At least the Tigers won't suffer a five-game sweep. Obviously, the expectations are higher than that, and the hope is that Detroit can actually build on its lead over the White Sox. But if you harbored deep fears about the Tigers hitting a deep pothole in Chicago, while also letting a division rival turn around its season at their expense, the worst cannot happen after splitting a doubleheader yesterday. (Of course, that spark of optimism could sputter out if Detroit loses the next three games - which would feel like getting swept.)
However, it's difficult to be optimistic after watching the Tigers make Jose Contreras look like Roy Halladay in his first major league start since May 8. Contreras only allowed one hit over eight innings. One. Hit. That's only one more hit than anyone reading this could've gotten, and we were either watching the game on TV or listening on the radio. (Or maybe you were in attendance at U.S. Cellular Field. But I'm guessing you still didn't get any base hits.) And this was against a guy who hadn't won a game all season. (Actually, Contreras was winless in his last 10 starts, going back to last season.)
Fatigue can't be blamed, as four batters were in the lineup that didn't play in the first game of the doubleheader. Yet everyone approached their at-bats as if they wanted them to end as soon as possible. Jim Leyland was clearly disgusted with the offensive (ahem) display after the game, using words like "weak," "sickening," and "brutal" to describe the effort. For a lineup that appeared to have broken out of its collective slump over the previous two games, it was a disappointing relapse into futility.
But even a respectable scoring output might not have been enough to compensate for Jeremy Bonderman's performance. For now, one of the questions surrounding the Tigers' starting rotation has been answered, because Bondo didn't pitch well enough to make anyone worry about losing his job. (Never mind that Armando Galarraga looked
worse good in Game 1, and Dontrelle Willis could easily do worse in any given start.)
Leyland's three-word summation of Bondo's night? "Not too good."
In four innings of work (totaling 85 pitches), Bonderman gave up six runs and eight hits, three of which were blasted out of the park. (And one of those homers was from Scott Podsednik, who had hit six home runs in his last four seasons combined.) He couldn't locate the ball very well, and didn't have the velocity (topping out at 90 m.p.h.) to compensate for pitches up in the strike zone.
Was it something to build on? Perhaps. But Bonderman may just not be ready yet. He didn't appear to be struggling physically, but also didn't look like he could get major league hitters out consistently.
[Edited at 3:45 p.m. EST, after a mistake was pointed out in the comments]
It was far too little, and way too late, but the Tigers might have some power back in the lineup with the return of Marcus Thames. After having an opposite field shot taken away by Jermaine Dye (a Tigers Killer with both bat and glove) in Game 1, Thames smacked a pinch-hit homer off Matt Thornton in the ninth inning.
Since being activated on Sunday, Thames has gone 4-for-9 with two strikeouts and two walks. His bat could be very valuable against Mark Buehrle and John Danks over the next two games.
Comment of the Night:
Is this what the Texas Rangers felt like when Dontrelle one-hit them?
Game 1 quickies after the jump!
Armando Galarraga had probably pitched well enough in his past couple of starts to justify remaining in the starting rotation. But getting a much needed win in Game 1 (along with Bondo's sub-par outing in the nightcap) likely clinched his spot for the time being. Galarraga gave the Tigers exactly what they were looking for, holding a potent White Sox lineup to three runs while also pitching into the seventh inning, thus reserving the bullpen for the second game of the evening.
Yes, you could nitpick and point to the seven hits and four walks Galarraga allowed. It wasn't his best effort. But it was certainly good enough, both for the Tigers and himself.
It's probably a little unfair to pick on Miguel Cabrera when that left hamstring is clearly hurting him. But he went 0-for-4 in Game 1, and 0-for-3 in Game 2. He had to be in the lineup yesterday, and might have to be for the next three games, with the Tigers possibly needing extra pitchers in this series. But BigMig - Kurt gets credit for that nickname - might also not truly recover until he gets some rest.
That, of course, raises the question of who would play first base if Cabrera was out for a week or longer.
Comment of the Day:
though, it may take both of mine