Saturday, September 11, 2010

Doing What I Always Said I Would and Yet I Feel I Haven't Won at All

In case you don’t know, that’s a line from a song, and oddly enough, I was going to use it for Mood Music last night but I couldn’t find a decent version of it on Youtube (the song is called “Where I Want to Be” and it’s from the musical Chess; it’s a good song from a good musical; you should try looking it up yourself and see if you have better luck than I). Shame, because it would have been a very appropriate song to describe what Armando Galarraga seems to be feeling right now. He pitched well last night. The only mistake he made was a hanging changeup to Jake Fox, who did what you’re supposed to do with hanging changeups and hit it a long way. Other than that, he did a good job, but only came away with a no-decision for his efforts. After the game, he lamented the fact that he only has four wins despite being in the rotation since mid-May and pitching fairly well in that span, especially recently. I know (and he probably knows) that wins aren’t all that important when you look at raw stats, but at the same time, they’re given quite a bit of weight by the mainstream media and the average fan. Plus, they serve as a sort of reward or recognition for your efforts. It’s probably not the correct way to look at it, but it is the conventional way. Maybe he was being a little selfish in his laments last night, but I can’t say I blame him, especially when he had just watched his teammates strand a leadoff triple in the bottom half of his final inning of work. Galarraga has eleven no-decisions this year in twenty starts, and a lot of those no-decisions are due to a combination of very little run support and the bullpen blowing late leads or ties. If the Tigers had been winning those games, he probably wouldn’t be so depressed about it. But in his last four starts, he has left either in a tie or with the lead, and the Tigers have lost all four, largely in part to bullpen meltdowns. So I understand his frustration and I think he just felt the need to vent a little. Once he got that off his chest he seemed much more relaxed in his postgame interview. I just hope he continues to pitch well and do what he needs to do to claim a spot in the rotation for next year. That’s all he can control right now. Galarraga’s comments did leave me wondering who holds the record for most no-decisions in a single season. I wasn’t able to find an answer on a source like Baseball-reference or the Baseball Almanac, but I did find one website which mentioned that Bert Blyleven had twenty no-decisions in 37 starts back in 1979 (He went 12-5 that year), so I’m going to go with that for now.

The offense has been odd recently. They surprisingly chugged along just fine without Miguel Cabrera for two games (actually, three, since he didn’t contribute much in the game where he left with the biceps tendinitis). Last night, Cabrera returned to the lineup and he basically WAS the offense. It was nice to see him back in there producing, though. He hit his first home run at Comerica Park since July 19th (another welcome sight). Outside of that, though, there wasn’t a lot going on. I already mentioned stranding the leadoff triple by Austin Jackson (who had three hits, actually). Will Rhymes struck out on a bad pitch to swing at. Johnny Damon popped out (though, in fairness, I thought that ball would bloop into shallow left; then again, my depth perception sucks). Then, after an intentional walk to Cabrera, Ryan Raburn had an absolutely terrible at-bat, swinging at two pitches that bounced into the left-handed batter’s box (And I’d have the same opinion of that at-bat no matter who was hitting). They also had a situation earlier where they had runners at second and third with one out and couldn’t get the run home. And I suppose I should mention that the Jim Joyce thing was a non-issue, just as I expected. I’ve always enjoyed his strike call, and I don’t remember ever taking issue with his strike zone. I honestly do think he’s one of the better umpires in the league, despite the blown call heard ‘round the world. Not that I familiarize myself with all the umpires in baseball.

The series continues with Max Scherzer taking the hill for the Tigers. He hasn’t fared much better than Galarraga in terms of getting wins recently, despite being one of the best pitchers in baseball since the All-Star Break. He’s got a 1.98 earned run average in that span, but the Tigers are only 4-6 in his starts. He’s coming off two consecutive no-decisions in which the Tigers have lost the game. He wasn’t as sharp as he has been in his last start, where he gave up four runs to the White Sox, but he lasted into the eighth inning. He’s beaten the Orioles already once this year, but as I’ve mentioned, the Orioles have been playing much better recently. Their starter tonight is an example of that. Jeremy Guthrie has pitched almost as well as Scherzer in the second half, to the tune of a 2.10 ERA. And so we’ve got two hot pitchers opposing each other. Something’s gotta give.

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