Thursday, February 25, 2010

2010 and the AL Central: July

I’ll start with all the clichés. July is normally where you figure out which direction a team is headed (though sometimes there are exceptions, like last year). It also brings us the All-Star Game and a ton of trade rumors (and one would hope the Tigers would either be buyers or be good enough that they can stand pat). So let’s get started.

Tigers

July 1 (Thu): Off-day
July 2-4 (Fri-Sun): vs. Seattle Mariners (3)
July 5-7 (Mon-Wed): vs. Baltimore Orioles (3)
July 8 (Thu): Off-day
July 9-11 (Fri-Sun): vs. Minnesota Twins (3)
July 12-15 (Mon-Thu): All-Star Break
July 16-18 (Fri-Sun): @ Cleveland Indians (3)
July 19-21 (Mon-Wed): vs. Texas Rangers (3)
July 22-25 (Thu-Sun): vs. Toronto Blue Jays (4)
July 26-29 (Mon-Thu): @ Tampa Bay Rays (4)
July 30-August 1 (Fri-Sun): @ Boston Red Sox (3)

July 2009 was a weird month for the Tigers. It was their worst month of the season, record-wise. They finished 10-14 (their only sub-.500 month of 2009), but it was the best month for the pitchers, who posted a 3.53 ERA (then again, I suppose four 2-1 losses will do that). On the other hand, they finished the second half at exactly .500 (38-38), which after several years of sub-.500 second halves sounds really good. It’s time to build on that and set higher goals. Like a winning second half (to go with a winning first half, of course). Detroit kicks off July 2010 with a nine-game homestand, starting with a Fourth-of-July weekend series against Ichiro and the Mariners (featuring the much-anticipated
Bless You Boys get-together on the 3rd). The Orioles come next, and after an off-day on the 8th, the Tigers wrap up the first half with a series against the Twins. Detroit does get the “long” All-Star Break (4 days instead of three) for the second straight year, but they’ll come out of the Break having to play seventeen games in a row. The second half starts on the road (It always seems to, doesn’t it?) with a 3-game series in Cleveland (hopefully 3-game road trips don’t screw you up the way 3-game homestands do). The Tigers then head home for a 3-game series against Texas. Will their dominance of the Rangers at Comerica Park continue? One can only hope. For the rest of July, it’s all AL East, all the time. The Tigers finish up their homestand with a four-game series against the Blue Jays. They’ll then wrap up July on the road with four against the Rays (site of our last hurrah before trouble began, so to speak) and three at Fenway Park against the Red Sox (this is better than having it the other way around; I’ll take four at Tropicana Field over four at Fenway Park any day). As you can see, even though the end of the month has the potential to be brutal and they will be playing good teams throughout the entire month, the Tigers have a lot more home games than road games in July (whereas everyone else in the Central has a near-even split of home games and road games), and the schedule includes some teams they played very well against in 2009 (Texas, Cleveland, and Tampa Bay). Again, they need to draw on recent history and take advantage of this.
Home games: 16
Road games: 10
Detroit’s 2009 record against opposition: 47-38
Combined 2009 winning percentage of opponents: .495

White Sox

July 1 (Thu): Off-day
July 2-4 (Fri-Sun): @ Texas Rangers (3)
July 5-8 (Mon-Thu): vs. Los Angeles Angels (4)
July 9-11 (Fri-Sun): vs. Kansas City Royals (3)
July 12-14 (Mon-Wed): All-Star Break
July 15-18 (Thu-Sun): @ Minnesota Twins (4)
July 19-21 (Mon-Wed): @ Seattle Mariners (3)
July 22 (Thu): Off-day
July 23-25 (Fri-Sun): @ Oakland Athletics (3)
July 26-29 (Mon-Thu): vs. Seattle Mariners (4)
July 30-August 1 (Fri-Sun): vs. Oakland Athletics (3)

The off-day gods were smiling upon the White Sox, for the whole season as a matter of fact (they have one 17-game stretch and one 13-game stretch with no off-day, and that’s it; it’s still not as easy on them as the Twins). They have an off-day to begin the month before concluding their road trip at Ranger Ballpark. Like the Tigers, the White Sox finish up the first half at home. They’ll be hosting the Angels for four and the Royals for three. Now, they do end up with the shorter three-day All Star Break, thanks to the fact that they begin the second half with a four game series at Minnesota (Chicago should just be glad it’s not at the Metrodome). The end of July will be rather monotonous for them as they spend about two weeks seeing the same two teams in home and home series. They head out to the west coast to face the Mariners and A’s, only to come back home for a seven games against…the Mariners and A’s. They should be well-acquainted by then. Do I have to mention they get a heavy dose of the AL West in July?
Home games: 14
Road games: 13
Chicago’s 2009 record against opposition: 30-39
Combined 2009 winning percentage of opponents: .510

Indians

July 2-4 (Fri-Sun): vs. Oakland Athletics (3)
July 5-7 (Mon-Wed): @ Texas Rangers (3)
July 8-11 (Thu-Sun): @ Tampa Bay Rays (4)
July 12-15 (Mon-Thu): All-Star Break
July 16-18 (Fri-Sun): vs. Detroit Tigers (3)
July 19-21 (Mon-Wed): @ Minnesota Twins (3)
July 22 (Thu): Off-day
July 23-25 (Fri-Sun): vs. Tampa Bay Rays (3)
July 26-29 (Mon-Thu): vs. New York Yankees (4)
July 30-August 1 (Fri-Sun): @ Toronto Blue Jays (3)

When July begins, the Indians will be in the middle of a 20-game stretch with no off-day. They’ll spend Fourth of July weekend at home taking on the A’s. After that, they embark on a seven-game road trip featuring visits to Arlington and St. Petersburg that’ll take them right up to the All-Star Break. The Indians get the long break and open up the second half at home against us. They’ll then take a brief road trip to Minnesota. After an off-day, they finish up the month with opponents exclusively from the AL East (Their first series in August is like this as well; they’ll see everyone except the Orioles). It starts with a seven-game homestand featuring the Rays and Yankees (the Indians will be licking their chops when the Rays come to town; Tampa Bay has lost 14 consecutive games at Progressive Field; it’s kinda like the Rangers at Comerica Park). They wrap up the month with a trip up north to take on the Blue Jays. July is shaping up to be a challenging month for the Tribe. They have the hardest schedule in terms of winning percentage, and it includes some teams that they didn’t play well against in 2009 (In all fairness, the fact that they went 4-14 against the Tigers kind of skews this).
Home games: 13
Road games: 13
Cleveland’s 2009 record against opposition: 27-49
Combined 2009 winning percentage of opponents: .526

Twins

July 1-4 (Thu-Sun): vs. Tampa Bay Rays (4)
July 5 (Mon): Off-day
July 6-8 (Tue-Thu): @ Toronto Blue Jays (3)
July 9-11 (Fri-Sun): @ Detroit Tigers (3)
July 12-14 (Mon-Wed): All-Star Break
July 15-18 (Thu-Sun): vs. Chicago White Sox (4)
July 19-21 (Mon-Wed): vs. Cleveland Indians (3)
July 22-25 (Thu-Sun): @ Baltimore Orioles (4)
July 26-28 (Mon-Wed): @ Kansas City Royals (3)
July 29 (Thu): Off-day
July 30-August 1 (Fri-Sun): vs. Seattle Mariners (3)

Minnesota starts off the month of July with a four-game home series against the Rays. Following their off-day on the 5th, they head out on a six-game road trip that’ll take them to Toronto and then Detroit. The Twins get the shorter All-Star Break (you won’t see me shed a tear about that). They begin the second half with fourteen straight games. It should be noted that this is their longest stretch with no off-day all season. They have a seven-game homestand with four against the White Sox and three against the Indians, followed by a seven-game road trip featuring four against the Orioles and three against the Royals (So basically they get healthy doses of the Central and the East in July). They return home to finish up July against the Mariners, their only AL West opponent for the month. If the Twins are gonna make noise in a month other than September, this is probably it. They have the easiest schedule by far of any team in the Central, and their 2009 record against their opponents this month is very, very good (Thanks to the presence of all their division rivals).
Home games: 14
Road games: 13
Minnesota’s 2009 record against opposition: 59-43
Combined 2009 winning percentage of opponents: .465

Royals

July 1 (Thu): Off-day
July 2-4 (Fri-Sun): @ Los Angeles Angels (3)
July 5-7 (Mon-Wed): @ Seattle Mariners (3)
July 8 (Thu): Off-day
July 9-11 (Fri-Sun): @ Chicago White Sox (3)
July 12-15 (Mon-Thu): All-Star Break
July 16-18 (Fri-Sun): vs. Oakland Athletics (3)
July 19-21 (Mon-Wed): vs. Toronto Blue Jays (3)
July 22-25 (Thu-Sun): @ New York Yankees (4)
July 26-28 (Mon-Wed): vs. Minnesota Twins (3)
July 29-August 1 (Thu-Sun): vs. Baltimore Orioles (4)

The Royals have kind of a leisurely pace going in early July before things get hectic in the second half. They begin the month on the road for nine games, including six games out west against the Angels and Mariners. After an off-day on the 8th, they’ll wrap up the first half in Chicago with three against the White Sox. The Royals get the four-day All-Star Break, and they’ll need it, as the beginning of the second half gives them no off-day for twenty games. Kansas City starts the second half at home for six games against the A’s and Blue Jays. Following that is a brief 4-game road trip to Yankee Stadium (though it probably won’t seem brief to them). The Royals finish up July at home with three against the Twins and four against the Orioles.
Home games: 13
Road games: 13
Kansas City’s 2009 record against opposition: 33-51
Combined 2009 winning percentage of opponents: .513

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