After what Tigers fans went through last season with their team, feeling sorry for another team and fanbase really isn't an option. Especially when this year's team finds itself in a tight division race and every win is important. But I almost - almost - feel sorry for the Oakland A's and their fans, because today's game had to hurt. To go from what looked like a relatively sure win, building a comfortable 5-0 lead in the first inning, to watching it collapse just two innings later is soul-crushing. Trust us, A's fans, we know. The memories and pain still linger.
But enough sympathy. Let's relish this one. Because when the Detroit Tigers fell behind by five runs last season, they didn't come back. You could see in their demeanor and their (lack of) effort. They checked out. We've already seen more than a few examples of this in the first 36 games of the season, but this year is different.
These guys have a mental toughness that was missing in 2008. There's a belief that they can come back. They don't just sit back, waiting for someone to make a big play or lazily presume that the game will just yield to their talent. They fight. And the wins are just so much sweeter when you know your team always has a chance because they're going to keep trying.
This is Ramon Santiago's world; we're just along for the ride. He was practically a one-man rally today, giving the Tigers their first run of the game with a second-inning RBI triple, and igniting the spark that eventually became a full-blown comeback. That comeback was complete one inning later, when Santiago smoked a ball to right-center for a three-run homer, a blow that gave Detroit an 8-6 lead.
For the day, Santiago went 4-for-4, adding two singles to the aforementioned triple and home run, and collecting four RBIs. With that performance, his average surged from .300/.340/.480 to .352/.386/.611.
Credit also needs to go to the Tigers bullpen, which cleaned up the mess Armando Galarraga created (we'll get to that) and gave the lineup a chance to catch up. Zach Miner wasn't great in his 4.1 innings, allowing two runs and seven hits (though he struck out six), but it was good enough. Luke French, Ryan Perry, and Fernando Rodney pitched another scoreless four innings (giving up just one hit altogether) to make sure there would be no A's comeback.
Can you hear the drums, Armando? As thrilling as the comeback heroics were today, they wouldn't have been necessary had Galarraga not thrown perhaps his worst inning in a Tigers uniform. And he couldn't even make it out of that first inning, recording only two outs while throwing 41 pitches and giving up five runs before the Tigers even came to bat.
There was already concern about Galarraga, who came into today on a three-game losing streak, giving up five or more runs in each appearance. Five batters into the game, it was horrifyingly clear that this was going to be even worse. Four batters after that, Galarraga was dashing back to the dugout, leaving his team to try and recover from a 5-0 deficit, and all of us to wonder what the Tigers are going to do next.
With Jeremy Bonderman coming back soon, a roster move will need to be made. And Galarraga is making such a decision increasingly easy for the Tigers. The only question would be where to move him. Putting him in the bullpen probably isn't an option, as the pitching staff is already overstuffed.
Could Galarraga go on the disabled list with a "tired arm"? (I put that in quotes, because the Tigers have made moves like this before, but maybe an injury really is behind these struggles.) Could he be sent to the minors? I believe he's out of options, however.
I'd bet on the DL option, as I'd find it hard to believe the Tigers would just let him go. Maybe he just needs a rest, and the pitching staff might suddenly have the depth to accommodate that.
Comment of the Day:
I wish Ramon would do something.
He’s such a slacker lately.by wepri31