Meet the new lineup. Same as the old lineup.
Well, maybe that's not quite fair. The Tigers did pound out nine hits last night, with a batting order that looked comfortably familiar. But they could only bring home three runs, which seems to be their peak right now. Detroit has scored three runs or fewer in seven straight games. Their record during that span? 2-5.
Still, a lineup with Curtis Granderson batting leadoff and Marcus Thames in the cleanup spot is probably the best one Jim Leyland can put out there right now. (At least it worked for Grandy, who hit two homers. Thames, not so much, as he went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts.) So hopefully, he sticks with this for a few games, rather than continuing to tinker (and try wacko ideas like batting Josh Anderson in the #3 spot again).
For most of the season, Edwin Jackson has been able to overcome a lack of run support. But it's caught up with him in his last two starts, as he's gone winless despite allowing five runs in 11 innings. Last night's outing may not have been dominant, but giving up three runs in seven innings (and tying a season-high seven strikeouts) was certainly good enough to win. Right now, however, Tigers pitching can't afford to allow any more than two runs. Obviously, that's no way to get through life, son.
(Do people get that reference, by the way? Because it's probably not a funny line if it's not recognized. Or maybe it's just not funny at all. Just checking.)
As mentioned above, Curtis Granderson seemed to love his return to the leadoff spot. He pretty much was the Tigers' offense last night, batting 3-for-4 with two homers. How about we just declare that Grandyland for the rest of the season?
(MLive.com's Steve Kornacki points out that Detroit is 27-21 when Granderson leads off, as opposed to 6-10 when he bats fourth or fifth. Although I don't know how well comparing a 49-game sample to a 16-game chunk supports an argument or observation. Even Grandy himself admits that he hasn't played enough games out of the leadoff spot to really understand if it makes a difference for him.)
Are we done with wondering how the Tigers' lineup would do with Grandy lower in the order to drive in more runs now? Perhaps you could argue that no one's going to be on base for him if he leads off, but he wasn't the leadoff batter in either of the innings in which he homered. I understand Leyland trying to do something to try and create more offense, but it hasn't made that much of a difference.
Dear Joel Zumaya,
Stop walking batters.
Zumaya might currently be the best strikeout option out of the Tigers' bullpen, but he's hardly the most reliable because he can't seem to locate his off-speed pitches. He has 13 walks in his last 10 appearances (covering 22 innings). Three of those were in last night's game (with 15 of his 31 pitches thrown for strikes), which led directly to the Cardinals' winning run.
The seventh inning started out promisingly, with Zumaya striking out Tyler Greene and getting Albert Pujols to pop up to third base (a big out, regardless of the situation). Skip Schumaker walked and Colby Rasmus singled in between those outs, however. And getting that third out was the problem. Chris Duncan walked on five pitches to load the bases, and Ryan Ludwick fought for seven pitches - four of which were clocked at 100-plus m.p.h. - to draw another walk, which brought home the Cards' fourth run.
And for everyone who asked "How many runs have the Tigers walked home this year?" the answer is 13. Billfer found this horrifying, embarrassing stat last night. Nine of those walks have come this month.
Comment of the Night: