14-11 with a 4.65 ERA, and that’s in a whopping 29 starts. Miguel Cabrera’s pummeled him in his career (7-for-11 with a double and two home runs), and Gerald Laird also has very good numbers (7-for-15 with two doubles). On the opposite end of things, Brandon Inge is only 7-for-50 with fourteen strikeouts and only one RBI. Most of the Yankees don’t hit Verlander very well (Lance Berkman and Ramiro Peña are over .300 in very limited plate appearances). Nick Swisher has only hit .184 against him, but he does have three home runs off Verlander in his career.   

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