Sweaty Men Endeavors

The sports blog with the slightly gay name

Friday, April 21, 2006

Fighting for a win

It's still early in the season, but is it possible that the Tigers' ninth-inning rally over Oakland yesterday was the kind of game that could serve as a team's turning point? (Maybe "tipping point" is the more appropriate term.)

Brandon Inge's 15-pitch battle with Justin Duchscherer almost seemed to be a direct response to those who have criticized the Tigers for not extending at-bats and making pitchers work. By the time Inge fouled off nine straight two-strike pitches to fight his way on base, Duchscherer (subbing for the chest-strained Huston Street) had nothing left for Curtis Granderson and walked him in for the go-ahead run.

The best line goes to Jim Leyland, however, for describing Inge's at-bat as lasting for "one-and-a-half Marlboros." I considered taking up smoking myself after the fifth foul ball. (Just kidding, Mom.)

Throw in Jeremy Bonderman sticking it out for six more innings, after giving up three runs in the first, with Fernando Rodney hanging tough after loading the bases in the ninth and getting the win, and you have what Billfer called "comeback jubiliation." Hell, I stood up out of my chair and yelled when Rodney struck out Adam Melhuse to end the game. (Back to the set-up role for you, Fernando.) I can't remember the last time I did that while watching the Tigers.

But it's only a turning (or tipping) point if Detroit carries that same resolve to Seattle and Anaheim for the next six games. If they slide into old tendencies, act as if their work for the road trip's already finished with the two wins in Oakland, play lethargically against the Mariners, and then try to get it all back against the Angels, yesterday's comeback might not mean a whole lot and Leyland could blow his stack for the second time in as many weeks.

The next week could give us a much better idea of what kind of baseball team we'll have in Detroit this summer.

(Photo by Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

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