Here's hoping that winning feeling is still hovering over downtown Detroit after the Red Wings celebrated their Stanley Cup championship with a parade for the fans this afternoon. Any chance the Tigers were inspired by watching Mike Ilitch's other team bask in its glory? And maybe that trophy was hoisted around the Detroit clubhouse today, so the players could see what winning looks like. Maybe we'll also catch a glimpse of that magnificent chalice in the ballpark tonight.
If the Tigers have any intentions of making a push in the AL Central race and getting their season turned around, this weekend's series would be an excellent place to begin the revival. I don't know if you can call it a "showdown" when both teams are under .500 and playing far below pre-season expectations, but these four games are certainly important. Maybe it's too much to hope for at this point, but Detroit could flip places with the Tribe in the AL Central standings if they win this series.
Paul Byrd seems to have fallen back down to Earth after his improbably excellent 2007 season. As usual, Byrd is giving up a bunch of hits but not walking anyone. This year, however, it looks like those baserunners are being driven in. He's given up 14 runs over his last three starts (16 innings), and has generously allowed 14 home runs on the season. I know chicks dig the long ball, but I don't know how they feel about serving them up.
Justin Verlander didn't pitch so well in his last outing, after posting three straight quality starts. But there's no way his record would be as bad as it looks right now if he received respectable run support from his lineup. According to MLB.com, Verlander is getting the fourth-worst support among starting pitchers in the American League with 3.12 runs per nine innings. Putting some numbers on the board for the young man would greatly help him increase that win total.
If you didn't see this afternoon's news, the Tigers called three players up from Toledo to cover for injuries and personal matters. Neither of the position players - Brent Clevlen or Michael Hollimon - is in the lineup tonight, which is kind of a shame. Hollimon probably wasn't going to play much anyway as a utility infielder, but Jim Leyland says Clevlen will be playing the next three games in this series.
Finally, if you're interested in seeing Detroit's first-round draft pick in action, Ryan Perry should pitch for the Arizona Wildcats this evening against the Miami Hurricanes in NCAA Super Regionals action. The game is on ESPN at 7 p.m., if you'd like to flip between that match-up and the Tigers game.
Let's Go Tribe has your SB Nation opposing view for this four-game series.