Detroit Tigers getting healthy at the right time
By Matt St Jean
May 3, 2015; Kansas City, MO, USA; Detroit Tigers catcher Alex Avila (13) hits a bases loaded double against the Kansas City Royals during the fourth inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
Friday Night’s loss to the Chicago White Sox was the perfect grand finale to the longest Detroit Tigers longest losing streak since 2005. In case you have forgotten, 2005 was the year before Jim Leyland became the Tigers manager, and the Tigers finished the season 71-91. Hopefully, this will be the last time we ever hear any comparisons to that team.
The game ended on a hit-by-pitch from Alex Wilson in extra innings, who was only pitching due to a two out, solo home run in the bottom of the ninth off Tigers closer Joakim Soria to tie the game. It was a cruel and unusual joke from the baseball Gods, and it felt like the Tigers may never win another game.
But these are professionals, and nobody is as good at their job than David Price, who came out Saturday in dominating fashion to stop the slump and end the Tigers eight game losing streak.
The following afternoon, Alfredo Simon and JD Martinez lifted the Tigers past the Sox again, starting another streak, but in the opposite direction as last weeks ordeal.
Every team goes through rough patches, and the 2015 Tigers just went through theirs. The 2011 Tigers had a seven game losing streak from late April into early May, and went on to win 90 games and win the division.
That’s the beauty about baseball. With such a long season, it allows some minor bumps in the road. Not to mention, the Tigers caught the injury bug early, and former All Stars and clubhouse leaders have been unavailable or ineffective due to injury. Thats all about to change.
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On Sunday Afternoon in Toledo, Tigers former Ace and workhorse Justin Verlander made his second rehab start for the Mudhens and looked impressive. It was a much needed confidence boost for Verlander, who was shaky to say the least in his first outing in AAA. Sundays most exciting stat line was Verlander’s nine strikeouts. If he can be anywhere near his old self, this team should cruise into October.
Another problem in the Detroit Lineup has been the absence of left handed bats, mostly due to the loss of Victor Martinez and Alex Avila. Both players took swings Saturday, and according to Manager Brad Ausmus, both are looking closer to returning than some may have expected.
“He looked good. He looked really good swinging” said Ausmus when asked about Avila’s batting practice session. James McCann has been suitable in his absence, however the lefty bat and his incredible ability to call games, will be a nice addition whenever it is he’s cleared to play.
But what was most surprising, was what was missing on Saturday. It was the very uncomfortable limp that Victor Martinez had been running with before being placed on the 15-day DL. Martinez took a week off from baseball, and has resumed hitting. His limp is gone according to Ausmus, and he will rejoin the team Today, as the Tigers take on the Chicago Cubs at Comerica Park.
These three players are not only incredible on the field, but major clubhouse influences as well. Each one has a completely different leadership role, and their absences are obvious. But that is all about to change, and the Tigers are about to be healthy with plenty of time to figure it out for another playoff run.