Series Preview in Blog: Detroit Tigers (4/14-4/15)

A short series with the Tigers starts off the week, two games in Detroit. After facing division leaders in their first four series of the season, the Twins now get the team with the worst record in baseball at 2-10. The Tigers are coming home after a road trip in which they dropped series to both colors of Sox. The 6-6 Twins wrap up a 7-game road trip, on which they are currently 3-2.

Knowing that the Twins and the Tigers would be meeting each other for a couple games this week, I decided to take advantage of the Tigers road trip to Chicago this weekend by attending Sunday’s game betwixt two of our central division foes. ((I didn’t bring the camera this time, so no photos, sorry.)) In that one game I think I have discovered the blueprint for defeating Detroit. ((Someone will probably point out that these conclusions, being drawn from only one game, probably should be taken with a grain of salt. I think it’s a pretty foolproof plan.))

Step 1: Hit the ball to Miguel Cabrera if at all possible. He failed to field a pop fly that landed about 5 feet from the third base bag (in fair territory) because he ran into the umpire (in foul territory). It looked like Cabrera broke in the absolute wrong direction and the umpire just didn’t expect him to be there.
Step 2: Throw strikes, but not all the time. Javier Vasquez made the Tigers’ offense look terrible, they swung and missed at strikes and non-strikes alike all day.
Step 3: Hit as many grand slams as possible. The Tigers seemed to be especially hurt by the two grand slams the Sox hit. (Note: this strategy may be similarly successful with other types of homeruns)

Trivia Question: The Twins only have two players with homeruns in the 2008 season (like I need to remind you). Both of those hitters (Morneau and Kubel) are left-handed. There is one team that has yet to get a homerun from a lefty in this young season. Can you name them?

I went with a friend from work, a Tiger’s fan, so I recorded some of his thoughts on his team on the ride home.

“&@#**!”

I know it’s not that illuminating of a quote, but he said it a lot, so it must have been important.

“That is the worst display of sport I have ever seen. Little league, pros, whatever, they should be embarrassed.”

“What does Leyland say after this game? ‘We’re getting there, we’re just not ready’? These guys look awful!”

So many questions, but no easy answers. Leyland apparently let his team have it after the blowout on Sunday. No doubt he was frustrated after trying everything else to communicate with his team, including the seldom used message in a bottle. Getting beat 11-0 isn’t easy to take, especially when we were sitting in the shade on a day that didn’t quite make it to 40 degrees. ((Beer Vendor: “Ice cold beer here!”, Me: “No s**t.”)) But I think some Tiger’s fans may need some WGOM instruction on the proper way to blow up a blowout. ((I like Bless You Boys new motto – “Going From Last to First is More Exciting”))

There are multiple reasons that the Tigers have struggled so mightily to start the season, but the bullpen has been an exceptionally frustrating aspect of the team. It has inspired demotions, long diatribes on the inadequacies of Jason Grilli, and finally some unorthodox suggestions to solve the problems.

Pitching probables:

Blackburn versus Bonderman

Bonderman is the only Tiger’s starter with a win (in his last start against the Red Sox). He only went 5 IP, but allowed 2 runs and got support from his offense (seven runs) to pick up the victory. So far this season, he’s allowed 6 walks (4.8 BB/9) to 3 strikeouts, so let’s see what the hack-happy Twins do to take advantage of that.

Baker versus Robertson

Robertson has been better than Bonderman in the K/BB department (11:4) but he’s allowed 9 runs in 10.3 IP and both starts have ended before the sixth inning.

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