Yesterday, Tigers pitcher Doug Fister committed unspeakable acts in Arlington, Texas, giving up nine runs (eight earned) over four and a third innings, in a 13-9 defeat. Considering it was the rubber match of a more-important-than-usual mid-season series, one can forgive Tigers fans for feeling as if theyâd been violated in a horribly unconscionable manner.
Coming on the heels of a solid run in June, where they had won four straight series and appeared to be breaking out of their season-long slump, finally crawling within spitting distance of .500, losing the last two series to the Pirates and Rangers hurts, to say the least. Whatâs even more painful is what the two teams theyâve lost those series to represent.
The Pirates are a walking repudiation of the way this Tigers team has been built (well, Pittsburgh doesnât walk all that much, or do anything else particularly well offensively, but you get the idea). With their payroll coming in at about one-third of the Tigers, the Pirates have found a way to forge a winner through pitching, defense, and depth. The stark contrast between the two teams was readily apparent as the Buccos managed to win two of three games despite scoring just ten runs combined. For those who thought this Tigers team was a lock to mash its way to a playoff spot, watching them lose to a more fundamentally sound team has to temper whatever enthusiasm might still be left.
Losing to the Rangers, on the other hand, points to two major issues the Tigers must be concerned with. First, as a team with a large payroll that has spent a lot of money the past couple of offseasons, like the Tigers, fans and front office personal alike can look back on what Texas has done and wonder, âWhat if?â What if, two winters ago, instead of singing Victor Martinez and resigning Brandon Inge, they had splurged on Adrian Beltre? Or, what if the Tigers had done a better job of drafting and developing talent, putting themselves in position to thrive via homegrown players, as well as being in position to make more trades to strengthen the big league club?
Secondly, if the Tigers do end up making the playoffs, it is likely they are going to have to get through Texas in October. The results of the two teamâs matchups thus far does not bode well for such an occurrence, as Texas now has a 5-2 record against us this year.
One thing that really shocked me about the series in Arlington was that the people of north Texas appear to have gotten over the worst tragedy in their regionâs history. I know itâs been nearly fifty years, but starting Lee Harvey Oswaldâs grandson just a few miles from Dealey Plaza reeks of insouciance. I mean, the grandfather fires bullets from the sixth floor of the book depository and now his grandson is firing bullets past hitters…
Whatâs that?… Itâs spelled with a âTâ at the end?… Are you sure?… Okay, but I assume he changed it to shed his grandfatherâs terrible legacy… He didnât?… Theyâre not related at all?… Are you certain?… You are. Huh. But have you looked at pictures of the two of them? I mean, they look a lot alike. Both trashy southern white dudes and all.
You know, I think maybe somebody should look into this. Like a congressional investigation or something. Is Earl Warren still alive? Iâm sure thereâs some grainy video footage that could come into play. Or possibly the CIA, the mafia, Fidel Castro, LBJ, and the Stay-Puff Marshmallow Man conspired together. Somebody should write a book about it. Or make a movie. Something like that. Whereâs Oliver Stone when you need him?