It’s been an interesting couple of weeks. When I left, the Tigers were on a winning streak. Then they went on a losing streak. Now they’re winning again and they’ve pushed their record to a game above .500. Throw in a no-hitter for some excitement and it’s been all good.
The big question is, are the Indians going away. Sparky always said to wait for the 40 game mark as an indication of whether a team is “for real” or not and we’re getting awfully close to that. As it stands, the Indians are 23-11 and that’s good for the best record in baseball. They’re also out to an impressive 5 1/2 game lead in the division and that’s easily the best right now. If you’re looking for some good news for the Tigers, they’re close to passing the Royals (I know, it’s still bizarro world) and it just seems like it’s a lot easier to make up ground when you’re chasing one team as opposed to multiple teams.
Matt Joyce of all people leads the American League for the batting title. Of course last year we had the Omar Infante controversy but Joyce looks like he’s finally established himself as a bona fide starter. Curtis Granderson, another former Tiger, leads the American League in home runs. Still, Miguel Cabrera is second in OPS, although he’s pretty far behind the one year wonder, Jose Bautisa. Bautista and Carbera are also 1/2 in walks as well.
On the pitching side, it’s nice seeing the Verlander/Scherzer combo clicking. Oddly, the Tigers are 3-5 when Verlander is the starter and one of those was the no-hitter. Up until then, Verlander was good but not great but in all five losses, the Tigers put up three or fewer runs on the board. The Tigers are 7-1 when Scherzer is on the mound although his 1.40 WHIP worries me. He’s also let eight home runs leave the park already. When anyone else is on the mound, the Tigers are 9-12. That’s not horrible but with the way our pen is struggling, it’s still a hole. Phil Coke is the worst offender and the Tigers are 1-5 in his starts.
The Tigers are getting little productivity from their number one hitter. Between Austin Jackson’s 32 games and Will Rhymes 4 batting leadoff, they have a combined .275 OBP. That’s the worst out of any other spot. Number three hitters (23 games by Ordonez and 9 by Rhymes) are a combined .277 OBP. It doesn’t matter how well Cabrera is hitting if he doesn’t have guys to drive in. Numbers are courtesy of Bill James Online.
Game two against the Twins is tonight. There’s no competition from the Wings (where I was at, both games were on right televisions right next to each other so I was able to watch both) so that’s good. Game time is 1:10 and it’ll be Phil Coke against Scott Baker. I’ll be listening to some of this in the car.