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Leyland misses big chance

Mack Avenue Tigers' Kurt with some quick reactions to the dramatic first-game loss:

    1. Jim Leyland definitely needed to pinch hit Magglio Ordonez for Brandon Inge or Ramon Santiago in the ninth, and if it didn't work make the needed substititions. That was a better bet than letting the two actually bat when one hit ends it.
    2. Aubrey Huff has never played in the playoffs in his life. Starting to think that's for the better. He has been awful and pretty much useless since joining the team. I don't care if he is a rookie, use Alex Avila as DH against right-handed pitching. Or Carlos Guillen as DH and put Ryan Raburn in the lineup. I'm sick of seeing Huff ground out in key situations.

    --snip--

    8. This team is so incredibly frustrating. It had potential to be one of my favorite Tigers teams during my lifetime. And yet, sometimes I'm pretty sure when the season is over I'll be glad we never have to watch it again. You shouldn't be feeling that about a team in first place in the final week of the year, should you?

    9. Maybe that's just another tough loss speaking.

It is. If the Tigers win tonight, and one of the following two games, all this ugliness will be forgotten.
Well, most of it, anyway. In the bottom of the ninth, the game tied, Carlos Guillen led off with a walk. Wilkin Ramirez, one of the two fastest players on the team, pinch-ran for Guillen. Gerald Laird bunted him to second base.

One out, and a single wins the game. What you want next isn't a power guy, or even an on-base guy. What you want next, most of all, is a hits guy.

Brandon Inge, a right-handed hitter, is batting .228 this season, and .225 over the last three seasons. Against right-handed pitchers -- Minnesota's Jon Rauch, for instance -- he's about as far from a hits guy, in this situation, as you're going to find playing regularly in the majors.

Santiago's a different story, though. A switch-hitter, he's actually got a .276 batting average over the last three seasons, and he's been better against righties than lefties in his career.

Inge lifted a fly ball to right field, not even deep enough to advance Ramirez to third base. Santiago, though, rifled a line drive to deep right field. Off the bat, I thought he'd won the game.

Should Leyland have replaced Inge with Ordonez? Yeah, he probably should have. For all his struggles this season, Ordonez has batted .353 since the All-Star break and he's obviously got a better chance than Inge of driving in a fast runner from second base.

But Leyland has lifted Inge for a pinch-hitter just once all season. We can hardly expect the salty old dog to start making the percentage move now.