Jim Leyland has his 1,500th victory along with a bunch of cigars and some champagne (somehow the idea of Ol’ Smokey sipping from a flute of Dom just doesn’t resonate with me), and the Tigers have now climbed back up to the nor-winning-nor-losing mark (7- 7). Next step: winning! (insert Charlie Sheen picture).
This is the plasticine game of the series, the Tigers having taken the first 2. It is also the first game of the series which has the Tigers as the favorites, mostly because of the ace-ly presence of Justin Verlander on the mound. Today also features an odd 6:00 pm PST start time, warm temperatures, and a stiff wind, so some non-Miggy balls may actually have a chance of clearing the park. Not to fear though, since the warmer weather favors the pitcher with a fastball, and Justin sure has one (yes, I’m going to keep riding the weather horse until it bucks me).
One of the advantages of watching the Tigers in an opponent’s park (besides the fact that visitor-side tickets are easier to get) is the perspective you get from talking with / listening to the opposing team’s fans. A’s fans were blasting Bob Geren last night: the team is undisciplined, awful fundamentals (OK, is that really his fault?), bad bullpen management (they may have something there).
And the fans next to me all agreed: the A’s could really go somewhere if only they had a manager like Jim Leyland. We were sitting in front of the bullpen, and they were all commenting on the difference between the A’s bullpen and the Tigers’–not the pitchers, but how it was managed. “You guys are flat out professional” one commented. “It’s all planned out.”
Player of the Pre-game: Jim Leyland
OK, he isn’t actually a player. But let’s celebrate his 1,500th, and be thankful he is not…Bob Geren. Leyland’s lineup was heartily criticized on this very blog. And yet almost all of his substitutions contributed to the victory: even Donkey Don Kelly doubled. And his pitching moves were right on. So following that Smokey momentum, I will predict that Jackson and Ordonez spark the lineup tonight, with a timely contribution from Santiago.
Today’s Return-of-Magglio lineup: