I haven’t been this happy to see the Yankees leave town since… well, the last time the Yankees left town. But that’s mostly because I hate the fucking Yankees. Still, this time around I’m particularly glad to see those buffoons to the door because of what they just did to the Tigers’ mojo. After roaring out to an 11-2 start, the Tigers dropped three straight to the Bombers to finish out a frigid series in Motown.
If this seems like a familiar story, it should, even if the circumstances are a little different. Last year the Tigers also got off to a hot start, going 27-12 through May 18 before being swept by the Racist Mascots in Cleveland. Their season was never the same, as they played just three games above .500 the rest of the way. The pessimist inside me can’t help but wonder if we’ve already seen the best part of the Tigers’ season.
Until their four-game showdown with the Yanks, the Tigers boasted a potent offense that was scoring around 5.4 runs per game, scoring seven or more on six different occasions. Against New York, Detroit was able to muster only nine runs in total. What happened to the bats?
A good place to start would be the bottom third of the order, which had been incredibly productive for the Tigers through the first 13 games. Nick Castellanos, for example, had reached safely in all but one game prior to the Yankees series. Against New York, he reached base only twice and struck out six times. Alex Avila had also been on base pretty frequently during the hot stretch, finding his way aboard in all but three games and sporting a .400 OBP. Against New York, Avila was 3-9 (not bad) with no walks (bad), dropping his OBP a full 15 points in the process. The worst offender, though, was Jose Iglesias. Iggy put up a ridiculous 17 hits before squaring off against New York, but only collected two hits in the series. That’s not really his fault, since we all know his .432 BABIP won’t last forever. Still, his production at the bottom of the order has been a catalyst for the Tigers all season.
My point in all this is not that Castellanos, Avila, and Iglesias are to blame for Detroit’s little skid, but that perhaps the 11-2 start was a fluke, fueled in part by unsustainable production from the bottom third of the order. Baseball is a game of averages, and it’s not all that realistic to think that any of these three players will hit above .275 on the year. That means the rest of the batting order is going to have to do the bulk of Detroit’s damage–something they failed to do against Yankee pitching over the last four games.
We also can’t ignore the shit-show that was David Price’s outing on Wednesday. Price allowed eight earned runs over just 2.1 innings pitched before getting the hook from Ausmus. Price got his dick twisted into a pretzel the last time he faced the Yankees as well, giving up eight earned runs in two innings against New York on August 27 of last season. Those two starts, numerically speaking, were the worst two starts of David Price’s illustrious career. It sure seems like the Yankees know something the rest of the American League hasn’t been able to figure out, like when Matt Damon solved that math problem in Good Will Hunting and sent the dickish college professor into a tizzy.
With all that being said, there is also an optimist inside me, which means it’s getting real crowded up inside my body cavities. Miguel Cabrera is off to a great start. J.D. Martinez has picked up right where he left off. V-Mart is getting on base regularly, despite striking out at an inordinate rate and getting BABIPed when he puts it in play. Yoenis Cespedes has been a stud. Anthony Gose looks great. And the starting pitching (what’s up, Shane Greene?) has been lights out, other than the Price implosion and the time Anibal Sanchez got absolutely fricasseed by the White Sox. There’s a lot to like about this year’s Tiger squad.
The real question becomes, how will Detroit respond to this little setback? They’ll look to get back on track tonight as they open up a three-game set against the Racist Mascots before embarking upon a ten-game road trip Monday. They swept those bozos earlier this season, and will try to do the same again in the name of baseball and civic duty. The only people rooting against them will be the city of Cleveland and Dan Snyder, and I don’t know about you, but fuck Cleveland and Dan Snyder.