Found September 16, 2013 on The Detroit Sports Site:
The Detroit Tigers continue to slice their magic number lower, pushing towards a third consecutive Central Diviision title. Despite the importance of that feat, it’s tough not to look towards the playoffs at this point. Routinely, the Tigers struggled last week finding clutch hits with runners in scoring position, a fact that truly manifested itself most over the weekend against the Kansas City Royals. That’s a problem which could only lead to more October disappointment when the games get more meaningful. The most glaring example came when Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder each reached base on Sunday afternoon. Standing at second and third respectivly with no out, both Cabrera and Fielder were stranded as the Tigers mashed harmless ground balls into the turf and gave away the opportunity to add to their lead. Overall, the Tigers were 0-9 on Sunday with runners in scoring position. Saturday night, Detroit lost thanks to several blown chances with runners on base, including in the ninth inning. 0-5 was the damage with runners in scoring position that day, meaning the Tigers finished the weekend an ugly 0-14. These kind of events happen during the course of a season, but the fact that they’re happening so late in the year is more than a bit concerning. Late September is a good time for teams to find good habits as the season winds down. Last year, the Tigers surged into the playoffs, making clutch plays down the stretch and using that momentum to blow into the World Series. Detroit was overwhelmed there, but managed to Still, for the Tigers, finding a way back to good habits is important. As it stands today, the team would match up with the Oakland Athletics for the second straight year. Being they don’t currently have a better record than Oakland, Detroit would not have home field advantage again. Surly, fans will remember how each one of those games last fall required clutch hits at multiple moments. To be prepaired for that, the Tigers need to buckle down against the Seattle Mariners, a club which possesses an ugly team ERA of 4.36 in 2013. In fact, the Tigers will finish the season taking on the Chicago White Sox (3.97 ERA), Minnesota Twins (4.39 ERA) and Miami Marlins (3.73 ERA). That presents the perfect opportunity for Detroit’s bats to get healthy in clutch situations as the year winds down. Baseball is a mental game, and the Tigers certainly need to hone their minds a bit prior to the playoffs. Hopefully, with the division wrapped up sooner rather than later, Detroit’s hitters will get plenty of chances to hone their focus with runners in scoring position in the weeks ahead. If the same Tigers team that went 0-14 with runners in scoring position this weekend shows up in the ALDS, it won’t be nearly as fun this October in the Motor City. Facebook feedback of the week makes light of the way the Tigers won Sunday. Despite a wild pitch which tied the score late, Drew Smyly still got the win, stealing one Max Scherzer likely deserved. That just wasn’t acceptable for one of our readers, upset that Scherzer was denied another chance at his 20th win. Thomas W. Barden: Truly SAD part is that Smyly gets the WIN…after wild pitching in the tying run. Agreed, Thomas. That’s the one rule about baseball that should change. Scherzer, with his 12 strikeouts, certainly deserved to win the game. Instead, Smyly gets to go to 6-0 despite another erratic outing. Even though Scherzer was classy about the disaster after the game admitting he was just happy the team won, Detroit should have tried a bit harder to get him his now elusive 20th victory. Max DeMara is a senior editor at The Detroit Sports Site. You can find him on Twitter @SportsGuyTheMax
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