Last week: 4-3
This week: CWS (7/15-17)
So, What Happened?
The Tigers finally won a series!
They beat the Royals 3 of 4 in Kansas City over the weekend after three straight 1-2 series against the Mets, Giants and Angels—all of which required a win in the third game to avoid a sweep.
But it wasn’t easy against the Royals, who’d lost 14 of 19 going into the series.
In each of the three wins, the Royals had the tying or go-ahead runs in scoring position in the ninth inning, with closer Jose Valverde laboring through a save.
But the Tigers got it done, and that’s all that mattered. They needed the 3-1 series going into the All-Star Break.
Oh yeah, MMM almost forgot: the Tigers are in first place at the break, 1/2 game ahead of the slumping Indians.
Hero of the Week
In a week when Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez scuffled a little bit (though Miggy hit a huge home run Wednesday in Anaheim), the Tigers needed their B players to come through in order to grind out some wins.
Enter Casper Wells, who was called on to spell an injured Austin Jackson in center field. Wells is this week’s HotW because his play with the bat and glove propelled the Tigers to victory on Sunday, and throughout the series in KC, Wells was in the middle of the action, it seemed.
On Sunday, Wells got the Tigers going with a double in the 4th inning; he came home on a single by Brennan Boesch to give Detroit a 1-0 lead. In the 6th, Wells drew a walk, stole second (his first steal of the year), and was plated by Magglio Ordonez’s single.
So Wells scored both Tigers runs and made some nice running catches in center field. He had a nice little week, though most of it happened over the weekend.
Honorable mention: starter Max Scherzer, who had a fine outing on Thursday after a few less-than-stellar ones.
Goat of the Week
Sorry, Charlie Furbush. Last week MMM put you UtM, and now you’re the GotW.
Furbush didn’t do a whole lot with his two starts this week as he replaced Phil Coke in the rotation. In neither outing (Monday in Anaheim, Saturday in KC) did he give the Tigers a chance to win. And he MUST do a better job of giving his catchers a chance to throw out potential base stealers.
Furbush’s delivery time to the plate, according to Fox Sports Detroit, was a turtle-like 1.7 seconds last week. That’s not going to keep teams from running wild on the Tigers when Furbush is on the mound.
But it may be all for naught; Furbush was dispatched to Toledo immediately after Saturday’s gory loss.
Under the Microscope
Manager Jim Leyland was quoted in the Free Press that if 3B Brandon Inge doesn’t start producing, Leyland will “make adjustments.”
It was a thinly-veiled threat. but also one that was a long time coming.
Inge is hitting .184 with 1 HR, 17 RBI. Even Inge himself called his numbers “embarrassing” the other day.
With Don Kelly doing surprisingly well at third base with the glove, and with even Ryan Raburn showing some flickering signs of life, Inge becomes the one player who is dragging the team down. Leyland’s comments didn’t do anything to lessen Inge’s status UtM.
The trade deadline is July 31. Will there be a new third sacker wearing the Old English D come August 1? Stay tuned.
Upcoming: White Sox
The White Sox are closer to fourth place than they are first place, but this is a huge series for the Tigers.
Last year, after the All-Star break, the Tigers went to Cleveland and promptly lost four straight, starting a nasty post-break slide that virtually eliminated them from the race before mid-August.
The Tigers MUST come out of the break playing good baseball, and what better way to do that than by taking 2 of 3 from the rival Chisox?
Even if Justin Verlander doesn’t start the series opener on Friday (Leyland said that JV is tired and may not start on Friday), the Tigers need a series win to kick off the second half.
Already, columnists like the Freep’s Drew Sharp are warning of yet another second half slump.
As for Chicago, the mystery of Adam Dunn continues.
Dunn, who many Tigers fans adored from afar before he signed with the White Sox, has grisly numbers: .160 BA, 9 HR, 117 Ks in 269 AB. In 10 July games, Dunn has struck out 17 times in 35 AB, gathering just three hits.
He has come unglued as a player and, at age 31, it’s not outrageous to wonder whether he’s finished.
Regardless, you still are wary that he’ll bust loose against your team, even if the numbers belie that fear.
That’s all for this week’s MMM. See you next week!