10/27/06 1:58 AM ET
Casey's might sparks Tigers offense
First baseman's 3-for-4 night, homer helps keep hope alive
By Alyson Footer / MLB.com
Early in this game, it looked as if the tweaks were just the magic touch the Tigers needed to pull out a win. Leyland dropped Placido Polanco from third to seventh in the order, moved Sean Casey from seventh to fifth and shifted Carlos Guillen from fifth to third.
And the Tigers, who had struggled offensively through the first three games of the World Series, jumped to a three-run lead in the third, largely because of contributions made by those who were hitting in different spots.
But the Tigers still lost to the Cardinals, 5-4, and now they are on the verge of World Series elimination. That, of course, took some of the shine off Casey's second-inning solo homer that contributed to his 3-for-4 night. It also dulled a solid night for Pudge Rodriguez, who ended an 0-for-23 slump with three hits in four at-bats.
"I think we swung the bats well," Casey said. "I just wish we could have gotten a win, that's the bottom line. We didn't win. But we swung the bats better, and hopefully tomorrow ... we're in a must-win situation, so we have to win tomorrow."
The Tigers have scored nine runs in four games, shut down by a Cardinals pitching staff considered far inferior to the Tigers' entering this Fall Classic. The Tigers had their chances on Thursday, but they stranded nine baserunners. They also suffered from a combination of bad luck and bad execution on the defensive side, which gave the Cardinals extra opportunities they wouldn't have had with a smoother Tigers output.
"I thought that our bats woke up a little bit tonight," Leyland said. "Pudge came out with three hits, Polanco hit a couple balls good, Casey had three hits tonight. We perked up offensively tonight. We just didn't do quite enough."
Early in this game, it looked like Casey was on his way to single-handedly carrying the Tigers to a win. He drove in the first two Tigers runs, first with the solo homer and then with a single in the third that preceeded Rodriguez's RBI single that extended Detroit's lead to three.
Casey singled up the middle in the fifth, but his luck ran out in the seventh when he flew to right for the last out, stranding Guillen at second.
Still, the Tigers' overall offensive effort gave the club something positive to take into Game 5 on Friday, which will either send the Series back to Detroit or send the Tigers home for the winter.
"It gives us some confidence," Casey said. "Hopefully, tomorrow we can come out and swing the bats and put a lot of runs on the board. Anytime you lose in the World Series, it's never good. I've been around too long to realize you're going to have games like that. Every guy in here goes full tilt the whole game. Sometimes you get it done and sometimes you don't.
"We're going to play like we've played all year long and try to get Game 5. That's our only goal tomorrow, is get Game 5 and get back to Detroit. Anything can happen when you get tomorrow's win."
The Tigers went about their business after the game as they had throughout their playoff run. Sure, it was typically quiet, as is always the case after a loss, but the players made it clear they're conceding nothing.
"Our clubhouse isn't particularly down right now," Leyland said. "That's one of the cultures that we changed around here, because I think had I gone in my clubhouse tonight and seen everybody with their head down, to me that's a sign of a losing team. And the sign of a winning team is in there, and goes about their business like they normally do.
"Is there a little more at stake here? Obviously, there is. I told them tonight, go about your business, turn the music on, get your food, talk to each other, and go home with your families, come back tomorrow. But I don't want to see anybody sitting around with their head down. To me, that's the sign of a losing team, and we're not a losing team."
Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.