Tigers weekly: Steady does it
Detroit Tigers don't need a dramatic, walk-off victory to turn their season
around. They need calm, peaceful games like they got Saturday and Sunday
against the Colorado Rockies.
Jim Leyland has talked all season about Detroit's struggle to find "good
combinations" — games where the Tigers play well in every facet of the
game. Those have been rare, hence the struggle to just play .500 baseball.
This past weekend, though, they got those combinations. The offense scored nine
runs, the defense played well, and most importantly, Doug Fister and Max
Scherzer combined for 14 shutout innings.
For Fister, it was a huge step forward after a rib-cage strain had ruined the
first half of his season. Injured in his first start of the year, he returned
too quickly, and ended up back on the disabled list after a few outings where
didn't look like the pitcher that had dominated the second half of 2011.
On Saturday, though, he was back to himself — working as fast as any pitcher in
baseball and throwing every pitch where he wanted it.
On Sunday, it was Scherzer showing how dominant he can be when his complicated
mechanics slip into rhythm. He dealt with a 53-minute rain delay like it was a
drink break and ended up throwing eight scoreless innings. He struck out 12
without walking a batter and certainly earned the respect of Rockies manager
"He was better after the rain delay, and he ended up throwing 120-some
pitches that we couldn't touch," Tracy said. "That's the performance
of a warrior and a stud."
That's also the performance the Tigers need from Fister and Scherzer to
complement Justin Verlander. If Rick Porcello also gets going, Leyland can
spend a lot less time worrying about the pitching part of Detroit's
Monday: No game.
Tuesday: CUBS 4, Tigers 3. Jhonny Peralta made back-to-back throwing
errors — the Tigers felt the umpires missed both calls — as the Cubs scored the
winning run in the eighth inning.
Wednesday: Tigers 8, CUBS 4. Detroit trailed 4-1 early, but Peralta,
Brennan Boesch and Ramon Santiago each drove in two runs as the Tigers pulled
away to win.
Thursday: Tigers 5, CUBS 3. Verlander snapped his four-start winless
streak, helped by Austin Jackson's homer and an incredible number of Tigers
fans at packed Wrigley Field.
Friday: Rockies 12, TIGERS 4. Jose Valverde flames out in another
non-save situation, as his own fielding mistake leads to Colorado's
record-setting eight-run 10th inning.
Saturday: TIGERS 4, Rockies 1. Fister returns with six shutout innings,
while Miguel Cabrera hits a normal homer and a Little League home run (scoring
on an error-filled ground ball in front of home).
Sunday: TIGERS 5, Rockies 0. Scherzer is dominant, striking out 12, and
rookie Quintin Berry goes 5 for 5.
Austin Jackson: Worries about how well A-Jax would return from his
abdominal strain have been eased, as he hit .318 with seven walks, two doubles
and a homer.
Ryan Raburn: Raburn has a long way to go to fix his 2012 season, but
he's returned from Toledo with a .333 average in four games, including a pair
Casey Crosby: Crosby lost his rotation spot after allowing four runs in
just 3-2/3 innings in Friday's loss to Colorado. As a replacement for Fister,
he put up a 9.49 ERA in three starts, and it will be Jacob Turner who takes
over for Drew Smyly, not Crosby.
Jose Valverde: In three games this week, opponents hit .462 against the
Tigers closer, and his 6.75 ERA would have been much worse had it counted the
five unearned runs caused by his own error.
THIS WEEK (with projected starting pitchers):
Monday: No game.
Tuesday: Tigers 6, Cardinals 3
Wednesday: Cardinals 3, Tigers 1
Thursday: Cardinals (Kyle Lohse) at Tigers (Jacob Turner), 1:05 p.m.
Friday: Tigers (Doug Fister) at Pirates (A.J. Burnett), 7:05 p.m.
Saturday: Tigers (Max Scherzer) at Pirates (Brad Lincoln), 4:05 p.m.
Sunday: Tigers (Verlander) at Pirates (Kevin Correia), 1:35 p.m.