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Monday Morning Manager: Miggy's power returns, Ricky let us down and here come the Royals

It's September and it's Monday. You can't stop MMM, you can only hope to contain him.

Duane Burleson

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: KC (Sept. 8-10); CLE (Sept. 12-14)

So, What Happened?

Yes, it's true that MMM has been on the bench two of the past three weeks. First, the flood struck. Last week, MMM was on holiday with the family and couldn't file a report. But no more weeks off are scheduled the rest of the home stretch!

The Tigers turned in another of those 4-3 weeks that keep their heads above water but don't necessarily do much for catching the teams they are chasing in the divisional and wild card races.

The Kansas City Royals continue to not show any real signs of fading, so .571 baseball from the Tigers isn't likely to be enough to catch KC in these last 19 games.

Still, it was a winning week, starting with a 3-1 trip to Cleveland and ending with a 1-2 weekend set at home against the San Francisco Giants, who MMM was sick of losing to before Sunday night's win. Wasn't the 2012 World Series bad enough without adding to it?

The week saw Miguel Cabrera's power return, the starting rotation showing signs of season-long wear and tear and there were fears that catcher Alex Avila, everyone's favorite foul tip pin cushion, might have to seriously consider giving up the catching gig because of one too many blows to the head.

Hero of the Week

Welcome back to home run derby, Mr. Cabrera.

Miggy slammed five dingers in the week, starting with two in Cleveland on Monday. He hit two more out of the park at Comerica on Saturday and added one more on Sunday night. Cabrera also reached the 100 RBI mark for the 11th straight season.

Did MMM mention that Miggy did all that while playing on one good leg?

ESPN's Buster Olney reported before Sunday's game that sources say that Cabrera may need to go under the knife after the season to get rid of painful bone spurs in his right ankle. The Tigers didn't confirm Olney's report.

Regardless, it's clear that Cabrera is playing through pain, as he limps noticeably doing just about everything on the field these days. Manager Brad Ausmus turned Cabrera into a DH for several games before returning the slugger to first base over the weekend against the San Francisco Giants.

MMM thinks that Cabrera's power surge is a good sign, if it continues. But there doesn't seem to be any indication that the five homer week was an aberration.

After watching Miggy turn into a singles hitter, basically, in the 2013 postseason, MMM more than welcomes Cabrera's overdue flexing of the muscles.

Honorable mentions: Victor Martinez (reached the 30 home run mark for the first time in his career); J.D. Martinez (HUGE three-run homer in the ninth to salvage Thursday's game in Cleveland); Kyle Lobstein (the rookie lefty pitched 5.2 innings of one-run ball against the Giants for a much-needed win on Sunday, which was his first MLB victory).

Goat of the Week

The Tigers had won three of four from the Indians in Cleveland. They were coming off an emotionally draining, hard-fought win in the series finale on Thursday. And they were at home, ready to avenge (sort of) the 2012 World Series by hosting the Giants.

It had all the makings of further boosting momentum.

Then the weatherand Rick Porcellostruck.

Porcello was slapped all around Comerica Park by the Giants to the tune of six runs in three innings before the rains came and delayed the game for two hours, 42 minutes.

The Tigers would eventually lose, thus setting the tone for the weekend.

Porcello didn't give his team a chance of winning in a key situation, so hence Mr. New Jersey being named the week's Goat.

The Tigers needed a strong start on Friday night and Ricky simply didn't perform.

Under the Microscope

Just as the Tigers needed Porcello in the worst way on Friday, they need Justin Verlander even more from now until the end of the season.

Last year, Verlander, who was struggling to find himself as he is this season, was lights out in September.

The Tigers badly need some vintage JV right about now, starting with Monday's start against the Royals.

The reason he's UtM is simple: the question is whether Verlander is capable of being lights out, as he was a year ago this month.

The Tigers need all hands on deck now, especially when it comes to the rotation. And an effective Justin Verlander is a huge part of that equation.

Upcoming: Royals, Indians

When you get this late into a season with a playoff spot on the line, things become as simple as they become important.

The Tigers need to take two of three (at least) against the Royals at Comerica this week.

Very simple, and also very important.

There's really not much to add here. The Tigers are two games behind the Royals. Winning the series, 2-1, would bring Detroit back to within one game with three more games against Ned Yost's bunch in Kansas City next week.

A Tigers sweep puts them in first place by a game.

MMM needn't tell you the ramifications of a Royals series win or, gulp, a sweep.

This is the Tigers' chance to have a stab at the Royals, who are 28-12 since July 24.

Tigers probables vs. Royals: Verlander, Max Scherzer, David Price.

Things continue to get simple when the Indians visit over the weekend. It's all about winning the series, baby.

The Tribe was baseball's hottest team last September, which delivered them a shot at the Wild Card play-in game. And they are coming off a weekend sweep of the White Sox in which Chicago was limited to two runs in three games by Indians pitching.

Are the Indians about to put together another September as they did in 2013?

Not if the Tigers have anything to say about it this weekend.

Tigers probables vs. Indians: Lobstein, Verlander, Scherzer.

That's all for this week's MMM. See you next week!