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