Friday, July 24, 2009
Games 94 & 95
What a difference 24 hours makes.
Justin Verlander has a set of huge brass balls. He's quickly turning into the second coming of Jack Morris. I would need to see him get a couple more wins in the postseason for the transformation is deemed complete. He took the mound and wasn't going to leave the game up to anyone else. A little wild at times (4 walks and loading the bases on 3 singles with no outs in the 9th), but he dialed in when he needed it. After getting a huge double play for the first two outs in the 9th, he was clocked at 100 mph on his 125th pitch. Two pitches and a ground ball later. Game one was over with a Tiger victory.
Now while Verlander was not about to let the bullpen give the game away for him, there was that issue of run support which has been a sticky issue as of late. The power might not have been there (only 2 of the ten hits were for extra bases), but the hits were timely. 3 for 9 with RISP, and two of the runs via sacrifice. The clutch hitting from the bottom of the order that put the Tigers in first returned today to give them the outright lead back in the AL Central.
As for the nightcap and to extend that lead, things started out kind of dicey with a Jim Thome bomb to open the scoring. Carlos Guillen showed he might be the bat the Tigers are missing, by answering back with a home run of his own in the bottom of the 2nd. Jermaine Dye answered in the top of the 3rd with a 2 run shot to put the Sox back up 3-1. In the 5th the Tigers fired back with 2 singles from Marcus Thames and Brandon Inge to lead off the inning. Dusty Ryan of the .156 batting average, lucked one into centerfield to drive one run in. Curtis Granderson drew a walk and the bases were loaded for Placido Polanco. Polanco hit one up the middle far enough to beat out an double play attempt and the score was tied. Polanco also started the rally in the 8th with a one out single. Magglio Ordonez followed with a double down the line. Miguel Cabrera was walked to load the bases. All you need is a deep fly ball, right? Unfortunately pinch-hitter Ryan Raburn was not successful. But the problem with loading the bases, is that the pitcher has no room for error. Matt Thornton made a mistake by throwing his 13th pitch of the inning outside the strike zone for a bases loaded walk.
Fernando Rodney worst two pitches were the first two to Paul Konerko. After starting out 2-0, he rebounded to strike out Konerko, Chris Getz, and got Gordon Beckham to bend one back to the mound to end the game. Rodney would not have had this chance had Bobby Seay pulled his head out of his rear mid 7th inning. Seay had runners on 2nd and 3rd with one out. Seay must have been thankful for the free out as he gave the next two batters strikeouts to end the inning. Round of applause for Eddie Bonine, as well for pitching a pretty good game. Too bad he couldn't get the win before heading back to Toledo.
So 2 games into the 4 for the weekend are in the win column for the Tigers. Two national (well national for the Midwest tomorrow afternoon) games to go. For Edwin Jackson's sake the Tigers had better score some runs tomorrow, or he may choke some out out on the dugout
Tigers 5 White Sox 1
W: Verlander (11-5)
L: Contreras (4-9)
Tigers 4 White Sox 3
W: Lyon (4-4)
L: Linebrink (2-5)
S: Rodney (21)
W - L
51 - 44
1st Place AL Central (2 games ahead of Chicago)