Homestand Thoughts

Okay, I got a little giddy and deemed this past 10 games the most significant homestand in Comerica Park’s history. I’m not sure it lived up to the billing, but I still can’t think of another stretch in the last 6 years that was on par in terms of the talent coming in and the Tigers stature.

I was going to be content with 5-5, and thrilled with anything beyond that. Considering they finished 4-6 I shouldn’t be too disappointed, and I’m not really. I am a little concerned though in that they didn’t seem to play good baseball consistently. I’ve often heard that they could have very easily been 6-4, but they also could have very easily been 2-8. The fact that they really only had a chance to win 6 or maybe 7 of the games is what’s more disturbing.

Still, I’m not down on the team. I don’t think we learned any more in the last 10 games than we learned in the first 47, except that sustaining .700 ball is tough, especially against playoff caliber teams.

We did see the top to bottom balance of the lineup heavily challenged. The top 5 managed to hit pretty good, or at least good enough. Here is what the 6-9 hitters posted:
Batting #6 .167/.189/.278
Batting #7 .194/.216/.222
Batting #8 .088/.135/.118
Batting #9 .265/.324/.294

A combined funk between Chris Shelton, Brandon Inge, Craig Monroe, and the Tigers bench players were mainly responsible for the above numbers, and a 36:7 K:BB ratio.

Meanwhile we heard about how the Tigers should have fared better without half of the Yankees regulars. Perhaps they should have. But the Yankees also got a 368/429/526 line from Melky Cabrera and Miguel Cairo and Bernie Williams fared better than Derek Jeter and Johnny Damon in their respective starts. I’m not saying they were better off without their stars, just that their replacements performed well enough (well, except Terrence Long – that was a huge downgrade).

So again, can we learn anything from this? I know people are trying to still figure out if this team only beats up on weaklings. I still don’t think we can tell. Yes the Tigers didn’t fare well against the Red Sox and Yankees, and that sweep at home to the White Sox still lingers in people’s minds. Yet the Tigers did take 3 of 4 from the AL West leading Rangers. The Indians are a .543 team when not playing the Tigers. So the Tigers have had success against teams that can win.

Now the Tigers head on the road to complete “the gauntlet” with 3 games against the White Sox and 3 against the Blue Jays. Maybe because of the recent 4-6 mark, or maybe because of the earlier sweep many are building these games up to be must win. Afterall, you need to prove you can play with the big boys. I suppose that is true. But one thing that this season is teaching me is that every series is big. Of course you have to beat the good teams to prove yourself. But you need to beat the bad teams to take care of business. What’s more important,

Every game is important. It’s just 1 of 162. Sure, some matchups are more enticing than others. Sure, a series in September may have more immediate relevancy, but chances are it becomes more important because of all the game that led up to it.

I know I spent the last two paragraphs stating the obvious, but it is something that I found myself forgetting. I forgot it partly because I was wrapped up in the emotion of 8 and 9 game win streaks, and partly because my team hasn’t been in front since the early days of email. I write this to say that I’m not going to build up any other series or matchups to be more than they are. Sure there are things like momentum, but we saw how quickly that can change on Friday night.

A win is important because it is a win, not because of the opponent.

11 Comments

  1. Steve

    June 5, 2006 at 8:40 pm

    Just like in business when you lose what did you take away with your loses? Did you learn what needed to be done against better talent to win?
    Do you need better planning and execution to win. Some times its big things and some times its the little things that get you where you need to be.

    The had a pretty good run before this and while I doubt they were resting on there laurels, they may not have been as sharp as they needed to be. Now they are half way through a tough stretch with the home half behind them.

    The important thing is that they build off each and every lesson and get better and better as the season wears on, so when the playoffs come we are honed physically and mentally to handle the better baseball and most decidely the increased pressure, which they may have put on themselves this weekend.

    Love this Blog,

    Steve

  2. Kyle J

    June 5, 2006 at 9:42 pm

    Well said, Billfer.

  3. Jeff M

    June 5, 2006 at 10:36 pm

    A win is important because it is a win, not because of the opponent.

    Amen.

  4. Paul

    June 6, 2006 at 3:55 am

    Meanwhile we heard about how the Tigers should have fared better without half of the Yankees regulars. Perhaps they should have

    Ya, this was kind of ridiculous. That lineup is so friggin deep that they were missing 2-3 players and still boasted a middle of the lineup that included ARod, Posada and Giambi. So I don’t wanna hear that the Tigers got it easy.

    A win is important because it is a win, not because of the opponent.

    I just can’t fully buy into this. I just think that this 13-game stretch unquestionably carries more weight for the team in the long haul than a similar stretch against say, KC-Sea-TB-Balt. Whether it’s to prove they belong, to foster more confidence, or just to rack up more wins, it has a higher degree of importance.

    I will support the hell out of this regardless of what happens all summer, but I will not champion wins against overrated clubs like Texas & Cleveland in defense of someone saying this team can’t beat the highest quality teams. If Cleveland rights their bullpen, they are a real legit team, but Texas is more or less garbage. Maybe I’m being greedy, but I really wanted a series win over NYY or BOS. I will be more than pleased if we get them over CHW and TOR, though.

  5. AJ L

    June 6, 2006 at 7:44 am

    I suppose one reason why people are concerned about the quality of opposition is you don’t get to play KC or the D-Rays in the playoffs. Making the playoffs is really nice but I’d like my team to do more than make it into the first round and take a beating. Yes, I realize you must make the playoffs first by winning the marathon but I’d rather not root for the Red Wings in baseball too.

  6. Dave T.

    June 6, 2006 at 10:04 am

    I was a touch disappointed with some of the games this past week, as I am sure everyone was, however overall the team played decently. Maybe we are all spoiled by the long win streaks which have been the calling card of the Tigers so far this year…a major reason they have the record they do is by getting hot and staying hot, however, conversely, when the Tigers get cold, they seem to stay cold, just not as long as they did in previous years (Thanks Leyland!)
    I wonder if losing one of their starters will hurt this trait? The Tigers were able to roll 5 quality starters and 5 quality starts in a row, I hope Miner figures himself out quickly so we can get back to having solid winning streaks again.
    I know this is silly, but if you don’t count the 2 games started by Maroth replacements the homestand would have been a more palatable 4-4.

  7. Dave

    June 6, 2006 at 10:48 am

    Well… against the White Sox, having a rotation of Robertson, Verlander, and Rogers should keep the Tigers in it and give the hitters every chance to overcome the White Sox pitching.

  8. Nick G

    June 6, 2006 at 11:45 am

    People are already talking about the playoffs. Wow. It wasn’t so long ago that .500 was the 2006 goal. I guess if I cheered for the Wings and Pistons, along with the Tigers, I might throw some of my leftover expectations on the Tigs, too.

    Nice post, Bilfer. A win is a win.

  9. Walewander

    June 6, 2006 at 11:45 am

    Great entry, Billfer. Let’s not forget that CHI has been in a funk, too, and their starters have been struggling. This should be an interesting series, and one I’ve been looking ahead to for a long time.

  10. Marshall in DC

    June 6, 2006 at 12:09 pm

    Frankly – I’d rather go 4-6 now than in August. This team has had a great roll thus far in the season. A little adversity would be good for the owners, Management, and the players. Learning how to battle back – gut check.

    I’m not going to cry even if we get swept by the Soxs. It is a long season and frankly the Sox have had less luck against bad teams than we have. Take care of business, Don’t fall any more that 5 places out of first place in your division, and come Mid-August we may – god forbid – be in a pennant chase.

    This part of the season isn’t about getting far ahead of everyone, it is about staying close. Remember a few years back when we were mathmatically eliminded by mid-June (;-) ) Last I checked we are still in it.

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