Square in the left ventricle of the 17-day streak of games was a plush home stand with the Orioles and Twins. Detroit took three of four from Baltimore and two of three from Minnesota, slightly adding to their lead over the White Sox and Twins in the division, and although the AL Central is still weaker than a Tic Tac, the Tigers are only a few games behind the top contenders for the AL Wild Card.
Monday: Detroit 6, Baltimore 5 — Every Monday my girlfriend and I go to this wings place down the road from our house, not only because because it’s adorable and cute and makes us a real couple, but also because the wings are 50 cents that night. We strolled into the place around 7:15 p.m., about 10 minutes after first pitch, and we saw the Tigers already down 5-0 with just one out in the first inning, which made the first time in that restaurant’s short history that the words “Jesus Christ” were uttered that loudly by a patron just walking in. And wouldn’t you know it, that was all the mayhem Justin Verlander would allow on his watch, actually going eight innings and opening the door for Clete Thomas’s walk-off home run.
Tuesday: Baltimore 8, Detroit 2 — The O’s scored in the first again, this time off new Tiger Jarrod Washburn, but only a single run. It was, however, a lead too much for the Tigers to overcome.
Wednesday: Detroit 4, Baltimore 2 — I’m well aware Magglio Ordoñez is having a down year, and I’m also aware that “a down year” is putting it nicely. But it seems as if any time he hits a home run this year, I’m not by the TV to watch it. Maybe I should just stop watching all of his at bats this year.
Thursday: Detroit 7, Baltimre 3 — Of all the new faces this year, Gerald Laird has to be my favorite. Sure, he’s hitting like a backup shortstop, but everything else he does is done right. But it looks like an even newer face may steal some of his games. Double-A callup Alex Avila (son of the assistant GM Al Avila) corked an RBI double in his second at bat and Rick Porcello won his 10th game on an unscheduled Whippersnapper Appreciation Day.
Friday: Detroit 10, Minnesota 8 — Time for a The Simpsons quote alert. “You know, Fox turned into a hardcore sex channel so gradually, I didn’t even notice,” said Marge Simpson in an episode set in the future. My idea of porn in 2009 on Fox Sports Detroit is seeing Detroit score a bevy of runs on Minnesota. Six runs were had in the first, including Avila’s first career home run. And here’s how great those 10 runs were. I didn’t even give a hoot about the eight allowed by Armando Gallaraga and friends.
Saturday: Minnesota 11, Detroit 0 — There is a Carl Pavano conspiracy in major league baseball. The week before, Pavano won his third game of the year over Detroit in an Indians jersey. One week later, he’s in a Twins uniform and allowed just five hits in seven innings. I can guarantee that next week, when the Tigers play [looks at schedule] Kansas City, you’ll see Pavano wearing baby blue. They may as well package Denard Span into this conspiracy trade.
Sunday: Detroit 8, Minnesota 7 — There’s no better way to finish a week than to win a game on a friggin’ hot Sunday afternoon in this fashion. I learned this week that Placido Polanco leads the league in fewest percentage of strikeouts per plate appearances (only 6.3 percent … the league average is 17.7) and sure enough, all five of his at bats were in play, including three hits and the go-ahead RBI double.
Top Chef — Aw heck, we’re already gushing over Polanco enough, why switch horses now? Polanco is hitting .433 over the last week, bringing home six runs and scoring four of his own. (Oh, and zero strikeouts.) Granderson also had a beast of a week, as did Ordoñez and Guillen, and you can’t leave out Avila’s debut, but Polanco is an often overlooked cog in the lineup that the Tigers will sorely miss next year at second if they do not re-sign him.
Gary Sheff — I expect better things from Jarrod Washburn, and everyone in the world knows he’s better than allowing 11 runs in 11 1/3 innings. On Sunday, he gave up two extremely long home runs to straightaway center field … on back to back pitches. More like this will be seen if When Finesse Pitchers Throw Right Down The Middle gets picked up for a second season.
The Red Sox have lost six in a row, including four to the Yankees, when normalized for the rivalry is more like 87 games in a row. Will Boston be defeated or just extremely pissed off? When the Sawx visited Comerica they swept the Tigers, so something tells me this four-game series in Fenway will not turn out rosy for the Tigers — perhaps a series split. Then Detroit returns home quickly for some beat-up games with Kansas City. Keep your eyes on the prize, boys. A playoff berth? No, a day off next Monday.