How many runs is enough, Armando Galarraga? Seriously, I think everyone who follows or is associated with the Detroit Tigers would like to know.
As bad as Galarraga was in his previous start, giving up eight runs and 11 hits in less than six innings at Cleveland, you could make a case (as thin as it would be) that the Tigers' terribly lacking run support might have gotten in his head a bit. So what would happen if the Tigers' lineup scored him some runs?
On Friday, Galarraga fell behind early after Joe Mauer launched a fastball right down the middle for an opposite field home run. But the Tigers came right back and scored six runs, five of them coming on homers by Miguel Cabrera and (He Who Has Come to Save Us) Alex Avila. Yet that apparently wasn't enough for Galarraga. (Or he was so shocked by the run support that he didn't know what to do with it.)
In the top of the second, after walking two of the first three hitters he faced, Galarraga let the Twins right back in the game, allowing three runs on singles by Denard Span and Mauer. And from there, what should've been a rout, with the Tigers chasing a rookie starting pitcher early for the second straight game, turned into a dogfight of a slugfest.
Galarraga sort of settled down for the next three innings - allowing four hits but no more runs - which allowed him to get his first win in his last six starts. But his inconsistency is maddening at this point. After the game, Jim Leyland said that he had concerns, but left it at that. He didn't want to talk anymore about it. And maybe that's the best approach. Just be thankful the Tigers got through this, and move on to the other four starters in the rotation who don't make you want to put your head through a wall.
Two games into his major league career, I think it's fair to ask this question: Is Alex Avila awesome or totally awesome? For all the talk around the trade deadline that Carlos Guillen could be the extra bat that the Tigers "pick up," it might be the assistant general manager's kid from Double-A Erie who might end up providing the boost that Detroit's offense needed oh-so-badly.
(And at what point does Al Avila stop getting handshakes, back pats, and congratulations from his colleagues for every big play his son makes? Not that we're suggesting it's getting old. Not at all.)
As impressive as Avila's 2-for-4 night was - along with a moon shot homer that soared over the Belle Tire sign in right field, and a smooth, left-handed swing that's a thing of beauty to behold - he made several equally, if not more, important plays behind the plate, blocking several balls in the dirt that prevented Galarraga and Fernando Rodney from giving away runs with wild pitches. The kid's not just in the lineup because of his bat, after all.
How many runs is enough, Fernando Rodney? We're just checking. It's no secret that you don't pitch well in save situations, and maybe it's time Leyland finally acknowledged that (though he seems to feel it's more important for his closer to get work and stay sharp), but a four-run lead doesn't usually feel that precarious.
And Rodney let it be known right away that this wasn't going to be a lights-out ninth, walking Jason Kubel on four straight pitches to lead off the inning. From there, he allowed singles to three of the next five hitters in the Twins lineup, cutting the Tigers' lead to two. It counts for something that Rodney struck out Orlando Cabrera when it counted most, with two runners on and two outs in the inning. But should it ever have come to that?
Comment of the Night:
If you were following along in our second overflow thread, you know this was really the COTN. (I am still laughing.) But typo or not, I can't put it on the front page. Sorry. This is still a fine choice, however.
thing called offense…..I need an Ativan
And, oh, why not a runner-up? It was that kind of night.