I’ll Take It! should be the attitude that every Tiger fan, and really every Tigers player as well, has about the recently completed series with Tampa. While there were times through these three games that Detroit seemed dominant; the overall series was really a knock down, drag out fight between two almost evenly matched likely playoff participants and world series contenders. The deepest and arguably best pitching rotation in the Al against a top three if not the best offensive lineup in the majors. A very good tigers rotation against an above average and dangerously fast and pesky Rays lineup. The only clear advantage either team had was that the Tiger bullpen is just a little bit better not to mention healthier. Quite an intriguing match up especially this early in the season.
Was it just me or did it seem like every game in this series was a pitcher’s duel? Not necessarily surprising considering these are potentially two of the best rotations in the AL, but a starter allowing a run or two seemed like it was going to lose it for most of all three games. Porcello out pitched the Matt Moore Experience although somewhat fortunately (Rick seemed to be leaving quite a few pitches belt high that were missed. Rick lives at the bottom of the strike zone. He survived at the top of it in this one. Still won though). Verlander showed his usual dominance (for 8 innings anyways) against “Big Game” James Shields who pitched only slightly less well in reality. And today there was another low scoring affair with two quasi-replacements in Drew Smyly and Jeff Niemann who were starting for slightly injured Doug Fister and Jeremy Hellickson who was hit in the head yesterday during batting practice (nice shot A-Jacks). Both Niemann and Smyly were slotted to be pitching for another week in the minors before coming up and filling the #5 slot. Instead, they were both called up early to pitch pretty decent outings. All three games felt like no one scored until the bullpens were called in (except for JV’s unfortunate attempt the close the game his own game). Except for a lack of a timely hit by the rays in Smyly’s rocky first inning today, the entire lack of worth offensively of Sean Rodriguez, and a few timely hits by Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder in game 1 and Andy Dirks and Brennan Boesch in Game 3 this could easily have left the Tigers feeling that they’d lost a series lost to a very good team (which has to be something near to what the Rays are feeling right now). It may have been a very fortunate couple of wins, but I’ll take it!
Pleasant Surprises So Far In 2012
1. Austin Jackson’s .563 On Base Percentage- It literally seems like he gets on base every time he’s up. far from the dread I felt every time he came up to bat in the playoffs last season.
2. Alex Avila picking up where he finished last season- I’ve got to admit, I had some nagging doubts that last season was a bit of a fluke.
3. Andy Dirks staying hot after coming north- I love Andy Dirks, but I don’t delude myself into thinking he’s a .400 hitter. However, he’s still hitting over .400 in somewhat limited time and doing the things that make me love him like playing good defense, taking the extra base, and clutch triples (and wisely ignoring the very existence of Gene Lamont at third base while doing so).
4. Rick Porcello staying ht after coming north- Another guy who had a dominant spring. I was slow to believe Ricky had figured it out despite his spring numbers and wasn’t all that impressed with his control on Tuesday, but he did certainly look solid and solid is all I ask of him with this lineup.
Lastly, I’d like to send a special thanks out to Rays Shortstop Sean Rodriguez for being an absolute offensive black hole. You were one base exactly O times in two games!! Every time there was a tense moment with the Rays at the plate it seemed like Rodriguez came up and my mind was instantly put at ease. Thanks for making this series a great deal less stressful. You were almost the best player on our team.
About the Author
Written by Brett Decker
I'm a graduate of Olivet Nazarene University with a degree in Social and Political Science. I love talking sports and welcome sports related tweets @decker_brett.