Jim Leyland: “You’ve Got to Hit Somebody”


In the wake of yet another lackluster effort from the offense, Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland vented his frustrations. “We’ve got to swing the bats better,” said Leyland, “this is the big leagues. You’ve got to perform. That’s just the way it is.”

Leyland’s post game comments strayed from his usual even-keeled tone as he teetered on the edge of outrage. He finally stated the feelings every Tigers fan has had when this team gets beaten by pitchers they should hit.

“But one thing I don’t buy is everybody doesn’t pitch their best game of the year against you.” He went on, “That’s three pitchers, and you’ve got to hit somebody, you’ve got to hit somebody.

“My only issue is (four) runs in three games — that’s not good. They’re all very good pitchers, they all don’t have their best games against us. (…)

“At the major league level you’ve got to beat good pitchers, ’cause they’re all good pitchers up here. That’s the way it is. You can figure you’re going to see good major-league pitching the rest of the season.”

Personally, I think at least part of the blame for yesterday’s lack of firepower lies on the head of Leyland himself. Magglio Ordonez was again a late scratch from the lineup as he continues to battle a sore oblique. Instead of shifting his lineup, Leyland simply slotted Ryan Raburn (he of the sub-.200 average) into the three-hole.

When the Tigers had their last chance to score in the eighth, loading the bases with one out, it was Raburn who popped up, failing to bring home a run. Miguel Cabrera struck out to end the threat.

I’m not going to harp on Leyland and his blatant misuse of the three-hole. This is a horse that was long since dead. Last season, when Ordonez was struggling so mightily, Clete Thomas found himself batting third for much of the year, obviously Leyland doesn’t understand the concept of a lineup.

The simple fix should have been to hit Raburn sixth and move Carlos Guillen, one of the hottest Tigers hitters, ahead of Cabrera. But that’s just not the way Leyland does things. He prefers to blast the offense after the fact, I guess.

Put people in a position to succeed and perhaps they will. Leyland didn’t put his hitters into the best possible position, and to no one’s surprise, Raburn (and the rest of the lineup) failed.

The Tigers will have another chance to hit somebody this evening when the Pirates come to town to start a long stretch of interleague games for Detroit, beginning with a nine game homestand.

Ross Ohlendorf (0-3, 4.30) will open the series for Pittsburgh. After posting a very solid season in 2009, Ohlendorf has regressed so far this year. He’s not overpowering despite his 6’4″ 245 lbs frame, and he has walked as many batters as he has struck out this year (23 of each) in 37.1 innings.

His offense doesn’t hit anybody, either. Ohlendorf is getting an average of just 2.13 runs per game in support, which bodes well for Justin Verlander (6-4, 3.65), his opponent tonight. But Ohlendorf has had great success against the Tigers in his career, albeit a very small sample size. In two games (one start), the Princeton product has held the Tigers to three hits and one run over 9.1 innings, though none of those innings came as a visitor.

In his last appearance versus Detroit (6/14/09), Ohlendorf’s Pirates beat Dontrelle Willis in a 6-3 decision. Ohlendorf worked six allowing just two hits and one run. Willis walked eight and gave up six earned in under four innings that day.