It seems like the team is running out of gas before the season actually ends. Jeremy Bonderman just totally fell apart. He was having issues with walks early, but got double play balls to get himself out of trouble. But a combination of poor command and not a lot of movement on the pitches finally caught up to him in the fourth. After a bunt single to start the inning, the Orioles hit a lot of balls hard. And a lot of those hits went for extra bases. Rick Porcello only gave up one extra-base hit, but it was enough to seal his fate. He also gave up eleven singles, which seems excessive, but he did have the double play ball working. It was a respectable final start, but he didn’t get any run support. In both games, the bullpen did a decent job with the exception of Alfredo Figaro, who was the only reliever to give up a run.
The offense just could not get anything going against the Orioles’ starting pitchers. Don Kelly was pretty much the only one with consistently good swings. He hit a home run in each game, and was the only Tiger to homer. They did put some runs up on the board against the Orioles bullpen in the first game, but they needed one more big hit to make things interesting, and they didn’t get it.
The Tigers need to win one of these last two games to finish the season at .500, and both to secure a winning record (there are some that would rather have the Tigers lose both games in order to protect their draft pick, but I’m not one of them). Lefty Brian Matusz will start for the Orioles, and he’s had a very good second half. He hasn’t had a bad start since mid-August, and he beat the Tigers in a game last year. No one’s seen him more than six times (and that’s Jhonny Peralta, who is 1-for-5 with a walk). Meanwhile, I’m continuing a trend I started a couple weeks ago and saying that I am just about certain that tonight will be the last time we see Armando Galarraga on the mound in a Tigers uniform. A lot of you may be happy about that, but I am not. There’s a little bit of writing on the wall to be had. I haven’t seen a single interview with either Jim Leyland or Dave Dombrowski where he’s mentioned as a candidate for the rotation. When Rod and Mario have discussed the two open rotation spots for next year, they’ve talked about Phil Coke, Andy Oliver, Jacob Turner, and even Alfredo Figaro, but not Galarraga (although I did see where he got roped into being the guest of honor on that Tigers promotional cruise that they do every winter). I would love for him to go out on a high note, but it seems like the odds are stacked against him. Camden Yards is very home run-friendly, he’s prone to giving up home runs, there’s a couple of Orioles who have hit multiple home runs off him, he hasn’t figured out what the problem was in his last start, and he’s never pitched well in Baltimore. Still, if he could overcome those issues somehow, it’d be great, for old time’s sake, so to speak. I was sorting through old video tapes and I came across a start of his against the Angels in 2008. It was a very good one. He got very close to a complete game shutout and had one out in the ninth inning before a two-run homer chased him. It was also somewhat humorous, because I only watched a little bit of it, but I suddenly realized that the home plate umpire was Jim Joyce, resulting in a “little did they know” moment. It’s also amazing how different Galarraga looked back then, appearance-wise. It’s nothing that I can put my finger on. He just looked different. I did notice from watching the tape that he seemed calmer and his mechanical delivery looked a little slower back then. I’m not sure if that’s an adjustment that needs to be made, and I’m not a pitching coach (nowhere near), but if I picked up on it, then they had to have, right? On a lighter note, I found another tape of a Fox game where Justin Verlander started (not well) and Galarraga did the lineup, and he was hilarious. He had a nickname for just about everyone in the lineup (another bizarre thing was that Miguel Cabrera was batting sixth in this particular game). It was funny to watch and kind of heartbreaking at the same time, because as I said before, I’m not ready for him to depart just yet. I know he doesn’t have the win totals he wanted, but with the way the Tigers’ offense is struggling right now, he can’t think about wins or run support or trying to throw a shutout. He just needs to do the best that he can, not overthink, not get picky with the strike zone, etc. The other four members of the rotation are all going into the offseason with bad feelings. I don’t want him to make it a complete set of five. Your Mood Music for tonight: I wanted to give kind of a swan song for Galarraga, and I decided to go the Broadway route, although this particular rendition of “The Impossible Dream” is in Spanish. I believe the singer is from Spain, not Latin America, however. But the dude can sing.