Sunday, September 26, 2010

Night of Milestones

Photo: AP

Nothing like a wild win on a Saturday night. There seemed to have been a lot of sentimentality around Jeremy Bonderman because it might be his last home start as a Tiger, but to say he didn’t have it would be an understatement (Bonderman’s not my favorite, but I’m certainly willing to give him his props when he pitches well; I have no props to give him this time). I only missed part of the first inning, but by the time I got home, he had already given up five runs. He did settle down for three innings, but once the Tigers gave him the lead, he served up long home runs to Jason Kubel and Danny Valencia, ending his night. This probably isn’t the best time to say this, and I have no justification in saying this other than player preference, but if Jeremy Bonderman is in the Tigers’ starting rotation next year and Armando Galarraga is not, I am going to be pissed. Anyways, things changed after Bonderman’s exit, because the bullpen was terrific. Even Eddie Bonine pitched better than his line indicates (He gave up three runs, but in that sequence, not a single ball left the infield). Ryan Perry and Daniel Schlereth were perhaps the most impressive. Perry retired every batter he faced, and Schlereth worked around a single, error, two intentional walks and a double steal to strike out Kubel and Valencia with the bases loaded.

Meanwhile, the Tigers offense hit Carl Pavano like they’ve never hit him before. If they’d have done a little more of that last year, they would’ve won the division. Going into last night’s game, none of the Tigers had ever homered against Pavano. They hit three home runs against him in the fourth inning. Alex Avila led off the inning with a solo shot. Don Kelly later hit a two-run homer, and after a Johnny Damon single, Miguel Cabrera absolutely launched one over the bullpens in left. Once the Tigers came back later to tie up the game against John Rauch, there wasn’t a whole lot of scoring after that. There also weren’t a whole lot of chances until the bottom of the 13th inning. After loading the bases with no out on two singles and an error, Brandon Inge came up the hero on a night where he became the Tigers’ franchise leader in strikeouts (which I don’t really care about as much as the haters do). He laced a single to right to score Cabrera and give the Tigers the win. Also of note is that Austin Jackson scored his 100th run of the season, putting him in rare company for a rookie.

And now for some lighthearted fare. Yesterday morning, a friend of mine and I had a very entertaining discussion on Twitter about which Wizard of Oz characters the members of the Tigers’ starting rotation would be. This is what we came up with: Jeremy Bonderman would be the Scarecrow (for obvious reasons), Max Scherzer would be the Tinman (He seems to be the most emotionless on the mound), Armando Galarraga would be the Cowardly Lion (He needs the courage to trust his stuff), Justin Verlander would be Dorothy (He has twelve wins at home as opposed to six on the road, and his home ERA is over two full runs lower), and Rick Porcello would be Toto (mostly by process of elimination, but he is the youngest of the group). We also decided that the Chicago White Sox would be the flying monkeys, and so by extension, that means Ozzie Guillen would be the Wicked Witch of the West. I want to hear him say “I’ll get you, my pretty, and your little dog, too,” just for kicks.

It is a sad day today, because it is the final home game of the season. Rick Porcello gets the ball today. He’s coming off a strange start against the Royals in which it looked like he was cruising and then ended up with five earned runs and a no-decision on his line. He hasn’t faced the Twins since early May, when he gave up five runs (three earned) in a Tigers loss. He’ll be up against Brian Duensing, who continues to pitch well and I don’t know why. He got a no-decision the last time he started against the Tigers in which he did not pitch badly (though he got outpitched by Armando Galarraga even though the Tigers bullpen gave it up later). He also made a relief appearance in an extra inning game in that series.

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