It is rare that a team looking at a sweep still has so many of its fans feeling uneasy.
While being up two games in a five-game series is a great position to be in, there are signs for concern. The stats can be spun in a positive way, of course: despite the Tigers shortcomings they have won both games. Yet, the way the first two games played out does cause worry over what will happen during the remainder of this series (and the rest of the playoffs, should Detroit advance).
On the positive side, Detroit's sarting pitching has been great. Justin Verlander and Doug Fister were excellent in their starts. Verlander has the best ERA among starters so far in the playoffs, while Fister is fourth. They combined for 19 strikeouts, allowing only three earned runs in their two respective starts.
While many worried about how the Tigers defense would hold up in the playoffs, so far they have been solid. Meanwhile it is the Oakland defense that has been making the errors. Detroit has been able to capitalize on A’s mistakes.
On the down side, Prince Fielder, Austin Jackson and Delmon Young are all hitting below .222. More of their runs have come as a result of A’s mistakes than from their own production. While it is great to be able to win games in that manner, there comes a time when you have to produce on your own.
The big worry is still the bullpen. Phil Coke has not allowed a run but gave up a walk and a hit while getting only two outs. He does not instill much confidence at this point and still looks uneasy on the mound.
Joaquin Benoit is a mess. In Game 1, he got out unscathed, but he came perilously close to giving up a tying home run before settling down and getting out of the inning. In Game 2, he gave up a home run then threw a wild pitch to allow another run.
Between shaky relief pitching and quiet bats the Tigers are lucky to be poised to sweep the series. They should be applauded for overcoming these complications and taking a commanding lead. Hopefully, they will straighten out these issues to not only sweep the A’s but to win throughout the playoffs.
In the end, there is no such thing as a bad playoff win, but in order to keep adding to their playoff win total, they will need to improve.
PJ Sapienza is a featured columnist covering the Detroit Red Wings as well as many other sports.
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