Monday Morning Manager: Week 22
This Week: CLE (9/3-5); at LAA (9/7-9)
So, What Happened?
If last week was a football game, we would call the game "a story of two halves."
We would have said that the home team stunk out the joint in the first 30 minutes, then regrouped in the locker room, made some adjustments, and were a totally different team in the second half.
That pretty much described the week for the Tigers.
MMM played soothsayer once again last week, when it came to the Kansas City Royals. To wit: "The Royals are either feast or famine, it seems, when you play them. You either sweep them, or get swept. They laid a licking on the White Sox with a combo of good pitching and timely hitting. But then they can look so awful just one day later."
MMM, sadly, was dead-on accurate. The Royals swept the Tigers in an excruciating three-game series in which the Royals were opportunistic and held on by the skin of their teeth in all three games. Then KC promptly returned to looking like the Royals in getting mostly spanked by the Minnesota Twins, who followed the Tigers into Kaufman Stadium.
After the horrors in KC, the Tigers returned home and again swept the Chicago White Sox out of town, as they did in late-July. The result? A dead even race in the AL Central; both teams are 72-61.
The Tigers couldn't hit their way out of a paper bag in the final two games in KC, allowing two "meh" pitchers (Bruce Chen and Jeremy Guthrie) eat their lunch.
But the Tigers turned around and used the trio of Doug Fister, Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander to pitch their way past the Chisox, with some very timely hitting tossed in for good measure.
Chicago had themselves a 1-6 week, after going 1-3 in Baltimore but gaining a half-game over the swept Tigers.
But Kansas City is a distant memory. MMM is all about "What have you done for me lately?"
And lately, the Tigers are out of MMM's doghouse.
The week also saw the trade of utility man Jeff Baker to the Braves, and the calling up of outfielder Avisail Garcia, who looks like Ozzie to Miguel Cabrera's Jose Canseco. The physical similarity between Garcia and Cabrera is striking.
Garcia went 3-for-7 in his first two big league games, including a clutch RBI on Saturday.
September call-ups were announced: IF/OF Ryan Raburn (stop); IF/OF Don Kelly; IF Danny Worth (the human yo-yo); RHP Luis Marte; RHP Al Alburquerque; C Bryan Holaday.
Hero of the Week
It's time for MMM to give Delmon Young some love.
Whatever you think of Young, aka to MMM as "old 6-3," you have to give the dude his props.
On Friday night, Young cleared the loaded bases with a double in the seventh inning, breaking a 4-4 tie and leading the Tigers to victory.
On Sunday night on national TV, Young broke a 1-1 tie in the sixth with a three-run jack, again leading the Tigers to victory.
The homer on Sunday, off Chicago ace Chris Sale, was particularly impressive because it was obvious that Sale wasn't going to throw Young a fastball. Sale struck Young out twice with breaking stuff, and the at-bat in the sixth was no different.
The ESPN announcers wondered if Sale would throw a fastball to "freeze" Young.
"I don't think you can fool Delmon Young with a fastball," Terry Francona said in the booth.
Right on cue, Sale tried one more "slurve," and Young golfed it from his ankles and over the left field wall for a 4-1 Detroit lead.
Both hits were gargantuan, and in a week where runs were a little tough to come by, Young is MMM's choice for Hero.
Honorable mentions: Max Scherzer (for the second week in a row), for his dominating performance on Saturday, when he threw eight shutout innings and struck out nine, lowering his ERA to 3.93; and Cabrera, who went 11-for-24.
"He reminds me of Verlander in 2011," said White Sox radio announcer Ed Farmer of Scherzer.
Goat of the Week
MMM knows that some faithful readers would like Miguel Cabrera to be the goat, for his less-than-Pete Rose legging out of Thursday's game-ending double play.
MMM was frustrated, too. It didn't help that the play capped a three-game Royals sweep, which added to everyone's anger.
But MMM can't pick one play from a superstar's body of work and make him the goat based on it. Sorry.
Instead, MMM is going with the entire team, for making two mediocre pitchers look like Cy Young in Kansas City. MMM does this to highlight that there were many, many goats in Kansas City during a maddening stretch in which the Tigers were shutout for 17 straight innings, leaving one base runner in scoring position after the other.
There were a lot of bad at-bats in the Royals series, and frankly, Cabby and Prince Fielder were the only guys getting on base, it seemed. Their teammates just couldn't drive them in.
Under the Microscope
Last week MMM put Cabrera UtM for his bad ankle, and Miggy seems to be handling the injury just fine.
This week, MMM wants you to keep an eye on Brennan Boesch.
Boesch is UtM because of something said by the ESPN crew Sunday night.
After Boesch slammed a 420-foot home run off Sale (which followed a double off Francisco Liriano earlier in the series), either Kruk or Francona said, "If Boesch can hit like this, the Tigers' lineup looks a whole lot different."
With Young staying hot, MMM thinks Boesch could be key down the stretch---kind of like an X factor, because Boesch's 2012 season has been pocked with under-performing and inconsistency.
Keep your good eye on Boesch. If his weekend against the White Sox is a sign of things to come, the Tigers could be in really good shape.
Upcoming: Indians, Angels
MMM is scared to death of the Cleveland Indians.
Doesn't make sense, does it?
The Indians are playing the worst baseball of any team in MLB, and that's a league that includes the Houston Astros.
The Indians have dropped like a lead balloon since the All-Star break, and are 12-36 in their past 48 games.
Yet that's the kind of team that seems to give the Tigers fits.
Coming off such a high against the White Sox, MMM is worried of a letdown against the woeful Tribe.
Yes, the Tigers have handled the Indians pretty good in Detroit in recent years, but there's just something about a team playing as bad as the Indians that scares MMM.
Tigers pitchers: Anibal Sanchez, Rick Porcello, Doug Fister.
After the Tribe leave town, the Tigers head west to play the Angels, for the first time on the road.
Detroit is 5-2 against the Halos at Comerica Park, and the most recent series featured Tigers pitching handling rookie sensation Mike Trout and 1B Mark Trumbo, keeping them off base and their damage to a minimum.
But the series in Detroit a couple weekends ago didn't include Albert Pujols, who missed the games with a leg injury.
Pujols is back, and the Angels still have Wild Card aspirations. The Tigers are an underwhelming 30-35 on the road, and 16 of their last 29 games are played away from Detroit. It's no secret that the Tigers need to step it up on the road, and that push starts this weekend in Los Angeles.
Also keep an eye on Trout and Cabrera, because the two are battling for the league batting title. Miggy has tightened that race, which has Trout leading, .333 to .331.
If Cabrera wins the batting title, could he win the Triple Crown?
Miggy is in a neck-and-neck race with Josh Hamilton in RBI, and is five homers behind Adam Dunn, who missed the last two games in Detroit with a strained side.
If you're scoreboard watching (and who isn't nowadays?), the White Sox open a 10-game home stand with three against the Twins and three against the Royals this week.
The last four games of that home stand are against the Tigers, but that's so next week.
That's all for this week's MMM. See you next week!
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