64-45, 1st place, 3 games up on Cleveland. That last is simply not possible. I’m sure the lead is really 7 or 8 games by now, but I’ve got to pay lip service to the dubious standings information over at mlb.com.
If my speech seems a little garbled, it’s because I have no jaw. It didn’t just drop. It fell off over the weekend as the Tigers took 3 from the White Sox to extend their winning streak to 8. I found it on the floor today, but then Rick Porcello walked off with it. He gave it to Bruce Rondon, who then handed it to Torii Hunter. It’s OK. I don’t need it. The Tigers have a bullpen. The Tigers have defense. The Tigers have clutch hitting. The Tigers are winning close games. The already great starting pitching has now gone completely off the charts – and it’s not being wasted. All this magic is taking place without… well, you know the story. And taking place with a suspension (for something – if anything – that I have to believe is well in the past) hanging over the head of All-Star SS Jhonny Peralta. (Kevin’s right – nerves of steel there.)
So… it’s time for the Showdown in O-Town*. The Motown/O-Town Showdown. Which would make this the Lowdown on the Motown/O-Town Showdown. If this series should give us cause to celebrate, be here Thursday for the Motown/O-Town Showdown Hoedown (and Friday for the ensuing Lowdown). No, nothing about the AL Central is going to be decided in early August, but it’s still pretty big.
* “O” for Ohio, of course. I’m pretty sure “O-Town” is the hip local insider slang term for “Cleveland.” Though I could be wrong.
The Tigers have won 9 of 12 against the Indians. 5-1 at Progressive Field, 4-2 at Comerica Park. Study up:
May 10, Tigers 10-4
May 11, Indians 7-6
May 12, Indians 4-3
May 21, Tigers 5-1
May 22, Tigers 11-7
June 7, Tigers 7-5
June 8, Tigers 6-4
June 9, Tigers 4-1
July 5, Tigers 7-0
July 6, Tigers 9-4
July 7, Indians 9-6
July 8, Tigers 4-2
Obviously, Detroit has found its way around a few bothersome things about the Indians: a) When hitters reach base, they tend to steal, and then score; b) They hit home runs, which is annoying; c) Their starting pitching is often better than it’s supposed to be, which is very annoying, and; d) Ryan Raburn. That last actually counts as something the Tigers haven’t found their way around, while remaining bothersome.
Some 2013 vs. Tigers stats to chew on (tomorrow it’ll be vs. Indians):
Kluber: 3 games, .320 BAA, .976 OPSA, 5 HR & 22 K in 17 IP
Masterson: 2 games, .283 BAA, .732 OPSA, 7 BB in 12 IP
McAllister: 1 game, 6 IP, 3 ER, 8 H, 3 BB, 5 K
Perez: 4-16 .583 OPSA
Shaw: 7-30 .636
Hill 5-22 .761
Smith: 5-15 .874
Hagadone: 2-10 .685
Albers: 6-24 .774
Allen: 2-17 .463
Bourn: 11-50 .475 OPS, 0 HR, 3 RBI
Brantley: 12-42 .810, 2 HR 11 RBI
Kipnis: 10-50 .533, 0 HR, 5 RBI
Reynolds: 7-37 .457, 0 HR, 3 RBI
Santana: 10-42 .772, 2 HR, 5 RBI
A. Cabrera: 8-32, .726, 0 HR, 2 RBI
Chisenhall: 6-24 .792, 1 HR, 3 RBI
Giambi: 1-18 .404, 1 HR, 3 RBI
Stubbs: 7-26 .709, 1 HR, 2 RBI
Raburn: 4-14 1.340, 3 HR, 6 RBI
Gomes: 6-18 .924, 1 HR, 1 RBI
Aviles: 4-25 ,360, 0 HR, 1 RBI
Swisher: 10-37 .846, 1 HR, 3 RBI
Don’t stare at these stats too long, lest the phrase “piece of cake” should come to mind. But I’m hoping that Anibal sets the tone right away. Sanchez has been excellent of late, though not the strikeout king he began the season (rather unexpectedly) as. One start against Cleveland this season, a reasonably good limited pitch count outing on July 6.
We will probably see the re-debut of Jeremy Bonderman as a Tiger this series, out of the bullpen at some point. Cool, and good luck to him, of course. This pales next to the pending news on Peralta, which everyone seems to be taking as a foregone conclusion. We’ll see. Losing Jhonny will not be good, but the team has prepared itself as well as it can. Will Miguel Cabrera please return to the lineup ASAP and make us all feel a little bit better, preferably with a 3-HR game?