Last week: 4-3
So, What Happened?
On Saturday, May 2, boxing presented a supposed Fight of the Century. MMM didn't view it, but by all accounts the much-anticipated Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao bout fell far short of expectations in terms of excitement and action.
In MLB, a Series of the Year was presented. And it was far more intriguing than what happened in Las Vegas.
True, the Detroit Tigers and Royals are set to play each other 19 times this season. But last weekend's four-game set in Kansas City was the first of the year between the two teams, and it came with both ball clubs riding high in the standings.
The Royals delivered the first blows, winning rather handily on Thursday and Friday. Then the Tigers counter-punched and captured the third and fourth games of the series on Saturday and Sunday.
Call it a draw.
In the end, the Tigers left Kansas City in the same place as when they arrived standings-wise -- in first place by a half-game.
MMM thinks that, as far as series splits go, this was a good one. Tigers fans woke up Saturday morning no doubt thinking the worst: a four-game Royals flush.
But it's a testament to the Tigers starting pitching that David Price and Anibal Sanchez can still form one of baseball's best one-two punches on the mound, and their best was needed on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.
Frankly, even a four-game sweep (no matter which team would have been the victors) wouldn't really mean a hill of beans in the standings. This is early-May, after all.
But when the AL Central Division seems to be boiling down to Kansas City and Detroit, these 19 games between the two teams should provide excellent baseball theater this summer.
The quartet of games against the Royals was preceded by a nifty series win in Minnesota.
The Justin Verlander saga continued with news that a third MRI would be taken in Chicago this week to determine how much fluid (if any) remains in his bothersome right triceps.
Hero of the Week
Last week, MMM hailed Alfredo Simon for two big wins.
This week, despite MMM's protestations about series in May not being all that important, lefty David Price gets the nod, mainly for what he did in Kansas City on Saturday.
As mentioned earlier, Tigers fans were on-edge after their boys dropped the first two games in their four-game set with the Royals.
No big deal, really. A two-game losing streak and the Royals just 1.5 games ahead in the standings. It was hardly a catastrophe in the making.
But MMM also knows that fans often defy logic. Losing gets magnified, 10-fold.
So lest everyone's angst grow, Price took the hill on Saturday night and silenced the Royals' bats, which had been flexing their muscles.
Price pitched a complete game, five-hitter, and came within one out of a shutout. Lorenzo Cain's home run in the ninth inning ruined the goose egg.
It was an efficient, 106-pitch performance and it came at a great time.
MMM is making Price the hero because the southpaw did what pitching aces are supposed to do: stop the bleeding.
The gem on Saturday, combined with a less spectacular win against the Twins on Monday, gave Price two wins for the week and a 3-1 record overall, with a 2.93 ERA and 1.10 WHIP.
Honorable mentions: Miguel Cabrera, who strafed two home runs in Minnesota during Wednesday's wild, come-from-behind 10-7 win and who had two three-hit games during the week; Joakim Soria, who keeps registering drama-free saves; Alex Avila, who had three RBI spread over two hits in Sunday's win; and Yoenis Cespedes, who had 10 hits and who continues to impress MMM with his baserunning acumen.
Goat of the Week
MMM isn't sure if this is the message that manager Brad Ausmus wants to send to his players: have a bad week and then get treated to a day at the spa.
Ausmus used the spa analogy in explaining Saturday's decision to rest J.D. Martinez, whose proclivity to whiff last week while failing to reach base makes J.D. last week's goat.
"It can even help if you are not struggling," Ausmus told the media in discussing J.D.'s first scratch of the season. "Just not to have to think about every single pitch in every at-bat. Just sit back for a day and watch the game until you are called upon.
"It's almost like going to a spa for a day. It's mentally relaxing."
MMM loves J.D. Martinez, as he loves all the Tigers, but the slugging outfielder's level of bad was growing rapidly last week before the skipper gave him Saturday off.
Martinez was striking out left and right and looking out of sorts in the process. It was a well-timed day off, as was Nick Castellanos' "spa day" on Monday -- something that MMM gently suggested in this space last week, if you recall.
Sunday didn't go much better for J.D., but MMM reminds you that Monday is an off-day for the whole team, so maybe that scheduled day of rest plus a change in cities will get Martinez going again.
Under the Microscope
MMM was watching Sunday's game when all of a sudden, Andrew Romine was pinch-hitting for Jose Iglesias -- in the sixth inning.
Things that make you go "Hmmm."
Even the TV guys wondered if something was the matter with Iglesias, the Tigers' shortstop extraordinaire.
Turns out, Iglesias left the game with a "tight groin."
Things that make you go "Uh-oh."
Now, it's likely nothing major, and removing Iggy was probably a precaution, but the mere thought of the Tigers doing without Iglesias' genius at shortstop for any length of time makes MMM nauseous.
So, please keep an eye on the Iglesias situation. The more eyes, the better ... right?
Burning Questions for the Week
MMM will now open the floor.
The season will turn one month old this week. Any major surprises and/or disappointments so far?
MMM is certainly pleasantly surprised by Iglesias' bat, which looked like a limp noodle in the Grapefruit League. The kid probably still isn't a .300-type hitter, but Iglesias does kind of slap the ball around and those guys never have low batting averages.
MMM also did not expect Alfredo Simon and Shane Greene to look like Cy Young candidates, as both did out of the gate.
On the disappointing side, MMM knew that Victor Martinez might take a while to get going because of his offseason knee injury, but V-Mart's start is slow even by that standard. MMM hopes this is a repeat of 2013, when Victor returned after missing a year due to a worse knee injury, took half the year to figure things out, and then finished stronger than garlic.
Also disappointing: that Verlander hasn't pitched yet, and it's possible he may not until the all-star break, at this point.
The Tigers get another crack at the White Sox this week. Why are the Pale Hose such a mess?
MMM isn't sure, but he did smirk over the winter when the so-called experts threw themselves at the White Sox and the Indians. The media loves to make trendy picks, despite the fact that those usually backfire.
Yes, the White Sox had an active offseason, but even the Yankees have learned that in this day and age of baseball, you can't just write a bunch of big checks and then win a pennant.
The White Sox's big names and contracts have simply not performed as advertised.
Now, Robin Ventura's team is going to play better baseball, but the question you should have asked is, "How safe is Robin Ventura?"
OK, so how safe is he?
Fine. Let's move back to Royals-Tigers. The rematch takes place this weekend in Detroit. Do you think the Royals are officially the Tigers' new heated rivals?
Well, the games between the two clubs in recent years haven't really been chippy, despite the Royals' new reputation for being a bunch of hotheads, so maybe "heated" isn't the right word.
Having said that, these two teams certainly appear to be the cream of the AL Central Division crop, so naturally that alone makes this a good rivalry, from a standings perspective.
MMM is still waiting for the powder keg to be lit. So far, the games have been played cleanly and with no confrontational drama and are giving off an air of two gentlemen engaging in a good game of chess. It's good baseball but MMM thinks a true, "heated" rivalry contains some juice beyond the scores. And that hasn't happened -- yet.
As you know, Max Scherzer hurt himself while batting for the Washington Nationals a couple of weeks ago and had to miss a start. Then he publicly backed the DH in the National League. What say you?
If MMM isn't mistaken, Max could have signed with some American League teams, too, right?
Thoughts on Kirk Gibson's Parkinson's disease diagnosis?
Just one: Gibby never has been a guy that you want to anger. And no doubt, this news really ticks him off. Godspeed, Kirk.
That's all for this week's MMM. See you next Monday!