Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Amazing Things Happen When You Can't Walk Cabrera

This would definitely qualify as a hard-fought victory. It took just about everything they had to get it. Brad Penny did okay, although if this game had been in Arlington (or anywhere other than Comerica Park, for that matter, except maybe Seattle or Oakland), things would have been far different. He probably would have given up at least three home runs, maybe four. However, there is something to be said for playing to the ballpark. The star of the game was the defense. The Rangers were making pretty solid contact off Penny more often than not, but good positioning and excellent plays kept the damage to a minimum, such as Ryan Raburn robbing Michael Young of a 3-run homer, or a good relay from the outfield to nab Adrian Beltre on what looked to be a sure triple. Even the defensive lapses turned out to work in their favor. In the first inning, Josh Hamilton had driven in a run with a triple and was standing at third with one out. Adrian Beltre hit a pop-up that both Inge and Martinez ran after. Inge caught it, but for some reason, Penny was still standing on the mound and not covering home plate, so Hamilton took off for home. Luckily, this flaky moment ended up being a good thing, because Martinez was able to get back in time and tag Hamilton out. This whole thing turned out to be a really bad decision for the Rangers, because Hamilton broke his humerus on the slide and is expected to miss about eight weeks. My favorite moment of the game was when Penny was lifted for Brayan Villarreal with two outs in the seventh and Julio Bourbon standing at first. Villarreal promptly picked him off (he's got a really good move for a right-hander, maybe even better than Verlander's), and thus earned a hold without throwing a single pitch. The only real dark spot of the afternoon was that Joaquin Benoit struggled and gave up the tying run, but it's a little too early to decide if that's a problem or not.

It was a grind-it-out day for the offense as well. The first couple runs were of the "manufactured" variety (RBI groundout, sacrifice fly, etc.). For a while during the late innings it looked like they were going to keep lining out to Adrian Beltre. Then in the ninth, good at-bats from Inge, Jackson, and Raburn (along with a sacrifice bunt by Avila) got Miguel Cabrera to the plate with the bases loaded and two out in the bottom of the ninth. And since the Rangers had no choice but to pitch to him this time, Cabrera did what he does best: Driving in a run. What kind of surprised me was that it was his seventh walk-off hit, but his first since July of 2008 (which was a two-run walk-off homer against Cleveland, one I actually remember). That seems like kind of a long time for him. 

Today's game wraps up the homestand before the Tigers head out west. Max Scherzer is looking to build on a strong start against the Royals. He faced the Rangers twice last year. One was early in the season in Texas and it wasn't a particularly good start. The other was a strong start at Comerica Park in July. Meanwhile, the Rangers are having a bullpen start, since they played a doubleheader a few days ago and apparently they don't want to have to call anyone up. Dave Bush is expected to be the first one out of the 'pen for them, though that has not been made official. The Tigers last saw him with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2009, and beat him up pretty good. One other thing to note is that it became public last night that the Tigers are going to call up Alberto Alburquerque this morning (I'm not sure what I did to be punished with having to type that name over and over on this blog), but as of last night, they hadn't decided on a corresponding roster move (which makes it sound more like this is about Alburquerque than about anyone on the big league roster). It'll be announced before the game today, but as I'm typing this, they haven't said anything. The theories on the internet seem to consist of DFAing either Brad Thomas or Enrique Gonzalez, optioning Robbie Weinhardt, or putting Magglio OrdoƱez on the DL. I'm skeptical of them getting rid of Thomas because Dave Dombrowski seems to like him, and if they were going to replace him, it would make more sense to bring up a lefty like Fu-Te Ni. Magglio's problem is apparently a buildup of synovial fluid in the bursa sac around the Achilles' tendon, and even though there is no inflammation right now, the fluid buildup itself can be painful. Putting him on the DL seems unnecessary at this point, especially to bring up a pitcher (and moreso when you consider that the corresponding move seems to serve the purpose of creating roster space, rather than the other way around), since the bullpen really isn't overtaxed at this point in time, but I can't rule it out as a possibility. Weinhardt and Gonzalez both have those early-season high ERAs, but it should be noted that Weinhardt has minor league options remaining while Gonzalez does not. However, I am not going to predict what happens, because they've done weird thing before and for all I know they'll send down Brayan Villarreal. I wouldn't put it past them.

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