Will these be the week that we find out whether or not this Tiger team can compete for anything? The Tigers seem to have reached many of these critical points over the last month or so – and despite all these defining moments the team is pretty much right where it has been all season.
Three weeks ago today, the Tigers were 36-36 with a 6 game homestand about to commence – starting with the White Sox. This was to be a big week for the Tigers as we found out what they were made of. After dropping 5 of the 6 games, and the first two games in Clevland the Tigers record stood at 37-46 and the season looked over.
In typical Tigers fashion, just when it looked like all hope was lost they managed to win 5 of 6 going into the break. Now after a disappointing split against the Royals, things are looking bleak again. The Tigers head into Chicago to play the White Sox who just won 4 in a row in Cleveland. The struggling Tigers are going on the road to take on a hot team. That is followed up with 8 games against the Twins. Of course things don’t look good, but this team as a way of responding. I don’t know what will happen, and the losses to inferior clubs are frustrating, but I’m not ready to write this team off.
Much has been made of two numbers lately, 5 and 7. Tiger optimists point to the fact that the team is only 5 games out of the wild card. Tiger pessimists point to the fact that they are 7 teams away from the wild card, and only 3 teams have a worse record than the Tigers. I agree that the chances of the Tigers leaping 7 teams are slim, why shouldn’t they consider themselves in it?
There are 8 teams within 5 games of each other. Granted, Detroit is at the bottom of that ladder (tied with Toronto), but where is the cutoff point for teams who are in it? Of course Minnesota and New York have a shot since they are on top right now. But then Baltimore is only a half game behind them. So those 3 teams are in it. Of course Texas is still in at only 2 games back, and Oakland has climbed to only 2.5 games back. And then there is Cleveland, who is only a half game behind Oakland. Despite their 5 game losing streak you can’t count out Cleveland…we can go on and on.
What I’m getting at is that despite the Tigers struggles, the overall mediocrity of the league has kept them in it. It would be great to be a couple games or teams closer, but they haven’t put themselves in an insurmountable hole. Also, of the 7 teams ahead of them, they still play a number of games against all but Texas and New York. Maybe I’m an optimist, maybe it is all over, but why not stick it out a little bit longer?
I’d like to say the next 8 games are key to defining the Tigers fate, but I’ve thought that too many times lately.
Joel Zumaya made his AAA debut and had some control issues. He only lasted 3 1/3 with 4 walks, two hit batters, and a wild pitch. For someone who improved his control so much this season, this outing was a disappointment. It will be interesting to see how he responds in his next start.
As for Justin Verlander, he’ll be starting tonight for Erie and you can listen to it here: http://www.seawolves.com/live.htm