The Detroit Tigers (71-70) just took 3 of 4 from the White Sox and have once again poked their head above water with a plus .500 record. You have to give the Tigers some respect for not packing it in. They are being led by a new cast of characters and are playing really good baseball right now and the starting pitching has been dynamic of late. With the series loss, the Sox fall to 77-63 and a full 6 games back from the streaking Twins.
The Sox managed to win the first game of the series in 10 innings by a 5-4 score. It was once again the faltering Jose Valverde who coughed up the game in the 10th. Valverde has struggled mightily in the 2nd half of the season. Max Scherzer allowed 4 earned runs in 7.1 innings and took a no-decision in the game. He did lose the lead in the 8th on an RBI single by Alexei Ramirez. A.J. Pierzynski did the final damage with an RBI single of his own in the top of the 10th off of Valverde. Don Kelly led the way with 2 hits and 3 RBI’s, including his 6th homer of the year. Kelly has been swinging a hot bat for the Tigers lately.
Game 2 saw the Tigers jump all over the White Sox and finish off an impressive 9-1 win. Johnny Damon slapped his 8th homer of the year over the wall in right in the bottom of the 1st to put Detroit up 2-0. Justin Verlander allowed a 3rd inning RBI single to Omar Vizquel but that was all he would surrender on the night. JV went 7 innings and improved his record to 15-8. He struck out 7, giving him 179 on the year.
Jhonny Peralta’s 2-run double capped a 4-run 3rd inning for the Tigers to put them up 6-1. Brandon Inge bombed his 10th homer of the year to left, a 3-run shot, to finish off the scoring. Robbie Weinhardt pitched 2 strong innings to seal the win.
The 3rd game of the series was also dominated by the Tigers as Jeremy Bonderman came out with a 5-1 win. Bondo pitched his best game in a while as he went 8 strong innings with 8 K’s and just 3 hits and a walk allowed. His record now stands at 8-9 as he tries to salvage his season and earn himself some dollars next year. Brandon Inge and Alex Avila drove in 2 runs apiece for the Tigers in the easy win.
The Tigers jumped out quick again in the series finale on Thursday afternoon thanks to a walk and 2 singles to start the game. Austin Jackson and Will Rhymes came around to score in the 1st to set the stage for another win by Rick Porcello. The Tigers won 6-3. The 21-year old starter won his 4th straight start as he lasted 8 innings and gave up just 4 hits and 3 earned runs. Most of the damage against Porcello came when Alex Rios hit a 2-run shot to left in the 4th. A pair of wild pitches allowed Paul Konerko to score in the 7th to pull Chicago within 5-3. Porcello is now 9-11 on the season.
The 2-3-4 spots in the order did most of the damage for Detroit in this one. Will Rhymes raked out 3 more hits, Johnny Damon had a sensational 4-hit game, and Ryan Raburn had 2 hits and 2 more RBI’s to power the Tigers past the disappointed White Sox. Sox starter Gavin Floyd allowed a whopping 13 hits over 6 innings of 5-run ball (4 earned).
The Tigers starting pitching deserves a ton of credit for the team’s recent success. Consider that of the 37 innings pitched by the Tigers in this series, the 4 starters threw 30.1 of them. The bullpen is well rested right now and has no excuse for not performing extremely well in the season’s final weeks (hint, hint, Jose, Ryan, Phil, et al).
Soon I will be assembling an article breaking down what we sadly need to be focused on right now, the 2011 Tigers roster. Many of the pieces are up and playing right now. Tune in and check it out, these guys are exciting. The Tigers are also shedding a silly amount of money in dead contracts and players in the last year of their deal at season’s end. Options will be aplenty this offseason for GM Dave Dombrowski. I’ll be bringing you my blueprint for next year’s roster, including salary implications.
Up next for Detroit is a 3-game series at Comerica Park against the Orioles (53-87). This is clearly a series the Tigers will be favored in. It’s hard to imagine, but after all of the struggles the Tigers have had this year, if you look at their remaining schedule, they could easily get to a win total of 82-84. Of the 21 games remaining on the Tigers schedule, 13 of them come against the O’s, Indians, and Royals. I had originally predicted an 87 win season and a first place finish. What I didn’t expect was for the Twins to put up 92+ wins on the year.