So for those of you that may not have stayed up to watch the Tigers and Angels (like, um, some people I know), what would surprise you more:
- The Tigers ringing up a 10-0 lead on the Angels? Or...
- The Tigers almost blowing a 10-0 lead on a night when Justin Verlander was pitching?
(A possible third choice: Detroit sports fans not being able to get a free Arby's sandwich today, because the Tigers didn't hit three homers during a game in which they scored 10 runs.)
The Tigers broke out of whatever malaise plagued them in Oakland, as they pounded Jered Weaver (and Jose Arredondo after him) for a combined nine runs and 11 hits. The two biggest blows were a two-run homer from Miguel Cabrera in the fifth and a three-run shot by Carlos Guillen in the sixth. Detroit exploded for seven runs in that sixth inning, and after the smoke cleared, a clear path to victory was surely expected.
But after cruising through five shutout innings, Verlander must have stiffened up or zoned out while the Tigers staged that run parade. Whatever sharpness he had was gone. Verlander allowed six hits from there - four of them with two outs - resulting in four Angels runs, and turning a cakewalk into a minefield.
Those mines started blowing up in the eighth, as the Angels teed off on Brandon Lyon, who had been as close to lights-out as anyone in Detroit's bullpen. Over his past 15 appearances, Lyon hadn't allowed a run. Yet after notching two outs in the inning, he became uncharacteristically hittable. The Angels knocked five straight hits, highlighted by a three-run homer by Bobby Abreu. Suddenly, a 10-run lead had been cut to three with the Tigers only four outs away from finishing the game.
However, Fernando Rodney was able to stop the rally short, pitching one of his most impressive ninth innings of the season for his 27th save. His change-up, in particular, was lethal, prompting some foolish-looking strikeout swings from Kendry Morales and Maicer Izturis.
Isn't it strange how a Tigers team that struggles so often to score runs on most nights (including this one, for four innings) can end up on the winning side of a slugfest? And it's happened a few times this season.
Cabrera's homer was part of a 3-for-5, five-RBI night. During what's now a nine-game hitting streak, BigMig is 20-for-41 (.488) with three homers and 13 RBIs. Is he repeating the late-season surge he made last year?
We don't want to pick on Lyon, since he's been so good lately. So how about we circle Aubrey Huff's 0-for-5 night. Okay, he's had a week to adjust to being a Tiger. But right now, he's the anti-Cabrera, batting 2-for-20 with one RBI.
Comment of the Night:
It's the west coast
Strangeness abounds, especially at the Big A
Thanks to Kurt for setting up a second overflow thread, long after I passed out. He had my back last night!
And if you want to check out plenty of photos from the scene in Anaheim, allikazoo has set up a FanPost with several images - including a great shot of Brandon Inge's new arm ink - along with a link to her Flickr site.