Jim Leyland’s Return to Pittsburgh Less than Triumphant


I think Leyland has a point this time, Mr. Joyce
The Detroit Tigers played a three game interleague series last weekend in PNC Park in Pittsburgh. One of baseball’s most breathtaking ballparks has consistently housed one of the worst teams because ownership has refused to spend money over the last decade plus.

The last time that there was a competitive product on the field Jim Leyland was the manager. He took his Detroit Tigers into Pennsylvania looking to make a statement-only to come away limping on Sunday night.

The Pirates took the first two games  decisively while the Tigers shut them out on Sunday. Scoring five runs combined over the series will not get the job done. Detroit was actually fortunate to come away with a win and they have Rick Porcello to thank for that. The young gunslinger only threw eighty four pitches over eight innings of work. The one hit he gave up didn’t do any damage on the scoreboard.

There was some question about how he would perform because Porcello hasn’t started a game in about a week and a half. His fourth win came in convincing manner even though he had to sweat it out due to the lackluster run support. My local Fox Sports Radio affiliate called this matchup the most unappealing in Major League Baseball over the weekend. I would find fault with that statement because both teams hover near the five hundred mark, so they at least have a chance at postseason play at this juncture.

Jose Valverde also effectively closed the game for the Tigers. Blowing a late game lead can be demoralizing to the fans and the players.

The sixth and seventh innings did in the Tigers on Saturday night. The Pirates scored three in the sixth and three in the seventh to put the game out of reach. This loss was also the first of the season for impressive starter Max Scherzer. There were multiple doubles in the middle of the game from the likes of Miguel Cabrera and company that provided the two runs.

Other than this spurt, the offense was dormant through much of the contest. It is concerning because the Pirates don’t put out the kind of rotation that there in-state counterparts do in Philadelphia. It is not up to Leyland’s expectations that the team is mediocre heading into the last week of May.

The upside of the scenario is that the expected rivals in Minnesota and Chicago haven’t been worthy adversaries. I picked the Twins to win the division before the season. That prediction had the same logic behind it as the recent rapture countdown. It now appears to be up for grabs and Detroit has a real chance to grab the crown.

It truly is a major factor that American League pitchers have to hit when they are in National League parks. It is an unfair advantage for the home team that becomes apparent numerous times a game. It can also necessitate more pitching changes from the manager to provide more at bats for position players.

–Patrick Herbert

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