Another one of those “defining” weeks

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.

Zumaya Wild
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

12 Comments

  1. Joey

    July 18, 2005 at 8:14 pm

    Alright Billfer…you’ve got me excited about this series. I’m gonna brave my sweltering, Dagobah of an apartment to catch the game tonight. Whether I should thank you or curse you I’ve yet to decide.

    Go Tigers!

  2. Joey

    July 18, 2005 at 10:38 pm

    Why was Douglass taken out?

  3. Tater

    July 19, 2005 at 12:44 am

    And why was Guillen sent home, where he was nailed for the third out? I realize hindsight is 20-20, but why don’t you stop him at 3rd, leaving 2 men in scoring position and a 2-for-2 Magglio at the plate, a single away from cracking things open with a 5-run lead?

    (Longtime reader/enjoyer, first time commenter — frustration drove me from my silence. Keep up the great work!)

  4. billfer

    July 19, 2005 at 7:18 am

    Okay, I take it all back…

    Joey – pitch count, he was over 100 pitches

    Tater-Welcome. I’m sorry that it took frustration to get you posting, but hey – you’re here now. As for the Guillen play, it doesn’t bother me. The Tigers haven’t had a lot of opportunities to score runs and you have to play those odds. While Maggs was 2-2, there’s still only a 1 in 4 or 1 in 3 chance he plates that run. On the other hand, the White Sox needed to make two good throws, not bobble the relay, and make the tag. They got the job done, just tip the hat to them.

    The bigger frustration was Trammell leaving Spurling in too long. Very rarely do I hang a loss on Trammell, but this one is his. I’ll have a post about bullpen usage later tonight.

  5. Joey

    July 19, 2005 at 9:06 am

    Yeah Spurling was left in too long. But what was Douglass’s pitch count at? I understand not wanting to kill a pitchers arm, but the human body can withstand throwing more than a hundred pitches. Douglass isn’t a kid, and unless his pitch-count was well over 100, I think Trammell would have been well served to send him out in the 7th.

  6. Walewander

    July 19, 2005 at 10:50 am

    Verlander is being recalled to start in Sat’s doubleheader…

    And Billfer, belated congrats on the anniversary. The best Tigers site going.

  7. Luke

    July 19, 2005 at 1:42 pm

    I think douglass’ pitch count was 103. I have no problems with trammell going to the bullpen in the 7th… has everyone forgotten how incredible our bullpen has been up until this point? Why take the chance on a pitcher with minimal major league experience and a high pitch count against one of the best teams in baseball.

  8. Joey the K

    July 19, 2005 at 2:10 pm

    I can’t blame Tram, Douglass seemed to be losing it and Spurling has been pitching real well. I was wondering why he was left in after the Crede Bomb, but apparently Rondey takes longer than most relievers to warm up after his TJ surgery, so he wasn’t ready yet.

    Bilfer keep up the great work.

  9. Jeff M

    July 19, 2005 at 6:32 pm

    apparently Rondey takes longer than most relievers to warm up

    Maybe so, but there are tried and true ways of stalling. Nevermind the fact that he should have been thinking ahead on that, considering we had a rare opportunity to beat the best team in baseball.

    I’m not a Tram-hater, but I do think he makes the mistake of thinking every game is equal. Some games need to be made a higher priority, even if only for psychological reasons.

    If he pulls out all of the stops to win last night, all of a sudden you have two chances to win the series (one of which will be pitched by your stud who may very well hand the ball to Robertson with a chance for a sweep).

    That is how you create momentum, Tram. Now we’re counting on Bondo to win tonight so we don’t get swept when Nate loses to Garcia on Wednesday (which is a day game after a night game…)

    Now, because Tram didn’t have an insurance policy in case Spurling didn’t have it, we’re definitely looking at a lost series, if not a sweep.

    Again, it’s not even about a game here or there, it’s about momentum. We’re done playing the Royals for awhile. The Twins will be here in a few days. You have to make every effort to build momentum.

    Now, maybe he finds a way to get Spurling out of the game before it gets out of hand and we still lose. Maybe we win last night and still lose the series. Maybe we sweep Chicago and still get our asses handed to us by Minnesota. Maybe we get swept by Chicago and proceed to humiliate Minnesota. I can’t predict the future or even speculate about alternate futures, but I do know that Tram’s ONLY job is to put his players in a position to succeed.

    He has to start managing the important games like he realizes that they’re more important. Our bullpen has done very well and is well rested. Have guys get warmed up even if they probably won’t be needed. Have Pudge play every game this week and let him have the whole Seattle series off. QUIT WASTING GAMES AGAINST DIVISION RIVALS!!!!!!!

    I feel a little better having finally got that off my chest. Thanks guys. :)

  10. Jeff

    July 19, 2005 at 11:24 pm

    Douglass was definitely tiring. I would have pulled him after 5 2/3, but he struck Frank Thomas out for his last out.

  11. Joey

    July 19, 2005 at 11:58 pm

    Nice win tonight. Bonderman really rebounded from his last outing.

    Jeff, excellent post. I think your point about playing to win important games, and the necessity of building momentum, perfectly puts into words my frustration with Tram all year. He just doesn’t seem to get it. The season is a marathon, and I understand that you have to play for the long haul, but his decisions have erred so far on that side that it has really hurt us. This is why I was going so nuts early in the season, when he was allowing Urbina–who clearly didn’t have it–to pitch tight, late inning contests against division rivals.

  12. Joey the K

    July 20, 2005 at 12:15 pm

    Well don’t let Pudge take the WHOLE Seattle series off, I’ll be at those games!