The Oakland Athletics still have the statistics and the track record in 2014 to comfortably stake claim to the title as the best team in the American League. They had enough equity built up to be swept at the end of a tough road trip and not have their status atop the league called into question.
Even with that being the case, however, the Detroit Tigers made a heck of statement this week by sweeping the A’s. It’s not just that Detroit won those three games against a fellow powerhouse. It was the complete way in which they won, the fact that they beat the A’s in a number of different ways to cement their status among the elite teams in baseball in 2014. It’s not that anybody doubted the Tigers, but this still felt like an important moment for them as the All-Star Break approaches.
On Tuesday they out-pitched the A’s, with Rick Porcello throwing one of the most-dominant shutouts of the season. He also etched his name onto a quirky page of baseball history, requiring less than 100 pitches, striking out zero hitters, and issuing zero walks en route to the complete game shutout of the lineup that has scored the most runs in baseball this season.
On Wednesday they out-slugged the A’s, scoring nine runs in support of a solid outing from Justin Verlander. They put up those numbers without Victor Martinez; Miguel Cabrera, Torii Hunter, and the white-hot J.D. Martinez all did damage in the middle of the order to lead Detroit to the easy victory.
With moves to address some leaks in their bullpen, they would be come one of the most complete teams in all of baseball, right up there with the A’s team that they just roughed up.
We knew that the Tigers were good, but they reminded us just how scary they can be when everything clicks with this week’s sweep of the A’s.