Today was a split squad day in Detroit Tigers spring training. In one game, the Tigers faced Toronto Blue Jays and the other squad faced the Washington Nationals.
While the Detroit Tigers who faced the Blue Jays fared well, the game against the Nats was a serious embarrassment.
This would normally not be that big of a deal, but the Nats squad was loaded with minor league players and the Tigers squad was full major leaguers.
And, the ones with the words “All-Star” in their histories.
Who Stunk it Up?
Unfortunately, that team, with six All-Stars on the starting roster, could not get a run scored against a team full of unknowns (except for Adam Lind). This should never happen in the regular season and it also shouldn’t happen in an exhibition game. Ever.
But it did. Why?
The All-Stars on the team included Ian Kinsler, Victor Martinez, Miguel Cabrera, J.D. Martinez, Alex Avila, and Jose Iglesias. The other starting Tigers were Nick Castellanos, Mikie Mahtook, and Anthony Gose. Of those six All-Stars, only Jose Iglesias recorded a hit. Castellanos and Gose each recorded one hit.
Who Embarrassed the Tigers?
The starters were shut down by a 23-year-old pitcher named Joe Ross who has pitched for two years with Nats and has a career ERA of 3.52 and a WHIP of 1.22. And, to make things worse, they were also shut down by Taylor Hill, a 27-year-old pitcher who has pitched a total of 21 innings in the MLB and has an ERA of 6.00.
So what happened? Offensively, nothing. The bats could not make contact. In less than two weeks, a few of these starters make their way to the World Baseball Classic. Kinsler plays a week from Friday on March 10. Miggy and V-Mart show their skills on the same day. You can see the schedule here. None of these three All-Stars struck out, but none of them could put anything together. Maybe they are saving it for the WBC? Whatever they are doing, it isn’t looking good. Right now, Kinsler has a BA of .231 and V-Mart has .143. Miggy is batting .400 – but not today.
Same Ol’ Pitching Issues
Sadly, the embarrassment came from the fact that the Nats scored nine runs to the Tigers’ one. Five of them happened in the first four innings – when the starters were also playing defense. Only one of the runs was a home run that was hit in the fourth inning against Shane Greene.
The other four early runs were assigned to Mike Pelfrey and Alex Wilson. Both gave up two earned runs. Pelfrey’s final line in 1.2 innings included four hits, two runs (both earned), and two walks. Wilson’s line wasn’t much different. In one inning, he gave up three hits, two earned runs, and one walk. Neither of the men recorded any strikeouts.
In an article about today’s game, Anthony Fenech from the Detroit Free Press recorded Mike Pelfrey as saying:
"“I was just terrible today,” Pelfrey said. “I wasn’t very good.”"
Miles Jaye gave up the four more runs. Overall, it was all just plain old ugly.
Enough of Mike Pelfrey?
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What was the problem? Because, the only thing that I can think of is that the Tigers have had enough of Mike Pelfrey. Could they possibly be playing in a way that makes him look bad? I refuse to believe that this team could be embarrassed by a group of unknown players, so this is pure speculation. Since, Cabrera, Martinez, et. al are too good to perform so poorly, there has to be a reason. And, it certainly wasn’t that the other team was better.
Fans Want Better
If they simply were outplayed, I’m hoping that the team was embarrassed so much that they never allow this to happen. They need to remember that there are fans who are paying to sit in the seats at Joker Marchant Stadium. Also, the team needs to remember that the City of Lakeland, Polk County, and the Detroit Tigers paid for a $40 million renovation. Read more about the renovation from Detroit Free Press beat writer Anthony Fenech. Ultimately, there is a lot of money involved in spring training in Lakeland, Florida. Therefore, the product for the fans should include more quality.
Let’s hope this was a complete fluke and that the team will come out strong in the rest of their outings. When it comes to baseball, the way that teams practice often dictates how they perform – even the best of the best. Get it together, boys.