Inge. Binge. Cringe. Player of the Game. Bane of stephen’s existence. And soon to be Mudhen. The demise of Brandon Inge is the hot talk of the town (and a sweltering town it is). Inge has played more games at Comerica than any Tiger; he has struck out more than any Tiger in history; he has for better or worse represented the team through good times and bad; he has gone from promising catcher to slick-fielding 3rd baseman to outfielder to clutch slugger to all-star to an automatic out who has lost a step in the field, all with those ingetangible qualities of hustle, fearlessness, conceit, stubbornness, and above all a real devotion to the Tigers and to the Detroit area. His absence will be celebrated. He will be missed.
And he will be back. Likely when the rosters expand in September. Still under contract for next year, he could easily re-emerge as the 2012 starting 3rd baseman. Unlike a younger, less mature Inge who griped when replaced by both Pudge and Cabrera, Inge now seems to have one objective in mind: being a Tiger for life. A 10-year player being demoted may not be unheard of, but Dave Dombrowski couldn’t recall the last time it had happened. Most players in that situation would have refused the assignment and tried their luck as a free agent. For better or worse, Inge seems to be wedded to the Tigers.(Athough, supposedly, The Marlins want Inge, and we know how the Tigers like to do business with the Marlins). He is, in the words of the legendary Billfer, the Eningematic One.
Well, tonight we get to see what Wilson Betemit can add to the mix. Smokey has him slotted in the 9th spot. Whether this is an automatic move (that’s where Inge batted), an assessment of his abilities, or an attempt to make his debut low-pressure, it seems like a good idea.
And Justin Verlander is on the mound, which is as good a way as any to forget the game Detroit frittered away last night. With a solid debut performance by Duane Below and a 5-3 lead against the offensively hapless A’s, things looked good. And then…Purcey. Back-to-back-to-back-to-back walks later, Benoit came in to be dinked and dunked until the game was gone. Purcey used to be an A. He still knows people there. I’m just saying…
The Tigers may want to pursue some bullpen help after all. Unfortunately, the Pirates may have beaten them to the punch by snagging Jason Grilli for their improbable pennant run.
Verlander will be opposed by the old Tiger nemesis, Carl Pavano, aka Water Rat. Magglio could be the key to taking out Pavano: he has a career .429 avg vs The Rat.
Today’s Player of the Pre-Game: Justin Verlander
He had a rare rough start last outing. Give the man some slack; he can’t be Cy Young every night. However, another rough outing tonight, and it’s official 2nd-Half-Collapse-Panic-Time. Not that you should feel any pressure or anything, Justin. Judging by the look of concentration on his face in the game post photo, I think he is up to the task.
Today’s Welcoming Wilson Lineup: