Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Year of the Tiger: Giants Don't Stand a Chance

By Spencer Pyke (@N0CommonSpence)

It’s the year of the dragon over in China. I guess the Tigers didn’t get the memo.

After dropping seven of eight in early September, and nearly falling out of the playoff race, Detroit won 15 out of their 22 remaining games to clinch the American League Central.  Weeks later, they are back in the World Series for the first time since 2006 thanks to a rare sweep of the Yankees.

Having signed a 214 million dollar contract this off-season, to make him the highest paid Detroit Tiger ever, it was only fitting that Prince Fielder caught the final out to send the Tigers back to the Fall Classic.

The addition of Fielder in the off-season bolstered an already powerful batting order, but this ball club, which also features baseball’s first Triple Crown winner in over four decades in Miguel Cabrera, arrived to this moment because of their pitching staff.

In Game 5 of the Divisional Series in Oakland, Justin Verlander tossed the first postseason shutout of his career while striking out eleven Athletics to pick up his second win of the series.  That momentum carried over into the American League Championship, as the rotation allowed just six runs, only two earned, in 39 innings against New York.

Perhaps even crazier than that, the Yankees never even held a lead in the series. While a lot of baseball fans and radio show hosts focused on the Yankees lackluster performance, you have to give credit where credit is due to these Mo-Town mound monsters.

Off the mound, Detroit had some big contributors as well, but it was not the usual cast of characters. Believe it or not, Cabrera and Fielder combined to go 9 – 33 with only three RBIs and seven strikeouts. So not only did the pitching staff kill the game in the ALCS, some of the smaller players, literally and figuratively, did as well.

With prior behavioral issues still hanging over his head, Delmon Young finally started to perform like a top draft pick should, and earned the ALCS MVP after knocking in the winning run in all four games. Rookie Avisail Garcia, under the wing of Miggy, performed when he was called upon going 5 -11 with three RBI’s and a stolen base.  Second year center fielder, Austin Jackson, also performed in his first ALCS batting .353 while hitting for the cycle in the four games.

But let’s not get too far off topic, Detroit has won seven of their nine games this postseason because of dominant pitching. Everyone knows defense wins championships, and in regards to baseball, stellar pitching is the best form of defense a team can have.  Mr. Verlander is back on the hill tonight for Game One, so home field advantage for the Giants is moot - though, in the past Verlander has had postseason troubles when forced to elongate the rotation thanks to playoff sweeps. In all honesty, if Cabrera and Fielder catch fire, with this rotation throwing fire, the Giants don’t have a chance.

1 comment:

  1. It's funny to read these predictions after the fact, and see just how off-base (pun intended) they were. Verlander got his butt handed to him in an 8-3 drubbing, and the other ace, Fister, gave up only one run - but it was enough to lose. Don't ask me who put what into Zito's & Bumgarner's Gatorade, but they pitched like Verlander & Fister was supposed to. I guess home field advantage really isn't moot. It's also useful to know how to control balls so that they carom off bags, or tap a bunt so that it dies fair just inches inside the foul line.