By: Kurt Snyder
If there has been one constant throughout this season in the Tiger bullpen, it has been the success and resiliency of Francisco Rodriguez. Sure, losses are never bigger than in the last week of the season when you are trying to make the playoffs, but everyone needs to take a breath.
Fans again want KRod’s head; they have made generalizations about how long it has been since the Tigers had a dominant closer. But, if there has been one reliable force in the bullpen, it has been KRod. So enough.
Yes, the Tigers are teetering on the fence, where just a stiff breeze one way or the other could make the difference between making the playoffs and not. Saturday’s game could indeed become damaging if we let it. But this is when you find out about your team. Their ability to bounce back will never be tested more.
With 1 more game versus the World Champion Royals, there can be no more whimpering about Saturday. There can be no losing streaks. Teams that go on losing streaks at this time of the season when they are on the outside looking in, will watch the playoffs on TV.
With less than a couple of handfuls of games remaining, losing streaks have to be over now. Every game is now a must win. Beginning Monday, all focus shifts to the Indians with more than occasional glances at the Orioles as they play a huge series versus the Blue Jays in Toronto.
Back at home, after hopefully having finished off a series win over KC, the much awaited 4 games against the Indians begin on Monday. It’s a great time for this series.
The Indians have been the team standing in the way of the Tigers all season, winning all but 2 games in 2016. For Detroit, it has been no way to perform against the team you need to catch. And it has been that poor head-to-head record that has made all the difference.
So the Tigers have some scores to settle with the Indians. They have demons to exorcise. And after getting pounded by the Indians all season, Detroit has never had more incentive to fight back and finally inflict some damage.
Sure, Cleveland has all but salted away the division. They have dominated the Tigers in every way possible. But I feel the Tigers were disrespected during that last game in Cleveland. So there is plenty of incentive. The umpires are going to have to stay on top of these games; because there has been some bad blood brewing for a week since these teams last faced each other.
It is a reasonable bet that the Indians will clinch the division at Comerica Park. And the Tigers need to fight hard not to let that happen. A sweep is a lot to ask, but again, losses really cannot be tolerated any longer. Not against Cleveland, and not against the Royals on Sunday.
So expect an epic battle when the Tribe comes to town. As Mickey Redmond likes to say; this is no place for a nervous person.