Tigers and Twins on a Common Road to a Collision
Posted by jelletlambie on June 19, 2009
When the Tigers take the field for the start of a three game home set with the Milwaukee Brewers tonight the Minnesota Twins will be taking the field for a three game home set of their own, against the Houston Astros. The Twins will look upon the Tigers performance this weekend, be it brilliant, abyssmal or in between as a litmus test – for they will take on the Brewers themselves next week, in Milwaukee.
As interleague play rolls through the Tigers and Twins have common opponents in the NL Central division. Minnesota traveled to Chicago last weekend, taking two out of three from the Cubs before coming home to handle the Pirates in the same fashion. The Tigers meanwhile lost two of three against Pittsburgh and will face the Cubbies at home next week. Detroit barely escaped St. Louis with a win last night, leaving their interleague record to date at 3-6. Minnesota meanwhile has feasted on their NL brethren to the tune of 7-2.
nine match ups vs. the NL Central remain for each squad before the Twins take on the Royals for a three game set and the Tigers head to Oakland to battle the A’s.
Then the real fun starts.
Over the 4th of July weekend the Twins will host the Tigers in what is shaping up to a battle for first place. That is if the Tigers can find a way to win against their senior circuit counterparts. I faithfully believe in the power of the possible, but my friends, it ain’t lookin good.
Having seen the front 3/5 of their rotation chewed up and spit out by the Cardinals with but one in the win column, the Tigers will now send Armando Galarraga and Alfredo Figaro to the hill against a team that has scored 30 runs in its last three games. A team that happens to be in first place in their division as well. If the Tigers manage to escape this series still ahead of the Twins their reward will be to face the top three starters in the Cubs rotation – Carlos Zambrano, Rich Harden and Ted Lilly.
The Twins on the other hand will face the cellar dwelling Astros before taking on the Cardinals. We can predict, we can project, we can speculate all we wish – but it’s fair to imagine the Tigers may be looking up at first place come July 3rd when they tangle with the Twins. It’s more than fair to believe that by the end of that holiday weekend trist in Minneapolis we will know where the power in this division truly lies.
While the AL Central is wide open I believe the Twins represent the most serious threat to the Tigers, as they seem to do every year. The White Sox have no identity, the Indians are a mess and the Royals are well, the Royals, be it a slightly better version than we are used to. I’m not ready to rule anybody out, but I’m getting close.
While the division is perhaps the weakest in the major leagues it still by rule will have a winner, and I believe that winner will be the Tigers or the Twins – Specifically, whoever plays the best baseball over the next two and a half weeks.
By July 5th when the Tigers leave the Metrodome the trade market should be clearer than it is today. The Tigers may have a new outfielder by then, or at least have one in mind. Armando and Alfredo will be looking back at three starts a piece, the organization watching closely, hoping that the bottom of the rotation is finally settled.
I can’t predict what role Magglio will have on this team at that point, if any, but I imagine the situation will have sorted itself out by July 6th. I don’t know if Jim Leyland will be back next year, but I expect I will know by that point as well.
Each season as teams battle to the death in the final days for the last remaining playoff berths we can look back, back to one stretch of games, one week, maybe two, maybe two and a half where the end result was actually decided. It is in these patches of games that winners rejoice for the effort they put forth and losers lament for that which they left behind. It’s different for every team, it’s different every year. Ladies and gentlemen I believe that time for this team is upon us.
The very identity of this team going forward is at play. If they fail hard here there will be no bonanza come July 31, no final push, no mustering of everything in the Ilitch arsenal to put another flag up in Comerica Park. However, if this team can battle through their recent failures, find a way to put it all together for a couple of weeks, then the cavalry could well be on the way.
If they simply continue to tread water it’s anybody’s guess, but in that case I believe the Twins will surpass them without breaking a sweat.
This division is waiting for someone to grab it by the throat and claim it as their own. Sometime between now and when the last fireworks have fizzled either the Tigers or the Twins should have their hands around its’ neck.
Cross your fingers Tigers fans, it can’t hurt.
*Very soon I’ll be covering the Detroit Tigers exclusively through a new blog! I’m honored to say that a big name in Fantasy Sports is launching a network of team sites and has asked me to run their brand new Tigers blog. I’ll have all the details as soon as everything is up and running, so keep your eyes peeled.*
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