Going into this series, everyone said the Tigers just had to win one game. Just one. Well, they did that, although it was probably the one that had the least likely win probability, especially since the Twins have a knack for completing the sweep when they have the opportunity, especially at home. But you have to be happy with it. Nate Robertson channeled some of his 2007 self and pitched five good innings. Most of the Twins made him throw a lot of pitches, but he was mostly able to limit the traffic on the bases. Striking out Denard Span three times was particularly impressive. And the Tigers got some good work from the bullpen, especially when you consider that neither Zach Miner nor Bobby Seay had pitched well at the Metrodome this year. But we actually scored some runs as well. Everyone is talking about Polanco’s three RBIs, but I think Guillen’s triple was the big hit of the game, because after that, everyone seemed to loosen up a bit, and the swings got better (though I was a bit surprised that Ron Gardenhire pulled Scott Baker so quickly).
It is now time for the final off-day of the season (and by my observations in yesterday’s post, our boys need it), and then it’s three in Cleveland. And while the Tigers’ recent issues have given some, well, unwanted drama to the top of the division, something similar is happening at the bottom. I watched the end of the Indians’ game yesterday, and their broadcasters gave me this somewhat stunning statistic: On September 6, the Indians were in fourth place ahead of the Royals by nine games. That was two weeks ago. As of yesterday, they now have the same record. Those two teams (so far) are going in opposite directions to end the year. The Royals have been hot recently (we know about that firsthand, and we need them to stay hot for the remainder of the season), while the Indians have lost eight in a row and are coming off a winless road trip that saw them get swept in Minnesota and Oakland (and that Oakland series was a 4-gamer). This can mean one of two things: Either this is the perfect time to be playing the Indians, or this is going to scare you to death because they’ll be desperate to break the losing streak. And the Tigers will face two of their better starters in the series. Tomorrow night, Edwin Jackson takes on Aaron Laffey. Jackson spent his bullpen session yesterday working on mechanical tweaks to his slider (plus there’s some belief that he’s been tipping his pitches), and he thinks he’s got the problem fixed. I sure do hope so. The Indians have made him work the last couple times they saw him (although he did get the win against them in late August). Meanwhile, Aaron Laffey has probably pitched the best of all the Indians’ starters recently. He took the loss in one of those games in Detroit, but probably pitched better than the numbers show, as the Indians made five errors in that game (and the Tigers haven’t been so hot against lefties recently).