First place on the line and Justin Verlander on the mound, it doesn’t get much better than that.
Although last night will be tough to top: tense, tight game, close plays on the bases, the rare night when the calls were going Detroit’s way, and a dramatic walk-off triple (the first career walk-off hit for Ramon Santiago).
The triple was aided by B.J. Upton, who was playing Santiago shallow and shading toward left. In fact Rod Allen commented more than once during the game that Upton was playing a very shallow CF for Comerica, and that came back to bite Upton. There certainly was no reason to play shallow with Martinez on first; even a double wouldn’t have scored the run. One wonders if Maddon were on the bench, if Upton would have been repositioned. Was Maddon’s ejection the hidden key play of the game?
Not that you can blame Maddon for being upset. Ruggiano, the runner called out at the plate, even took it to another level, hinting that he’s just going to do a Posey on catchers from now on. “If they’re going to give catchers the benefit of the doubt on those plays, then I feel like that narrows down our options to a collision at home every time,” Ruggiano said.
Tonight not only brings us the battle of first-place teams, but also the battle of the Justins, Verlander vs Masterson. Verlander is in top form, 5-0 with a 2.14 ERA his last seven starts. And he says he isn’t really pitching his best right now. I can’t wait to see what that is. The key for our Justin is to get past Michael Brantley, who is .538 for his career vs Verlander.
The other Justin did well in his start against Detroit earlier in the year, and is pitching well in general, but falling victim to the team slump–he held the Twins to 2 runs in 8 innings his last start, but got the loss.
In unrelated news, Ryan Raburn needs a few more ABs to statistically qualify for the league leader lists. Which is a shame, because he just edged Chone Figgins for the lowest On-Base Percentage in the American League (.235).
In other news, Brandon Inge was seen taking batting practice today.
Today’s Player of the Pre-Game: Don Kelly
Today’s Lucky Lefty Lineup: