Baltimore – No, it is not to be confused with 15 hours in a coal mine. Or, an overtime shift on the auto-plant assembly line. Or a frenzied, stressful night in the hospital’s emergency ward.
This, after all, is baseball.
And it can still tire a man out.
Ron Gardenhire offers testimony there. The Tigers played two games Wednesday, which meant they were at PNC Park from roughly early afternoon until past midnight. They had to be back at the ballpark the next morning for Thursday’s 12:35 p.m. game.
The human body is the human body, no matter if your job is in sports.
“I was really worn out when we got back here,” the Tigers skipper said, speaking for his team after the Tigers arrived Thursday night in Baltimore. “I was gassed.”
A lengthy night of sleep revived a manager as well as his players ahead of Friday’s weekend-series opener at Camden Yards.
“I love it down here,” Gardenhire said of Baltimore and Camden Yards, a place he knew regularly during his years as Twins manager. “You can walk to the ballpark. And I like being by the water.”
The Tigers and Orioles have had collective problems through April, and not only with the weather.
While the Tigers were sitting with a 10-13 record, and a mounting column of tough losses, the Orioles had fared much worse: 6-19 through their first 25 games.
The Tigers were hoping to bring further cruelty on manager Buck Showalter’s team, which was to start Chris Tillman, a right-hander, who came into the evening with an 0-4 record and a 9.87 ERA. The Tigers were to respond with right-hander Mike Fiers.
Ready for duty
A fresh face was looking like a great bet Friday to make his first Tigers appearance.
Johnny Barbato, a right-handed reliever, seemed all but a lock to pitch a day after he had been recalled from Triple A Toledo.
Barbato, 25, was a waiver-claim by the Tigers in January from the Pirates.
He threw well in spring camp, with a hard, mid-90s fastball, and would have made the team were it not for some elbow ills that kept him in Florida.
“He’s got stuff,” said Gardenhire, who was reluctant to stick Barbato into Thursday’s game, only hours after he had joined the team. “He’s been throwing the ball good in Triple A and they (Tigers staffers there) said he could help us.”
Gardenhire acknowledged Friday that opposing defenses are choosing, in an uncommon number of occasions, to draw in their infields hoping to chop down runs at the plate, even early in the game.
Past baseball wisdom has suggested that early in a game it’s better to concede a run on a ground ball rather than risk a big inning that can happen if grounders that might otherwise be fielded scoot past drawn-in infielders.
“It’s a trend, I guess,” said Gardenhire, who admitted he’s been surprised by how many clubs are playing to choke off an early single run. “A lot of different theories there. A lot of young managers and analytics.”
The Tigers skipper also said weather might have some bearing on strategies. Cold temperatures often mean runs are at a premium. The number of one-run games in which the Tigers have been involved – seven in their first 23 – offers some support there.