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Gary Armida's Blog
Made For The Real SeasonPosted on October 8, 2012 at 07:07 AM.
When the New York Yankees clinched the American League East on the final day of the season, Derek Jeter was asked how it felt. He went through the perfunctory stuff about it being a long season, the competition being good, and that the Yankees fought hard to win the division. But, then he made a comment that pretty much summarizes his career. He said, “Now the real season begins.”
With that statement, Jeter put the regular season behind and showed just how important the post season tournament is. But, Jeter’s comment may not be so much about the Yankees as it is about the Detroit Tigers. Since the moment they signed Prince Fielder to a megadeal, the Tigers were firmly entrenched in high expectations. There was talk about a record number of runs scored. There was talk about the AL Central being locked up by June. Given the dearth of divisional talent, that didn’t seem too far fetched.
But, it never really happened for the Tigers. The offense finished sixth in runs scored and 10th in home runs. The pitching staff didn’t dominate for most of the season. And, the defense was actually worse than most feared. On June 8th, they were six games under .500. They finished the first half of the season with just a 44-42 record. They would win 16 games in each of the next three months, but at no point did the Detroit Tigers dominate as expected.
But, that subpar division came into play. The White Sox finally stopped overachieving and faded down the stretch. With the Tigers winning eight of their last 10 against the Royals and Twins, they were able to overtake the White Sox for the Central division crown. The 88-74 record makes it look like the Tigers underachieved. But, that doesn’t really take into account the type of team the Detroit Tigers really are. The 162 game season exposed all of their flaws. It showed that the Tigers had a couple of elite players, but little depth. The regular season showed all of that. The Tigers withstood injuries, poor defense, and a poor seasons from some key players. They were fortunate to play in a division that could allow for that and still result in a postseason experience.
But, as Jeter said, the real season has begun. This is the season that the Detroit Tigers are built for.
The post season allows for elite players to leave more of a mark. The regular season is all about a team’s depth. But, the postseason is more about the individual talent. The Tigers have the best pitcher in Major League Baseball in Justin Verlander. They have one of the two best hitters of this generation in Miguel Cabrera. They have Prince Fielder in his prime, and an underrated rotation that includes Doug Fister and Max Scherzer. With that collection of talent, a team with flaws can still succeed. The first two games of their matchup with the Oakland A’s has proven that elite talent usually wins.
Justin Verlander dominated the A’s in game one, pitching seven innings of 3 hit ball while allowing 1 run and 4 walks. He also struck out 11 Oakland hitters. Despite some wildness and giving up a leadoff home run to Coco Crisp, Verlander thoroughly dominated the A’s for most of the game. They didn’t have a chance.
Game two saw Miguel Cabrera get three hits in five at bats, including two doubles. Doug Fister pitched well in a no-decision. The elite level and above average parts of the Tigers have helped them to a 2-0 lead.
That’s what makes the Tigers so dangerous in the post season. Jim Leyland has the ultimate weapon in Verlander. Even if the A’s show their resiliency one last time, Leyland knows he is sending his ace back out in order to win the series. Leyland knows he has Cabrera and Fielder, two elite power hitters.
The Tigers real season is here and they have looked like the team that many predicted before the season. They’ve scored 8 runs on 19 hits through the two games against the American League’s best pitching staff while holding the A’s to 5 runs on 12 hits. They’ve also shown resiliency by coming back in game two and winning in walkoff fashion, something the A’s have been doing all season.
CC is Back
Speaking of elite talent and the real season, CC Sabathia dominated the Baltimore Orioles in game one of the ALDS by pitching 8.2 innings of two run baseball. The southpaw allowed 8 hits, 1 walk, and struck out 7 and moves to 6-1 as a Yankee in the postseason. For most of the season, Sabathia looked as if he was dealing with an injury. His velocity was a bit down and the his breaking ball wasn’t sharp at all. He looked much better in his last three regular season starts, but Sunday night’s performance was his best. His velocity was there, which allowed his changeup to be that much more effective. His slider was also quite sharp.
The Yankees 7-2 game one victory was one that hit the Orioles hard. All season, the Orioles have played close games and their bullpen dominated. Last night, the game was following as similar pattern as Orioles starter Jason Hammel pitched into the six, allowing just 2 runs. Troy Patton, Darren O’Day, and Brian Matusz held the Yankees scoreless until the ninth. Buck Showalter went to his closer Jim Johnson for the ninth, looking for his closer to continue to his magical season. Johnson gave up 5 hits and 5 runs, allowing the Yankees to break the Orioles’ greatest strength.
One game doesn’t make a series and the Orioles have been resilient all season, but the formula that got them to the playoffs didn’t go as planned in game one. Jim Johnson’s next appearance will test his ability to bounce back. Meanwhile, the Yankees got big performances from the likes of Nick Swisher, Mark Texeira, and Russell Martin, three players who have been criticized for their past playoff failures. Game one saw everything go right for the Yankees and nothing go right for the Orioles.
Quietly, the Reds have been the best team in Baseball this season. They are showing that in their NLDS matchup against the Giants. Even after game one starter Johnny Cueto had to leave due to back spasms, the Reds were able to beat the Giants 5-2 with a stellar relief outing from Sam McClure and then four innings from Mat Latos. They were able to beat Matt Cain, who was unbeatable in the postseason just a couple of years ago. Game two saw Bronson Arroyo stymie the Giants with 7 shutout innings. The Giants got just one hit off of the veteran right hander. The series shifts to Cincinnati where the Reds won 50 of 81 contests. Of all the series, this one appears to be the biggest mismatch.
Johnson’s 8th Inning
The only thing you need to know about game one was the eighth inning with the Cardinals clinging to a one run lead with two outs and two runners on. Mitchell Boggs was on and Davey Johnson sent left hander Chad Tracy up to bat. Cardinals Manager Mike Matheny decided to play matchups and bring in lefty Marc Rzepczynski instead of allowing Boggs to finish the inning. This appeared to give Johnson the matchup he wanted as he went to right hander Tyler Moore for Tracy. Moore has slugged .481 against southpaws with six home runs in 108 at bats. Moore hit a two run single to give the Nationals the victory. You get the feeling that Johnson manipulated that situation. The 3-2 victory allowed the young Nationals to steal a win after a shaky start from Gio Gonzalez and get the road victory.
BORN: April 17, 1975 (38)
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