Detroit Tigers

Detroit Tigers: Don't Count out the Tigers in the ALDS Yet

DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 07: Victor Martinez #41 of the Detroit Tigers celebrates scoring in the fourth inning with Alex Avila #13 against the Oakland Athletics during Game Three of the American League Division Series at Comerica Park on October 7, 2013 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Leon Halip/Getty Images
Josh BerenterCorrespondent IOctober 8, 2013

The Detroit Tigers aren't done just yet.

After reaching a 20-inning scoreless streak and losing Game 3 of the American League Division Series to the Oakland A's on Monday afternoon, things don't look good for the Tigers who have to win two straight games to avoid early elimination from the playoffs.

But Detroit, which was arguably the best team in baseball for the majority of this season, hasn't heard the fat lady sing quite yet.

DETROIT, MI - SEPTEMBER 19: Doug Fister #58 of the Detroit Tigers throws a first inning pitch while playing the Seattle Mariners at Comerica Park on September 19, 2013 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Doug Fister gets the ball in Game 4 for the Tigers on Tuesday at Comerica Park, getting the start in front of what will be a raucous, desperate crowd.

Fister won each of his last two starts to end the regular season, bringing him to a respectable 14-9 record with a 3.67 ERA.

In those two starts, Fister had 17 strikeouts compared to only two walks, a formula that the Tigers badly need Fister to repeat after Detroit pitchers have allowed 24 runners to reach base in their last two losses to the Athletics.

The Tigers' bats have remained cold after an awful performance at the plate in September, scoring in just two of 27 total innings in the series and collecting just 11 hits in the past two games.

With all that said, the A's may have accidentally awoken a sleeping giant in Game 3 when closer Grant Balfour ignited a verbal spat with Tigers respected veteran Victor Martinez.

A players poll this season determined that Balfour has the filthiest mouth in the major leagues and On Monday, Balfour lived up to his clown-like expectations.

DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 07:  Victor Martinez #41 of the Detroit Tigers is held back while exchanging words with Grant Balfour #50 of the Oakland Athletics in the ninth inning of Game Three of the American League Division Series at Comerica Park on October 7
Leon Halip/Getty Images

"He goes to a totally different place to get himself fired up and ready to go," Oakland reliever Sean Doolittle said, via ESPN.com, after Game 3. "On some level, it's only a matter of time before somebody takes it the wrong way."

Monday was that time and Martinez took it personal.

The latest incident may have been exactly what the Tigers needed to awaken their bats and return to the formula that earned them the best regular season batting average in the AL and the second-best run output and on-base and slugging percentages.

The Tigers need to light a fire in their offense, and Balfour's mouth might just be the thing that sparks it.

Detroit needs its stars Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder to step up and do what they're paid a combined $44 million this year to do.

Produce.

The Tigers need key contributions from Cabrera, Fielder and Martinez combined with anything at all from role players like Torii Hunter, Omar Infante and leadoff hitter Austin Jackson.

If the Tigers take care of business at home in Game 4, they will turn the ball over to 22-game winner Max Scherzer in a winner-take-all Game 5.

I think Detroit will take its chances with Scherzer in that situation.

But it starts on Tuesday at 5 p.m. in Game 4.

 

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