Minnesota 8, Detroit 10 (box)
I was all ready to write this great recap about a fun night for Tigers baseball. The offense was good, the pitching was at least better than the Twins pitching. There was some squandering, but still a good win, blah, blah, blah. But Fernando Rodney always manages to harsh my mellow. I look forward to next year when he presumably will pitching elsewhere, not because he hasn’t done a great job this year, in fact he has. I don’t want him back because I don’t like the way he makes me feel about good Tiger wins. Tiger wins feel good, but he causes such undue stress that I only feel relief when the game ends. I want the joy back in winning.
So, ahem, as I was saying about Alex Avila not being ready… Yeah, totally my bad, dude, I should not have doubted. The Tigers rookie catcher clubbed his first big league home run as part of a six run first inning as the Tigers jumped all over the Twins early, staking Armando Galarraga to a five run lead after just one inning. Galarraga apparently did not want such things, as he immediately handed three runs right back to the Twins in the top of the second. Galarraga gets the win in this game, but frankly he doesn’t deserve one. He walked five and allowed four runs in just five innings. Hurry up with that rehab, Nate!
The offense came to life for the second straight game, which is a very good sign, but would be better if this were happening on the road. We know they can hit at home. The Tigers hit two home runs and two triples as part of a 15 hit attack. The top of the order was particularly good, as Curtis Granderson and Placido Polanco accounted for seven hits and four runs combined. They going to need to keep that momentum tomorrow as the Twins have moved lefty Glen Perkins out of what would have been his start in order to throw Carl Pavano. Pavano, who was just acquired from Cleveland, has simply dominated the Tigers in three starts this year.
- Polanco- with his four hit day, Placido has moved his average past the .270 mark. He joins Miguel Cabrera as the only two Tigers with an average that high…. I’m not kidding.
- Cabrera- El Martillo crushed a three-run bomb to right field in the first inning. This was significant in that it was the first time in his career that he homered on a 3-0 pitch. Also because he was the only Tiger without a hit in the previous game, he wanted in on the fun tonight.
- Brandon Lyon- for being the only Tiger hurler to not allow a run tonight. Also for being so much better this season than it appeared he would be. Remember that first game in Toronto?
- Alex Avila- Back-to-back multi-hit games. A home run, a two-run single, four RBI. I had generally assumed that Gerald Laird would be the starting catcher next season as well as this. I am changing my tune about that with each plate appearance from Avila. Do not sit this guy down, Jimmy. Ride the hot hand.
- Jim Leyland- for using Fernando Rodney in the ninth, with a four run lead. We talked about this yesterday, Jimmy. I thought you had learned.
- Fernando Rodney- for doing what he does when Leyland insist he pitch in a non-save situation. He has the uncanny ability to take a fun, joy-filled evening of Tigers goodness and turn it into a painfully brutal experience that is so difficult to endure you are just so relieved that it’s over. He makes wins feel sometimes like losses. No happiness, just the “well, thank Wieters that’s over” feeling. Tigers wins should be fun.
- Galarraga- Seriously, I know he was the best pitcher on the 2008 staff, but I’m tired of watching him. All he does is nibble at the corners and miss. Once he falls behind, as he does so often, he lays one down the middle that gets hammered. I’ll say it again, Hurry up Nate!
- Brandon Inge- twice he came to the dish with one out and a runner on third, twice he struck out. Not cool.
What’s on tap
Justin Verlander will try for his 13th win of the year against Pavano, who will make his Twins debut. Pavano bested the Tigers on one run over eight innings last Sunday in Cleveland. Verlander fanned 13 Twins in his only start against them this season. Expect Gerald Laird to be back behind the dish tomorrow, as Leyland said Avila would likely catch most of Porcello and Galarraga’s starts. Personally, I’d like to see him catch one of the next two games, just to try to maximize his hot steak. The Tigers lead has grown thanks to the suddenly good Indians, who took the opener in Chicago last night. Detroit lead the White Sox now by three games, 5.5 games over the Twins.