Monday, August 13, 2007

Monday Morning Manager

(my weekly take on the Tigers)

Last Week: 4-3
This Week: (8/13: OAK; 8/14-15: at Cle; 8/16-19: at NYY)

This is as big as it gets for mid-August.

The Tigers take on the Indians and Yankees both on the road, for six games. No biggie -- just the two teams that surround them in the standings. The Tigers hold a 1/2-game over the Tribe in the AL Central, and are one game behind the Yankees, who are scorching hot. The Indians are about as hot as the Tigers, which is somewhere between tepid and room temperature. But often how well a team plays changes from series to series.

Speaking of which, I'm blaming this current Tigers funk (8-16 in their last 24 games) on the Curse of the Twins. That's right. The Twins, in case you don't know, are my most-hated team in all of MLB. It's that damn dome, mainly -- plus the fact that they never seem to go away.

This slide began immediately after the Tigers swept the Twins in the Metrodome. Detroit was 57-36 and was heralded as the best team in the bigs. Then the wheels started to come off. It's almost like the baseball gods said, "OK, you swept the hated Twins -- but it'll cost ya!!"

Big time.

Are they out of this malaise? The two-game winning streak notwithstanding, I won't be convinced until this rash of games with the Indians and Yankees (both teams visit Detroit next week) is completed. Then we'll have a much better gauge.

It's simple, really. The starting pitchers need to get deeper into games. With Fernando Rodney back and appearing to be effective, and Joel Zumaya almost back, the starters can do everyone a lot of good by getting into the seventh inning more often. That was the formula for success in 2006.

Let's just hope those damn Twins don't repeat THEIR 2006 formula and capture this thing on the last day of the season again.

Did I mention that I hate them?

Slowly but surely the offense seems to be busting out of its doldrums. They lost Friday night, but still managed to score 10 runs and came back from an 8-1 deficit. They aren't making pedestrian pitchers look like Cy Young as much anymore. And they're stringing hits together and driving balls into the gap again.

Now let's see them do it against Cleveland and New York.

I hate the Indians, too. The Yankees I can abide, for whatever reason. Maybe because I expect them to be good, with that payroll. I don't mind being beaten by Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter and the rest of them. It's the Ryan Garkos and Josh Barfields and dudes like that who annoy me.

Did I mention that I hate the Twins, too?



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