There were plenty of things to like about the Tigers 6-2 win over the Mariners tonight. But the best moment from a night full of them came in the top of the 8th inning.
With the bases loaded Austin Jackson was in an 0-2 hole. He had already fouled off three pitches while facing 0-2 and it felt inevitable that the inning would end with a “Tigers threaten but do not score.”
But Jackson took ball one. Ok. Bobby LaFromboise had essentially thrown five straight strikes, so a waste pitch out of the strike zone was bound to happen. Still it was 1-2.
Jackson took ball two. Now hope, which had already dissipated, slowly returns. Jackson is no longer in a hole. The count is even. Jackson has new life. The pressure is now on LaFromboise, who has nowhere else to put Jackson with the bases loaded.
Jackson took ball three. Well now we’re invested as fans. What was a meaningless at bat bound for a tragic ending is now the most important at bat of the entire game. It will all come down to one pitch (a slight exaggeration but when you’re in the moment everything feels this important).
Jackson takes his base and an uncomfortable two-run lead becomes a slightly more comfortable three-run lead with the bullpen ready to take over the game.
Considering how well the Tigers pitchers performed, Jackson’s at bat wasn’t a turning point in the game nor was it the moment Detroit clinched this one.
But it’s a great example of how much better Jackson has become as a hitter. He opened the game facing an 0-2 count and that at bat ended in a triple and he eventually scored.
Jackson has come a long way from the player who struck out 170 times in his rookie season only to follow that up with 181 strikeouts in his sophomore year. And if he continues to improve on this transformation into a more patient hitter, Jackson could very well be the consensus No. 1 hitter in the league.
Not a bad player to have setting the table when Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder and Victor Martinez are the ones coming to dinner on a nightly basis.
- The bullpen may be a concern of ours for a while, but it’s clear that when it comes starting games, the Tigers have no problems. It’ll be interesting to see if Detroit can continue it’s run of scoring first (and scoring in the first inning) all year.
- Prince Fielder needs to take the tape of this game and just burn it. There’s nothing you can learn from watching yourself strike out four times in a game. Sometimes it’s best to just forget about the day and move on.
- I like Al Alburqurque. I’ve been in love with that slider ever since I first saw it. And I know he walks guys way more than a closer should. But why not try him as a closer?
- What more can be said about Miguel Cabrera? At this point he needs to start not hitting for us to write more about him. He’s become as predictable (in a great way) as the sun rising and setting. Never change Miggy.
- If Alex Avila continues to struggle at the plate the way he has been (.195/.233/.341 with 12 Ks in 10 games before tonight) the Tigers will essentially have 0 catchers for the entire season. Fortunately his defense hasn’t been this bad.