Yesterday was a hard day for baseball. Maybe looking back it will mark a turning point, like the Black Sox scandal did for gambling. But for now, the game we love is airing dirty laundry in the mainstream media.
Buck O'Neil was relentlessly optimistic about baseball, though he played in the Negro Leagues and lived during segregation. I think on such a day as this, he would want us to celebrate the game. So in his honor, these are thoughts from attending the game.
First, a big thank you to the Gladstone family for giving this Tiger fan and stranger a spare ticket at the gate. Go Xavier!
Anibal Sanchez seems fully recovered from his shoulder injury. He was hitting 96 mph when needed.
Jose Iglesias is said to remind scouts of Ozzie Smith, but he reminded me of Ozzie Guillen in the way that he constantly moves between pitches. He looks antsy, but in a good way.
Michael Bourn tried to bunt toward Miguel Cabrera in the fifth inning, but it went foul. Miggy made a hand gesture to Bourn indicating what he thought of the idea.
Cabrera looked fine at the plate, barely jogged on the bases, and was constantly stretching at third. He looks too close to injured.
Jason Giambi hit a slow roller in the seventh inning that Cabrera cut off, bare handed, and threw to first for the out. You could have timed the play with a sundial.
In the eighth, Ramon Santiago singled. Jackson followed with a single to put the tying runs on base. Torii Hunter then singled to right, and the obvious play was for Santiago to score with Jackson advancing from first to third. Then right fielder Drew Stubbs bobbled the ball to take away any uncertainty. Yet Tom Brookens held Santiago at third, which hung Jackson out to dry. Brookens may have been counting on Cabrera to hit everybody in, but the game called for aggressive play. Brookens hung Hunter out to dry last Wednesday when Torii was thinking triple for the cycle. If he keeps this up, he will be the anti-Lamont.
Chris Perez was brought in by Terry Francona to close his third game in three days, and had no gas in the tank. Jim Leyland would not have put Benoit in that position.
Avila went down twice on foul tips off his body, which is not news. But it is good to see his bat back, with two big home runs in a week. Now if Dirks can get going, and Infante comes back, the Tigers can afford to have Iglesias in the lineup.