And so with the mighty Tigers staring squarely at losing a home series to the lowly Royals and facing perhaps the greatest hurler in the game, Zack Greinke, Detroit brought forth their secret weapon; The Tickler. The Tickler’s left-handedness reigned down over the Royals bats, rendering them useless against his merciless arsenal of pitches. And the Tigers staved off the Royals in a 3-1 victory. Or something like that, anyway.
After handing over the first game of the series, Detroit battled to even after an 8-5 win in game two. There was little hope entering last night’s affair however, as the Royals were trotting out Cy Young, uh.. I mean Zack Greinke, to battle Detroit. In two games versus Detroit this year Greinke had offered two complete games while allowing a total of just two runs, just one earned.
Tigers manager Jim Leyland put together a solid game plan against the Kansas City Ace, an early hit-and-run paid dividends in the first, which was followed by a Clete Thomas two out RBI single to plate the Tigers second run of the opening frame. One inning later, another lefty role player, Josh Anderson, doubled and later scored on a shallow sacrifice fly by Ramon Santiago.
That was all the offense the Tigers would get, and all that Luke French would need. The left hander making just his second career start didn’t allow a run until an Alberto Callaspo home run in the seventh, and the bullpen shut down the Royals thereafter. French did allow three doubles in the game, all to Billy Butler, who apparently is unfazed and unimpressed by the daunting power of the Tickler. The evening concluded with a perfect ninth inning from Fernando Rodney, who earned his 19th save of the season, preserving the first major league win for French.
A couple of things, here. First, Luke French has been quite impressive so far. His stuff isn’t overpowering, but he has good command and keeps the ball off the sweet part of the bat quite well. He just looks like he belongs here, on a big league mound. I don’t expect he’ll carry a sub-three ERA all season, but I could see him as a better than .500 pitcher with an ERA around 4.00, which would be very serviceable, and exactly what the Tigers need.
Secondly, if there is one player I covet more than any other that would realistically be available, it’s Alberto Callaspo. He’s young, he’s a switch hitter, he’s fast, plays solid defense, and he can rake. From what I’ve seen around the league, I think he’s in the upper group of second basemen in all of baseball right now, and he’s going to get better. If there was a move to be made this offseason, I would hope the Tigers would at least try to get Callaspo from the Royals before handing the second base job to someone else, including Polanco.