01 July 2012
The Tigers got a much needed series win against Tampa Bay, winning the series three games to one. Sunday’s win evened the Tigers’ record at 5-5 to end their 10 game road trip, which included three games in Pittsburgh, three games in Texas and the four at Tampa Bay.
After losing two out of three against the Pirates and Rangers, the Tigers took the last two games of the Tampa Bay series, moving to 39-40 on the season. Detroit now sits 3 games behind the AL Central leading White Sox and 1.5 behind the second place Indians.
Here are a few observations from the Tampa Bay Series:
When Scherzer, Porcello and Smyly pitch well, the Tigers are hard to beat
Max Scherzer started the off the series on a high note, going six strong innings, allowing two runs while striking out seven. Scherzer out-dueled Rays’ right-hander James Shields and gave the Tigers their first victory in the series. Scherzer has been inconsistent throughout the season but when he is on, he’s as good as any pitcher in the American League. The win over Tampa Bay puts Scherzer’s record at a solid 7-5 on the season with a 4.98 ERA.
Rick Porcello pitched in game 3 of the series and was brilliant in seven shutout innings. The Tigers ended up winning the game 6-2. Porcello allowed just four hits and struck out four. Like Scherzer, Porcello has been inconsistent over the course of the year. Known as a sinker-ball pitcher, Porcello doesn’t post huge strikeout numbers like Sherzer, but when he is on, he forces a lot of groundball outs. Porcello is now 6-5 with a 4.35 ERA.
Drew Smyly pitched in the final game of the series and lasted five innings allowing three runs while striking out four. He didn’t dominate like Scherzer and Porcello, but Smyly kept the Tigers in the game and pitched well enough to earn the win. The left-hander moves to 3-3 on the season and now has a 4.54 ERA on the season. This was Smyly’s second start after returning from the disabled list with a blister on his pitching hand.
Each pitcher has an ERA over 4, so there is definitely room for improvement. But the Tampa Bay series proved how effective the three Tigers’ hurlers can be when they are on top of their game. If the Tigers are to make a push for the postseason, they will need contributions from all three young pitchers.
Home runs doom Verlander
For the first time this season, Tigers’ ace Justin Verlander allowed three home runs in a game in the Tigers’ 4-2 loss in the second game of the series. Verlander allowed two home runs to the Yankees on two separate occasions this season (April 27 and June 3). The reigning MVP and Cy Young winner, served up two long balls to Rays’ outfielder Desmond Jennings. Both were solo shots and Ben Zobrist added another solo home run to lead the Rays’ to a victory. Verlander lasted six innings and struck out eight batters but couldn’t overcome the three home runs.
Jackson keeps on hitting in the leadoff spot
Austin Jackson had himself a great series, highlighted by a big three-run homer on Saturday night in the Tigers’ 6-2 win. With the Tigers leading 1-0, Jackson went deep on Rays’ reliever Joel Peralta providing a four run cushion for Detroit. Jackson belted out eight hits in the four games and scored four runs. The centerfielder has hit well all season long as his batting average currently sits at .323, best on the team. Jackson also leads the team in runs and has been providing a spark from the leadoff spot.
Tigers play in style on Saturday night
It was Turn Back the Clock Night on Saturday night in Tampa. The Tigers wore replica uniforms from the 1979 season. The Rays wore hypothetical throw-backs since the team has only been around since 1998. The Tigers uniforms were gray with orange and dark blue stripes at the end of the sleeves. Detroit was written across the front in dark blue with an orange outline. Throw-back jerseys can be hit or miss, but I definitely dig the Tigers’ retro look from the days of Alan Trammell, Lou Whitaker and Kirk Gibson.