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.