Detroit went 3-4 during the west coast swing. The Tigers have two games in Chicago to close out the nine-game road trip. Here are a few thoughts about the last week's worth of action.
Starting pitching continues to be amazing. By the end of April, it was hard to picture the pitching ever getting back in shape. Starters have thrown quality starts 12 times in the past 14 games, dating back to April 28. The Tigers allowed three or fewer runs in eight of 12 games this month. Generally speaking, a team can win a lot of games by doing that. Yet ...
The team just keeps slogging. If you're into the buy low / sell high thing, right now is definitely a great time to buy low on several Detroit Tigers position players. Basically, if the name isn't "Austin Jackson," "Andy Dirks," or "Miguel Cabrera," there's a solid chance the player is off his game. For instance, anyone who plays second base has to be a good bargain. Right now, Brandon Inge's stats would even look good there. Things can't get much worse, can they? Shortstop Jhonny Peralta is off. Outfielder Brennan Boesch, rather than having a great first half and then falling off, hasn't turned the preseason hype into reality. Delmon Young is even worse than some resident pessimists anticipated. And then there' Prince Fielder. He's currently in an 0-for-22 streak. He's got five home runs, but the expensive slugger also has a .775 OPS. For some reason, Fielder and Cabrera just cannot hit on the same day. Add it all up and it's no surprise the Tigers seem to score no more than three or four runs most games.
There are too many proven track records to worry. If asked whether this is the "new norm" or whether we should expect the Tigers to play closer to expectations, I have a hard time worrying that the team will have an anemic offense forever. The weather's going to warm up. Prince is going to have home runs. Ryan Raburn will bat better -- like he always does. I feel like the team is primed and ready to go. ... But when? That, I cannot tell you, but it could be any day now.
Austin Jackson sure is fun, though. Jackson doesn't keep the Tigers' offense afloat all by himself. He requires at least one or two batters behind him to have quality games in order to cross home plate. But he's certainly giving teammates an opportunity to earn RBI. In the past seven days, he's batting .364 with eight hits in 22 at bats. He's also walked five times. He actually had four multi-hit games in a row May 5-8. For the season, his on-base percentage is .403. He's setting the table effectively.
So, please, don't ask him to bunt. OK, don't ask anyone to bunt. Thanks. Danny Worth fell victim Sunday when he was inexplicably put into the lineup in the ninth inning with the task of bunting. He didn't lay down a great bunt to third base, but he can't be entirely blamed. Oakland saw the bunt coming -- as did pretty much anyone who's ever watched a game of baseball -- and called the right play. The shortstop ran to cover third base, while the third baseman came in to field the bunt. Ryan Raburn was dead to rights at third in a force out. An out was given away for nothing.