Another solid weekend series for the Tigers. Their seven game winning streak came to end after the Reds blew them out on Friday, but they got back on track with two nice wins over the weekend.
I had a chance to see the end of both Saturday’s and Sunday’s game. It’s been a long time since I felt this way, but you almost knew the Tigers were going to do something in the ninth inning on Saturday. Ken Griffey hit the grandslam off of Joel Zumaya, but Curtis Granderson came through with some heroics in the bottom of the ninth with a two out solo shot to send the game into extra frames. Then the Tigers put runners at second and third with two outs and Craig Monroe hit it well enough to cause Felipe Lopez to misplay it and throw the ball away, allowing Carlos Guillen to score and end the game.
Today’s game was equally as dramatic, and while it didn’t have the billing of Justin Verlander vs. Johan Santana, it was equally as impressive. Aaron Harang threw seven shutout innings, but he finally got into trouble in the eighth inning. Brandon Inge drew a leadoff walk and then Vance Wilson (his name seems to keep popping up in the close games) turned a bunt attempt into a two base error when Harang was forced to try to shuffle pass it (unsuccessfully). Then Placido Polanco came up huge with a pinch hit RBI single to drive home the only run of the game. Nate Roberton and Todd Jones combined to throw a three hit shutout.
Two things of note. Todd Jones saved his 155th game as a Tiger, making him the all time Tigers leader. Just behind him is Mike Henneman, and in third place is my personal favorite, John Hiller. I think Hiller was one of the best and most underated relievers of all time and a great story because of his comeback after a heart condition. Also, the Tigers threw their eighth shutout of the season, which leads all of baseball. Oddly, all of those shutouts have been combined with a starter and at least one reliever. In fact, no Tiger starter has completed a game yet. In 2005, the Tigers had nine shutouts, but that was their season ending total. The last time they had at least ten, which is certainly attainable, was in 1990, when they had twelve.
I also happened to be watching the White Sox/Cubs game on Saturday when the brawl happened. While I’m not certain what, if anything, A.J. Pierzynski said to Michael Barrett, it didn’t to appear to me that anything was out of sorts. I thought the punch by Barrett was a sucker punch and I also didn’t think A.J.’s slapping home plate was all that strange. I’m sure we’ll hear more about this over the next few days.
Kansas City is on deck for a four game series. Odd scheduling, because the Tigers were at home all this past week, then they go to KC, and then come back and play ten straight games at home. The White Sox lost to the Cubs today, so the Tigers are back on top of the division, and for that matter, all of baseball.