Friday, April 22, 2011

Tigers Solve Buehrle in 9-3 Win

It was a miserable night at Comerica Park. All the elements of April weather were in effect - cold, rain, wind and fog - and it looked for a while like there might not be a game. After a quick 10 minute delay at the start, the tarp came off and the game was completed without further
interruption.  This turned out to be a very good thing for the Tigers and their fans.

It was an intriguing matchup between the fireballing right-hander Justin Verlander and the soft-tossing lefty Mark Buehrle.  At first glance, it was one that looked like it should favor the Tigers, but history told a different story.  Buehrle came in with a record of 16-8, a 3.01 ERA and 1.13 WHIP in 209 lifetime innings versus the Tigers.  That is ace-like in comparison to his 3.85 ERA and 1.28 WHIP against all teams (including the Tigers).  Justin Verlander, on the other hand had gone 7-9 with a 4.55 ERAand 19 homers in 128 1/3 innings versus the Pale Hose.

Tonight was a different story.  The Tigers hit Buehrle hard, scoring two in the second and two more in the third to take a 4-0 lead they would never relinquish.  At that point, Tigers fans were hoping the game could get through the top of the fifth and become official before the rain got worse.  In all, the Tigers scored six runs on nine hits - including five for extra bases - versus the veteran southpaw.

On the other side, Verlander was very sharp for the most part dominating White Sox hitters not named Carlos Quentin.  Quentin crushed a pair of homers in the fourth and seventh innings.  Paul Konerko also homered in the seventh but that was a bizarre wind blown fly ball off the left field foul pole.  Konerko himself stood at homeplate in disbelief that the ball blew back into fair territory.  The three solo shots accounted for all the runs versus Verlander who allowed just four hits and no walks to go with eight strikeouts in seven innings.

Second Baseman Ryan Raburn

Tigers second baseman Ryan Raburn had a homer, single and four RBI in tonight's game.  It's nice to have a second baseman with some power.  He is apparently the new keystone platoon partner for Will Rhymes.  How often Raburn will play versus right-handers reamains to be seen, but it figures to be frequent while Victor Martinez is on the disabled list.  Of course, what seems logical is not necesarily what will happen.  The temptation to use Donnie Kelly is always there for Jim Leyland.  

Avila And Wells Can Play Too 

Catcher Alex Avila continued to impress, this time belting two doubles versus the lefty Buehrle.  After a rough first week that had some fans begging for more of Martinez behind the plate, Avila has caught fire and is batting .292/.370/.563 overall.  Another young player, Casper Wells, added two singles and two RBI.  He should continue to get regular playing in the outfield in Martinez's absence.

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