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Thoughts From My Latest Trip to the CoPa


Chicago 1, Detroit 7 (box) (game 2)

There will be no recap of game one. I’m pretending game one didn’t happen. I was at work and couldn’t watch the game, and the final score shows evidence that the Tigers were pretending game one didn’t happen, so why should I challenge that?

For the second game of yesterday’s day/night doubleheader, I cut out of work an hour early to make the trip up to Comerica Park. My wife and I have four very young children (the oldest just turned five), and we have taken the two boys to a ballgame already, so yesterday was my oldest daughter’s day.

Ordinarily, thanks to silly things like work and bedtimes, we only go to Detroit for Sunday afternoon games. Sunday’s being kid’s days at the park, it’s nice that the little ones come home with a poster. But with the White Sox in town, we wanted to see the game, so we packed up the van and headed North.

As is our usual custom, we made a pit stop in Luna Pier to head to Beef Jerky Unlimited. Folks, if you have never been, make sure you stop in there sometime for all your beef jerky needs. These very friendly folks have a ridiculous amount of jerky, coming in many, many different flavors. They’ll be happy to give you a sample of any flavor you would like to try. They offer about 12 flavors of beef, plus assorted flavors of turkey jerky, deer, alligator, buffalo, and even ham. Seriously great stuff and always a pick-me-up for the final leg of the drive to Detroit.

We got to the park about 45 minutes early and recieved our complementary Armando Galarraga posters, very nice. Then we took our daughter around the stadium to see the sights. She was confused when Willie Horton was announced on the field for a pre-game ceremony. She had assumed that since he had a statue in centerfield that he must be dead. “I thought they only give you a statue after you die” she said. Aren’t five-year-olds fun? (we’ll talk about the game after the jump)

The game began with Jeremy Bonderman putting up a scoreless first inning and the Chicago starter Carlos Torres showing a ton of wildness. Torres walked three in the first frame, but the Tigers couldn’t manage a hit and scored just one run. It might have been none if not for Brennan Boesch hustling down the line on a would-be double play ball. But he beat the throw to first and put the Tigers on the board. It was good to see the hustle from a guy struggling so much.

The second inning provided most of the fireworks for the evening as the Tigers put up a four-spot. Torres was still battling himself quite a bit, but his pitches were finding the zone with more frequency. They were also finding the Tigers bats. Ryan Raburn opened the inning with an infield hit, then Alex Avila made it 2-0 by doubling down the left field line. After Torres retired the next two batters, it looked like he might again wiggle off the hook, but this time the Tigers added on. Will Rhymes brought in Avila with a single to center, and Johnny Damon drove a ball over the head of Andruw Jones in right center. Rhymes should have been out by 10 feet at the plate, but Alexi Ramirez’s throw got past the catcher and allowed Damon to take third. That set the stage for Miguel Cabrera, but the Sox didn’t want any part of that and walked him intentionally to bring up Boesch.

Unlike last week in Tampa, this time Boesch delivered. He drove a rocket out to deep left center, one-hopping the ball over the fence and into the shrubbery to score the fourth run of the inning, three of them coming on two-out hits. I hear those will get you to heaven.

In each of the first two innings, Jhonny Peralta made the final out. Both times he came up with runners on and a chance to pad the lead. It was a kind of surreal moment when I began to clap and cheer for Peralta to come up with a big hit, having watched him play for the Indians for so long. Peralta has always been one of my least favorite players in baseball, but he’s wearing the Old English D these days so he’s out of my dog house now. I told my wife in the first, if Peralta hits a three-run bomb right here, I’ll buy a Peralta jersey. My checking account thanks him for striking out there.

Peralta did make a couple of very nice plays in the field and I think he’s going to help the club immensely, especially when Brandon Inge comes back (read Matt’s recap of last night’s White Caps game for an update on Inge) and he can move to short.

The rest of the game was uneventful. Bonderman pitched his tail off in a game the Tigers absolutely had to win. The bullpen was very good as well. Robbie Weinhardt looks like he won’t be eating at Tony Packo’s again anytime soon, and Ryan Perry did well in the ninth. The biggest boost came from the bottom of the order in this game. It’s remarkable how much better the team looks when they get some guys at the bottom of the lineup on base. Avila had two hits, Boesch hit the ball hard three times, though he had just one hit, and Ramon Santiago had two hits and a walk.

Damon lead the way with three hits as well. It’s encouraging to see seven runs on the board on a day the Tigers had a combined 0-for-7 from Cabrera and Peralta.

I’m not under any delusion that this team will be making any sort of big push to win the Central, but there are many reasons to think highly about next year. Jim Leyland was right, I think, when he said the Rhymes has a chance to stick as a regular second baseman. It will be interesting to see what happens when Inge and Carlos Guillen return next week.