In my opinion these are the hardest losses to swallow. On a night when the team had to have been tired they really did battle. They fought against a closer with an electric arm and tied up a game in the 9th. But then there was a failure. A failure of execution and of strategy. A game where it seems like the manager let his team down.
I wish that Fox Sports Detroit did a post game with Jim Leyland because I’d love to know the thinking in walking Ryan Garko to get to Nelson Cruz. I don’t always agree with Leyland’s decision making process, but I can usually see his side. In this case I don’t really see another side at all. I’m dumbfounded. Given the effort his team gave him in the top of the 9th, they deserved better.
Perhaps I’m making too much of the IBB. The win expectancy only went down 1% for the Tigers. It was actually the smallest WE event of the inning.
Of course Leyland wasn’t the one who walked Justin Smoak, or Nelson Cruz for that matter. Fu-Te Ni’s control has been poor this season (8 walks and 2 HBP in 6 innings). Ryan Perry has to make a better pitch with 2 strikes to Elvis Andrus. If Perry comes in and doesn’t get Garko out, I don’t have a beef with the manager. In this case though it seems like Leyland walked right into what Ron Washington wanted.
The downside is that I spent 3 paragraphs lamenting negative instead of talking about the top of the 9th inning, which was terrific. The at-bats were all solid. Don Kelly fanned but it took 7 pitches. Ramon Santiago had a 13 pitch at-bat that resulted in an out but had to certainly wear on Neftali Feliz. Austin Jackson was determined to not strike out for a 4th time and put the first pitch in play, and Johnny Damon fought off a couple pitches before getting a bloop hit. And of course Magglio Ordonez with the line drive to right to tie the game. Great stuff that should be remembered.
And we haven’t even mentioned Brennan Boesch’s debut which saw him hit a double and a single (and later make a baserunning mistake). We haven’t mentioned Max Scherzer who went 7 innings and fanned 7 in a quality start. There was quite a bit of good in this game, and the players deserved the same from their manager.