As briefly mentioned at the end of the last post, ALDLAND will have a presence in Detroit this weekend, where the Tigers will host the Atlanta Braves for three games, beginning tonight.
After twenty games, the Tigers can’t seem to get themselves above .500, and the early ride has been bumpy.
Yesterday afternoon’s game was particularly rough. After allowing just one earned run, starter Justin Verlander left the game with a lead on the scoreboard and a sore throwing-hand thumb. Rookie reliever Bruce Rondon, making his first major-league appearance, promptly gave up that lead, and then the ball. Phil Coke entered and, through a series of walks of varying intentionalities, put Detroit behind. Darin Downs relieved Coke and immediately gave up a grand slam. The supposedly hard-hitting Tigers, who have a way of not scoring late, plated no runs from the fifth inning on through the tenth, when they lost.
As anyone reading Upton Abbey knows, the Braves are red-hot. The consensus best team in baseball, Atlanta is off to a 15-6 start, and they’re hitting home runs like crazy. I haven’t taken a close look at their runs/inning distribution, but it sure seems like they can hit for power both early and late.
Interestingly for an early season interleague matchup, the Tigers and Braves actually have faced a mutual opponent in the Kansas City Royals, against whom each team played a two-game series. While Atlanta and Detroit both split their series with K.C., winning the first and losing the second, the feel for the two teams was different. I attended game one of Royals-Braves, where I saw Atlanta’s offensive firepower on full display. While I was a bit mystified at the Braves’ inability to heat up their arsenal in the second game, a 1-0 loss to a
resurgent team is far from a disaster. As mentioned above, though, a disaster is exactly what Detroit’s second game loss to the Royals was, and the Tigers tenuous win in the first game was far from a clinic.
One area where the Tigers do outpace the Braves is in fan support (displaced or otherwise). Sports on Earth’s Will Leitch ranks Detroit baseball fans in his second tier of fans– “Historically important franchises with grand histories and solid fanbases that are still getting back on their feet, with the potential to reach the top tier with a run of success”– and adds that Tigers fans are “awfully close to the top-tier right now, actually,” and “are among the best in the game.” Braves fans, meanwhile, are fifth-tier fans in Leitch’s evaluation, which he labels “Disappointments, or ‘C’mon, guys, let’s get it together.'” He describes this group as “contending teams that just can’t seem to get the fanbases out,” acknowledging that “all Atlanta sports teams sort of have this problem.” (It will be interesting to see how Leitch’s perception of Atlanta fandom develops in the future, as he apparently is moving here soon.) Let’s raise a glass of Major League Baseball’s most expensive beer by volume and toast to confirmation bias.
Whatever happens this weekend, I am glad I have an opportunity to see the Tigers play this season. Keep it here for updates.
Jet Set (Sigh?) – 4/23
Run distribution, science, and the likelihood of a Detroit comeback – 4/15
WSJ throws a wet newspaper on the Tigers’ 2013 chances – 4/3
A Tiger is a Tiger is a Tiger – 3/29
The Departed – 3/14