photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein
You know what’s fun? Being able to lump the New York Yankees in with the Seattle Mariners. Granted, the reason for the lumping is somewhat less fun– they’re both struggling teams whose sweeps at the hands of the Tigers may or may not actually mean much– but the simple fact that they can be thought of in the same way is happy-making.
There were lots and lots of players in yesterday’s game who were deserving of the RotT image of the day: Bondo, for his solid outing and the continued resurgence of Mr. Snappy; Inge, for his three-run homer, despite the fact that he was catching for the game and usually finds that too much of a strain for his bat to do anything; Matt Joyce, for his surprising continuing power; Sheff for his 3-for-4 day, which he so sorely needed.
Up there with the sweeps broom and the victorious answer hamster, though, is one Freddy Dolsi, who pitched 3 (!) perfect (!!) innings to earn his very first save in the big leagues. He was wily and economical, needing only 33 pitches to get through those 3 innings. It’s not as though the game was particularly close at that point; the Tigers were already up 9-2 by the time he came in. But Dolsi is not someone Leyland has declared a long relief guy, and there he was, pitching his tail off out there to save the sweep. That’s good enough for me.
The offense was so effective in this series, and the pitchers have been looking up for a while now. It is very, VERY tempting to say that things are getting back on track. We have been down this road once before during this season, though, and we have already learned that what the Tigers can do against a (joyously) awful Yankees team does not necessarily have any bearing on what the Tigers can (and cannot) do against the rest of the league.
The Mariners are bad. I don’t know what exactly is going wrong over there, but their various pieces are just not being put together in a way that works right now. I feel kinda mean rubbing that in, but, as Tigers fans, it’s important for us to realize that. Yes, this was a sweep. Yes, various Tigers looked really good. Yes, happy funtimes. But: Mariners. They’re not the worst team in baseball right now, but that’s just because San Diego has played one more game than they have. (ouch, zing, etc.)
This is not to say that the Tigers are immediately going to dive back into the basement of baseball and life as soon as they dive back into divisional play against the Twins. Things HAVE changed. Dontrelle is back (as long relief, anyways, which for the record I agree with right now), Inge appears to be in the process of making peace with his role on the team, Cabrera and Guillen are hopefully done jetting around the various infield positions. Leyland has flipped out, and the team has had time to realize that papa is very, very angry with them.
“Look,” veteran closer Todd Jones said, “this team needs to realize that this guy took on Barry Bonds. He’d run every one of us out of town. You’re just better off if you don’t cross him. And I think he relayed that message 100%.
“You just don’t mess with him. It’s not that hard. He doesn’t ask a whole lot.”
Jones said Tuesday’s speech reminded everyone in the clubhouse who “the alpha dog” is, if any player were to step out of line. “He’ll tell Mr. Ilitch, ‘It’s him or me because I’m not putting up with it,’ ” Jones said in reference to team owner Mike Ilitch. “The best lesson: Don’t mess with Leyland.”
Jon Paul Morosi/Detroit Free Press article
That’s what I’m SAYIN’! Fear. (Call it ‘respect’ if you like.) GOOD. The hope is that this fearful respect, respectful fear, burning desire to win so that nobody gets their head chewed off in the locker room after games, whatever, will be enough to keep the Tigers winning even when they’re no longer playing a team with deeper sadness than their own.
Coupla quick notes:
–Sorry this post is a bit late. I fell asleep before I could get it done Thursday night. You know how it goes.
–Clay Rapada is on the 15-day DL with the ubiquitously mysterious ‘sore arm’. Tendonitis, we are told. As we have repeated over and over again here at RotT, this kind of inflammation really needs rest in order to heal, so this was probably the only thing that could be done with Clay. Hopefully the rest/icing/anti-inflams WILL heal it to the point where he can come back and not have it immediately flare up again.
–Zoom, Fernando, and Vance Wilson are all supposed to play in an extended spring training game today.
–From the same Freep article, we learn that MLB wants the game of baseball sped up, and one of their new rules includes having the managers jog out to the mound, instead of sedately strolling. Jim Leyland has thoughts on this:
“They want me to run to the mound. I smoke three packs a day. They want me to run on and off the mound.” He added: “I got Todd Jones coming out of the bullpen. We’re going to have to get a golf cart. It’s a joke.”
Free Press article
Good quote, of course, but holy cats. I know we joke about it… he’s seriously smoking THREE packs a day? I’m a little worried about his health, now…
–In the chat post I mentioned that I had taken some photos of Brewers manager Ned Yost with his hands down his pants while at Fenway, and RotT regular commenter PudgeforPrez requested the photos. For Science. Thus:
Baseball guys. When WILL they learn?
The rest of the photoset is over here, if anyone is interested.