PREGAME: Wrap-around series just mess with my baseball equilibrium. It’s a Sunday afternoon and instead of talking about a series win or a series loss or someway to punctuate the series, it is merely game 3 of 4.
But it is a Sunday afternoon, and the Tigers do have Justin Verlander on the hill. Hitters are OPSing .551 against Verlander during day games. Maybe the high heat is harder to center with sunshine, or may it is nothing.
Jeff Niemann, taken exactly 2 picks after Justin Verlander in the 2004 draft. The rookie has done a good job keeping the ball in the park with only 14 homers allowed in 139 innings. There is no platoon advantage with Niemann with hitters from both sides of the plate OPSing 721 against him in virtually the same number of PAs.
Random Factoid: Niemann has only allowed 2 extra base hits when the hitters has put the first pitch in play against him. Bad boding for the Tigers.
Your lefties in the outfield lineup:
POSTGAME: It’s been 8 hours since the game ended, and I still can’t believe that Polanco’s ball made it over the wall. I was at the game Saturday and I was shocked that with 2 lefties on the mound, and with a very brisk wind blowing out that we didn’t see a wind blown homer that day. I don’t know what the conditions were like today, but regardless, where the Tigers were 2 feet short on Saturday, they had those 2 feet today. Those 2 feet were enough to maintain their 5 game lead on the Twins.
Justin Verlander wasn’t especially sharp in the early going. He wasn’t pitching bad, but he was unable to efficiently put away the Rays and it looked like getting through 6 would be stretching it. Jim Leyland let him go 8 as the Rays were kind enough to make some quick outs in the late going.
The offense was mostly stymied, except for Clete Thomas who had 3 hits. Unlike the game against Price, the Tigers hit a number of balls well, but they routinely went right at Brent Zobrist and they had little to show for it.
But they got enough.
Oh, and Fernando Rodney was good. Again.