The Tiger looks about ready to settle down for a long winter’s nap.
Still, there is a game today, and for the sellout crowd who shelled out for tickets, I hope the Tigers don’t go quietly into that nap. Hey, look, there are fans of 22 teams out there who only wish they could watch their teams play today. And the Tigers are actually in a better position, if you can imagine, than the two teams who most experts picked to meet in the World Series, the Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Angels, who were both swept in two games at home. Only a late-inning Dodger home run has kept the 2014 ALDS round from having the look of a sweepapalooza.
It’s pointless to give a Game 2 re-crap now, since we’ve all been through it too many times–though that hasn’t stopped Captain Obvious and all his lieutenants in the national media from providing expert opinions which could be summarized as: the Tigers have bullpen problems. Who knew? Although to be fair, the numbers for the consecutive 8th-inning blowups are literally amazing.
Perhaps the most frustrating part of the game, while it was happening, was listening to the TBS announcers more or less call everything in advance. You’ve got to bring Sanchez back out, you can’t go back to what you did yesterday (here comes Chamberlain). The Orioles have 3 outfielders with strong arms, you have to be careful about trying to run on them (there goes Cabrera). Be careful here, you know Delmon Young is going to be going after the first pitch (here comes hanging slider up over the middle of the plate). The Tigers have a very weak bench (Carrera goes stumbling around center; the Tigers end the game with nobody better to send to the plate than Perez-Romine-Suarez).Perhaps must frustrating of all was the repeated line “the Tigers need to play this like it’s an elimination game.” Brad Ausmus managed the game like it was a mid-season game against the White Sox, “saving” his pitchers when their pitch counts got high, using his “8th-inning guys” because, well, it was the 8th inning, etc.
I think a lot of us, perhaps unfairly, looked forward to the change to the Ausmus regime, thinking we’d get some different approaches, some creativity, some life outside the standard operating procedures. No such luck. I said “perhaps unfairly” because it’s only his first year on the job, at any level. Also–and I think this point is overlooked–he inherited half the coaching staff from the Leyland regime, pitching coach Jeff Jones and bench coach Gene Lamont. If Ausmus is back next season (I would be surprised if he isn’t), I would feel much better if he said OK this is MY staff now and replaced Lamont and Jones, and figured out what the Brad Ausmus way of managing really is.
I know some of us frustrated fans have said we might as well lose today and get it over with. I get the frustration, and there is nothing more wearying than waiting for the inevitable bullpen collapse: you can’t even enjoy being in the lead by 3 runs. Not me though, I’ll be rooting all the way. I think the best chance we have would be for David “Complete Game” Price to show up. And for the bats to not go into hiding like some overly-shy clan of wooden leprechauns. But if we do have to lose this afternoon, the rascal in me would prefer it goes down like this: Price takes a lead into the 8th, Ausmus pulls him out, Chamberlain comes in…. Might as well make some heads explode on our way out.
Today’s Donkey-Time Lineup:
- Kinsler, 2B
- Hunter, RF
- Cabrera, 1B
- V Martinez, DH
- JD Martinez, LF
- Avila, C
- Castellanos, 3B
- Romine, SS
- Kelly, CF
Forgotten Man: Holaday