Just remember: The Tigers won three of four this weekend from the White Sox. It's easy to forget that after getting stomped before a national ESPN audience.
If you were worried, however, that Detroit wasn't going to be in first place after this four-game series - and many of us were after the Tigers lost twice to Seattle because of a feeble offense - they emerged with a two-game lead in the AL Central. Sure, a four-game sweep over the White Sox and a
three four-game lead would've been a far more definitive statement. But in a weekend where the Tigers needed to show something, regardless of whether you thought this was a do-or-die type of series, they did so.
Still, any fans who only sees the Detroit Tigers play when they're on Sunday Night Baseball must think these guys absolutely stink. Every time the bright ESPN lights come out, the Tigers seem to cower. (Bad losses to the Twins and Angels may have taken place two years ago, but at the time, each game made me question if I wanted to watch baseball ever again.) I don't know if that's perception more than reality, but if a pivotal game at the end of the season somehow ends up on ESPN's Sunday night game, hide the women and children. And think about your own well-being.
Putting four of the first five batters on base is a tough way to begin a game. Rick Porcello looked entirely like a rookie in the first inning, especially when he didn't get to first base to catch a throw from Adam Everett that might have resulted in a double play, but instead allowed two runs to score. It got worse when Porcello followed up by throwing a fastball right down the middle to Paul Konerko, who blasted it out for a two-run homer. The Tigers were down 4-0 before they even came to bat.
Porcello allowed one more homer, to Gordon Beckham, in the second inning, before eventually settling in to pitch another four innings and salvage a respectable effort. But after giving up 19 runs in his past four starts, his reliability in a playoff race has to be questioned. The Tigers obviously need pitchers to fill out the other three turns in the starting rotation that don't belong to Justin Verlander and Edwin Jackson, but can they afford to continue to let Porcello develop on the job with what's at stake?
Facing Paul Konerko with the bases loaded is a hell of a way to make a major league debut, and Casey Fien looked like he was working out some nerves as he threw three straight balls to begin the at-bat. But Fien fought back, working the outside corner of the plate, and got Konerko to pop up in foul territory.
From there, he pitched another two innings, allowing no hits and just one walk. Not a bad first time out for a reliever that could be a valuable part of the bullpen down the stretch if he pitches as he did in the minors. (At the very least, Fien did a far better job pitching in middle reliever than Zach Miner and his three walks did.)
Comment of the Night:
Technically, this comment was posted in the Quickie Recap/Post-Game Thread, rather than the regular GameThread, so apologies if there's any disappointment there. But making light of an awful play in which Ryan Raburn not only failed to catch a ball, but kicked it toward the stands - committing two errors - helps to ease the pain.
Ryan Raburn’s going to be the next big soccer star.