Whew. Time for a deep breath. If only the Tigers had that luxury. On an off-day for the club, Detroit was ultra-busy as they went out and grabbed Aubrey Huff from the Baltimore Orioles and then paid out about $8 million in signing bonuses to 3 of their top picks from the 2009 amateur draft just prior to the signing deadline. A day that could go down as one of the great days in the history of the storied franchise will be measured out in the months and years to come. Meanwhile, the Tigers find themselves squarely in control of a pennant race in the AL Central. Jim Leyland and his Tigers must quickly wipe away a draining defeat against KC on Sunday and prepare to deal with Felix Hernandez and the Mariners for 3 games.
Detroit is 62-55 and 2 full games up on the ChiSox for 1st place in the AL Central. It seems like every time the Tigers slip, the rest of the Central follows suit and no ground is lost. Have you ever heard the song, “All These Things That I’ve Done” by The Killers? Great tune. The chorus goes: “I’ve got soul but I’m not a soldier” over and over again. The Tigers have a bunch of guys on this roster with soul; Magglio Ordonez, Placido Polanco, Curtis Granderson, Brandon Inge, and on and on. These guys have had their moments in 2009 but as a collective group have not soldiered up.
It’s time for this offense to get busy. I expect the newly acquired Aubrey Huff to hit 3rd or 5th in the order right out of the gate. He is either going to be protected by Miguel Cabrera or he’ll do the protecting himself. Either way, this should be a good thing for a team that has had all kinds of trouble scoring runs on a consistent basis. Bear in mind that despite Huff’s .253 average (he is a .280 lifetime hitter) he comes to Motown with more RBI’s, 72, than any active Tiger.
Huff and Co. will be tested right off the bat against King Felix and the 61-57 Seattle Mariners.
Game 1: 7:05 eastern - Rick Porcello (10-7) v. Felix Hernandez (12-4): Porcello’s arm should be fresh for this one after getting tossed in the 2nd inning and subsequently suspended for 5 games after plunking nancy boy Kevin Youkilis in the back last week in Boston. He has looked good in his last few appearances and is 2-0 against Seattle this year. King Felix is the man. The Tigers will face some tough sledding in this one much like last week against Zack Greinke. The Tigers found a way to win that one and must do the same tonight. Hernandez is 2nd to Greinke in the AL with a 2.72 ERA and he has 158 K’s.
Game 2: 7:05 eastern – Justin Verlander (13-6) v. Ian Snell (2-9): Can you say mismatch? Ouch. Sorry Seattle, this one doesn’t look good. JV bring his 3.28 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 194 K’s to the mound and he’s fresh off his heroic performance against Boston last Thursday. Look for another home win from Verlander here. Ian Snell, where have you gone? A few short years ago Snell looked like a real up and comer with the Pirates. Those days are gone. He was traded to Seattle just prior to the trade deadline and has made 3 forgettable appearances with the M’s since then. Through 13.1 innings, he’s given up 13 runs, on 4 homers, 14 hits and 12 walks. This guy had a hard enough time pitching against NL lineups, I don’t see him turning it around in the junior circuit.
Game 3: 1:05 eastern – Jarrod Washburn (8-7) v. Ryan Rowland-Smith (2-1): Washburn pitched a beauty in his 3rd start with the Tigers when he locked up with Zack Greinke for 8 scoreless innings. Now he gets a shot at his former team. This will be his 4th start with Detroit, all of them coming at home, so he must be getting comfy on that Comerica Park mound. Rowland-Smith has made 6 starts for the M’s this year and has fared pretty well. In bouncing back from an early season injury, he has a 3.60 ERA and 1.11 WHIP in his 35 innings of work this year.