Friday, May 30, 2008

Stanley Cup Finals Game 3 live blog


“All we got is one real goal and that’s to hoist the cup and bring it on home.”

With two more wins in Pittsburgh against the offensively-deprived Penguins, the Wings will do just that: Hoist the cup and bring it on home.

Those lyrics were stolen from one of the catchiest but cheesy songs of all-time, “I Want Stanley,” a track promoting the Red Wings 1996 playoff run that ended in the Western Conference Finals to those darned Colorado Avalanche. It’s one of those songs that you never forget after rocking out to it while playing street hockey as an eight-year old. Don’t laugh, but that song is seriously on one of the CD’s in my car as we speak. I’m a dork, I know.

This had me looking around on the internet for past Wings playoff slogans, and we’re going to have a little fun today in the game blog. I’m going to give you a trip down memory lane and attempt to drop each and every one of the slogans since 1994 – 14 in all – during the game.

Alright, enough with the slogans and back to the game. It won’t be nearly as easy as it looked in the first two games at Joe Louis Arena for the Wings, as they enter Mellon Arena, where the desperate Penguins are 8-0 at home in the postseason and haven’t lost since Feburary.

Do I think it’s going to matter? No, not really. The Wings defense is having a field day against the Penguins young guns who haven’t been firing all series. Defensively, they have frustrated the Penguins enough for them to resort to whining about obstruction – from player to coach – making one wonder if Sidney Crosby called his mom after Game Two, complaining that, “Mom! Nick wouldn’t let me past him today and that’s not fair!”

Stepping onto the ice for the series opener, Pittsburgh has gotten everything they expected and more, the first two games played out as if the ice has been tilted in Detroit’s favor. The Wings are in their young heads, with the Penguins too busy taking cheap shots and head-hunting – giving in to an experienced Wings ploy – than focusing on getting a puck past Terry Sawch – er, Chris Osgood.

Penguins coach Michel Therrien is trying to combat the experience by adding yet another veteran defenseman to the lineup in 36-year-old Darryl Sydor – who hasn’t played since March 31. This continuing a trend after inserting 42-year-old Gary Roberts into the lineup Saturday. I don’t see anything coming out of this besides a desperate move by a desperate team.

Osgood looks to gain more steam on the Conn Smythe boat that left shore before Game Three of the Nashville series, as he is making the saves that need to be made when they need to be made – albeit as rare as they come. The Wings defense is so skilled and agile that Pittsburgh’s offensive stars have yet to gain enough scoring chances to put something together.

Tonight, they will be re-energized by their home fans that almost said “Sayonara!” to them a couple years ago. They will crash the net and probably put an end to Osgood’s shutout streak with a dirty goal or two, but it won’t be enough. My prediction: Wings 3, Penguins 2.

I know most of you are tuned in to NBC, but I’m going to be watching on CBC. Their hockey coverage blows both NBC and Versus out of the water. A couple more pregame notes as we whittle down the minutes to the opening faceoff:

Mike Babcock: “We’re going to choose to be better. We’re going to go out there determined and let our will show.”

Babcock also stated that he wasn’t worried with not having the last line change due to being on the road and that he’ll put his top three lines out on the ice “So our opponents will have to worry about them.”

Another CBC tidbit: Darryl Sydor – playing his first game of the playoffs – talked to Mike Modano, who was ousted by the Wings in the conference finals. Modano told him Pittsburgh hasn’t been fast enough and attacking the zone enough and their defenseman need to follow the forwards, “You can’t play them 3-on-5,” he said.

Don Cherry, in a very colorful and flamboyant plaid suit, notes the Penguins need to keep the crowd into the game.

Speaking of the crowd, the place is rocking at Mellon Arena – kind of like fans would if they almost lost their hockey team a couple years ago and are now in the Stanley Cup Finals or something.

First period

Alright, let me breathe … As expected, the Pens are flying early in the game. Franzen gets called for holding roughly a minute in and for the first time this series the Penguins have settled into a true power play, moving the puck and getting two quality scoring chances.

Osgood makes two incredible saves on Ryan Malone. First, Malone walked in from the right, dangled a little bit and missed just wide on the left side of the net. Seconds later, Osgood stones him on a point-blank one-timer. The Wings – looking stagnant – get the job done and kill the penalty.

Jordan Staal is called for a penalty immediately after the Penguins power play but Detroit doesn’t get anything going. For the record, Marc-Andre Fleury has done his job so far, but is still looking somewhat nervous and hesitant out there.

At the halfway point of the first period, the physicality has definitely carried over from the end of Game Two. As usual, Holmstrom has been creating havoc in front of the net and has been drawing at least two Penguins each time, being knocked down once after the whistle.

More recently, Zetterberg gave Fleury one of those “I’m not going out of my way but if you’re in my way I’ll hit you” checks.

At first, the Penguins looked faster and sharper, but it was like they collectively drank a five-minute energy drink before. Both teams are now on the same level in terms of energy.

Gonchar – who is not playing against the Datsyuk and Zetterberg line tonight – draws a penalty for hooking Franzen with about eight minutes left in the period and the Penguins kill off another penalty. Their penalty kill looks better but the Wings are still getting their shots and chances. Detroit is also passing well, and they will absolutely tear you up when you allow them to pass.

You could sense that was going to happen. With about six minutes to play in the period, the Penguins took off and a barrage of shots and chances ensued. The crowd was back – one of those crowds that makes you feel like every shot will go in – and Crosby capitalized on a bad Wings turnover in their own zone.

Stuart fed Zetterberg a bad pass that bounced off of his skate, the puck taken over by Crosby who fed to Hossa, had his shot blocked and trickled back to Crosby. Crosby, at the left side of the net, snuck one through Osgoods five-hole, and Turn the Red Light On (2002), Penguins up 1-0.

Osgoods shutout streak ends at 155:04, stopping 45 stops in the process.

Rafalski takes a tripping penalty with 40 seconds left and the Penguins don’t let that 40 seconds go to waste. They produce a couple of good scoring chances, the final with a couple seconds left that had Hossa missing an open net to the right on a one-timer.

Technically, the Penguins have the momentum heading into the second period – in which they’ll start with a power play. But to me, an intermission can negate that. We’ll see in the opening moments of the second.

Detroit finished with nine shots to Pittsburgh’s six, but the shot differential was 9-1 around the six-minute mark when the Penguins took off.

Intermissions are just as enjoyable as the game with Cherry on CBC. Man, you get everything with this guy. Like him or hate him, he’s got some interesting things to point out about the game, he knows his stuff. And as a bonus, you get to find out that hockey players are half-asleep when they come in and water their hair with cold water so they wake up. That’s why their hair is always wet before the game. You learn something new everyday.

Second period

Crosby needs to be checked for rocket fuel right now. He starts the second off on a tear – beating Osgood glove side with a wrist shot – only to hit the crossbar seconds in to the period. Pittsburgh’s skill players are playing like skill players tonight.

Kronwall goes off for hooking – and the third Wings penalty – and shortly into the man-advantage, Crosby puts one home on the doorstep, sneaking behind Osgood’s left side and pouncing on a rebound. Put Your Hands Up (1998) Pittsburgh, 2-0 Penguins, 2-0 Crosby.

There’s about 13 minutes left in the 2nd and the Wings are being completely outplayed, outskated and outshot. I don’t think they’ve had the puck in Pittsburgh’s zone yet this period, and the Penguins have outshot them 13-2 in the second.

Hal Gill – funny name – goes off for cross-checking, retaliating to a Holmstrom cross-check right before. Holmstrom falls to the ice, while Gill tells him to “Get up!” (1997). The two dance and jaw with an official separating them, and Holmstrom answers “Bring it!” (2006) in his oh-so-Swedish accent. Disclaimer: That was paraphrased. Oh, and I just knocked two more slogans out.

Gill goes off for another cross-checking penalty at the 8:54 mark of the second and Franzen makes him pay.

He takes the puck over just outside of the Pittsburgh blue line – followed by Staal, who doesn’t put a body on him or catch up to him – and splits Staal and Dany Scuderi. Franzen walks in, fakes right, fakes left and sneaks one over Fleury’s left shoulder high and inside. Franzen ends up without a stick, pumps both fists, and the Wings get the goal they needed in the worst way. 2-1, Penguins, with a few to go in the second.

From watching this team my whole life, sometimes it takes an unexpected or fluke goal to spark them. Pittsburgh was doing work on their penalty kills, taking away Detroit’s shot lanes and frustrating them, but then Franzen’s goal changed the pace of the period.

The Wings won the last couple minutes. After two periods, shots are 18-17 Pittsburgh, hits 27-20 Detroit, faceoffs won 21-19 Detroit and penalties 4-3 Pittsburgh. That means you can expect a Red Wing in the box first in the third period.

Third period

Game Three. Third Period. Penguins up, 3-2. It’s the first time in these 2008 Stanley Cup Finals that it’s been a one-goal game and with the promise we had for this matchup before the series started, this should be a good third period.

Shortly after Crosby almost dangled his way to a hat trick the Penguins almost make it a two-shot game. Hossa wraps around the net behind Osgood from left to right, circles and backhands the puck off the right iron. Seconds later, Pascal Dupuis deflects a Crosby pass off of Osgoods glove, the puck creeped and creeped and creeped until he gloved it for the save within an inch of the goal line.

What a great stretch of hockey right there. Hit posts, chances on both ends, and it ends with a Pittsburgh goal by A – Alright, wait a minute. I need a commercial break worse than the Wings need a goal right now …

You just had to appreciate that. There was just an eight or nine minute stretch of play there that was so high paced, the hitting so hard, and the scoring chances so plenty that I couldn’t help but think of how people don’t love this.

You can’t even blog that it was so amazing and fast and just … beautiful. So I’ll try to do this in the quickest and most efficient way possible.

Pittsburgh’s Adam Hall scored to make it 2-1, the Wings had a slew of good chances – including Holmstrom hitting the post and Fleury making an out-of-this-world I can’t even explain it to you, you’ll see it later on SportsCenter save. Then Draper couldn’t escape from the corner and Penguins defenseman Brook Orpik kept slamming him into the board just overpowering him – the crowd gaining more steam with each hit like at a heavyweight fight.

I really don’t remember what happened after that but when I started that last paragraph, the Wings scored to make it 3-2 with left in the 3rd period. Samuelsson floated a soft wrister to the net that deflected of a Pittsburgh defender’s stick and sailed over Fleury’s right shoulder, beating him glove side. See what I’m working with here. Four to go, Wings down one …

Malkin gets whistled for hooking with just under 4:20 remaining on the clock, much to the dismay of the young Malkin and the Mellon Arena crowd. This amazes me, but more so because they called a penalty against such a critical time.

The Wings can’t knot the score on the power play, getting a couple decent looks, and this is how it finishes …

The young and upcoming Penguins then played a cat-and-mouse game with the elder, more experienced Wings with the time ticking away.

I thought they should have pulled Osgood when they were able to gain possession with 1:12. Lidstrom sent a stretch pass to Zetterberg, who crashed the goal and dumped it down low. It looked like they would have had a chance to control the puck but it was a missed opportunity.

Instead, the puck came out and the Wings didn’t get it back in until 40-something seconds later. They had a couple of fighter’s chance-looking heaves at the net trying to get a rebound, but they couldn’t put it together offensively with the game on the line.

The Penguins cleared the puck with four seconds left to ice the game, and the Pittsburgh faithful were shaking the arena. It’s right at that moment where when I said to myself “Hey, this could turn into a series …” Not only were the fans shaking the arena, but shaking a collective octopus out of the hands of our hands, ones we were ready to toss onto the ice after a sweep in four.


The obvious reaction to the outcome of the game was Sidney Crosby’s cup finals coming-out party, but the play of Marc-Andre Fleury in net was equally as important. Fleury made save after save – 32 of them to be exact – and played good enough to win.

The save he made on – don’t know who it was I think it might have been Franzen – was unbelievable. I raised my hands and let out a “YEAH!” only to sheepishly say to myself, “No way” when I realized he got his stick on it. Whoever was shooting had a wide open net, but Fleury made an amazing save.

Detroit out-shot Pittsburgh by 10 shots, 34-24, and had about the same number of hits and faceoffs won.

I really do think the play of Chris Osgood has correlated with the team’s defensive prowess. There were a good number of defensive breakdowns and they didn’t play as solid as in the first couple games. Osgood made some good saves and there were times where it looked as if a blowout was lurking, but he can’t post shutouts with the defense not performing.

A lot can be said about Crosby’s performance. I heard a caller today on the radio say Crosby was too young and immature to be the team captain so young. That’s ridiculous.
He’s the leader on this team and one of the top three players in the league. Age is a number. The kid’s got it. Asked if before the game Penguins owner Mario Lemieux had a talk with him about the task at hand down 2-0, he confidently said, “I think he knows I know.” Big players play in big games. That’s exactly what he did.

As far as Game Four, we have just seen first-hand how much a home-ice advantage can affect things. Pittsburgh showed us not only that they play with a different energy at home, proving that gaudy record true – but they can perform under adversity, with their backs against the wall. This very well could be another monumental learning step for that young group of guys.

And I’ll leave you on this: Back in 2003, the Devils jumped out to a 2-0 series lead, outscoring the Anaheim Ducks 6-0 in the process. The Ducks stole the next two at home and pushed the series to seven games, where they ultimately lost. Just some food for thought …

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Tigers vs. Mariners game blog May 22


The Tigers are riding a modest – yes, modest – two-game winning streak and look to sweep the reeling Mariners in today’s matinee at Comerica Park. A win would give the Tigers their third sweep of the season – Texas and New York being the other two.

They have been smashing the ball in the two games since Jim Leyland’s pre-game rant on Tuesday and the team looks as if they have finally screwed their heads on straight and are ready to make a move in the Central. But that’s probably the third or fourth time this year I’ve said that so who knows.

I don’t think you can make a correlation between the skipper going off and the team starting to play. These guys are professionals and know what it takes, but at the very least it probably turned some heads and gave them a much needed kick in the behind.

It’s a brisk, overcast May day at Comerica Park – official game time temperature is 58 degrees but it feels more like 50 – with the lights on and the place roughly half-filled.

Jeremy Bonderman is on the bump for the Tigers, with Miguel Batista taking the hill for the Mariners. Bonderman is 4-3 with a 5.02 ERA against his former hometown team.

A couple matchups to watch: Gary Sheffield has hit five home runs in 32 at bats against Batista, and Curtis Granderson has two home runs in eight at bats. Ichiro is hitting .367 in his career against Bonderman.

Starting lineup for the Tigers: Granderson CF, Polanco 2B, Sheffield DH, Ordonez RF, Cabrera 1B, Guillen 3B, Joyce LF, Renteria SS, Inge C

Starting lineup for the Mariners: Ichiro CF, Beltre 3B, Lopez 2B, Ibanez DH, Sexson 1B, Reed LF, Johjima C, Balentien LF, Betancourt SS

Top first

And now for your weekly installment of “Jeremy Bonderman’s First Inning,” which is usually a story in itself.

Ichiro leads off with an infield single by simply slapping Bonderman’s fastball to the left of Renteria. He fields it cleanly and makes a nice throw but it’s Ichiro. He’s fast. And he’s safe.

And the self-destruction begins … Bonderman’s pickoff throw skips between Ichiro’s legs off the Ball Park Frank-sponsored tarp and down the right field line. He’s fast. He advances to third. E-1.

Surprisingly, Bonderman rights the ship retiring Beltre, Lopez and Ibanez in order. Lopez hit a shot that Guillen snagged at third base.

Bottom first

Sheffield is going to kill somebody one day. Seriously. After a couple of weak ground outs to the right side of the infield, Sheffield unloads foul with one of his patented line-drive-out-of-a-cannon shots that skips off the Tigers dugout. It’s a wonder he hasn’t seriously hurt someone already in light of Albert Pujols liner off Chris Young’s nose last night in San Diego. Batista is working him inside, brushing him back a couple of times, and Sheffield takes his third inside offering through the hole into left field for a two-out hit.

Ordonez delivers with a high-flying double that lands on the dirt just inside the right field line. Sheffield chugs around the bases and is safe at home with a beautiful slide – his right leg snags the outside of the plate before Johjima’s tag. Seattle manager John McLaren comes out of the dugout to argue, but to no avail. Tigers up 1-0 after one.

Top second

Richie Sexson is the anti-Ichiro. Not only can he not hit, but he’s as slow as molasses. He grounds one off Bonderman’s right leg, the ball ricocheting to Renteria, who beats him by a step at first base. A step. Sean Casey would have made it closer at first.

After Jeremy Reed beats out a potential 3-6-3 double play, Guillen makes another lackadaisical play at third base – one of those that makes you wonder what world he’s in – bobbling Johjima’s ground ball down the line that could have potentially been a double play. First base umpire Bob Davidson bails him out though, calling Johjima out at first when he was safe. And let the instant replay debate begin …

I don’t see the issue with the league experimenting with replay in spring training. Major League Baseball is behind the times when it comes to this. Although I’m nostalgic in the sense that I don’t mind the human error part – the majority of fans just want to get the call right. The issue has reared its ugly head yet again with a couple of controversial home run calls this week, but nothing will change until a critical play in the postseason forces the league’s hand.

Bottom second

Joyce squeezes a grounder down the first-base line past a diving Sexson into right field for a double, followed by a nubber off Renteria’s bat that Batista can’t field to put runners on the corners with one out. Even if he had a clean scoop of the ball, Batista probably wouldn’t have got Renteria at first.

Inge disposes of Batista’s 2-1 offering just over the yellow line on the right field fence – into Reed’s glove. But when Reed’s right arm hits the fence, the ball pops out and the glove falls between the fence and bullpen for a Brandon Inge three-run homer. Hitting the ground, it wasn’t clear if Reed had the ball, but the crowd’s roar told it all.

Polanco walks and Sheffield doubles off the 345’ marker in left to put runners on second and third, but Ordonez whiffs on an outside fastball to leave them stranded. 3-0 Tigers after two.

Top third

Yuniesky – such a sweet name – Betancourt leads off with a double into the right-center gap. One batter later, Ichiro lines a one-hopper to Renteria. Betancourt breaks for third after Renteria’s throw – he’s only about ten feet off the bag and looks like a dead duck – but Cabrera can’t make a clean glove-to-hand exchange with the ball and he’s safe at third. It was a baserunning error – he would have been out nine out of ten times.

Just when it looks like Bonderman’s going to dance around another runner in scoring position, Ibanez singles on an elevated two-out hack to right, scoring Betancourt.

The Mariners might not be in sending a bunch of guys to New York in July, but they sure field a team of All-Star first names: Ichiro, Raul, Yuniesky. And that’s not even the best one. Try Wladimir. Now that’s a sweet name. Sexson – which isn’t a bad last name in itself – grounds out, leaving two runners on, to end the top of the third.

Bottom third

Miggy leads off with a double that could have went either way – it skipped off of a jumping Balentien’s glove in right – but I’ll take it. And by saying I, I mean my fantasy team will take it. That’s a nice two points right there.

Guillen follows with a line-drive that just gets over a leaping Lopez’ glove. Gene Lamont holds Cabrera at third – seemingly wise at the moment – but Balentien doesn’t field the ball clean in right. Cabrera would have scored. No matter. Two batters later, Renteria drives home Cabrera with a sacrifice fly to centerfield. 5-1 Tigers after three.

Top fourth

Bonderman starts the top of the fourth having thrown a respectable 46 pitches, but still looking for that groove.

Well, that was definitely the time I should have went to grab a bite to eat. A relatively boring inning, the only highlight a Balentien liner in which Renteria let the ball play him instead of him playing the ball. It was a shot – scored a single – that had the official scorer taking some joking boos from fellow writers in the press box.

Now I’m really going to get some food. Let’s see what I miss …

Bottom fourth

I get back just in time to catch a comical exchange between the baseball, R.A. Dickey, and the first base line. After Sheffield singles for his third hit in as many at-bats, Ordonez fouls a dribbler down the first base line. Rolling in the foul dirt, it’s spin suggests it may roll back into play. The ball gave it’s best effort, but stops maybe half an inch to the right of the line. Foul ball. But Dickey and Sexson point to the ball, saying it’s touching the chalk. It’s not, and both walk away with smirks on their face. Ordonez strikes out again on some weird looking 72 MPH pitch (screwball?) that I swear moved two different ways. Tigers up four after four.

Top fifth

Ichiro continues hitting well against Bonderman, lining a frozen rope off of the right field wall. Ordonez fields it quick and clean, and Ichiro – get this – is held to a single. I can guarantee you that is the longest single you will ever see Ichiro hit. He’s fast. But I guess he’s not that fast.

Bonderman gets himself into some real trouble for the first time all day, following Ichiro’s single with a walk of Beltre and a single to Lopez. Lopez’ single is hard-hit and Ichiro is held at third. Bases loaded, none out.

Raul “My Name Can Put Women To Sleep” Ibanez ground into a 4-6-3 double play, scoring Ichiro. Sexson flies out to a sprinting Ordonez down the right field line to end the inning. Cabrera to lead off the inning for the second time in the fifth.

Bottom fifth

Guillen smacks a patented line-drive double to right field, resembling his earlier single, followed by a Matt Joyce bomb to right. He took a hanging Dickey slider and put it about 10 rows deep for his fifth home run of the year. Earlier in the at bat, Dickey had Joyce flailing at his breaking pitches, but he hung one and Joyce hung two on the board. 7-1 Tigers after five.

Top sixth

Bonderman gets into some early sixth inning trouble, allowing a leadoff single to Reed then plunking Johjima on his left elbow. He buckles down and induces three pop outs after that, and the final one is sure to catch the highlight reels today. Ichiro and his superpowers tried dropping one right on the right field foul line, but Joyce – with superpowers of his own – lays out and makes a spectacular diving catch to put out Bonderman’s flames in the sixth.

I’d say a couple runs could seal it for the good guys, but like we saw on Tuesday, you just never know.

Bottom sixth

Sean Green enters the game as Seattle’s third pitcher of the day, and his sling-shot sidearm delivery is promptly greeted with a single into center from Curtis Granderson.

Two batters later, Sheffield walks in a full count, on a pitch that looked good enough to get rung up on, starting a Tigers rally. Ordonez follows with a rope into the left-center gap that hops over the fence and into the centerfield ivy. Sheffield tries to sneak one by the umpire crew by taking home, but he’s sent back to third.

Cabrera gets the job done, driving Sheffield home with a sacrifice fly to centerfield. I never would have thought I’d enjoy seeing sacrifice flies this much, but after this rocky start, it’s a good sign seeing these hitters stay in their shoes and do the little things to get a run across rather than trying for the three-run homer every time up. Tigers up 9-2 after six.

Top seventh

Leyland brings Freddy Dolsi into the game in the seventh, lining up Bonderman for the win. His final line: 6 IP, 8 HA, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 2 K. Polanco delivers the Tigers second Web Gem of the day, diving to his left and snaring Lopez’ bid for a single in the hole. As the healthy crowd stands for the seventh inning stretch, Seattle’s bullpen door opens, signaling the Mariners fourth reliever of the day.

Bottom seventh

The new Mariners reliever is Brandon Morrow, a 23-year old flamethrower that Seattle drafted No. 5 overall in 2006. Morrow blows away Renteria and Inge with 97 and 98 MPH fastballs, respectively. Granderson bloops one over second base, putting runners on the corners, and Polanco flies out to shallow right field to end the inning. Tigers up seven after seven. Funny how that works. Earlier I wrote, “Tigers up four after four.”

Top eighth

Ramon Santiago replaces Polanco at second and Dolsi picks up right where he left off, retiring Seattle in order in the eighth.

Bottom eighth

Nearby Trenton native and last year’s Rolaids Relief Man award winner J.J. Putz comes in to get some work against the Tigers in the eighth. Putz strikes out Sheffield and for the first time this game he doesn’t reach base. The only blemish on his line is a Cabrera walk, and he freezes Guillen to end the inning. Heading into the last frame, Tigers up by seven.

Top ninth

Dolsi records his first career save and brooms the Mariners back to Seattle with a 1-2-3 inning, capped off with Renteria throwing out pinch-hitter Willie Bloomquist. Tigers win, 9-2.


The offense looked on cue early, jumping out on the Mariners and scoring runs in five of the first six innings, including hanging a crooked number on the board in three of those innings.

Bonderman pitched solid and efficiently, throwing 90 pitches through six innings and looked as if the game were closer he could have went longer. He allowed his fair share of hits – eight – and he didn’t strike a bunch out, but he didn’t self-destruct either. He put out the fires when need be. Tigers starters have seemed to emerge from that early season funk, as they are stringing together decent start after decent start.

Every win is nice at this point, but don’t jump all over a sweep against the Mariners. They are playing awful at this point, much like the Rangers and Yankees were in early season sweeps.

A bigger test will be this weekend’s matchup with the pesky Minnesota Twins, who are a couple games ahead of the Tigers in the standings. Robertson, Galarraga, and Verlander will be taking the hill for the Tigers this weekend.