photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein
Apologies to Ryan Rayburn, who gets the dubious honor of being Hermione up there. I figured I haven’t tormented him Photoshoppically enough, though, so it’s his turn.
What happened to the Royals? They seem to be… playing baseball. I want to blame this series on the Tigers struggling, slowing down, whatever you want to call it, but it’s kind of hard to deny the fact that the Tigers struggled in part because Kansas City just played REALLY GOOD BALL. Brian Bannister? Pitched a REALLY GOOD GAME. This is weird. I’m not sure I’m comfortable in this strange new world.
Part of it, at least, is a result of the Tigers screwing things up for themselves. The errors have GOT to stop. There were two more on Sunday, resulting in another unearned run. Hopefully this error-ridden period was because the Tigers were so horrified to be playing a mischievously and unexpectedly skillful Royals team that they couldn’t even handle the ball properly.
That was Sunday. Saturday was a crazy game, featuring lots more Royals mischief (tormenting Macay McBride and helping Jonesy blow the save), and a ton of Tigers magic: Ryan Rayburn’s leadoff home run, Craig Monroe actually doing productive things on offense, Chad Durbin pimp-pitching his way to a W, and of course Brandon Inge’s 10th inning walkoff home run.
Walkoff home runs are always great. Uh, obviously. But they are even SWEETER when they come from Brandon Inge, and I’m not just saying that because of the whole “insane Brandon Inge fan” thing. No, walkoff home runs are particularly glorious when Inge-generated because you just KNOW the pitcher, while aware of Inge and possibly aware of his power, isn’t expecting it. He’s thinking about Granderson, or worrying about Inge getting on base, but even if a pitcher knows Inge’s power number by heart… just look at him! You expect a walkoff home run from David Ortiz or Alex Rodriguez. You just don’t expect it from Brandon Inge.
Unless, of course, you’re a Tigers fan who firmly believes that Brandon Inge can do most anything.
The awesome thing about a game like Saturday’s is that you can look at the boxscore and see that Polanco went 2-for-5, Sheffield went 3-for-4, and Magglio went 2-for-4, all solidly in the middle of the order, and this barely even warrants comment, because it’s so commonplace. Incredible offensive production out of the middle of the order? Ho hum, that happens every day, no big. This is a remarkable circumstance, and so long as it remains something we can be nonchalant about, we’ll know the Tigers are still doing OK.
It might be worthwhile to note that Polanco was sitting on Sunday. I’m not saying the offense is OMG HELPLESS without him, but the offense IS usually OMG SO MUCH BETTER with him. ‘Course he has to sit sometimes, and you would think that the Royals would provide a nice time for him to rest. We managed to get the FreakyGood Royals, instead of the usual Royals, so Polanco’s absence was actually felt. Just our luck, eh?