The 2013 final standings showed our Cleveland Indians just a single game behind the Detroit Tigers in the AL Central Division. Tiebreakers aside, it was that 93rd win that gave the Tigers a chance the play in a five game series, not just a one game playoff like the Indians.

The 4-15 record that the Indians finished with against the Tigers last season showed just how dominate the Motor City Kitties were against us. Shockingly, the Tribe still managed to finish just one game behind the Tigers. Imagine if we played .500 ball…

Detroit has lost their longtime manager in Jim Leyland. Additionally, the big bat behind slugger Miguel Cabrera is gone too. Prince Fielder, the Tigers former first baseman, is now a member of the Texas Rangers. He slugged 25 home runs and banged in 106 RBIs while batting a solid .279 last season. And finally, Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias will miss close to, if not all of the 2014 season with fractures in both his legs. He has been replaced by the 37 year old veteran, Alex Gonzalez.

Woah, woah, woah, let’s not get too cute. The Detroit Tigers are definitely still a powerhouse and clearly favorited to win the AL Central for the fourth straight year.

Verlander, Scherzer, Sanchez, Porcello and Smyly are the talented pitchers in the lights out Detroit rotation. Each consistently throwing quality starts, and each making it a lot easier on the offense to produce enough runs to come out on top.

In return for the the aforementioned Prince Fielder, the Tigers received second baseman Ian Kinsler from the Rangers. In 2013, he batted .277 with 13 home runs and 77 runs batted in. He’s a great second baseman that will produce a lot of runs. He’s already batting .304 to start this campaign which doesn’t surprise anyone.

Yes, the Tigers still do have a new manager in former catcher Brad Ausmus, but it’s the players that actually play the game. I wouldn’t look to much into the managerial switch.

With all of that being said, there’s a reason you play the game. The Tigers are definitely still favorited on paper, but the Indians need to find a way to put it all together when it counts most. Here are my five simple steps to do so: 

#1 – No dumb mistakes

It’s simple, but it seems like the Indians tended to make the most mistakes against these guys last year. This time around, the errors and wild pitches must be avoided at all costs. It may seem small at the time, but adding up all those mistakes may have costed us a few games last year.

#2 – Pitching, pitching, pitching

Offensive shootouts aren’t the way to beat the Tigers. It’s going to take sound pitching from both the starters and the bullpen especially late in games. We know the Detroit staff isn’t poised to give up many runs.

#3 – That guy

Each and every game is going to need a different player on the Indians to play extraordinary. Such as one night Michael Brantley getting four hits, and the next night having Nick Swisher blasting two home runs. A team is only great when there’s a different hero every night.

#4 – Weather the storm

The four run inning needs to be cut down to only one. A solo home run is much better than a three run shot, etc. etc.

#5 – Don’t play scared

Yes, the Tigers destroyed us all of last season. However, this is a brand new year. The Indians have many capable players and we can definitely hang with Detroit if play with the right mentality.

So there’s my five keys to beating the Tigers. I’d definitely be satisfied with .500 ball.

#RollTribe

-Zach Shafron

 

 

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