St. Peterburg, Fla. — So the road trip for the Detroit Tigers continues, from the unbearable and unforgiving heat of Arlington, Texas to the golden sunshine and sandy shoreline of the Gulf of Mexico and the city of Saint Petersburg, Florida.
Tigers’ manger Jim Leyland is hoping that the bad baseball that appeared defensively on the diamond against the Texas Rangers is left behind like the hot desert type of breeze that always seemed to be blowing in the state of Texas.
Again the many at bats that are leaving runners in scoring position that pushes Leyland’s blood prssure to a boiling point, the approach at the plate by most of the Tiger hitters look like they have not a clue but Leyland reminds the media that they are big league hitters and that is why they are wearing the old-English D uniform.
Leyland said that his hitters appeared to have a solid approach and he appreciated the effort at the plate and that is improving his mood but the pitching Wednesday night and the defense did nothing for his appetite for winning.
The last steamy night, Wednesday June 27, 2012 in Texas, the Tigers battled the Rangers but dropped the game 13-9 and lost the series.
The Tigers pounded out 17 hits but could not overcome the fielding errors.
“We swung that bats but we pitched badly and didn’t play well at all,” Leyland said before leaving behind the tumbleweeds and the heat of Texas. “(Doug) Fister wasn’t sharp.”
Fister agreed with his manager evaluation of his performance against the Rangers.
“I didn’t make the proper adjustments,” Fister said after Wednesday night’s game. “And unfortunately, it got away from us.”
The throwing error by third baseman Miguel Cabrera on a play that was not a normal play but is usually made but Cabrera unleashed a throw that sailed wide of first base and that allowed Texas to score a run and when Tigers’ second baseman Ryan Rayburn made his third error of the season it made plenty of Tiger baseball fans hot under the collar and seeing red.
“We pitched bad and didn’t play very well defensively,” Leyland said. “Pretty much sums it up!”
The Tigers left Texas on board a late night flight and arrived at Tampa International Airport early Thursday morning and bussed from the airport to the team’s hotel but instead of sleeping in the Tigers remained on the same schedule and arrived at the home of the Tampa Bay Rays – Tropicana Field to start a four game series with the Rays.
Joining the Tigers’ coaching staff an extra set of eyes for hitting coach Lloyd McClendon is the roving hitting instructor Toby Harrah.
It is a trend in major league baseball that there are two coaches to work with hitters because of the extra workload, the extended hitting in the indoor batting cages, early batting practice for players looking for help in making adjustments and the video analysis of swings and player’s approach at the plate the position of hitting coach is evolved.
There are three other franchises in the major leagues that have made that adjustment to their coaching staff, the Tigers are joining the Atlanta Braves, Saint Louis Cardinals and the San Diego Padres but also seems that the Tigers are admitting that their offense needs some help.
“He is going to kind of tag along up here for a while and just take a look at some guys,” Leyland said about Harrah joining the Tigers. “A lot of teams have gone to that now, I do not know how long Toby’s going to be here. We’ve had so many guys struggling, it is nice to have a helping hand.”
Harrah’s contribution must be working, he joined the staff in Texas Wednesday night and watch the Tigers get 17 hits and Thursday night, June 28,2012 the Tigers hit the ball with authority against the Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher James Shields.
The Tigers collected 14 hits, 11 of the were singles but Cabrera home run in the ninth inning off of Rays’ relief pitcher Wade Davis left nothing to the imagination. The ball left Cabrera’s bat without a doubt it was leaving the playing field of Tropicana Field.
“I like it when he’s about 2 for 12 and someone writes about it because that usually wakes him up a little bit,” Leyland said setting at his desk after the game.
Max Scherzer worked six innings for the Tigers in recording his seventh win of the season. He struck out seven and gave up just two runs, Jose Valverdie recorded his 14th save of the season as the Tigers continue to win on the road by defeating the Rays 5-2 in front of plenty of open seats at Tropicana Field.
Friday nights game at Tropicana Field will feature two ace pitchers, the Rays will start left hander David Price, he is 10-4 and an ERA of 2.95, the Tigers will counter with giving the baseball into the hand of their mighty right hander Justin Verlander with a record of 8-4 , an ERA of 2.52, and 113 strikeouts which is second in the American League. Verlander trails his team mate Scherzer, he has recorded 114 strikeouts so far for the season.
Verlander will be making his fifth appearance on the mound at Tropicana Field, he is 3-1 with a ERA of 2.57 under the roof of the field that the Rays call home.
The game Friday night at Tropicana Field is scheduled to starts at 7:10 p.m.
The Tigers are hoping that the mighty giant hits in their bat are waking up and against Price the Tigers are hoping like Cartman of South Park that Price respects the authority.