Jeff Riger: Inge And Ordonez Defy All Odds!
In what could have been the best sports weekend of my adult life, I think it’s very important that the Tigers don’t get lost in the mix. The team has won 9 in a row, they have a magic number of 7 and to the amazement of all they are 23 and 9 since Jim Leyland and Dave Dombrowski were given extensions and 35 and 19 in the second half of the season. I guess what I am trying to say with the above couple sentences are that this team does NOT lose anymore!
Also look around baseball, the once “Unbeatables” of the game like the Red Sox and Yankees now look very ordinary and are not as scary as they were just a couple of weeks ago. Boston is 2 and 8 in their last 10 and all of a sudden have no pitching. Jon Lester got smacked around yesterday, while John Lacky is awful and Eric Bedard along with Clay Buchholz and Josh Beckett are hurt. Over the course of the weekend the Rays swept Boston and now trail them by just 3 and a half games for the wild card spot, so who knows if Red Sox nation even gets to play in the postseason?
As for Detroit, they have a better record than the Rangers who lead the West and are just four wins behind New York for the best record in the American League. So what does all this mean? Easy, the Tigers are going to open up the playoffs at Comerica park and maybe the ALCS too if they make it that far. But I seem to be getting away from the point of this blog, it’s easy to get carried away with all the good things that this team is achieving right now but I wanted to focus on a couple of guys that are surprisingly helping.
Magglio Ordonez and Brandon Inge are somehow still contributing for this team and I think it’s awesome! I know Maggs and Inge’eee are possibly the two most hated Tigers in the last decade even though Brandon has been here forever and Magglio is responsible for sending Detroit to the World Series in 2006 and winning a batting title in 2007. It was over for these two guys! Inge was designated for assignment July 20th and even though people knew he would be brought back up in September, nobody could have thought that he would actually play again on a consistent basis. And Magglio, who still no matter what had a spot on the team was told he, would not play very often the rest of the way because of the addition of Delmon Young.
But look at them now! Inge hit a walk off home run Saturday night in the bottom of the 9th to beat the Twins 3-2 while Ordonez is hitting .346 in his last 14 games. There is no doubt that both these guys will be on the team’s playoff roster come late September and there is a good chance that both guys will be starting in game one of the ALDS on Friday, September 30th.
Of course both veterans have been helped in order to make their comeback happen. When the team acquired Wilson Betemit to play third base he did not play every day and did not provide consistent defense. Plus he could not hit left handed pitching and it seemed like Don Kelly was playing 3rd more than Betemit. So with Inge having success in Toledo it seemed like a no brainer to bring back a guy that the team was already paying 5 and a half million dollars a season to. As for Magglio, who knew that Brennan Boesch was going to have to miss the remainder of the season after having thumb surgery which opened up the door for the longtime Tiger to step right back in and play right field and hit in that 2 spot for Jim Leyland.
Where else does this happen? What other team essentially throws away a couple of guys and less than two months later end up counting on them to win a World Series? But it doesn’t matter; Maggs and Inge are here to stay at least for the remainder of 2011. But are you happy about it? I was walking around the stands at Comerica Park yesterday and after an Inge single, I heard a guy yell out “nice rip, but you still suck!” I remember doing a radio show when Inge was called back up and even though he was a number 9 hitter and was only slated to play against left handed pitching and be a defensive replacement, people were furious. But how do fans feel now? You tell me!