Whether it's because last night's loss to the Oakland Athletics ended around 2 a.m. EST or because it's less depressing to highlight something hopeful, rather than rehash another game the Tigers let slip away, the story du jour this morning is of a more glass-half-full variety. Both Fernando Rodney and Joel Zumaya pitched in rehab assignments last night, each of which yielded encouraging results.
Rodney threw two scoreless innings for the Toledo Mud Hens, allowing two walks and one hit, while also striking out a batter and finishing with the win. And oh, by the way, Denny Bautista also pitched in the game, notching his own scoreless inning (his second consecutive appearance in which he didn't allow a run).
But those developments were relegated to sidebar status. It's the guy who pitched in Lakeland last night that's raising eyebrows and is generating the most excitement today. Zumaya was only slated to go one inning for the Flying Tigers, but finished the seventh inning quickly enough (12 pitches) that he also worked the eighth. He didn't allow a run, while walking one batter, striking out another, and giving up a hit.
However, Zumaya carries a different expectation with him. Did he make the radar gun sizzle? And perhaps more importantly, did he make three digits light up instead of two? All indications from Lakeland point to the affirmative.
There's some question as to whether or not the Joker Marchant Stadium scoreboard ginned up the numbers by one or two miles per hour, but even if Zumaya didn't really reach 100 m.p.h on the gun, it's apparent that he was throwing hard, which is what we all wanted to see.
"To hear that [radar speed] was real nice," a smiling Zumaya said, adding that he did not try to force his velocity. "I try not to look at the radar gun back there. I was just trying to throw strikes and get a feel for the mound."
It's not quite clear when Zumaya will pitch next, or whether he'll be throwing again with Lakeland or moving up to Toledo. But judging from his performance last night, the idea of Zumaya rejoining the Tigers this month doesn't seem very far-fetched.
Deran has a bit more at the Lakeland Flying Tigers Blog.