Last week: 5-2
This week: at KC (9/20-21); BAL (9/22-25)
So, What Happened?
Nothing too much—-just the Tigers’ first division title since 1987. Other than that, not much!
The team’s surge to the crown—a purposeful, no-nonsense march that took no prisoners—culminated on Friday night in Oakland, capping a 13-1 run to get the job done.
The Tigers won their division as no MLB team in recent memory. They had a 12-game winning streak, all against teams within the AL Central. Then they went to Oakland , dropped a ballgame Thursday night that would have settled matters, before recovering to win 3-1 on Friday.
The heroes Friday were three players the Tigers were not counting on to be big contributors when the season began : Don Kelly(utility player); Wilson Betemit (acquired in July); and Doug Fister (also acquired in July).
Kelly slammed an insurance home run, Betemit tripled in the go-ahead run, and Fister pitched eight masterful innings.
So appropriate, for a team that uses all 25 of its pieces regularly.
Hero of the Week
How about some love for Papa Grande?
MMM is going with closer Jose Valverde as last week’s Hero.
It’s becoming increasingly difficult for MMM to name one Hero among all the Tigers, because rarely is any one guy carrying the team for any length of time.
So these weekly awards are turning into nods for what someone has done for the entire season.
Like Valverde, whose perfect 45-for-45 saves performance (as of Friday night’s clincher) has almost spoiled the Tigers fan base.
What’s exciting is that Valverde’s saves lately have decreased in duress; he’s getting more 1-2-3 ninths, and even if he doesn’t he’s not putting a lot of runners on base.
Friday, Valverde allowed a leadoff double to the pesky Coco Crisp, but then retired the next three A’s with little incident.
Honorable mentions: Ramon Santiago, Victor Martinez, Fister and Justin Verlander.
Goat of the Week
Let’s move on, shall we?
Under the Microscope
The Tigers have nine games before the playoffs start, so that means it’s time to wonder who is on and off the post-season roster.
Only two people determine that–manager Jim Leyland and GM Dave Dombrowski, placing both of them under the microscope.
The “bubble” players appear to be starter Brad Penny, outfielder Andy Dirks, reliever David Pauley and possibly 2B Carlos Guillen.
MMM is putting Leyland and DD UtM because folks will be trying to analyze their words, trying to get a hint as to what decisions have likely already been made.
Upcoming: Royals, Orioles
The Tigers make a short two-game trip to Kansas City Tuesday-Wednesday to cap their nine-game road trip.
Then it’s back home to face the sad-sack Orioles—the Tigers’ first home games as division champs.
Think they’ll get a little ovation as they take the field Thursday night?
But there clearly is another race at hand—the one to clinch home-field advantage for the ALDS.
Today, the Tigers hold a one-game lead over the Texas Rangers.
The Tigers finish up with two against the Royals, four against the Orioles, and three against the Indians (the latter two series at home).
The Rangers go to Oakland for three, return home to host the Mariners for three, and finish up at the Angels for three games.
In terms of “easiness,” the Tigers look to have the advantage, especially with the Rangers having to play the second-place Angels on the road.
That’s all for this week’s MMM. See you next week!