Before the game on Saturday the Tigers were presented with their American League championship rings. And what good is having a giant, gaudy, impractical ring if you can’t show it off?!
“I haven’t really seen the effects of that so far. That’s why he’s playing the next couple of days. To see what he’s got,” said manager Jim Leyland, who penciled Santiago into the lineup Saturday at second base, and intends to play him at shortstop on Sunday.
“He’s a big part of our team, and has been in the past. Did not have a good year last year. Started out OK in winter ball, but did not finish real good in winter ball. So we’ll just have to wait and see how that plays out.”
It has to do with the right-handed Benoit’s skill at pitching to left-handed hitting batters. It’s a talent you also need during the set-up eighth inning, which tends to be Benoit’s province, but Leyland will try and nurse the eighth with other combinations as the Tigers deal with their closer-deprived bullpen.
By then, word had filtered among the crowd about Alex’s death. Brad and Jan saw the few Tigers fans at the game stand and applaud their son. “We had tears in our eyes,” Brad says. Max worked three shutout innings against the Pirates, then gave up a three-run homer to Andrew McCutchen. He battled back with a scoreless fifth. After the inning, Max sat alone in the dugout. His hair was soaked with sweat; he had never been this tired during a game. Physically, emotionally exhausted. One more inning, he told himself. That’s all I can give.