Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Burning Questions After Game 2 of the ALCS

Burning Questions in the wake of the Tigers' 7-3 loss to the Texas Rangers in Game 2 of the ALCS:

What got into Nelson Cruz? He didn't do a thing against Tampa Bay in the ALDS.

Just goes to show you that momentum does NOT carry over from series to series. It rarely does day by day, frankly.

In 2006, Placido Polanco was the ALCS MVP and didn't even get a hit in the five-game World Series that followed.

Cruz has been poison to the Tigers in just two games.

More blown opportunities by the Tigers, especially early on against starter Derek Holland. What's up?

Just a really bad time to hit a team-wide batting slump. The Tigers can't buy that key hit right now.

When a guy walks four in the first two innings, as Holland did, and none of those walks score, that's certain to haunt you in the later innings. They say walks will kill you. But walks that never come around to score can be a death knell to an offense.

So Delmon Young is back. What the hell?

It's called desperation. I'm not comfortable with bringing Young back, just a couple days after he was declared done for the series. I mean, what if he reinjures his oblique and is done for the season?

Of course, the way this series is going, that could be moot.

But the Tigers are desperate. They've already lost Brennan Boesch and now Magglio Ordonez is done with a broken ankle. The options are few, especially for a right-handed batter.

Speaking of Maggs, is he done---forever?

Well, he admitted to some reporters a few days ago that he contemplated retirement mid-season because his ankle wasn't responding. So yeah, this could be it---if he doesn't want to put himself through anymore rehab.

This was almost worse than the initial injury, which occurred in July 2010, because no one saw this one coming. Ordonez had recently gone on record as saying how great he felt. It's a big blow, and maybe a sad one. We'll see.

Complete this sentence: "After two games, the story of this series is...."

...the Rangers stars are showing up, and the Tigers' aren't.

Guys like Cruz and Adrian Beltre have come up big for the Rangers, along with Ian Kinsler and David Murphy.

Though he had a double in Game 2, Miguel Cabrera has been mostly invisible this post-season, as has been Victor Martinez. Twice, V-Mart had bases loaded opportunities to wash away his bad post-season, and both times he failed.

I hate to say it, but Cabrera/Martinez are making me recall the struggles of Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira for the Yankees in the ALDS.

The Tigers need the big bats to start bopping, and quick.

Did you feel some relief when Ryan Raburn smacked his three-run homer?

Kinda. But see above.

Tigers get out of a bases loaded, no out jam in the bottom of the ninth. Usually that comes back to haunt the scoreless team, doesn't it?

You're right---except when that scoreless team is up against one whose offense is in the toilet right now. The Rangers somehow got themselves back into the same position in the 11th, and Cruz then launched his no-doubter.

The game-winning rally was aided by some confusion between CF Austin Jackson and newly-inserted RF Andy Dirks. What happened out there on Mike Napoli's drive to right center?

Not sure, but it looked like the two of them played, "I got it, you take it," as Red Wings analyst Mickey Redmond would say.

Frankly, the Rangers may have scored anyway, but that horribly timed miscue didn't help the Tigers' cause, that's for sure.

In the Tigers 10th, leadoff man Raburn walked. Jhonny Peralta was up next and bunted. Right call?

Well, I can see the logic, except that with a slumping Alex Avila and then Dirks coming up next---Dirks' first post-season AB---maybe you swing away Peralta and hope for some action.

As it was, Jim Leyland was basically asking an .050 hitter and a rookie in his first post-season AB to get a big hit in extra innings. That's a tough request. I might have hit away with Peralta there. But the "Baseball for Dummies" handbook says bunt in that situation, so there you have it.

So are the Tigers done?

So much seems to be working against them right now---the injuries, the slumps, the heating up of Nelson Cruz at the worst possible time. The baseball gods' sense of timing isn't helping the Tigers right now.

But you know what? We've all seen post-season series change in a heartbeat. And sometimes a change of venue does the trick.

It doesn't look good now, but in 48 hours this series could be much, much different.

Yeah, or OVER!

Hey---that wasn't a question. No fair.


Apology accepted. Enjoy Game 3.

(Come back here in the hours after every Tigers post-season game to read me answer the "Burning Questions")

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Blogger Kevin Gray said...

How great is Terry Francona in the broadcast booth? Will be more painful than ever listening to McCarver again.

5:36 AM  

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