At one point a few weeks ago, there were lots of complaints about our fabulous four. These men all won individual awards last season but were off to pretty slow, uninspired starts, it seemed.
Randy Messenger was 1-3 with a 5.63 ERA to start the year. What does he do? Just pitch 7 innings of 1-run ball to help the team start just its second winning streak of the season. And he’s still not pitching his best! He even said so in the hero interview. I’m sure we are going to see a great May from the team’s best pitcher. Perhaps another wins title, another strikeout title as well? After all, he now holds the Central League record for most career double-digit strikeout games by a foreign pitcher (12). Here’s Randy having fun trying to sign the camera lens after the game.
Seung-hwan Oh was putting men on base like it was the latest fashion in the early going. Through four outings he had allowed 11 baserunners and despite only giving up a run, he looked really shaky. Since then, he has calmed down and has recorded 9 saves in 10 chances. He now holds the club record for most career saves by a foreigner (48), surpassing Jeff Williams.
There was talk of Mauro Gomez being overweight and out of shape, but over the past two weeks he has knocked in 13 runs and is in second place in the Central League with 19 on the season. His batting average (.316) is tops on the team as well. Not bad for a guy that everyone complains “strikes out too much” or “chases too many bad pitches.”
Finally, Matt Murton was dropped to sixth in the batting order because of “poor hitting.” I’m not going to deny that he looked a little lost up there and grounded out to pitcher (or any of the infielders) way too much for the first half of April. But since ending a 24-at bat hitless streak, Murton has hit safely in five straight games (8-for-19 = .421) with 4 runs batted in. His average nearly dipped below the Mendoza Line last week, but is now a much healthier .245 – and it continues to rise with each passing game.
In all fairness to these four men, they have were the most consistent players on the whole team last year, and cannot be expected to carry the load every game of every season. But it sure is nice to see them back in the headlines – for all the right reasons.
The Tigers now are now riding a three-game winning streak — their first since the opening series of the season — and sit just 2.5 games behind the Giants and Swallows in the Central League standings. Just a few more wins and they will look like a completely different team than the one that was tied for last place less than a week ago. GO TIGERS!