The Detroit Tigers certainly weren’t supposed to be here at this stage of the major league season. Not at all.|
Only a season after finishing 38 games behind in the American League Central with a 64-98 record and a veteran roster led by one of the major league’s highest-paid players in Miguel Cabrera Womens Lamar Jackson Jersey , they’re 36-37 and are right behind Cleveland in the division.
If they can beat the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on Tuesday night, the Tigers — these no-name Tigers — would be at .500 for the first time since early April.
And it’s not so much how they’re doing it — with surprisingly strong pitching and a better-than-expected offense — but the players they’re doing it with. Even with Cabrera out for the rest of the season with a ruptured biceps tendon, they’ve won five in a row and six of eight with a not-well-known cast.
Not that they care.
“We just go out there and try to get every single win. That’s it. We got close (to the Indians) a couple of weeks ago and then we’re here again,” center fielder Leonys Martin told reporters after a three-game weekend sweep of the White Sox in Chicago. “We only care about getting every single game. That’s it.”
The Detroit bullpen has been especially good behind a surprisingly efficient starting pitching staff, allowing only one run and 12 hits in 17 1/3 innings during the five-game streak –and while walking only one and striking out 20.
Closer Shane Greene saved each of the first four games of the streak, and right-handed setup man Joe Jimenez hasn’t allowed an earned run in 18 of his last 19 games.
Left-hander Matthew Boyd (4-4), who opposes Reds right right-hander Sal Romano (3-7) on Tuesday night, was 6-11 with a 5.27 ERA last season, but he has won his last two starts and has trimmed his ERA nearly two runs per game from a year ago to 3.23.
And then there’s left-hander Blaine Hardy (3-1), who had only nine career wins going into this season. He was designated for assignment in spring training and wasn’t claimed by any other team but was brought back to Detroit in May and pitched his way into the rotation. He gave up one run in 5 1/3 innings in beating the White Sox 3-1 on Sunday.
Hardy takes pride in the fact that the Tigers are closing in on a winning record.
“Any team wants to be over .500 Youth Terrell Suggs Jersey , it’s kind of a mark that lets you know that you’re playing good baseball,” he said. “When we’re within (a few games) of the Indians, that’s a good sign, especially since we go (to Cleveland for a three-game series next weekend). We can go in there and say we have full control over what the standings will be.
“It’s huge. … We need to try to make a push, and I think we’re doing a good job of it.”
The Reds are making a modest push despite losing two of three last weekend in Pittsburgh and being 16 games out of the National League Central lead. They’ve won four of six, in part because of the way Eugenio Suarez and Scooter Gennett are hitting.
Suarez has homered in each of his last two games and is among the NL leaders with 52 RBIs. During an eight-game hitting streak, Suarez is 9-for-29 (.310) with three homers, and he’s closing in on a .300 average — he’s currently at .297.
“He’s been one of the best players in the league,” Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman said of his third baseman. “He’s always played his position well. He’s a smart player and he’s a very well-rounded baseball player.”
Since May 10, Gennett has raised his average from .301 to .336 Womens Luke Kuechly Jersey , with a high of .345, by getting hits in 26 of 33 games. He has a five-hit game, a four-hit game and three three-hit games during that run.
None of the Reds have faced Boyd before, and none of the Tigers have gone against Romano.
In Boyd’s last start, he gave up two runs and three hits in five innings of a 5-2 win over the Minnesota Twins on Wednesday.
Romano has lost four of his last five decisions but is coming off his best start of the season, limiting the Kansas City Royals to one run and four hits in eight innings of a 5-1 Reds victory.
Both teams had a day off Monday.
Experience could be the Atlanta Falcons’ big edge as the only team in the NFC playoffs for the second straight year.Coach Dan Quinn says that advantage was a factor in Saturday night’s 26-13 wild-card win over the Los Angeles Rams.
One year after advancing to the Super Bowl, the Falcons are ”a battle-tested brotherhood,” according to Quinn, who added Sunday ”That kind of experience I thought certainly showed up last night.”
After showing impressive poise against the Rams, Atlanta will play next Saturday’s divisional round game at Philadelphia.
”We’re not here just to get here Youth Cam Newton Jersey ,” quarterback Matt Ryan said after the game. ”We want to make noise while we’re here, so this is what it’s all about. It’s about giving yourself the opportunity this time of the year to compete and play in games like this and win games like this.”
The Falcons are only the No. 6 seed, making the playoffs on the final weekend of the regular season with a home win over Carolina. Even so, Quinn senses his team, boosted by last year’s long postseason run, is peaking at the right time.
”It helps because the guys who were in (last year’s playoffs) have this experience and know how to separate your preparation and make sure the only battle you’re in is this one,” he said, adding that one-game focus ”doesn’t allow you to look too far back … and we’re certainly not thinking about anything past this week.”
Quinn said the win over the Rams, who lacked the Falcons’ playoff experience , may have been Atlanta’s most complete game of the season.
Atlanta’s improved defense held the NFL’s highest-scoring offense to one touchdown. Matt Bryant kicked four field goals – giving him nine without a miss in his last two weeks.
The Falcons’ only touchdowns came on a 4-yard run by Devonta Freeman and a late 8-yard pass from Ryan to Julio Jones. But holding the ball for more than 37 minutes kept the Rams’ offense off the field Womens Cam Newton Jersey , and that dominance made up for a lack of big plays.
”We’re equipped to play however we need to win that game and I do love that about this group,” Quinn said. ”For this game, what was required was to have more run attempts. I thought it would be a difference in the second half and certainly it was.”
Quinn compared his current ”battle tested” team to a time early in last year’s playoffs when he stopped practice because he thought ”the guys were tight.”
”We kind of loosened up after that,” he said, adding he believes this year’s team ”started our push” following a loss to New Orleans on Dec. 7.
”There’s been a shift that’s taken place with our team, their readiness, their mindset, their belief, their support of one another is really at a strong point for this 2017 team and we’ll need that kind of mindset again this week.”