Monday, May 22, 2006


Tigers Using Same Recipe For Victory As '68 Team

My weekly take on the Tigers

Last week: 5-1
This week: (5/22-25: at KC; 5/26-28: CLE)

As I've mentioned here before, I've been listening to "The Year of the Tiger," an audio cassette recording of the 1968 album recreation of the Tigers' World Series season.

That season, the Tigers used the weapon of the late-inning rally to overwhelm their opponents, time and again. And the game-breaking hits came from not only the usual suspects -- Horton, Cash, Kaline, etc. -- but from the "no-names" like Matchick, Price, and Tracewski.

When backup catcher Vance Wilson hit a two-out homerun to beat the Twins' ace Johan Santana in the eighth inning last Thursday for a narrow Tigers victory, it got me to thinking.

"When THAT happens," I said, referring to Wilson's unlikely tater, "you start to wonder."

Then Curtis Granderson, perhaps not so unlikely a hero, smacks a two-out solo homer in the ninth inning to tie the Reds. The Tigers won in the tenth -- on an errant throw from shortstop. Yesterday, Placido Polanco -- definitely more likely a hero -- gets a game-winning pinch single in the eighth inning to break a scoreless tie. The Tigers win again.

It's the same formula used in 1968. A different hero every game.

There is no Denny McLain and Mickey Lolich, but there is Kenny Rogers and a cast of young guns who, as a rotation, might be as formidable as McLain, Lolich, Earl Wilson, and Joe Sparma. Maybe more so. No kidding.

I keep waiting for the Tigers' team ERA to rocket, but it's staying steadily in the low 3's, and that'll win you a bunch of baseball games.

This week presents a different type of challenge. Instead of seeing how the Tigers measure up against stronger opponents -- that'll be next week when the Yankees and Red Sox come to town -- they'll have to do what a contending team does: beat up on the likes of the Royals. They have four games in Kansas City, and contending teams win three of the four in those types of series.

Strangely, it'll be interesting to see if the Tigers are looking ahead to next week's big boys.

The Tigers taking a team lightly? They certainly have every reason to. We'll see if they do.


Blogger Ozz said...

I think if Leyland even suspects that they're taking a team lightly and looking ahead to someone else, he'll snuff it out and get them focused.

2:17 PM  

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