05/21/08 12:13 AM ET
Tigers' bats awaken, maul Mariners
Big offensive night follows closed-clubhouse meeting
By Jason Beck / MLB.com
They have a long way to go to get back to where they want, and they still gave themselves a closer game than they needed before holding on to a 12-8 victory over Seattle on Tuesday night at Comerica Park. Still, for a team that Jim Leyland wants to hold itself accountable rather than criticizing anyone else on the team, this was a night in which many players held their own.
By the time they were finished, they had scored as many runs in one game as they did on their entire six-game road trip last week. Edgar Renteria drove in five runs and fell a double short of the cycle. Curtis Granderson had an RBI double and his first multi-run homer in more than a full year. And three different players had three hits.
It was a response that seemed more in line with Leyland's Sunday remarks to the media bemoaning the Tigers' offensive struggles than with his pregame meeting on Tuesday.
"I don't want to sound like I'm smart, because I'm not," Leyland said. "But we did tonight what I've been talking about [that] we've lacked. When we got people out there, we hit some gappers and had people running around the bases. That's what we did. We hit the ball in the gaps and we hit the ball over the fence. We had great at-bats with men on. We took what was there. We hit the ball hard. We found some holes."
A pregame meeting allowed Leyland to deliver his message that clubhouse atmosphere and chemistry had nothing to do with the Tigers' struggles this season. Leyland told reporters before the game that his players should look at themselves in the mirror and hold themselves accountable.
"Accept responsibility and personal accountability," Leyland said. "I told the team that we've played [terrible], but I don't ever say that to a team before I say that I'm [terrible]. We're all in this together. I don't mean individual players are [terrible]. I mean our performance has been [terrible]. It starts with me. That's reality.
"Tonight our performance was very, very good. We got a little sloppy at the end, but it was good. We looked relaxed. We went up there, we were aggressive. We were a team. We got a good performance. We got timely hits. That makes for a good atmosphere."
The Tigers took the field with an approach against a pitcher who threw them strikes and challenged them to hit. Carlos Silva had built a reputation for allowing hits but limiting runs against the Tigers during his Minnesota tenure; Detroit had a .312 batting average off of him entering Tuesday, but he had a 4.40 ERA against the Tigers.
He couldn't do damage control on his performance Tuesday night.
"You can never be passive on him," Granderson said, "I think that's one of the approaches that guys took today: Be ready to hit, because that one that you let go by trying to passive may be the best one you get the entire at-bat."
The first time the Tigers put a runner in scoring position, they drove him in. That was the second inning, when Renteria and Carlos Guillen hit ground-ball RBI singles after Miguel Cabrera's leadoff double.
When the Tigers had Silva struggling in the fourth inning, they turned it into a four-run rally, fueled by Renteria's bases-clearing triple.
"They have been struggling, you know, but they have a good lineup over there," said Silva, who allowed seven runs on nine hits in four innings. "If you make a mistake, they are going to make you pay. ... I was missing my spots, and when you miss your spots against that kind of lineup, that's going to happen."
Once the Mariners went to their bullpen, the Tigers pounced again with solo homers from Magglio Ordonez leading off the fifth and from Renteria leading off the sixth. Two batters after Renteria, Granderson's two-run homer ended his streak of 23 consecutive solo shots since May 9, 2007, according to home run historian David Vincent.
The Tigers drew just one walk all night, but they had 17 hits. They went 5-for-12 with runners in scoring position and left just four runners on base.
"See the ball. Hit the ball," said Renteria, who singled in the seventh but didn't have a chance to go for two and try for the cycle.
Renteria was 0-for-9 against Silva entering this game, yet his style of hitting seemingly fit Silva's approach.
"He never tries to do too much," Granderson said. "He's not going up there trying to kill you by hitting a home run. He's going up there, trying to do enough with it. Sure enough, he gets a triple on a line drive, he gets one ball out of the ballpark, he gets another single. Everything looked like, 'This is where the ball is pitched, I'm going to try to hit it back where it came from.' He does that as well as anybody in the league."
Detroit's 12 runs tripled the amount of support that starter Justin Verlander received in his previous four starts combined. In turn, Verlander (2-7) tossed six innings of one-run ball to end a personal four-game losing streak. His seven strikeouts marked a season high, and the only run he allowed came on Adrian Beltre's solo homer.
Six earned runs off Detroit's bullpen turned the game into a save situation for Todd Jones. Still, the Tigers can look at themselves and know that at least they no longer hold the league's worst record.
"Hopefully we can take off from here," Renteria said.
Leyland isn't promising anything. But he couldn't resist a jab at the chemistry questions.
"Go out there tonight," Leyland said, "and the clubhouse looks pretty good to me."
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.