CLEVELAND — Before the Detroit Tigers’ manager Jim Leyland departed for the city that sets quietly beside Lake Erie, he said to the world, that he is a man and that his team deserved to be criticized by the fans.
The Detroit Tigers are fading so fast in the American League Central Division, sinking deeper and falling behind the division leaders the Cleveland Indians and after losing two home games at Comerica Park against the Minnesota Twins and now the Indians at Progressive Field have swept the Tigers away like the dust from the infield the gaps is now six games.
Lucky for the Tigers sandwich in-between a three game series against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Tigers’ bats have gone cold; nobody can get a timely hit to produce a run or a base runner. The three games against the Indians the Tigers as a team batted .206 with six RBIs and with the ace of the staff facing the Indians Thursday afternoon, the Tigers could only manage one run while stranding 10 runners on base and for the series against the Indians the Tigers were 3-for-28 scoring runners from scoring position.
The Tigers let too many opportunities go by the wayside including an excellent pitching performance by Justin Verlander, he only gave up two runs and in the eighth inning threw his fastball at 100 miles per hour and located with such accuracy he had the home plate umpire trying to take a double look along with the three Indian batters who went back to the dugout shaking their heads in amazement and bewildered.
“What was going through my mind? I’m going to give everything I have and try to light a spark,” Verlander said after the 2-1 defeat against the Indians. “This is a game of momentum, it is a crazy thing and I felt if I was able to go out there and just dominate an inning and get our guys back in there quick, maybe something would happen.”
The Tiger fans are watching this year’s edition of Tigers grossly under achieve but instead of shaking their heads in acknowledgement, there are clinching fist and screaming of horror watching the mistakes on the field both at the plate and in the field.
Leyland is a manager that is a players’ manager, he sticks up for his players but he does not swing the bat at pitches that are bouncing in the dirt, he is not making a 45 foot throw from first base to the plate that bounce in the dirt and he is not making excuses.
“No big hits, kind of a broken record,” Leyland said about his team’s lack of production at the plate. “I do not think anybody is happy right now-at least they shouldn’t be. But I also do not think you get excited and start to point fingers. Verlander was terrific; it was a shame to lose a game like that.”
It looks like to the baseball fans that watch the Tigers that they might be just going through the motion of the game and collecting a paycheck that there is no respect or passion for the game of baseball.
With too many question to answer the Tigers leave the shoreline of Lake Erie and the city of Cleveland behind them but carrying on board the charter plane to Minnesota a lot bitterness and plenty of disappointment stowed with the equipment and with the luggage.
A holiday weekend in the state of 10,000 lakes, fresh clean air and the hope of the Tiger fans that their baseball team can provide plenty of fireworks at Target Field or that Leyland can find that spark to set under the seat of the pants of the Tiger players.