By: Kurt Snyder & Holly Horning
After splitting the series in Kansas City against the Royals last week, it was the Tigers’ turn to host. And the results? Not so great.
So, since they have a day off, let’s sit back and consider what happened that stuck in our minds over the last 3 games. I don’t think our responses will be all that similar this time, which probably means they will be. Anyway, let’s see what we’ve got.
What does this latest series with KC tell us?
I understand that each and every game has the same importance, but we really have to be careful how big we make these early games. We have played KC seven games, they’ve won 4 and the Tigers have won 3.
Like the first series against the Royals, the Tigers lost at least 1 game they should have won. And without launching into a long diatribe about our manager, I will simply say, we were not always put in the best position to win. Rule 1 of 1 – never, ever, ever, pinch run for the Hall of Famer late in a close game. Never!
As usual, the Royals spent the majority of their time, fighting and scratching to win games, while the Tigers have the added burden of overcoming the deficiencies of their manager.
We can only hope that his experience as a catcher will finally pay dividends. He will have to be front and center to help this team through a chapter that began this weekend; life after Alex. We are about to find out if we have all been underestimating the value of Alex Avila.
The Tigers struggled to win one game, got blown out in the second and appeared to refuse a win that was all but handed to them twice. The team is inching closer to last’s year inconsistencies and roller coaster streaks.
They are sloppy in almost all aspects of the game, esp. when Iggy is not playing. While Romine did a fine job, there were several games where Iggy would have gotten the out on close plays. And unfortunately, Romine is not able to help cover Castellanos who made a number of bad plays.
Their LOB consistently ran high, but the RISP was insanely poor for all three games. How many times can a team load the bases and not be able to score?
On the other hand, the Royals came to play both physically and mentally. The energy and aggressiveness are still there, along with the attention to detail that the best teams have. The Tigers have a long way to go and a lot to address.
2. Was the Tigers’ downfall in this KC series due to pitching, hitting or something else?
Well, offensively, we need to be better. For one, JD Martinez has been in a slump I would never wish on anyone. The amount of strikeouts he has had over the last week has made every fantasy owner scream.
Our starting pitching was erratic. Price pitched OK, Sanchez pitched lousy and Greene, thankfully, came back from his slump and pitched wonderfully Sunday night. But unfortunately he had to face Chris Young. And facing him, by law, means that the Tigers are not allowed to hit.
But with all of that said, the Tiger had no business losing the finale and consequently, the series. We pitched well enough to win Sunday, didn’t hit much, but when we did threaten, our manager left us in a precarious and inexcusable position.
So was the downfall due to pitching, hitting or something else? Well, yes.
The all-or-nothing pitching performances and wide-spread hitting problems are symptoms of bigger diseases – the mental game and Ausmusawfulitis.
The team is listless and rudderless, showing up in the half-hearted at-bats, the yawning by the players during a game and an interesting confrontation in the dugout between Miggy and Cespedes. When you have 1 or 2 pitchers or batters who are struggling, you look at them. But when you have 4 starters who have become erratic and over half of your lineup, you look towards management and coaching.
While it’s easy for any team to start the year on a high note, the true test comes with time and the mental and physical wear-and-tear. The Tigers haven’t been able to sustain their April high and have gone from the team tied with the best record to one that ranks 7th which now includes a losing May record.
A leader is defined as someone who inspires higher performance from all members of the team. Who exactly is leading this team?
Brad’s mistakes last night were just more examples of winnable games that were lost due to a manager in over his head. Is the team’s spirit due to his managing or his lack of visible of energy and leadership? Or both?