May 10, 2006: Role Reversal
Last night at The Yard was a perfect example of what they call role reversal. There were the Tigers, arguably the biggest surprise team in baseball after losing 100-plus games two years in a row, with their 20-11 record. In the other dugout were the Orioles, with a 13-18 record, a five-game losing streak, a battered pitching staff, a mostly offensive offense, an injury-ravished lineup, and a penchant for having whatever could go wrong…go wrong.
In addition (and this is the real kicker) the Tigers had a lefthander (Nate Robertson) pitching. They probably took this one off the board in Vegas because the O's went into the game 1-9 against southpaw starters, with the nine losses comprising an active losing streak. Throw in a 5-2 lead after five innings and...you get the idea.
Then a funny thing happened. Actually, make that two funny things -- well, strange would be the better word for the Motowners. The guy with the most impressive offensive line, Detroit shortstop Carlos Guillen, made two errors, both with two outs. Presto...three unearned runs and a 7-6 win for the hometowners. Miguel Tejada followed the first error with a homer in the third. Melvin Mora capitalized on the second miscue with a game-winning single in the eighth.
Guillen's final numbers for the night: on base five times (in as many plate appearances), one run scored, three runs driven in…and, oh yes, two errors and the game's goat horns. Of the 13 runs scored, Guillen had a hand in seven of them.
Even at that, the boo-boos might not have mattered if Fernando Rodney hadn't picked an inopportune time for his first meltdown of the season. Rodney entered the game with a 1-0 record, five saves, four hits and no runs allowed in 13 previous appearances. As relief pitching goes that is practically perfection, and the righthander appeared on the verge of supplanting veteran Todd Jones as manager Jim Leyland's closer of choice.
Bingo, bango -- home runs by Mora and Jay Gibbons tie the game in the seventh... Guillen's second error, Mora's ensuing game-winner and Chris Ray's eighth save in as many chances and the Orioles had a late-inning come-from-behind win, something that could best be described as rare around these parts in the last few years.
Posted May 10, 2006