Monday, May 07, 2012

Monday Morning Manager: Week 5

Last Week: 3-2
This Week: at Sea (5/7-9); at Oak (5/10-13)

So, What Happened?

The Tigers won a game they should have lost, lost a game they should have won, and split a series they needed to sweep.


Well, all you need to know is that it was a 3-2 week for the Bengals (Monday's game was washed out), and considering how things had been going, 3-2 looks mighty fine.

At least, to MMM it does.

But the weekend series with the White Sox at Comerica Park was almost a microcosm of the Tigers season so far: an opportunity wasted, a surprise win and inconsistency highlighted in Max Scherzer and Jose Valverde.

The surprise win was Friday's walk-off one, thanks to Jhonny Peralta's two-run homer. The Tigers looked moribund after another sluggish performance by the bats.

The opportunity wasted was Saturday's, when Valverde surrendered a monster two-run homer to the rejeuvenated Adam Dunn in the ninth inning as the White Sox won, 3-2.

Valverde showed his inconsistency on Sunday, at times appearing to bounce back strong from Saturday's debacle while also seeming to be on the verge of another meltdown---from batter to batter.

The Chicago ninth on Sunday went single, stolen base, strikeout, walk, pop up, then 3-0 on Gordon Beckham before fanning him.

More thrills and chills than an amusement park ride!

Scherzer turned in a wonderful performance on Saturday, but as usual with Max, you're happy about it but also flummoxed by his inability to string more than one of these together in a row.

Earlier in the week, the Tigers split two games with the Royals, the offense again spotty after an outburst on Tuesday.

Oh, and Delmon Young returned to the lineup on Saturday after serving his seven-day suspension from MLB for his drunken stupor in New York.

Hero of the Week
The Tigers looked dead in the water on Friday night, sleepwalking through another home game, when Jhonny Peralta stunned the White Sox with a walk-off, opposite-field homer---a two-run shot to give the Tigers a 5-4 win.

Had the Tigers lost, they would have fallen below .500, lost to a divisional rival, and would have lost 10 of their last 13 games.

Peralta made sure none of that happened.

Just as last week's HotW, Drew Smyly, gave the Tigers a much-needed jolt with his outing in New York, Peralta earns HotW for his rescuing of a game Friday the Tigers had no business winning, nor did they look like winners through eight innings.

The homer was also Peralta's first of the year---and for a guy with 20 home run potential, it was long overdue. For that, MMM gives Jhonny Hreo of the Week (misspelling intended).

Honorable mention: Miguel Cabrera, who had a seemingly quiet week but it was productive with RBIs and competent play at third base.

Goat of the Week

As much as the Tigers stole Friday's game, they nonetheless led Saturday's contest, 2-1, going into the ninth inning.

Then Jose Valverde struck.

It's not fair, of course, for MMM to compare 2012 Valverde---or any year, for that matter---with 2011 Valverde. Last season's 49-for-49 Valverde was very special.

This year's Valverde is Todd Jones, redux. At least, so far.

Papa Grande blew Saturday's game with a pitch to Adam Dunn that was so fat, MMM was surprised the seams weren't bursting on the baseball as it was being delivered to the plate.

Dunn launched a rocket, well over 400 feet into the right field grandstands, and the two-run dinger rescued the White Sox, just as Peralta had rescued the Tigers the night before.

Valverde's hiccup pretty much undid Jhonny's work from Friday, and it robbed the Tigers of continued momentum, something they badly need.

Under the Microscope
As much as MMM would like to place Scherzer UtM now that he seems to be the only starting pitcher not performing consistently, it's impossible to dismiss the return of Doug Fister to the Tigers' rotation.

Fister will pitch Monday night in Seattle, for the first time since an injury to his side cut short his start on opening weekend.

If Fister, who says he is pain-free, can return to anything close to the form he showed after being acquired by the Tigers last summer, he will be, at this point, almost as impactful as he was as a new acquisition in 2011.

MMM is placing the tall, lanky right-hander squarely UtM, to see how he responds physically to being returned to the rotation.

Upcoming: Mariners, A's

Oh, good Lord, look who we have to talk about yet again.

But first, the Mariners.

The Tigers make their first west coast swing of the year this week.

It starts in Seattle as the Bengals try to repay the Ms for their three-game sweep in Detroit a couple weeks ago. The good news? Felix Hernandez will not be pitching against Detroit this week.

The bad news? The Tigers have a devil of a time with Seattle, it seems, and the Ms are back to their losing ways and thus might be due to start winning again.

OK, MMM wants you to take a deep breath and slowly release it.

Done? Good.

Brandon Inge.

Sorry---had to be said.

Inge awaits the Tigers as a member of the Oakland A's, who hosts our boys starting Thursday.

Guess who hit a homer and had four ribbies on Sunday for Oakland?

Yep---Mr. Inge.

But Inge aside, the Tigers face a crucial week. They are trying to put the Delmon Young thing behind them, they are getting Fister back, the offense is still trying to fine tune itself, and seven road games on the left coast face them.

MMM is a little scared of the mood he'll be in when he files his report next week.

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



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