digital illustration by Samara Pearlstein
Well! That was different. I like it.
Here’s the Bizarro Detroit lineup that Leyland presented to the world on Tuesday night:
And here’s what that lineup did:
11 hits, 3 doubles, 1 triple, 2 homers, 4 walks, 9 runs,
including two Tigers who almost hit for the cycle (Clete was a homer short, and Miggy was a triple short)
Obviously, if the Tigers had lost this game in some spectacular fashion, Jim Leyland would be a crazy old man grasping desperately at the bendy straws in his overpriced ballpark beverage. Because they won (in a spectacular fashion), he is a genius at the base balls and I photoshop him into a top hat. This is bloglogic, and there can be no denying it.
With that said, there are some elements of this sort of lineup that are more than random magic or luck. Granderson, for instance, is hitting .259/.325/.528 right now, and has hit .279/.348/.495 for his career. Puttin’ that into words, he’s tending more towards power and away from wicked high on base percentage. It would be nice to see him put up prettier OBP numbers, but it makes more sense to maximize what he’s got RIGHT NOW, instead of waiting to see if he’ll turn into something else eventually. And what he’s got right now are numbers that make more sense lower down in the lineup, out of that leadoff spot, where he’s got more of a chance to drive some other cats in. He’s been the leadoff hitter for so long mostly because the Tigers haven’t really had a proper leadoff hitter on the team.
Er, not that I’m ready to declare Anderson the perfect leadoff hitter or anysuchthing. But RIGHT NOW he can fill that role. He’s currently getting on base at a better rate than Granderson, at least, and he’s got some speed or whatever dubiously useful tool it is that makes Leyland like him.
Dropping Magglio down in the order is also smart. He’s having a downright sloth-like start to the season, which I refuse to even speculate about because it makes me faint with worry that he may decide to cut his hair to change his luck. (Which would be The Worst, for the record.) Knocking him down a few steps did nothing for him tonight (0-for-4), but I am guessing the hope here is that with the glare of the spotlight even slightly deflected, he’ll be more likely to work his way out of his little slump.
It’s not like the Tigs can send him down to Toledo to work on his swing, and dropping him all the way down to 8th or 9th would probably just depress him and send him farther in the wrong direction. Assuming Leyland keeps him hovering around the 6th or 7th slot for now, I’m cool with it.
Clete Thomas batting third was pure crazysauce and the fact that it worked out as well as it did tonight is evidence of the ~*~magic~*~ at work (to be fair-ish he’s apparently hit OK against Blackburn in a small sample size of the recent past). Jim Leyland waved his fingers at the fresh call-up, and behold! thus did the child gain the ability to confound Minnesotan pitching with his bat.
Also magic? Frederick Alfred Porcello the Third, who threw 87 pitches over the course of 7 innings, allowed 4 hits (all singles), walked 3, struck out 3, and gave up a grand total of zero runs. The only reason he didn’t come out to pitch the 8th inning was because he had looked a little weensy bit struggly at the end of the 7th, and Leyland in his infinite wisdom decided he’d rather have Frederick end the outing on an undeniable high note and not risk coming in and giving up a few hits or what-have-you.
Frederick is still but a kitten, and I STILL think that if Bondo had stayed healthy the kid should’ve at least started the year in the minors, and this game was basically stress-free for a pitcher after the second inning, and, y’know, it’s the Twins, they sometimes have issues…. buuuuuuut outings like this are pretty encouraging. Gaze upon that efficiency and weep, Mr. Verlander.
Because Jim Leyland had cast his magic spells over this game, Nate Robertson and Juan Rincon pitched the last two innings without giving up a run, which is a true testament to the awesome powers of the occult.
Can’t really think of a good place to put this stuff:
–The home run that Miggy hit tonight was around 440 ft. Just an enormous blast. Prodigious. Leviathan. Monumental. He’s batting over .400 again. I know it’s early, I know, I KNOW, but holy cats is he fun to watch right now.
–Carlos Guillen is on the DL with, last I saw, “shoulder inflammation”, which could be anything from fairly severe tendonitis in his shoulder to some vague unspecified soreness and a general feeling that he just needs some time off to think about his hitting. Either way, it’s yet another bodypart we can add to the Bits of Carlos Guillen’s Anatomy That Concern Us List (back, surgically repaired knee).
–I don’t think he ended up with any errors tonight, but the Cuddler in right field had an awfully rough night out there, with at least two plays where he dove for the ball and came up painfully, embarrassingly short. Combine that with the three errors the Twins DID get called against them, and it’s clear that this game owed a lot to Twincompetence and it wasn’t all sparkly magic from the Tigs. Still. Sparkles.
–I had the Twins broadcast tonight, which was fine, anything but the White Sox, you know. The only eyebrow-raise-worthy part came when the announcers started talking about Cinco de Mayo and how they had just learned that it was specifically a Mexican holiday! So it actually has no inherent meaning to the Dominican or Venezuelan ballplayers! And isn’t that so crazy?! They never knew!
Spanish-speaking countries: they are not all Mexico. Thanks for clearing that one up for us, Twins announcers!
Wednesday night’s game will pit Arrrrrrmando against Mark Buehrle. The lineup will be whatever fits Jim Leyland’s fancy at the time. Here’s hoping for more magic.
ETA: Rainout. Where’s the magic in that? It’s Miner/Contreras on Thursday, assuming the weather holds and such.