PREGAME: With a win today the Tigers would match last year’s win total, and a quick check of the calendar tells me it’s still July. Of course I’m not going to count the chickens in the pre-hatch phase of the post, especially with Johan Santana pitching for the Twins.
With the series in hand, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Jim Leyland employ the Sunday lineup and give Carlos Guillen and Magglio Ordonez the day off. With the Tigers playing 7 straight days on turf it might not be a bad idea. Pudge may still be out, and there was talk of Brent Clevlen starting in centerfield today. (Like that isn’t a tall order – welcome to the bigs).
So runs may be at a premium, but that is pretty much what Jeremy Bonderman has been accustomed to this year. Bonderman looks to make things just as difficult on the Twins, and with a 2.67 ERA and 74 strikeouts in his last 10 starts he certainly seems up to the task.
POSTGAME: I think this one definitely falls under the category of: ERGH. That is about as beatable as Johan Santana gets, and about as dominant as Jeremy Bonderman gets. The only thing I question is leaving Bonderman out there to face Cuddyer, actually the entire walk Joe Mauer to get to Cuddyer. Jamie Walker was warm and available. I know Bonderman wasn’t getting hit hard, and he was still throwing 95, and even the pitch that Cuddyer hit wasn’t a bad pitch. But there is probably a limit to the frustration one pitcher should face in an inning, and he threw a ton of pitches.
In the end the inning was reminiscent of the 8th inning melt down in Pittsburgh. Just plain ugly.
Offensively I couldn’t be happier. The Tigers made Santana work and repeatedly hit balls hard. Yes they left 13 men on base, but I look at situations like the 4th inning where the Tigers had runners on 2nd and 3rd and after a Clevlen K, Polanco and Thames both hit line drives that were caught. It happens – just like the 8th inning happened.
And yes, Brent Clevlen. That was quite a debut for a move I was questioning. He doubled and walked off of Santana, it will only get easier from here on out. And as for the outfield assist, it was a perfectly executed play. Clevlen made a strong accurate throw and Wilson blocked the plate. But I think the Tigers caught a break because Castillo appeared to have scored.
Two last thoughts on the series. First, I love the old school helmets that both Mauer and Redmond wear when catching. And secondly, could someone please ask Tim McClelland to make a strike call before the ball has been returned to the pitcher?
Game Time 2:10