Two out of three’s not bad, right?
That’s what the Tigers left Baltimore with in the win column, after today’s 4-0 shutout of the Orioles. A few thoughts:
Verlander did what Verlander does, and that’s perform for his team after a loss. He did it again, giving up just 3 hits over 8 innings (2 of them to noted Detroit Tigers killer Jim Thome, who would also get a hit vs Jose Valverde) while striking out 8 and walking 2 batters. JV, who was brutal on display during the All Star Game on Tuesday, did pitch his way through the game, rather than just throw. I’m aware that he was likely not going to pull that tactic against the Orioles, but it was worth mentioning.
Verlander, now 10-5 with a 2.43 ERA, is every bit as dominant as he was in his Cy Young/MVP campaign last season. Ever reliable, he’s leading the league in Innings Pitched with 140.2, and he’s second to Felix Hernandez in strikeouts with 136.
His next start will be in the weekend series with the division leading White Sox. How much fun will that be? Well, as he’ll (probably) face Chris Sale, it should be a doozy.
Is Miggy again a choice for some mid-season, early MVP talk? He’s doing it all again, and rather consistently.
Right now, I’m pretty sure no one is talking about how slow and sluggish of a start offensively Cabrera got himself off to to start the season, and why would anyone talk like that? After starting the season batting a paltry .298 in April, coming into today’s action, Miggy was hitting .436 in July (17 for 39, 3 HRs and 10 RBI’s). Now batting .330, he has 20 HRs and 73 RBIs, and a .956 OPS. Per usual, he’s hitting the ball wherever he wants, including 2 mammoth HRs this weekend.
He’s also been serviceable defensively at third base too. That is, if you ignore all the off-balance throws he makes. Then it’s all good.
That Saturday Game
Yeah, that was a heart breaker. But in some ways, well deserved.
The Tigers managed their way back in that game, scoring 3 runs in the 9th inning off of Orioles closer Jim Johnson, only to find enough offense twice to put themselves in a position to win, and blew the leads both times.
So should the Tigers be a little concerned about the back end of the bullpen? Valverde has caused fans many a heart attack and/or blown blood vessel or two in many of his appearances this season.
Joaquin Benoit, who would be my first choice to replace Valverde as the Tigers closer, didn’t fare much better in his effort to close out Saturday’s game. Staked to a 1-run lead, JJ Hardy, who was 0 for his last 28, put one into the stands to tie it up, while Taylor Teagarden would walk the game off in the 13th inning.
It’s probably not the worst Tigers loss of the season, but it was still rather unsettling.
Unsettling, since other choices, especially at times when Valverde was on the shelf this season with an injury, haven’t panned out well either. Octavio Dotel didn’t close out well when he was given the chance earlier this season; and Benoit’s efforts have been very good, pre-9th inning.
In short, some bullpen consistency would be lovely. And with trade deadline season fast approaching, all the armchair GM’s will definitely have their say on who’s good for this team, who’s wrong for this team, etc. Have fun with that, fans: Dombrowski just might send a player or two away that might start fires amongst said fans. But this was supposed to be a “win now” team, right?
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