Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Dom Perignon and Circus Plays

Photo: AP

Again, this was kind of a strange game, but the Tigers pulled out a win in the end, which is the important part. Rick Porcello was on cruise control for the first four innings. It looked like he would have no trouble whatsoever. Then all of sudden, he gave up six straight hits to lead off the fifth inning. The first four were all hit very hard. The rest of the hits in the inning were bleeders and infield singles that happened to be bunched together. Jim Leyland said that Porcello was having trouble keeping his pitches down. I’ve heard that can happen with a sinkerballer on extra rest because he feels too strong (although the pitch that Yuniesky Betancourt hit out of the ballpark was a hanging slider). We’ll have to see what Porcello does in his next start (which won’t come on regular rest, either, but it’ll be closer than the long layoff he had this time). After some serious struggles in that last game in Chicago, the bullpen was much better this time. They got helped out by some good defense. Casper Wells made a terrific throw from the outfield to cut down Kila Ka’aihue trying to leg out a double, and Alex Avila made an even more entertaining play, falling into the Royals’ dugout to catch a popup (He nearly did it twice, and it was certainly nice of Ned Yost to catch him both times).

Scoring six runs off Zack Greinke is no easy feat (unless you’re the Minnesota Twins, in which case, it’s quite simple). I thought the four runs they got off him early would have to be enough, but they were able to fight back. In addition to his circus catch, Alex Avila had a terrific day at the plate. He had a two-run single early to pad the Tigers’ lead (a padding that they would end up needing). He also had two other hits, including a home run (opposite field shot into the bullpen that Phil Coke caught barehanded). Meanwhile, Will Rhymes became the first player in history to have his first major league home run called via instant replay. Congratulations to him. Not only that, it put the Tigers in the lead for good. And I don’t think Miguel Cabrera has broken out of his slump, but he did have an RBI single.

The series continues tonight, and the Tigers will be facing Bruce Chen yet again. It feels like they’ve faced him fifty times this season. Actually, it’s just three, and he has a win, a loss, and a no-decision. The no-decision came the last time he faced the Tigers, which was at Kaufmann Stadium. He went 4.2 innings, giving up four runs on six hits and three walks (the Tigers probably should have scored more against him). He is coming off a win against Oakland, however. And maybe he’s just the person to get Miguel Cabrera out of his slump, because Cabrera’s got some gaudy numbers against him (.583 with two home runs). Meanwhile, Armando Galarraga is coming off a very rough start against the Texas Rangers. I never did figure out what his problem was. I sense that he is very, very frustrated right now because things are not going the way he wants them to. And I’m not sure how many of you picked up on those shots of him in the dugout on Saturday, but I’m guessing he’s resorted to drastic superstitious measures to change his luck, because he’s shaved his head (or close to it) and it looks really bad. Galarraga’s looks were never one of his strong points, but still…yecchh. Now, normally that’d be more than enough to get me pissed off (and I would not want a superstition like that reinforced; I was about ready to strangle the mohawked bullpen earlier in the year), but for some reason I’m not this time. I guess I just feel so bad for how things have gone for him that I just really want him to pitch well and get a win regardless. It still looks terrible, though. Anyways, enough about personal grooming. The last time he faced Kansas City, he was battling elbow soreness and ended up walking five but only giving up one run in five innings, which he later attributed to pure luck. However, he’d strung together several good starts before his last disaster, so I’m really hoping he can get that confidence back, trust his stuff, and either channel or set aside that frustration (I’ve noticed that when he’s going good, I sense an air of calmness about him; he needs to find that). Your Mood Music for tonight: I was never able to find a decent copy of the song that I think best describes Galarraga’s feelings toward his situation, so I’ve got the next best thing, which is a song from my favorite band. It is quite fitting to the situation, as well.

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