Category Archives: guest

Tigers win on a Sunday

I’m a pretty optimistic Tiger fan, but I have to admit I was surprised when they came through with four runs in the ninth off J. J. Putz. I know he hasn’t been quite right this year, and he certainly hasn’t been as dominant as he was in the recent past. He sounded like he had pretty good stuff the night before, though, and the feeling I had was telling me the Tigers were going to have to win this one in extra innings.

After he struck out Pudge and had Inge down to a 1-2 count, my feeling of “get ’em next inning” was only that much more certain. Then the strangest thing happened. Three straight balls. Well, this was interesting and it brought up Curtis Granderson. Now I was starting to get conflicting images of Curtis turning on a fastball and trotting around the bases, or maybe tripling in Brandon. But the other feeling was still probably winning 70/30 or so.

Curtis then laced a ball down the line, and before I could yell woo hoo it was determined to be foul. A couple pitches later he roped another ball down the line and again it was foul. I love Curtis, but when he has two strikes against a pitcher with a splitter like Putz’s, my mind starts to wander down the lineup to figure out who else might come through. As I was thinking, “Polly or Carlos?” Granderson ripped a splitter to the right of Miguel Cairo – Seattle’s own white flag – for a single that got Inge to third base.

It all happened pretty quickly after that. Polly dropped a bloopish single into right that looked a lot like the one Jeremy Reed had run down earlier in the game, but this time it found its way to the turf. The Tigers had the lead. After a Guillen ground out, more surprises were on the way as Beltre couldn’t handle a sharp grounder by Maggs and then just missed throwing him out at first. (Did anybody else feel like earlier in the game Curtis was safer than Maggs on this play?)

Another run in, and I’m starting to breathe easy. Then Miggy came up and doubled down the line and it was pretty clear things were going the Tigers’ way. I mean we love Miggy and all, but I just didn’t expect the guy who’s been pressing most of the season to come through with that hit. Incidentally, did everybody notice Ibanez fumbling that hit in the corner? He looked like Rocky chasing the chickens out there.

At this point I was so happy, and the game seemed so well in hand I let my dog out to pee. He has less faith in the Tigers than I do, and had started whining after Pudge’s strikeout. Yeah, yeah, I know Todd Jones gave up a two-run homer and the tying run came to the plate and that was a little too nerve-racking considering the inning the Tigers had just posted. But this was a good win in a game that looked like it would get away from the Tigers a few different times.

Not the least of which was when in the eighth Jeremy Reed was able to reach second in a tie game with no outs on a single and an error by Maggs. After Cairo bunted him over to third with Zach Miner on the mound, this was another instance of my mind wandering toward pessimism and trying to figure the odds of them getting the run back in the ninth. But here, too, I was treated to being wrong. Betancourt hit a soft liner to Inge. What’s this feeling brewing? It feels…like…hope. Leyland had Miner walk Ichiro, and Jose Lopez made an easy out to end the inning.

It’s not been an easy season to be a Tiger fan, but this was a fun one to watch. Before I let you go, I know people probably don’t really come here for analysis so I try to steer away from that part of my brain but I can’t help but say I was encouraged to see Jeremy a) hitting 94 on the gun, b) striking out five with no walks and c) finally using that fastball with armside run to go inside on a lefty. That pitch he used to strikeout Ichiro is what I’ve been waiting for just about all season from him.

Enjoy your Monday, and don’t worry. Sam will be back soon. Oh, and you might want to take a nap at some point during the day since the Tigers won’t be going until 10:05 tonight.

–GUEST BLOGGER, Matt

Why do the Tigers wish that I pluck out mine eyes?

Personal goings on have kept me from seeing most of the last two Tiger games, which is why I have yet to post as a fill in for Samara. However, with this being my first shot at commenting on the Tigers outside of somebody else’s comment section (Plug alert: I’m usually laboring away here), I figured I would take the opportunity to give some thoughts on the Tigers v2008.

Regardless of what media you choose in following the Tigers, there is a lot of understandable frustration aimed at this team. Miguel Cabrera, Carlos Guillen, Jeremy Bonderman, Justin Verlander and the bullpen all take their shots from fans and those whose opinions are out there for all to see. Even that’s an abbreviated list that doesn’t include players we expected to be declining (Sheffield and Pudge), those who have been ushered out of town (Grilli and Jacque Jones) or coaches.

There have been calls to move some or all of the non-hustling, complacent veterans. There have been calls to remove the inept coaching staff. But the truth is the players the Tigers might be able to move aren’t the ones fans generally want gone. I took a look at salaries and the length of contracts for each of the Tigers, and there just aren’t a lot of players who are talented enough and represent enough of a bargain to command much in return.

Playing amateur GM, I singled out Nate Robertson, Bobby Seay, Clay Rapada, Placido Polanco, Ryan Raburn and Marcus Thames as the players whose performance and contract situations might bring back as much talent as the Tigers would be giving up. With the possible exception of Robertson, these are generally not the players fans are talking about when they call for the front office to get rid of these bums.

In other words, we’re probably looking at the team we’ll be watching for the next season or two for the most part. Having no real solutions on how to improve the product on the field, I decided to think about why this team forces Samara to concoct so many drawings that convey our collective sadness.

To me, the most obvious answer is the defense. In terms of defensive efficiency, they’re actually a little above middle of the pack but that doesn’t really tell the story. First of all, the overall defensive efficiency is being carried by the outfielders, who have been among the best in the American League in terms of turning fly balls into outs. The infield, as most would expect, is much closer to being among the worst in the league. That’s where the miscues are happening, and those are the plays that make us wish we wish we had been bombarded by gamma rays so we could go smash stuff in a spectacular fashion.

This weakness of the team is all the more glaring because it is the infield that houses so much of our new blood and our highly paid talent. Every ground ball that shoots to the left or right of Miguel Cabrera or Carlos Guillen would have been snagged by Brandon Inge. Or even Sean Casey. See how delusional we’re getting about these things? Not only that, but when a grounder squeaks between the left side of your infield and those two players are costing something in the neighborhood of $20M there seems to be a natural impulse to blame effort rather than talent. After all, the talent must be there if they’re making so much, right?

That gets to the heart of why the lineup has been so frustrating, too. These guys are highly paid because they have track records. Our expectations were high because everything suggested this would be a fantastic lineup. We’re not talking pie in the sky, rose-tinted glasses, out of touch with reality expectations either. Just about everybody from the grizzled veteran columnist to Baseball Prospectus looked at this lineup and saw it brutalizing its way to at least playoff contention.

While it’s produced among the most runs in the American League, it’s also produced nine shutouts and a lot of very long streaks of scoreless innings. What may be even more frustrating is there aren’t really any high level explanations being offered. Dombrowski and Leyland seem pretty much dumbfounded. We don’t really have the data to analyze hitters like we can pitchers.

In other words, we can look at Verlander and Bonderman and say the strikeouts are down because they’re velocity is down. I don’t know too many people who can look at Miguel Cabrera or Edgar Renteria and say what they’re doing differently this year from last (other than playing in the American League rather than the National). I suppose it’s possible to do similar analysis, but I haven’t seen it.

Regardless, as fans absent actual reasons and explanations for disappointing peformance, we’re usually not too shy of providing our own. What we seem to be turning to is lack of effort, or fire or will to win. You know, those things that are so plainly lacking when you’re really talented team is still losing.

To me, the symbol of the Tigers’ 2006 was Brandon Inge’s 13-pitch at bat that led to a comeback win against the A’s early in the season. It just seemed so scrappy, so iconic and it just so happened to coincide with a stretch that was a large part of the Tigers being able to make the playoffs despite their miserable finish to the season. This season, there have been a couple moments that, in the moment, seemed like they could be that icon of the season and a turnaround. They just always seem to be followed by a four game losing streak. And my God, it’s so frustrating it makes me want to take things and rent them asunder.

Given this opportunity to speak on the Tigers, however, I don’t want to seem like some down-trodden wiener who has given up on his beloved team. That is not the case at all. The reason I’m still tuning in and hoping, aside from a palpable and dangerous addiction to Detroit baseball, is absence of explanation cuts both ways. Nobody has offered an explanation I buy as to why the Tigers have dug this hole for themselves, and therefore nobody can really tell me why they couldn’t suddenly dig out of it.

If you don’t consider the postseason, you can’t possibly tell me you’d rather be a fan of the 2006 Tigers than a fan of the 2006 Twins. The Tigers have subjected us to collapses late in the season for two years in a row now. There is some part of me that can’t give up on the idea they’ve just jumbled their calendar somehow.

–GUEST BLOGGER, Matt

Tigers Lose To Faust(o)ian Devil

The Tigers had just a run of the mill 5-2 loss tonight. With a 21 year old pitcher making his major league debut, you kind of hope the team will be able to put up some runs to let him relax a little. But the Tigers ran into Fausto Carmona and he had his good stuff tonight. He was mixing his mid-90s fastballs with a good breaking ball and was able to keep the Tigers off balance for most of the game, setting a personal best with ten strikeouts.

When the Tigers were finally able to tune him up a little bit, they could neither tie it up with him still in the game or chase him and take their chances against the bullpen. They scored in the second, but what I’m talking about was the triple Curtis Granderson hit to right center in the eighth inning. It scored Brandon Inge, who had singled, and made it a 4-2 game with no outs and a man on third. If they get Granderson in, it becomes a very interesting game, and it seemed like a given with Thames, Sheff and Maggs coming up.

But Carmona got Thames to strikeout on a low and away pitch much like what Chad Gaudin had success with against Marcus on Monday. Then Sheffield hit a soft, broken bat line drive to short and Maggs fouled out to the first baseman, Ryan Garko. I don’t know about you, but at the time that felt like their last good chance to me.

In the bottom of that inning, Bobby Seay let Michaels reach on a leadoff walk and gave up a ground rule double to Casey Blake. He showed some life by striking out Sizemore, but after an intentional walk to Victor Martinez in the hopes of getting another double play grounder from Pronk, he walked in a run to make it 5-2. I tossed the remote to my wife, scratched my dog behind the ears and went upstairs to check minor league scores – mumbling all the way.

Because he’s taken so much crap lately (and rightly so, to some degree) I will throw out that Jason Grilli came in to finish the inning by getting a double play grounder from the only batter he faced. Good job, Grilli.

Of course the biggest story in this one for the Tigers was the kid making that major league debut, Jair Jurrjens. I was pretty happy with the way he pitched. He certainly did well enough to keep the Tigers in it and even showed some good stamina by consistently throwing 92 mph in the seventh inning, when he was up around 100 pitches. I’ll tell you one thing. If Rogers or Miller comes back and there’s a choice between Jurrjens or Durbin as the fifth starter, I’d have Jurrjens out on the mound before you could even get all those Js out of your mouth.

–GUEST BLOGGER, Matt

Tigers Win As Pitchers, Hitters and Defense All Shine

Every once in a while, even when your team is struggling along, you get games that remind you how fun it can be to follow a baseball team. Yesterday was obviously one of those games. The Tigers got fantastic pitching, timely hits and great defense so let’s just take a look at, and rejoice in, each of those elements.

Bonderman was, well, Bonderman. It’s a very welcome departure from the ugliness he had displayed in his previous five starts. Yes, he made us sweat a little by giving up that first inning homer, but he didn’t let a runner get past second base after that – and only one got as far as second. It really didn’t take long for him to convince me on this night he was the Bonderman whose turn in the rotation we had learned to look forward to. In his last few starts we’d get flashes of that Bonderman, but then he’d give up three or four runs in addition to the inevitable runs he’d allow in the first inning. But last night I remember thinking in the third inning, “Man, he’s really working this lineup over.” He just kept bringing it and when he wasn’t striking guys out, his defense was covering for him. But we’ll get to defense in a bit.

We’re talking about pitching, so let’s move on to the bullpen. I couldn’t believe when they showed the Tiger bullpen late in a 2-2 game that would vault the winner into sole possession of first place and the lefty was Tim Byrdak and the right-hander was Aquilino Lopez. “Okay, that’s funny, now where’s the real bullpen that contains the pitcher who’s really going to come in for Bonderman?” I mean, it seemed to me like you should put your best pitchers in there and worry about any game remaining after those guys are finished when the time comes.

But out came Tim Byrdak for the eighth, and to avoid the lefty-lefty matchup with Kenny Lofton, out came Jason Michaels who Byrdak struck out on four pitches. He then walked Casey Blake and Grady Sizemore, and I would have loved to have heard the conversation between Chuck Hernandez and Jim Leyland. After the second walk, you could see Chuck Hernandez call down to the bullpen and get word that both Lopez and Fernando Rodney were ready which he then reported to Leyland. Evidently, it was unsolicited because Leyland went into an explanation of why he was leaving in Byrdak that came complete with animated hand gestures. Perhaps he said, “No, I’m going to leave him in because if my hunch is right, Tim’s going to strikeout Victor Martinez and when Pronk hits what looks like a game-winning hit, Curtis will do something special to keep us in this game.” That’s probably not what he was saying, but it’s what happened.

When Rodney came out for the ninth I told my wife I was glad to see him, and shared my thoughts that if you’re going to get beat, you get beat having used your best pitchers. When Chris Gomez slapped a full count fastball down into the right field corner for a double, I gave her a nervous laugh because the getting beat part was a little too close to home and there were no outs. But Rodney pulled through, and I can’t tell you how relieved I was. Not just that he came back to strikeout the side, but he prevented me from having to go into work and hear about how the bullpen blew another one and it didn’t take Rodney to get back to where he was before. Fernando was awesome.

From there we’ll move on because when Jonesy came in, he did fine, but the other elements of the Tigers’ game had pretty much disposed of the Indians. Let’s talk about the defense. For most of the game it was solid. Everybody made the plays asked of them. Infante made a nice play going into the hole to his right to get Peralta by a step, but for the most part it was just guys making the plays you expect them to make. Then we came to the eighth inning. Byrdak had just walked two batters and struck out Victor Martinez. A hobbled Travis Hafner came to the plate, and after a big rip at a fastball he hit a 2-2 pitch into center field. It was pretty simple. If Curtis could get to it, the Tigers were still alive. If he couldn’t, this game was likely over. The ball was floating out there, and Curtis was closing on it, dove and…did he catch it? Yes, thank God. I thought it might have short hopped into his glove, but replays clearly showed he caught it. You’ve got to love Curtis Granderson.

Last, but not least, you have the timely hitting. The first instance was Maggs ripping a single up the middle in the fourth. Nothing came of it, but it was the Tigers’ first hit and the way Sabathia was throwing to that point, it seemed worth nothing that at least there wouldn’t be a no-hitter.

In the sixth, though, we started to get a taste of the chance for a win when Raburn smoked a ball into left center for a leadoff double. The Tigers seemed to be figuring C. C. out a bit, and the hits were starting to come. Or maybe Sabathia was just getting tired, but either way my thoughts went from “Why did did Bonderman have to throw that one bad pitch?” to “We’re right in this game if they can get Raburn in”. Two ground outs did get Raburn in, and the next inning the River led off the inning with a double again.

While Rod and Mario showed the Indians’ bunt defense I said to my wife, “Look at the size of that hole between the shortstop and third base” in the hopes that the Tigers would instead opt to swing away and hopefully find the huge gap in the infield defense. With Casey Blake pulled in to field a bunt and Peralta holding Thames at second, it was a humongous hole and when Infante swung away he hit it right toward Peralta. But the line drive cleared Peralta’s glove by maybe a foot and a half, and Thames scored the tying run easily. That’s the kind of game it was for the Tigers.

That hit, Curtis’ catch and Rodney’s studly ninth inning took the game into the tenth and after Curtis drew a leadoff walk, Raburn was called on to bunt. He watched a pitch he thought was low, but was called for a strike, and you could hear Leyland in the dugout saying, “Just bunt the ball. Goddamn.” Well, once he fouled off the bunt attempt, the bunt was off the table and he was down 0-2. After a couple more fouls and a ball outside, he leanded into an outside pitch and blooped it over the infield for a perfectly placed single that put Granderson on third.

It was certainly better than a bunt and it set Sheffield up nicely for what could be the winning run. Sheffield just abused a high fastball by ripping a line drive into left center; Granderson scored the go-ahead run and Raburn took third. So not only had the Tigers taken the lead, they had a shot at opening it up with Maggs and Guillen coming up. Well, Maggs came up and pounded a Joe Borowski pitch. As soon as you saw Maggs’ reaction, you knew this was a four run game and you felt pretty sure they would again be all alone in first place.

Beautiful game guys, now go out there and get a win for Jair Jurrjens.

–GUEST BLOGGER, Matt

Polly Sets Record; Fans Make Error Turning Game On

Since the Tigers’ 7-2 loss to was so craptacular, I’m going to start with just about the only good news to come out of the game. Placido Polanco broke the record for consecutive games played without an error by a second baseman. It’s not going to get the pub of just about any offensive record somebody could set – Stats, Inc. didn’t even notice at first when Luis Castillo set the record earlier this season – but anytime you do something nobody’s ever done in baseball’s long history it’s pretty cool. Congratulations, Polly, and if Samara were here I’m sure she’d photoshop you as a vacuum cleaner or something more clever to show her appreciation.

The funny thing about this record to me is the fact that I was at the game when he last made an error. It was in Pittsburgh, and we got tickets through a sales guy at my wife’s work who knew we loved the Tigers. It was the Pirates, so I naturally expected a win but the Tigers had one of those complete meltdown innings where they just couldn’t make a play. I think they made about four straight errors – or at least misplayed balls that could have been called errors – and I assume Polanco’s was one of them. I was averting my eyes from the horror, so I may have missed it.

Anyway, on to the current Tigers and this turd of a game they played last night. In retrospect, I think the Tigers might have lost this one in the first inning when Chad Durbin gave up the two run home run to Mark Ellis. Sure, they came right back and tied it up but something must of caused Durbin to start pitching around this lineup and the home run seems like the most likely cause. It sure as hell wasn’t the Athletics’ stats.

There was one guy who cleared a .450 slugging percentage in their lineup last night and going down that same lineup, I think there might have been two, maybe three guys who’d bat higher than seventh if they were in the Tigers’ lineup. Yet, there was Durbin walking four guys in 4 1/3 innings. This was a lineup where he should have just been pumping strikes and seeing what they could do, but too often all they had to do was not swing the bat. As a result, Durbin threw 86 pitches in less than five innings and forced the bullpen to once again throw more than four innings. To borrow from Sam’s running theme, he was decidedly unpimplike.

When he was taken out, we were once again treated to the Jason Grilli show, which now apparently begins with boos every time it airs. I feel bad for Grilli having to listen to the boos – you really shouldn’t boo your own players for anything but a lack of effort – but he’s definitely not helping his cause. When he first came out for Durbin, he did pretty well. Sure, he gave up a two run single, but the hit was a slap up the middle and it would have only scored one run if not for Guillen’s ridiculous throwing error on the previous play. But when he came out the next inning, he gave the kind of performance that will get him booed the next time he takes the mound. He gave up two singles before walking Dan Johnson and Marco Scutaro on eight pitches to bring in a run.

Can we have a rule from now on where if a reliever is pitching in an inning he started – especially if it’s not his first inning – and loads the bases on a walk, he is automatically pulled? I mean as soon as the ump calls ball four he should just start walking off the mound. Because twice in this series a Tiger pitcher walked a guy to load the bases and both times I thought the pitcher who did it was done for the night. I was wrong both times and the results were a grand slam and a bases loaded walk on four pitches.

I shouldn’t give the impression that it was only the pitching and defense that were disappointing, though. The offense sucked plenty as well. I was amazed at the groove they let Chad Gaudin settle into after that first inning. When I saw Maggs hit that two run single and then saw Kurt Suzuki setting up way outside for pitches that ended up coming in on the inside half of the plate, I didn’t even think Gaudin would throw enough innings to be eligible for a win, much less actually get one.

But after that single he didn’t give up another run and when he finally walked off the mound, he had struck out nine batters. He did a particular number on Marcus Thames and Brandon Inge. I love Marcus, but he looked pretty bad both times he struck out on those low and away breaking balls. As for Inge, I am afraid I’m going to snap the next time I see him strikeout on a checked swing.

Oh well, this was obviously just one of those games where they didn’t have it, and let’s hope they were saving it for this upcoming stretch of thirteen games with the Indians and Yankees. I think the importance of the much ballyhooed games is overstated a little when everybody says it will make or break their season, but it is important that they come close to at least splitting the games with these two teams. If they break off some putrid 3-10 stretch, it could throw some dirt on the season but that’s usually true of any thirteen game stretch in late August when you’re in a pennant race.

–GUEST BLOGGER, Matt

Tigers Win and Maggs Kills the A's Again

Please forgive me if there were a lot of subtle goings on after the second inning. Because if there were, I very likely missed them.

For example, Rod Allen commented several times when he was “conversating” with Mario (he used that word twice today) that Nate Robertson just was not getting the calls on that inside corner. I believe it, too, because Dan Dickerson commented on the same thing on the radio. Further evidence was not only Robertson jawing at the ump when he was pulled with two outs in the sixth, but the ump giving it back to him. I guess that’s not really evidence, but both of those points seem like further support to the idea he was getting squeezed.

But I have to take their word for it, because after that eight run second inning I had kicked my fandom into cruise control. Even when I thought to myself, “Hmm, it seems like the ump is missing some calls”, I still couldn’t bring myself to focus enough to verify the hypothesis.

So what was the cause of this lack of focus? It was the eight run inning that both began and ended with Magglio Ordonez home runs. He had one of those achievements you will be unable to avoid hearing about if you flip on ESPN or surf any sports websites or pass a casual fan tomorrow in the office. He led the inning off with a home run the opposite way, just over the wall in right. Then after his teammates made it possible for him to come to the plate with two runners on and a 5-2 lead, he smoked a ball deep into left that would have been a no doubt home run even before they moved in Comerica’s fences.

That was two home runs in one inning, and you knew it wouldn’t be long before the stat guys would have it on the screen the last time such a thing happened. The radio guys were actually quicker than the crew on FSN. I was driving home with lunch when he did it, and they mentioned before I got out of the car that Al Kaline had done it in 1955 and he was the only other Tiger to ever do such a thing. When I got in the house, they were marveling about that same fact a few minutes later.

The second home run put the Tigers up 8-2, and let’s be honest: if your team can’t win after something like that, you really don’t want to be watching all that intently when they blow it. It’s actually a little unsettling that the idea of blowing it even entered my mind, but let’s just hope such fears are just haunting memories that will never be realized again this season. In reality, the A’s never pulled it closer than four runs again and just about every time they scored, the Tigers were able to extend the lead again.

So after the big inning and Maggs’ huge accomplishment, there wasn’t really much to snap me back into focus for the rest of the game. And while that may not be great for this entry, I consider it a very good thing for the Tigers.

Oh, and I’d just like to point out one more thing. I have blogged about the Tigers for one season and two games now. In the one full season, they went to the World Series and this season they have won both games I was responsible for blogging about. I’m not saying it’s me, but there are those who say there’s no such thing as coincidence.

–GUEST BLOGGER, Matt

Tigers Win – Was This the Game?

I wasn’t able to watch, or even listen to, most of the Tiger game yesterday because I was at a wedding reception. However, thanks to the miracle of internet capable cell phones I was able to keep abreast of the score for the first five or six innings and learn that the Tigers’ one run over that span came from another Marcus Thames home run.

We were finally on our way home – not that I didn’t enjoy the reception – and listening to the game on the radio when we were almost immediately treated to a leadoff walk for Gary Sheffield and a two run home run by Maggs that put the Tigers ahead 3-2. There was much rejoicing in our car, and I’m pretty sure if my mom had been driving she would have honked the horn.
Conversation in the car picked up quite a bit after the Maggs homer, so I didn’t hear how the A’s first two runners reached the next inning, but I was pretty horrified when I heard they had done so without Verlander getting an out. This again? This soul-killing ritual of giving us a lead to cheer only to rip it out of our chests and snub it on the ground like a cigarette? (Not that you shouldn’t throw your cigarette butts in a proper receptacle.)

But tonight would be different. Bobby Seay would come in to face the left-handed Jack Cust and would strike him out on four pitches despite none of those pitches cracking 78 mph. Actually, with a batter like Jack Cust that was probably precisely why he struck him out on four pitches. After Seay disposed of Cust, Leyland turned to Aquilino Lopez and when I heard Lopez’s name I was not only surprised he was called up, I was surprised he was pitching in a one run game with one out and runners on first and second. But he got Mark Ellis to fly out to Granderson and struck out Mark Ellis.

That’s when something funny happened. When Lopez got the final out of the seventh, I heard “Alright, now Rodney in the eighth and Jones in the ninth and this one’s done” escape my lips. What was this odd sensation? Confidence in a bullpen? How could this be? Rodney had only been back to throw what, three innings, and Todd Jones was well, Todd Jones. Yet here I was wondering if the Yankees were beating Cleveland so we could climb back within a half game. As misguided and naive as my confidence may have been, it sure felt nice.

What was even better was the fact that it turned out not to be misguided. Sure, the Tigers added two more runs a sac fly by Infante and a triple by Brandon Inge, but Rodney and Jones wouldn’t need them. To start the eighth, Rodney got Mark Kotsay out in front of a changeup and all Kotsay did with it was popup to Infante at second. He then disposed of Donnie Murphy with a 96 mph fastball and made fun of him for having a name that made him sound like a teen idol from 1957. The radio guys just didn’t pick up on that because it was so loud and he did it in Spanish. After he struck out Murphy, he did the same to Mike Piazza on a tipped third strike and I would have loved to have seen him come off the mound after doing so.

Rodney is one of the guys who can bring back some of the swagger the Tigers are said to need so badly. I think the need for more swagger or attitude or whatever may be overstated, but I do love when guys on the team I root for show it. For example, when Rasheed Wallace guaranteed the Pistons would win game six against the Pacers in 2004 and then was shown walking off the court and the cameras captured his taunts to the crowd, “I TOLD Y’ALL! I TOLD Y’ALL, (Very bad words)!”…he won a spot in my heart forever.

Anyway, getting back to the game, the Tigers scored two in the bottom of the eighth and Jones came on to retire the top of the A’s order, 1-2-3. That was the game, and I could almost hear a few million fans thinking to themselves that maybe this was the win that would turn it around. Good starting pitching, great work by the bullpen, timely hitting – that could get them on the right track, couldn’t it? Now I’m not being condescending. I can imagine a few million fans doing that because it’s exactly what I was doing…searching for the reason THIS was the game.

But after thinking about it for a while, I realized there’s only way we’ll know the Tigers we saw before the All Star break are back. It will be when they can get a win without us clutching onto it like it’s the most beautiful thing in the world.

–GUEST BLOGGER, Matt