A few thoughts following the first game of a big weekend series with the Chicago White Sox…
Verlander vs. Peavy
I saw this as Verlander vs. Sale earlier this week, but that didn’t make this matchup any different, in terms of a quality duel. Justin Verlander, while not as sharp as his usual self (only 6 Ks, 2 BB’s), he did manage to out-duel Jake Peavy, who gave up 4 runs – all with 2 outs, and took the loss. Verlander did pitch 8 innings, notching his 11th win. Jose Valverde shocked the Tiger fans by pitching a 1-2-3 9th for his 18th save of the season. After this, the Tigers now sit 1/2 game behind the White Sox, and currently hold the 2nd Wild Card spot.
Porcello vs. Sale
This matchup is going to be a little more telling for the Tigers: as far as our views of one Rick Porcello. He’s going up against Chris Sale, who is off to a very impressive start in his first season as a starter in the majors.
The All-Star, is currently sitting with a record of 11-2, and a sparkling ERA of only 2.11 in 16 starts (17 appearances). He’s 2-0 in July with a 1.17 ERA in 15 1/3 innings, with 8 strikeouts and only 1 walk.
So it’s safe to say the Tigers offense will have its hands full today. Tough to beat a tall, lanky lefty when his command has been good.
Also safe to say that Porcello will have to be at his best if he wants to win today.
Porcello’s last 3 starts in June (2-1 record) were all Quality Starts (if you believe in that stat). He gave up 2 runs in 7 innings vs St. Louis in what was a struggle for run support, only 1 run in 6 innings to a very good offense in Texas, and shut down the Rays in 7 innings, allowing no runs.
His July has been remarkably different. He got hit around in just 3 2/3 innings of work July 5th vs the Twins (3 runs, 12 hits, 77 pitches), and he gave up 5 runs on just 8 hits (3 walks) vs the Angels in his last start. Both times he was bailed out by the offense, but patience is running ultra-thin on what was once a top pitching prospect when he was drafted.
That patience would perhaps grow with a win today vs Sale, something that would vault the Tigers into first place in the AL Central.
Some Unlikely Defense
We all saw a couple of great catches in the outfield last night.
Now, I’m a bit of a nervous-nelly when it comes to these guys laying out for balls. We’ve seen Boesch dive and completely miss, only to see the ball get by him. As for Berry, he’s still taking “interesting” routes on balls.
But in the end, if the play is made, then I can’t complain, right? Granted, we’re not going to see this all the time, especially for low-percentage chances like these. But the results were there last night, and that’s all that matters.
Sunday, Sunday… SUNDAY!
Phil Humber vs Jacob Turner could go a couple of different ways on Sunday: it could either be a slugfest, or they could both shock the world and pitch very well. Tigers fans who saw Turner against the Angels saw a 21 year old pitching prospect who is still not ready for prime-time. In just 2 innings on Tuesday, he gave up 7 runs on 6 hits, 2 walks and 3 home runs served up. Command was certainly the understated issue, missing the strike zone only to leave too many pitches up to a good Angels lineup whenever he fell behind.
Humber, since throwing a perfect game back in April, has been rather less than ordinary. Currently sitting with an ERA of 5.77, we could potentially see the Tigers offense provide some much needed support for their young prospect.
And the key word there is young. Turner is merely with the club thanks in part to Drew Smyly‘s latest stint on the DL, so he is indeed, filling the rotation spot as needed. Fans that are suggesting that he’s ‘no good’ or ‘worthless’… or in my estimation, ‘not good trade bait’ (as I quipped on Twitter earlier this week) should take a step back and remember that he’s young. He’s not ready. He’s good. He’s not worthless. And he shouldn’t be trade bait, either.
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