Alas, the Tigers could not give me a victory for my final game (although they did give me autographs from Jake Wood, Will Rhymes, and Ryan Perry). Unlike the plodding that went on yesterday from Max Scherzer and Charlie Furbush, Rick Porcello was working very quickly. As a matter of fact, he might have been working a little TOO quickly, given the results. He looked real sharp in the first inning, but after that, it was like he couldnâ€™t get his sinker to sink, because he started giving up a lot of fly balls until Brian Schneider finally cleared the fence. And any time he did get a ground ball, it seemed like it was just out of Miguel Cabreraâ€™s reach (maybe itâ€™s the fact that itâ€™s spring training and guys normally donâ€™t try for a lot of do-or-die plays at this time, but it seems like Iâ€™ve seen a lot of balls that Cabrera normally gets to that have eluded him in the three games down here in Lakeland). Also, there were several instances where Porcello got ahead of hitters 0-2 and then couldnâ€™t get them to chase offspeed pitches, which often ran the count to 3-2 and a walk or hit often followed. Other than that, the pitching was decent outside of Duane Below giving up an opposite-field home run to former Tiger Jeff Larish (speaking of former Tigers, it was nice to see Placido Polanco again, and he got a lot of cheers from both Phillies fans and Tigers fans; he even signed a few autographs for Tigers fans, but I was in the wrong place and didnâ€™t get one). Jose Valverde had a decent inning with a single and three ground ball outs. Now, I have a tendency to knock Victor Martinezâ€™s defense (because I think heâ€™s a very good hitter, but not a good catcher), however, credit where credit is due. He made a really nice play to close out Valverdeâ€™s inning after the Phillies batter hit a slow roller up the first base line. Martinez pounced on the ball and practically did a somersault as he threw to first base just in time to get the runner. It was impressive.
The offense was pretty blah for the second game in a row (actually, itâ€™s been several games now, but victories have hid a few of them), even though they actually outhit the Phillies. It seemed like they needed a ton of baserunners to get just one run, and they were never able to put together a big inning because they never got a run-scoring hit. Their three runs scored on a double-play ball, a sacrifice fly, and an RBI groundout. And speaking of ground balls, boy did the Tigers hit a lot of them. I donâ€™t know much about the distribution of outs that these Phillies pitchers typically have, but it was groundout after groundout after groundout in this game. And outside of singles from Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez and a sac fly from Magglio OrdoÃ±ez, the middle of the order was silent once again. Has anyone else noticed the power outage that the Tigers are going through this spring? There have been very few home runs. Without looking it up, I believe Boesch has one (not counting the Florida Southern game), Cale Iorg has one, Strieby has one, and Brian Holaday has one, and I think thatâ€™s it. Iâ€™m not worried about it at this point. I just think itâ€™s kind of strange. Still Cabreraâ€™s starting to look more like himself (with the exception of his second at-bat in which he struck out on three pitches). He got a solid single in his first at-bat and worked the count full in his final at-bat before striking out. If I were in the prediction business (which Iâ€™m not), Iâ€™d say that heâ€™s gonna bust out real soon.
And that concludes my Lakeland reports, since I head home tomorrow. I hope youâ€™ve enjoyed my insight into these games. I had a lot of fun writing them, and I thank Alli for giving me the opportunity to do so. Who knows? Maybe Iâ€™ll have the chance to write here again sometime. But until then, happy baseball watching to all of you!