When Joel Zumaya left the game in the eighth inning today with an injury (Don't panic. It's not the shoulder. It's right triceps tightness and he is day to day), new closer Fernando Rodney got a chance to close out a game. He slowly ambled to the mound, took the ball from Jim Leyland and then took forever to warm up. With the Tigers ahead 6-2 and one on and one out, he proceeded to get the first batter out but then walked two batters (one on a questionable call) and allowed a bloop single to Jim Thome for two runs. But you know how closers can't be bothered by non-save situations. Anyway, he got Paul Konerko to bounce out to third to end the inning.
On to the ninth. Rodney struck out the side with a blazing upper 90s fastball! How's that for a lock down closer? Well, it wasn't quite that simple. He went to 3-2 on all three batters and each of Nick Swisher, Alexei Ramirez and Juan Uribe swung at ball four. He did get the job done though and it's nice to see a closer who can strike guys out. On the down side, he threw 42 pitches which makes it unlikely he'll be able to come back tomorrow. Would Leyland go to Jones in the ninth tomorrow in a tight spot?
In his previous game, Zach Miner's performance was overshadowed by a 19 run explosion. This time, the bullpen shake-up took center stage but once again Miner might have been the most impressive Tiger of the day. He was very sharp again today allowing just two runs on five hits and no walks in six innings. That's two runs in twelve innings in his first two games since becoming the Tigers fifth starter.
The hitting stars for the Tigers today were:
Pudge Rodriguez - 4 for 4 (now batting .298)
Miguel Cabrera 2 hits and 2 more RBI (giving him 17 in his last 8 games)
Curtis Granderson - his 11th homer
Edgar Renteria - 2 hits (9 in his last 5 games)
Magglio Ordonez had only one hit today which stopped his streak of three hit games at four. John Lowe reports that the last Tiger to do that was Willie Horton in 1965. The last Major League player to get more than four was George Brett who had six straight three hit games in 1976.
The Tigers now head on a ten game road trip to Cleveland, Tampa Bay and Chicago. That could very well be the stretch that final breaks their season. If they manage to survive it however, they will have 29 of their final 47 at home.