I had the pleasure of attending last night's Tiger-White Sox tilt at a sold out Comiskey Park. It was half-price ticket Monday, and darn it if those South Side fans didn't pass those savings on to the park's beer vendors.
Sean Douglass looked like a major-league pitcher. We were too far away to see the ball break, but he was enormously effective at changing speeds, living most of the time in the 84-86 range, but dropping down to the mid-70s and even dialing it up to 91 once or twice. His command seemed to be a little off, and he worked himself into 3-2s the whole time, but the Sox hitters, especially big boppers Thomas and Konerko, were off-balance and took bad swings. Douglass' six innings were very effective, if not overwhelming. His pitching and some aggressive baserunning and timely hitting by the bottom of the lineup had the Tigers up 4-1 after 6 and looking good.
Then came Chris Spurling. Four homeruns to the Sox bullpen later (one of German, too), including back-to-backs by the 8th and 9th hitters, and the game was out of reach. As Spurling entered the game and they flashed his numbers up on the scoreboard, I wondered how I'd been tricked by his ERA into thinking he was having a good season. He has less than 4 K/9, he has a WHIP over 1.3. So what if he throws sort of hard? He's not having a breakout, and Monday night's shellacking by a mediocre offensive team is a return to the mean.
Fernando Rodney, on the other hand, has consistently terrific numbers. He struck out 7 in three innings the other day, and four in three innings the time before. On the season, he has 12.6 K/9 and only two walks. He looks like a keeper to me, and we'll focus on that, rather than on the disappointing loss.
The Next Relevant Tiger Team (listed in full on the right sidebar) has been revised.