Justin Verlander (0-0, 0.00) vs. Adam Loewen (1-0, 3.60)
To me, last night's 3-1 win may have been the most reassuring of the season thus far. Sure, you could say the Orioles lost because of mistakes like Brian Roberts' two-run error in the sixth inning (it's easy for me to say, but I thought Kevin Millar should've come up with that throw), or Miguel Tejada's bad baserunning decision that soon followed. My response would be that good teams often win because they keep the game in control and let the opponent beat themselves with such miscues. And the way I see it, that's what happened last night.
Good teams also win because of fantastic pitching, and Nate Robertson pitched one hell of a game (I'm with Billfer; he probably should've been allowed to finish it). Joel Zumaya gave up a couple of hard-hit balls in the eighth inning (one of which gave the O's their only run), but he threw some wicked breaking balls that left Millar and Alberto Castillo looking clueless. And don't we all appreciate a 1-2-3 save from Todd Jones?
Looking ahead to tonight's match-up, Verlander was pretty good in his first start, aside from a few too many walks. Weren't we worried about him toward the end of Spring Training? That seems like a long time ago.
And for all the worrying and disappointment over Brandon Inge's less-than-stellar start to the season ("We're going to sit you tonight for Neifi" is probably not something you want to hear two weeks in), I wonder if we're overlooking how well Placido Polanco has been playing so far. Not only has he gotten in hit in each of the Tigers' seven games, but he's also been contributing some fantastic defense at second base. (And last night, he may have influenced Roberts' error with a hard slide into the bag.)
Also, it does appear that Pudge Rodriguez will start tonight at catcher (and bat leadoff), despite taking a painful foul tip off his left foot last night. Jim Leyland's sticking with the plan to rest him tomorrow at Toronto.
▪▪ Vance Wilson will not need surgery on his sore right elbow, according to legendary orthopedic surgeon, Dr. James Andrews. But he will still miss another four to six weeks for recovery and rehabilitation. Thus, the Mike Rabelo era continues. Ordering that customized t-shirt or jersey might not be such a bad idea, after all.
▪▪ You probably already know this, but Comcast is offering a free preview of MLB Extra Innings until April 15. Last night was the first time I sat down to enjoy it, and indulging in this freebie might has me reconsidering my recent tightwad philosophies. I stayed up far later than I should have, engrossed in Rockies-Dodgers, Giants-Padres, and Reds-Diamondbacks.