Was it “Just the Astros” or solid work by the Detroit Tigers?


May 4, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Detroit Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera (24) is congratulated by Torii Hunter (48) as Houston Astros catcher Carlos Corporan (22) watches during the second inning at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

While the surging Detroit Tigers have been forced to cool their jets through a scheduled off-day on Monday, and a rain-out on Tuesday, it gave fans additional time to savor the recently completed four-game sweep of the Houston Astros. In the fast-moving cycle of the sports world, Sunday is ancient history, but two days without Tigers’ baseball means a fan has nothing to do but reminisce.

After the conclusion of the four-game sweep on Sunday evening, you may have heard a dull hum off in the distance with the pessimistic message of, “Just the Astrosssssssss……”

I truly understand that attitude. It is just the Astros. Everyone knows the Astros are garbage, even the Astros know that, but give credit where credit is due. The old adage goes, “even a blind squirrel finds a nut,” but, over the weekend, the Tigers were able to keep the team of visually challenged rodents from Houston away from their cherished morsels.

One of the thoughts that occurred to me, and one of my Motor City Bengals’ colleagues, while watching Houston was that they reminded me a lot of the 2003 Detroit Tigers. A subject I know well as I am running an ongoing series on that team. The ’13 ‘Stros, like the ’03 Bengals, have a knack for staying with teams, only to implode at inopportune moments, as we saw in Games 1 and 2 of the series. Then they can be completely outclassed in every way, as they were in Games 3 and 4.

The reaction I saw Sunday from Tigers’ fans was mostly excitement mixed with a bit of trepidation  Excitement because Detroit outscored Houston 26 to 2 over the last two games, but a bit of trepidation because not only was it “just the Astros,” it is also the beginning of May. Nonetheless, a four-game regular season sweep is a laudable feat. From the start of 2007 through the first month of last season, there had been 695 four-game series, and of those series, a sweep resulted just 12.3 percent of the time. Compare that to a 24.7 percent sweep ratio in 3,050 series of the three-game variety. So even bad teams have nearly an 88 percent chance of getting at least one win during a four-game series.

Its worth nothing that the last time the Tigers scored a four-game sweep during the regular season was 2006.

Bottom line is that the Tigers not only beat the Astros, they beat them handily. If they needed come-from-behind victories in all four games, or won just three of the four games, then you could legitimately throw out the “just the Astros” line. Also, as bad as Houston has been this year, they’ve only been swept by two other teams (Oakland–twice, Boston), meaning the Houston Blind Squirrels tend to find nuts more than they go hungry.

So while a sweep of the Houston Astros is not a guarantee of a return trip to the World Series, it should not be completely discounted either.

One more note on our new American League brothers: heading into Tuesday’s action, their 8-24 record is just one win better than the 2003 Tigers through 32 games (7-25). I wouldn’t wish that type of season on any team, or their fans, so Houston is now my second favorite team. Go Astros Go! Except for next Monday through Wednesday, of course.