New League Record... For Him, Anyway:
In the open thread for last night's game, I speculated that Chad Durbin might be the kind of pitcher who's good at Comerica Park, and maybe not so good on the road. So much for that. It looks like it's more a case of Durbin pitching well against this White Sox team. Here's the Captain Obvious statement of the week: That was easily the best game that dude's pitched all season - and probably in his career.
Nine strikeouts (a personal best) in eight innings? (Not exactly Jake Peavy numbers, of course, but at least the Tigers didn't lose the game.) Only three hits? No runs? No walks? (Actually, Durbin's been pretty good with the walks this season. Everything else on the stat sheet, however, is pretty eye-popping.) If Durbin can consistently pitch at that level until the All-Star break, the rest of the AL Central should be afraid, very afraid.
Sure, you can say the White Sox lineup was much less imposing with Jim Thome and Jermaine Dye on the bench. (And later, they lost Rob Mackowiak to an abdominal strain.) But noted Tiger Killers Paul Konerko and Joe Crede were still in the lineup. Maybe what Ozzie's team really missed was Alex Cintron, a major thorn in the Tigers' paw last season, who's away from the team on bereavement leave.
South Side Sox was more frustrated by the Chicago batters, however, than impressed with Durbin.
Blame It On the Rain?
Despite Durbin's dominance, Joel Zumaya almost crapped the game away with a near-meltdown in the ninth inning that would've sent Tigers players, coaches, executives, and fans looking for something to bite down on. Zumaya let five straight Chicago batters reach base without a hit, first hitting A.J. Pierzynski (Can we really blame him for that?) and then walking the next four hitters. It's probably amazing that only two runs scored. It looked like we were on our way to seeing yet another blown lead and likely extra-inning loss.
So what the hell happened? According to Jim Leyland, Zumaya had an opportunity to experiment and learn, but instead let his concentration lapse with the big lead. On his way back to the dugout, however, Zumaya let home plate umpire Mark Wegner know that he thought he was being squeezed on a few of those calls. Ah, the brashness of youth...
Once Again, the Fantastic Four:
As they were a week ago, the first four batters in the Tigers' lineup were outstanding against a left-handed starting pitcher. Pudge Rodriguez, Placido Polanco, Gary Sheffield, and Magglio Ordonez hit a combined 10-for-19. The Year of Polanco continued, with Plonkers (credit to Samela for that nickname) driving in three runs. And Maggs resumed mashing his former team (.339, five homers, 18 RBI, .925 OPS), knocking in the other three. Right now, the Tigers are punishing left-handed pitching. What might they have done to Mark Buerhle if he were starting in this series?