Amid the heartbreaking news of Ernie Harwell’s passing yesterday, there was still a baseball game played in Minnesota. Unfortunately, the Tigers squandered a late rally with a couple of defensive miscues, falling to the Twins 4-3.
Dontrelle Willis turned in another solid start for the Tigers, giving up 3 runs on 4 hits (and 3 walks) in 5.1 innings. Joel Zumaya and Phil Coke combined to pitch two scoreless innings in relief before giving way to Ryan Perry, who kept the Tigers within a run through the 8th inning.
The Tigers offense got off to a bit of a slow start, grounding into two double plays in the first two innings. They scored two runs with no outs in the 4th inning on RBI singles from Magglio Ordonez and Miguel Cabrera. Unfortunately, the trio of Brennan Boesch, Brandon Inge, and Scott Sizemore failed to provide any further damage, leaving Ordonez and Cabrera on base.
Boesch redeemed himself for squandering an RBI opportunity in the 4th by hitting a monster home run in the 9th to tie the game at three. Mario Impemba responded to the blast with an “Oh my goodness” before diving into a discussion about whether the ball left the stadium. I think the more appropriate topic would be to debate whether the ball is still in this country. I think we’ve found a replacement for Marcus “Country Strong” Thames.
WALK OFF WOES
The excitement from Boesch’s bomb was short-lived, however. With one out in the 9th, J.J. Hardy hit a fly ball to deep left field that was misplayed off the wall by CF Austin Jackson. The ball took a bad bounce away from Jackson and Hardy ended up at third base. He then scored two pitches later on a wild pitch/passed ball (not sure how it was scored) by Ryan Perry. Regardless of whether Jackson was at fault or not, these are the types of bounces that Tigers fans are used to seeing when the team is in Minnesota.
BACK ON THE TRACKS
A great sign for the Tigers is that the D-Train struck out 6 Twins, his second straight start with 6 K’s (both against Minnesota). He has 21 strikeouts in 6 starts this year to go along with his rotation-leading 3.99 ERA. I’m a bit concerned about his WHIP (walks and hits per inning pitched), which is a bit high at 1.50. Still, Willis has been a pleasant surprise for the Tigers so far. I’m beginning to think his pending implosion may no longer be the guarantee everyone expects it to be.
LOOKS AT THE ROOKS
Austin Jackson cooled off somewhat last night, going 1-for-3 at the plate. He scored the Tigers’ first run and also walked.
Scott Sizemore went 0-for-4, seeing only 7 pitches in those four at-bats. Hopefully this was just a one-game slump, because he seems to be more effective when he takes more pitches.
As mentioned before, Brennan Boesch’s home run tied the game in the 9th inning. That was his only hit in a 1-for-4 night. His .618 slugging percentage leads the team, though it’s likely to go down as he sees more at-bats.
AROUND THE CENTRAL
The Royals beat up on the White Sox last night, winning 7-2. The Indians lost to Toronto by an 8-5 score.
The Tigers are sitting 2.5 games back of the Twins in the division right now. A win today will put them back within 1.5 games, while a loss will set them 3.5 games behind. The Sox, Royals, and Indians are all 7 games behind the Twins right now.
The Tigs will be back in action in about 90 minutes, and today’s lineup has already been announced. Rick Porcello is the starter.