A few years ago, my parents remodeled a room in the basement of their house. They replaced the carpet, couch, and television, the works. It was nice. The dog wasn't even allowed in the room for a lengthy amount of time.
One of the final touches in the room was a painting. Set on a blank, off-white canvas, the painting consisted of a multitude of black swathes of paint strewn about in haphazard fashion. It almost resembled an ancient Chinese character. I know it was not a Chinese character, however, because my mother created the painting. The story goes that my mother started with another idea in mind, but my younger brother did something to make her angry. Instead of completing her original vision, she poured her fury into the painting, and in doing so, created a lovely work of abstract art.
Beneath the black slashes in the painting, there is a faint yellow triangle. I have looked at the painting often, trying to decipher the purpose of the triangle. What was my mother trying to create? Would her original vision have been more eye-catching than the rage-induced result?
I almost wonder if my brother's foolhardy act was for the better. My mother, who has otherwise shown no artistic talent in the 27-plus years that I have known her (love you, mom), was taking on an act very unfamiliar to her when she pulled out that blank canvas. The abstract painting is edgy, and adds a jarring contrast to the dull whitewashed walls of the room. It is beautiful.
This game was the exact opposite of that painting. This game was a flaming pile of dog poo.
The Yankees opened up an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Brett Gardner tripled to lead off the game, and scored when Andrew Romine's errant throw glanced off of Gardner's helmet when he was dashing home on a sharp ground ball to third base. Didi Gregorius hit a solo home run to lead off the second, giving the Yankees a 2-0 lead. The Yankees added a third run in the second off of a sacrifice fly from Alex Rodriguez.
The homer barrage continued in the third inning when Carlos Beltran hit a long home run to right-center field in the third inning. After recording a pair of outs, Simon would allow three consecutive singles resulting in another run, ending his night early. Ian Krol, who was brought in to face Alex Rodriguez with two runners on base, predictably gave up a three-run home run. The Yankees took a 10-0 lead when they added a pair of runs in the fourth, including Beltran's second home run of the night.
To be honest, I stopped paying close attention to the game after the fourth inning. The Tigers gave up three more runs in the fifth, cementing this as an absolute stinker of a game. The loss moves them six and a half games behind the Kansas City Royals in the AL Central, their largest deficit since May of 2011.
While I laughed it off at first, I can't help but notice a few parallels between the 2011 team and this year's Tigers. Expectations for that 2011 squad were lower than the stratospheric ones placed on the club from 2012 to 2014. The Tigers scuffled along close to .500 that season, falling behind a team playing well above its true talent level. The 2015 Royals are a better team than the 2011 Cleveland Indians, to be fair, but I have a hard time seeing them continue their current 96-win pace all season long.
We know how that 2011 season ended. The Indians faded while the Tigers went on a crazy hot streak in August, and the once-tight division race turned into a cakewalk for Detroit. Dave Dombrowski added a starting pitcher at the trade deadline, shoring up one of the bigger holes on the roster. The bats came alive after the All-Star break, scoring nearly a full run more per game than they had in the first half.
It seems unlikely that the 2015 AL Central race becomes as lopsided as the one in 2011. The Royals are the defending AL champions, after all, and the Minnesota Twins seem hesitant to fall back to everyone's preseason expectations. However, I do not believe we have seen the best that these Tigers have to offer. There is far more talent on this roster than their 34-34 record and negative run differential suggests. The offense has inexplicably struggled despite some excellent individual performances, and the pseudo-additions of Justin Verlander, Victor Martinez, and the correct version of Anibal Sanchez provide the foundation that this team was relying on when they reported to spring training in February.
Tonight may be a speed bump. Or it may be a sign that everything was going wrong. There is far too much baseball left to know for certain, though.
STREAKS AND STATS:
- The Tigers are just 5-17 in 22 regular season games at the newest version of Yankee Stadium.
- The Yankees scored in each of the first five innings. Alex Wilson finally worked a scoreless inning in the sixth, after the score was 13-0.
- The Yankees have outscored the Tigers 42-14 in five games this season.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH: