Monday, September 28, 2009

And So It All Comes Down to This

As I didn’t see any of yesterday’s game, I’ll be brief about the game recap. While I listened to the game during my lunch break, the White Sox tied the game 1-1. When I checked in later, the score was 4-2. So those other runs came in a hurry. I have no assessment of Edwin Jackson, other than to pass along the message that Jim Price thought his stuff was better than it had been in Cleveland, despite the final line. Meanwhile, I told you Daniel Hudson was pretty good against the Twins, did I not? He even duplicated the one inning where he lost sight of the strike zone, as well as the results (giving up only one run). And so we’re done with that series, at least until this weekend.

And now we have come to THE series. This one is pretty much for all the marbles, so to speak. The last time there was a series this critical for the Tigers in the regular season was 1987 against the Blue Jays. I was four years old then, and so I have no memory of that. They’re celebrating the ’84 World Series team tonight (I don’t remember that, either). But onto the game. A lot of people think the Tigers have collapsed or are in the process of collapsing because of losing the big lead in the division, but as
Kurt points out, they’ve actually done about the same as they’ve done all year (albeit they’ve been a bit more streaky about it), and we were given assurances by all the columnists, pundits, stat heads, and sabremetricians that all Detroit had to do was hold their own. They’ve done that, but the Twins have just flown in the face of every math calculation and simulation that you can throw at them. And the mind-boggling thing is that ever since Morneau was lost for the season, they’ve played better than any point in the season that they had him. That makes no sense. We keep getting told that the Twins aren’t good on the road, and yet they had won every game on their current road trip until finally getting slowed down by Zack Greinke yesterday (and yet, even against the combination of Greinke and Soria, the Twins STILL banged out eleven hits). You’ve heard all the scenarios of what happens if each team wins a certain number of games in this series (though I find it a bit worrisome that the media and bloggers are acting as though the Twins taking three of four is the worst case scenario; We don’t want to fathom what the REAL worst-case scenario is, do we?). And so, there are two things that have been true most of the season that must hold true for the Tigers to win out: The Tigers play very well at home (only the Yankees and Red Sox are better), and their pitching is better than Twins pitching (though this good pitching oftentimes does not show up AGAINST the Twins). And it goes without saying that, due to the pitching matchups, the first two games are huge. Rick Porcello was pretty good in his last start, though he had to dodge a lot of traffic on the basepaths early in that game against the Indians. The last time he saw the Twins, he gave up three runs and lost. His lone shutout appearance came against the Twins back in May at Comerica Park (And it would behoove him to get that sinker working tonight because it is REALLY windy). Nick Blackburn typically does not pitch well at Comerica Park. However, after going through an awful second half, he has been really good in his last three starts, including his last one, where he threw seven shutout innings against the White Sox, and is a big reason why the Twins are as hot as they are now. And I’ll admit it: I am absolutely terrified right now. My gut feelings and intuition have taken the Tigers almost into the range that I thought they were capable of (Remember, I said they had the ability to win 85-90 games and contend. I promised nothing beyond that). Beyond this point, I have no idea what will happen.

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