Cleveland is showing it is the real deal for the time being.
The question in Detroit is whether the Tigers are showing what they really are as well.
Detroit suffered its second three-game series sweep in a row when Cleveland pulled out a 5-4 victory following two walk-off wins.
Some panic reaction has set in around Tigertown but the reality is Detroit could just as easily have swept Cleveland with 'normal' performances.
An early key hit in the opener could have made the difference in a game the Indians won on a grand slam home run in the bottom of the ninth. One key hit in the second would have done the trick also, as Cleveland won in the bottom of the 13th. Detroit was 1-for-19 with runners in scoring position in the two games.
There was a mild uptick in the offense in the last game after a ticked-off Jim Leyland chided his club's hitting approach, but slumping setup man Joaquin Benoit was torched for the third straight outing, giving up three runs in the bottom of the eighth to squander a hard-scratched 3-2 lead Detroit took in the top of the inning.
The Tigers got a run back in the top of the ninth but fell just a hit shy of tying or winning.
"So many swings at bad pitches," a tight-lipped Leyland said following the 13-inning affair. "Just going up to the plate and whaling. Just poor concentration with two strikes. Swinging at those kinds of pitches is unacceptable."
Leyland shook up his lineup but it was more a reflection of the fact he wanted to load up with left-handed hitters against 5-0 Justin Masterson as much as anything.
Magglio Ordonez, 2-for-23 and coming off an 0-for-6 night, was given a game off along with Jhonny Peralta, who mostly did not play so the manager could get switch-hitting infielder Ramon Santiago into the lineup. Will Rhymes led off and played second with slumping Austin Jackson batting ninth and producing a two-hit, one-walk game.
"We just didn't show any patience at the plate," Leyland said. "That many strikeouts, swinging at the pitches we swung at; that's just unacceptable. That's just the way it is. I'm not going to sugarcoat it. It's just not acceptable to swing at some of the pitches we swung at; it's not acceptable for a major league team. It's poor concentration."
Leyland keeps saying roster changes are not in order at this time and expresses faith his hitters will live up to their track records.
Four games against the New York Yankees beginning Monday should up the concentration level. As Leyland said, it's up to the players to change the way they do things at the plate.
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