Spring Training, Day 8: Eastbound and down

Today marks my final day on the west side of the state. I’m delighted I got to make a stop at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland, which is my favorite place in the Grapefruit League now that the Dodgers have left Vero Beach. Fantastic place, highly recommended.

I’ve watched the saga of the Tigers’ ninth-inning plans with interest, in part because I love the fact that they’ve been, up until now, so willing to go with a young pitcher with talent, rather than worrying about having a “Proven Closer.”

And this is just a guess — really, just a guess — but I have a hunch that much of the freaking out that’s going on right now in the coverage of the Tigers, is not reflected within the organization.

The Tigers know what Bruce Rondon did last season in the Minors. He threw really hard, struck out a bunch of guys, didn’t allow many hits or home runs, and walked too many guys. He did exactly the same thing in winter ball.

So, hey, guess what? He’s striking out a lot of guys and walking too many guys in Spring Training. In four outings, he’s been a slightly worse version of what they always knew he was.

Maybe they do decide to cut the cord. Maybe they trade for a reliever. Maybe they install Benoit or Coke or someone else in the ninth. All of that is possible. But I am, personally, dubious of the notion that 3 2/3 innings of Spring Training have significantly changed the plans of a pretty smart brain trust.

Today’s game in a nutshell: Rick Porcello was very sharp, Jarred Cosart was not, and the Tigers were able to hold on for an 8-5 win. Houston roared back after trailing 6-1, but couldn’t quite pull it out. Justin Maxwell hit a ball a very, very long way — over the berm and up onto the terrace in left field.

Quote of the day: “We played that [game] like we were being paid by the hour.” — Jim Leyland

Player of the day: Porcello. He threw hard (consistently sitting at 93) with movement and had a nice curveball. He struck out six over four shutout innings.

Miles driven: 41 so far today (but many more to come tonight), 820 for the trip.

Miles run: Still sitting on 13 1/2.

Starbucks visits: 1 so far today, 8 for the trip.

Up next: I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s task. I’ll be covering the Venezuelan World Baseball Classic team in an exhibition against the Marlins at Roger Dean Stadium. So I’m driving east across the state to Jupiter tonight, hitting the Crazy Cuban for lunch tomorrow and heading to the ballpark for what should be a fun ballgame.

And, finally, the playlist:

See the past few posts for what’s going on here, as I finally roll out my favorite albums from 2012. Today, we’ve reached the top-10. And that’s the point where my lovely wife Erin steps in and offers her selections, as well. We’ve been doing this for years upon years. For more explanation on how I’m doing this exercise this year, check out the previous three entries at this very site.

The first half of Erin’s top-10:

Purity Ring, “Grandlove” (album: Shrines)
Passion Pit, “I’ll Be Alright” (album: Gossamer)
The XX, “Fiction” (album: Coexist)
Kendrick Lamar, “[Redacted], Don’t Kill My Vibe” (album: good kid, m.A.A.d city)
Garbage, “Blood for Poppies” (album: Not Your Kind of People)

And mine:

Aimee Mann, “Charmer” (Charmer, No. 10)
Corin Tucker Band, “I Don’t Wanna Go” (Kill My Blues, No. 9)
Jamey Johnson, “I Don’t Do Windows” (Living for a Song, No. 8)
Bob Mould, “Star Machine” (Silver Age, No. 7)
Kendrick Lamar, “The Art of Peer Pressure” (good kid, m.A.A.d city, No. 6)

-M.

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