Friday, September 01, 2006

The Real Pennant Race Begins

All year long, Jim Leyland has insisted that his team was not in a pennant race because pennant races do not start until September. September started today and the Tigers came into the month with a 4 1/2 game lead over the White Sox and a 5 game lead over the Twins. So, they were still in good position despite their 13-16 record in August. The real pennant race would begin with a three game weekend series versus the Angels at Comerica Park.

The Tigers blanked the Angels in the series opener tonight 9-0. Kenny Rogers allowed just 4 hits and two walks in 7 innings and now has a 1.35 ERA in his last 6 starts. Joe Zumaya and Jason Grilli each pitched a scoreless inning to finish off the combined shutout. It was the Tigers' league leading 15th shutout of the season. This is the most shutouts for the Tigers since 1969.

Offensively, the Tigers had 12 hits including 3 home runs and 4 doubles. Here are the highlights:
  • Craig Monroe "did it again" hitting his 24th homer of the year in the first inning.
  • Dmitri Young snapped an 0-14 streak with 3 singles.
  • Brandon Inge (.250/.317/.304 in August) broke out with a double and his 22nd home run of the year.
  • Curtis Granderson (.161/.232/.264 in August) had a double and a single.
  • Carlos Guillen, the one Tiger who has hit consistently well all year long, hit his 17th home run of the year.
One of the best things that happened tonight was Omar Infante starting in place of Neifi Perez at second base. Infante had a two run double and two walks. He now has 10 hits in his last 5 starts raising his season batting average to .294. Perez, on the other hand has batted .156 since joining the Tigers and has shown that he is not the gold glove infielder he once was. Hopefully, Infante will stay in the starting line-up.

As I write this, the White Sox are trailing the Royals 7-1 in the 7th and the Twins are getting shut out by the Yankees 8-0 in the 9th. If those leads hold up, the Tigers will be 5 1/2 games up on the White Sox and 6 ahead of the Twins. The real pennant race looks to be off to a good start.

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