Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Lessons Learned at Comerica Park

We start this post with a promotional announcement: Make sure to VOTE for Jeremy Bonderman to go to the All Star Game. There is only one day left to vote, or less than that actually (voting ends 6:00 PM EST Thursday) and Bonderman currently sits in second place. C'mon people. Let's get this done. Okay, now back to your regularly scheduled post.

Having just returned from a great 4th of July at Comerica Park, watching the Detroit Tigers hang on, barely, to defeat the Cleveland Indians 6-4, and move within two games of the Tribe in the American League Central, I think I learned a few things. First, the Indians are a very good ballclub, never out of the game, always a threat. There's a reason they have had such a great first half of the season. Secondly, the Tigers are pretty damn good themselves, both offensively, on the mound, and defensively (the bullpen and Brandon Inge's two errors notwithstanding). And third, man, I just don't know what to do with the Tigers bullpen right now. Thank God for Todd Jones, and who that we'd ever be saying that?

The Tigers played well again tonight, thanks in large part to Kenny Rogers, who moved to 3-0 since his return off the Disabled List. He has not missed a beat, and despite some rough spots here and there, and allowing a few too many batters to reach base, Rogers was able to get the key strikeout or groundball when he needed it.

And Rogers was backed up (again, aside from Inge's two miscues) with some great defensive plays, including a spectacular diving catch by Marcus Thames, who continues to show his value to the Tigers team. Here's a guy who had never played first base before Spring Training, but learned the position to make the Tigers club, and has become more than just a serviceable backup at the position, and still can play the outfield. And he can hit. With the way Craig Monroe has really been struggling, Thames should continue to see more playing time. He certainly deserves it.

The Tigers bullpen though, ugh. Did their best to give the game away, with Jason Grilli and Macay McBride each responsible for giving up a run (the two scored on Travis Hafner's home run off of McBride), and Zach Miner allowing things to get a bit dicey in the eighth inning. At this point, they've tried making trades, moving a starer (Chad Durbin) to the 'pen, moving players back and forth from Toledo, I'm not sure what else they can really do, aside from giving up the moon for a pitcher like Eric Gagne, and I'm not willing to sacrifice top prospects, at this point, to make that move. Hope Fernando Rodney comes back healthy, and Zumaya after that, and go from there. Todd Jones, though, looked sharp again, so maybe he's turned a corner. We'll see.

Tomorrow should be fun with Justin Verlander battling C.C. Sabathia. Too bad it's a 1:05 start. At least Fox Sports Net is replaying the game at 7:00, so if I can try to ensure that people don't tell me the score at work tomorrow (which is probably more easily said than done) I'll watch the game tomorrow night. Hopefully the Tigers can take 2 of 3 before Boston comes in Friday.

And, don't forget, only about 18 hours to go to VOTE for Jeremy Bonderman to make the All Star team. He's currently in 2nd place behind Hideki Okajima, so get voting!

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