12th Man Report: What happened to the bats?
Fiction: Today, as we speak, the Tigers have the second-best offense in the MLB.
In times of trouble this year, when the starting pitching failed to bring its best, the Tigers’ offense — particularly the meat of the order — has been the impetus behind the team’s success.
But recently, the bats have gone quiet and Detroit has just a 5-4 record in the past nine games. Though they’ve won enough games at opportune moments during this stretch to keep a safe six-game lead over Cleveland, they could easily find themselves in a much more precarious situation.
The Tigers had a period between Sept. 7-9 where they lost three-straight games, 4-3, 5-2 and 5-1. Hell, last Saturday, Kansas City shutout the Tigers, 1-0, at home. Losing something like 8-6 when the pitching is abysmal happens — it’s not ideal, obviously, but it happens. On the other hand, when you have a high-powered offense, losing when the pitching is more than good enough for a win isn’t acceptable.
Even last night, the Tigers scattered four hits through five innings and were tied at one. Sure they went on to win, but it was a grind for most of the game with limited offense.
Their inability to get big hits at the right time and not strand base runners has become a major cause to this problem. Too many times have I seen the Tigers start an inning with men on first and second base (almost a sure thing to score at least a run) and fail to score.
There is a silver lining though. First off, the Tigers pitching has picked up the offense’s slack— at least enough to keep them ahead of the charging Indians. And second, with all these stranded runners and un-clutch hitting, they’re pretty much all due, especially the big guy, who’s still nursing that abdomen injury.
Maybe the offense is just biding its time and playing coy until the playoffs start and then they’ll burst out with a flurry of runs. If only it were that easy. The one thing I do know though — no opposing team wants to face a due Miguel Cabrera.