photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein
Some other stuff happened in this game… stuff like Dontrelle getting the W despite the fact that Carl ‘American Idle’ Pavano pitched 8 innings of 3-run (2-ER) ball for the Twinkies, like both Magglio and Action Jackson stealing bases, the Tigers turning a whole bunch of double plays… stuff like the Twinks losing their first series of the season… stuff like the game taking only a little over two hours…
Yes, yes, all that happened. But let’s talk about the fact that Magglio Ordonez got his 2,000th hit!
Actually I don’t really know what to say about this, but it’s kinda neat and we need to savor these feel-good Magglio moments, before his body breaks down completely and we’re left with only a slimy undifferentiated mass of goo in the outfield. He is only the sixth Venezuelan player to reach the 2K milestone, alongside Bobby Abreu, Dave Concepcion, Andres Galarraga, Luis Aparicio, and of course Omar Vizquel (sauce).
As is usual with baseball benchmarks like this, it is completely arbitrary. Two thousand isn’t really much more impressive than 1,999, and it isn’t any better than, say, 2,005. But we like big numbers and we use a base ten math system, so we like big numbers that end in zero even better. A number like 2,000 is almost a kind of catnip to us. We cannot resist its tidy allure! We love it! If we’re Magglio Ordonez, we strive towards it and we achieve it!
We love 2,000! Therefore we love Magglio! Feel our love, Magglio! (but in a non-freaky way)
Now just a quick comment on those Other Things. The Twinkie lineup WAS seriously depleted. No Morneau (.352/.495/.620, ‘oblique stiffness’), no Hardy (.218/.282/.372 but that’s better than Brendan Harris, ‘turf toe’), no MauerVP (.342/.407/.494, ‘general soreness’ and ‘day game after a night game’). I dunno what kind of an impact the excision of JJ Hardy had, but it is wicked rare to pry both Mauer and Morneau out of the Twinkie lineup at the same time. So let us be honest with ourselves: Dontrelle was definitely facing Minnesota Lite.
With that caveat firmly in place, we can go on to admit that Dontrelle was pretty good. Perfect? No. He threw 101 pitches in six innings, which is the kind of thing I would yell at Justin Verlander for doing. But Justin is supposed to have power and control and all those sorts of things; with Dontrelle, we’re lucky he has something even vaguely resembling control out there. He is our #5 pitcher, he has a soft hand and a weird motion, and nobody expects him to be efficient. We just want and need him to be more or less effective for approximately 6-7 innings. That’s what you want from a #5 guy.
Maybe this is unfair to Verlander, but maybe Justin Verlander’s continued insistence on torturing me with high pitch counts is unfair. Have you ever thought of that?
Anyways. Dontrelle gave up six baserunners (four singles, two walks) but he also struck out six and he did not allow a single run to cross the plate. He didn’t look nearly as shaky as he used to– even his throws over to first when checking a runner were markedly better than they used to be (remember watching him rainbow those nervous tosses over to first? None of that today). Leyland let him start the 7th and he walked the first guy, after which he was removed. Coming off the mound he was clearly angry with himself for issuing the walk, looking down and muttering furiously, but the crowd gave him a standing ovation.
Even though it was against the M-free Twins, maybe this solid effort and subsequent capital-W-Win will give Dontrelle a confidence boost. A little something to bolster his opinion of his own pitching. It has to be good for him, and that in turn should be good for the rest of the team, and for us.
That wasn’t really such a quick comment, but this is my blog, so, whatever. Look, nice shiny series win! Look at it! Ooooo, distracted by the shiny.