This blog entry could easily focus on last night’s incredible performance by Detroit Tigers rookie starter Armando Galarraga who pitched brilliantly and retired 17 batters in a row in his debut. But given the Tigers miserable start, there’s no time to bask in Galarraga’s glory. We’ve got to look ahead.
Tonight, Tigers All-Star pitcher Justin Verlander (0-2) takes the mound in his fourth start of the season. In his first three starts, he has given up 19 runs and has a disappointing 6.52 ERA. He’s looked brilliant at times, but overall, his early-season performance has been awful.
Imagine if Verlander were 2-1 right now. That would mean the Tigers would be 7-8 instead of 5-10. If he were 3-0, given the fact that his starts have been against the current first and second place teams in the A.L. Central, the Tigers would be right at the top of the pack. There’s no doubt Verlander is the key to the Tigers chances for winning the division or at least making it to the post season in 2008.
Verlander seems to lose his concentration in the late innings and he seems to get frustrated when his teammates don’t support him with runs. Given the Tigers recent offensive assault, I think Verlander will break out of his slump tonight if the Tigers’ lineup puts some runs on the board early. Watch how much different he’ll pitch with a commanding lead.
The Tigers, still only 4.5 games out of first place, have a legitimate shot at getting back into the race soon if Verlander gets hot. Here’s hoping that the Tigers new-found run production will lead him there. We’ll see what happens tonight in Cleveland.