Last week: 4-3
This week: at LAD (6/20-22); ARZ (6/24-26)
So, What Happened?
The Detroit Tigers tied the Cleveland Indians for first place, took first for themselves, fell back into a tie with the Indians, and then slipped back into second place—all within a matter of days. Just another roller coaster week in what has been a roller coaster season for the Tigers.
Oh, and Justin Verlander went 2-0, with two dominant complete games. Just another week for JV, too.
Those rumblings you hear, by the way, come from the Minnesota Twins.
Hero of the Week
MMM is almost sheepish to name Justin Verlander the HotW, because it’s like shooting fish in a barrel. But MMM needs to give credit where credit is due.
JV, as mentioned above, tossed two complete games—against the Indians and the Rockies—and both games were crucial to the Tigers. On Tuesday, Verlander lifted the Tigers into first place with a gem in which he didn’t allow a hit until the eighth inning. On Sunday, Verlander mesmerized the Rockies, snapping a two-game Tigers losing streak and nipping any nonsense in the bud.
Verlander is in a zone that hasn’t been seen by a Tigers pitcher since the days of Lolich and McLain. Even Jack Morris wasn’t this dominant for this long of a stretch.
Honorable mention goes to Alex Avila, who had another solid week and is currently stirring All-Star talk. He is also looking more and more like the Tigers catcher for the next 10 years. AA does a great job of driving in runners from third base with less than two out; his 71 percent success rate is 16 points higher than the MLB average.
Goat of the Week
Rick Porcello didn’t give the Tigers a chance to win Friday’s game in Colorado a day after the team reclaimed first place from the Indians. The bullpen didn’t help, either. But Porcello gets this “honor” for laying an egg right at the time when he looked to be finding his groove.
This might seem like an unfair GotW, but MMM isn’t always interested in justice!
Porcello must bounce back on Wednesday in Los Angeles.
Under the Microscope
It’s only been a week, but how can MMM NOT put Magglio Ordonez UtM?
Although MMM has been a strong and faithful Maggs supporter, it’s only natural to put him UtM now that he has returned from his extended stay on the DL due to a bad ankle. Prying eyes will be on him.
He came back last week to mixed reviews—hitting the baseball hard a few times without being rewarded, but also looking slow and old on occasion.
It’s too early to tell what, if anything, Maggs can give the Tigers at age 37.
But that won’t stop people from voicing their premature opinions. Just listen to sports talk radio if you don’t believe MMM.
With no other serious concerns aside from the much-maligned Ryan Raburn, Magglio Ordonez is squarely UtM for this week, and beyond.
Upcoming: Dodgers and Diamondbacks
Interleague play continues as the Tigers venture to Chavez Ravine to take on the LA Dodgers Monday thru Wednesday.
Yes, the Tigers visited the Dodgers last year, too. And yes, the Tigers entertained the Arizona D-backs—their other opponent this week—last season as well. How can the IL schedule be so repetitive?
Regardless, the Dodgers have been a mess on and off the diamond. They’re going through a nasty divorce with owner Frank McCourt, who’s dragged the good Dodgers name through the mud.
On the field, the Dodgers are still chasing .500 more than they are first place. Yet they have Matt Kemp, and he’s a beast.
Kemp has 20 homers, 57 RBI, and is batting .328 on the season. His partner in crime, Andre Ethier, has been in a power drought but is still batting .313. Shortstop Jamey Carroll has been a pleasant surprise in hitting .308, though he has only eight RBI on the season.
Lefty Clayton Kershaw starts Monday. He’s 6-3 with a 3.28 ERA and he averages about 9.5 strikeouts per nine innings. Kershaw is only 23 years old and is a rising pitching star.
Over the weekend some old pals return to Detroit—Kirk Gibson and Alan Trammell. Gibby manages the Diamondbacks, and Tram is his bench coach. Gibson has the D-backs playing surprisingly good baseball, battling for first place in the NL West behind clutch hitting and solid pitching.
Right-hander Ian Kennedy, 26, is 8-2 and is scheduled to start on Sunday—the same day the Tigers take advantage of Gibson and Trammell’s presence to retire Sparky Anderson’s No. 11.
Kennedy leads a D-backs rotation that features three starters with ERA's 3.56 or below: Kennedy (2.98), Josh Collmenter (2.09), and Daniel Hudson (3.56).
But the biggest variable is Gibson, who took over last July from A.J. Hinch, commandeering a volatile situation and seizing the opportunity. He was rewarded with a new contract after the season. In 2011, Gibby’s bunch has been one of baseball’s biggest surprises.
But maybe those who know and have followed Gibson shouldn’t be so surprised.
That’s all for this week’s MMM. See you next week!