The Detroit Tigers, who started the year with the biggest disappointment of a squad of all time and actually began its dismantling, currently sit just a smidge out of first place.
The Chicago White Sox, last year’s division winner who sort of got better, if only by removing two of the more unreliable parts of 2008’s machine, would be in the basement were it not for the rapidly-sinking ship in Cleveland.
In theory, these two situations ought to be reversed. The Tigers sport a rotation roughly one and a half deep, their bullpen has been terrifyingly uneven, their offense isn’t capable of doing too much besides bludgeoning weak opposition and some very important pieces of the puzzle currently take up some precious spots on the disabled list.
Except, you know, the Sox have the exact same problems.
So how is it that one aging, injured team can be in such a good position while another is caught in the midst of the wrong kind of four-game streak? The answer, of course, lies in the standings. The Tigers’ 14-12 lording over the Sox’ 12-14 really isn’t that big a gap, and certainly nothing to panic about. It’s two games. The Sox are tonight and tomorrow away from respectability.
Better yet, you could take it as a sign of hope: if these games go off without a hitch, if the bullpen straightens out the way we know they can, if the bats deliver when they should as often as when they can, if the gloves get back in line, if Mark Buehrle stays Mark Buehrle and Jose Contreras just pitches like a number five pitcher, these White Sox? Man, they could be as good as. . . as good as the Tigers.
Ask me again on Friday.
Pitchers. Dual. Wednesday’s starter for the Tigers, RHP Armando Gallaraga, is a pretty good pitcher, as is our own Mark Buehrle. Two softball offenses playing in rain against two very good pitchers should give both teams’ fans a good one. An ugly one, but a good one all the same.
This can’t go on forever. Jose Contreras is 0-4 on the season. Zero and four. Winless. Normally this would be a problem, but the Kittens send Zach Miner out against him. Miner, as you may recall, took the beating of a lifetime against the Sox last month: 21 batters faced, 10 outs recorded, three-and-a-third innings, eight earned runs, three walks, three home runs. If he doesn’t win this one, it’s obvious Jose Contreras will never win another game in the major leagues as long as any of us live.
Prediction: A split, and how totally expected it will be.