BOSTON, Massachusetts —
In their worst loss of the season, the Tigers gave up a season high 20 runs, including 8 in the 6th, as the Red Sox took the final game of a 3 game set, 20-4.
After winning the series opener on Labor Day Monday, Detroit lost the following two games in the series, one that many see as a potential ALCS matchup. It’s true that in baseball, a loss is a loss, no matter if you lose 1-0 or 20-4. They all mean the same in the win/loss column. It’s not so much that the Tigers lost by 16 runs, but more the fact that there are no doubt some glaring issues when it comes to this team, and tonight they all came out.
The first of which is the health of Miguel Cabrera. Miggy has been battling a number of injuries this season, from abdominal strains to groin problems to hip issues. Detroit doesn’t just need him back for the playoffs, but they need him back healthy. Skipper Jim Leyland has elected to rest Cabrera quite a bit lately, but there’s no consistency. He missed the series opener with Boston on Monday, but was back in the lineup on Tuesday. Wednesday, he was nowhere to be found. If Leyland and the Tigers want him healthy, they’re going to have to sit him for a longer period of time. Injuries take time to heal, and if he’s out there playing every other day, it does no good to sit him. Even if it takes away from the possibility of winning a 2nd straight Triple Crown, Detroit needs to rest their slugger. It’s time to put personal accolades aside, and win a championship.
Secondly, Detroit has a relatively comfortable lead in the division of 6 1/2 games and a friendly schedule remaining down the stretch. They have the most wins inside their division than any other team in baseball (38) and the only two teams left on their schedule outside the Central Division are the lowly Mariners and Marlins. The problem here, is that when it comes to teams that are in AL playoff positions right now, the Tigers are just 13-15. That record won’t fly in October. It’s great the Tigers are beating teams they should beat, and Detroit should take the division handily, but come October it’s a different ballgame.
Third, the Tigers need to figure out the catching position. Alex Avila is batting .200 and nobody can throw out a baserunner at 2nd base. Brayan Pena has been a nice surprise, but isn’t an every day catcher. Playing Victor Martinez behind the plate on a regular basis is out of the question, after knee surgery sidelined him all of 2012. If Detroit makes the World Series, he may get a few games behind the dish in the NL park, but that’s a big if.
Finally, the bullpen. Everybody knows this is and has been the Tigers biggest problem area this season. I won’t beat a dead horse and explain why because it’s obviously with the number of runs they’re giving up on average.
I don’t mean to take away from all the good things the Tigers have done this season. The starting pitching has been phenomenal, and as I stated above, they’re winning games they should win. Obviously Scherzer’s dominance, Cabrera’s hitting tear and the resurgence of Martinez are great stories. But they’re only going to get remembered if they win a championship. The Tigers definitely have some problems, but most can be solved, or worked around. It’s up to Jim Leyland and company to navigate through them.