Well, they didn’t clinch, and they didn’t extend the winning streak to 13, and they didn’t look particularly good. (Actually, they did clinch a playoff spot, if you count the game 163 thing as a 1-game playoff). Some of the credit has to go to Brandon McCarthy, who shut down the hottest offense in the league and struck out 8 in 7 innings. Some of it may have been fatigue from the west coast trip, the unusually cold conditions (57, not counting the freezing wind), or that thing that says you can’t win them all. At any rate, nothing to worry about, the champagne will wait until today.
OK, just for fun, let’s worry. Fister and Verlander have been consistently good, but what is going to happen after that? Porcello and Scherzer have been off-and-on all season, and you never really know what you’re going to get until they start throwing. Scherzer has now given up 29 home runs, 2nd-most in the American League, and managed to give up 3 last night to the anemic A’s offense (only the Twins have fewer home runs). And that on a cold night where the ball was not traveling well at all. Now picture him pitching to a bunch of Yankee lefties with that short RF porch behind him…
Then there is the bullpen. The back end of the bullpen still looks rock-solid with Benoit and Valverde, but the rest…not so much. Below and Pauley both had trouble finding the strike zone, and neither looked like a guy you might envision pitching a playoff inning against the Yankees. The Amazing Alburquerque once again has been shelved indefinitely, this time with something “in the hip area.” In fact Al has only pitched 10 innings since the all-star break (though he has managed 15 strikeouts and a 0.00 ERA in those 10 innings). The bullpen looks completely different with-Al than without-Al.
And they have a leadoff hitter averaging 2 strikeouts per game in September.
Also that cold weather excuse thing. Every time the Tigers start out slowly, everyone jumps in and points out that they are a warm-weather team, and the bats will heat up when it gets warmer. The bats definitely were chilled last night. Well, guess what? The playoffs are IN OCTOBER! It’s COLD! So, worry away. There, that was kind of fun.
On the whole though, losing yesterday may actually be good for the team. If nothing else, now the coaching staff can do their laundry.
Anyway, tonight Doug Fister will take his long strides to the mound with a fist full of clinch. Since the Tigers have acquired him, Fister has been another Verlander: his post-break ERA of 2.28 bests Justin’s 2.75, and like Verlander (0.988) he has a sub-1.00 WHIP (0.994). He has hit 3 batters already, which will be something to keep an eye on: Oakland players were getting a bit testy after their 2nd HBP last night, and another one tonight may not go over so well.
The Tigers will face Trevor Cahill, who has to like seeing the old English D. Cahill is 2-0 against the Tigers this season, and has only given up 2 runs in 14 1/2 innings against them. All-in-all it looks to be a low-scoring affair tonight.
Magic Number: 1
Best Record Standings:
NY Yankees 90 58 —
Detroit Tigers 87 63 4
Boston Red Sox 86 63 4 1/2
Texas Rangers 86 64 5
Player of the Pre-Game: Magglio Ordonez
Magglio has been hitting lately, and even singled last night off of Cy McCarthy in the chilly night air. Try these numbers for the month of September: .417 BA, 1.087 OPS, and even a stolen base.
Today’s Clinchy Lineup: