|Final - 6.5.2012||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||R||H||E|
|WP: Ubaldo Jimenez (6 - 4)
SV: Chris Perez (18)
LP: Drew Smyly (2 - 2)
Prince Fielder's reaction said it all. Sitting in the dugout as Indians shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera ripped the momentum from the Tigers' hands with a terrific play in the ninth inning, all Fielder could do was toss a half-empty bag of sunflower seeds over his shoulder. Seeds tumbled out of the bag and down to the clubhouse bench. Fielder seemed resigned at that point: Just when, exactly, will the Tigers catch a couple breaks?
The late innings used to be fun. If Detroit led, it held the lead. The final three innings were near-lock for the Tigers in 2011. Now, the final three innings offer nothing more than the opportunity to blow a lead. Rallying against an opponent seems like an impossibility for the team now.
But Detroit had to rally. It always has to rally. Facing Ubaldo Jimenez, a pitcher who struggled hard not to walk batters in earlier games, they played right into his hands. He didn't even have to throw strikes. They did the rest. After a 20-pitch first, Jimenez made it through the second on 12 pitches the third on 11, the fourth on just six.
The Tigers scored a run in the first after Quintin Berry was hit by a pitch and stole second. Just one out into the inning, the Tigers' third batter, Miguel Cabrera, drove him in. Detroit did not score again until there were two outs in the ninth. In the middle innings, Jimenez got 11 consecutive Tigers out at the plate.
It's hard to say what the Tigers batters are even thinking. It would be easy to pigeonhole them into being no-patience batters. But the Detroiters swung at the first pitch just three times. Two of those were outs, one a foul. Thirteen times Tigers batters took the first pitch and fell behind 0-1 in the count. They had four hits (and a hit by pitch). Ten times they got ahead in the count with two balls and no strikes. They went 0-for-9 with a walk after reaching that point. Across the American League, batters are batting .283 with an OPS of 1.002 after getting ahead 2-0. Detroit couldn't buy a hit. Fall behind, get hits. Get ahead, make outs. It simply does not compute.
Meanwhile Cleveland kept hitting triples, sometimes aided by the poor fielding tendencies of Tigers outfielders.
It doesn't take a genius to figure out which of these clubs is higher in the standings. But it might take one to figure out why a team that was supposed to knock the cover off the ball has completely fallen on its face.
Like Fielder, I've got nothin'.
Hate that we have to add this, but we have to add this. Alex Avila left the game with tightness in his hamstring. Gerald Laird hobbled around the bases in the ninth, appearing to have tightness in his hamstring, too. In Toledo, Ryan Raburn left the game with tightness ... well, behind the knee, according to Toledo beat writer John Wagner. So that's different anyway. But apparently Austin Jackson and Doug Fister are making some improvements, I guess.
Miguel Cabrera - 2 hits, RBI
Duane Below - 2 perfect innings of relief
Brayan Villarreal - 1 hit allowed in ninth
Matt Young - 0-for-4, 4 strikeouts, bad Tigers debut
Brennan Boesch - 0-for-3, questionable fielding
Drew Smyly - 4 runs allowed on 6 hits and 2 walks. Not entirely his fault. But he paid for it.
MAGGLIO DAY PLAYER OF THE GAME
Magglio. But three cheers for the singing hot dog guy!