MLB Playoffs 2011: 6 Detroit Tigers That Need to Step Up in Game 5
The Tigers failed to eliminate the New York Yankees at home in Game 4 of the ALDS. Now the series heads back to the Bronx for one final game and the winner will be facing the Texas Rangers in the ALCS while the loser will go home and spend October watching from the couch.
This Tigers can eliminate the Yankees but they'll need players to step up and lead them to the ALCS for the first time since 2006.
Notice something in this picture? Alex Avila is bunting. He is bunting to get the runners over which, while a good idea, is not something you want from your near .300 hitter who hit 19 home runs during the regular season. During the ALDS, however, Avila has been ice cold. He does not have one hit and seems to be nothing more than an an automatic out.
As one of Detroit's best left-handed bats, Avila really needs to step up in Game 5 and take advantage of the right field wall in the Bronx.
After killing a possible Game 3 rally with a double play, Ramon Santiago came up huge with two RBI to help the Tigers to a 5-4 win over the Yankees. Santiago didn't have much luck in Game 4, going 0-4 with a strikeout.
Santiago is a switch hitter and with the Tigers facing right-hander Ivan Nova in Game 5, he will be batting from the left side and has a chance to put one in the right field seats. He should get the start at second to help defensively.
I know this won't be the most popular thing, but go along with me on this. Brandon Inge needs to start Game 5. He is better than Wilson Betemit defensively and has actually had some big hits this series, unlike Betemit who just looks completely lost.
If Brandon can just get on base and play good defense then he will have done everything Tigers fans ask of him for Thursday.
Austin Jackson has not been the defensive wizard that Tigers fans have come to love in his first playoff appearance. A few balls have been hit over his head that have led to big runs for the Yankees. Jackson needs to keep the triples and doubles away on balls hit to center and even take away a few singles.
Though he started the series striking out plenty, Jackson has been seeing pitches and getting big hits and walks, exactly what Detroit needs from its leadoff hitter.
The Right Fielder
Who will be the starting right fielder in New York? It could be Don Kelly, Magglio Ordonez or Andy Dirks. Don Kelly is a left handed bat that has more than enough power to clear the right field wall and is far better than Ordonez defensively. Ordonez has been hot offensively lately and there's not much ground to cover in right.
Andy Dirks has yet to play in the playoffs. He has a decent bat and is good with the glove, though a Game 5 situation may be putting too much on someone making their playoff debut (especially when his MLB debut was the same year).
I would say give Kelly the start in right for Game 5.
Doug Fister was a godsend when he was acquired in July. He was a true No. 2 behind Verlander when Scherzer couldn't figure out who he was (hopefully the answer is the guy we saw Sunday). In Game 1, Fister was shaky. He had a good few innings but got hit around in the sixth. However, Fister was not given the corners by the home plate umpire that night. You saw how CC Sabathia pitched when he was squeezed in Game 3, so it's obvious that it affected Fister when his spots were taken away.
If Fister is given his spots or he is able to work around we should see his usual stuff on Thursday.