Monday, September 27, 2010

So Long Until Next Year, You Beautiful Ballpark

Photo: AP

It’s kind of sad that there will be no more baseball at Comerica Park when there is still a week left in the season. Nevertheless, they went out in impressive fashion. Rick Porcello had a nice bounceback start after his uneven performance against Kansas City. The only damage was a solo shot by Delmon Young on a hanging slider, but other than that, Porcello was on his game. He was so fluid it was almost subliminal. Before I even knew it, he had gone eight strong innings. Then in the ninth, we had a Jose Valverde sighting for the first time in what seemed like forever. And he looked good with a 1-2-3 inning, even though he seemed a little slower and less boisterous than usual.

Brian Duensing continues to mystify me by not pitching all that badly, but he did hang around long enough to give up five runs, all on home runs. The Twins’ 1-0 lead was short-lived, because in the bottom half of the inning, Ramon Santiago (who has gotten very little playing time recently) belted a three-run shot that probably took Duensing completely by surprise. Miguel Cabrera’s line-drive home run should not have taken anyone by surprise. He has now established a career-high in home runs and has a real strong chance at getting to forty for the season (He’s two away, and Camden Yards in particular is very home-run friendly). I’m kind of wondering if Cabrera’s family was in town for that series. He homered in each game, and each time he did, he would point and wave at someone in the stands. He’s done that before, and each time, he has politely refused to say who it was (That’s okay, though; it’s his right). The “MVP” chants that rang out through the crowd were awesome. After all that Cabrera went through at the end of this season, it is refreshing to see that he’s seemingly overcome his demons and that the city has, in turn, embraced him once again.

The Tigers now finish the season on the road. First up is a stop in Cleveland for three games. If the Tigers win just one of the games in this series, they will have secured a winning record against every team in the Central except Minnesota (against whom they went 9-9, which is a big improvement over the last couple years). The first pitcher they’ll face is Carlos Carrasco, who was the big acquisition in the Cliff Lee deal. The Tigers faced him a couple times late last year and beat up on him each time, but by all accounts, he’s much better this year. He’s gone at least six innings in each of his starts, and he’s not given up more than three earned runs in any start. Meanwhile, do I even have to say that Armando Galarraga needs a good outing? For four innings, it looked like he was going to get one against the Royals, but then everything fell apart for him with two outs in the fifth. And it’s not like the Royals bombed the ball against him in that inning. He basically hurt himself with walks and his own throwing error. At this point, I don’t think there’s any way he can guarantee himself a spot in next year’s rotation, but he can certainly hurt his cause if he doesn’t pitch well. You know by now that I badly want him to be in next year’s rotation but that I don’t think he’ll be with the Tigers for much longer. Right now, having that outlook isn’t making it any easier on me. I have an ability to (subconsciously and uncontrollably) mentally prepare myself for the departure of a beloved player (or, on a different level, the death of a loved one). For instance, I am very fond of both Magglio Ordoñez and Brandon Inge (and remember, I like Maggs better than I like Galarraga). I really, really don’t want to see them go, but I am mentally prepared for the possibility that they might not be back. But this mental preparation doesn’t always take place (and I can’t make it kick in). It didn’t happen with Pudge (even though I sensed that trade coming well in advance), and it’s currently not happening with Galarraga (there are others that it’s not happening for right now either, but those guys are not in danger of departing any time soon). At this point, I would be devastated if he got traded, claimed, non-tendered (which I don’t think will happen, but evidently Lynn Henning has been hinting that it will), or otherwise discarded. All this could potentially be avoided if he could just come up with the courage to trust his stuff (and I guess that is also a reflection of myself, because I also routinely overthink, second-guess myself, and battle confidence issues, so I suppose in some way I’d like some reassurance that those demons can be overcome). His struggles last time out left me emotionally drained and it took Justin Verlander’s masterpiece three days later to bring me out of that funk. But more than just me, I want a strong finish from him for his sake. I like him as a person, and I know he’s disappointed with how things have gone since the perfect game. I realize life’s not fair, but I still hate seeing bad things happen to good people. Hopefully, facing the Indians will give him a confidence boost, because he’s been dominant against them this year. But he’s got to stop being his own worst enemy.

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