If the Detroit Tigers turn their season around, they might very well look to last night’s come-from-behind victory against the Cincinnati Reds. Down 6- 3 in the eighth inning the Tigers rallied against a nearly invincible Aroldis Chapman for an improbable 7-6 victory.
The Tigers ended the interleague matchup winning this series, taking two games from the Reds. Tigers manager Jim Leyland was proud of his team’s effort. “The guys played hard and never gave up. They finally did enough to win one. We hung in there,” Leyland said. “We beat a guy that throws 105 mph. That’s pretty good.”
These types of games have not been commonplace for the Tigers this year. The Tigers were picked by many a baseball prognosticator to win the American League Central Division handily. After 60 games the Tigers are 28-32 and find themselves five games behind the surprising Chicago White Sox. The Tigers have not played like a contender this season. Sunday night’s game, however, was the kind of game that can turn his season around.
The Tigers started this season by investing about 3 1/2 years worth of Tampa Bay Rays salary in one player, Prince Fielder. Fielder has not been the problem. While there has been some inconsistency offensively, the Tigers are holding their own in the American League. They ranked fourth with a team batting average of .263 and middle of the pack when it comes to RBI and home runs.
Having fielder and Miguel Cabrera in the same lineup helps with those kinds of things. Delmon Young has had off field issues that are yet to be resolved. Throw in a stint on the disabled list from centerfielder Austin Jackson and catcher Alex Avila and the Tigers haven’t been as formidable as they could be.
Justin Verlander leads the team with 10 quality starts and an ERA of 2.69, however his record is 5-4. After Verlander the Tigers pitching falls off quickly. Doug Fister is on the DL. Max Scherzer can still strike out a few guys but has an ERA near 6.00 at 5.88. Rick Porcello has given up 87 hits in 68 innings of work.
Both Scherzer and Porcello have but six quality starts. José Valverde and Joaquin Benoit are taking care of the backend of games for the most part. The problem is getting the game to them. Valverde does have three blown saves this season.
Defensively the Tigers rank 10th out of 14 in fielding percentage in the American League
Offensively the Tigers will get better. Defensively the Tigers can and should improve. That leaves it to the starting pitching, as it almost always does, and if the Tigers do turn it around, starting pitching will have to be better.
The Tigers won a series against a very good Cincinnati Reds team this weekend and take on the Chicago Cubs and the Colorado Rockies this week. Both teams provide an opportunity for the Tigers to turn their season around before facing the St. Louis Cardinals.
The Tigers grabbed a handful of momentum this weekend in their series with the Reds. Time will tell if they can hang onto it through the summer.