On a beautiful Sunday afternoon, the Detroit Tigers solidified their AL Central lead with a win as beautiful as the conditions around it.
Miguel Cabrera hits two home runs, #299 and #300 for his career, and the latter going next to the center-field camera well. Jacob Turner, the Tigers’ brighest pitching prospect, shaking off a rough opening inning for his first major league win. And a Tigers sweep, punctuated by a blowout win that allowed the Comerica Park crowd to celebrate everything all afternoon.
The Tigers won Sunday’s game by a score of 6-4, with the majority of the game not as close as the final score would seem. Detroit is now 1.5 games up on Chicago for the AL Central crown, as the now-surging Tigers picked up the first sweep of the White Sox in 2012. The Tigers are on a four-game winning streak, and now head to another rival in Cleveland for three games.
The day’s MVP was third-baseman Miguel Cabrera. His performance Sunday included everything that the Tigers hoped for when he was acquired, from tape-measure home run blasts, to solid defense, all in a victory for a division-leading Tigers team. Cabrera’s first home run in the 1st inning, a shot into left-center, came as the second of back-to-back home runs, with Quintin Berry knocking one out in the previous at-bat. 3-0 Tigers, after three batters. Even early on, the Tigers were in control.
Miguel’s second home run, the 300th of his career, was one that you’ve probably seen already. Not just in the sense of Cabrera’s many bombs to the center-field camera box, but this home run will be around for a while, circulating in Tigers commercials, highlight reels, and YouTube videos. This one was another deep bomb, landing on the second deck of Comerica Park’s ivy, where only Cabrera has regularly hit into. This home run, which made the score 4-1 Tigers in the third, kicked off another big inning as this home run seemed to shake White Sox starter Philip Humber. Prince Fielder walked in the next at-bat, moving to second on Humber’s wild pitch. Brennan Boesch hit one out, two batters later, and the rout was on.
The White Sox contributed to the home run parade with two of their own in the 6th and 7th innings, but never got the tying run to the plate.
Jacob Turner received the win, his first in the major leagues. Turner’s first inning was somewhat rough, with the White Sox scoring a run on three hits. After that, Turner settled down until the 6th, with a trio of 1-2-3 innings and the composure to escape from two hits in the 5th inning undamaged. After the two-run homer in the 6th, Turner was pulled. Obviously, Jacob Turner is still a work in progress, but Sunday was a big improvement. Turner didn’t break down under pressure, he got outs when he needed them, and struck out three without issuing a walk. 2012 might not be the year where Turner is a regular starter (trade rumors or otherwise), but he will be in the majors soon enough.
Psychologically, Sunday has to be the turning point of the Tigers’ season, beyond the simple mathematics of the standings. Everyone has been criticizing this team, and the team never really had it all together. From the losing streaks, to certain departures like Brandon Inge, the Tigers weren’t mentally there. Since before the All-Star break, though, things have been starting to fit together. Wins have been piling up, certain players (Doug Fister, Delmon Young, Brennan Boesch) have heated up, and the team has steadily climbed up the standings.
In this past weekend, everything came together. Hitting, fielding, pitching, even intangibles like a stadium packed above capacity and beautiful weather. This is what a winning summer feels, looks, and sounds like. The Tigers swept the White Sox, changing the national conversation in the process. (Baseball Tonight was wondering if the Tigers had sealed up the division, and if the White Sox should try to contend. Too soon, but still.) Sure, it all could change in a couple of days. But this was Mike Ilitch’s dream scenario when Prince Fielder received an offer he could not refuse last winter.
All is good in Tigertown, for now.
Gordon Fall has been around the Detroit sports scene for his entire life and even entered the world with a Red Wings hockey stick in hand. With a variety of connections around the Detroit area, Fall will be presenting the unspoken, yet optimistic truth of our city’s sports scene.