The Tigers were very obliging in winning this game before I had to go to work. Rick Porcello was once again very good, making it two good starts in a row against a team that had previously beat him up. During the postgame interview, Leyland seemed to think that Porcello had lucked out a little, in that he left some balls up but for the most part the White Sox hitters swung through them or popped them up or whatever (I suppose that makes up for him getting blooped to death against Kansas City). The only damage to him came from an Alex Rios 2-run homer and a series of wild pitches or passed balls (not sure what the ruling was) that scored Paul Konerko. And apparently Jose Valverde was unavailable with elbow soreness (and I know Jason Beck has said that’s a recent thing, but I still wonder), so Ryan Perry got the save.
For the second game in a row, the Tigers managed to score a respectable number of runs without the help of Miguel Cabrera. The stars of the show were Johnny Damon, Will Rhymes, and Jhonny Peralta. Johnny Damon had four hits, Will Rhymes had three hits, and Jhonny Peralta had two RBIs. Peralta’s name has been popping up a lot in the discussion for next year recently. Most of the online Tiger fans (and I’m not talking about those morons on Facebook or MLive comment section) don’t seem to be all that enthusiastic about him. I’m actually not sure what I think of him. Once he moved back to shortstop, I was expecting a redux of Edgar Renteria, but it really hasn’t been like that. He doesn’t have the greatest range in the world, but he’s made nearly all the plays and Brandon Inge makes up for the range issue. Whether he’s the best man for the job next year probably depends on what shortstops are available in the offseason, although I have grown somewhat trade-weary. Therefore, at this point, I am undecided.
So as it turns out, the Tigers were a hanging slider away from sweeping this series, but taking three of the four is nothing to sneeze at. Now comes a three-game series with the Orioles, who have been playing a lot better now that Buck Showalter is their manager (they are seven games over .500 since he took over; I’m not sure if he has anything to do with it or not, though). They just took two of three from the Yankees at Yankee Stadium, not an easy thing to do. The Tigers swept them back in July, but it was a really hard-fought sweep. Tonight’s starter for the Orioles, Kevin Millwood, pitched in that series and only lasted an inning (that game turned into an absolute slugfest on a VERY hot day). He’s currently got a 3-15 record with an ERA over five. Now, I’d definitely say he’s overpaid and was a little overrated in years past, but he’s not THAT bad. I’ve seen him pitch some games against the Tigers where he’s totally shut them down. I’ve also seen games where he got lit up by the Tigers. There doesn’t seem to be any in-between. Armando Galarraga also pitched in that series. It was a fairly decent start, but he was pitching through traffic for his entire outing before finally yielding a two-run homer to Nick Markakis. Prior to that, he had not had good numbers against the Orioles. He is coming off a shaky start in which he walked five but gave up only one run to the Royals (and that was only because a ball in the outfield was misplayed), although after the game he said he got lucky. It’s a distinct possibility that the command problems were related to elbow soreness and stiffness he was experiencing. He says his elbow feels fine now, and I hope he’s being honest (after all, he hid an elbow injury for a significant portion of last season), because he’d pitched very well in the previous three starts and I want him to finish the season strong in order to have a fighting chance at being in next year’s rotation. He’s not going to get that many chances to prove himself, though. Leyland has already announced that because of the two off-days next week, Galarraga’s next start after this one will be skipped (although I have not seen the specific reasoning; it could be from injury concern or it could be the “skip the fifth starter if you can” mentality). Not surprisingly, I’m not happy about this, for two reasons. One, I like watching Galarraga pitch. Two, I have missed Verlander’s last two starts due to work. I will miss his start on Sunday due to work. And now, thanks to skipping Galarraga, work will cause me to miss the start after that one as well. That will make FOUR consecutive Verlander starts I won’t see. That’s a long time to be deprived of Justin Verlander. Don’t get me wrong, I like Porcello and Scherzer (Bonderman I root for because he’s a Tiger, but that’s about it), but it gets old seeing only them over and over at the expense of two pitchers that I like better. But I suppose that’s something to complain about later. And in case you wanted some more intrigue, well, Jim Joyce will be the home plate umpire tonight. The media has certainly taken this story and run away with it (I saw one Free Press headline that made it sound like Galarraga and Joyce were members of a band on a reunion tour). Jim Joyce has been quoted as saying he’s glad he’s scheduled to work home plate and not first base. Galarraga has said it’s no big deal. And yet tonight’s game has kind of spurred a retrospective of sorts. Hopefully this one has a positive outcome.