Detroit Tigers, 73-65, 2nd place, 2 back.
My own game post pictures now haunt me. I decided on a new set of pictures for this important road trip: serious, determined faces. Now instead they look tense, stressed.
Jim Leyland has said that he doesn’t believe in team chemistry; it may also be that team chemistry does not believe in him.
He has become increasingly frustrated in recent days, even lashing out at fans who question his lineup. The fact that Leyland is losing his cool with the criticism, and publicly, may be reflecting–or setting–the tone for the team as the pennant race winds down.
Justin Verlander wasn’t himself, for the second time in three starts. Austin Jackson, after resisting all season long, decided to try on the floppy shoes in centerfield. And Miguel Cabrera, after a 3-strikeout night (and after watching his chances of beating out Trout for the MVP plummet), had a meltdown on a seemingly correct strike call. Cabrera is frustrated.
There were a couple of good things about the game: Putkonen is quietly putting together a decent season; Infante seems to be coming out of his slump; Garcia plays with a hustle and enthusiasm that the team could really use. And Prince Fielder stepped in to try to keep Cabrera from being tossed: he scooted all the way from the on-deck circle, and put himself in between Cabrera and the umpire, retreating when Leyland made it out to take up the argument.
In fact Fielder has been a real bright spot, despite some mildly disappointing power numbers: he gets on base, he plays hard, he runs hard, he gets runners home from 3rd, he is very aware, and he just may be starting to take more of a leadership role with the team.
The Tigers could certainly use it. I have a feeling the Tigers are missing the leadership of Victor Martinez, and yes, even Inge. The look on Leyland’s face as last night’s travesty was unfolding seemed to say he’s done all he can do.
Maybe the talented Ryan Raburn will turn it around.
It is an old truism that every teams starts the season with the goal of playing meaningful games in September, and the Tigers have accomplished that. The weight of expectations may be getting to the team though; it certainly has gotten to the fans. The four games in Chicago will determine whether the rest of the month is exciting, or whether September becomes a very, very long month.
Stat of the Day: The Tigers have yet to win a game in which they have been outscored by the opposition.
Today’s Player of the Pre-game: Prince Fielder. Forget the statistics; this team right now needs a leader, and Fielder is going to have to be The Man.
Todays Anibalic Lineup: