Monday, August 26, 2013

Drip, Drip, Drip...

There's no shame in getting swept by the Detroit Tigers. They currently sit as not only the defending American League Champions, but they have to be considered the odds-on favorite to repeat and go back to the World Series. Their lineup relentless, they didn't pound the Mets into submission (unless Miguel Cabrera was involved) so much as they just sort of station-to-stationed them to death. After their unsurprising beating of Daisuke Matsuzaka on Friday night, they combined for 33 hits in the two games on Saturday and Sunday, 29 of which were singles. What this proved is that even the most sedentary of teams can beat you, particularly if they string enough hits together.

Their 3-0 victory over Matt Harvey on Saturday was a good enough example of this. The Tigers banged out 15 hits. There was a double from Andy Dirks and a double from the pitcher Max Scherzer, and 13 singles. Matt Harvey managed to Houdini his way out of allowing more than 2 runs, but the Tigers tacked on another run late and, offensively, the Mets had no answer for Scherzer or the suddenly revitalized Tigers bullpen.

Sunday was, perhaps, an even better example of just how difficult the Tigers are. I was making a very rare Sunday appearance at Citi Field. I probably wouldn't have gone to this game, but if you can believe it, this was actually one of the games I selected as part of my 15-game plan. For whatever reason, I picked this game, probably because I was plotting on being free that day, or because I wanted to see the Tigers, or because I thought they might have something interesting going on (besides a Tom Seaver Bobblehead giveaway). Nothing particularly special came to pass, so for all intents and purposes, I was there simply because I had the tickets. I was somewhat hopeful that the Mets, who would be sending one of their hotter hands in Dillon Gee to the mound, might be able to salvage this game and avoid being swept. For a spell, it looked like it might happen. Though Miguel Cabrera struck for a monumental 2nd deck Home Run that disappeared into the Acela Club, Gee settled down and allowed the Tigers little more than a bunch of singles after that. Meanwhile, the Mets struck back, and actually took a lead for the first time all weekend when Travis d'Arnaud hit his 1st Major League Home Run (and even earned himself a curtain call) in the 4th inning. But Andy Dirks snatched that lead back 2 innings later with a Home Run of his own.

The two Home Runs from Cabrera and Dirks aided the Tigers to a 4-3 lead, but they also were the only two extra-base Hits the Tigers would generate on this afternoon. Going into the 9th inning, they'd managed 11 hits, but only 4 runs and the Mets certainly had to feel like they had a puncher's chance in the bottom of the 9th.

Then, the Tigers started getting singles. And more singles. And more singles. And more singles....And even more singles. Tigers kept moving station to station around the bases until they reached home. It was like some sort of demented water torture, watching these dunkers drop in or sneak through the infield and baserunners trotting slowly from base to base. The runs mounted up. LaTroy Hawkins couldn't stop it, and by time he mercifully departed, the damage was done and a 4-3 deficit had become an 6-3 deficit. Scott Atchison came in and was probably even worse, allowing a few more hits and garnished the shit stew with a couple of wild pitches, and by time the inning was done, 11 men had come to bat, 7 had hit singles, 1 had walked and 7 runs had scored. 4-3 had turned into 11-3 and a good game had gotten real ugly.

The point is, the Tigers can do it to you quickly, or they can do it to you slowly. But somehow, it appears, they're going to do it to you, and the best you can hope for is that it just remains respectable. The Mets were only vaguely successful in this endeavor. Fortunately, the Mets only have to face the Tigers once every few years, so it's not of such alarming concern.

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