After a 3-1 series loss to the Texas Rangers, arguably the hottest and most complete team in Major League Baseball, I noticed how Tigers fans started to panic a bit.
Of course, there is the whole Brandon Inge situation. The never-ending saga, it seems, about a once-productive player chasing his own shadow. And then there comes the Ryan Raburn talk. It's understandable to see why Detroit followers are frustrated with Inge and Raburn, and on top of that, frustrated with the way manager Jim Leyland shuffles the lineup.
But the Tigers are in first place in the American League Central (tied with Chicago). Being beaten by the Rangers -- and in decisive fashion in two of four games -- isn't cause to worry just yet. It's not the end of the world. At 10-6, the Tigers still hold one of the best records in the big leagues.
Sure, the Rangers series was a slap in the face -- Games 1 and 2, no doubt. But Justin Verlander, as usual, turned in a star-studded performance with a four-hitter through six innings in Detroit's 3-2 win Saturday night; and rookie Drew Smyly looked respectable in his no decision Sunday, a 3-2 Tigers loss.
Now with Seattle in town, the Tigers have the chance to bounce back. The Mariners aren't one of the league's best teams like Texas, so it's crucial that Detroit flex its muscle early and often. Compare it to how a boxer loses a big fight, moves on to a lesser opponent for confidence, and gets back in the ring against the big boys. That will happen Friday when the Tigers head to New York to battle the Yankees.
This Seattle series will tell a lot about the Tigers. For one, if Inge can't hit Mariners pitching, he'll probably be out the door. I can't say with certainty that this is it, but it wouldn't shock me to see something happen -- an assignment, etc. -- to him if he fails against the Mariners.
The lowly-Mariners pitching should be a treat for hitters like Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder and Delmon Young. And for those who haven't hit well, like Brennan Boesch, tonight could be what the doctor ordered.
To panic through 16 games would to be like comparing the Tigers' 4-0 start to the 1984 World Series Championship team's 35-5 beginning. Wait, there were those who did that. I sat back, smiled a little, and warned against it. It's hard not to get excited Opening Week, and just a few days into the second week, when your team is unbeaten and fresh off a sweep of the Boston Red Sox (which now, doesn't look all that impressive).
It's not even May. No need to challenge Leyland to the extent some have tried. No need to label Fielder a bust, nor is there need to get worked up about losing to a great team like the Rangers. If anything, that series should have taught Detroit something. The Rangers' well-rounded lineup did damage from all angles. Detroit needs to figure out how to do the same.
Taking two games from Seattle -- even a sweep -- is what the Tigers need before heading to the Bronx. The Yankees pose just as big as threat as the Rangers do. It hasn't been easy. And it won't get any easier from here on out.
But there is no need to panic. Not yet.
Adam Biggers has followed Major League Baseball for over 20 years, specifically the Detroit Tigers. He can be found on Twitter @AdamBiggers81.