Monday, May 12, 2008

Monday Morning Manager

(my weekly take on the Tigers)

Last Week: 2-4
This Week: (5/13-15: at KC; 5/16-18: at AZ)

Last week SHOULD have been one of the most exciting, biggest weeks of baseball in Detroit all year. It SHOULD have been brimming with suspense and drama. And the results of the games SHOULD have determined whether the Tigers would be in first place or not by the end of the week.

Last week's seven home games with the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees (limited to six due to Sunday's rainout) figured to be, as one looked at the calendar, a momentous week for the Tigers and their fans. An early season indicator of how our Bengals measured up against the big, bad beasts of the East.

But here's what actually happened: four humdrum losses, devoid of almost any degree of tension; one nice come-from-behind win, and one escape job in the 9th for another win. Two wins, four losses. And this sobering reality: the Tigers are nowhere near the class of the Bosox. Forget their 4-1 record against New York. It's the Red Sox who are the standard bearers in the American League, and maybe all of baseball. And the Tigers are 2-5 against Boston, and they've earned that .286 winning percentage, every last decimal of it.

The week started tenuously, with the Tigers coming off a horrific three-game sweep at the hands of the Twins in Minnesota. This following a three-game brooming of the Yankees in New York. Go figure. Anyhow, the Red Sox loomed right away last Monday, and any hope that the Tigers would find their NY mojo dissipated quickly as the Red Sox easily took the first two games of the series. And they darn near snatched the third game, too -- twice erasing four-run deficits. Only a near-miraculous comeback against Jonathon Papelbon in the ninth inning saved the Tigers from an o-for-4 against Boston. Then the Tigers, in Game 4, showed why they're spinning their wheels in 2008, as any momentum from the previous night's walk-off win vanished. Josh Beckett saw to that. Yet another good pitcher who's silenced the Tigers bats. Some not-so-good pitchers have done that to them this year, too.

Interesting set of games coming up this week. Three in Kansas City, which has faded after a fast start but which still has some very talented starters in their rotation, and a weekend set in Arizona. The Diamondbacks are 3-7 in their last ten, but prior to that were as hot as the southwest desert. They lead the NL West by 3 1/2 games and are threatening to bury everyone except Los Angeles in that division.

The Tigers will continue to rock back and forth until they get more consistent starting pitching and somehow shed this label of having a feast or famine offense. Twenty-five percent of the season has been played, and the Tigers are still stuck in the mud. If they don't improve soon, that mud will start acting like quicksand.



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