|Final - 4.19.2012||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||R|
The Tigers really have run into a wall when it comes to scoring runs. After the first three games confirmed what we all thought we already knew about the team, pretty much everything since has served to egg on our lingering fears. It was more of the same Thursday night against the Rangers.
You can put forth any number of theories on this. April is cooler. Pitchers are ahead of hitters. Prince Fielder is adjusting to a new team, a new league. Miguel Cabrera was hurt, is adjusting to a new position, just had bad baseball luck strike him. Austin Jackson isn't setting the table. Delmon Young is mucking up the middle of the order. Any number of yahoos make the bottom of the order ugly. Maybe you just have to credit good pitching. Insert your own theory here.
I think it's some combination of everything. I have no magic answers for you. All I know are the cold, hard, ugly stats. Austin Jackson hit a leadoff home run April 16 against the Royals. He hasn't gotten a hit since and has walked just once while striking out six times in 14 at bats. Brennan Boesch has one extra-base hit this year. He has five games without a hit in 12 games started. Miguel Cabrera hasn't had an extra-base hit since April 10, the fourth game of the year. He hasn't hit a home run since facing the Red Sox on April 8. Fielder had a two home run day April 7. He's had two doubles in the 11 games since. Hard to win games when your top four hitters are coming u short like that -- yet somehow the Tigers came into Thursday's game with a 9-3 record.
The hope was that the Tigers could take advantage of Yu Darvish. He started slow in his major league debut and ran up his pitch count. On the second count, they did OK. He didn't make it out of the seventh (though he did make it INTO the seventh, I guess.) On the former count, they had issues. The only run off Darvish came in the fourth when Don Kelly grounded out to score Fielder. Darvish may not have been completely overpowering. Detroit even worked him for five walks. But he appeared to keep the Tigers from finding any rhythm and escaped relatively unscathed.
Tigers pitchers did their part to keep it close -- until the eighth inning, anyway. That was commendable in the face of a lineup as good as Texas'. The Rangers aren't the defending American League champions for nothing -- and their lineup looks every bit as strong this year as last. There are really no breaks for pitchers. That Detroit trailed 3-1 after five seems incomprehensible after the way the Rangers hit the ball off Tigers starter Adam Wilk.
It's lovely that Fielder and Cabrera continue getting hits -- and even that Boesch has a few multi-hit games. But those guys are supposed to be Detroit's mashers. They haven't been doing that well enough so far, and the runs scored column reflects it both for the season and in most individual games.
In the end, the Rangers were hitting like they're supposed to. The Tigers weren't. It's as simple as that.
Don Kelly - Clear No. 1 star with his 3 RBI game
Duane Below - shortened the game substantially by not stinking
Prince Fielder - scored two runs
Austin Jackson - hitless streak continues, plus 2 strikeouts
Delmon Young - baserunning blunder
Daniel Schlereth - 5 runs, stinks
GAME 12 PLAYER OF THE GAME
Prince Fielder won 69% of the vote for Wednesday's performance. I will continue nominating Gerald Laird (when he plays) until he wins.