Monday Morning Manager: A Weekly Take on the Detroit Tigers

Greg Eno@@GregEnoSenior Analyst IMay 6, 2013

HOUSTON - MAY 05:  Miguel Cabrera #24 of the Detroit Tigers makes a throw from his back to throw out Robbie Grossman #19 of the Houston Astrosin the fifth inning at Minute Maid Park on May 5, 2013 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Bob Levey/Getty Images

Last Week: 6-1

This Week: at Wsh (5/7-8); CLE (5/10-12)

So, What Happened?

Thank God for the Houston Astros.

More accurately, thanks to the powers that be at MLB who made the decision to put the Astros in the American League.

The Tigers—and the rest of the league—are much obliged.

The Tigers gained their first four-game sweep on the road since victimizing Kansas City in 2006, when they destroyed the pathetic Astros, outscoring them 37-8 along the way. As if putting an exclamation mark on the weekend series, Justin Verlander flirted with another no-hitter, making it one out into the seventh before former Tiger (and a whole lot of others) Carlos Pena drilled a clean single to right, almost tomahawking it.

Before the Houston Massacre, the Tigers took two of three from the surprisingly-OK Minnesota Twins at Comerica Park.

The Bengals have won nine of 11, 14 of 20 and the bats are booming. Mix in some excellent starting pitching, a calming down bullpen and some nifty defense, and it’s no secret why the Tigers are on a roll.

Even scarier for the AL is that the few Tigers bats that were scuffling are starting to feel it now. The team is literally getting contributions from one through nine in the batting order.

Hero of the Week

Was that Miguel Cabrera who MMM saw flashing some serious leather on Sunday, temporarily saving Verlander’s no-no?

Absolutely. Take that, Miggy defense bashers!

Cabrera turned in a whale of a play in the fifth inning, when he dove to his left to snag a hard shot off the bat of Brandon Laird (Gerald’s younger brother), and rolled to his left and threw the baseball while on his tushie. The ball skipped but made it to first baseman Prince Fielder in plenty of time.

It was a play that made you think a no-hitter might be in the offing.

“When I saw him dive for it, I was hoping he would be able to get up quickly and make a nice throw. But when I saw him roll over and throw it like a grenade, I’m like, I don’t know if that’s going to get there,” starting pitcher Justin Verlander said to laughter after the game.

MMM would have been tempted to name Miggy HotW for that play alone, but there is so much more to like about Cabrera’s week.

How about 11-for-26 with three homers, eight runs scored and 10 RBI?

For the season, Cabrera’s OPS (on-base plus slugging) is a ridiculous 1.080. He is batting .385. He has 36 RBI in 30 games. So far he’s MMM’s Hero of the Year.

But in a week where the Tigers went 6-1 and blasted base hits all over the diamond, Cabrera—as he often does—stood out among the rest.

Honorable mention: Prince Fielder, Verlander, Andy Dirks and Max Scherzer (MMM loved the way Mad Max put his foot on the Astros’ necks and wouldn’t let them breathe, despite all the run support he got on Saturday night).

Goat of the Week

Leave it to MMM to find a Goat in a 6-1 week.

Hey, this space shall never go blank. Never!

But MMM is gonna cheat a little and give the GotW to Houston’s Carlos CorporanThis may be a first-ever: giving the Goat to a non-Tiger.

But did you see how Corporan hot dogged his home run on Saturday night? A home run that made the score 12-1? Then, as if that wasn’t bad enough, Corporan laced an RBI single in the ninth (that made the score 17-2) and punctuated that with some swagger, too.

MMM is old enough to know that had Corporan tried such nonsense against guys like Don Drysdale, Bob Gibson, Stan Williams or Dick Radatz, Carlos would find his rump in the batter’s box dirt his next time up.

On today’s Tigers, maybe Verlander has the temperament to knock a guy on his keister after such a display.

MMM’s message to Corporan: Dude, you’re on a team that is 8-24 and may seriously challenge the 1962 Mets and the 2003 Tigers for ineptitude. Don’t hot dog—especially in a game that your team lost by 15 runs.

Under the Microscope

Allow MMM to gloat a bit.

Two weeks ago, MMM put Victor Martinez under the scope, and V-Mart responded, big time.

Last week, here’s what MMM wrote about Alex Avila’s being placed UtM: BTW, Victor Martinez appeared in this space last week, and V-Mart “responded” with a solid week at the plate. Here’s hoping!

Thank you, thank you!! MMM is on a roll with the scope!

Avila woke up, and blasted a game-winning, two-run homer in the top of the ninth on Friday night. He sprinkled in some other hits, too, before sitting out Sunday’s game due to a stomach ailment.

So what will MMM do to complete his hat trick?

How about Jim Leyland?

The skipper has to do without a DH this week in the two games at Washington. That means no Martinez in the starting lineup. Leyland has hinted that V-Mart might see some action at first base (not as a starter), but dismissed the idea of catching V-Mart.

MMM is interested to see how Leyland uses his bench in the first inter-league road action of the year.

Upcoming: Nationals, Indians

Get ready to hear it. MMM guarantees you’re going to get sick of it.

“This Nationals-Tigers series could be a preview of the World Series.”

How many times will you read and hear that this week? Plenty.

The Nationals kind of stumbled out of the gate, but they are 6-4 in their last 10 games, and are 17-15 for the season, two games behind the first-place Atlanta Braves in the NL East.

The Nats’ problem has been an offense that has taken a while to get going. Only young Bryce Harper is hitting .300. Our old pal Denard Span (nee the Twins) is having a solid year (.278, five SB).

Pitching-wise, the Nationals are strong, as usual.

An interesting matchup will be on Tuesday, when the Tigers’ big bats meet Jordan Zimmerman.

Zimmerman, a righty, has allowed just three hits and one walk in his past 17 innings. His ERA for the season is 1.64, with a WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched) of a measly 0.75.

Tigers starters: Anibal Sanchez, Rick Porcello (unless skipped due to two off days this week; then, Doug Fister).

After the Nats, it’s Hello, Ryan Raburn!

Our old pal is in a zone with the Indians.

Raburn is hitting .344 with 4 HR and 10 RBI (64 AB). He’s still striking out a lot (18), but apparently a change of scenery has done him a world of good.

MMM doesn’t begrudge Raburn his success. It was clearly time for Raburn to become an ex-Tiger. It just wasn’t working out, and his relationship with the fans had become toxic. It was Brandon Inge, redux.

As for Raburn’s new teammates, the Indians are on a roll of sorts. They have won six of their past seven games to climb to .500 (14-14). The Indians sport a new look, with veterans like Nick Swisher and Mark Reynolds joining the offense. The starting pitching is still an adventure, as usual. Ubaldo Jimenez has an ERA of 7.13, and newcomer Brett Myers is even worse (8.02).

Don’t forget that the Indians are now managed by Terry Francona, a darling of the Jim Leyland haters.

Tigers starters: Fister, Scherzer, Verlander (OR, Scherzer, Verlander and Sanchez if Porcello is skipped in Washington).

That’s all for this week’s MMM. See you next week!


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