Tag Archives: Justin Verlander

Counter-Punch

maggshit

(Photo courtesy of Julian H. Gonzalez/DFP)

Well, after the Game 1 tirade, things turned around on the nightcap and the Tigers held on to a 6-5 win with a kung-fu grip. In true Tiger fashion, this one wasn’t in the bag until the last fly ball landed in Raburn’s glove, but a win is a motherf****n win and I don’t care how we get them at this point.

Hat tip to Miggy (solo homer), Maggs (2 RBI), Inge (2 RBI), Grandy (Solo homer, even though he gave the run back on a badly played fly to center) and Fernando (clutch save).

A BIG “We’re not worthy” to Verlander, who ended up pitching eight innings deep to the tune of something like 398,271 pitches.

The only number that matters now is FOUR.

Hunker down, Tigers. Stay hungry.

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Centennial Celebration.

100th post

So I’ve been MIA for the past few days trying to find the right way to commemorate the 100th post for SIM. I’ve kicked around a ton of ideas. I thought about pulling in some friends to comment on the miserable predictions I’ve made over the last 99 posts. I debated tossing out some more ridiculous predictions that will fail miserably and only serve to further damage my sports writing credibility. I even thought about using the 100th post to call it quits and spare each and every one of you from the endless drivel of Michigan sports that (of late, rarely) graces this site.

But then I started thinking about all of the times we have had together. Yes, things got off to a rough start as Michigan football bumbled their way to the worst record in school history. Michigan hockey looked to carry the banner for the maize and blue, but a disappointing NCAA loss to Air Force ended the season on an incredibly sour note. You hung with me as I divorced that joke of a team that marauded as the Pistons. And you bravely hung with me as I watched my beloved Red Wings come within a game of raising their 12th Stanley Cup, only to be denied on home ice.

Yes, it wasn’t pretty at times. But let’s not forget that, despite some rough patches, there were also quite a few highs. For the first time in over a decade, Michigan basketball made it back to the NCAA tournament, even giving us a first round win. The Tigers, a middle-of-the-pack pick by most experts at the start of the season, currently lead the AL Central. Justin Verlander, Edwin Jackson, Curtis Granderson and Brandon Inge all made it to the All Star game. And, despite not bringing home the Cup, the Wings gave us a heck of a fun run through the Stanley Cup playoffs.

We’ve had our good and we’ve had our bad. And while it’s true that no championships have come home to Michigan since the inception of this blog, that doesn’t mean we won’t see any in the future. Winning a championship is an incredible feat and it never comes easy. If anything, the losses and shortcomings make you cherish those championship moments even more. They will come. And we will celebrate.

But in the meantime, I’m committed to enjoying the ride with all of you. These writings have forged new friendships and facilitated endless discussions. They have opened the doors to new opportunities and helped me embrace the passion of sports fans outside of the state of Michigan. But mostly, they have given me the chance to share something that I strongly believe in with a group of folks that share the same ideology: that sport can unite us, bring us together and provide us with incredible experiences and memories.

To each and every one of you that read this: Thank you. For all of those who I’ve had the pleasure of meeting through SIM and Winging It: Thank you. And for those of you that have passed my little corner of the blogosphere along to others: a HUGE thank you. The first 100 posts have been great and have led to wonderful experiences. Here’s hoping to even better over the next 100.

OK. Enough of the sappy shit. Let’s celebrate!

dave-chapelle-as-rick-james

**Apparently, the Chicago Blackhawks couldn’t wait to give us our first present! According to Wyshynski over at “Puck Daddy”, our good friend Marian Hossa could be out until December with a shoulder injury. Which they knew about when they signed him. So basically, the ‘Hawks drop an injury risk in Martin Havlat to sign damaged goods in Hossa, all while shelling out more cash for him in the process.

*Slow Clap*

He’s the gift that just keeps on giving, ‘Hawks fans. Until you get to the playoffs, that is. ENJOY!

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Series Wrap-Ups: Cubs, Astros – A day late…actually, a few days late.

42-33, 1st in AL Central (4.0 GU on MIN)

ingehomer

(Photo courtesy of David J. Phillip/AP)

I’ve pried myself away from the NHL free agency proceedings long enough to force myself to put my hands on the keyboard and type something other than “Marian Hossa”, “free agency” (whoops, wrote it above) and “salary cap.” So sit down, act like you care, and read these words (it will be short).

Well, the series against the Cubs went about as well as we could have hoped. The boys from the Windy City rolled in following our three game sweep of the Brewers, and proceeded to get swept right out of Comerica Park and back to Chicago. Honestly, this was a huge series for Detroit. It was an emotional series against a regional rival (city) and the Tigers delivered. What made it even more impressive is that they delivered in the face of adversity. None of the games were pretty and we had to claw back into two of them, but that’s the whole point: the Tigers fought through the adversity and dug out three wins at home. Frickin’ awesome. I’ll admit, I was finally starting to feel good about this squad after that series, but I tried to temper my enthusiasm, knowing we were about to embark on a road trip.

It’s a good thing I did, because once we took the field in Houston, everything went downhill. Pitching feel apart. Walks piled up. Rookie Alfredo Figaro basically threw batting practice in game two of the series. It was ugly. But, the Tigers were able to grind out a win in the final game and avoid the sweep, which is a solid moral victory for this team. Now I’m sure you are probably snickering and thinking I’m a sissy for dropping “moral victory” into a post, but guess what, I did. And I think it’s appropriate. This team has struggled with chemistry for much of the season, and they could have easily just folded up shop and hopped on the plane to Oakland as losers of three straight. But they didn’t. And that’s a victory in my mind. These are the character building games right now. It’s the final push to the All Star break, and the Tigers are still competing in the close games and finding ways to win. That’s a good thing. But I still want to see the Tigers put together a solid road trip. Hopefully, they can get it going with a trip to the struggling A’s.

*As I type this, we are currently down 6-1 in Game 1 of the series. Ugh.

On Deck: Oakland Athletics

  • Record: 31-43 (4th in AL West, 11.0 GB of LAOCAASNC or LA Angels)

Oakland Athletics Women's Argyle Top

*Alyssa: I forgive you for wearing this shirt. I’ve put a Tigers one in the mail to you.

Monday, June 29

  • Tigers – Rick Porcello (8-4, 3.55 ERA, 44 SO)
  • Athletics – Brett Anderson (3-7, 5.74 ERA, 45 SO)

Tuesday, June 30

  • Tigers – Armando Galarraga (4-7, 5.65 ERA, 50 SO)
  • Athletics – Gio Gonzalez (0-1, 8.03 ERA, 13 SO)

Wednesday, July 1

  • Tigers – Justin Verlander (8-3, 3.40 ERA, 124 SO)
  • Athletics – Dallas Braden (5-7, 3.26 ERA, 64 SO)

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Series Wrap-Up: Brewers – This Brew Goes Down Smooth.

38-31, 1st in AL Central (4.0 GU on MIN)

rodneypump

(Picture courtesy of Kirthmon F. Dozier/Detroit Free Press)

Well then! Apparently all it takes is a little ranting from yours truly, and all of a sudden the wins start piling up and the brooms get dusted off. Obviously, we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves, but sweeping a division leader is something that is never easy. But the Tigers held fast, surviving a couple of rain delays on Friday, a rookie on the mound Saturday, and an old fashioned pitching duel on Sunday to get the sweep of the Brew Crew and get back on track in the standings.

It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows, though. Literally. Friday night’s game got underway with the threat of rain looming, and Armando Galarraga pitched like he was afraid of getting hit by a lightning bolt on the mound. The “Sick Cat” pitched the Tigers into an early hole, giving up a three run shot on a miserable changeup to Prince Fielder. Honesty, Galarraga just doesn’t have it right now and it’s really starting to show. Seriously, when he’s on the mound, does ANYONE feel like the Tigers have a chance to win? I sure as hell don’t.

Anyways, despite Galarraga’s best attempts to fail, the Tigers’ bats came alive and the baseball gods offered up a rain delay after the boys clawed back for a lead, mercifully ending Galarraga’s night. Marcus Thames popped a pair of home runs, and Miguel Cabrera and Curtis Granderson added their own, fueling the Tigers to a 10-4 win.

Coming into Saturday’s affair, all of the talk was around 24 year old starter Alfredo Figaro, making his major league debut. However, the storyline quickly shifted to the re-energized Tigers’ bats, led by Thames and Cabrera, who both went 3 for 5 on the day. Add to that rookie Don Kelly adding three hits, and the Tigers offense was officially back in the swing of things (no pun intended.) This is not to take anything away from Figaro, though, who performed very well in his first start, going five innings while giving up two runs on eight hits and striking out seven.

With a sweep on the line, both squads trotted out their aces on Sunday, as Justin Verlander squared off against Yovani Gallardo. Neither pitcher disappointed, as they both threw late into the game and struck out eight each. But it would be Brandon Inge’s sixth inning home run that would be the difference in this one, giving the Tigers a 3-2 win and a series sweep to boot.

Like I said earlier, this was a big sweep for the Tigers. Not only did it give them a four game winning streak *knock on wood*, but it was a real confidence booster for a team that has struggled to sustain any sort of momentum throughout this season. That said, any momentum earned over the last four games will be put to the test when the Cubs come calling, and the Tigers will need to play to their full potential to win what is all but guaranteed to be a fun and entertaining series over the next few days.

Roster movin’: The Tigers will recall right-hander Freddy Dolsi before tonight’s game. Dolsi appeared in 42 games for the Tigers last year, and had a 3.97 ERA. (I also gave him many shouts of Budweiser infused encouragement last year during a warm-up session in the Safeco Field bullpen. Not that this has any bearing on his call-up. Just thought it was worth a mention.)

Also worth noting, Jim Leyland has said that he will move Alfredo Figaro in between Verlander and Edwin Jackson in an attempt to provide the bullpen with more regularity when it comes to their appearances.

And just because I forgot to mention it this weekend, Skippah’ Jimmay signed himself a two-year extension, ensuring that that ever-present cloud of Marlboro smoke in the dugout tunnel isn’t going anywhere.

On Deck: Chicago Cubs

  • Record: 34-32 (3rd in NL Central, 2.5 GB of St. Louis)

Tuesday, June 23

  • Tigers – Edwin Jackson (6-4, 2.39 ERA, 72 SO)
  • Cubs – Carlos Zambrano (4-2, 3.44 ERA, 59 SO)

Wednesday, June 24

  • Tigers – Rick Porcello (8-4, 3.54 ERA, 41 SO)
  • Cubs – Rich Harden (4-3, 5.27 ERA, 64 SO)

Thursday, June 25

  • Tigers – Armando Galarraga (3-7, 5.62 ERA, 45 SO)
  • Cubs – Ted Lilly (7-4, 3.04 ERA, 75 SO)

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Series Wrap-Up: Cardinals – Thud.

35-31, 1st in AL Central (2.0 GU on MIN)

magswall

(Photo courtesy of Chris Lee/MCT)

Honestly, the trip to St. Louis really sucked. After looking like garbage in Pittsburgh, I was counting on the pitching of Justin Verlander and Edwin Jackson to lead us back to our winning ways, with at least 2 of 3 against the Cards. Yea right.

Verlander gave up five total runs and eight hits in four innings of work, which was one of his shortest outings of the season.  For Jackson, the story was different, but the same tune he’s heard all year: lack of run production.

Honestly, I could sit here and blab a ton about the stats and about how “Verlander was due for a bad night” and how Jackson tied his career high in strikeouts. I could tell you all about how Rick Porcello is quickly becoming one of the best young pitchers in the game and how excited I was when the bats finally did come alive last night.

But I won’t talk about those things. Why? Because they don’t matter. What does matter is the fact that this team is horribly inconsistent, scoring five runs over the first two games of the series, and then almost matching that total in the first inning of the third game. Yes, sometimes teams go through funks. That happens. But this team is in a permanent funk for the most part. When you expect them to excel, they choke. When you expect them to choke, it’s a 50/50 chance that they choke even harder or that they fight it and come to play. And then when they hit the road, it becomes the ultimate crap shoot.

Look, I know that we are all looking for something to cling to (at least I am) when it comes to this team. For me, that something is a win streak here and there amidst winning each series they play. Will that always happen? No. But it NEEDS to happen more often than not if we want to have a legitimate chance at the postseason. This team needs to win the games that they SHOULD win (coughcoughPIRATEScoughcough) and compete hard in the games that will define their mettle. Look, I know we aren’t even at the All Star break, but this team looks like they are headed for a big breakdown at some point. Every night the lineup looks cobbled together at best. The pitching staff could implode at any minute. Add to it that Magglio Ordonez is now on the bench indefinitely and Dontrelle Willis is back on the DL with his “anxiety problems”, and anyone that calls themselves a baseball fan can see that there are problems brewing. This does not look like a championship caliber team right now.

On Deck: Milwaukee Brewers

  • Record: 37-29 (1st in NL Central, 1.5 GU on St. Louis)

Friday, June 19

  • Tigers – Armando Galarraga (3-7, 5.56 ERA, 44 SO)
  • Brewers – Braden Looper (5-3, 4.62 ERA, 44 SO)

Saturday, June 20

  • Tigers – Alfredo Figaro (0-0, –.—ERA, – SO)
  • Brewers – Dave Bush (3-3, 5.31 ERA, 58 SO)

Sunday, June 21

  • Tigers – Justin Verlander (7-3, 3.39 ERA, 110 SO)
  • Brewers – Yovani Gallardo (7-3, 2.93 ERA, 85 SO)

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Series Wrap-Up: Pirates – Plundered.

34-30, 1st in AL Central (2.0 GU on MIN)

crysobcup

(Photo courtesy of Gene J. Puskar/AP)

**It’s been an incredibly busy week in the real world, so the series wrap-up from this weekend got bumped up until tonight. Sorry for the delay, folks. Also, the standings throughout the post are updated to reflect tonight’s ass-whoopin’ from the Cardinals.

As if the city of Detroit hadn’t had enough of the city of Pittsburgh in the Stanley Cup Finals, the Tigers had to head to PNC Park for a three game series against the Pirates. After winning on Friday to ever-so-slightly ease the pain of losing the Stanley Cup, the Tigers had the recently commandeered trophy paraded in front of their noses by Crysob, and promptly folded up shop, losing the next two. Jeez. The Kid plunders our hardware and the Buccos plunder our pride. Blegh.

Needless to say, I am WAY OVER Pittsburgh.

Anyways, like I said, things got off to a good start. Rick Porcello came out and pitched another solid game, while continuing to make his case for being considered as Rookie of the Year in the AL. But his pitching wasn’t even the best part of his game that night. The rook’ wound up with a pair of hits and a pair of RBI’s, singlehandedly providing the offense to protect his lead on the mound.

Hear that? That rumble of thunder? It can only mean one thing…trouble’s a comin’! And when you talk about trouble with the Tigers, it only means one thing: Armando Galarraga and Dontrelle Willis must be taking the mound.

First into the ring of “sucktastic-ness” was Armando. And boy did he EVER come through!

  • 2.0 IP (TWO!!!), 4 Runs, 8 Hits

Wow. Mindblowing stuff.

But “you can’t have one without the other” (Michigan football fans should get that one)…c’mon down D-TRAIN!

  • 3.2 IP, 6 Runs, 6 Hits, 8 Walks

All that for only 29 million dollars!

Look, these two are in bad shape. Galarraga is better suited to throw batting practice right now, and Willis couldn’t toss a beach ball into the Gulf of Mexico. Meanwhile, Zach Miner is just hanging out in the bullpen, waiting for his chance to come in for some relief work. Is he the solution? No. But anything is better than trotting Galarraga and Willis out on back-to-back nights with shovels in hand so they can dig their own graves. They just don’t have it right now. However, hope may spring eternal, as Jimmy Leyland announced that Willis will be missing his next scheduled start, although he didn’t specify who would be stepping in for him. At this point, anything is better than the D-Train. Now if we could only do something about Galarraga…

On Deck: St. Louis Cardinals

  • Record: 35-30 (2nd in NL Central, 2.0 GB of Milwaukee)

Tuesday, June 16

  • Tigers – Justin Verlander (7-2, 3.02 ERA, 106 SO)
  • Cardinals – Adam Wainwright (7-3, 3.49 ERA, 71 SO)

*Apparently Verlander caught the “Armandtrelle” bug, because it was nasty tonight. Here’s how the pitchers fared:

  • Verlander: 4.0 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 4 SO, Loss (7-3)
  • Wainwright: 7.0 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 SO, Win (7-4)

Wednesday, June 17

  • Tigers – Edwin Jackson (6-3, 2.24 ERA, 65 SO)
  • Cardinals – Todd Wellemeyer (5-6, 5.50 ERA, 46 SO)

Thursday, June 18

  • Tigers – Rick Porcello (7-4, 3.71 ERA, 38 SO)
  • Cardinals – Joel Pineiro (5-7, 3.99 ERA, 35 SO)

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Series Wrap-Up: White Sox – Grind and Survive.

33-27, 1st in AL Central (4.0 GU on MIN)

grandyhug

(Photo courtesy of Charles Rex Arbogast/AP)

I hate when the Tigers go on the road to Chicago. Nothing against the city whatsoever, but it’s always a brawl when we head into US Cellular field for a series against the White Sox. And more times than not, we come out on the wrong end.

This time around, things went a bit differently. Despite playing five games in the Windy City in order to make up a rain-out from earlier this season, the Tigers slogged and fought their way to a series win, taking three of five from the Sox. But it wasn’t pretty, and the Tigers have some decisions to make about their roster and who is going to be a contributing member of it.

First and foremost, Jeremy Bonderman is nowhere close to being ready to return to the starting rotation, let alone the big club’s roster. Bondo pitched the second game of a doubleheader on Monday and got shelled. He was only able to go four innings, throwing 85 pitches, and gave up six runs on eight hits. The problem? Three of those runs were home runs. Bondo also struggled with his control and velocity, only topping out at 90 MPH and leaving pitches up in the strike zone.

The obvious question is “now what?” Well, it looked like the initial plan was to put Bonderman in the bullpen until he was actually ready to return to the rotation, but that looks like it might be off the table. After being optioned to Toledo on Monday, Ryan Perry looks set to re-join the team when they arrive in Pittsburgh. Since he didn’t complete his 10 day stint with Toledo, that can only mean that someone from the current roster is headed to the DL. I have to believe it’s Bonderman, given that his ineffectiveness would keep him out of the rotation, and because he has never really worked in a bullpen role. We’ll know more when the team gets to Pittsburgh, but my money is on a quick trip to the DL for Jeremy.

As far as the rest of the series goes, it wasn’t EXACTLY business as usual, but it worked. Armando Galarraga had a decent outing in a “no decision”, Justin Verlander threw a complete game win, Dontrelle Willis was his usual roller coaster ride and Edwin Jackson cooled off a bit.

Offensively, it was Adam Everett (Adam Everett?!?!?) who had the big weekend, going 5 for 9 and driving in four runs, including a solo home run, which was only his second of the season. Brandon Inge also showed some flashes of his early season brilliance, and hopefully it’s a sign of things to come as the season keeps chugging along. But it wasn’t all peaches and cream for the Tigers, as Clete Thomas was sent back down to Toledo again. Jim Leyland said it was to work on his bat speed, as Thomas’ recent power surge has been supplemented by a surge in strikeouts as well. Replacing him is youngster Don Kelly, who has been a hitting machine for the Mud Hens, batting .339 with three home runs and 22 RBI’s. He will get the start in left field tomorrow.

On Deck: Pittsburgh Pirates

  • Record: 28-32 (5th in NL Central, 5.0 GB of Milwaukee)

Oh goodie. More sports against Pittsburgh.

Friday, June 12

  • Tigers – Rick Porcello (6-4, 3.98 ERA, 36 SO)
  • Pirates – Ian Snell (1-6, 5.54 ERA, 45 SO)

Saturday, June 13

  • Tigers – Armando Galarraga (3-6, 5.19 ERA, 44 SO)
  • Pirates – Zach Duke (6-4, 3.07 ERA, 44 SO)

Sunday, June 14

  • Tigers – Dontrelle Willis (1-3, 6.60 ERA, 16 SO)
  • Pirates – TBD

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