If I was handed the box scores from Sunday’s double header before the season began, I would have figured I was looking at a recap from the International league. In the day’s first game, nine of the fourteen Tigers that saw action either were rookies or were players that had seen time in the minor leagues this season (for performance reasons, not injury reasons). In the second game, that ratio was reduced to eight of seventeen.
So it’s more than a bit surprising that the team not only was competitive in the double header, but earned a split with a Major League opponent. It’s even more surprising that a rare Jose Valverde implosion lead to the loss, but I can’t be disappointed with the split.
The offense relied heavily on the old guard of Jackson, Damon, and Cabrera, but Ryan Raburn was the hero of the day. His bases clearing double in the eighth inning of the night game gave the Tigers a lead they would not relinquish. Raburn finished the day a combined 2-6, but managed to drive in four runs. Miguel Cabrera (3-7, 2 RBI) and Austin Jackson (5-9, 4 R) are also to be commended for their efforts at the dish.
After the dust of the weekend settled, the Tigers actually managed to gain ground on the White Sox, who dropped two of three with the Oakland Athletics. So where do the Tigers go from here? What’s their next move? The injury bug has bitten the team hard, and they find themselves in third place, but third place is only two games back of Chicago (one behind Minnesota). It would be easy for us fans to mail it in at this point. To say that there’s no shot at winning this division, but I’m not ready to waive the white flag yet (I tend to be an optimist).
The trade deadline is only a week away, and who knows what that will bring. The Tigers are still rumored to be in “buy” mode, but some think that a minor sell off would be more prudent. My take? Be smart, but be aggressive either way. It would be tough to buy at this point, given all of the injuries, but they may still be too close in the race to sell. I’m betting Dombrowski won’t sell, not now. If the team ends up a distant third in a few weeks, he may still be able to move Bonderman or Damon in a waiver trade.