Game 2009.033: Tigers at Twins
PREGAME: After a lengthy game with a disappointing result the Tigers turn to Justin Verlander to stave off the Metrodome sweep. He’ll be opposed by Scott Baker. Both pitchers will be expected to log some innings today as both bullpens were burned up in last night’s marathon. Detroit does have a fresh option in Lucas French, who was due to take his regular turn in the Toledo rotation and is Nate Robertson’s replacement. (Nate hit the DL with a back injury).
With a 1:10 start (noon:10 local time) we’ll see which offense wakes up first.
POSTGAME: It’s not too hard to find someone to blame in this one. Bobby Seay and Zach Miner combined to be awful and give away a 5 run lead before recording 2 outs. The result was a wasted outing by Justin Verlander, and 5 runs which haven’t exactly been easy to come by lately.
He was freakishly good yet again today with a career high 13 strike outs. The only knock is that his pitch count crept up too high too early on a day when the bullpen was depleted. But he didn’t surrender a run and didn’t ask his position players to do much of anything. He recorded 15 swinging strikes as batter just can’t find his fastball.
In reading the comments, there is a lot of disagreement as to whether he should have been pulled. Verlander topped the 120 pitch mark when he was lifted and it was the 3rd straight start with a heavy workload. In my mind he certainly wasn’t pulled too early, and may have come out too late.
Listening to the game I didn’t think he’d be back for the 7th inning at all, and if he did I thought it would be to get Joe Crede. With the bullpen spent, I thought a 5 run lead and a clean slate would be a good situation to indoctrinate Lucas French. More on this in a minute.
As it was, Verlander put 2 men on including a walk to Nick Punto. At this point Leyland had to get him. Whether or not you believe in pitch counts, this had nothing to do with it. Verlander was gassed. Justin is normally a quick worker, and in that 7th inning he was taking longer between pitches. He had fanned Punto on all fastballs in his first 2 at-bats and start to finesse him with offspeed pitches in that last at-bat. And the velocity had tailed off after a flurry at the end of the sixth inning. It was time.
As I mentioned up above, a clean start with a 5 run lead might have been a nice spot to get French in the game. The downside of Verlander putting 2 guys on was that the situation became much more dicey and did call for Bobby Seay. As one of only 4 options (Miner/Rodney/French) and lefties coming it made sense to go with Seay. Seay didn’t get the job done. Miner didn’t get the job done either. I’m not soured on Seay, but Miner does not seem to pitch well out of the pen. It was a Twins sereis last year where he couldn’t throw strikes out of the pen that led to his demotion and it was more of the same the last 2 nights.
With 15 runs over the last 2 games it is starting to show signs of life again. Granted, it was helped by Jason Kubel not embracing a direct route to Santiago’s double, but that’s part of the game and the Tigers added on. And everybody that isn’t wearing catchers gear found a way to contribute the last 2 games.