Mother’s Day 2016 was a beautiful day at Comerica Park. The sun was shining, the fans were wearing their pink, and the Detroit Tigers were in the lead. Until the horrendous eighth inning.
Prior to the eighth inning, the fans at the park were having a blast. There were cheers for every strike and strikeout. Verlander was applauded for strikeout number 1981, which put him in second place in the all-time Detroit Tigers strikeout list. He passed Jack Morris and now has 694 to go to pass Mickey Lolich. The fans gave JV a well-deserved standing ovation when he finished his time on the mound.
The wave even made it around the park five times.
Everyone was expecting the bullpen to do what it did in nearly every game this season: close out the game with success. Yeah…that didn’t happen.
Instead, Justin Wilson came out and could not get an out. He faced two batters and put them both on base. Brad Ausmus quickly pulled him and put Mark Lowe on the mound. He put more batters on by intentionally walking Mitch Moreland, then putting the hot Elvis Andrus on by hitting him in the shoulder with a pitch. Then, Bobbie Wilson – yes, the Bobbie Wilson who was a Tiger just a week ago – hit a grand slam.
And, it hurt. The pain became even worse when Lowe gave up another home run to Delino DeShields right after Bobbie Wilson trotted back to the dugout.
Fans were not waiting around for a potential recovery. They cleared out in droves and the park became eerily silent.
The Tigers have talent, but they are having difficulty making things happen. It is evident that Ausmus is trying to get a spark started, but nothing seems to work. In the bottom of the eighth inning, the Tigers had the bases loaded. Anthony Gose was up and after three quick strikeouts in his previous at-bats, Ausmus made the Dartmouth move to give Jarrod Saltalamacchia an opportunity to pinch-hit for the slumping centerfielder. This was a smart substitution, but it did not pan out when Salty grounded out, ending the inning and leaving three runners on base.
The end of the game felt too much like any game from seasons past. It was so disappointing – it is difficult to put into words how disappointing it truly was. This is why the park was so silent. No one knew what to say.
The Tigers need to get loud. They need to get obnoxious on the field and in the dugout. Winning teams have teammates who are leaders and the Tigers seem to be lacking this vital necessity. If the lack of leadership continues and the Tigers continue their downward spiral into obscurity, there will be major changes. Fans deserve better. The players deserve better, too.