Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Small Ball? Tigers Don't Play That

Earl Weaver’s Baltimore Orioles teams of the 1970’s used the three-run home run as their chief offensive weapon. The Orioles had little speed, but lots of power. And pitching. Weaver knew nothing about “small ball.” Actually, he was familiar with the term, but most likely used it in a way that would be inappropriate for me to repeat in a family blog.

The Tigers’ tool belt has but one item anymore: the solo home run. They’ve been great at hitting those all season. It’s one reason why Marcus Thames, for example, has less than 60 RBI despite having hit 27 homers.

Thames and Carlos Guillen (twice, including the walk-off winner) hit solo homers last night, and the Tigers got a 3-2 win. Plop, plop, fizz, fizz. Eleven wins in their last 33 tries -- .333 ball. So easy to be satisfied anymore. The Tigers haven’t won two games in a row since taking the first two games against the White Sox at CoPa in late August. So the team that loves the solo home run is now trying to win a division with solo victories – one here, another there. Usually with a few losses in between.

I heard catcher Vance Wilson use a word yesterday that I really didn’t need to hear in the thick of a pennant race, when talking about his team: fear.

“We don’t really have a lot of guys who’ve been in pennant race situations before,” Wilson told FSD. “So maybe lately there’s been a little fear there.”

Great. The Tigers are scared, and playing tight. The backup catcher, who some say would make a great manager someday, confirms it. But at least he’s honest.

Last night’s win was great, but I’ve given up hoping that it’ll be “the win” that turns this thing around. I thought that about those two White Sox wins, and the two wins in Boston, and the Craig Monroe blast in New York. Each time after those victories, I thought the Tigers would be catapulted by them. They weren’t.

But I’d feel better about last night if the Tigers had scored some runs in some other fashion other than by cranking the ball over the fence.

Yet I suppose anything in the left-hand column is good anymore.


Blogger Ozz said...

After reading an article at on Monday that featured a Leyland quote about the 'HR or nothing' (my paraphrasing) offense, I just shook my head after the win last night.

Yeah, I'm glad they won, but I was thinking the same thing as you. It would be nice to see a little bit more variety -- if that's the right word -- from the offense.

I will say that some solid pitching from Rogers and Rodney and some solid defense, particularly from Monroe, made it possible for the Tigers to win.

1:40 PM  

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