There’s not much to say about Justin Verlander that hasn’t been said; he just keeps turning in one excellent performance after another. OK, maybe one thing: he must lead AL pitchers in weird plays. The weirdest is still the strange hop-jump-chuck-the-ball-at-the-batter thing he did, which was so confusing it even started a thread on umpire.org. Tonight’s entry: the only run of the game scored on a strikeout that skipped off of the top of Avila’s glove, which Avila fumbled while trying to get to Verlander covering home.
The Tigers are no 8-2 over the last 10 games, which makes them the hottest team in baseball in that period, and leaves them one thin game behind the sinking Indians. Oh, and the second-hottest teams in baseball, at 7-3? The Twins and White Sox. You knew it was inevitable.
The bad news is, the Tigers did their very best to squander their scoring opportunities, but were bailed out courtesy of Mr. Avila and Mr. Boesch. After Avila’s first triple, the Tigers had a runner at 3rd with nobody out: Raburn and Jackson both failed to get him home. After his next triple, with a runner at 3rd with nobody out, Raburn and Jackson both failed to get him home. At this rate the R3L2O Police will be setting up checkpoints outside of Comerica for tonight’s game.
So which has happened most recently, a catcher hitting back-to-back triples, or back-to-back R3L2O fails, back-to-back? This question is bound to give someone hours of amusement.
Tonight the Tigers will be up against Erik Bedard, who only allowed 1 run to Detroit in April en route to a 10-1 Seattle win. But as we pointed out yesterday, that was then, this is now. Brad Penny goes for the Tigers. The Bad Penny threw 100 pitches and gave up 3 runs in 5 innings in his last start, but got the win. I guess that actually makes him Good Enough Penny, which works for me.
Fun stat: this is the second time this season that Justin Verlander and Jose Valverde have exactly the same ERA (2.89). The first time was…well, you know. Can’t sneak a trick question by this crowd.
Today’s Player of the Pre-Game: Ryan Raburn
I recently said some fairly nice things about Mr. Raburn. He proceeded to pop up in the infield with Avila on 3rd and nobody out, then strike out with Avila on 3rd and nobody out, then, with Avila on 1st and nobody out, grounded into a double-play. Then he was pulled for a defensive replacement. Alex Avila was seen in the dugout begging to bat AFTER Raburn for today’s game.
Today’s Alex-Gets-His-Wish Lineup: