Game 54: Tigers at Indians
PREGAME: The Tigers are looking for some way, some how to get their first W against the Tribe. Tonight it will be a rematch of Mike Maroth and Fausto Carmona.
Maroth was touched for a 4 run first inning, but then only allowed 6 more baserunners and managed to stick around for 8 innings.
Against Carmona the Tigers picked up 11 baserunners but could only push across 3 runs.
Game Time 7:05pm
POSTGAME: So it only took 24 hours to find a new most frustrating game. On a night when a third of your lineup is occupied by bench players, and your offense musters 11 runs against a good pitching staff, and you have a 4 run lead in the 9th, a loss is simply inexcusable. There’s that old axiom of “win and lose as a team” but that simply doesn’t hold true tonight. You can pin this one on two people.
First of all Todd Jones. Jones was awful and there is no getting around it. I’m not upset about the first run in the 8th inning. That was a scratch hit and the second run came on an error. But the 9th inning was despicable. At the same time, he was put in a position to fail and I have to place as much blame on the shoulders of Jim Leyland.
It was easy to see that Jones didn’t have it. He was walking guys which is the first red flag. With a low K-rate, Jones relies on his fielders making plays. He can’t afford the luxury of free passes. And yet Jim Leyland repeatedly refused to make a move. After the Martinez homer, the first long ball Jones had allowed on the season, it was time for someone to get up immediately. A conference at the mound would have been a nice stall tactic. Then after the Jhonny Perralta double another arm would have been warm enough to come in.
Instead Jones stayed in and managed to retire Ryan Garko, running his pitch count up to 36 in the process. Eric Wedge had already brought in his pinch hitters, so a lefty-lefty match-up was certainly in order. Instead the decision was inexplicably made to put the go ahead runner on base, and leave your closer who had already thrown 40 pitches in the game.
And when Jones failed to retire the right handed Josh Barfield and the game was tied, Leyland still stuck with Jones. Now 2 batters ago, Leyland thought that Jones wasn’t well suited to pitch to lefty Trot Nixon. Yet now with the game tied and a runner on 3rd Jones should be able to retire lefty Dave Dellucci? Of course Dellucci ended with a line drive up the middle.
Leyland should have lifted Jones after the Perralta double. He should have lifted him and brought in Bobby Seay who was warm to face Trot Nixon instead of walking him. And he should have lifted Jones and brought in Seay to face Dellucci after the Barfield single. He had ample opportunities to do something, and he didn’t make a move.
If you’ve read this blog for awhile, you know that I hate to assign losses to managers. Most of the time I can at least understand decisions even if I don’t agree with them. And there is no guaranteeing the result regardless. However tonight Leyland blew this game as much, if not more, than Jones did. I don’t know how Seay would have fared, but it would have given the team a better chance to win. I waited to write this until after the post game presser, but the portion shown on FSN involved no questions as to why Jones was allowed to completely give that game away.
I’ve often disagreed with Leyland’s tactical decisions. But even though I can’t quantify it, I felt that his greatest strength last year was in managing the clubhouse and getting guys to believe. I just wonder how he addresses a team tomorrow that scored 11 runs only to not have it be enough, or a closer who he hung out to dry.