Tigers In Mid-Season Form
By: Eric Thomas
Last week was so much more fun. The Tigers swept the Yankees, the questions about the team’s rust was only theoretical and people were picking the Tigers to win the fall classic for the first time since 1984. Not so much now. The Tigers are down 0-2 and everyone paid to comment must mine the archives for the last instance where a team has been so lousy in the World Series.
Feel free to blame Gene Lamont if it makes you feel better. Belly aching about the coaching staff is fine fertile ground for Tiger fans to relax. But it’s not their fault. It’s the total lack of offense. They haven’t held a lead in 18 innings. Madison Bumgarner, a pitcher so putrid that he gave up 10 runs in his last 8 innings, now joins the ranks of Roger Clemens and Tom Glavine, and was only two hits shy of a Don Larsen-esque performance. All this from a pitcher who throws an 86 mph fastball, and was widely hoped to “only” surrender two runs before they could go get Tim Lincecum. Freak just watched the game.
Two hits. That hasn’t been done since 1999, when the Braves got two hits off El Duque and Mariano Rivera. Two hits is historically bad, and with that payroll it’s completely unacceptable. For fans that just tuned in for the fall classic, this is why they drove us so crazy most of the year.
Doug Fister should ask for a trade. The poor guy left a pint of blood on the diamond only to get no run support again. Fister pitched an absolute gem, silencing the white hot bats from only 24 hours ago. Could the Tigers get three lousy runs in support of such a performances, against a pitcher that was nearly run out of town a few weeks ago? Of course not. The dude actually took a line drive to the head and shook it off to keep it scoreless. Of course, he wasn’t the story because he lost, which is a shame. Doug Fister only solidified his place as one of the most underrated pitchers in baseball, and one of the most unlucky. He was undervalued with the Mariners because his lack of run support and his team laid a Pterodactyl egg for him in the World Series.
There was some predictable shrieking last night. I took a couple of calls that blamed the coaching staff. There is nothing they can do. If you are freaking out about Leyland playing the infield at double play depth, that’s a loser’s argument. If you want to win the game, you got to score runs. Giving up one run with the bases loaded and no outs is a victory.
Nothing else matters until this team starts hitting. The Tigers were loudly laughed at by the national media, Curt Schilling chief among them, for how baffled they were by Bumgarner. The pitches were hittable and left over the plate, and the Tigers could do nothing with it. Even worse was how the Tigers swung at seemingly every garbage pitch that was well out of the strike zone, which was the problem that was fixed toward the end of the season. Now it’s back, just in time for the World Series. Great.
It doesn’t matter what game you play. If you don’t score, you don’t win. The Tigers now need to dig out of a deep hole. There is only one silver lining in this cloud full of rain, the fans and media are giving up on them. For whatever reason, that’s when they start winning. Let’s hope that this abandonment works.