If you were smart, you probably went to bed long before this one ended just before 1 AM Eastern. In case you did, and you don’t know what happened, my game recap appears here. Because I am not smart, I stayed up and watched, even though I had to be up for work at six. Ugh.
But the game was well worth watching. Maybe it was due to my decision to treat these games as if standings didn’t exist, but I had more fun watching the game last night than any Tigers game I’ve seen since I began blogging. I was able to extricate myself from the emotions normally involved with a Tigers game and just watch baseball. It was refreshing, really. It was something I hope to be able to do more of.
It was also some bad baseball at times, and some great baseball at others. The Tigers and Twins each rose to the occasion at times, and each failed to rise at others. There were six lead changes, five ties, and far too many botched double plays. Four errors were charged in this game, but that number could have easily been higher as well. Each closer blew a save and in the end, the worst batter on the field delivered the biggest hit of the night.
The Tigers and Twins used a combined 39 players in this game, including 15 pitchers, and Jhonny Peralta played his first ever game at first base, and did so quite well, thank you.
The Tigers used four reserve players (sadly, Max St-Pierre was not one of them) and each one was more effective than the starters they replaced. Miguel Cabrera struck out in each of his first two at bats, then grounded into what should have been a double play in his third. He left the game with a biceps tendinitis problem. No worries for the Tigers (at least last night) as his replacement, Casper Wells, tied the game in the ninth with his first big league home run. Wells is hitting .409 in the nine games since his recall and .529 over his last five.
As I said in the recap, the blown save attached to Jose Valverde‘s line shouldn’t be on him. He was quite obviously squeezed by the home plate umpire when pitching to Deanrd Span, and then tried to work himself out of the inning by getting not one, but two, ground balls that should have ended the game. In each instance, the Tigers couldn’t make the play. Minnesota tied the game, but that wasn’t Valverde’s fault. He pitched very, very well over his three innings of work. Let’s hope we’ve seen the last of his struggles.
And another thing: I love me some Ryan Raburn. There, I said it. My wife’s favorite player has been the subject of my scorn for most of the year, and believe me, I wasn’t about to tell her when I picked him up on two fantasy teams last month. They guy has been on fire for much of the second half. As Valerie said when we watched the game last night, it’s like he and Boesch switched roles in the second half. Boesch has the talk of the league in the first half, but has done nothing since the break. Just the opposite for Raburn. In his last 30 games, Raburn is hitting .318 with a .992 OPS, nine homers and 23 RBI. Maybe he can play everyday next year, I’m starting to warm up to the idea.
Does anyone else think the AL Rookie of the Year race isn’t as clear-cut as the media says? Sure, Neftali Feliz has done a fine job closing for Texas, and the Rangers might not be as good as they are without him, but what about Austin Jackson? Is it just that Jackson doesn’t seem like a rookie?
Keep in mind that prior to Opening Day, Jackson had never spent even one day on a major league roster. What’s better; being a very good reliever for 58 innings over 59 games in five months? Or being a standout defensive centerfielder who has kept his batting average north of .300 since day one? I’ll take the centerfielder. Tell me again about his “unsustainable” minor league BABiP, please. Because he’s sustained it in the big leagues, too, sitting at .418 on the year. I can’t explain that, but if a guy is consistently outperforming the luck factor, he’s either the luckiest man on the face of the earth, or maybe that guy’s just good.