September 22nd, 2014 at 1:24 PM
By Max DeMara
The Detroit Tigers put the finishing touches on an up and down second to last week of the season with a loss against the Kansas City Royals on Sunday afternoon.
They didn't need that game, though, nearly as bad as the Royals did. Following two equally gut-wrenching losses in blowout and close fashion, Kansas City was staring down the barrel of being finished off and responded well.
A loss Sunday, and the Royals could have forgotten about winning the division They may have even begun to feel significant heat in the wild card race. The 5-2 win allowed them to stay afloat on both fronts
It doesn't mean the weekend was a failure for the Tigers, though. In fact, it was the complete opposite. Detroit made a statement that the Central Division still goes through them regardless of what else has happened this season. Any momentum the Royals had coming in was quickly and swiftly halted.
With seven home games to go, a magic number to match and a 1.5 game lead in the division, the Tigers are in prime position to win a fourth consecutive divisional crown. This week, they play the White Sox and Twins while the Royals will be faced with the hungry Cleveland Indians. With this in mind, Kansas City probably should have done much more to avoid losing two games to Detroit.Read more... Join the Conversation...
September 21st, 2014 at 10:30 AM
By Max DeMara
Even though Torii Hunter got his Detroit Tigers on the board first Saturday with a massive home run, nobody would believe who got the biggest hit of the day.
It was Tyler Collins, whose pinch hit, two out single provided the go-ahead margin for the Tigers, who went on to win 3-2. Collins slapped a hard single up the middle with two strikes, scoring J.D. Martinez.
The at-bat was a fantastic piece of hitting for Collins, who's also contributed a big home run against the Cleveland Indians since being called up. Many forget that early in 2014, Collins started the season on the roster, but was replaced.
Since then, he toiled away in Toledo and patiently waited for his next chance in the league. As luck would have it, it came when rosters expanded. Now, with clutch at-bats, Collins is opening eyes again.
With a strong finish to the season, Collins can put himself in position for roster discussion next year. Martinez is likely now entrenched in left field, but with Hunter's contract set to expire, there will almost certainly be an opening in right field.Read more... Join the Conversation...
September 19th, 2014 at 11:06 AM
By Max DeMara
Didn't have September 19-21 circled on the calendar back in April? Didn't think when the season began the Detroit Tigers and Kansas City Royals would be fighting to the finish for the Central Division crown?
Join the club. Plenty of others likely figured the veteran Tigers would have pulled away from the pack by now to take the division crown again, but they haven't, setting up a massive series late in the season.
It's not winner take all territory yet, but the winner could end up taking most, or at least positioning themselves best for the final week of the regular season. With this knowledge, and the understanding that the Tigers have more of the stars on their side, the recipe for success becomes obvious.
Basically, Detroit's big guns have to show up. It starts with the pitching, as Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello will all step to the mound over the weekend. The former have each been erratic at separate times this year, while the latter is certainly capable of a clunker performance. All need to pitch a consistent, solid game, set the tone and give the Tigers a chance to win.Read more... Join the Conversation...
September 18th, 2014 at 9:22 AM
By Max DeMara
The Detroit Tigers lost two of three games on the road against the Minnesota Twins, and would have lost a third if not for clutch hitting in the ninth inning.
In all three games, a significant reason why the team lost, in addition to run scoring concerns and a few starting pitching errors, was the bullpen. After the last home stand, Detroit's pen had just come off a sparkling streak, but has quickly reverted back to shaky form in recent days.
Here's how the recently heaviest-used Tigers' late-inning hurlers rate in the latest edition of Bullpen Briefings.
1. Joakim Soria (2-4, 3.57 ERA, 18 saves). Monday, Soria picked up his 18th save of the season in clutch fashion filling in for the exhausted Joe Nathan. Since coming back off the disabled list, Soria has been pitching better (only two hits, two strikeouts and no runs in the seven innings pitched since his return) and is looking like a key piece for Detroit's stretch run.Read more... Join the Conversation...
September 17th, 2014 at 9:30 AM
By Max DeMara
Monday night, the Detroit Tigers won a close game because their closer was able to get the job done. Tuesday night, they lost one because he couldn't.
The closer was different in both instances. Monday it was Joakim Soria, and Tuesday it was Joe Nathan. Soria got his save quickly, allowing the Tigers to win a game they had lost control of, while Nathan blew a save in a long and painful outing the Tigers probably had no business winning in the first place.
Nathan wasn't alone in sharing the blame. Ezequiel Carerra made a horrific defensive decision in the ninth, diving for Kurt Suzuki's hit. He missed, allowing Suzuki to double and the tying run to score.
That play not withstanding, Nathan helped kick start the Twins rally with a walk of Trevor Plouffe. Later, Aaron Hicks tapped a ball over the mound that Andrew Romine had no chance at making a play on, allowing Chris Hermann to score.
Though there were plenty of elements of bad luck at play and Nathan claimed he felt better in this outing, it's clear that the dual closer role could be an excellent idea down the stretch. Nathan had clearly lost steam by Sunday, and pitching Soria on Monday allowed the Tigers to get back on track.Read more... Join the Conversation...