Busy sports day on Saturday with the Detroit Tigers battling the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium followed by pre-season game #2 for the Detroit Lions, as they march towards quarterback Jon Kitna's predicted ten victories.
It was a mixed-bag, as the Tigers lost, again, falling 1.5 games back of the Cleveland Indians in the American League Central, but the Lions, needing only eight games now to match Kitna's prediction (he may not have been counting pre-season victories, but to get to 10 wins, he's going to have to) moved to 2-0 with some impressive and inspired play.
The Tigers first, because, they played first. As the day on the whole was mixed, so was the Tigers performance. Rookie phenom Cameron Maybin had some at-bats he'll remember forever and some plays in the field he would soon like to forget. At the plate, not only did Maybin pick up his first big league hit off of legendary Roger Clemens, but he his first first home run, to deep center field (410+ feet) off of the Rocket as well. No wonder he went 0-4 in his first game. He was just waiting to feast off of Clemens. In the field, though, Maybin, playing his second game in left field, still looked lost. He dropped a ball after calling off Brandon Inge early in the game, then despite a renowned arm, had an awful throw home which allowed Alex Rodriguez to score with ease. Overall though, Maybin had a good second game, and he should continue to get better (especially defensively as he becomes more comfortable in left-field, a position he had never played before).
Now, only if the Tigers could win a few games, that would be nice. They cannot afford to continue to fall behind Cleveland. Next week's series at Comerica Park is going to be crucial, especially if the Tigers do not win today. Winning three of the four games would allow the Tigers to pick up 2 games in the standings and perhaps take back first place.
As for the Lions, yes it is only pre-season, and yes the team was missing some of their key starters on offense (Roy Williams, Mike Furey, Kevin Jones) and Defense (Dewayne White, Kalimba Edwards) but when the starters were in, the team looked much improved from last week's effort. The first string defense forced two turnovers (the team had three in total) and the offense looked crisp. The running game was still hit or miss, but it looked better, and TJ Duckett, after fumbling last week, looked strong and tough in the second half.
The team still is a work in progress, and the offensive and defensive lines looked porous at times, but overall it was a strong effort. Now, how much of that was how awful Cleveland is and how much of that was how good Detroit is, that's a fair question. We'll know a lot more this time next week after the Lions starters play for a full half (or maybe more) against the defending Super Bowl champions, the Indianapolis Colts.