Sunday, April 22, 2007

Big Comeback Win for the Detroit Tigers

I called my dad after Marcus Thames tied the Detroit Tigers-Chicago White Sox game this afternoon in the bottom of the 9th inning (I wanted to make sure he hadn't given up on the Tigers game and had it on) and he told me that he was glad Thames came through, because it would have been a real shame had the Detroit Tigers drawn 120,000+ fans to Comerica Park in downtown Detroit on a picture perfect weekend in April only to get swept by the Chicago White Sox.

AP Photo
Well thanks to Thames and to Placido Polanco, who is easily the Tigers most valuable player this early in the season, the Tigers staged a late rally to defeat the White Sox 6-5 in 12 innings.

The Tigers needed this victory too. After losing the series ender to Kansas City, and the first two games to to the White Sox, showing some life, and fighting back after falling behind, shows the character of this Tigers team. And hopefully it gives them some much needed confidence and can digg Tigers batters out of their offensive slumps.

Marcus Thames showed how valuable he is today with his ninth-inning game-tying home run, and with Craig Monroe and Sean Casey struggling, perhaps Thames deserves more playing time going forward. And what can you say about Placido Polanco? He's leading the AL in batting, he is unbelievable with runners in scoring position, and he's already wrapped up a spot on the All Star team and its only April. There are just not enough superlatives to describe both what a great player Polanco is and how valuable he is to the Tigers team.

AP Photo
And today's victory came after some interesting managerial decisions by skipper Jim Leyland, first choosing to let hitless-for-his-career Mike Rabelo bat in the seventh inning, with a runner on third base (the go-ahead run at that point) and then not bunting Curtis Granderson with a runner on second and no outs in the 10th inning. I don't mind letting Granderson swing away in the 10th. Yes, classic baseball says to bunt, but Granderson has been successful before in the same situation (winning a game last season in a bunting situation when he swung away and got the game winning hit) and Pudge Rodriguez, in a bunting situation earlier this season in Kansas City (runners on 1st and 2nd with 0 out in the top of the 9th) hit a 3-run home run to win the game. So, if Leyland was a genius then, he's not suddenly Charlie Manuel now. But, I didn't understand letting Rabelo bat in the 7th. Yes, the Tigers have a long roadtrip to Anaheim tonight, and he wanted to give Pudge Rodriguez a full game off, but winning this game was critical giving how the Tigers have been struggling lately, and pinch-hitting Pudge gave you the best shot to make that happen. And it wasn't as if Leyland was resigned to never use Rodriguez, as he brought him in the game in the 9th inning. It all worked out, but it certainly gives the message boards something to talk about going into this week's games.

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