(Sports Network) - Fans in Detroit were one out and an admitted blown call away from seeing something special last night at Comerica Park. Less than 24 hours later, they'll get to see another special moment, although one that means a little more than what happens on the diamond.
Less than one week after a scary injury that very well could have ended his career, Cleveland's David Huff is set to take the mound and close out a three- game series between the Indians and Tigers that won't soon be forgotten due to Wednesday night's events.
It's a miracle that Huff is able to take the hill this afternoon after what happened to him last Saturday in New York. Facing off against the Yankees, New York's Alex Rodriguez ripped a screaming liner back up the middle that deflected off the side of Huff's head, knocking the pitcher to the ground. The ball was hit so hard that after deflecting off Huff, it didn't land until reaching well into right field.
"It was one of the few times in baseball that I've actually feared for someone's life," Cleveland's Trevor Crowe said of the incident. "[Rodriguez] hit such a bullet and David didn't even have a chance to get his glove up."
The left-hander was carted off the field, but not before giving the crowd a thumbs up, and taken to a local hospital for a CT scan, which revealed no signs of bleeding or a concussion. He was charged with three runs on five hits over 2 1/3 innings before the injury, though one of those runs scored on Rodriguez's liner, but got a no-decision when the Indians rallied late for a 13-11 victory.
Huff was able to throw a bullpen session on Monday and while everyone will wonder how he will mentally handle his return to the mound, the 25-year-old knows how lucky he is to be able to make this start.
"It could have been an inch this way or that way," Huff told Cleveland's website on Sunday, "and I wouldn't be here talking to you. I was definitely lucky."
Huff is 2-6 with a 5.54 earned run average this year and will be seeking his first road victory as he is 0-5 with a 6.53 ERA in six starts away from Cleveland. He faced Detroit for the first time in his young career on April 9, taking a loss after allowing four runs (one earned) on six hits over six innings.
Huff's return to the mound is now a bit overshadowed by last night's controversial 3-0 Detroit victory. Tigers starter Armando Galarraga was one out away from a perfect game, but had to settle for a one-hit shutout, the first of his career, after a blown call by umpire Jim Joyce at first base.
Having retired 26 straight, Galarraga got Cleveland's Jason Donald to ground to first baseman Miguel Cabrera, who flipped the ball to his starting pitcher. Though replays showed Galarraga beat Donald to the bag, Joyce called the Indians runner safe to the dismay of the entire Detroit team and the fans at Comerica Park, especially after Galarraga retired the next batter he faced.
Following the play and immediately after the game, Leyland and most of the Tigers players -- most notably Cabrera, whose solo homer in the second inning was all the offense Detroit would need -- were yelling furiously at Joyce. The crowd vociferously booed him, realizing the call on the field was incorrect. After seeing a replay post game, Joyce apologized to Galarraga.
"This isn't 'a' call. ... This is a history call," Joyce said. "And I kicked the (expletive) out of it. And there's nobody that feels worse than I do. I take pride in this job, and I kicked the (expletive) out of it, and I took a perfect game away from that kid who worked his (butt) off all night."
Though denied the 21st perfect game in baseball history, and third this season, Galarraga appreciated Joyce's actions after the game.
"I give that guy a lot of credit to that guy saying, 'Hey I need to talk to you because I really want to say I'm sorry,'" Galarraga said. "You don't see an umpire telling you after the game saying 'I'm sorry.' He apologized."
Galarraga was denied the Tigers' seventh no-hitter in team history and first since Justin Verlander did it against Milwaukee on June 12, 2007.
"I don't know. Everything just happened so fast," Donald said. "I just put my head down and ran as hard as I could. I thought Galarraga threw a very, very good game. He kept us off-balance all night and threw all his pitches for strikes."
Regardless of the outcome, the Tigers picked up just their second win in their last eight games, but their fifth in seven meetings with the Indians this year. Detroit has lost just five of its last 24 games against Cleveland.
Lost in all the controversy was a solid start by Cleveland's Fausto Carmona, who pitched an eight-inning complete game and allowed three runs -- two earned -- on nine hits while striking out three without walking a batter.
Still, the Indians fell to 2-4 on a 10-game road trip.
After Galarraga's gem, the Indians now must deal with 21-year-old Rick Porcello, who is a perfect 4-0 with a 2.10 ERA in five career starts against Cleveland, including a win over the club and Huff on April 5. Porcello threw five innings of two-run ball on that day, working around five hits and two walks.
The righty has yet to win consecutive starts this year and has alternated wins and losses over his last seven starts. He suffered a defeat on Saturday versus Oakland even though he gave up just two runs and seven hits over 6 1/3 innings of a 6-0 setback. Porcello fell to 4-5 with a 5.27 ERA on the season.