Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Tigers' All-Star performance further proof of turnaround

        The worst-to-so-far-first Tigers could hardly have scripted Tuesday night’s All-Star Game any better if they had tried.
        Curtis Granderson scored the winning run in the eighth inning after a capping off one of his trademark triples with a head-first slide into third base; Edwin Jackson pitched a perfect fifth inning, disposing of National Leaguers Yadier Molina, Ryan Zimmerman, and Hanley Ramirez with just four pitches; and Brandon Inge, the people’s choice, played the final two innings at third base, guaranteeing that Games 1 and 2 and 6 and 7 of the World Series will be played at Comerica Park, provided the Tigers get that far.
        As expected, Justin Verlander, who pitched seven innings on  Sunday, didn’t get into the game. But that was fine with him. Verlander was so sure he wasn’t going to pitch that he advised his parents not to bother making the trip to St. Louis.
        But the presence of four Tigers -- nearly one-sixth of the squad -- on the American League All-Star roster was proof of the turnaround the team has made this season.
        A year ago, Verlander led all AL pitchers in losses with 17. A year ago, Inge endured a nightmare season, first losing his job at third base, then languishing on the trading block, a player without a position. A year ago, Jackson won 14 games for Tampa Bay only to be inexplicably excluded from the Rays’ starting rotation in the postseason.
        In 2007, the Tigers sent five players to the All-Star Game. This year they sent four. But only one, Verlander, is a repeater. That says something about this team.


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