There are loads of Tigers who could be singled out for the RotT image for this post, but I think hitting your first home run since 2003 is big enough to make us go with Ramon Santiago and his flaming bat of Fiery Power.
Sure, Verlander’s first win of the year makes him a fine candidate, especially since the win was so hard-earned. I was honestly afraid, at the start of the game, that he was going to melt down again. It certainly looked like it was heading that way. All those singles early on, and then the Frank Catalanotto homerun… it just didn’t look like a Verlander-in-his-prime kinda day.
Then came the third inning. Oh, the third inning. Although the flashy marvels were in the bottom half of it, when the Tigers offense seemed to suddenly and collectively remember that it was capable of hitting home runs, it was the top half that saw Verlander grabbing himself by the, er, baseballs and finally having a clean 1-2-3 inning. From then on it seemed like he was back to the Verlander we know and love and trust with starting baseball games… although of course by then the damage to his pitch count had been done and when he came out after 6 he’d thrown 110 pitches. We’ll want to avoid that for next time, Justin.
But what about that bottom half, eh? Three home runs (Maggs, Cabrera, Santiago), an RBI single (Edgah), and a triple (Jacque Jones), all in one inning. That, quite frankly, is amazing. Maybe even more amazing is the fact that Vicente Padilla was left in for all of it. I understand that Texas didn’t want to overwork their bullpen, but holy cats, they maybe should’ve thought about pulling him after, say, the second home run? Or the triple, which followed two home runs in a row? Mightn’t that have been more… rational? Sane? Kind?
Not that I’m complaining, of course. It worked out GREAT for the Tigers. Sure seems crazy from a Texan point of view, though.
And hey, it got Ramon Santiago his first big league homer in almost 5 years. We’ll take it.
Most awesome random moment of the game: Pudge chases a foul ball all the way back to the dugout. He reaches out to catch it, leaning over the rail, and gets his glove on it over the dugout. Great play in and of itself. Then Pudge grabs the baseball out of his glove, holds it up, and gives the dugout a thousand-watt grin, like, ‘look what I got!’ I almost squealed out loud, it was so awesome.
ETA: On the subject of the Cabrera/Guillen base switch: I would have to say that I’m about half in favor of this. I like the idea of moving Cabrera to first; I think he’ll do better, defensively, over there, although it’s by no means a necessarily easy position. And I kind of like the idea of getting Guillen back over to the left side of the infield; that’s where he’s used to playing, albeit at shortstop instead of third, and we’ve definitely seen that he has Issues with first. Not knowing where to stand, mostly, which, yeah, would probably be the sort of thing he’d learn with time, but it’s actually sort of a dangerous situation while we wait for him to learn, because every time he straddles the basepath he’s just asking an approaching runner to accidentally plow into him and do some damage.
Of course Cabrera should have a bit of learning curve as well, but maybe he’ll learn it faster than Guillen did– old dog, new tricks, etc.
HOWEVER. I thought we were moving Guillen to first in order to give him a break, because although he’s only 32, his Surgically Repaired Knee makes his lower body in some respects much older. Third base involves a lot more diving around than first does. Also, Carlos does not have the cannon-like arm that, say, Brandon Inge has (or even Cabrera– to his defensive credit, the guy can make some nice throws), and it’s much more important to have a strong arm at third than at first.
The only thing I can think is that maybe this means even more time for Brandon Inge at third, since they’ll have to rest Guillen a lot more at the more demanding position in order to keep him healthy. Maybe? I guess we’ll see, but after the game, when he announced this, Jim Leyland seemed awfully certain about it, so there must be some good solid reasoning behind it all. One would hope.