Monday, September 11, 2006


Tigers’ Nadir Can Either Be Death Knell, Or Turning Point

(my weekly take on the Tigers)

Last Week: 2-5
This Week: (9/12-13: TEX; 9/15-17: BAL)

This is as low as it gets.

With one 12-1 loss yesterday, the Tigers: a) saw their winning percentage dip below .600 for the first time in months; b) had their AL Central lead cut to two games, the smallest since the All-Star break; c) lost for the 22nd time in their last 32 games; and d) fell oh-so-meekly – again – to one of the better pitchers in the league.

I’ll tell you this: a, b, c, and d might not spell anything, but they DO add up – to the nadir of this season.

This is the lowest point, and it’s so because the Tigers have never looked as feeble, as impotent, and as helpless as they do right now. They hardly look like a team on the verge of clinching a playoff spot. They look more like a team hanging on for dear life, hoping that somehow the calendar becomes their friend and their opponents stumble.

OK, but not all is lost.

If the Tigers can circle yesterday – September 10, 2006 – as the date on which they sunk to their lowest depths, but use it to their advantage, then maybe 9/10/06 can be a turning point. Maybe they’ll be able to point to it at the end of the season as the date on which they hit bottom, and then rose back up, like a phoenix. Maybe it doesn’t get any worse, and the law averages will enact themselves, and the Tigers will start to win some ballgames.

That’s all they need to do, by the way – just win a few ballgames. The Tigers, at this point, only need to bob themselves a tad above .500 – like 10-8 the rest of the way – to finish with enough victories (96) to make the Twins and the White Sox play like gangbusters the rest of the way. The Twins are only one behind Detroit in the loss column, but they would still need to win 14 of their last 20 to finish with 97 victories. And if the Tigers do stumble some more – and they might – they have that 3 ½ game bulge over the White Sox for the Wild Card to comfort them.

It’s amazing, really, that we should talk about the Tigers as merely Wild Card contenders, when just one month ago, the divisional race was an absolute joke. The Tigers and that spiffy 10-game lead looked like such shoo-ins, this September Scramble was unfathomable. But this is baseball, and these are 162 game seasons, and only can a ten-game lead survive the 10-22 quagmire the Tigers currently find themselves in. And it’s barely surviving. The Tigers have pretty much used up all of their mulligans. It’s time to win some ballgames.

They still only have to win a few more than they lose the rest of the way to settle matters. Trouble is, 10-22 stretches don’t portend a return to winning any time soon. That’s nearly a quarter of the season playing .313 ball.

The Tigers better hope it doesn’t get any worse than this.


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