Today was supposed to be a new day in Detroit Tigers land. The Tigers opened a three-game series with the Texas Rangers, but with an unusual lineup and an extremely disappointing outcome that continued the decline that started in Cleveland.
Again, the question is who is to blame? Honestly, it’s a clubhouse-wide problem.
Brad Ausmus has been given a pair of bench players who are better in the infield than the outfield. This is not his fault, but the way he is using them is. So, when an outfielder is given the day off, there is no one who can effectively take his place. This was clearly obvious in the last two games.
The lack of an outfield bench option is the fault of Al Avila. This issue needs to be dealt with sooner rather than later.
Today just happened to be J.D. Martinez‘s day off. Since Andrew Romine filled in for Anthony Gose yesterday, he couldn’t take Martinez’s place – so Mike Aviles got the call instead. Not only did Aviles take over the right field duties today, but he also got the second spot in the lineup.
This was one of the big problems in today’s game. While Ausmus did not go out there and bat for Aviles, he did choose to put Aviles in J.D. Martinez’s spot in the batting order. So, the lineup is the fault of the manager. Why, oh why, did he not put Aviles at the end of the order?
If you are wondering what Ausmus was thinking, I’d like to know, too. The official line is that Aviles has good numbers against Cole Hamels. But, after going zero-for-three in the game with a pair of strikeouts, Aviles did not show good numbers. The other official line is that Ausmus did not want to disturb the rest of the lineup by putting Aviles in the nine hole.
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Honestly, those are weak reasons. Aviles has faced Hamels five times and has a double and a pair of home runs. However, that was with a completely different team in completely different seasons. It is clear that players do not perform the same way from season to season, so those previous numbers are not reliable. He entered the game with a .167 batting average. Cole Hamels entered the game with a 3-0 record and a respectable ERA of 3.30. The odds are on the pitcher in this case. And, Hamels definitely dominated the matchup.
At the end of the game, Aviles’ batting average dipped to .148. This is thoroughly unacceptable, even for a bench player. His lack of hitting is his own fault.
Everyone with the exception of Ian Kinsler is to blame for the lack of runs scored. And, of course, the best person to blame is Cole Hamels, who happened to pitch like a Cy Young winner – even though he is not.
After this sad outing, the Tigers returned to a .500 record. Maybe the rest of the weekend will go better. Hopefully.