There were 2 big stories today. The Tigers offense exploded for 12 runs, 4 home runs and 17 hits, in a game that wasn't as close as the score indicated. But before the fireworks on he field, Jim Leyland set off fireworks of his own in the clubhouse in front of the assembled media. The Marlboro Man felt he needed to respond to a very unflattering story about the Tigers in the USA Today.
For lack of a better word, Leyland went OFF on the players quoted in the article.
Here's Leyland on Carlos Guillen's claim the high expectations weren't fair:
"It isn't fair all of a sudden for people to have expectations?" Leyland asked. "Well, why wasn't it fair? What are you talking about, it wasn't fair? You're supposed to love the expectations. You're saying it wasn't fair to have expectations? What are you talking about? I'm a grown man. I can take my heat, and I deserve some for the performance of this club. But you better be careful when you're a player. If you're hitting .200 and .220 and striking out or hitting .200 and .215, you shouldn't be popping off, in my opinion, about other situations. You ought to be taking care of your own business. "If they want to play games, I'll play games, and it won't be long [before] I'll put names to it, if they want me to. I'm not quite to that point yet. They want to play games, I'll play games. I'll quit protecting some of these guys night after night after night after night. And I'll put some names to it.
Leyland on calling out players by name (Feel free to add the appropriate profanity):
"I don't give a [care] what [effect] it has," he said. "When people start making weak excuses in the newspaper, diversionary tactics and [stuff], that rubs me wrong. I don't give a [care] what effect it has. It can't have a bad effect, because we've been as [bad] as you can be. So it can't hurt. I'm not looking for problems here, but I'm a man. I look in the mirror. When I'm [bad], I'm [bad]. And there's a few [players] in that clubhouse right now that are [bad] too. And they need to look in that mirror. Don't look at mine, look at theirs. And don't look at the guy next to them. Look in the mirror yourself. Don't be pointing fingers over here and why we're not doing well. That's all weak [stuff]. Grilli's [stuff], some of that other [stuff] I read in the paper today, that's weak [stuff]. Weak."
Leyland on Jason Grilli, who was quoted saying the Tigers clubhouse "atmosphere was stale and stagnant" (Again, profanity was sprinkled throughout):
"Grilli should worry about Colorado. I mean, if Jason Grilli had done a better job, he'd still be here. I don't want to hear any weak [stuff] from Jason Grilli. But that's not any concern of mine now either, because he belongs to somebody else. My concern is the guys out there that are talking weak [stuff]. And they'll know about it today."
If I were Jason Grilli, I would keep my distance from Jim Leyland. Good thing he's in the NL.
Leyland on a closed door meeting held after batting practice:
"Look in the mirror," Leyland continued. "Look at the numbers. And you're worried about the clubhouse? Take care of the clubhouse then. You want me to run out there like a schoolteacher every two minutes, make sure the clubhouse is good? These guys are grown men. That's weak [stuff]."
Jim Leyland has finally made it known, loud and clear. In the words of Howard Beale, "I'M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE"
He will not tolerate dissension in the clubhouse. He will not accept excuses for poor play. He will not tolerate the players going to media to voice their issues. He will call out those not on the same page. He believes "chemistry" is BS, just win games and the chemistry will take care of itself.
And most importantly, Jim Leyland will not NOT take any "weak s*** from Jason Grilli!"
As for the game itself, the Tigers bats broke out, and broke out big against Carlos Silva and 3 Mariners relievers. They were lead by Edgar Rentera, who was 4-4, with a home run and 5 RBI. Also breaking out of a long slump was Curtis Granderson, with 2 hits, 1 home run and 3 RBI.
Justin Verlander had his best game in a month, winning his 2nd game of the season. He pitched 6 very strong innings, striking out 6, allowing only a 1st inning HR to Adrian Beltre. After being jolted by Beltre's going yard, Verlander was lights out. It was a sight for sore eyes, to say the very least.
As for the bullpen? Well...
Aquilino Lopez, Clay Rapada, and Francisco Cruceta combined to make what was a blowout into a semblance of a game. The trio allowed 7 runs, 6 earned, 7 hits and 3 base on balls in 2 1/3 innings. Not a good night for a pen which had been pretty damn dependable as of late. (Admittedly, they were hampered by very sloppy 9th inning outfield defense)
The only effective reliever was Todd Jones. He unexpectedly needed to nail down the final 2 outs of the 9th inning, in what had suddenly turned into a save situation. Jones got Miguel Cairo to round into a game ending double play, and all was well in Tigerdom...at last for one night.
One of other item of note. Gary Sheffield continues to struggle mightily. Batting an inexplicable 3rd in the order, his 0-5 night dropped his average to .180. That's not a typo, folks. Sheffield is hitting .180.
Something needs to be done, as it isn't funny anymore. Sheffield is not only hurting the Tigers, it's sad to watch a hall of fame talent look so feeble.
Roll call: It was a busy game thread thanks to both the Tigers and Pistons playing simultaneously.
By the way, the Tigers are 2-1 since Ian left ByB to walk th earth. As I said, I'm keeping track...