|Thames (here with his kids, wife & Leyland) more relaxed at the plate of late.|
When we left off, the Tigers won 7 straight, they took that streak to 11 consecutive victories (a season best) -- breaking its 7 consecutive mark set in June. They also have won 15 of their last 17 games, their best stretch since early June, when they went 15-3.
Marcus Thames and Carlos Guillen, two players who have struggled all year, have been excellent during this stretch. Thames' peak performance was hitting 3 HR & 5 RBI in his first 3 at-bats by the 5th inning against the Chicago White Sox. Guillen has been rolling in his new #6 spot, with Placido Polanco batting 5th; Guillen's highlight during this stretch was against the Texas Rangers, going 4-for-5, with 2 HR's & 5 RBI.
|Guillen has become more focused in his new #6 spot of the lineup.|
Justin Verlander (entered at 15-8, 3.68 ERA) got the no-decision, allowing 6 hits & 2 HR's to Wilkerson, with only 3 K's -- he allowed 4 walks! Robinson Tejeda (a APBA Grade D-W) held his own for 5 innings, 7 hits, 2 ER & 2 walks allowed, with 3 K's -- it could have certainly been worse.
The Tigers the last few innings, kept leaving the winning runs in scoring position, and the game started to play out in the Rangers' favor -- until Curtis Granderson's one-out triple in the top of the 13th. Granderson had 4 K's for the night, until his big hit; Raburn would hit the walk-off sac fly to pull off the victory. Tigers had 15 hits, while the Rangers only had 8 -- Tigers were certainly playing with fire in that game.
|Thames (left) and "Mags" has had plenty to be happy about; Team is playing loose.|
The Tigers now sit at 83-64, while the New York Yankees, who we are chasing, is at 83-62 -- one game ahead in the wildcard race. The Tigers & Yankees split 4-4, and both teams in real-life split the season series as well, which means there is no differential to help us, and we must beat the Yankees' final season record of 94-68.
My Tigers have to go at least 11-4 to force a one-game playoff, and go 12-3 to win the wildcard spot outright. We have gone 15-2 in this stretch, so it is possible, but it will get tougher...
Since, I have recently gone with a four-man rotation, I will have Justin Verlander (Grade B-X) on the mound for Game #151 (for the series opener) against the Cleveland Indians, Game #155 at home against the Kansas City Royals & another home against the Minnesota Twins (Game #159).
Here's to hoping for an amazing finish for the season.