Thursday, August 20, 2009

Games 119 & 120

Game 119

When your offense struggles against Felix Hernandez it isn't fun to watch, but at least it's understandable. When your offense struggles against Ian Snell it is even less fun to watch, and it's inexcusable. One bad inning from Justin Verlander, and the game was over.

Tigers 1 Mariners 3
W: Snell (3-9)
L: Verlander (13-7)
S: Aardsma (28)

Game 120

It started out same old story, just a different day. Bottom of the 4th, Tigers down 4, and they only had one hit at this point. But Ryan Raburn lead the inning off with a solo home run, and Brandon Inge added one of his own two batters later. The Tigers had a bit of life as they cut the lead in half. Unfortunatly the Mariners answered back with two solo shots of their own in the 6th inning and the lead was back to four.

In the bottom of the sixth, the Tigers had Seattle starter Ben Howland-Smith on the ropes. A double and two walks had the bases loaded. Then the rains came. How would the Tigers respond to the delay and a solid bullpen? An RBI groundout from Aubrey Huff, and a 2 RBI single from St. Avila and the Tigers were within one.

While Jarrod Washburn struggled, the bullpen was stellar. Two perfect innings from Zach Miner, and one thrown in from Bobby Seay gave the Tiger bats a chance to win it. They came close in the 8th, with runners on first and second with one out. Unfortunately lightning could not strike twice for Avila, as he lined out. Placido Polanco followed that with a weak popout to end the inning. In came David Aardsma, fifth in the AL in saves. In to face him was the pinch hitter Carlos Guillen. Carlos did what he does best, battled his way through the entire at bat. Seven pitches and he was at first with a walk. Ryan Raburn tried to bunt him to second, but ended up popping out the catcher. Miguel Cabrera did the job and then some with a double down the line. The Mariners walked Magglio to set-up the double play. Brandon Inge did not oblige. He hit it deep enough to score Guillen on a sac fly (aided by a poor catch by Johjima at the plate). That misplay put the winning run 90 feet away for Clete Thomas. Clete had a Gullien-esque at bat fouling off pitches and fighting to a full count after falling behind 1-2. The 8th pitch (Aardsma's 27th) was in a place Rod Allen calls "The Happy Zone". Clete lined it past Russell Branyan for a base hit, giving the Tigers the win.

So crappy middle game aside, it's a series win for the Tigers. A series win with two comebacks against one of the better bullpens in the Majors. Now to a West Coast swing, and insomnia for Tigers fans for the next 6 games. Maybe they'll remember to put the bats on the plane this time.

Tigers 7 Mariners 6
W: Seay (4-2)
L: Aardsma (3-5)

Tigers Record
W - L
64 - 56

1st Place AL Central (2.5 games ahead of Chicago)

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