Rain, rain, go away. You already got us into this mess by raining out a game earlier in the year, now leave us alone. The originally planned 4-game set with Chicago has been turned into a 5-game set, but rain may put a damper on this get-together yet again. Weather.com is forecasting rain for much of the day in Chicago today, not good considering a day-night doubleheader is scheduled between the 1st place Tigers (30-25) and the 3rd place White Sox (26-30). The Tigers hold a 3.5 game lead over 2nd place Minnesota and are up by at least 5 games in the loss column on every team in the division.
There’s even more reason for optimism in Tiger Town as Jeremy Bonderman is set to pitch the nightcap, assuming that the game gets started. Bondo has worked hard to get back in the mix and while he’s been saying all the right things about not wanting to take someone’s spot, I think we can all agree that it will be good to have the old workhorse back in the rotation. Don’t think it’s a coincidence that he’s sandwiched between Armando Galarraga and Dontrelle Willis for his first start either. He’ll be taking one of these spots and it’s the latter two’s last chance to show they deserve to stay.
The one good thing that could come from a rainout today is some extra rest for Miguel Cabrera. He was pulled in the 4th inning yesterday as Leyland was concerned about him not being 100%. Despite no chance of further damaging the slugger’s hamstring, Leyland chose to play it safe, and was rewarded by replacement Clete Thomas’ game-winning grand slam. If the games go on as scheduled, don’t be alarmed if Cabrera doesn’t play on the wet surface in Chicago today.
Game 1: 2:05 eastern – Armando Galarraga (3-6) v. Clayton Richard (2-1): Armando has been pitching decent baseball lately, but not winning baseball. With the offensive woes the Tigers have gone through recently, he needs to ramp it up just like other members of the staff have. Clayton Richard is a flame-throwing lefty who once upon a time was a University of Michigan quarterback before setting his sights on a baseball career. Richard earned a spot as a starter about a month ago and prior to getting tuned up by Oakland in his last start, he had allowed just 3 runs in 20 innings. He has shut down ability.
Game 2: 8:11 eastern – Jeremy Bonderman (NS) v. Jose Contreras (0-5): All eyes will be on Bonderman in this one. How will the velocity look? Will that vintage slider be back as reported? Will his 1st inning nightmares from last year be a distant memory? Let’s hope the weather complies and we get to find out. Meanwhile, the elongated series forces the Sox to trot Contreras out for his 1st appearance since May 8th. Contreras has been terrible this year, coming in with an 8.19 ERA in 6 starts.
Game 3: 8:11 eastern – Dontrelle Willis (1-3) v. Mark Buehrle (6-2): The D-Train’s last 3 starts have all been losses and in his last 2 he’s allowed 12 runs and 7 walks in 7.1 innings of scary baseball. In his last start he was the wild Willis that Tiger fans came to know in 2008. Let’s hope it was little more than a blip on the radar, though my gut tells me otherwise. Buehrle pitches well against the Tigers and is having another great start to a season with his 2.91 ERA. In his only start of the year against the Tigers he threw a 1-hitter in 8 shutout innings.
Game 4: 8:11 eastern – Justin Verlander (6-2) v. John Danks (4-4): JV’s 8 shutout innings against the Angels last weekend weren’t enough to get his 7th win. Let’s hope the offense can pick him up in this one versus the lefty Danks. Verlander’s ERA is all the way down to 3.26 and his 3rd strikeout in this game will be his 100th on the year!
Game 5: 2:05 eastern – Edwin Jackson (6-3) v. Gavin Floyd (4-5): Jackson threw a complete game shutout on Saturday v. the Angels and now has a 2.16 ERA and a 0.98 WHIP for the season. Those are amazing #’s. He’ll have another tough test against the hard-hitting Sox in this one. Floyd, who struggled most of the first 6 weeks of the season, has finally got it turned around and is looking good again allowing just 6 runs in 29.2 innings of work spanning his last 4 starts. He has 31 strikeouts during that stretch as well.