Aubrey Huff has already said that he is excited to finally play on a team that is in contention for a pennant.
His first game with the Tigers on Tuesday night was one that featured superb pitching, clutch hitting, and tense moments throughout. The Tigers ended up winning 5-3 by scoring four runs in a somewhat quirky eighth inning.
In something I have never seen at the big league level, Miguel Cabrera was caught picked off in between 1st and 2nd due to the old long arm fake to third, throw back to first. Apparently the Mariners are a little rusty in this type of situation, because 1st baseman Russell Branyan seemed to forget about Ryan Raburn. Raburn took off and snuck under the late throw home to give the Tigers the 5-3 lead.
On Sunday, fans were calling for Raburn to be cut or never be allowed to play again (a typical fan reaction) after committing three errors at third base, two of them being in the same inning late in the game that gave the Royals the game winning run.
This was all after a great pitching performance by both starting pitchers, Felix Hernandez and Rick Porcello. Porcello struck out a career high eight and pitched one of his more impressive games of the year, while Hernandez was excellent against the Tigers once again, striking out nine over seven innings and giving up just one run.
It was nice to see the Tigers bats come up with hits when they needed them, especially after the abysmal 0-16 with runners in scoring position on Sunday. The double steal (even if it wasn't intended) was exciting and something that fans of baseball don't see too often because it's just so difficult to do. Alex Avila continues to come through every time he is given the chance.
Given the fact that Hernandez shut down Detroit while he was in the game, it was necessary for the Tigers to take advantage of the situation when he was out. And the Tigers did just that, scoring four runs in the 8th. A win is a win, even if some times you get a little lucky.
However, something has been bothering me. I've been a baseball player all my life, and garnered all-state honors my senior year in high school. As a fairly knowledgeable player of the game, there is one thing I do not understand that seemingly occurs time and time again at the major league level.
Curtis Granderson comes up with a man on first, no out in the bottom of the eighth. He had struck out all three of his previous at bats in the game. Being down by 2, why aren't you bunting? Sure, you have 23 homeruns, but you have a .256 batting average and your long, looping swing creates more popups than spyware on a computer.
I find myself shouting at the television in obvious bunting situations, especially when there is a popout, strikeout, or even worse, a double play as a result of not bunting. I understand that the Tigers are second in the American League in sacrifices, but this is just a general statement.
With me being an advocate of playing the game the right way, bunting to put a man in scoring position is an integral part of the game that I wish major league teams would do more often. I understand that you, more often than not, don't want to give up a run to put a runner into scoring position, but it's part of the game. I honestly wonder if some of the players at the major league level could put down a bunt in a situation when they needed to.
Back in 2000, Joe Torre had his team bunt a mere 22 times over the course of a 162 game season. Could it be that clubs with big time sluggers aren't expected to bunt and instead take the risk of striking out, flying out, or grounding out? The percentage of not getting on base somehow is usually around 70-75% for most major leaguers.
While it was a nice, exciting win, I would have pointed at the Granderson at bat in the eighth as a sour point had the Tigers not won that game. Bunting is not bad, and it's something that the game is lacking these days.