Friday, September 08, 2006

Was last night's 7-1 Tiger win the biggest of the season?

I think so. What follows are my musings as to why...

First off, now there is no way the Twins can overtake the Tigers this weekend. The victory stalled what momentum the Twins may have had, and took the wind right out of their sails. Honestly, I can live with 1 win in this series. I'm perfectly happy with a split, which the way the Tigers were playing, I thought may have been the best case scenario. The Tigers take 3? I'll be flipping ecstatic, and with the remaining pitcher matchups, it's become a possibility.

A 5 game lead seems to be the point where everyone, fans, bloggers, the MSM alike, is still in a comfort zone. We won't hear EVERYBODY PANIC!!! if the lead continues to hover around that amount. As the Cigarette Smoking Man said yesterday, "I'll panic when my kid flunks math..." You have to absolutely LOVE Jim Leyland.

The Dmitri Young release didn't seem to faze the Tigers one bit. They put the Twins down early and kept them there. From all the accounts that are leaking out in today's fish wraps, it looks as if Young was becoming a major liability, dragging the team down with him. Definitely an addition by subtraction move, and it may already be paying dividends.

One dividend being that Marcus Thames stepped into the DH role, and didn't miss a beat. He'll be relied upon heavily now that he's the full time DH. Thames passed the first test with flying colors with a 2 run homer and a single.

Justin Verlander looks as he found his 2nd wind. Or 3rd, considering we are in September, and in uncharted rookie territory. Verlander just may have locked up the "Rookie of the Year" award with his dominating performance. One caveat though. I thought the Marlboro Man pitched Verlander a little deeper into the game than I would have liked. But when you consider that it's a long series, and you are playing your closest pursuer, I'm sure Leyland wanted to save the bullpen as much as possible.

Did Curtis Granderson find the same wind as Verlander? He's hitting the ball hard again. And striking out. A lot. I can live with the K's if he has rediscovered his batting stroke. His leadoff home run was a mighty large statement to the Twinkies. If Granderson's playing up to his considerable capabilities, I feel that much better about the Tigers finishing well, rather than stumbling to the finish.

I'm not going to say anything about Neifi Perez, as I was taught that if you can't say anything nice... But if Omar Infante, with another very nice performance at the plate last night (Why don't we try to ignore that throw in the 9th, OK?), hasn't given Leyland the confidence to leave him in the lineup when Carlos Guillen comes back, nothing will.

Speaking of which, the Tigers beat the Twins with a makeshift middle of the infield. That those backup middle infielders turned 4 double plays just rubbed salt in the wound.

Another day has passed, the Tigers still lead the divison, and time is becoming a huge factor in helping their playoff chances. On the other hand, that lack of time, not the Tigers, has become the Twins and White Sox biggest foe. If the Tigers can string together just a few wins, a short winning streak of 4 or 5 games, the Sox and Twins are playing for the wild card. Even a 10 game stretch of 7-3 or so could lock up the division. But with so little time left in the season, even treading water works in the Tigers' favor.

Last night's victory was big time, it cannot be more emphasized. So when you consider all of the above, a Tiger win tonight could be even bigger, a dagger in the heart of the Twins.

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