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Peter Gammons, Mid Season Surprises, and the D-Rays

It’s always nice to see the Tigers being mentioned by the national media (unless of course it was 2003). Peter Gammons mentioned somewhere (I heard this on the radio but I couldn’t find the story to confirm) that he thinks the Tigers are the team to watch out for in the second half. He also posted the results of a poll of 50 GMs, executives, scouts and managers. Brandon Inge’s name came up a couple of times. He trailed only Brian Roberts as the most improved player and he finished tied for fifth for best fielding infielder. Not too shabby for a guy who just over a year ago didn’t have a job.

With the All Star game in a couple of days, I thought back on what I thought was the biggest surprise of the first half of the 2005 season. For the Tigers, I think it’s the fact that they’re pitching has been carrying them. Prior to the start of the season, I figured if anything, the hitting would be the strength while the pitching staff would be mediocre. But this is turning out to be one of the best pitching seasons for the Tigers in quite some time. At this point in time, the Tigers have a 3.88 ERA. The last time they had an ERA that good for an entire season was 1988 when they posted a 3.72 ERA. I know there’s a long way to go, but even if the pitching staff tanks and that number goes up to 4.25, you’re still looking at 1988 as the last time it’s been that low.

As far as the entire league, I think the Yankees topsy turvy season has to be at the top, with the White Sox run a close second. I picked the Yankees to win the AL penant, and I’m still standing by it. I also think you’re going to see the White Sox taper off, but at this point, they’d have to play pretty bad to give up their lead.

The Tigers finished off the Devil Rays and won three of four. They were a couple of outs away from a sweep, but Troy Percival once again had problems in the ninth Saturday night. With three blown saves and two other losses, I really don’t think we’re getting our money’s worth considering he’s only saved eight games. But the Tigers head into the All Star break winning five of their last six, which is definitely a good thing.

My All Star Game plans are the same as last year. I’ll watch the first couple of innings with my son before he goes to bed and I’ll probably finish my column for the Hardball Times with the game on in the background after that. Hopefully the next time the All Star game comes into town, I’ll be able to go to the game with him.

While it’s always disappointing to lose a game in the bottom of the 9th like that… And with your free agent closer on the mound, to boot… I looked at it a little differently. The Tigers came into the series probably wanting to get a sweep, if possible, but the D-Rays were already on an 8-game losing skid when the Tigs arrived to town. I took one look at that and smelled a touch of trouble. I figured 3 out of 4 would have to do, as extending any major league team (even dregs such as the D-Rays) to a 12-game L streak is a bit of a stretch. And, yeah, Troy Percival hasn’t been the Troy Percival of old basically all year… But he was hurt for a while, and he did have a pretty good stretch right before the D-Ray blow-up the other night. All relievers are going to have their rough spots. All in all, I’d prefer he had it now rather than in September. I’m going to keep my chin up and assume that the games in September will be meaningful.

Posted by jeff k on July 11th, 2005 at 9:43 am

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