Sunday, April 16, 2006

Tigers Blank Indians

One of the good things about independent blogging is I can choose not to write about games like yesterday. Instead, I’m free to write about what Mark Fidrych is doing in 1976. Or I can talk about what Cameron Maybin might be doing in 2008. Or I can go off on a sabermetric dissection of the 2006 season so far. Today, however, the Tigers played a game I don’t want to ignore.

They shutout the Cleveland Indians 1-0 today. It was the type of win that has been rare for the Tigers in recent years – a tough victory against a strong divisional opponent in a game dominated by pitching and defense. Mike Maroth, who had been pushed back two games due to a tender elbow, pitched 7 strong innings allowing just 4 hits. Joel Zumaya came into the game in the eighth and put two men on with one out. However, he proceeded to electrify the crowd by striking out Grady Sizemore and Jason Michaels with an impressive display of 99 MPH heat and unhittable curves. Fernando Rodney then saved the game with a perfect ninth. The strong pitching was backed by near flawless fielding, something which has been pretty common this year so far.

The only offense came from who else ? Chris Shelton hit a solo home run in the fourth, his eighth of the year. I hate to nitpick after an impressive victory but one thing that still baffles me is Jim Leyland's insistence on Shelton batting sixth. I'm sure there are psychological reasons why Leyland feels he needs to keep Shelton in the sixth spot. However, I just can't see it. He already showed last year that he can handle the third spot in the line-up. It's not like he is a rookie who needs to bat lower in the line-up to take the pressure off.

Not only is he batting sixth, but he consistently has one of the weakest hitters in the line-up batting in front of him. Look at today's game. The fifth man in the line-up came up with runners on first and third in both the first and eight innings and in both cases the runners were left on base. Now, there is no guarantee that Shelton would have fared any better but I’d much rather have him up there than Dmitri Young or Marcus Thames or Craig Monroe. Shelton needs to be in a position where he comes up as often as possible and also comes up with opportunities to knock in or score runs. He should be batting third but at the very least I think he could be moved into the fifth spot without damaging his psyche too much.


  1. That was definitely the sort of game that a good team would win. A bad team such as those to which we have become accustomed would have lost that one with a leaky bullpen.

  2. I agree that game had a good feel to it today. They haven't won that kind of game too often in the past.



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