Before I start the article, check out my divisional preview for the AL Central from back in March. You may find it interesting to see how I had the division laid out and how many wins I predicted the Tigers would have. Turns out I know a thing or two after all!
The Detroit Tigers seem content to let the Minnesota Twins win the division. Content is the perfect word isn’t it? They certainly don’t seem riled up or angered by the fact that they can’t score runs and forgot how to pitch. Their manager, Jim Leyland, refuses to show any emotion or attempt any sort of an inspirational speech despite his team’s incredibly fragile state of mind. The American League Central now has 2 occupants atop the division, the hapless Tigers and the red-hot Twins. All Minnesota did today was beat Zack Greinke, the best pitcher in all of baseball. Detroit, on the other hand, did nothing. A few random singles here and there and little else led the Tigers to a 5-1 defeat.
You really have to question the pitching strategy tonight. Jim Leyland trots out rookie Alfredo Figaro to pitch the biggest game of the season in Detroit. What did he expect would happen? Figaro lasted just 1.1 innings. Leyland gave him the quick hook in the 2nd after loading the bases. Figaro was charged with 2 earned runs. Let’s be clear. This isn’t Figaro’s fault. He was in no way ready for this start. He couldn’t possibly have been ready for an outing of this magnitude.
Why play it safe and limit Rick Porcello’s innings and pitch repertoire all year long only to bench him at the moment of his team’s greatest need? After all, he’s been one of our top 2 pitchers over the last 2 months. The kid is 20-years old, let him go! Nah, let’s save him for the playoffs…?
Relievers Fu-Te Ni, Armando Galarraga, Ryan Perry, Brandon Lyon, and Fernando Rodney would all follow Figaro’s act and keep the Tigers within relative striking distance, whatever that is these days.
Did I mention how many runs the Tigers have scored in this series? ONE! That’s 1 run in the crunch of all crunch times. In fact, until they scored in the 8th inning on a Placido Polanco single, they hadn’t crossed home plate since the 8th inning on Thursday! If what all Tiger fans fear right now actually comes true, this will be one of the most laughable and embarrassing collapses of all time, in any sport. It is just one short day away from coming to fruition.
It would help if Miguel Cabrera would chip in a little bit. He’s 5 for 22 with 1 RBI in his last 6 games, including just 1 extra-base hit.
Check this stat out: Freddy Garcia, from the 3rd inning through the 7th inning, retired 14 straight hitters. Garcia went 7+ innings, gave up just 6 hits, 1 walk, 1 run, and struck out 7. Welcome back to stardom Freddy Garcia, if only for one night.
The Tigers have led the Central since May 10th. The weight of the entire season and the seemingly inevitable collapse falls on Justin Verlander tomorrow. There is, of course, no other pitcher the Tigers would rather have on the mound tomorrow, but I fear this match-up tremendously. JV is going up against John Danks, a very tough lefty for the ChiSox who will face a very weak right-handed lineup courtesy of the Tigers. It is my estimation that JV and company will need to pitch a shutout tomorrow for the Tigers to have a chance at winning this thing. And make no mistake; the Twins will beat the Royals tomorrow, as they should. The best the Tigers can hope for at this point is a 1-game playoff on Tuesday in Minnesota.