Game 159: Blue Jays at Tigers

PREGAME: A Tigers loss, a Twins loss, and a Yankees win, mean that the Tigers are still in good shape for the Central Division, but don’t really have a shot at homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. The magic number for the division is 3 and the magic number for homefield is still 6.

Today it will be Kenny rogers against AJ Burnett in an afternoon tilt. Rogers was the last starter to make it into the 7th inning. Here’s hoping he can stick around long enough to keep the long guys out of the game so they can be available this weekend.

Game Time 1:05pm

: I think the lineup issues from today have been pretty well hashed out in the comments. My 2 cents are that I’ll assume that Polanco and Ordonez were sore. With a short turnaround it seems possible and plausible that Leyland would take the safe route with those 2. As for Neifi Perez over Infante, I think that can be attributed to Leyland’s love of platooning.

A ton can be made about the substitution decisons (which I was surprised came so early) but the fact of the matter is the offense produced 6 runs. You can certainly question the decision making, but the results were favorable. The problem was run prevention which can partially be attributed to defense and largely attributed to Rogers.

Right now the bigger concern is that the long relievers have been used heavily this week due to Robertson’s and Rogers’ early exits. At this point Jordan Tata will probably be starting on Saturday, and it may force Bonderman to start on Sunday.


  1. Pete

    September 28, 2006 at 1:31 pm

    The ESPN announcers just said of Sean Casey: “Jim Leyland says this is the one guy in his lineup that they absolutely cannot afford to be without. They need his bat in there for power and RBIs.”

    Assuming Leyland actually said this, what planet is he living on? Mentioning Sean Casey and “power” in the same breath? And didn’t this team play .700 ball for four months without Casey?

  2. Joey C.

    September 28, 2006 at 1:38 pm

    Awesome start!

  3. Kurt

    September 28, 2006 at 1:48 pm

    Maybe he meant Polanco, other than that whole power thing.

    Looks like a bench lineup today. Maybe Leyland would like to see the Red Sox take third. I know I would! Just uhm, not at our expense. But I fully buy into resting guys, so I don’t care too much. I am fairly certain Tigers take 2 from KC and Chicago takes 1 from the Twins.

  4. Joey C.

    September 28, 2006 at 1:59 pm

    This lineup is worthless. Is Leyland going to realize where we are in the season and start managing to win? We’ve only got 4 games left. Why aren’t we putting in our best players in every single one of these games?

  5. Jeff M

    September 28, 2006 at 2:00 pm

    lol, what an ugly game so far. Good Rod quotes:

    “You kids at home… don’t watch this one.”
    “It’s like little league out there.”

  6. Pete

    September 28, 2006 at 2:01 pm

    Glad I took the morning off work to watch this…

  7. T Smith

    September 28, 2006 at 2:05 pm

    Okay, I’m going with the theory that Leyland acutally WANTS us to play the shorter series against the Yankees.

    Why is Perez playing? I would have rather rested Polanco, if necessary, during one of the games against KC. We need Polly today

  8. Jeff M

    September 28, 2006 at 2:08 pm

    he ESPN announcers just said of Sean Casey

    Pay no attention to hearsay.

    Looks like a bench lineup today.

    This lineup is worthless. Is Leyland going to realize where we are in the season and start managing to win?

    – Polanco got the day off because he’s still not 100% and we want to save him for the postseason.
    – Ordonez got the day off because his probably back isn’t 100%. Either that or he has bad numbers against Burnett.
    – Gomez started over Thames because Leyland preferred the L/R matchup and the superior defense. Ordonez definitely held back on at least one fly ball yesterday.
    – Stairs started over Thames because Leyland preferred the L/R matchup.

    Feel free to disagree with the decisions, but don’t think for a minute that he’s randomly resting guys. He’s playing the guys that he believes give him the best chance except for where injuries force him to take a longer-term view. If he didn’t think this game was important, Vance would be catching.

  9. Pete

    September 28, 2006 at 2:15 pm

    Although I am technically not a kid, I will now take Rod’s advice and stop watching this one.

  10. Kyle J

    September 28, 2006 at 2:20 pm

    Good post, Jeff. If there’s something to be really concerned about, it’s the rotation:

    Rogers gets shelled today.
    Robertson’s been shelled two straight starts.
    Bonderman’s won a couple but looked very shaky in doing so.
    Verlander’s been supbar for two months now.

    Here’s hoping they can all bounce back for the postseason–as all of them but Verlander have at different points this year. With Verlander, it just may be too much to expect for a guy who’s never pitched more than 130 innings to pitch well as he’s nearing 200 innings.

  11. Joey C.

    September 28, 2006 at 2:23 pm

    I don’t think he’s randomly resting guys. Nowhere did Kurt or I say that he was randomly resting guys. So I don’t have any idea where that’s coming from.

    I don’t think that we should be content playing for the wildcard, which is what this lineup indicates we’re doing. But what the hell do I know. When Leyland won the whole thing with the Marlins they didn’t enjoy home field advantage, so maybe he doesn’t think it’s very important. He may also think that we match up nicely against the Yankees. He may also smoke crack.

    And, obviously resting guys is key. Just don’t rest them all IN THE SAME GAME. It’s pretty easy to figure out. A 7-8-9 consisiting of Inge, Gomez, and Perez is basically conseding three outs every time through the lineup. I think that’s stupid.

    At the very least, Thames and Infante should be in there.

  12. Joey C.

    September 28, 2006 at 2:25 pm

    Actually, it doesn’t matter who he started today does it? What a terrible outing for the Gambler.

  13. Marshall in DC

    September 28, 2006 at 2:26 pm

    Me thinks this line up has a lot to do with the Twins loss last night. Even if the twins win tonight they will have to sweep the white sox and hope the tigs loose one to KC. Doable – yes – Likely – well I’d say 50-50.

    That is a risk I’d take especially if you are gunning for the World Series. (I agree that the strategy of playing NYY in 5 vs. in seven isn’t a bad idea)

  14. Kurt

    September 28, 2006 at 2:38 pm

    I think Leyland just wanted to make sure his bench guys got enough playing time heading into playoffs. Just like you don’t want your starters too tired, you don’t want your bench too raw. We know Santiago isn’t making the playoff team, so Neifi is playing. We know Clevlen isn’t making it either, so Gomez is playing. And as Jeff said, there’s some matchups in there.

    My only disagreement is Matt Stairs over Marcus Thames, but maybe Marcus isn’t quite feeling up to par coming off his illlness, or maybe that’s a matchup thing too. That’s a case of “not in the clubhouse, don’t know.”

  15. Jeff M

    September 28, 2006 at 2:43 pm

    Joey, you’re right. I’m sorry for implying that you used the word “random”.

    I don’t think that we should be content playing for the wildcard, which is what this lineup indicates we’re doing.

    However, I don’t think the above statement is accurate at all. Only two regulars are being rested. I can’t see inside Leyland’s head, but the moves seem to be justified.

  16. T Smith

    September 28, 2006 at 2:55 pm

    Bottom line:

    When you rest your regulars, you face the possiblity of doubling down on the strategy and emptying the bench by the sixth inning…

    I for one, think they need to play. There is still a lot at stake

  17. Kyle J

    September 28, 2006 at 3:06 pm

    I really don’t think the starting lineup was substantially different from what we’d have seen for a midweek day game played a month ago (accounting for the current roster). Magglio and Polanco aren’t 100%. While I agree we shouldn’t be going out of our way to rest the regulars. I’d be more concerned if we were playing them more than normal and wearing them down for the postseason.

    This games looks like a replay of last night’s. Jays get out to a big lead. Tigers chip away, but don’t score as many as they could given the scoring opportunities they’ve created.

  18. T Smith

    September 28, 2006 at 3:19 pm

    Yup. Agreed. I guess resting the guys who aren’t 100% has some merits…but I think pulling Guillen was a little premature…what happened to the matra of playing nine full innings? Would have rather had him in there with the RISP opportunity…A rally isn’t out of the question…irony is, the score could end up to be 7-6 or 7-5 at the end of the day.

  19. Kurt

    September 28, 2006 at 3:32 pm

    About that Casey and power thing? He just made the WWL look good and I don’t mind 😛

  20. Kyle J

    September 28, 2006 at 3:32 pm

    It’s 7-6! Three cheers for the scrubs!

  21. T Smith

    September 28, 2006 at 3:34 pm

    Hmmm…. Casey homers… I’ll stand by post when the score was 7-3… you have to play nine innings.

    I really don’t want to see Santiago et. all batting to try to win this game (but, hey, Perez got a hit in the middle of a rally…) what do I know?

  22. Joey C.

    September 28, 2006 at 3:34 pm

    Jeff M,

    I eat crow. Gladly!

    How about Gomez and Perez kickstarting that rally in the 7th!

    We’re being rescued by our bench!

  23. Riley

    September 28, 2006 at 3:35 pm

    Exactly right, Kyle J. This day game not only offered Leyland a chance to rest some regulars, but also a chance to get some PT to the backups against a pretty good starter and see how they respond. Clearly, despite the early returns, they are validating his decisions.

    Don’t get me wrong, Kenny’s poor start concerns me, and I want to win the Division as much as anyone, but this is still a good sign overall.

    Go Tigs!

  24. Joey C.

    September 28, 2006 at 3:45 pm

    Well on the bright side, Rodney should be lights out considering there’s already a dude standing on third. He doesn’t have to make his own jam today.

  25. T Smith

    September 28, 2006 at 3:46 pm

    No disrespect for Maroth, but he’s throwing meat balls right now. If we want any chance whatsoever to win this game, Leyland has to pull him right now

  26. Kyle J

    September 28, 2006 at 3:52 pm

    Expanded rosters could be very useful today. Still six guys on the bench. Can pinch hit Thames and/or Shelton and still have a defensive replacement for any position.

  27. Lou

    September 28, 2006 at 4:10 pm

    Why is Neifi batting in the bottom of the ninth with Polano, Shelton, and Thames on the bench?

  28. Kyle J

    September 28, 2006 at 4:18 pm

    Bummer. At least they’ve shown the capacity to battle back when they get down early the last two days.

    The key, obviously, is to not get down early.

  29. Tom

    September 28, 2006 at 4:48 pm

    I would love to see the reactions on this board if Leyland played all the regulars for 9 innings and someone got hurt. Actually, I already know the reactions: “How can you play the starters during a day game after a night game”; “Doesn’t Leyland know we already clinched a playoff birth”; ‘Why was Guillen in there with his sore hamstring” ect. Joey C-something tells me Leyland understands where the Tigers are in the season. Thames is sick, Polanco is coming off a major injury (Leyland said on Monday that he would have the day off today) and Maggs tweaked his back. Take 3 from the Royals and there is nothing to worry about.

  30. Dave from 'The ATL'

    September 28, 2006 at 5:04 pm

    Now that Leyland has announced that he’s going to have 14 non-pitchers and 11 pitchers on his post season roster I’m wondering….

    Do you think Leyland will pick Andrew Miller over Zach Minor or Jason Grilli to get another left-handed arm into the bullpen?

  31. Steve

    September 28, 2006 at 10:03 pm

    Twinkies losing 1-0 b9 could we be so lucky?

  32. Alan

    September 28, 2006 at 10:23 pm

    Twins are 3 outs away from making Tigers magic number 2. KC has bases loaded in the 9th inning to build on a 1-0 lead. Is this the same KC team that we swept? They are on the verge of taking 2/3 from Minnesota. I would still rather face them then the White Sox. Chicago has nothing to play for except pride.

  33. Pete

    September 28, 2006 at 10:33 pm

    Oh no, Mauer home run!!!!

    So if the Tigers and Twins finish with identical records, do the Tigers win the division and the Twins get the wild card based on us winning the season series? Is that how it works? I assume there would NOT be a one-game playoff since both teams are in the playoffs, and the only thing to be determined is seeding. Am I right about this?

  34. Kyle J

    September 28, 2006 at 10:34 pm

    Ugh. KC doesn’t score with the bases loaded and no one out in the top of the 9th. Mauer ties it with a HR in the bottom of the 9th.

  35. Kyle J

    September 28, 2006 at 10:34 pm

    You are right, Pete.

  36. Tater

    September 28, 2006 at 10:35 pm

    UGH! That’s what we get for counting on the Royals to do our dirty work, I suppose.

    Pete: yes, you are correct, if we tie with the Twins there is no playoff and we are seeded as the division winners based on head to head.

  37. Cameron in Singapore

    September 28, 2006 at 10:36 pm

    Joe Mauer with the 2 out HR…Scary. Could be the moment Twins fans look back onf or a long time…

  38. Tater

    September 28, 2006 at 10:58 pm

    aaaand, ballgame. Disappointing given that the Royals were an out away, but no one could reasonably have expected that team to go into Minneapolis and split a 4-game set against the best home team in baseball. We’ll just have to match the Twins this weekend; will be very interesting to see what Leyland does with the pitching staff.

  39. Dave from 'The ATL'

    September 28, 2006 at 11:04 pm

    Well we’ve just given-up first place for the first time since May 21st.

    What a shame.

  40. Pete

    September 28, 2006 at 11:37 pm

    Thanks for answering my question, guys. The Tigers are in a good position. Even though the White Sox have nothing to play for, they are still a tough team to sweep. The Royals are not.