35:12- Time of possession during the postseason. That kind of ball control is partly why the Giants won the Super Bowl last season.
385.1- Yards of offense per game during the regular season, 7th in the league. Despite being known as a defensive team, the Giants was quite prolific on offense and should be again this season despite some skill position losses.
89.2- Rushing yards per game last season, which was dead last in the NFL. Though they added David Wilson in the first round, it shows that championship caliber teams don’t need balance to win.
255.1- That’s how many passing yards the Giants allowed per game in the regular season in 2011. That was good for 29th in the league. The good news is that the Saints, Patriots and Packers were the three teams worse than them.
31-13-1- The record for Super Bowl winning teams in their first game the next season. The last defending champ to lose its first game the next season was the 1999 Denver Broncos. That bodes well for Big Blue’s opening game next month against the Cowboys.
Tigers Triumph In Tremendous Tenth
After GM Dave Dombrowski went out and acquired Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante from Miami, Detroit has gone out and won four straight to move within one and a half games of Chicago for first place in the AL Central. No victory was sweeter than Sunday’s triumph over Cleveland.
A win looked nearly impossible after the Indians put up three runs in the top of the 10th, and things looked even more impossible when Chris Perez retired the first two Detroit hitters. Then the Tigers showed a tremendous amount of resolve in scoring five off the Indians closer, all with two outs, capped off by a Miguel Cabrera walkoff homer in a 10-8 win.
Infante singled home a pair to tie the game at eight before Cabrera’s 403-foot blast to left center ended the game and extended Cleveland’s losing streak to nine. Detroit’s big test arrives this week with a four-game series at home against the Yankees. Justin Verlander takes the mound on Monday night.
Do The Pirates Have An Ace In A.J.?
Pittsburgh needed a win to salvage the final game of a three-game set with Cincinnati, and they went with their best pitcher to get the job done: A.J. Burnett.
Burnett pulled into a five-way tie for the major league lead in wins with 14 after the Yankees castoff threw 8 2/3 innings of two run, three hit ball as the Bucs blasted the Reds 6-2. Burnett has been so impressive this season that they’re throwing the A-word around in the Steel City.
“I’ve never had an ace before,” Pirates Manager Clint Hurdle said. “We have a guy with the experience A.J. brought with him.”
While his strikeout rate has been average, Burnett has one of the 20 best percentages in stranding runners and the eighth best ground ball percentage in the big leagues at 55 percent. Of the 25 outs Burnett recorded on Sunday, 12 were on ground balls, seven were on strikeouts and six were on fly balls. Mighty impressive for Pittsburgh’s ace.
Thoughts & Theories
-Of the 40 players with at least 10 home runs at home, only Colorado’s Wilin Rosario has done it in fewer at bats than the Yankees’ Raul Ibanez. The 40-year-old platoon outfielder has 11 round-trippers in 143 at bats, including a solo shot in a 6-2 win over Seattle on Sunday.
-There have been fewer players who have been bigger bangs for the buck than Minnesota’s Josh Willingham. After leading the major leagues in home runs in July with 11, one more than Angels wunderkind Mike Trout, Willingham smacked his first August dinger in a 6-4 loss to Boston. The reason the Twins didn’t even come close to considering a trade of Willingham last month? He’s in the first season of a team friendly three-year, $21 million contract.
-The veteran White Sox have helped carry rookie manager Robin Ventura’s Pale Hose to an unlikely division lead here as we begin the first full week of August. Everyone has been talking about Paul Konerko, Adam Dunn, Alex Rios and Kevin Youkilis, and rightfully so. But the inspired contract-year play of catcher A.J. Pierzynski cannot be overlooked. The 35-year-old backstop homered in his fifth straight game in a 4-2 win over the Angels, his 21st dinger of the season. He leads all catchers in home runs and isolated power and he knows it’s unexpected. “I’m not supposed to be doing this so just ride it out as long as you can, enjoy it and have fun with it.” It’s certainly been a wild and unlikely run for Pierzynski and the White Sox in 2012.
-San Francisco’s secret weapon could be an enormous boost for the team as a dark horse to win its second World Series in three years. His name is Tim Lincecum. He threw six innings of one-run ball in a win over Colorado on Sunday and has allowed two or fewer runs in four of his last five starts, spanning 32 2/3 innings. Lincecum lowered his ERA from 6.42 to 5.43 over that span, but he doesn’t think much has changed since his early season struggles. “I think it’s just the competitiveness,” Lincecum said. “I don’t think anything is different. I’m not throwing any harder, obviously. I’m not throwing any different kind of pitches. I think it’s just the conviction on the pitches. Every pitch before you throw it is with a purpose.” With Lincecum and new addition Hunter Pence pacing things on Sunday, the Giants swept the Rockies and held on to its NL West lead.