Cleveland won the first round of this AL Central heavyweight title bout, though the Tigers tried their best to make the Indians earn a victory. Talking trash about Cleveland won't work if the Detroit teams aren't going to win their games. (I'm sure that's of utmost concern to the Tigers.) Oh, well. There's two more games in this series, and if all else fails, I can still make fun of LeBron James and Mike Brown for at least one more night.
We have FOX to thank for today's late afternoon start time. Yet for whatever reason, the hamsters running the wheel over there don't think this match-up is worth showing to the majority of the country. According to Danny Knobler, only 15% of the U.S. will get to watch this game. Outside of Michigan and Ohio, the only other major markets getting Indians-Tigers will be Boston, Baltimore, and Minneapolis. ("Series of the week," my ass.)
Apparently, Cubs-Dodgers - a battle of one first place team vs. a second-place team four games under .500 - has been deemed more compelling. I know, I know - Chicago and L.A. are bigger TV markets... blah blah blah. Fine. I get that. So explain Phillies-Braves going to 38% of the country. And check out the starting pitchers in that one: Adam Eaton vs. Buddy Carlyle. You gotta be kidding. Who chose that one? Jeanne Zelasko? Unless you're a member of the Carlyle family or a close friend, wouldn't you rather watch Sabathia vs. Verlander go at it with first place on the line?
Whatevs. It's the rest of the country's loss. Indulging the midwestern inferiority complex gets old and tiring. But once again, we can thank FOX for doing all it can to promote Major League Baseball. (When the hell does that television contract run out?)
So what's to say about this pitching matchup? Sabathia has been pretty close to incredible this season, with only two of his 10 starts looking questionable. He does give up quite a few hits, but much like Paul Byrd, Sabathia doesn't walk anyone, so the damage is often minimal. The only game he lost was when his lineup scored one just run for him. Last season, however, Sabathia went 0-3 against the Tigers.
Verlander has won four starts in a row, and the last two were probably his best of the season. Continuing the streak today would be pretty impressive, considering the Indians have roughed him up a bit in his short career. Verlander has a 2-2 record and 5.32 ERA against Cleveland. The two guys in their lineup that seemed to give him the most trouble were Jason Michaels (3-for-6, 2 doubles, 1 RBI) and Grady Sizemore (4-for-8, 1 HR, 2 doubles, 1 RBI).
▪▪ MLB.com's Jason Beck reports that Fernando Rodney is going on the DL. Biceps tendinitis is listed as the reason. Wasn't it his shoulder that was bothering him? Zach Miner is being recalled from Toledo to take his roster spot.
▪▪ D-Town Baseball noticed Placido Polanco receiving some love from the national press.