Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Leyland, Like The Rest Of Us, Eager To See How Tigers React To Current Grind

Jim Leyland knows better. He has managed too many games, been a part of too many organizations, seen too many things, worked with too many different levels of talent, to get excited over the first 30 games of any season -- even if his team has won 20 of those first 30.

"This is when you find out what you're made of," Leyland said yesterday after his Tigers lost another tough one, 7-6 -- their fourth loss in five games. "Things have been going good, and now we've let some games get away. So we'll see what we've got a little bit."

Ah, I love the way baseball managers talk: "We'll see what we've got a little bit."

Is he channeling Sparky Anderson?

If this is indeed a genuine slide, then it can be traced to Todd Jones' blown save Saturday in Minnesota. That's when the wheels started to fall off, if this becomes one of those 3-10 things. If the team wins a couple here and there, and stops the bleeding, then Jones' pratfall will be just another blip on the screen of a 162-game season.

But sometimes, especially with teams that aren't used to winning, or are young, something as relatively innocent as a blown save can rock the boat more than it would with a team like the Yankees or Red Sox or -- as much as I hate to admit it -- the White Sox. And the way the Tigers lost last night -- on a couple of homeruns in the seventh inning and a costly error in the eighth -- should be cause for eyebrows to raise and for the imaginary barometers to be gotten out.

The Tigers are in a bit of a grind now. It all came so easy for them during their six-game winning streak. They didn't have to pull too many games out of the fire. But now their pitching is finally showing some chinks, and their hottest hitter isn't hot anymore (Chris Shelton), and the defense (read: Carlos Guillen especially) suddenly looks shaky.

But Jim Leyland has seen it all before. What he hasn't seen, however, is how this particular team will react to it. Not even a grizzled veteran possesses a crystal ball.


Blogger Ozz said...

On a few occasions this season, they've won the kinds of games they might have lost last year. I think that's something that will continue to happen.

Of course, they'll lose some they should've won (like Saturday night in Minnesota and Tuesday night in Baltimore).

They've had a lot of things go right all at once so far this season. I think they're going to continue to have more things go right (but maybe they'll be a little more spread out over the remainder of the season), which will make things a little more bearable when the inevitable slumps and miscues rear their ugly heads.

10:55 PM  

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