Tigers Back On Top Of The World
There are a zillion and one things to love about the game, but near the top of the list has to be the beauty of a pennant race. Every day is about ups and downs that leave you on the edge of your seat. Look at the Tigers. Count me among those who were about to leave them for dead at the side of road as recently as Friday night when they lost that weird game to Oakland. They did look bad. And for an extended period. There didn’t appear much Jim Leyland could do to pull them out of it. A couple days later, the Tigers were back in first place, and all is well again.
Of course, there could be a turn for the worse on the horizon. The Yankees are lurking for eight games in 12 days against the Tigers starting later this week. Then again, it could be a good thing is the Tigers beat them. It’s just the nature of a pennant race.
There are reasons the Tigers played better the last couple days. Magglio Ordonez stepped forward and re-established himself as an MVP candidate. Justin Verlander gave the Tigers the solid start they needed. Yorman Bazardo and Aquilino Lopez came up from Triple-A and threw very well. Fernando Rodney appears to be back on track, hitting 97 mph on the radar gun. Oh, and don’t forget Marcus Thames. We always seem to overlook him, but Thames has became a very important player for the Tigers. He homered off Dan Haren Saturday night. That says a lot about Thames right there.
Mostly, though, I think the Tigers have the Cleveland Indians to thank for surviving their lull. Last season such a swoon cost the Red Sox the playoffs because the Yankees weren’t nearly as forgiving in the American League East. The Tigers are on pace to win about 90 games. And given the struggles of The Tribe, particularly their bullpen of late, 90 wins just might be enough for the Tigers to win the A.L. Central.
- Tiger Woods was typically methodical while winning the PGA Championship over the weekend. He is incredible. I just wish there was a golfer or two that would step into the fray and really test Woods. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of competitive character among those chasing him - particularly from Phil Mickelson.
- I honestly don’t know how excited fans should be about Cameron Maybin hitting three home runs during his first three games after being called up to Double-A Erie. The ball park in Erie is small. Those games were played in Erie. Maybin’s power numbers figure to rise dramatically because of that. The ball parks in West Michigan and Lakeland are very spacious. However, I wouldn’t dismiss this kid in any way, shape or form. He is a special talent with a Curtis Granderson-like attitude and work ethic. He just might fly through Double-A and give the Tigers a lift if he were called up in September. The question is, would it be worth getting his service time clock started already? Helping Maybin’s cause is the way Justin Upton has sparked the Diamondbacks since he was called up to the majors. And Upton is even younger than the 20-year-old Maybin.
- Placido Polanco’s major league-record consecutive game errorless streak for second basemen is even more impressive considering his range. He seems to get to everything, particularly balls hit to his glove side.