Omar Infante Does Not Sleep. He Waits:
I've always felt kind of bad for Omar Infante because it seems like the poor guy can't catch a break. Two years ago, he lost the second base job to Placido Polanco, and last year, he lost the stand-in position to Neifi Perez. Infante probably had to go to another team to show what he could do as a full-time middle infielder.
Until that happens, however, he seems to be ideally suited for the utility role Jim Leyland has him playing. And after watching Infante smack baseballs all over Comerica Park last night, I think I've figured out why the Tigers manager won't give him a full-time role.
Leyland keeps Infante on the bench to keep the rest of the American League safe. He has to be contained on some level, lest he explode and jeopardize the well-being of everyone on the field and in the stands. Look at what he did in his first three at-bats: double, triple, single, and four RBI.
Maybe it seemed cold to bench Infante in the 7th inning for Curtis Granderson when he had a chance to hit for the cycle. But really, who knows what he might have done with his bat had he been allowed to bat for a fourth time? There were women and children in the stands. Leyland had to consider their safety. Better to put the beast back into his cage and let him rest until the next time he has to strike.
#8 and 9 in the Batting Order; #1 in Our Hearts:
If I took the time to look (and I'll try to later today), I'm sure plenty of other teams get decent production out of their eighth and ninth spots in the batting order. But how many teams are capable of having those guys carry the lineup for a night? The Tigers got five hits and seven RBI - which was almost enough to win the game - from the bottom of the order. If Horacio Ramirez figured he could take a little rest after getting through the big guns in the lineup, Infante and Brandon Inge smacked him back to reality fast. When the Tigers' bats are smoking like they are right now, there is no break.
7th Inning, 7 Pitches:
For one night, at least, the Tigers' bullpen looked fine without Joel Zumaya. (Okay, Fernando Rodney was shaky in the 8th, but he had a four-run cushion to work with.) But Bobby Seay has seized that left-handed reliever job and doesn't look like he intends to give it up. Seattle had two lefty bats come up in the 7th (Jose Vidro switched over to the right side), and Seay needed only seven pitches to take care of the Mariners' top of the order.
Billfer has more on Seay, comparing his stats to another left-handed reliever that Tigers fans remember rather affectionately.
Love of the Glove:
How often do you get to say this? Magglio Ordonez saved the game with an incredible catch. Seattle looked like it was mounting a comeback against Todd Jones, but Ordonez's sliding, stretching catch of Richie Sexson's line drive to right field ended that with an exclamation point. Would he have made that catch last year? Probably not.
And that's not to say that Craig Monroe's diving catch of Vidro's pop-up to left field wasn't equally - if not more - impressive. I don't think we've seen him make too many of those plays, either. But did you expect to see that from Maggs?