Sunday extra: Zumaya gets advice

If Sunday was the day that Joel Zumaya started to break out of his pitching funk with his 1 1/3 scoreless innings, he can give a little thanks Kenny Rogers and Todd Jones for helping chase it. Neither will take credit, but their talks with Zumaya helped chase out some of the frustrations Zumaya was battling on top of his inconsistent location.

"It will humble you," Rogers said. "If you get too high, for lack of a better word, it will bring you down to where you realize this game isn’t as easy as I hoped it would be or thought it would be."

Rogers talked to Zumaya before batting practice Sunday morning about not letting his frustrations get the better of him, among other things. He went as far as to say it’s not a bad thing for him to struggle on occasion.

"We all understand what he’s capable of doing," Rogers said. "He’s entitled to struggle once in a while. He’s going to. You just hope his struggles are going to be limited.

Jones talked with him about being patient with trying to get back in sync.

"What he’s got to realize," Jones said, "is he’s used to looking in the paper and seeing a 1.90 ERA and a bunch of strikeouts and no walks. What he’s got to do now is [realize] he can’t try to get it all back in one outing. That’s a tough thing for a young guy to try and learn. You’ve just got to start piecing things back together. That’s what I was trying to stress to him the most.

"I don’t care about how he pitches on a particular outing, because he’s going to be fine. Everybody has hiccups. But what you can do is help a guy who hasn’t been through that, give him a blueprint to help him get out of it. And as a guy who’s had his brains beat up several times, I feel like I’m an expert on it."

As for Zumaya’s radar gun readings, including a handful of mid-90s and one fastball topping out at 100, he said he was throwing two- and four-seamers to try to get a feel for it again. He’s not proclaiming that he’s back yet, not with two walks out of the six batters he faced.

"I’m not going to get ahead of myself," he said. "It’s not going to be over with in three days, but it’s the beginning of it. I feel more comfortable. My ball was down in the zone and I was working my fastball pretty good. Now let’s just get that breaking ball over and I’ll be OK."

4 Comments

What a finish to the game today. Inge hitting one out in the 9th. That was a great finish. I wish I had been able to miss it though. I had tickets to the Cardinals-Cubs game in St Louis tonight. I would have been on my way there at that time. However, the Cardinals suffered a loss today greater than any of the struggles our beloved Tigers have faced. While I would have loved to have seen the new Busch Stadium for the first time today, my thoughts are with the players and Josh Hancock’s family.

On a more positive note, I enjoyed seeing Maroth pitch competitively today and keep us in the game. Zumaya looked better again and yet he still has a ways to go. Sheffield seems to be coming around more and I think has had a positive impact on the lineup. The threat of him after Polanco has helped Polanco and the ability to get on has made pitchers face Ordonez with a runner on more often. Ordonez has been on fire lately. I hope he keeps that up. Inge looked good today. Is he starting to break out of his slump or is this just one good game? Hopefully he can string a few together.

I pray for the family of Josh Hancock. It is a real tragedy.

And all I can say is thank god that Kenny is back. I cant even say how good it makes me feel to know that he and Jones are there to talk these young guys through there recent struggles. It was also great to see a few of our batters that have been struggling at the plate have some success today.

GO TIGERS.

It is tragic about Hancock, and also the fact that this had to happen to the Cardinals organization twice in such a relatively short time. That’s just not fair.

So for the second Sunday in a row, we win what felt like a “must win” in April. Anybody ready for an easy 9-2 victory at this point? Inge gets three hits, and two of them were hit sharply, so that’s a good sign. Maroth came up big as I thought he would, and the bullpen held this time. I actually thought Zumaya had Mauer struck out on that 2-2 curveball before retiring him on the grounder to second. Ordonez hits so much better when he drives the ball to rightfield. He looks like the guy I remember with the White Sox when he does that. And Thames made a nice play when he tagged the runner after being pulled off the bag. I realize that’s firstbase 101, but it’s good to see he passed that course. :-)

The Tiger hitters are extremely effective when they take a patient approach and don’t give away at bats. I’d like to see them stick with that, rather than getting away from it as the game progresses.

Anything I didn’t like? Well, they again went ofer with RISP, but Santana was pitching, so that can be expected this time. I would avoid sending a runner with Thames at the plate. Marcus took a protect the runner swing for strike three and Monroe was gunned down, ending that inning. And just to prove that the Twins don’t play perfect baseball, no way Redmond tries for third on that one out fly to Monroe. Be aggressive, but be smart.

A modest winning streak while the Indians cool off would turn the standings upside down.

Watching the Walk off Inge home run a few times. That’s fun. He deserved something good to happen, and that was a key victory if ever there was one. Very good game and Maroth did his job. I was thinking it would be appropriate to appologize to Magglio and Shef for getting so far down on them. Sometimes we get pretty negative when things aren’t going well. Congratulations to Maggs for receiving player of the week. And Shef is looking pretty good right now too. To his credit, he has kept very professional and cool in light of his slow start, and I’m sure he has heard some comments. When he gets going and if this turns out to be a strong year for Maggs, look out. And lastly, though we have been pretty hard on his defensive play, he seems to be playing solidly right now. Is it my imagination or does it seem like his range has improved?

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