That was surreal last night. Inge getting an ovation like the guy came back from beating cancer or something. I give the guy tons of points for coming in and making an impact. I can tell from being there that this fanbase still wants to embrace him.
The last thing I wanted to see was him struggle some more and they let him dig his own grave and take away at bats from more deserving guys. I listened to the radio on the way in...Leyland is going by the belief that Inge hit lefties well in Toledo so he'll only start against lefties. If he can do that at the very least as well as be more dependable with the glove, he's justified being on the roster.
He's not an everyday player and I'm glad they're not trying to put him back in his old role. Betemit is still a very useful player and they should play him just as much or more than Inge.
It would be such a coup for the Tigers if they can finish the sweep and win this series without Verlander starting any of those games. However, they've avoided the heart of the Tribe's rotation...no Masterson or Carmona. Jimenez today in the finale...another win would be dynamite.
Well, it isn't about how...it's about how many. That was a picture perfect throw from A-Jacks...another monster win to put them 4-1/2 up and 6 up in the win column.
The Tigers catch somewhat of a lucky break...they'll play 4 with Tampa and miss Shields with him going today and getting knocked around. A good matchup in the opener JV against the Rays' hottest pitcher in the last month, Niemann.
what says more: Raburn being walked to pitch for Inge, or Leyland using Kelly over Bausch as the defensive replacement in the outfield? At that point, I'd have been more interested in seeing Santiago take over at second and Raburn moved to right field. But Don Kelly has to get his playing time to stay sharp.
edit: though I have to like Leyland getting Penny out of there at the first sign of trouble.
Those are the kind of difference-making games this team needs to win down the stretch to preserve their lead. This lead was 1-1/2 games on Friday and it's ballooned up to 6 in 5 days. What's scary is that it can shrink just that quickly as well.
A .500 record in the remaining 34 games puts them at 87 wins. Cleveland would have to go 24-12 to get to 87 wins. Considering how relatively easy the schedule appears...including the head-to-head games with Chicago and Cleveland...I can see them getting up 85-87 wins and perhaps as high as 90. A 20-14 finish would get them to 90. A .500 finish should be a bare minimum goal for them.
Another odd way to end an extra innings game...a botched force out to potentially end the inning. While I don't blame Inge for looking to second because it was closest base to where he fielded the ball...no one was covering the bag. Why don't you just go to first and get the routine out?
All things considered...the lead is still 6 over the Tribe and 6-1/2 over the Sox (Weaver with a masterful performance last night). Could be a skeleton crew for the finale...Cabrera leaves to be with his wife and Omir Santos gets called up to potentially play today in favor of Avila, who has earned a day off. The Sox and Indians are both off today so at worst, they just lose a 1/2 to both teams if they lose.
The Tigers head to Minnesota next with what's left of the Twins (Tigers lead the season series 9-3), Cleveland faces the Royals (Indians lead the season series 8-4) and the Sox draw the Mariners after they pasted the Tribe (Sox lead the season series 4-2). Leyland opting to not shuffle his rotation and Verlander goes for win #20 in his normal spot. If things don't change, his remaining starts will be @ Twins (Saturday), the makeup game against the Royals (next Thursday), @ Indians (9/6), @ White Sox (9/12), @ Athletics (9/17), vs. Orioles (9/23), vs. Indians (9/28, the last day of the regular season).
Considering the opponents this weekend all appear to be teams the top 3 should be able to beat...I think the term "hold serve" comes to mind. You build up a lead like this to give you a little margin for error...at worst, you maybe lose a game to Cleveland and Chicago but I'd be fine with the lead staying the same going into next week.
Conflicting reports over who put a claim in for Thome yesterday...
While I'm rooting against the Tribe right now, for nostalgia sake...I'd like to see Thome go back to the Cleveland to perhaps close out his career since he's now got home run #600. With Hafner done for the year, the need is there for a DH and a left-handed bat. That would had some spice to the end of this season...still 6 more games left with the Tribe and we all know Thome's reputation when facing the Tigers.
Why stick Peralta in the dead zone like that? There won't be anyone one base for him, and if he gets on base he's not going anywhere with those schmucks batting. He'd be better off in the 2 spot. They'd at least have 5 or 6 real players in a row, rather than giving the opposing pitcher the opportunity to pitch around every other batter and get bailed out by the next awful jackass in the lineup.
We have gaping holes at second and third, and I'm hoping we make a run at these two guys to fill them. Infante can play nearly anywhere, and he certainly can't be worse than the Betamit/Inge/Kelly thing we're currently running out there at third. Johnson would take over second. Both guys have done well batting at the top of the order (Infante has been notably better batting leadoff than elsewhere, while Johnson has looked alright in either spot).
With our pitching pretty well covered for the next few years, we need to blow some cash to upgrade these two spots, and we should have it considering the Tigers continue to draw a ton of fans to CoPa (I think I remember reading that we're the 5th team to break 2 million in attendance this year, and we've done it for like five years in a row).
1. Infante 3B
2. Johnson 2B
3. Boesch RF
4. Cabrera 1B
5. Martinez DH
6. Young LF
7. Avila C
8. Peralta SS
9. Jackson CF
Oh, and it moves Boesch into his most productive spot in the order, and gives Cabrera some guys in front of him who actually get on base. Alright, back to the Twins/Tigers game.