After a break on Monday, the Tigers traveled to Minnesota for their first matchup with the defending division champs; the Twins. After a pair of blown leads in the opener, the Tigers promptly laid down in due form and were the victims of the first sweep of the year. The series was highlighted by the Tigers pitching; namely the blown bullpen saves in the first game, and a horrendous outing by Jason Johnson recorded just one out before being removed, after giving up five runs in the first to the Twins.
The Tigers then moved on to Kansas City, where they again dropped had another one-run loss via the hands of the bullpen and reliever Ugueth Urbina. The Tigers then had Jeremy Bonderman back up on the mound, who promptly shut down the Royals and end the team's five-game skid. Mike Maroth put up his second straight solid outing on Sunday afternoon, to win the series and earn his first win of the year.
On the minor league end, Toledo and Lakeland have both had hot starts to the season, with each currently in the lead in their division. Toledo had two days of rainouts, but won all four of their weekday games, including their home opener Friday night. They dropped both weekend games, but still remain in first. Lakeland continued their winning ways with a 5-1 week, getting strong pitching and solid hitting.
The SeaWolves and Whitecaps haven't had the same success, but certainly haven't been completely without hope. Despite being without two of their top starters, the SeaWolves have still been very solid on the mound, and are hoping for Sunday's offensive outburst to be a sign of things to come for a thus far struggling offense, though they probably won't see the same '04 offense that simply destroyed Eastern League pitching. The extremely young Whitecaps have been up and down, getting great pitching one day, great hitting the next, but not yet putting it all together.
TT Players of the Week: C Danilo Sanchez (minors) and DH Dmitri Young
Despite being over-looked coming into the year, Sanchez has continued where he left off from a hot second half last year. Sanchez hit .316 while blasting two more home runs and drove in five more in five games (he leads the L-Tigers in both home runs (4) and RBI (12)).
Young followed up his AL Player of the Week honor with another strong week at the plate. For the week, Young hit .348, including four more RBI to improve his team leading total to 11. Young also had a hit in each game, extending his hit streak to nine games for the year.
TT Pitchers of the Week: RP Eulogio DeLa Cruz, SP Mike Maroth
DeLa Cruz has stepped up with a save and a win in his second week on the job. The Tigers, who are now tandem starting DeLa Cruz with Cristhian Martinez to get him more innings, are forcing the flamethrower to work longer and use his off-speed pitches, and so far, the results are good, including eight strikeouts to just two walks, and only four hits against in eight innings.
Jeremy Bonderman is proving to be the team's ace, but Maroth is proving to be the steady presence every rotation needs. Maroth got a win on Sunday afternoon, while carrying a 2.13 ERA over 12 2/3 innings. Maroth also struck out six in his two appearances.
TT Honorable Mention: SP Nate Cornejo, RP Ugueth Urbina
Cornejo, who is recovering from a torn labrum, had a pair of strong starts for the SeaWolves this week, as he's found himself back in the minors after being a potential future star in the Tigers' rotation. Cornejo went 1-1 on the week, but pitched well in both outings, with a 2.16 ERA between the two outings.
Urbina didn't have a great week, but an impressive Sunday outing helped salvage the week for the reliever. Urbina blew saves on Tuesday against the Twins and Friday against the Royals, but on Sunday Urbina was ready to put that behind him, as he struck out all four batters he faced, recording the final four outs to secure the victory. It was a step in the right direction after a very rough start.