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They'll Never Score 1,000 Runs This Way: Royals 4, Tigers 0

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Wait a minute. Was this supposed to happen? 0 and 2? Yes, it's only two games. No panic in Detroit. That would be silly. But it is, shall we say, a bit of a concern that this Superfriends lineup hasn't really flexed its muscles yet.

A big reason for that is surely the two pitchers the Tigers have faced in these firest two games.. Gil Meche and Brian Bannister are going to make a lot of batting orders look bad this year and should keep the Royals competitive throughout the season. But could today's game been the first example of what Don Mattingly warned Jim Leyland about in the offseason?

With so many gifted hitters, Leyland recalls Mattingly explaining, can come a tendency from players to believe that if they don't drive in the run or reach base to put someone in position to score them, the star hitter behind them will do it.

Maybe that's exactly what we saw today. As the game wore on, with that zero still on the scoreboard, each hitter in the lineup began to press. Who's going to get on base? Who's going to get a hit? And the Royals' pitching staff capitalized on that anxiety.

Other Players Are Allowed to Get Hits, Too:

The box score from today's game might make you want to rub your eyes before taking another look at it. But you didn't see things. Only one Tigers batter got a hit today. All three hits were by leadoff batter Edgar Renteria. Everyone else had a donut in the hit column today. Renteria got on base like you'd prefer your leadoff hitter to do (though like all of the Tigers' hitters, he didn't work Bannister nearly hard enough), setting the table for the lineup's big bats, but no one could move him along, let alone drive him in.

Feel Free to Take a Pitch, Fellas:

Rod Allen said during the FSN Detroit broadcast that both teams were swinging like it was getaway day. Maybe both lineups knew each pitcher likes to work fast and throw strikes (hat tip to Billfer) right away, so they had to jump on the hittable stuff early in the count. But the Royals eventually settled down after the first three innings, while the Tigers stayed aggressive impulsive. Bannister threw just 85 pitches in seven innings and didn't walk anyone.

Who Has What Role in the Bullpen?

Leyland's use of his relievers in the first two games has me kind of baffled. In Monday's opener, he brings in Jason Grilli - the presumed "long man" of the bullpen - into a tied ballgame with runners on first and third. If Zach Miner or Denny Bautista are your set-up guys, why not bring one of them in? Isn't that why you have them in those roles? (Especially Bautista, who seems to be the one guy with swing-and-miss stuff.)

Then today, with the Tigers down 2-0 in the 7th, Leyland brings in Miner. Well, you say, he brought in his best guy to try and make sure the Royals didn't score any more runs. Okay, I agree with that. Plus, Miner needed to get some work in. But why leave him in for two innings? Did Leyland figure Miner was pitching well (he only threw nine pitches in the 7th) and wanted him to face the top hitters in the Royals' lineup?

I'm completely speculating here, and shouldn't really pretend that I understand how a pitcher's mind works, but it seems to me that if you tell Miner during Spring Training that he's going to be a one-inning set-up man and train him for that expressed role, that's exactly what he's conditioned himself to do. So if Miner figures he's done his job in his one inning of work, and then you ask him to go back out there the next inning, maybe that messes him up a bit. Anyone else have thoughts on the matter? Do I have any idea what I'm talking about?