Last week: 2-4
This week: TEX (4/11-13); at Oak (4/14-17)
So, What Happened?
Buzz saw, meet the Tigers; Tigers, meet the buzz saw.
MMM had an inkling the Tigers might have the kind of week they had, given the nagging feeling that a slow start was in the offing, and the fact that the opponents were two teams that were primed to cause trouble: the Orioles because of their resurgence, and the Royals because they always play the Tigers tough.
Sure enough, the Tigers found the competition to be more than adequate for their slippery paws to handle, and they stumbled to a 2-4 record for the week.
The Tigers played suspect defense (to be kind), didn’t get much from their bullpen, and their bats went silent in the last two games against Kansas City.
It all added up to another .333 week, leaving the Tigers 3-6 for the season. And they are getting exactly what they deserve.
Hero of the Week
MMM is torn, because it was only one game out of six, but Justin Verlander gets the nod.
JV was stellar in Baltimore on Wednesday in a game the Tigers needed badly. A loss would have put them 1-4, and the O’s would have been 5-0 and with confidence soaring going into the series finale. The Tigers might have come home 1-5 if not for Verlander, who shut the O’s down with eight brilliant innings.
Verlander proved his status as the Tigers’ horse and ace: he won a game the Tigers needed to have to stop the bleeding, and he did it convincingly. That’s what your top gun pitcher is supposed to do, and he did it—big time.
MMM considered Jhonny Peralta, who’s been swinging a smooth stick so far, but sadly, none of Jhonny’s hits have really produced anything, other than a sweet batting average.
MMM also liked Phil Coke’s start on Saturday.
Goat of the Week
MMM is going to indict Austin Jackson, who has limped out of the gate with an average that’s less than his weight—and AJ’s not a big guy.
Consider this tough love, because MMM loves Jackson.
Yet this is what was feared in this space—that Jackson would find Year 2 much more difficult than Year 1. If you recall, Jackson sprang from the starting block last year like his hair was on fire. This year is the polar opposite.
MMM is also cranky with the team’s defense, which is leaving a lot to be desired. MMM has seen Little League teams play better with the glove than the Tigers have in these opening nine games.
The Tigers have been throwing the ball around recklessly and, apparently, aimlessly—and the pitchers are throwing wild pitches and wildly to first base during pick-off attempts.
Yes, the rubber wall that is catcher Alex Avila isn’t helping, as many of these “wild pitches” are either passed balls, truthfully, or at the very least, maybe there should be a separate “assist” column for catchers when it comes to wild pitches. Because Avila would be leading the league in WPA right now.
The defense isn’t as advertised—-it’s even worse.
Upcoming: Rangers and A’s
Ahh, nothing like an 8-1 Texas team when you’re struggling, eh?
That’s who the Tigers face starting tonight at Comerica Park.
But again, here comes Verlander, who will start the opening game against Alexi Ogando, who was excellent in his last start against Seattle on April 5; he pitched six strong, surrendering just two hits and no runs.
Once again, the Tigers need Verlander to be the horse and get them (again!) a much-needed win. It’s only April 11 and the Tigers have needed this kind of medicine twice already.
Then it’s off to Oakland with no travel day (though Wednesday’s series finale is an afternoon affair). The A’s are 4-5 but they’re no picnic in their ballpark.
The Oakland series is the start of one of those delightfully unpredictable west coast trips that you brace yourselves for, hoping for the best and expecting the worst.
This is, already, a crucial week for the Tigers. MMM knows you take comfort in seeing the Twins 3-6, and you’re not too fazed by the Indians’ 7-2 getaway, but these are seven big games. A bad week makes them 5-11 or something, and that’s not cool.
They can start by not kicking and throwing the ball around. And scoring without the benefit of the long ball would be nice, too.
That’s all for this week’s MMM. See you next week!