Monday, August 21, 2006


Time To Worry? 5 1/2 Game Lead Never Seemed So Small

(my weekly take on the Tigers)

Last Week: 3-4
This Week: (8/21-24: CHW; 8/25-27: at Cle)

It's all a matter of perspective, really.

The last time the White Sox were in town -- July 18-20 -- the Tigers' lead was 4 1/2 games. It seemed sizeable, because it was growing. After dropping Game 1, the Tigers rebounded to capture the next two games, each punctuated with turning points that will not soon be forgotten. In Game 2, Craig Monroe's grand slam woke up a slumbering office and carried the Tigers to victory. In Game 3, Marcus Thames took out Sox second baseman Tadahito Iguchi, breaking up a double play. The inning stayed alive, and the Tigers scored the winning run. When Chicago left town, the lead was 5 1/2. The same as it is this afternoon. But fans around here were thrilled that the lead was getting larger.

Today, the Tigers' 5 1/2 game lead doesn't impress quite as much. Maybe it's because two weeks ago tonight, the Tigers had managed to balloon their advantage to 10 full games. Maybe it's because they've lost nine of their last 12 games. Maybe it's because the Tigers are 3-9 vs. the White Sox. Maybe it's because they dropped the final three games of the Texas series -- unable to get a key hit to save their souls.

Or maybe it's because we've seen teams wilt in the August heat many times before.

I'm not going to rehash those chokers -- been there, done that on this blog -- but suffice it to say that larger leads have been lost in lesser amounts of time.

The Tigers, I think, will do well to have the White Sox visit this week. Instead of being afraid to face your stiffest competition, embrace it. Get caught up in the moment. And remind them that YOU are the one being chased, not the other way around.

Word is the Sox puffed out their chests a bit after sweeping the Tigers out of Chicago recently. But since then they've also gone 3-4. They've lost seven more games off the schedule, and haven't gained any ground. The Tigers can whack off four more games with the same result if they split this series with the White Sox at CoPa.

And the 5 1/2 game lead will look better on Friday morning than it does this afternoon.


Blogger Ozz said...

zI've read others' suggestions that maybe there's some kind of mental block going on when the Tigers play the White Sox, as if they're intimidated.

For the most part, nothing has been firing on all cylinders for the Tigers. Hitting isn't happening. There have been some key defensive miscues. There's been some decent pitching, but Verlander has struggled and Bondo stunk yesterday.

I like that David Bowie song "Panic In Detroit", but I'm hoping there's no reason to panic.

3:07 PM  

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