This week’s record easily could have been 1-5 rather than 5-1. Every game this week was a nail biter and included four come-from-behind wins in the eighth or ninth inning. Here’s your September baseball drama Detroit fans, it came down to the wire every day this week and it will continue to be like that until the Tigers finish in Atlanta on Oct. 2nd.
The ability to close out tight games has been one of the Tigers’ strong points all season, despite what many will say about their bullpen. Overall, this team looks like a playoff team and, dare I say, even a pennant team. Offense is potent, starters are reliable, the bullpen is strong and the team is clutch as a whole.
Overall Record: 74-62
Games out of First: 5
Games out of Wild Card: Tied with Baltimore. 2.5 back from Boston for first spot.
This Week’s Record: 5-1
Upton Funk You Up
Describing a player as streaky is up there with calling an athlete gritty for dumbest and laziest descriptors. Streaky is a term that has been tied to Justin Upton’s name his whole career, and to my dismay it may be true. Another term fans saw appear early in the season was bust. Even Lynn Henning went out and said he is a detriment to this offense and is holding it back from what it could be. But the former 19-year-old phenom is on an insane two-week tear. He jump-started a dying offense, and in the past two weeks has posted an even .333 batting average (16-for-48) with six home runs (just over a quarter of his season total) and 18 RBI (the 13 in August were the only 13 he had).
His two-run homer on Sunday gave Detroit the go-ahead runs, and for a guy that has been written as unable to deal with pressure, he seems to be playing some of his best baseball ever right in crunch time. We’re getting a glimpse of what this Detroit offense could have been all season with him as a force.
So the streaky detriment that doesn’t play well under pressure is proving a lot of people wrong as of late and is going to be a huge reason Detroit could make a pennant run.
One day when you’re an old man with grandkids, you’ll be able to tell them you saw the best hitter of all-time play. Don’t let anyone tell you Miguel Cabrera isn’t the best hitter with the prettiest, most precise swing. He can hit to all fields at any time and it seems he can just hit a home run whenever he wants to. He’s even told reporters he already knows exactly what is going to be thrown to him before he steps into the box. Whatever you do in life, strive to be Cabrera level good at it.
The big man is showing no signs of slowing and with the way he’s been playing, you know he’s hungry for another title. Cabrera, like Upton, is on a tear hitting .370 (17-for-46) with seven walks and nine runs in the past two weeks. Although he’s not driving in a ton of runs (seven RBI’s, with four coming in Friday’s contest), he is getting on base to be driven in by Upton or another guy who is on a tear. Which leads me to my next point.
Peace, Love, Julio Daniel
I’m not one to joke about injuries, but honestly J.D. Martinez being out for six weeks may have been the best thing that has happened to him and this team. Martinez has been unstoppable since coming back. Since returning from injury on Aug. 3, Martinez has a batting average of .392 (44-for-112) and had an August OBP of .446. Add eight homers and 17 RBI’s to his name, and fans are reminded why the Tigers have one of the most threatening middle of the orders in baseball and should not be reckoned with if they are playing in October.
I do have a bone to pick with Dave Dombrowksi because of his comments to the Boston Herald.
“The correlation between spending and wins has been declining for many years now — to the point of almost zero last year,” Dombrowski said. “Young players provide more WAR than ever before.”
When did you figure that one out DD? After you tossed around $200 million contracts to the whole Detroit team? A really ironic statement about using young players coming from one of the most free agent and trade-happy general managers in baseball.
Nonetheless, trading Joakim Soria for Jacoby Jones has proved to be yet another successful move from last year’s unloading process. Dombrowski knew he was on the way out but still did what he could to help the Tigers club, and you have to respect him for that. Although it pained many to see the Tigers throw in the towel last year, it is all worth it now as Jones contributed to some of this week’s clutch wins.
Jones’ double in the sixth inning gave Detroit their first lead in Wednesday’s 8-4 win over the White Sox. Then, the very next day, Jones doubled in the ninth to be setup for an eventual Tyler Collins walk-off sacrifice fly. The youth movement of Michael Fulmer, Matt Boyd, Daniel Norris and Nick Castellanos is very real in Detroit right now and is making for a nice little combination with all the veterans.
I do have to deliver some bad news among all this good. Although the bullpen is no longer a 50/50 thing where they may save it or blow it, there have been some bumps. In the first two games of the Royals series, we saw the bullpen underperform.
On Friday, Justin Wilson and Shane Greene allowed the Royals to regain the lead and without some late game heroics from Cabrera, that game could have easily been a loss. In Saturday’s loss, Kyle Ryan and Mark Lowe pitched terribly, allowing the Royals to build their lead. Hiccups are going to happen, but no bullpen is ever safe in Detroit so I’m going to keep my eyes peeled.
Iggy doin’ Iggy
Definitely not the first time Jose Iglesias has made a catch like this but oh my gosh, look at this Iglesias catch!
Schedule for the Week of September 5 (all times EST)
Monday 4:10 p.m. at Chicago White Sox
Tuesday 8:10 p.m at Chicago White Sox
Wednesday 2:10 p.m. at Chicago White Sox
Friday 7:10 p.m. vs. Baltimore Orioles
Saturday 7:10 p.m. vs. Baltimore Orioles
Sunday 1:10 p.m. vs. Baltimore Orioles on TBS