Brad Thomas made his first start as a Tiger and it was his first start since 2001 when he played for the Twins. Things didn’t start out well though because he gave up four runs in the first two frames and he only pitched three innings. Fortunately from there, the pitching got better. Eddie Bonine pitched three scoreless innings and he picked up his second win of the season. Joel Zumaya (more on him in a second) struck out five in two shutout innings and then Jose Valverde pitched the ninth and allowed just one hit. I didn’t see why Leyland went with Thomas over Bonine but based on the way the two have pitched, you’d think Bonine would get the nod next time unless Leyland wants him to focus on coming out of the pen, which he’s done a good job of doing this year.
Joel Zumaya has now thrown 12 innings and he’s allowed just nine hits, no walks and no runs. Yesterday was his fourth outing where he pitched two innings and while it’s a little early to say he’s back, he’s looked really good in this first month of the season. He came into the game to start the seventh and during that frame, he threw 13 pitches. One was a curveball (the lone hit he gave up to Vlad Guerrero. and the rest were fastballs. Out of his first seven pitches, five were 100 mph or more (two times he touched 101). In the eighth, he struck out the side on 15 pitches and while he didn’t touch 100 mph, he was consistently at or around 98 (he bottomed out at 96 a couple of times). If Joel can pitch like this most of the season, the Tigers might have one of the best one/two punches in baseball with Zumaya and Valverde.
Johnny Damon had a double and three walks in the game. He scored twice, drove in two and his batting average is now up to .328 after a slow start. Miguel Cabrera drove in his 22nd run of the month and Magglio Ordonez doubled and drove in a pair. Ordonez now has eight extra base hits which is almost where he was at the end of May last year.
It didn’t take long for Carlos Guillen to hit the disabled list. Brennan Boesch got the call up and he strarted in left field for the second straight game. He drove in his first big league run.
As a team, the Tigers lead the American League in OBP with a .372 mark, just ahead of the Yankees at .371. They’re also second in doubles with 48, just behind the Blue Jays at 50. Of course they’re second to last in home runs with ten (just ahead of the Mariners with eight) and eight of those ten are by Magglio Ordonez and Miguel Cabrera. Carlos Guillen and Don Kelly have the other two.
The Tigers try to take the lead in the series this afternoon. Rick Porcello goes up against Colby Lewis.