Monday, September 13, 2010

Miguel Cabrera is a Beast and Justin Verlander is the Man

Photo: AP

First of all, I’d like to thank the Tigers for timing their rally so that it happened during my lunch break, so I at least got to listen to it on the radio. I sort of watched the archived game last night, so I have a general idea of what went down. Justin Verlander was “his bad self,” to paraphrase Rod Allen. He had eleven strikeouts and it looked as though all his pitches were working. The fastball was blazing, the curveball was diving, and the changeup was baffling. His only mistakes were an RBI triple to Jake Fox (who I didn’t think could run that fast) and a wild pitch. Leyland said that Verlander had “shutout stuff.” I can’t say I disagree.

For most of the game it looked like Verlander would suffer the same fate as Armando Galarraga and Max Scherzer: Lack of run support. The Tigers only managed one hit off Chris Tillman, although they did draw six walks (three to Brennan Boesch and surprisingly none to Miguel Cabrera). I have no idea what made him so effective, since I only kind of half-paid attention to the archive and they didn’t really talk about him after the game (I did watch the replay of the postgame show this morning). However, once Tillman was out and the bullpen came in, the bats woke up (sounds like the beginning of the season). Will Rhymes and Ryan Raburn led off the bottom of the eighth with a single and a double, respectively. The key at-bat was the walk to Austin Jackson (and the 3-2 pitch looked close enough to me that it might have tempted him). That loaded the bases with nobody out for Miguel Cabrera in a one-run game, meaning they had to pitch to him. And Cabrera came through by hitting a bases-clearing double into the gap (the funny thing was that I somehow knew he was going to swing at the first pitch). Brandon Inge later hit a two-run homer to tack on some insurance.

This is a really weird week in which the Tigers have two off-days, today being the first. Tomorrow night marks the start of a brief two-game series in Texas, where the Rangers are red hot after sweeping the Yankees. There is some question as to whether Rick Porcello will actually start on Wednesday (he has an injured tendon in his right index finger), but we’ll deal with that when we come to it. In the meantime, Jeremy Bonderman is coming off a really good start against the White Sox in which he went eight innings and gave up only one run. He’s made two starts this year against the Rangers, and neither went all that great. He gave up four runs in 5.2 innings in Arlington back in April, and then gave up five runs in 5.1 innings at Comerica Park in July. He’s handled Vladimir Guerrero in his career, though. Vladdy’s only 5-for-26 with ten strikeouts against Bonderman. On the other hand, Ian Kinsler is 4-for-7 with a double and a home run. Lefty Derek Holland gets the start for the Rangers. He’s bounced back and forth between the rotation and the bullpen, but he’s pitched decently for the most part. He’s coming off a win against the Blue Jays in which he struck out eight in five innings. The only Tiger who has faced him before is Johnny Damon, and he is 0-for-4 with three strikeouts.

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