Tigers continue their inconsistent ways

DETROIT — Timing hasn’t been a staple of the 2012
Tigers. Then again, neither has consistency.

After Magglio Ordonez’s retirement ceremony at sold-out Comerica Park (42,419
in attendance), Derek Jeter did his best to take the crowd out of the game.

About 10 minutes after the field was cleared of all things Magglio, Jeter
planted a Justin Verlander fastball 357 feet away into the right-field stands
to get things started in the Yankees’ 5-1 victory. Two walks, a passed ball and
a sacrifice fly later, the Tigers trailed the Yankees 2-0 heading into the
bottom of the first.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi had spoken before the game about the importance of
early runs. Jeter delivered for the manager in sublime fashion.

“(Jeter’s home run) gave us the lead, and talking about Verlander, a lot
of times if you don’t get him early, you don’t get him at all,” Girardi
said. “That’s the bottom line.”

As it turned out, Verlander never got things going. He was erratic at best from
the get-go, needing 58 pitches to get through just four innings — not exactly
trademark Verlander. Then again, neither is a 29:29 ball-to-strike ratio. 
Or surrendering a Greenberg-Gehringer monument-splitting home run to Alex
Rodriguez.

Nothing was quite trademark about Sunday’s performance.

Verlander went 6 1/3, yielding five runs — three earned — on nine hits, four
walks, four strikeouts and two home runs. A good, but not his usual
Verlander-esque line.

Phil Hughes, the Yankees very own Magic Mountain, pitched his first career
complete game. He allowed one run on four hits and three walks, while striking
out eight. This was after Hughes’ atrocious outing in Anaheim (seven runs on 11
hits in 5 1/3 innings).

“”It feels great,” Hughes said. “My fastball was staying
more true … had some good life on it. I just felt a lot better overall.

“And a leadoff homer, it always helps, you know, especially off of
Verlander. You take what you can get.”

FLAILING TIGERS

Just one night after coming up with some timely hitting, the Tigers bats fell
flat. Flat Stanley flat.  

They mustered just four hits. Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder and Delmon Young
went a combined 2-for-11 with a home run and four strikeouts. Hitters eight-through-two
went 0-for-12.  A bad night, but teams have these games. The bigger issue
might have to do with plate discipline.

Against Hughes (5-5, 4.96 ERA after Sunday), the Tigers never sent more than
four batters to the plate in an inning.

They had four 1-2-3 innings. Most troubling of all? Hughes entered the eighth
inning with 98 pitches. He was at 105 after the eighth.

Omir Santos and Quintin Berry swung at the first pitch before Danny Worth
looked patient by association in his four-pitch at-bat. One inning, seven
pitches.

And it isn’t just a one-game affair. Saturday night, even in a winning effort,
the Tigers forced the Yankees to throw just 114 pitches as a team. The Tigers,
by contrast, offered 174 times to Yankees hitters. The Tigers got lucky
Saturday, but not Sunday.

They need to do a better job of making pitchers work, especially if a pitcher
has it working the way Hughes did.

FAN-DEMON-IUM

There was another fan-on-the-field incident on Sunday, this coming just a week
after a streaker made headlines during the USA v. Brazil soccer match.

In the ninth inning, a fan clad in camouflage cargo shorts and a Cookie Monster
T-shirt jumped onto the field, ran around for a while, then went and gave
Yankees right fielder Nick Swisher a high-five.

“He just came over to me and was like, ‘Come on, dude, give me some
DAPS,'” Swisher said. “And I was like, well, he’s going to jail, why
not?”