Friday, April 12, 2013

Egad!

What a day it was in Tiger Town on Wednesday! I went with my Dad – a 91 youthful years old – and brother-in-law Mike to game eight of the season. Heavy downpours, lightning and flooding on the road punctuated the drive to Detroit.  However, the game did start two-and-half-hours late. I thought it would be a washout. My Dad was positive there would be a game. The ground crew took off the tarp and the game began with mist and wind. The starting temp was 43°F and went down to 41 and ended around 7 pm. So much for a pleasant afternoon game!  It was a twilight single header.

We all had to put up with the very uncomfortable weather. The players had some tough plays in very bad conditions.  The fans really had it tough too. I met Jays fans from Kitchener and Windsor. The Jay's fans out numbered the Tiger fans towards the end. They were a very loud and persistent group. Nice to see.  All in all, it would have been better in a domed stadium. Northern climes should all be under the lid when needed, then  you can always have the game with a modicum of comfort. The Thursday game was 35°F and awful as well.



Sorry about the poncho. It was necessary.
The start to the Jay’s season has been about as unproductive as possible. The top-drawer trades, made for rebuilding the pitching staff, have not panned out so far. Mark Buehrle did not have his good stuff and on Thursday, Josh Johnson did not as well, for both their second starts of the season. So far the starting pitching has only one in the win column.

The pitching is the worst in the AL, with a total ERA of 5.48. The starters have a combined ERA of 7.064. J Happ has an ERA of 0.00 and so far the only win. He starts tonight and I wish him well against a red hot Royals team.  Everyone in the bullpen has been called upon so far for a total 37 innings already. John Gibbons will have to hope the starters can go deeper into the game and give some relief to the relief.  Still the team ERA must start to change. How much time do the fans give them? A few games do not make a season, but to have all the starters throw bombs at the same time is a bit much. Especially with new teams and contracts.  Johnson should come round soon as he has learned to finesse the ball even through he has lost lots off his fastball. With Buerhle, he has to have better control – no finesse involved.

The lumber, too, is dead. In areas where it counts, the Jays are worst in category. In Runs and Hits the Jays are 13th and 11th and yet are 5th in Home Runs. For BA and OBP they rank 12th and 11th.  So far, with batting, the opposing pitching is baffling them. I know that many are now in the AL for the first time. They are seeing a different set of pitchers for the first time. Still though, there are some pretty bad swings.

Wednesday was the first real comeback game the Jays have had. Down 6-1 in the sixth, they fought back against a weak Tiger bullpen. Rick Porcello departed in the fifth leading 6-1. Darin Downs put in 1.1 innings – one earned run – and then came Brayan Villarreal who promptly walked 3 in a row. All three runs scored.  Former Jay and former every other team, Octavio Dotel, served up two hits, one walk and three SO for no earned runs. He would have stayed in, but he took a line drive to the bit below his belt. OUCH! He was hurting. Phil Coke pitched the ninth with no ER.

On the Jays side, Buehrle lost it in the fifth. He had five ER and one IBB, which went to Prince Fielder. The rest of the bullpen was excellent. A line drive to the forearm also smacked Daren Oliver. Glad to hear he is available to play today. Casey Janssen closed it down very efficiently.

One real concern is the number of errors by Emilio Bonifacio.  He has collected four to date. The Tigers, as a team, have none. Bonifacio seems to be really struggling at second. He does not know where to make a play or how to pick up a grounder and fire it to first. I have heard it said that he is great in the outfield and the infield. Maybe he is just a good utility guy. Again, we are looking for a second baseman. Maybe Maicer Izturis is the guy.  I hope that Brett Lawrie is back sooner than later. Jose Reyes is the go-to guy right now, best in field and at bat. Bravo for the great start.

Even with the weather, we all had a good time and warmed up on the way home.  It was good to have the bats come alive on Wednesday but a big disappointment that they went so far away on Thursday. Doug Fister pitched a brilliant game and the Jays bats, again, were not to be heard from.

Hope that better days are around the corner. The expectations are high and when a top team is in last place, people worry. It is too soon to worry, but things do need to pick up. Is it John Gibbons who was told that you don’t have to stress too much because the team is so great? Maybe he will have to make some more serious changes.

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