Thursday, May 05, 2011

Tigers Take Series from Yankees

It's been a roller coaster ride for the Tigers the last two weeks.  First, they dominated the White Sox in a three-game sweep.  Then they lost seven in a row, getting swept by the Mariners and Indians and losing the first game of this week's Yankee series.  When Justin Verlander lost that first game, fans feared another sweep.  It felt like the season was slipping away and the fans demanded action.

The Tigers faithful (or unfaithful after losing seven games) got some of the changes they wanted starting on Tuesday when second baseman Scott Sizemore was promoted from Toledo.  On Wednesday, Victor Martinez returned from the disabled list and Jim Leyland constructed a new batting order.  He moved left-handed hitting Brennan Boesch up to the third hole and Mslumping Magglio Ordonez down to number six. 

Coincidentally or not the Tigers took the last three games of the series after the changes took effect.  Sizemore has gone 4 for 12.  Boesch recovered from a brief swoon by getting four hits in to games after the batting order change.  Ordonez is hitting the ball better and even got his first homer Wednesday night.  All in all the offense looked much better this series. 

They key to the series though was the Tigers starters stopping the powerful New York offense.  First, Brad Penny did not allow an earned run in six shutout innings on Tuesday's 4-2 victory.  He has now allowed just four earned runs in his last three outings. 

Max Scherzer followed with eight innings of brilliant scoreless pitching on Wednesady. Reliever Al Alburquerque finished off the 4-0 shutout with a scoreless ninth.  He now has 18 strikeouts in 10 1/3 innings. 

Finally Rick Porcello pitched the longest outing of his career today reaching 120 pitches in seven innings. He allowed just two runs and the Tigers held on to win 6-3.  He has surrendered two runs or fewer in each of his last four starts.

So, it was starting pitching that won this series and they'll probably go as far as their starters take them this year.  They won't win on hitting and fielding this year.  Starting pitching is the area where I think they may outshine the competition in the AL central and it appears to be heating up. 

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