Octavio Dotel hasn't exactly solved his career long problems with command and control. He walked Placido Polanco, he of the career 5% BB/PA line. He gave up a big leadoff double to Maggs that was certainly not the product of Ordonez beating him on his pitch. He uncorked a wild pitch that allowed Edgar Renteria advance from third and cut the lead to one. We had to turn WU's TV off to make sure he made it to the next game thread.
But he racked up 3 K's in 1 1/3 IP and, ultimately, came away mostly unscathed. It's not like he was the one who loaded the bases in the first place. His fastball, like Bobby's and Easy Heat's, is elite and it allows him to make and then overcome mistakes. And in case you weren't sure that striking out Placido Polanco to end the game with a fastball was an accomplishment, the Kalk Pf/x Tool confirms it. Polanco has swung and missed on just 1.18% of fastballs in the database so far this year, which is something like 1/5 the major league average. So while our bullpen is suddenly in turmoil (are we ever not worried about something?), in the very least know that there is pure stuff backing up the success of these pitchers so far.
Meanwhile, the bats look very much alive. The Sox made Verlander work from pitch one and he quickly found his pitches/inning skyrocketing. He noted in his post-game interview on FSN that his command was off, particularly on the Q! bomb. It certainly was, but part of that was Ozzie's doing. As mentioned in the BUO, Verlander struggles throwing strikes to lefties and Ozzie made sure he had every single one in the lineup tonight.
From the same interview, Verlander said the second half of the back-to-back job was a good pitch. He got it inside off the plate, but JD got his hands in and made a vicious turn on Verlander's fastball to put the second straight White Sox batted ball in the seats. This is a team that can hit mistakes, but the difference between Verlander's stuff in his previous effort against the White Sox and today's game was not great, nor were we squeaking out basehits. This was a highly impressive effort.
John Danks had the same problem Verlander had today, leaving changeups and fastballs over the plate and getting relatively few groundballs. I didn't see much of a cutter today, and I wonder if that wasn't part of the problem. Danks is good, but his fastball isn't Dotelian; Johnny needs to hit his spots and have all of his pitches working to be optimally effective. That said, the Tigers weren't exactly lacking in the lineup today. No Mike Hessman, Clete Thomas or Ramon Santiago today. Just a number of very good major league hitters. It was a little disappointing, but hardly alarming.
Tomorrow, it's Javy Dent against Zach Miner. Depending on how Ozzie feels about the distance between the Sox and Twins, we may well see a bit of a Sunday lineup tomorrow. Either way, I'd feel okay about it. The bench has proven its worth this year and without Pablo, there aren't any huge gaps in performance at this point. Uribe or Josh Fields at third? From what Josh has shown so far, the difference at the plate may well be negligible. That's overly pessimistic, but he hasn't had a great AB yet. At least his D didn't show up on the Obviously Crappy side of the ledger.
Oh. Happy Jenksgiving!