The start had shades of openning day: no, not an Erstad homerun, Contreras getting hit hard. The funny thing about it was, he kept getting hit hard, just not quite as hard and/or right to the defence. In fact, Contreras retired 16 in a row after giving up that 1st inning slam. He did this largely by throwing strikes (an impressive 64 of his 86 pitches) and trusting the D behind him. Contreras once again proves he is at his best when he can keep runners off the bases.
The offense is continuing to improve. Our 1-2 were 4 for 9 with a BB and 3 runs scored. Our 3-6 had 6 of the 7 RBIs (You know, like how major league lineups are supposed operate?). Thome is on a tear. Gooch, JD and Crede look about ready to turn the corner. And while Paulie only went 1-5 today he got things started with a double in the game-deciding 10th.
Pablo is looking like a real leadoff hitter against LHP. He has the speed Ozzie loves so and his aggression doesn't lead to nearly as many free outs that certain other "speedsters" tend to give away like candy on Halloween. Given the other choices we have seen trotted out there to leadoff, I would like to see Pablo get most of the starts against lefties.
However, today the real star of the offense was the Detroit defense. The top of the 4th was particularly bad. After a leadoff double to Ozuna, Robertson couldn't find the strike zone for Gooch and Thomer. Then Paulie hit what looked to be a rally destroying bouncer down the 3rd base line. Hawk and DJ were saying that if Inge comes up with that cleanly it could have been the dreaded triple play. With the ball leading Inge right to the bag and Paulie running, I am inclined to agree. As things would have it, Inge did NOT come up with the ball cleanly. In fact, he couldn't recover in time to get even one out. The very next pitch, JD hits one to Casey at first for what should have been 2, but Guillen's throw was off target, and Robertson fell off 1st trying to make the play. There was also an odd attempt at a pick-off by Robertson in the 5th which caught even Casey off guard, allowing the eventual game-tying run to advance to scoring position. And finally, Guillen allowed an insurance run in the 10th with an inexcusable drop.
bhoov presents the following numbers for the bullpen to backup my gushing:
IP H BB K This game: 3 1 1 4 For the year: 53 41 20 53
We lead the league in Bullpen K/9