Last Week: 1-6
This Week: CWS (8/3-5 [DH 8/3]); LAA (8/6-8)
So What Happened?
You can blame everything on MMM.
About two months ago, I buried the White Sox in this piece. I declared the AL Central to be a two-team race.
Well, I was right—sort of.
The Central IS a two-team race, but sadly, the Tigers aren’t one of those teams.
Oh, how quickly everything has collapsed!
A pennant race can be like a house of cards for certain teams who are delicate and fragile.
A swift breeze of injuries and a certain rookie falling back to Earth blew in after the All-Star break, and the Tigers’ cards are now scattered all over the floor.
Just a couple of weeks ago, the Tigers were in the thick of things. But a 4-15 spate has put them, for all intents and purposes, out of the running.
It all happened so fast, and with such force.
Brennan Boesch’s batting average continues to tumble. The bullpen is unraveling. The starting lineup is looking like the Toledo Mud Hens with a few Tigers sprinkled in, when it’s supposed to be the other way around.
Shall I go on?
Hero of the Week
You’re kidding, right?
Well, actually, the Tigers’ starting pitchers are throwing their little hearts out; they just can’t get any support of the run variety.
The Tigers are wasting quality starts as if they grow on trees.
The starters are the only thing that have been promising this past week.
Oh, and Miguel Cabrera, as usual.
Miggy’s shoulders are broad, but he’s not Atlas.
And how about newly-acquired Jhonny Peralta, with his two homers in his first two Tigers at-bats?
MMM is sticking with the starting pitchers; their efforts have been in vain, but at least they’re showing SOME promise for a team that’s skidding.
Goat of the Week
Boesch, again. Jim Leyland. The bullpen. The baseball gods. And I’m just getting warmed up.
But if MMM has to pick one (the unofficial rules of this analysis say so), the winner (loser?) is the bullpen, which wasn’t any help at all last week.
The Red Sox grabbed two walk-off wins over the weekend, and made a bid for a third. The Rays punished the ‘pen down in Tampa earlier in the week.
The bullpen has been mostly a bright spot this season, but as with everything else with this team right now, it’s sagging under the weight of all that befalls the Tigers.
The bullpen can be a saving grace when the starting pitching falters, and can be invaluable when a team is going good.
But when the bullpen is caving, the effect can be extremely demoralizing. And games get lost.
Upcoming: White Sox and Angels
This is it, folks.
If the reeling, banged up, rookie-laden Tigers have a pulse, we’ll find out this week.
That’s because the Tigers get the White Sox for four games at Comerica Park.
Those are the first-place White Sox, behind whom the Tigers sit by seven games. You know—the team I buried at the end of May.
Make no mistake: if the Tigers don’t at least split with the White Sox, they’re done.
Or maybe I’m just trying to use the same reverse hex that seemed to work so well with the South Siders when I declared them out of the race.
No, it’s the first thing.
If the White Sox take three of four, they’ll spring nine games ahead of the Tigers. Then it’ll be goodnight, nurse.
Later in the week, the Tigers entertain the wobbly Los Angeles Angels.
It wasn’t supposed to be like this for the Angels. They weren’t supposed to be hovering around .500 as August dawned, some eight games behind the Texas Rangers.
They were supposed to be in control in the AL West, as usual. They finished 10 games in front of the Rangers last season.
The Angels have been so used to winning, their current situation must be untenable to them.
They, too, look like a team that will be sitting home come October.
But baseball is funny. When your team is going bad, it seems like they’ll never win another game all season. And when it’s on fire, it seems indestructible.
So no matter how much a team they’re playing is struggling right now, the Tigers have the look of a ballclub that couldn’t fight their way out of a wet paper bag.
They look like a team that won’t win another game all season.
Sorry to be so bleak; MMM just calls ‘em as they’re seen.
That’s all for MMM this week. See you next Monday!