Tigers 8, Twins 0 (box score)
The Tigers’ win over the lowly Minnesota Twins on Saturday afternoon was obviously huge from a playoff race standpoint – the win moves them to within a game of the White Sox who lost their series opener against the Los Angeles Angels on Friday night (and are still in progress on Saturday) – but the process by which they won may prove to be exponentially huger.
Friday’s rainout means a Sunday doubleheader, and doubleheaders can be dicey from a pitching standpoint. The bullpen had already been extended earlier in the week when Max Scherzer had to leave his start after only two innings due to shoulder fatigue, and they spent the balance of the week’s games with various relievers being declared unavailable due to heavy usage. But Doug Fister gave the club a sizeable boost in that department by delivering a complete game. That makes for two days off in a row for the entire pen, meaning the entire compliment of arms are at full strength heading into the double header.
And if there was ever a particular double header in which the manager would desire his full bullpen, this is probably it: in the midst of a tight division race with one starting pitcher coming off a shortened outing due to an injury scare in Scherzer, and a second starter who’s been mostly working out of the bullpen for the last month and was rocked in his last appearance in Drew Smyly. This isn’t to say that either Scherzer or Smyly couldn’t go out there and pitch a gem themselves, but Jim Leyland can rest easy knowing he has little need to hesitate to make a call to the bullpen should either of them show signs of unsteadiness.
Game Notes of Interest
- Doug Fister’s line of 9 IP, 7 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 7 SO is pretty good. It was his first career complete game shutout.
- Miguel Cabrera blasted a solo home run in the 4th inning. It was home run number 42 on the year, putting him even with Texas’ Josh Hamilton for the American League lead and into triple crown position.
- Austin Jackson and Delmon Young also hit a home run each.
- Minnesota’s Alexi Casilla was called out on the bases (literally) for interference on a very strange play.
- Detroit’s playoff odds stand at 38.5% according to Cool Standings (pending Chicago’s Saturday result).