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“Who Wants the Ball?” That’s the Most Important Question Detroit Tigers Must Answer to Halt Skid

May 27th, 2014 at 2:26 PM
By Max DeMara

The Detroit Tigers were rolling along through May, owners of baseball's best record after an impressive sweep at Fenway Park, a place that had been their oldest nemesis in the game.

'Max Scherzer' photo (c) 2013, Keith Allison - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Then, cold hard reality humbled them. Plane troubles derailed the already weary Tigers in Cleveland. It was the imperfect start to a perfect storm, as the tired Tigers were hammered by the Indians in three straight games. Then, the resurgent bats of the Texas Rangers took aim, and after a bloody four day 35-15 shelling in Detroit, the team was off to Oakland, where perhaps a bit jet-lagged, they proceeded to keep the bad streak going on Memorial Day, losing 10-0.

For reasons currently and likely forever unknown, Detroit's starting pitching, long considered the backbone of the team and the main strength of the 2014 club, has gone an abysmal 1-6 with an ERA of 8.00 during this troubling period. Everyone, from rookies to Cy Young winners both current and former, have been tattooed by hitters both hot and cold, young and old.

As a result, baseball remains the most unexplainable, maddening daily phenomenon. However, what's most frustrating about the game is also what makes it great: the ability to quell momentum, positive or negative, with one big play, clutch hit, or pitching performance that results in a team win.

To end their slide, the Tigers have to get back to the basics of internal self pride. The starting staff, which has plenty of such pride and helps set the tone for every game, has to ask themselves the question: who here wants the ball? Which one of us wants to be the one to end the slide and get things going in the right direction once again?

Fortunately for Detroit, they've got one such competitor slated to pitch on Tuesday night in Max Scherzer. Though Scherzer's last outing was his ugliest in some time—seven runs on twelve hits— he rarely makes a habit of duplicating such messes. Moreover, Scherzer's intense, bulldog mentality makes him a perfect candidate to get things going again, and establish the urgency that his teammates may have previously been lacking.

One good night from Scherzer could set a comeback in motion for the Tigers, who might need one ray of sunshine to find the confidence to turn everything else around. If not Scherzer, then Anibal Sanchez must answer the bell with competitiveness, or Rick Porcello after him, or Justin Verlander after that.

Detroit has too many strong-willed minds on the mound to remain in a funk forever, meaning the next string of good days is likely lurking somewhere just around the corner, found in an inning still unknown and a ballpark yet undetermined.

At this point, it's up to one of the Tigers' starting pitchers to take ownership, grab the ball and set the tone for the rest of the club to find that moment.

Max DeMara is the editor of @tigers_101. Follow the site there on Twitter, or like it on Facebook to connect with him

Tags: Anibal Sanchez, Baseball, Detroit, Detroit Tigers, Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, MLB, Rick Porcello

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