Monday, May 16, 2011

Monday Morning Manager 2011, Edition 7

Last week: 5-0
This week: TOR (5/16-17); at Bos (5/18-19); at Pit (5/20-22)

So, What Happened?

An undefeated week makes MMM a happy camper, despite the rain that's been drenching the Motor City the last few days.

The Tigers took care of business against a bad Twins team and beat a Royals club twice that has given them fits over the years. They started the week with a win in Toronto, which completed a 3-1 series in Canada.

The current 10-1 tear has vaulted the Tigers four games over .500 and just 3-1/2 games behind the Indians for first place in the AL Central.

BTW, MMM is wondering if you noticed that since the Yankees beat the Tigers two weeks ago tonight, the Tigers have gone 10-1 and the Yankees have gone 3-9, a 7-1/2 game swing. The Yankees walked off the field two weeks ago with a 6-1/2 game lead on the Tigers (hey, never too early to talk Wild Card!!), and this morning the Bronx Bombers wake up a game behind the Bengals.

Hero of the Week

First, it's not Justin Verlander, even though JV came 3.1 innings away from matching Johnny Vander Meer's record of two straight no-hitters, when he denied the Royals a hit until two outs in the sixth inning on Friday night.

This week, MMM is throwing the bouquet to none other than free agent signee Victor Martinez, who has become an RBI machine of late.

Good timing, too, because the man he's hitting behind is scuffling a little bit (more on that later). Martinez returned from the disabled list during that Yankees series, and the Tigers are 9-1 since his return. It's been no coinkydink, because V-Mart has been raking.

Martinez, right now, is just what the Tigers expected when they signed him last winter. Maybe more. Here's manager Jim Leyland, spoken the other day.

"I never thought he'd hit like this," the skipper said. Not sure if he meant that he didn't think Victor would hit like this, period, or that he didn't expect him to hit like this fresh off the DL.

Goat of the Week

OK, how do you choose a goat from an undefeated week?

By going outside the box and, at the risk of personal harm, giving the nod to Mother Nature.

The last thing a team on a seven-game winning streak wants to do is not play! M-Nat washed out Sunday's series finale against the Royals. Let's hope the unplanned day off doesn't impact the Tigers' play.

Under the Microscope

MMM looks at the numbers of Miguel Cabrera and shakes his head a little bit.

Miggy seems to have been sitting on 7 HR and 27 RBI forever, even though he hasn't. He's batting .309. Those are good numbers---for mortals, which Miggy isn't.

Extrapolated (there's your $20 word for the week), Miggy is on pace for about 28 homers and 108 RBI. Umm, do those look like Cabrera-type numbers to you?

Cabrera hasn't gone yard since April 30, in Cleveland. That's over two weeks, folks.

Thankfully, Victor Martinez has picked up the slack while Miggy gets his house in order.

It's not panic time, because Cabrera's too damn good. There are whispers that he's fighting a little back issue and maybe another minor ailment. Regardless, MMM puts Miggy UtM because he's suddenly slipped to the realm of good when he should be GREAT.

Upcoming: Blue Jays, Red Sox and Pirates

M-Nat willing, the Tigers will squeeze a pair of games in early this week in Detroit against the same Blue Jays who they handled in Toronto a week ago. Jose Bautista clubbed three homers yesterday in Minnesota, so maybe he got the longball out of his system for awhile, eh?

Toronto is never an easy team to beat, despite what the Tigers did in Ontario.

Then it's off to Boston for two games to square off against the surging Red Sox, fresh off a three-game sweep of the Yankees in New York---just their third sweep in the Bronx since 1999. The Bosox are .500 for the first time all season, at 20-20, after a 2-10 start. Verlander is scheduled to start on Thursday.

The weekend sees inter-league play begin, and even though they're again under .500, the Pittsburgh Pirates are a better Pirates team than we've seen since, oh, 1992. They're still not good, but they can beat you, thanks to exciting players like CF Andrew McCutchen and 2B Neil Walker.

On the mound, Charlie Morton (4-1, 3.13) and lefty Paul Maholm (1-5, but with a 3.60 ERA) lead the way. The Tigers are likely to see both of them over the weekend, as Morton's Thursday start was rained out after two innings, slating him to pitch Tuesday and then on Sunday this week.

That's all for this week's MMM. See you next week!



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