Keep up with the latest news, notes and developments with Fungoes, a daily journal for all things baseball that will last all season long.
AL Central: Has Sheffield Awoken?
Oh, Daniel Cabrera, what have you done? You may have awoken a sleeping Tiger.
Entering Monday night's game, Gary Sheffield had gone four for his last eight but was still slugging (.265) more than 30 points below his career batting average (.296). Then Cabrera had the audacity to plunk him. Granted, Cabrera's control has always been in question -- lifetime 5.4 walks/9 innings and five walks by the third inning last night -- but the fastball that got away may have significant consequences for the rest of the American League Central.
Somehow, Sheffield managed to play 23 games this year with just four extra base hits, which happened to be 17 fewer than former teammate Alex Rodriguez and the same number as current teammate and part-time player Marcus Thames had in just 29 at-bats. Sheff's just-published autobiography is titled Inside Power, and that was about the only power he had put on display this season.
Until he got mad at Cabrera, that is. Two innings later after getting beaned, Sheffield deposited a 408-foot home run into Comerica Park's left-field stands. The homer broke a tie in what proved to be an 8-4 Detroit victory, and he admired it for a good, long while before trotting around the bases.
The Tigers have somehow managed a 14-11 record, good for second place in the Central, despite performances from Sheffield, Craig Monroe (.193/.244/.325), Brandon Inge (.150/.242/.313) and Sean Casey (.192/.259/.244) that could make even the toughest general manager cry. The bullpen has been shaky, with losing records and uncharacteristically high ERAs from typically reliable relievers Fernando Rodney (1-4, 5.40) and Joel Zumaya (0-1, 4.11). But great starting pitching and hot hitting from the rest of the lineup, especially Magglio Ordóñez and the .356 hitter currently impersonating Plácido Polanco, have kept the Tigers in contention during the early going.
The Tigers started off slowly but have now posted consecutive wins, one in a Johan Santana start and one featuring previously-absent power from Sheffield. That's certainly better news to Detroit residents than finding out that the Lions drafting yet another first-round wide receiver.
Labels: AL Central
posted by SI.com | View comments |
I commend the Twins for having four games with a peanut-free section. My nephew is allergic to peanuts and may not ever have the thrill of going to a major league baseball game because of the very real danger peanuts pose to him. This isn't a funny issue. Peanuts truly can kill those who are allergic to them.
I commend Joe Lemire for yet another pull-no-punches article on the AL Central. I personally am a big fan of the "fan-free" sections at Royals Stadium. It's a really neat promotion where they don't even let fans into certain sections. Wait, you mean no one wants to come to games?
AL East blog (Monday)
NL West blog (Monday)
AL Central blog (Tuesday)
NL Central blog (Wednesday)
AL West blog (Thursday)
NL East blog (Thursday)
Wild Card (Friday)