ALCS Game 2

PREGAME: First of all, thoughts and prayers go out to the family of Cory Lidle and the other individuals who were killed today in a plane crash. It’s simply awful news and truly a tragedy.

On to the matter at hand, the Tigers will be playing game 2 tonight against the A’s. The Tigers will send out Justin Verlander and the A’s will counter with Esteban Loaiza.

Last night we saw the Tigers exercise a great deal of patience at the plate. I’m sure that was by design. Like Joe Sheehan, I’m wondering if the Tigers will mix things up by being particularly aggressive on fastballs early in the count. In terms of scouting a preparation the Tigers seem to have had an edge so far in their 5 playoff games. We’ll see if they can continue that trend against Loaiza.

In terms of individual match-ups, Carlos Guillen is 11 for 16 off of Loaiza while Ivan Rodriguez and Curtis Granderson have also had success. Like with Barry Zito, Inge and Monroe have had little to no success against Loaiza. Of course that kind of changed last night for Inge.

There is a huge platoon advantage for lefties against Loaiza who have an 886 OPS versus a 684 OPS for righthanders. Sean Casey would have been helpful in this regard and is probably the reason Alexis Gomez is starting at DH in place of Marcus Thames. Of course Alexis Gomez has no track record of success against Loaiza or any other pitcher for that matter.

The Tigers faced Loaiza twice scoring 3 runs in 6 innings the first time and torching him for 8 runs in 3 innings the second time.

Justin Verlander made a couple solid starts against the A’s this year. In the first he was undone by 2 Nick Swisher homers and 2 Carlos Guillen errors. In the second he allowed a single run over 6 innings.

**A note on Neifi Perez**
Neifi Perez is in the lineup. Neifi Perez is hitting second. This is a bad decision regardless of what Neifi does tonight. I can understand having Perez in the lineup, but maximizing his potential at-bats is a poor move. Leyland doesn’t have confidence in Infante’s ability to play short (I disagree with this, but it is what it is). When it comes down to Santiago or Perez, Perez has a better track record against Loaiza (3 for 10 versus 2 for 18). You can place as much value on those numbers as you choose. Perez brings playoff experience (according to Leyland’s presser). That playoff experience is all of 4 plate apperances. And he brings energy and he likes to play the game. That is the Perez reasoning.

On another note, the complete lack of playoff experience for Alexis Gomez doesn’t appear to be a concern.

The Tigers are going to have to make due without Casey so things are going to get shuffled. Perez and/or Santiago will be playing and thus weakening the lineup. That’s the way it goes. But make no mistake, this is bad lineup construction.

Detroit Lineup

CF – Granderson
SS – Perez
2B – Polanco
RF – Ordonez
1B – Guillen
C – Rodriguez
LF – Monroe
DH – Gomez
3B – Inge

Oakland Lineup

C – Kendall
CF – Kotsay
RF – Bradley
DH – Thomas
3B – Chavez
LF – Payton
1B – Swisher
SS – Scutaro
2B – Jimenez

Game Time 8:19

POSTGAME: With an 8-5 win the Tigers are coming home up 2-0. Things look pretty good, but this is far from a done deal. As for tonight’s game, here’s what jumped out at me:

  • That whole patience thing was back to normal tonight. Part of that may have been due to Loaiza. He was continually getting first pitch strikes. As a result he had a couple single digit pitch count innings. Only 6 Tiger PAs resulted in 3 balls, and one of those was an intentional walk to Polanco.
  • Polanco took a first pitch strike each of his first 3 times up and singled all 3 times.
  • Alexis Gomez was quite good today. Even his first out was hit hard. The platoon paid off tonight.
  • Neifi Perez looked awful but got better as the game went on. First was the K, then the ground out to the pitcher, then the ground out to second, and after a sac bunt he got a flyball to the outfield.
  • Todd Jones made things interesting, but to fully appreciate the situation you need to realize what transpired prior. After the Bradley homer Jason Grilli, Fernando Rodney, and Todd Jones fanned the next 6 batters. The benefit was that even after a couple singles, Bradley was coming up with 2 outs. Now Bradley got lucky with his at-bat, and Todd Jones got lucky leaving a ball up to Frank Thomas.
  • I’m concerned about Joel Zumaya. He clearly wasn’t available tonight, and I didn’t even see him in the bullpen. It would be one thing if it were a rest issue, but he’s only pitched once since last Friday and there is an off day tomorrow. Something’s fishy.

I’ll have the “Day After” post up early tomorrow morning. Until then, sleep well. Your Tigers are up 2-0 in the ALCS.

102 thoughts on “ALCS Game 2”

  1. Yeah….I’m baffled with this line up too. I guess at this point we should probably just trust in the skipper. However, if Perez hits today, it WAS the right call. This is the play offs.

  2. Hopefully the fat part of Neifi’s bat runs into a couple fastballs tonight and he can help the cause. Gotta say, though, that it is laughable that he is a) starting and b) hitting 2nd.

  3. I love the Tigers, but I am from Cleveland originally and therefore I grew up an Indians fan. If you don’t want Thames, please trade him to Cleveland. I would love to see him hitting 30+ homers a season down there. I am tired of the guy being out of the line-up for whatever reason. They even said he was the 25th man on the roster during the year. What does he have to do to prove himself? The Perez thing was predictable, and I guess passing on Thames tonight should have been as well. I am surprised it didn’t happen sooner (like last week). There can be only one reason that Perez is batting second. Unfortunately, I don’t have any idea what it is… Maybe Leyland has gotten cocky and figures he can win this series with the Toledo Mud Hens.

  4. Another HORRIBLE strategic decision by Leyland. No excuse for this. However he did praise Neifi as a “high energy player”, so maybe he thought the top of the lineup needed more “energy”. One can only hope that some Nobel prize winning scientist can turn Neifi’s so called “energy” into the ability to contribute to his team scoring runs.

    Oh well. We can still win DESPITE Leyland’s move. Go Tigs.

  5. First comment first thoughts and prayers to the Lidle family. And secondly, it is really surreal watching the Tigers and As play, and then turning to CNN or ESPN and seeing the plane crash. Lidle played for the As and a lot of those players knew him. And we as Tigers fans just saw him Saturday. And then NY City was flippin out worried about thier safety, and how planes can just go through.

    And we’re playing a baseball game. I cant believe it. All these players have families and who knows what there thinkin. This game is a total toss up. They should be playin tomorrow.

    There’s just some stuff more important and this is comin from a HUGE tigers fan.

  6. And commenting on the game which is being played…Neifi is hitting second. Goodness gracious. He can’t hit. Why! Why couldn’t we just keep it Granderson, Polanco and move Monroe to Third.

    Maybe the worst at bat the Tigers have had in a couple games.

  7. I can actually see playing Neifi if you feel he is your best defender. (His defensive Stats are pretty good).

    But for goodness sake bat the man 9th!!!


  8. This is not looking good.

    If you’re going to play Gomez, why not DH Maggs and put Gomez in right field for defense? I’m thinking they wouldn’t have been facing a man on second and 1 out if Gomez is in right.

    Neifi’s first at-bat was just awful. And Verlander’s control isn’t good, though at least he has a track record of settling down.

    I can understand putting out a weak lineup in the middle of the summer when you want to make sure your starters are rested for the long term. But weakening the lineup in multiple places? Makes no sense whatsoever.

  9. Couldn’t agree more, Adam. He looked nervous in the first — the camera caught him taking deep breaths, and his pitches were high, suggesting that he was rushing his delivery.

    Those looking strikeouts were wicked. I love how he’s halfway to the dugout by the time the camera gets back to him.

  10. Just want to remind you guys that the last time the Tigers scored less than 4 runs in a game was September 21, against the Orioles. We scored 3.

  11. Its a good thing the Tigers don’t have the fortitude I do, I get so down when we are down, and so up when we are up. Trying to figure out when I turned into such a Sally.

  12. I love how Guillen ran over to catch that Scutaro pop-up. You can play the shortstop at first base, but he’s still a shortstop.

  13. Adam, thats classic ….Old Neifi.

    Tigers look good tonight. How cool would it be to come back home with two in the bag.

  14. ALCS: Neifi Watch >> O for 3 and looking bad at doing that. B I N G E would look good there now.

    Pete. I havent seen you on tonight, Are you making us all up “Old Neifi” T-Shirts, sponsored by Little Debbie Oatmeal pies in Tiger colors?. I think we are on to something here. Andrew could even put them in the baskets and Neifi would be known around the world. #8 hitting second and look’n ruff.


  15. Verlander has struggled mightily with his command. If we get 1 more inning (for 6) out of him, you have to be happy.


  16. Monroe doesn’t look like he’s running well. Whatever happened to his foot in his previous at bat looks to be nagging on him.

    These things are starting to mount… if only Neifi could pull a muscle.

  17. I know Thames has a lot of supporters around here, but right now that Gomez thing is looking like a genius move.

  18. We need some 1-2-3 innings. By my count we have 1 or 2 so far in this series. It sure would be nice to get about 2 or 3 right here.

  19. Like I said, GREAT call by Leyland playing Gomez instead of Thames.

    Steve, I am here, but my love for all things Neifi is fading. I mean, it’s all fun and games until he’s playing short and batting second in a playoff game. Maybe Neifi will miss the flight back to Detroit.

    I would NOT bring Verlander out for the sixth. He did OK tonight, but after 98 pitches and a lot of baserunners, I would go to Walker or even Grilli.

  20. You know,

    When I was at Spring Training, Gomez was one of our best looking players. At 26 he will never be a stud, but he could be a serviceable LH platton OFer. 300abs. He has very good Minor League Numbers. Kind of stuck like Thames was a couple of years ago.


  21. Chavez homer…action in the bullpen? And I want to agree with Bilfer…it doesn’t matter what Neifi does tonight, playing him is horrible on soooo many levels.

    1) It’s horrible Shelton isn’t on the roster. Why did we need 3 backup second baseman/shortstop.

    2) It’s horrible Neifi is playing instead of Omar.

    3) It’s beyond horrible that Neifi is batting 2nd and not 9th.

    Anyway, I guess we all gotta start looking past the horrible Neifi. Leyland’s playing him and that’s it.
    So let’s hold on to this lead and go back to Detroit up 2-0!

  22. At work, with my 1912-era white Tigers cap on the terminal … wondering if this is the most improbable lineup since Mickey Hatcher’s Dodgers in 1987? Leyland is so old school it’s hilarious … the only reason Neifi bats 2nd is … Leyland must have always thought Ray Oyler was misplaced in the ’68 lineup! Don’t know how the game will play out, but I’m glad to see Ledezma. Walker seems way too hittable for RHBs

  23. There’s no SAVING anyone … Zumaya will come in if Thomas is up with runners on (I think)… 2-0 lead would be huge in this series.

  24. JT, I agree. Winning this game would be huge. We have to do whatever it takes. Let the bullpen rest tomorrow. Hopefully Ledezma can get through one more inning, then I would use Zumaya and Jones in the 8th and 9th. Wouldn’t mind seeing Walker at some point, but would rather not see Grilli or Rodney tonight.

  25. You know.

    Lou Pinella is doing a nice job in the booth. He is alot more on the ball and alot less arrogant than either Joe Morgan or Tim McCarver.


  26. Idle thought … how about returning Polanco to second in the lineup, Gomez or Pudge hitting third and Perez ninth? Against RHPs, at least?

  27. You have to win tight games in the post season. So far we are 1-0 in 1&2 run games. May have to go to 2-0 to get through tonight!


  28. I’m smelling snow. It’s coming down decent in Marquette. They got a lot worse to the west though.

    As for this game, yeesh, I just want to get it over!

  29. Are they resting Zumaya? He only pitched one inning yesterday and there’s an off day tomorrow!
    Still, I think Rodney will get it done…I hope.

  30. Zumaya’s absence is conspicuous. I’m thinking he’s not available tonight, and that scares me because it wouldn’t seem to be a rest issue.

  31. “I would use Zumaya and Jones in the 8th and 9th. Wouldn’t mind seeing Walker at some point, but would rather not see Grilli or Rodney tonight.”

    Reason number 9,642 why I am not a major league manager…

  32. No question, Zumaya must not be available. Jones was heading down to the pen, so he’s set for the ninth. Rodney never pitched against the Yankees, did he? Guess he’s “rested”!

  33. Usually it’s fairly easy to see who’s the player of the game. Thames or Rogers, Bonderman, Inge…etc. But tonight, I mean, who are you going to give it to?

    Monroe? 2 for 3 with 2 runs and 2 batted in

    Polanco? 3 for 4, Intentionally walked

    Gomez? 2 for 4, 4 RBI

    I mean…I’d go Gomez just for the 4 spot. But it’s a hard decision.

  34. And I guess that’s who Chevy went with too…funny that Thames, Gomez, and two of our pitchers have gotten player of the game out of the last five wins. I mean, if we win.

  35. OMG-

    After the Bradley hit I had to stand. Hopping around the basement when Thomas flew out!! 2-0 is huge. Let’s get the sweep (I will be there Friday and Saturday, can’t go Sunday). I want to see them advance while I am there.


  36. I suspect Zumaya is being saved for an extended role relieving Rogers on Friday. And Rodney certainly did his job. Jones, uh, well, hey, we’re up 2-0!!!!

  37. It’s so weird … because I had no expectations of this season, or of the postseason after the failures against the Royals — I haven’t been nervous yet. Bemused by Jonesy, impressed by the big swing of Thomas, happy with Granderson’s catch … but not nervous. This is all icing. Tigers 2-0? You’ve got to be kidding.

  38. What is this “zumaya’s injury” I thought I heard during Ken Macha’s press conference? Why did I see/hear nothing of it anywhere else?

  39. I’m wondering if Leyland went with Rodney instead of Zumaya for match-up reasons–there were two left-handers up that inning.

    Pinellia was better tonight than last night. Last night all he could talk about was how both teams should run more. At one point, with one out, a full count, and runners on first and second, he said they should send the runners because “only good things could happen.” It may be the right move, but clearly something bad could happen–the batter could strike out and the runner could get thrown out. That’s the sort of comment that makes me wonder whether major league managers really aren’t any better at strategic thinking than we are.

    Another great win. Up 2-0–and the NL series hasn’t even started yet! Go Tigers!

  40. Wow. That was an intense ninth. By my estimation, Thomas’ swing was about 3.5 millimeters away from a 1-1 series.

    I’m curious about Zumaya. I’m with Joey C…I always cringe when Rodney comes in. But he was great today and it was apparently the right move. But it is curious. Rodney worked two last night…which makes me wonder why he went in before Zumaya (who only worked one last night). Maybe something’s up there.

    I think Guillen’s strikeout has alot to do with getting knocked in the mellon in that collison at first. He was pretty shaken up. Bet that one hurts tomorrow.

    Tigers are playing extremely well. Let’s close this thing up in Detroit.

  41. The fact that the Tigers scored 8 runs in a game where the Neifster batted 2nd and came to the plate 5 times leads me to believe that this is truly a team of destiny.

  42. I’m eating big, juicy, solid black crow tonight…

    Mr. Rodney has proven me wrong.

    Well done, young man.

    This is simply incredible. I have tix for Saturday night — can they? Will they? I’m just loving every, single solitary minute of all this.

  43. I must say, I am very satisfied with the win tonight.

    Much like against the Yankees, Verlander had his stuff, but managed to leave some key pitches over the plate. Nonetheless, it was a sufficient outing, not dissimilar to the game he pitched against the Yankees.

    Alexis Gomez? I was wrong for questioning Leyland on this call. It’s pretty clear why he’s the coach and I’m not.

    Placido Polanco continues to prove to the world he’s the reason the Tigers went on that skid at the end of the season. Thank God he’s back… can I get an AMEN?!

    Lastly, Carlos Guillen is nothing short of a stud. Most underrated player in baseball, in my (biased) opinion.

    Going into this series, I was hoping for at least a 1-1 split to take back to Detroit. With the 2-0, history is on our side. GO TIGERS!

  44. Post game, Mario mentioned that Zumaya’s forearm problem has come back, which is why he did not pitch tonight. He mentioned we will not know the extent of it until Friday.

  45. First, let me add my support for the “break Nefi’s legs” school of thought. Watching 3 and a half terribly weak outs(plus 1 sacrifice) was just painful. But watching him nearly trip over his own feet feilding grounders is to much.

    Excellent call with Gomez tonite against the righty, but I too was confused that he was DH rather than in the field for his defense. Very nice game for him tonte. And Polanco again has an excellent nite. Respect to Monroe and Granderson as well.

    Tiger pitchinig certainly amazed me with 13 strikeouts tonite, especially the 6 in a row in the late innings. That was impressive! Jones and his rollercoaster ride certainly made for an exciting climax. And they all kept the Big Hurt quiet again tonite. 3 strikeouts, and more importantly 3 key at bats(especially that final one) all were dealt with nicely.

    Now just keep this fire lit! Finish this thing in Detroit!

  46. Jeez…

    I was feeling pretty great until you guys starting leaking info about Zumaya’s forearm.

    My stomach is starting up again.

  47. A couple stats before I sign off for the night:

    1. I believe this is our first five-game winning streak since June 30.

    2. Jon Miller said on the radio that in LCS history, eight teams have won the first two games on the road, and all eight went on to win the series. As Billfer notes, there is still a long way to go in this series and nothing is guaranteed, but at least history is on our side.

  48. Zoom will be fine. I just wish Leyland would stop using him in games when they’re up by five. I know it’s the playoffs, but still, you have other options. Rodney’s looked pretty good so far (knock wood), at least, so perhaps they can get Joely a couple more days of rest. I was happy to see Wil in there tonight too, giving Walker a night off. And spectacular game by Polly in the three hole (although, I almost threw up when he dove for that ball in the outfield).

    That lineup really got lucky tonight. Maybe that’s all it takes at this time of year, but I’m really counting my blessings that we are up 2-0. I’m fighting back the temptation to go on a Neifi! rampage… I mean, that guy must have some real dirt on a couple of the most respected managers in the game – Leyland and Dusty Baker – to have lasted as long as he has. Omar must’ve shot Jim’s dog or something. Deep breaths. Deeeeeep breaths.

  49. Quit picking on Perez. Its called chemistry. The Tigers have balanced hitting and out of this world pitching. Perez obviously brings something to the other players when he is in the lineup. Think fat kid in “Bad News Bears”.

  50. Ron, I think Leyland could win with the Bad News Bears. Neifi must have something that gets him playing time.
    And wasn’t it sweet to see Nick Swisher AND the Big Hurt each wear a golden sombrero? And isn’t Swisher about the worst name ever for a hitter? Almost as bad as Walker for a pitcher. 🙂

  51. It’s hard to argue with 8 runs,but I’d love to hear Leyland explain why it’s better to mess with the top of the order than the bottom.
    Chavez looks like he’s playing third base with one of the Gold Gloves he’s won.
    Guillen and Polanco are both underrated.In fact,I think an overlooked factor in the Tiger’s success is their strength up the middle of the diamond.And speaking of strength up the middle,Curtis “Reggie” Granderson is opening some eyes.
    I like Lou Pinella in the broadcast booth-you can take the manager out of the dugout,but you can’t…well,anyway,he offers some interesting insight.
    Maybe it’s my eyes,maybe I need a new TV,but it doesn’t seem like there’s been a consistent strike zone either game so far.

  52. H20 Polo Punk —

    Carlos Guillen is very quickly rising from his underated status– I’ve said all year he is as good as any shortstop out there, including Tejada and Jeter. After the entire world sees him up close like we have all year (if were to to call an MVP up until know, he wins, by my vote), they’ll all agree. There is no doubt about it: Carlos Guillen is a marquee player.

  53. I think Chris J might be Trammell. Everything he disagrees with works. Unreal. I guess having a feel for your team really does mean something.

  54. T Smith:

    Let’s hope that our Tigers make it to the World Series and win… and maybe Guillen can get an MVP out of that. But then, the way this team contributes consistently up and down the order, in and off the field, I don’t know if one person on the roster could be considered the Most Valuable Player.

    We’ll see. Jim Leyland for Governor! Carlos Guillen for Sheriff! And a Valium for me every time Jonesy closes out a game!

  55. I have no problem with Guillen as regular season MVP, but for the ALCS, I can’t think of anyone besides Leyland. The entire team (more or less) is producing, no one stands out. Which is probably why they’re winning.

    And Jonesy? I heard that TV ratings for this ALCS are down 10% from last year, so I think he’s just doing his part to make things exciting and drive up the ratings.

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