Luke French has had a pretty unspectacular minor league career to date. He’s moved up the ladder, one level at a time, the past four seasons and while his 35-43 career record doesn’t do him justice because he has a 3.88 ERA, he also has just 446 strikeouts in 675 career innings. He’s been a workhorse and he’s thrown as many as 170 innings (last year for Erie) in a season but his best season to date was this year when he sported a 2.98 ERA to go with his 72 strikeouts in 81 2/3 innings with the Hens. Maybe he’s a late bloomer (he’ll turn 24 in September) and that explains what he’s done for the Tigers this season.
Tonight, he was nothing short of exceptional. He threw six shutout innings before he finally got tagged for a solo home run in the seventh. in the end, he picked up his first big league win and he gave up just six hits and a walk with two strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings. That brings his ERA down to 1.93 (just fourteen innings over two starts and a relief appearance) on the season. We don’t need him to pitch like this every night, but if he can do a solid enough job the rest of the way, the Tigers may have filled their fifth starter hole.
One last note on French, he was the Tigers eighth round pick in the 2004 draft. No other player picked in the 2004 draft, outside of Justin Verlander, has gotten any time at the big league level.
Fu-Te Ni and Fernando Rodney both threw shutout innings and Brandon Lyon struck out the final two batters in the eighth inning. For Rodney, it was his nineteenth save of the season.
On the hitting side, the Tigers did all of their damage in the first two innings. Marcus Thames drove home Curtis Granderson on a ground out and then Placido Polanco scored on a Clete Thomas single in the first inning. Ramon Santiago then drove Josh Anderson home with a sac. fly in the second. Polanco went two for four with a run. Gerald Laird also had a couple of singles.
The White Sox are winning so the Tigers lead will probably sit at two heading into their night off tomorrow. Next up are the Indians and we have a really good matchup in the opener. Edwin Jackson gets his final start before the All Star break and he’ll go head to head against Cliff Lee.