Now is the time. With the Pistons playoff run finished, and several weeks until NFL training camp the Tigers have the attention of Detroit sports fans all to themselves. Going into last night the team was poised at .500 with back to back high profile series against the White Sox and Yankees. They also had their best hitter back in the lineup, and Ordonez rehabbing to join the team next week. Things were looking good…until the Tigers suffered their second 2-1 loss in the last 4 games.
Now granted, Mark Buerhle is one of the top pitchers in the American League. And to the Tigers credit, they did make him throw 113 pitches in 6 2/3 innings. But how many times are going to have to tip our hats to the other pitcher this season?
I think most disappointing was the inability to score Rodriguez after his lead-off triple in the ninth. The easy thing to do is blame a lack of clutch hitting, and in this case Young, Monroe, and Shelton failed to deliver a clutch hit. However, the bigger issue is a lack of hitting in the first place.
David Pinto recently ran a table of team left on base. The Tigers were next to last in the majors in the number of runners left on base. Meanwhile, they have a .287 average with RISP (against a league average of .276). The problem with the Tigers isn’t getting the big hits, the problem is getting the runners on base in the first place.
But in case you were wondering about Dmitri’s performance with RISP, his .214 batting average is the lowest among regulars on the team. I’m not knocking Dmitri, and that measure is what he has done, not what he will do. But it just hasn’t been good.
Now all is not lost. As was discussed on It Is What It Is on WDFN (hosted by friend of DTW, Sean Baligian), if the Tigers can go 6-4 over the next 3 series they will be in good shape. Because, the next 8 games will be against Tampa and Kansas City. With one loss, the 6-4 goal is still attainable.
Of course everything I just wrote about I wasn’t able to watch because the Tigers weren’t on TV again. In looking at the schedule next week, Fox Sports wasn’t covering 5 consecutive games (four in Cleveland and one in Tampa Bay). Now the problem isn’t Fox which is carrying 110 games, the issue is a lack of over-the-air coverage.
Fortunately for Tiger fans, ESPN will air 3 of those 5 games in the Detroit market. According to Brian Britten of the Tigers, the front end of Monday’s doubleheader, Wednesday night’s game, and Thursday night’s game will all be on ESPN.