For a great deal of the season, the Tigers were a veritable powerhouse of Venezuelans, so much so that they earned their own nickname of the Venezuelan Mafia (And I can say with certainty that at least one of them knows about the nickname and the picture, thanks to JerseyTigerFan of Bless You Boys). At one point, the Tigers had five Venezuelans on their roster. While Enrique Gonzalez was not particularly prominent (he never even made it into the picture), the other four possessed some strong credentials: several All-Star appearances, a batting title, MVP candidacy, and a perfect game with a whole lotta class. But once the second half began, they started dropping like flies. Magglio’s season ended with a fractured ankle while sliding into home plate on July 24th. Carlos Guillen was lost for good about a month later when Brett Gardner slid into his knee. Enrique Gonzalez was designated for assignment and quietly faded away in Toledo. And now we have an answer to the question we hoped would never have one: Armando Galarraga is the last Venezuelan standing. My mention of high ankle sprains yesterday turned out to be prophetic, as that’s what has knocked Miguel Cabrera out of action for the remaining six games (I also woke up with a killer cramp in my right ankle, and I’ve never had ankle cramps before. I didn’t even know you could have ankle cramps). All I’ve seen as far as a timetable for recovery is that the Tigers.com article mentioned that the MRI revealed no major structural damage, which would seem to indicate a quicker recovery, just not fast enough with so little of the season remaining. Still, it’s not the way I wanted his season to end. As I said, I was excited at the prospect of him hitting forty home runs, and his RBI totals (and he was two away from establishing a career high in that category) might get passed by either A-Rod or Jose Bautista (or both). And these last six games just won’t be as much fun without him.
Okay, there is other business to attend to. Because of the rainout last night, the Tigers and Indians will play a “traditional” (i.e. you see two games for the price of one ticket, so it’s not done as often cuz ballparks don’t make as much money that way) doubleheader starting at 4:00 today. The pitching matchup for the first game is the same as it was last night, so no need to rehash that one. The second game features Josh Tomlin against Justin Verlander (in his last start of 2010, unless he wins tonight and can somehow talk Leyland into letting him start on Sunday). Both of them are coming off complete-game wins. Verlander was brilliant in his last start, and would have shut out the Twins if not for some untimely errors in the ninth that led to an unearned run. That was his second complete game in a row. Tomlin was beaten by the Tigers back on August 21st (I was at that game), but he has pitched decently in September. He has given up exactly three earned runs in every start he’s had this month except one, where he gave up six to the Royals. And so Tigers fans have a big block of baseball in store for them tonight. I do not know how I'm going to do this. I may do a brief post between games or I might do one big post tomorrow on both games.