Monday, September 20, 2010

Joe Morgan's Changeup Fantasy

Photo: AP

I did say that crazy things happen on ESPN, didn’t I? Having had to get up at 6 AM this morning, I didn’t appreciate the length of the game, but the Tigers did win. Jeremy Bonderman looked kind of the same way he did in Texas. He didn’t really have good stuff, leaving him to kind of gut his way through it, and as a result he allowed at least two baserunners in each inning and threw 121 pitches, a career high. And that was in 5.2 innings. After a cameo from Brad Thomas and two very good innings from Ryan Perry, the rest of the bullpen had a complete meltdown. Phil Coke was handed a comfortable four-run lead in the bottom of the ninth and proceeded to allow a whole lot of baserunners and only get one out. He was pulled in favor of Robbie Weinhardt, who looked good until he hit Alex Rios with an 0-2 pitch. He kind of fell apart after that and allowed the tying run to come in on a wild pitch. He did end up vulturing the win by throwing a scoreless bottom of the tenth. Eddie Bonine got one out in the bottom of the eleventh, but came within a heartbeat of giving up a walkoff three-run homer to Paul Konerko (the ball hooked foul by about five feet at the last second). Daniel Schlereth finally got the last two outs for the save but took it right to the edge before dropping a called third strike on Manny Ramirez with the bases loaded. I have no idea what the issue was with any of these pitchers because none of the quotes about them made it into the news stories (since the Tigers won), but when all was said and done, the White Sox left twenty-one men on base. And through each and every one of them, Joe Morgan rambled on and on about changeups, slowly draining his audience of the will to live.

This started out a typical John Danks outing against the Tigers, wherein they did not get many good swings off him at all. For five of his first six innings, he retired the Tigers in order. All of his baserunners came in the fourth inning, with a home run, a double, and a walk. Then all of a sudden, once he got Miguel Cabrera on a popup to lead off the seventh (Cabrera went 0-for-5 yet again, and finishes the season series against the White Sox having only hit .152 against them), he never recorded another out. After walking Jhonny Peralta, Casper Wells hit a two-run home run to tie the game. It was a steady stream of baserunners for the rest of the inning. Gerald Laird (who could have been pinch-hit for with the righty J.J. Putz on the mound) hit the go-ahead double and the Tigers added on from there. Then the offense went quiet again until there were two outs in the top of the eleventh. Fittingly, Brandon Inge reached on a strikeout-wild pitch and made it to third on AJ Pierzynski’s throwing error (It would have been even more fitting if he had struck out on a changeup, but according to Inge, it was a slider). An intentional walk to Boesch brought up Gerald Laird again. And Laird once again put the Tigers ahead, this time with an RBI single. Austin Jackson added an RBI double for insurance, but this time the lead held (barely).

After a nice end to the road trip by getting a rare sweep of the White Sox, the Tigers return to Comerica Park for their final homestand of the season (very sad). The Kansas City Royals come to town for one last go-around, and they tend to be a pain in the ass to the Tigers at season’s end (It’s happened for years). And they’ll be stuck facing Zack Greinke tonight. He’s coming off a win against the A’s in which he went seven innings and gave up three runs. The Tigers scored four runs against him last time they saw him (and it happened in an out-of-the-blue fashion similar to last night). I’d still say the odds of that happening again are slim. Rick Porcello gets his first start in almost two weeks. He had his start skipped because of an injury to the flexor tendon in his right index finger. From what I’ve heard, he’s good to go and his finger feels fine. He made two starts against the Royals in the past month. The start at Comerica Park was very good. The start at Kaufmann Stadium was not as good, but he got victimized by some bloops and bleeders. Hopefully he, like the other Tiger pitchers, can finish the season strong.

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