The Tigers went to the reliever well once again, and again the bullpen delivered. Brad Thomas survived, Eddie Bonine bridged the gap, and the back end bent but didn’t break. In the end the Tigers got a much needed (and unexpected) win against a premiere team after what was a pretty lousy five game road trip.
Thomas wasn’t exactly sharp. He barely threw more strikes than balls and pitched with runners on in each of his 3 innings. He didn’t strike out a batter. But he made it through 3 innings with minimal damage and for a spot start he certainly did what he needed to. Eddie Bonine got the ball to Joel Zumaya which this year has been a good feeling.
Zumaya pitched out of Bonine’s jam in the 6th, and had a very efficient 7th inning. With only 18 pitches thrown Leyland tried to get another inning out of him. I can’t argue with the decision. On a night where you were burning the the bullpen, getting one more inning and saving another pitcher or two would have been huge. It didn’t work out.
Zumaya ended up being charged with 2 runs after a couple walks and infield hits. Fortunately Phil Coke and Ryan Perry finished the inning and the now 1 run lead was preserved thanks to a terrific play by Magglio Ordonez off the bat of Derek Jeter. (Watch the replay and watch Perry, he never went to back up anything thinking Maggs had it all the way)
Then it was Papa Grande’s turn and he fanned the side in the 9th with a devastating split finger pitch. I was sitting near the left field foul pole, and even there I could see the pitches absolutely dive for the dirt.
Brennan Boesch drove in 3 of the Tigers runs. I don’t know why any team throws him a first pitch fastball for a strike at this point as once again his triple came on the first pitch, right down the middle. Johnny Damon had the fun of taking his former team deep.
- The Ernie Harwell ceremony was terrific. Understated and respectful, much like Ernie.
- Valverde must have thrown 70-80 pitches in the bullpen. He got up and threw in the 6th inning, not hard, just getting loose. Then he threw the bulk of the 8th inning. And then in between the 8th and the 9th.
- Adam Everett nearly had a great game. He almost made a great play in the 8th, laying out for a line drive that hit off his glove. He added a single and a nicely executed sacrifice bunt (that was the time to sac bunt) leading to a run.