The Twins series is big, but far from critical

It was July 19th, 2007. Things were looking great for the Tigers. Detroit was playing their second series after the All Star break. Heading into that break the Tigers had won 5 in a row, 2 against the Indians and a sweep of the Red Sox. After the break they split a 4 game set in Seattle  and then pulled off an improbable sweep of the the Twins in the Metrodome. They won 3 straight 1 run games against Minnesota and found themselves 21 games above .500. Talk about momentum. The big series was followed up with a 4-12 stretch.

Today the Tigers are once again heading into Minnesota for a 3 game set. It is a big, exciting, mid summer series. But the season is too long and it is too early for this series to mean that much – even if it results in a sweep for either team.

If things go poorly they could find themselves a half game out of first place, a perch they’ve held since May 9th. It would be a disappointing result to be sure, but being within a half game of the division lead before the All Star Break isn’t that bad of a worst-case scenario.

We’ve seen the Tigers in past years surging early in the season only to later collapse. We’ve seen it this year where the team had “serious issues” only to reel off 7 wins in a row, and then 2 drop back to back series. Two weeks ago the White Sox were done and playing “must-win” games against the Tigers. Now they are in 2nd place. This is the type of rollercoastering that happens over the span of a couple weeks, let alone over the course of a season.

If the Tigers were on the brink of contention a week before the trade deadline (like  when they went to Seattle in 2005) maybe it takes on more importance. If it is September and there is limited time to make up ground it becomes huge. Yes, every game is important because you can look back at the end of the season when your team is a game short and say “see, if we’d just won one more game…” But there are are typically at least a dozen games that are given away during a season and a dozen more that are “stolen". These are just 3 of 162.

Games against division rivals always take on more importance, it’s your team’s only chance to directly put L’s in their standings. With both teams involved in the hunt for the division and it falling on a holiday weekend, the games should be exciting and it should provide for a great “playoff like” atmosphere. But it ain’t the playoffs because both the winner and loser still have 90 more games to go.

15 Comments

  1. The Detroit Sports Question

    July 3, 2009 at 11:39 am

    The Tigers have to take, at the least, two games this weekend. It’s getting to close for comfort in the AL Central. We hope that damn Metrodome doesn’t cause this team fits.

    • Bob

      July 3, 2009 at 10:57 pm

      Leland can’t manage a chicken fight!!! He doesn’t know when to leave a pitcher in or when to pull him. With French leading 7 to 2 and just striking out his last batter with only one out to go in the 5th, Leland comes in and pulls him out. He has no chance of winning his 1st game of his career and more importantly he brings in loser Miner who promptly ties up the game. Leland plays this righty against a righty and a lefty against a lefty too much. This is not the first time he has done this. He’s a jerk!!!!!

  2. Walewander

    July 3, 2009 at 12:32 pm

    billfer, thanks for having the foresight to calm us all down before the inevitable Metrodome sweep.

  3. Steve

    July 3, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    While this series might not be critical, it is very important as we head into the second half that we can consistently beat the better teams and certainly the ones we should.
    I think we can agree as 09 marches on that we must have this team come together and become a force. While we are not stacked with talent if we can make a move or two, get a little grit while on a roll we can hang with any one.

    One key to me is Maggs, is he slumping or at the end. Forget the financial aspect as its in stone. We need him to step up and be accounted for. I doesn’t have to be 06 numbers, but it cant be the stuff we are seeing here.

    Happy 4th to all…………. We truly live in the best country in the world whether the Tigers are winning or not. It just feels better when the do.

    Steve

  4. jason

    July 3, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    I am not buying it. This series is important, and here is why:

    1) We need to show that the Twins don’t own us. We are 1-4 vs. an opponent we are directly compete with in our division. These games count as 2 in the standings.
    2) We seem to collapse at the end of the regular season in recent years, so we need a decent lead to ensure we make it to the playoffs.
    3) My opinion is that games in July (or April for that matter) are just as important as ones in September. The more you lose now, the less you can lose later. You never know when a key player (ie one of our starters) could go down and we could find ourselves in trouble.

  5. Mark in Chicago

    July 3, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    Nice writeup, billfer, and it would make me feel so much better if we weren’t playing in the godforesaken Metrodome. I can’t wait until they tear the place down.

  6. David

    July 3, 2009 at 1:41 pm

    The only reason these games mean anything are

    A) Slight advantage to the winner/disadvantage to the loser of getting into October

    B) Bigger advantage to the winner/disadvantage to the loser of making a trade deadline deal

    All in all if the Tigers get swept or sweep I don’t care all too much. Talk to me on their last road trip of the year (Sept 18) or home stand (28) those games hopefully will matter.

  7. Walter55

    July 3, 2009 at 1:57 pm

    Getting swept would be pretty bad you can’t go 1-7 against one of our main competitors in our division and expect to win it. Also we need our offense to break out of its funk and if Magglio doesn’t completely turn it around soon it will be back to the bench or released.

    • David

      July 3, 2009 at 4:21 pm

      That is like saying you can’t make an out(~4% of 27 outs) in the top of the 5th (early July), while being up by a run and expect to win the game.

      Seasons are essentially marathons. The last few weeks when teams are getting eliminated are the most interesting. I agree that each game counts, but even if we get swept (which I don’t think will happen), it makes little difference. Like Bill has said and I agree with him – the winner and loser still have 90 games to go.

  8. Pingback: Bunt Singles: Maggs’ last stand, huge series? » Mack Avenue Tigers : A Detroit Tigers Blog

  9. David G.

    July 3, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    I remember that 07 series so clearly. I was convinced the Tigers had become the force I had been waiting for them to be and would be so for many, many years with 5 aces lined up for all to see.

  10. Keith (Mr. X)

    July 3, 2009 at 5:58 pm

    I agree with Billfer 100%. This series doesn’t mean much. I think it’s more important to keep our team rested and healthy so that we can play meaningful games in September/October.

    We are in the best position in our division. Looking ahead, Minnesota has some tougher games after this series. Let the other teams beat them up. The White Sox have an insane 2nd half schedule. They have a 55 game stretch, where roughly half the games are against Boston, NY, TB, and LA. Not to mention they play us quite a few times also. Minnesota’s schedule is much easier.

    What’s nice really about the rest of Detroit’s schedule after we play Minnesota is that we’ll have 47 Home game vs 34 Road games. Having a majority of games at Home is our biggest advantage to win this division.

    • David

      July 3, 2009 at 6:56 pm

      I hope so.

      Mr. X, I’m still scared that this team is going to blow up in August/Sept like it has the last few years.

      Hopefully Verlander/EJax/Ricky and the AAA flavor of the month will be able to mitigate that serious concern quite a bit.

  11. Coleman

    July 3, 2009 at 7:18 pm

    It’s a little bit surprising to me how much better the Tigers do at home than on the road, because Comerica isn’t exactly a HR launching pad, and Detroit scores a big % of its runs via the home run. Instead what I think has been happening is that how the pitching goes has been a bigger factor in whether we get a W/L than the hitting is, and balls that stay in Comerica and drives up the gap that Granderson hauls in end up being HRs and doubles on the road–and also that Cabrera and to some extent Inge are less effected by Comerica that other players might be.

    DET HR leaders, home: Cabrera (9), Inge (7), Granderson (6)
    DET HR leaders, road: Granderson (12), Inge (11), Cabrera (7)

    I think it’s probably not coincidental that the home HR leaders correspond to how FAR they hit their HRs…Cabrera has hit a handful this season that would have been no-doubters in any stadium.

  12. h2h_Corner

    July 3, 2009 at 7:33 pm

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    Also, for a run down of the hottest of hot players and coldest of cold from the last week, check out the Katy Perry All-stars — our boy Justin verlander made the cut!!!!

    http://www.fantasybaseball101......-stars-xi/