Detroit Tigers: 52-44, 1st Place (1.5 ahead of Cleveland).
About a month ago I commented that I thought Kansas City, not Cleveland, would end up being Detroit’s closest Central competitor, which looked rather foolish when the Royals ended the first half with 5 consecutive losses, including a three-game sweep by the Indians. Now after taking the first two games from Detroit, the Royals are in a position where another win today would bring them within 5 games of first place (the Indians, like the Tigers, have started the 2nd half 0-2).
The Tigers, for their part, would love nothing more than to get out of Kansas City with a win this afternoon, although the teams won’t have to wait too long to see each other again: the Royals head to Detroit August 15th for a 5-game series (yep), and the teams play each other a total of 11 more times this season.
As has been common this season, the Tigers came up short once again in a 1-run game, which brings their season record in 1-run games to 9-14 (the Royals are an even 17-17, which is an awful lot of 1-run games). Kansas City has now beaten Detroit by 1 run 3 consecutive games.
The Tigers tried to manufacture a run in the 8th inning, and break the 7-9 Dead Zone curse. After Alex Avila singled and Don Kelly got a pinch-hit walk (in his 2nd consecutive game pinch-hitting for Ramon Santiago), Jackson bunted the runners over to 2nd and 3rd, but Hunter and Cabrera were unable to get a run home.
I liked the bunt call. I can understand why there was some grumbling, but consider that Austin Jackson is in an awful slump right now: he is only hitting .202 since returning from the DL, and an awful .139 over the last 2 weeks, with on On-Base % of only .205. Add to that the Tiger propensity for rally-killing DPs and the fact that a successful bunt almost guarantees a Cabrera at bat with someone on base, and I think it was a great call. Just didn’t work.
Of course Detroit was in a hole to begin with because of another appearance by Bad Justin. There seems to be a little tension between Verlander and Leyland also.
Leyland: Verlander is pitching a bit too careful. [Why is that?]
Leyland: You’ll have to ask him.
Verlander: No I’m not [Then why would Leyland say that?]
Verlander: That’s a question for him.
Well, nobody is happy about losing, right? Anyway Verlander’s velocity was back up, for what it’s worth.
Today’s Player of the Pre-game: Victor Martinez. Martinez dusts off his glove while Fielder gets the day at DH. The last two times Martinez has played first he has played some sparkling defense, including this play, which had a good run as the reigning Web Gem.