Monday Morning Manager is a series that Greg Eno has been writing since 2009 on his personal blogs. It's a look back at the previous Tigers week and a look ahead at the current week. This season, he brings the series, featuring his alter ego "MMM", to Bless You Boys, every Monday morning.
Last Week: 4-3
This week: NYY (Aug. 26-28); at CWS (Aug. 29-31; DH Aug. 30)
So, What Happened?
First, MMM apologizes for being AWOL last week. The rotten floods that overwhelmed Metro Detroit intruded, and thus caused turmoil, keeping MMM away from his keyboard, which thankfully survived the disaster (though not much else did).
Did it feel like a winning week for the Tigers?
Well, the Boys did manage to eek out a 4-3 record, but when you lose two games to the Minnesota Twins by 20-6 and 12-4 scores, you don't feel like a winner.
But the bottom line is that the Tigers did go 4-3 and did creep to within two games of those annoying Kansas City Royals after gaining a game on KC on Sunday.
Miguel Cabrera sat out Sunday's contest to rest his ankles, which are sore and which are being identified by some media folks as a possible source for his stunning lack of power.
The Tigers trotted out rookie starters Robbie Ray and Buck Farmer against the Twinkies over the weekend, and between the two of them, they tossed a total of three innings and gave up more runs than a pair of nylons caught on a nail. But the day/night twin bill on Saturday, plus the absence of Anibal Sanchez, necessitated some emergency starts on Friday and Saturday.
The week was also notable for the absolute gem that David Price pitched on Thursday in Tampa against his former teammates.
Price allowed one stinking hit (in the first inning), no earned runs, didn't walk a guy, yet lost 1-0 as he pitched a complete game, tossing a shade over 100 pitches.
It was the cruelest loss MMM can remember a pitcher suffering since Harvey Haddix in 1959. MMM will save you the Googling: Haddix of the Pittsbutgh Pirates pitched 12 perfect innings against the Milwaukee Braves yet lost in the 13th inning.
Hero of the Week
MMM can't possibly think of anyone who deserves this more than Price.
In fact, the award should be renamed Martyr of the Week just for the lefty, who pitched in his MLB hometown against friends and teammates and turned in a whale of a performance.
It disgusted the fan base and MMM that Price lost that game on Thursday, which only magnified the scope of the Tigers' (at the time) anemic offense.
MMM would have to look back in the archives (since there is no crack staff available to do it), but it's doubtful a pitcher ever was named HotW in a losing cause.
But again, Price's one-hit wonder was no ordinary effort.
Honorable mentions: Rick Porcello (CG, three-hit shutout in Tampa); Victor Martinez (10 hits, including two homers, one of which was a grand slam in Tampa that gave Porcello some much-needed breathing room); Nick Castellanos (7-for-18 with four RBI in weekend series at Minnesota, including a clutch two-out, two-run single in Saturday's win).
Goat of the Week
MMM won't pick on Ray and Farmer, despite the kids' God-awful starts in Minnesota, which further taxed an already weary bullpen.
Instead, MMM is going with the Tigers offense as a whole for ruining Price's start on Thursday.
At the risk of beating that dead horse on the ground, MMM just can't get past the wasting of Price's gem, which was turned in under some extraordinary circumstances.
Because the 1-0 loss came at a time when the offense was being looked at cross-eyed already, and because the loss prevented the Tigers from winning three games in a row for the first time in forever, the entire group of 13 bats gets the Goat.
Under the Microscope
Brad Ausmus, your baseball life is calling.
By the time MMM bangs out his next update, August will have drained away and that most famous of baseball months, September, will beckon.
It's a month that has literally made or broken teams—and managers.
The Tigers quite possibly will enter September in second place in the AL Central, a nugget that hardly anyone could have imagined as recently as a few weeks ago.
So how will manager Ausmus handle the pressure?
Whether the Tigers are in second place or in first place next Monday is irrelevant at this point, because in either instance, the rookie skipper will be squarely in the crosshairs.
This means, of course, that he will also be Under the Microscope.
All eyes are on Ausmus to see how he navigates the Tigers through a minefield of a bullpen, a highly inconsistent offense and yet another late-season injury (it appears) to Miguel Cabrera.
Can Ausmus keep it together? Will his clubhouse feel the effects of no Jim Leyland for the first time in nine years?
The Tigers return home from their 4-3 trip but they may as well keep the bags packed.
It's a quick three games at Comerica Park against the Yankees, then back onto a plane for Chicago to face the White Sox.
In the Yankees, the Tigers will see a team in danger of missing the playoffs for the second year in a row, and you have to go all the way back to 1993-94 for when the last time that happened.
The visit will also mark the final one to Detroit for retiring shortstop Derek Jeter, so expect a few mentions of his name this week.
The Yankees don't pitch so good and their offense is ho-hum. Hence their 67-61 record, which places them a distant second behind Baltimore (six games) in the AL East and 3.5 games behind Seattle for the second Wild Card spot.
Yes, Seattle. The Tigers are one game behind Lloyd McClendon's boys as MMM types this.
So a Tigers-Yankees series this late in the year with both teams, at the time, on the outside looking in when it comes to the postseason, is another oddity.
Tigers probables vs. Yankees: Porcello, Price, Verlander.
After the trio of games against the Bronx Bombers at CoPa, the Tigers fly to the Windy City to take on the spoiler-minded White Sox.
The Pale Hose have given the Tigers fits this year, and the four games over the weekend (there is a day/night DH on Saturday) promise to be more of the same.
MMM knows you know that nothing is easy these days, especially four games against the White Sox in Chicago when every game is the biggest of the year.
Some good news out of Chicago is the return of former Tigers outfielder Avisail Garcia, who was injured right out of the gate this season with a torn rotator cuff, suffered while diving for a baseball on April 9.
On August 16, Garcia returned and he hit a home run last week. Good for him.
Tigers probables vs. White Sox: Max Scherzer, TBA/TBA, Porcello.
That's all for this week's MMM. See you next week!