Injuries Sucking Life From Tigers' Lineup

Thanks to various injuries, the Tigers’ offensive attack is almost completely shot. Brennan Boesch, thanks to a thumb injury, hasn’t played since August. Before Detroit lost his bat, they slotted him into the two-hole regularly between Austin Jackson and Delmon Young. Magglio Ordonez made up for his loss, even hitting .385 in the ALDS, but he re-injured his ankle and was removed from the playoff roster following game one in Texas.

Young was originally left off the roster for the ALCS due to an oblique strain suffered against New York, but was then re-added after the injury to Ordonez. Victor Martinez has been playing hurt since early August, when he sprained his knee, rendering him unable to catch for the rest of the season. In game three, Martinez added an intercostal muscle strain to his growing list of ailments. Alex Avila, thanks to Martinez’ injuries, has been forced to catch every day, and as a result, has been banged up pretty good himself. He’s currently dealing with a sore right knee.

Even if their injuries weren’t common knowledge, it would be pretty obvious none of them are running on all cylinders. Young, Martinez, and Avila combined to go 3-for-39 (.077) during the first four games of the ALCS.

The bat of Miguel Cabrera has finally come alive, as he is now 5-for-14 (.357) with a home run and three doubles in four games against Texas. Unfortunately, however, Cabrera can’t win games by himself, and the aforementioned injuries have meant that Cabrera has absolutely no protection in the batting order. Young, Martinez, and Avila were the three batters to follow Cabrera in game four, and that fact allowed Ron Washington to pitch around the dangerous slugger, a move that Detroit couldn’t make him pay for in the eighth inning.

That means the production of the rest of the lineup will need to skyrocket if the Tigers are to have a chance at a historic comeback in this series, even if they have their three best starters lined up to pitch the next three games.

Last night, the rest of the lineup was Jackson, Ryan Raburn, Jhonny Peralta, Ramon Santiago, and Brandon Inge. Don Kelly has also seen significant playing time during these playoffs. Those six players have posted the best ALCS batting averages for the Tigers after Cabrera, and are a combined 22-for-81 (.272) so far in the series. Sure, that’s pretty respectable considering two of those players, Santiago and Kelly, weren’t in the opening day lineup, and one, Inge, was sent down to the minors in the middle of the season. But given the condition of the rest of the lineup, it’s not enough. Only one of those six, Santiago, is batting above .300 for the ALCS. The others have done some damage (Raburn, Inge, and Peralta each hit important home runs), but one bat still remains relatively quiet: Jackson’s.

Jackson is 6-for-33 (.182) in the postseason. His struggles have been well-documented. He doubled his playoff hit total in game three, but has recorded just a single hit in three other ALCS games. He’s walked three times in the series, pushing his on-base percentage to .381. It’s hard to place the blame on a guy who has been on base more than all but three other Tigers in the series, but Detroit needs their speedy center fielder to ignite their lineup.

Basically, I’m scrambling to find someone to blame this huge series deficit on. It can’t be a starting pitcher, as a potent Rangers lineup has yet to score more than three runs in the first nine innings in a game against Detroit. I can’t blame the overworked men carrying the bullpen, or even Ryan Perry, who really should never have had to pitch in extra innings of game two. How can I blame the three guys who are playing through injuries? I can’t ask a guy like Kelly, who is making just $423,000 this year, to catalyze the Tigers’ offense.

Let’s just blame Nelson Cruz.

Tags: Alex Avila Austin Jackson Brandon Inge Brennan Boesch Delmon Young Detroit Tigers Injuries Magglio Ordonez Miguel Cabrera Texas Rangers Victor Martinez

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