Last week: 4-2
This week: at CWS (7/25-27); LAA (7/28-31)
So, What Happened?
Boy, it’s nice to play the Minnesota Twins outside, eh?
Their home dome advantage gone, the Twinkies are much easier pickings on the road, and the Tigers continued their success in Minnesota this season by taking three of four over the weekend, making them 5-1 this season at Target Field.
More importantly, the good weekend put a little more daylight between the first place Tigers and the second place Cleveland Indians. Thanks to a four-game Tribe losing streak that’s part of a 2-6 spell, the Tigers’ lead is now two full games.
Were it not for a giveaway loss last Wednesday to Oakland, the Tigers would be on a 5-1 tear right now. But a 4-2 week gets a thumbs up from MMM.
Hero of the Week
You think the Twins saw enough of Jhonny Peralta?
The Tigers shortstop terrorized the Twins, going 9-for-18 with two homers and eight RBI. If it seemed like all his RBI came with two outs, they almost did. Peralta is giving Tigers fans the best season by a Detroit SS since the days of Alan Trammell at Tram’s best.
The Tigers won handily in the first two games against the Twins, but that was only because Peralta incessantly provided two-out RBI. If he doesn’t come through, those games are a lot closer and who knows what could have happened.
MMM can’t tell you the confidence that is generated, seeing Peralta at the dish with RISP—two outs or not.
Jhonny has been amzaing. (Editors, don’t you dare fix that!)
It only took three batters faced to make a normally anonymous middle reliever MMM’s GotW
You probably know who that is.
Lefty David Purcey entered Wednesday’s game against the A’s in the seventh inning with the Tigers ahead 5-3 and promptly defecated all over that lead.
Purcey walked the only three batters he faced, loading the bases with nobody out while 30,000+ at Comerica Park and manager Jim Leyland could only look on helplessly.
It didn’t help that Joaquin Benoit, summoned from the bullpen, graciously allowed all three runners to score. The tragedy of an inning gave Oakland four runs and a 7-5 victory that was about as brutal a loss as you can suffer when every game means so much.
What’s worse, the Tigers acquired Purcey from Oakland, even up for Scotty Sizemore. So Purcey had his meltdown against the team that traded him just a couple months ago.
Benoit is culpable, too, but none of that happens if Purcey, who tends to walk people at times, throws some GD strikes out of the bullpen.
Under the Microscope
MMM doesn’t want to be a doomsayer, but have you noticed the batting average of catcher Alex Avila lately?
It’s been going south—-not like a stone, but steadily. He;s at .277, just a few weeks after hovering around .300.
It’s giving rise to a couple of notions: a) Avila is hitting a wall of sorts; b) he still has some work to do as a big league hitter.
Neither is surprising nor uncorrectable.
Some rest might do the trick.
MMM thinks that Avila probably isn’t a .300 hitter, anyway, and that .275-.280 is more his speed. But the falling BA puts Alex UtM, as MMM is eager to see how the young man responds over the next couple of weeks.
Honorable mention: GM Dave Dombrowski, who is probably on the phone as you read this, talking trade in advance of Sunday’s deadline for non-waiver deals.
Upcoming: White Sox, Angels
Another week, another big series against a Central Division opponent. You’re going to see a lot of those over the season’s final weeks.
This week it’s three in Chicago, against the restless, third place White Sox.
Chisox manager Ozzie Guillen was quoted by the wire services on Sunday that he feels the breaks are starting to go his team’s way, and that the White Sox are officially a player in the Central race.
He’s probably right.
The Tigers are 4.5 games ahead of Chicago, but with three-game series, there’s really not any true significance unless one team sweeps. Otherwise, there’s only a one-game shift in the standings, either way.
MMM isn’t suggesting that the Tigers be content with losing two of three, but unless there’s a sweep, the prognosis of both teams doesn’t really change on Thursday morning from today.
Then it’s back home to face the Angels, a team that always makes MMM nervous because of their aggressive, frenetic style of play. The 55-47 Angels are desperately trying to keep the surging Texas Rangers in their view. The Angels are in second place in the West, three games behind Texas.
So it’s a big series for both teams, the last leading up to the July 31 interleague trade deadline.
That’s all for this week’s MMM. See you next week!