PREGAME: It’s pretty simple if the Tigers don’t want to get swept, they need to play better. They need to hit better, pitch better, and field better. Brandon Inge has missed 2 games at third and there have been two errors. Carlos Guillen is fumbling routine ground balls. Pitchers are walking batters and giving up homers. And hitters, well they haven’t been too bad, just not as hot as they were.
The pitching match-up is Scott Baker and Jeremy Bonderman – which would look to favor the Tigers – but I’m not taking anything for granted on this homestand.
Game Time 8:09pm
POSTGAME: I went to the game tonight, and it was just another example of how things have changed. Tonight was on field photo day. We went to this in 2002 and it was great. You get to go on the field before the game, and the players are in the outfield and you simply take pictures with them. You could go right up to Bobby Higginson and Matt Anderson and perhaps wait 3-4 minutes per player. Tonight was just a mass of humanity. The entire perimeter had to be 10 people deep. We showed up when the gates opened, and the lines at each gate stretched for blocks. There had to be at least 25,000 people at the stadium before 6:00pm, 2 hours before game time.
On to the game:
- Of course just a terrific outing by Jeremy Bonderman. Seven K’s, one walk, and 6 hits, 5 of which were singles.
- I think the key inning for Bondo was the 7th. He started the inning at 92 pitches (I believe, unofficial total from my scorecard) and I figured it would be his last. However, he retired the side on just 7 pitches (again unofficial) which allowed him to keep his pitch count in check for the 8th. If the Twins run it up to 105 or so in the 7th, they get to the pen an inning earlier.
- Of course the pen didn’t falter today. Todd Jones made it look easy. I know the easy innings from Jones seem rare, but he did have 26 outings last year where he picked up 3 outs on 3 batters (not all 1-2-3, some of those were baserunners getting on and then a double play).
- Scott Baker on the other side deserved better. I think he retired the first 7 hitters on 17 pitches. Even when guys would take the first pitch, it was usually for a strike. I only counted 5 really hard hit balls all night.
- As the game progressed, I was just hoping that Jeremy Bonderman could hold them down long enough, because the Tigers do have a number of guys who can get a quick run by knocking one out. Stringing hits together just wasn’t going to work today. Luckily Marcus Thames came through.
- I know Jim Leyland wants to keep trotting Craig Monroe out there hoping he’ll break out of his funk. But Monroe’s struggles and Thames homers make it hard to justify, at least for the time being.
- Placido Polanco striking out on a night when only 2 Tigers fanned, and with a runner on third? I still can’t believe that happened.
- I’ve now seen 3 Grandy triples in person this year. Sweet grab also on the Cuddyer play.
- And a final note, the National Anthem singer tonight was Amber
Strand Grand (at least I think that was her name). She was really quite good, and really quite attractive. Has anybody noticed if she’s done other games? I’m thinking she should be the Tigers version of Karen Newman.