Could this be the year of the Cleveland Indians? If the Detroit Tigers have anything to do with it, there is a possibility.
In what is now three complete series, the Detroit Tigers have fallen 0-9. The latest series was particularly disappointing after the sweep of the Mariners just a few days ago.
Unfortunately, the Tigers have to face the Indians in ten more games. One series is in early July and the last two are in September. The next two meetings are in Cleveland. The final one is at home at Comerica Park.
What do the Tigers need to do to actually beat this team?
First, the Tigers need to stop giving up so many home runs. In this three-game series, the Tigers gave up 8 home runs. Four of them were off of Justin Verlander, two off of Anibal Sanchez, and two off of Mark Lowe. There is nothing the team can do when pitchers allow this many home runs, in two out of three games.
Second, the Tigers need to stop leaving so many runners on base. In this three-game series, 16 Tigers were left on base. On Friday night, the Tigers could have tied the game in the 9th inning. But, in what seems to be typical Miguel Cabrera style in 2016, he could not get the job done. With Cameron Maybin on first and Ian Kinsler on second, Cabrera hit the ball to the warning track where Rajai Davis was ready and caught it. The Tigers were so discombobulated on the play that Maybin failed to tag and was thrown out. Cabrera has failed to deliver with men on base in way too many plays this season. I know he’s the Big Man and one of the best hitters on the planet, but he’s not getting it done in clutch situations – even in 1/3 of the clutch situations.
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Third, the Tigers need to get the lineup straightened out. When the toughest team to beat comes to town, the Tigers need to play the lineup that gets the most hits and wins. This is not the time for Andrew Romine to play shortstop. It is also not the best time to put Mike Aviles in right field – even though with Steven Moya injured, there really aren’t any other options – which is fully on Al Avila and shows the lack of bench options for the outfield. It might not even be the time for Jarrod Saltalamacchia and his .187 batting average to get into the game. (James McCann could sit out a game or two in the next series that isn’t against a division rival).
The Tigers have proven themselves to be a team that can pull together and get wins. But, they can’t seem to do it against the Indians. Yes, the Indians have quality pitching and they have a group of young players who are scrappy hitters. But, when Verlander and Jordan Zimmermann can’t even get the team to a win, something needs to change.