Monday, October 10, 2011

Middle of Order Failing Tigers

Some Tigers fans may blame the rain or bad umpiring for game one's loss.  They might fault reliever Ryan Perry for today's loss.  Some will blame bad coaching/managing for ill-timed sacrifice bunts and lack of aggressive base running (e.g. not sending Santiago home on Don Kelly's ninth inning double).  Others point to lack of hitting with runners in scoring position and that particular issue is certainly part of the problem.

However, the main reason or the more complete reason for the two losses in the League Championship is anemic production from the middle of the order.  It's a problem that started in the Yankees series and has continued in Texas. Many have talked about Alex Avila's slump (2 for 25 with 10 strikeouts) but it's been more than just him.

The big four which carried them all season simply hasn't been getting it done this post-season. Avila, Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez and Jhonny Peralta have combined to go 17 for 99 (.172 batting average) with just 6 extra base hits and 8 RBI.  Add lead-off hitter Austin Jackson's 3 for 25 with 14 strikeouts and you can see why they haven't been scoring runs.  It's amazing they won the Yankee series given their offensive failings. 

What makes the lack of production from their core hitters even more frustrating is that they have gotten solid performances from role players. Delmon Young became the first Tiger ever to hit three home runs in a post-season series.  Don Kelly has 6 hits in 14 trips while playing all over the field.  Ryan Raburn drove in all their runs today with a three-run homer and is 4 for 11 for the playoffs.  Even Brandon Inge and Magglio Ordonez (who is now out for the year with a broke ankle) have made contributions.  It's a shame that much of that is getting wasted with the big boys struggling.

They somehow got through the Yankees series without much help from their most powerful bats.  It hasn't worked so far in this series.  This time, I don't see them mounting any kind of comeback unless their sluggers start to hit.  I don't know whether they are worn out, pressing or simply having a slump at the wrong time, but they are running out of time.  They need to get going in the next three games at Comerica or the season will be over.

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