By: Eric Thomas
The loss against the A’s on early Thursday morning was difficult to swallow for many reasons. It was a great game, with a masterful performance from Anibal Sanchez against one of the best teams in baseball. The Tigers led until the very end when veteran closer Joe Nathan entered in the bottom of the ninth and promptly gave up a three run bomb to blow the save. There was a lot of finger pointing after the game, and it should give us all a lot of pause. The biggest question mark remains: is Brad Ausmus’ inexperience as a manager showing?
It’s easy to hate Joe Nathan’s comments following his walk-off home run against the A’s. ““The big out there was getting Jaso,” Nathan told reporters after the game. “When, I guess,” he looked around, “WE didn’t get Jaso, it puts you in a tough spot.”
He’s referring to Nick Castellanos, who should have caught a line drive off Jaso’s bat in the bottom of the ninth. Some on Twitter and TV thought that if Castellanos caught the ball, it could have been a game ending double play. It’s unlikely. Even if he made the catch, there was no one in the vicinity of second base to get Coco Crisp. Nathan would have faced Donaldson regardless. It’s also worth noting that Castellanos was NOT charged an error on the play.
The headline is that a 38 year old veteran tossed a 22 year old player under the bus in his comments to reporters. You can kind of understand where he’s coming from. It’s got to sting when you follow an unmitigated gem by Anibal Sanchez by stinking up the joint. Might as well beat up on the new guy, I guess.
Pitching is the most isolated position in any team sport. You stand on an elevated platform alone smack in the middle of a stadium. It must mess with your head when things don’t go well. Pitchers who blow it spend their post-game comments stammering with eyes as big as dinner plates.
Nathan’s post-game comments were no different, as he distributed blame via blunderbuss. When he was asked by reporters about the decision to pull Anibal Sanchez, he said, “That’s also one of those spots where you want a starter to get it done because of how well threw the ball.” Could that be read as criticism for Brad Ausmus? Courtroom murmurs.
The skipper himself seemed to join in the Castellanos blanket party, when he said, ““Maybe if Nick catches that ball, it’s a different inning.”
Is that really necessary? You’re going to point the finger at a 22 year old kid when one of the best closers ever is on the mound? Didn’t the Tigers sign Nathan to get tough outs?
May came in like a lion but is headed out like a hobo dragging himself through broken glass after a case of Thunderbird. I imagine the Tigers will feel better to see the back of it. You can forgive Nathan’s finger pointing after the game, he threw the pitch to Donaldson that still hasn’t landed, but Ausmus should know better. He needs to consider the psyche of his ultra-talented but still struggling young third baseman.
The Tigers and Ausmus have bumbled their way through the end of May, erasing nearly all of the collected good will from the previous weeks. Will they put it back together again? We’re still waiting.