Game 21: Tigers at White Sox

PREGAME: I’ll be home from traveling later tonight, so these game posts should have more robust information soon. In the meantime you guys have been awesome with the comments in the game threads.

Tonight it is Chad Durbin and John Danks.

Game Time 8:11pm

So I actually got to see all of this game. I got back from Chicago (and yes the weather was freakin’ miserable) just in time for the first inning. With nearly 200 comments I think everyone has covered everything, but just a few comments:

  • Chad Durbin was quite awesome tonight. Some will point to a lineup and say he benefited from not facing Jim Thome and Jermaine Dye, to which I say “Duh.” Next I say “so what?”
  • Durbin has now made 4 starts, and I’d contend he’s done his job in 2 of them. Of course last night we got way more than we hoped for. But in his prior start against the White Sox he only allowed 2 runs in 5 innings. That is more than serviceable from a 5th starter. Now the 6th inning in that last start was of course dicey, but he’d already done his job keeping the team in the game.
  • As for leaving in Durbin to finish the job, he was really right in that gray area of pitch count. I certainly understand both camps here. On one hand, how often do you even have a chance at a complete game shutout? And at 106 pitches, he probably could have gone another one. On the other hand, it was a crappy night, it’s early in the season, he’s done his job.
  • As for why Joel Zumaya in a blowout? I’d guess it’s because Zumaya had been warming up in the 7th inning when it was a 4 run game. If Leyland gets a pitcher up, he tends to use them. It wasn’t Leyland’s fault that Zumaya couldn’t find the plate to save his life and is now unavailable for tomorrow.
  • With 13 hits, the offense is definitely coming around. Sure there are still 4 regulars struggling, but that number was at 6 a week and a half ago.
  • And just because it came up in the comments, clutch hitting. There are definitely things such as clutch hits, but I’m still not sure there are clutch hitters. The basic contention being that if you can will yourself to a hit with runners on, why can’t you do it the rest of the time. That said, I’d be inclined to believe that there are “unclutch” hitters who to suffer under pressure but that the perception is overblown. For one thing defining clutch situations is difficult. For another, sample size becomes an issue. Third, athletes playing in the major leagues have faced pressure situations all through out their careers to get to that point in the first place. I think that would be a significant weeding out process for those who were “unclutch.”
  • Tigers 6, White Sox 2

215 thoughts on “Game 21: Tigers at White Sox”

  1. I’am very disappointed with all of the negative comments about the team this year. Last year before all of you band wagon jumpers joined in, the site was a very supportive and positive posting place. Bilfer I know you’re happy about all of the new posters, but we have given up some quality thoughts and people, in place of a great number of moron band wagon jumpers who think that they know about baseball when in all reality, they don’t know baseball from their asses. I’ll never forget the magic that we were part of last year on the field and on the message board. Lets bring back the positiveness of last year please. Thanks for the continued great work Bilfer.

  2. I think Bilfer is probably also happy with all the 11 year old posters like Mt. P Chris who are sure the Detroit Tigers are the bestest baseball team ever and that all of us no-nothing morons are the cause of this mediocre April because we aren’t thinking happy thoughts.

  3. I’m really hoping Durbin can improve on his last start. He pitched 4 quality innings 5 days ago. Tonight should tell us if he’s settling in to the big shoes he’s had to fill. I’m still wondering why Ledezma isn’t in the starting rotation instead, but …

  4. Having a hard time here getting over yesterday’s loss. So frustrating. I can think of about 5 things that if any one of them didn’t happen, we come away with a win (granted, a lucky win). Passed balls, fielding errors, etc. Shoulda woulda coulda. I hope it left the boys with some fire in their bellies as they head into some division games this week.

  5. Agreed, Ed. I hope he can build on what happened last Friday, too.

    I fear, however, that Durbin’s improvement in his last start might be illusory — Comerica has a lot more room in which flyballs can become outs than any of the other stadiums in which Durbin has pitched this year; and Comiskey might have less than any other park he’s pitched in.

    I do think that if he doesn’t pitch well in this start, Leyland and Dombrowski probably should begin looking at alternatives.

    And I’d second, but revise, the request for some civility in the game threads. I don’t think it is wrong to vent your frustration with the team; however, I think calling other posters names doesn’t accomplish anything except making the comment-threads unpleasant to read.

    And, one last thing, can we stop with the whole “bandwagon” thingy? I don’t believe the fact that I can name almost the entire roster of Tigers team in 1998 (the year I fell deeply and inexplicably in love with the team) makes me a better fan than someone who started rooting for the Tigers last year, or a worse fan than someone who’s rooting started earlier than mine. If knowing who Dean Crow is or what uniform number Rusty Kuntz wore were a prerequisite for admission to the stadium, Comerica park would not be half the wonderful place that it has become over the last year.

  6. I don’t see Ledezma coming into the starting rotation. The problem with the Tigers so far has not been starting pitching, it has been the bullpen. While Ledezma may be an upgrade over Durbin, he better serves the team in a relief role in a struggling bullpen. It’s easier to come back to win if you have an ineffective starter than if you have a guy coming in the seventh giving up 4 or 5 runs.

  7. Kurt

    I don’t know what to think of Vasquez. I thought he would get shelled when he came to AAA because he had always been a low strikeout, low walk guy who pitched to contact and didn’t get a lot of grounders. His first couple starts had me feeling pretty smart, but lately he’s tearing through the IL and striking out way over a batter an inning.

    I’ve put some questions out to some people I thought might have an explanation, but I have no idea what he may have changed to get all these strikeouts lately. I’ll be curious to see if he comes back down to his previously established levels or if it eventually comes out that he added a pitch or changed his approach – something. Until then, I’m just going to have to shell out the $8 and go see how he’s doing it.

  8. You’d better, Matt! If I was in Toledo, I know I’d be catching a Hens game a week just to see some live baseball!

    But that’s half the reason I’d like to see the callup. I wonder just how Vasquez is so dominant and how he’s been so. Shelled once at the AFL and then he gave up no runs until the championship game? The Tigers saw enough to fear he’d be lost in the Rule 5 pick and added him to the 40 man roster. I’d love to know what they see.

    The other reason for the VV bandwagon is that I’d rather Miller, Trahern and Jurrgens continue developing.

  9. I think a lot of the aggravation towards the team is because they have some qualities that are aggravating.

    Terrible at-bats, shoddy bullpen appearances, and goofy managerial decisions will make most knowledgeable baseball fans batty.

    Honestly, this team doesn’t look that much different from the one that played in the 2nd half of last season. They were 500 then and are about 500 now.

    Things always could be better, but they also could revert to the 1993-2005 years as well……

  10. All this bandwagon talk got me to thinking I should share how I became a Tigers fan.

    Well, despite growing up in Iowa. I’ve always been a Tigers fan because my dad was, but I guess that’s the real story. About first grade and with few family loyalties in the sport, my dad was hard-pressed to figure out a favorite team, but since he really liked Ray Boone, he thought he’d root for the Indians. Well, later that summer (1953), Ray was traded to the Tigers from Cleveland. Alright, it’ll be the Tigers then. Now my son (2) is working on his filling out his Pudge jersey….in Seattle. Crazy, huh?

    Cool thing is, those kinds of stories are going on all the time right now. How many young kids turned into lifelong Tiger fans based on Maggs ALCS homer last year? I’d bet on at least a few.

    That said, I’ll still entertain a little Rodney bashing on occasion, even if I do love his stuff when it’s working.

  11. Guys,

    We are 11-9 this year and .5 game out of 1st. Not that bad. It is going to be a long year and tough division and I wouldn’t be suprised if 3 or 4 teams are fighting this thing out with 2 weeks to go.

    It could be worse, we could be Yankee Fans 😉


  12. Regarding fan attitudes this year vs. last year, I think we’re talking about the difference between a 95-win WS team (that could very well have been a 100-win team) last year and a 71-win team (that was only 2 years removed from 43 wins).

  13. On the positive side, there was a lot of frustration with the lack of patience at the plate exhibited by the Tigers.

    Yesterday I heard the Angels announcer marveling about how drastically that seems to have changed this year.

  14. Exactly right, Chris Y: there is no perfect time or reason to have become a Tigers’ fan. Maggs’ unforgettable HR in the ALCS last year is as good a starting point as any.

    My Tigers’ story: I lived in Wisconsin until I was 13, and was a casual Brewers’ fan. The strike, coupled with the many distractions of starting high-school and moving to a big city like Detroit, put me off baseball for a while. My best friend in high school had moved from Baltimore, and had converted from O’s fandom to being a Tigers fan. I went to a few games with him in my freshman, sophmore, and junior years, but never really got back into baseball. This changed my senior year, when I read Bob Uecker’s autobiography, which reminded me of everything I loved about the sport. I worked at Farmer Jack for the summer after my senior year, and largely worked day shifts. I still lived with my parents, and the job left me with a lot of disposible income. My friend and I would go to a huge number of games that summer, but it was the summer after that one, when I truly converted.

    My first year at college (97-98) had been something of a disaster. A close (new) friend was murdered on campus in the middle of the spring trimester. I fell into a profound despair, and when I returned home for the summer, found it extremely difficult to reconnect with either my parents or my close friends. To make matters worse, I was working an abysmal job which only added a sense of frustration to my continuing grief.

    My recently rekindled love of baseball saved me. It gave me something to talk about with my friends and parents — something that we could connect emotionally over, without mentioning the elephant in the corner of the room.

    I still remember some of those games — pointless games in a pointless season. In June, my mom and I went to see an interleague game against the Cubs at Tiger Stadium. Kerry Wood, in the midst of a phenomenal rookie season, was pitching against Brian Moehler, who at that point was undefeated at home. Sammy Sosa broke the major league record for home runs in a month (in the 5th or 6th inning, I think) and gave the Cubs the lead. Tony Clark hit a three-run homer to straight away center (in the 7th, I think, could’ve been the eighth). I screamed so loud and so long for that home-run: I completely lost control — the scream ended when it wanted to; it was no longer me screaming. It was the first step in a long journey of healing that I’m not sure I’ll ever completely finish.

    I have so many vivid memories of that summer of Tigers’ baseball. I remember at some point during that summer, my dad telling me that he could tell I would be a devoted Tigers fan the rest of my life. So far, he’s been right.

  15. If anyone thinks its negative here, check out the Yankee blogs even when they are winning. With greatness comes expectations comes complaining. I love the fact that people get emotional about the team. The message board format is kind of an anonymous porthole to the inside to one’s conscious. So of course people are going to post complaints about what they see about the team. It’s when message boards become sterile love fests made up of Bob Costas tools who seem to revel in knowing the last place Tigers’ team stats that concerns me. Thank God those days are long gone. Go Tigers!!!!

  16. I’m new here, but certainly not a new Tiger fan. I fell madly in love with Al Kaline when still a teenager and had to listen to the 68 WS on the radio while I was at work.

  17. Just wanted to drop in and apologise for the earlier comments. I’m glad that I may have stoked memories of why some of you became Tiger fans in the first place. I know it’s easy to complain when something dosen’t go right just remember though that prior to Maggs HR in the AlCS there was talk all season long about him being a bum. After the HR everyone suddenly thought he was the AL MVP. Remember players can’t be “on” 162 games a year.

  18. Hey Nate — Joey C. and I were also at that same interleague game at Tiger Stadium. I’m pretty sure Easley also homered to left that night too.

    Cool story and a reminder why sports are so important to us.

    Mt. P Chris: No issue here, the term “bandwagon” just got me thinking. In some fairness to those who considered Ordonez a bum in parts of 06, he is paid a ton of money and it took him awhile to warm up last year. Fortunately, he seems to have picked right up this year. But you are right, baseball is a long season and not everyone clicks at the same time.

  19. One of the things that truly makes me happy is seeing the fans and young people return to the game us older fans grew up with. During that 20 year drought, we lost almost an entire generation and now we have their attention again.

  20. I’ve been a Tiger fan since I was born. Sure I’m only 20, so most of you have most likely been fans longer than me, but that’s ok. I don’t much care. I love baseball, and have played it for more than ten years in whatever way I can – on the field as a catcher and second baseman, and in my basement with the various baseball video games that have come out over the years – starting with Triple Play and all the way up to MVP. My dad says I have a “baseball jones” as the only thing I like talking about is stats, players, and my own reactions to the great situations the Tigers put their fans in. (I.E. last night.) So if you want to call me a moron, that’s fine. I won’t even argue. Whenever I get really fired up and mad at something someone posts, I end up making myself feel stupid so I’m not going to bother responding anymore.

    I love watching the Tigers, and I love watching them with you guys. A night with Joey C. and Anne and Sam and Kurt and EZ and billfer and everyone else who comes here is what I look forward to. And when people come on and call each other names, that makes that experience less worth it. If we’re going to lose a game, ok. But don’t take away the joy of conversation I (and most likely the rest of us) get from coming here.

    That’s what I have to say. Let’s play these Sox hard.

  21. Although I may be a somewhat new poster to this site, I am not a bandwagon fan either.

    I would be willing to bet that most but not all people on this site who comment are not fair weather fans.

    And that “lost generation” although may be somewhat true, its not in my case.

    Since I have been watching baseball last year was the first that the Tigers finished over .500.

    I enjoy riding around and seeing a sea of blue and orange.

    Anyways heres to hoping Leyland knows when to take out Chaddy. Not to early, not to late, just right!

  22. I’m still torn if Maggs is a bum or not…its love hate….that homrun in the play offs was amazing. his consistent lack of hustle is often mind blowing. i swear he’d rather dh. lets get shef in right.

  23. I love watching the Tigers, and I love watching them with you guys. A night with Joey C. and Anne and Sam and Kurt and EZ and billfer and everyone else who comes here is what I look forward to. And when people come on and call each other names, that makes that experience less worth it. If we’re going to lose a game, ok. But don’t take away the joy of conversation I (and most likely the rest of us) get from coming here.

    Hear, hear.

  24. Boy, don’t know what to make of yesterday. I guess it’s best to focus on the positive and just remember we came back to take a lead after being down 7-0. What an emotional roller coaster. And a costly E-1 sure brought back some unwelcome memories.

    Wow, another “hot” night. 🙂 28 comments and the game hasn’t even started yet. And now a rain delay.

  25. Nate/Chris Y – Interestingly enough, I was at the game you mention where Sosa broke the record for homers in June, and I’ve lived in Texas for most of my life. I was up from Austin, TX interning for Ford that summer, and me and some of the guys went out to a game. We were nice and toasty at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull.

    Though I only lived in Detroit for a few years after birth, my family ties to the area have kept me a homer for life. I’m still upset that Trammell didn’t win the MVP in ’87. Freakin’ George Taco Bell. Remember when Trammell got the hit to seal the ’87 division? I thought they were going to deliver the MVP trophy to him on the steps of the dugout.

    Last summer was absolutely brilliant. is man’s greatest invention.

  26. i garuntee a shef dong tonight or i will retire the charly streetgang moniker for the year…

  27. Here’s a fun stat guys: EVERY INNING in the last three games when Sheffield has gotten a hit, the Tigers have scored AFTER HIM. In other words – you’ve heard of a rally killer? (Neifi) Sheff seems to be a rally starter.

  28. I would be a little more excited right now if we didn’t start off just about every game this way. Still, up 3-0 is WAY better than being down 7-0. Let’s hope Durbin has some good stuff tonight.

  29. Maggs — “Oh crap, here one comes…”

    Sorry I’m late. Stupid wife’s car.

    Wait, that’s the car that’s stupid. Very much NOT the wife. I’d be wrong, and I’d be in trouble. 🙂

  30. Kevin,

    That is highly improbable, cause that was the only series I ever saw in Tiger Stadium. From Iowa and all.

    Man, I hope Pudge didn’t tweak anything legging it out.

  31. Chris, I’ve watched every single Tiger player since I was 7 years old in 1979. And I bash constantly. Just deal with the fact that it doesn’t make a person a “real” fan to blindly follow his/her team. I love hating Todd Jones, just like I loved hating Mike Henneman. This goes on everywhere, and we’re all different. I want more than anything for the Tigers to win every single game, and get ticked when they don’t. Under your criteria I don’t believe I qualify as a Tigers fan, but that’s ok. And when Maggs hit that home run, the first thing that ran thru my mind (after realizing we were going to the w.s.) was “great, now he’s going to get let off the hook for his mediocore production”. If there is a Tigers bandwagon I’m surely not on it, and if you are I don’t plan on getting on anytime soon.

  32. The worst part about this game is that even though it’s on ESPN (in HD, no less) it’s blacked out and i STILL have to listen to Hawk and DJ.

    They are currently rambling about the “good old days” when the AL and NL had two divisions each. Sigh…

  33. Todd Jones is too nice and humble of a guy to get under my skin. Plus I’m told I look just like him. Even more of a reason to feel sorry for him.

  34. A little late to the party, but I agree, DTW has the most enjoyable game threads for me because of the knowledgeable and entertaining fans who post here.

  35. Hey, so is it just me, or does Durbin’s “stuff” remind you all of Spurling. During the short periods of time where Spurling’s arm had life.


  36. i’m a bandwagon fan…i jumped on in 61 and i’ve been there most years…sometimes i jump off but mostly because other things get in the way. in western canada where we live we only get tigers – jays games on tv so i really enjoy watching the tigers on


  37. We always talk about “who our tiger is” currently. Let’s expand that and ask the question, “Who is your favorite Tiger of all time.” “All time” can only include those years that you were a fan and actually recall intently watching games. I’ll start by saying mine is Cecil Fielder. A no-brainer for me. He was really the first player of his era to challenge the home run record. I remember finally believing the record was beatable, the year he hit over 50. Not to mention he would absolutely crush balls right off the roof of Tiger Stadium. His stance and swing motion were infectious. I love Cecil so much that I love to watch Prince just to pick up on similarities. So who’s yours gang? Chet Lemon? Dean Palmer?

  38. Mark “The Bird” Fidrych. don’t you know about the bird? everybody knows that the bird is the word.

  39. From three eras: Trammell, Higginson and Granderson.

    Their appeal kinda follows my development: kid to late-teens/twenty-somthing to father.

    Does Pudge look ginger to you or is it just me?

  40. My dad got me a ball that has Mark’s auto from a game in KC I don’t remember. Frank White too.

    Pretty cool.

    Memory lane here today, guys.

  41. Hey Charly,

    Boy, I haven’t heard the name Darnell Coles in ages. Isn’t he the guy who got angry one time and threw a ball over the roof at Tiger Stadium?

  42. Higginson would be second on my list. I remember when I was in Toledo as a kid for an entire week. (Don’t remember why) I went to see the Mud Hens and sat behind the catcher for 5 straight games. Loved every second of it. This was right when Higginson started making a name for himself, and he hit several homers over those 5 days to the Higgy chant. To bad his career went to the crapper. Really a shame. I’m pretty sure Skeeter Barnes was on that Mud Hens team at the time too. Weird.

  43. Weird. To me Higgy reminds me of a terrible era that I’d love to forget. Yeah he had a gun in the outfield and hit 30 homers one year. But when I think of Higgy, I think of a guy staying out too late clogging his nose with bumps in a titty bar.

  44. I’m a bit worried about Monroe. I don’t worry so much about Casey and Inge’s slumps. I think they are mentally tough and keep a positive attitude. Monroe seems like he could really be shaken. He swings at almost every cutter and watches meat hit the glove for strike three. I hope he proves me completely wrong, because he’s my tiger, but I am concerned.

  45. Did Higgy really have that reputation in Detroit? I don’t have the advantage of local Detroit papers, so I never really heard of that.

  46. On Bobby Higginson: I never liked him. I always remember him for a game I was at in which they intentionally walked the hitter in front of him and Higginson stormed to the plate on a mission…

    …then took 3 straight fastballs and went down on K’s. I could never get behind him.

    That and we inexplicably gave him $52,054,000 million dollars in his career.

  47. Man, Durbin is hammering away at these guys! 6 Ks, no BBs, only 3 hits. And he’s dropped his ERA nearly 3 points. I think he’s found a comfy cover spot on that mound. for now, at least.

  48. paying big money for utter dung was the name of the game back then. we were paying dean palmer and easly for a couple years after they were gone

  49. Yeah. I didn’t like Higgy. My dad was always like “Here comes Higgy, he’s going to get these guys in!” And he never did. My dad still liked him though.

    I still think it’s weird no one else cares about the strange Sheffield related scoring streak. (Most of it has to do with Maggs though, so..)

  50. I appreciate the weird Sheffield scoring streak, Adam.

    I also love that he came in hitting .149, but his OBP is still at .330. That’s unreal, to me.

  51. My two and half eras:

    Young kid era — Back when I first discovered baseball but wasn’t sure what was going on. I liked Tram. Everyone had to like Tram. He even autographed a card I sent to him.

    Golden era — When I was collecting baseball cards, trading, watching all the games, first started going to games, it was Cecil. That was an easy one.

    Between then and now, it was pretty scarce. But today I’m a huge Granderson fan.

  52. so do you leve Durbin in to boost his confidence a bit more with the show of confidence or do you yank him?

  53. What really burns me tonight is ESPN shows the rain out portion of the game then cuts to blackout when at 8:30 pm. If you are not going to show it, do not show it. Time for the DISH network. PS: Favorite TIGER – The Skipper “Sparky”

  54. Who is this guy pitching for the Tigers and what has he done with Chad Durbin? OK, seriously good outing tonight. (Knock wood.)

    My favorite Tiger of all time: Trammel. Always Tram. Literally grew up watching him, his career spanned my childhood to adulthood.

  55. Hey Charly, I never heard those rumors about Higgy. Maybe I don’t hang out with the right people. 🙂 I do remember Gibby and Rozema having some bar-type adventures however.

    And Chris–I have a Fidrych autographed ball too! What a blast from the past, he was a joy to watch.

  56. nothing in the papers on higgy though….just urban legend

    Never flatly denied either. I’m sure the rumors were exaggerated, but I can’t imagine they were completely false.

    I have a Higgy bobblehead. My toddler son ripped the head off and likes to chew on his neck.

  57. i have an autographed pic of mark with Big Bird. Gibby yelled at me and a couple buddies when a friend of our banged on his door to get his autograph (we were pretty young then). Apparently he didn’t want to be bothered.

  58. Holy crap. This is (surprisingly) the best outing ANY pitcher of ours has had this year. And it comes from Durbin, who basically just made sure he stays on the roster.

  59. I think a lot of people liked Higgy because he was the closest thing we had to a star during a miserable era of forgettable teams.

    The thing I remember most about Cecil Fielder, aside from the fact that his run at 50 homers was a big deal (ah, the good old days), was his commercials for Wendy’s triple cheeseburgers.

  60. While Inge has two hits, don’t get excited. They both came in lead-off situations. Which basically doesn’t help that much.

  61. Do you think Leyland let’s Durbin go for a complete game shut out? KC leading Minnesota in 9th and Cleveland and Texas are tied in 10th. If the stars align right we could be in first place after tonight.

  62. Adam, it helps by getting a man on for those behind to score him. a couple sacrifices or long balls and he’s in for one more on the board.

  63. I’m against bunting Grandy in that situation. The chances a 3-4 guy (Pudge) gets another hit are not that great, while Granderson was hitless tonight.

  64. with a 6-0 lead, does Durbin maybe get a chance to start the 9th? It’d be nice to see. He’s not the answer in the 5th spot and I’d much perfer that spot still go to Wil Ledezma, but it’d be great to see him try to finish it out, though, he has thrown something like 106 pitches.

  65. I’m against bunting Grandy in that situation. The chances a 3-4 guy (Pudge) gets another hit are not that great, while Granderson was hitless tonight.

    Huh? Sounds like you’re banking too much on the “he’s due” philosophy. Give me the guy who’s locked-in any day.

  66. and Ed – I’m saying it’s not that great from a hitter’s standpoint. It’s not like Brandon’s in a pressured RBI situation…he’s just up there and if he strikes out, no biggy.

    Zoom Zoom.

  67. Polanco just knocks in 2 runs in the 9th….our best player. How could the Phils let this guy go? Durbin pitches much better on a cold rainy night….but I’ll still need to see more quality starts before I can believe in him. But tonight was a good start…….good job, Chad!

  68. Adam, think about what you’re saying. Getting the lead-off man on doesn’t help?

    And Charly, I’m looking forward to learning your new moniker. 🙂

  69. Why in the world does Leyland tire Zumaya out with a 6 run lead? Maybe we need him more tomorrow.

  70. DH in DC: I don’t think it portends a change. It’s a 6-0 game and Jones pitched multiple innings yesterday.

  71. I like how we worry about the 21 year old kid getting “tired out” while we have no problem when the 40-something Jones gets carted out so many nights.

  72. While Inge has two hits, don’t get excited. They both came in lead-off situations. Which basically doesn’t help that much.

    Disagree. The biggest factor in whether a team scores in an inning is whether the leadoff man gets on base. I think it was Bill James who pointed out years ago that the leadoff man getting on base was the most important example of a “hidden clutch” situation.

  73. As per Shefield not going deep, my moniker is done for the year. However, this half dong stuff is not going to work. I will reinvent myself tom. with a new name and fade into internet anonymity.

  74. Guys, calm down. I’m saying it wasn’t an RBI situation. Not that it doesn’t matter. It just doesn’t help Inge in anyone’s mind when he only succeeds in no-out, no-one-on situations. You don’t make a name for yourself by only getting those type of hits – you have to be an RBI man too.

  75. Mike R.:

    I think you’re right about Jones being used last night. But at some point don’t we plan to transition from Jones to Z as closer?

  76. I hear what you’re saying Adam. They certainly won’t help the perception any, but nobody on that bench cares about perception. ( ‘cept Mr. Curls, maybe. )

    They’re huge for his confidence, though. Those are exactly the kinda hits he needs.

  77. But at some point don’t we plan to transition from Jones to Z as closer?

    Yeah, when Jones retires. Z is getting more than enough seasoning as a setup man. Closing isn’t much different. Many here would saying closing is actually easier.

  78. Hey Adam, I get your point now. However, with Inge it’s baby steps. I’ll take what we can get from him.

    OK everyone, take a deep breath. Zoom is looking shaky, but there’s two out and Leyland is not going to let him walk in 6 runs. It’ll be OK.

  79. i sense evil spirits, somebody released a jinx. i will counter that move by rolling my 28 sided DandD dice.

  80. Rediculous!!!

    It seems to me that with a 6-0 lead and a low pitch count, that Durbin should have had the chance to pitch a complete game shut out.

    Leyland worries me more than the Tiger’s strikeouts.

  81. I normally just watch these very insightful posts, but I’ve got to jump in tonight and say WHAT THE ____? Can someone explain to me why Durbin didn’t get the chance to start pitching in the 9th. He could not have made a bigger mess of his shutout.

  82. DH: We will be, however, it won’t be this year. Jones’ contracts up and we probably let him walk, i’d think, and just stick Zumaya in the closers role a la Anaheim with Frankie Rodriguez/Troy Percival.

    That said, I’d actually prefer Zumaya not in the closers role as I think a lot of the time he’s more important in a 7th or 8th inning jam. But, I also think it’d benefit Zumaya to back it down and throw 96-97 instead of throw at 100 all the time.

  83. Craig in CA: I don’t think Durbin had a low pitch count. I’m pretty sure he was at something like 108 through 8.

  84. It seems to me that with a 6-0 lead and a low pitch count

    He was over 100 pitches already. He probably could have gone another, but it was a move 8/10 manager would make.

    Agreed Adam, Z was squeezed on some of those.

  85. so frustrating, im glad im studying and only watching the yahoo box score instead of watching it on tv, don’t think i could of handled that.

  86. You know, can we just get at least one win where we don’t have to sweat it out at the end? Please? I’m about ready to trade all my fantasy closers…

  87. It just doesn’t help Inge in anyone’s mind when he only succeeds in no-out, no-one-on situations. You don’t make a name for yourself by only getting those type of hits – you have to be an RBI man too.

    That’s assuming that “clutch” hitting really exists. That’s in dispute.

  88. Mike R.

    Good thoughts. I tend to agree with you. As much as Jonesy drives me nuts (always putting runners on it seems) overall he has proven to be a very reliable closer. Well above average when compared with the rest of the league. We all can’t have Mariano Rivera circa 1998.

  89. clutch hitting totally exists…you can even see it softball leagues…you can feel it as a hitter…i don’t know a player that doesn’t at least awknowledge the extra stress shooting through the brain during a clutch at bat. beer league, high school ball, little league…i doesn’t matter. can you overcome the stress in replace your brain with zen concentration? if yes, you are clutch. oh…and by the way, i’m not clutch

  90. Fools rush in, but I have to say in my mind at least clutch hitting is beyond dispute. Maybe that’s the difference between, for example, Granderson and Inge. Despite leading the league in strike outs last year, Granderson is clutch.

  91. And speaking of Chase Utley earlier, he went 5-5 tonight with 3 RBIs. However, I’ll still take Polanco, especially when you consider the guy we traded for him, Ugueth Urbina, was in prison in Venezuela last I heard.

  92. Answer:

    I beleive that there are 3 ways to get a save:

    1) Finish the game pitching at least 1 full inning and protect a lead of 3 or less runs.

    2) Finish the game pitching with the tie or lead run on base/at bat/ or on deck when you entered the game.

    3) Finish the game pitching 3 “effective” innings (Scorer’s decision) no matter the score

    Jones got his save because the tie run was at-bat when he came into the game.


  93. Ah. Thanks guys…Elias says it’s the first time in 40 years any relief pitcher has hit/walked five straight batters. Sucks for Zoom.

  94. Just wanted to add that I’m officially letting Jones and Rodney off the hook. It appears that the entire bullpen is a mess so far this year.

  95. Re: the offense coming around: Don’t look now, but the Tigers are tied for 2nd in the AL in runs scored.

    Jeff makes a good point about the hidden importance of getting a hit with no one on and no one out. According to Fangraphs, Inge’s first lead-off single last night reduced the White Sox’s chances of winning the game by a full 6%.

  96. I guess I’ll revise my statement to 2%. The 6% would apply to the strikeout at the end of the last inning. But I think the general principle holds–plus Bilfer’s point about whether anyone can really will hits in specific situations.

  97. Anyone who’s spent even a few hours playing the game of baseball-OK, even a video game-should realize how important leadoff hits are to an offense. There’s a lot of ways to score a runner from first in an inning with no outs. But with two outs, you pretty much need at least two more consecutive hits or an extra-base hit. Two outs, no one on, is a situation where you can pretty much swing for the fences or K trying. No outs, no one on, get on base any way possible.

  98. Here’s my conspiracy theory take on Zoom’s night last night —

    We’ve all seen Bull Durham 500 times, and I’m convinced that last night was a “throw the next one at the mascot” night. Ok, so maybe it got a little out of hand, but seriously, stay with me here —

    1.) We’re up 6-0, no need for him in the game.
    2.) Zoom has been lights out for 13 months, and while he throws HARD, it generally goes where he wants (walk total is high, but not obscene).

    I’m of the opinion that last night was all a ploy to make A.L. hitters think “Jeez, maybe he DOESN’T know where it’s going, just like Crash says”.

    and no one will convince me otherwise. 🙂

  99. If there is a such thing of not being clutch, and there is a such thing of not not being clutch, then its posible to be clutch.

  100. Logic:

    If there is a such thing as “not being clutch”, and there is a such thing as “not not being clutch”, then its possible to be clutch.

  101. I don’t think that’s true, Charly. I would define the terms this way:

    Clutch: Performing significantly above baseline ability in important situations over the long run.

    Not Clutch: Performing significantly below baseline ability in important situations over the long run.

    It’s possible that some players are “not clutch” due to factors like anxiety while at the same time no player can truly be “clutch” over the long run, as asserted by Bilfer.

  102. I’d amend that slightly Kyle. Think of it as a continuum rather than discrete attributes.

    Clutchness rating (ridiculous term, i know): Performance important situations relative to overall performance over the long run.

    If it were possible to be “clutch”, you would probably find that a graph of every player’s clutchness would form a typical bell curve. You could then describe everyone on the left as “chokers”, everyone in the middle as average and everyone on the right as “clutch”.

    I think we all agree that it’s possible to be a “choker” *cough* John Rocker *cough* Rich Ankiel *cough* so the left side of the is not in dispute. Billfer made a good point though, that rigors of professional baseball probably weed most chokers out.

    Billfer has also cited stats in the past that indicate that there are few, if any, players (with substantial sample sizes) on the right side of the graph.

    So, for all practical purposes, “clutchness” in the MLB is probably just a matter of perception.

  103. Amen,Jeff M.
    Of course,Derek Jeter,whose picture can be found in most dictionaries next to the word “clutch”,is on a different plane altogether than the mere mortals playing MLB.Just ask Tim McCarver.

  104. No way. Being Clutch transcends even baseball. Clutch, as I think we all agree on, is performing well under abnormal pressure. There are clutch people fighting right now in Iraq and those who aren’t. There are clutch lawyers and those who are not. And of course, there are clutch baseball players and those who are not. You can find it everywhere in life. And everyone, I think, deep down knows this. Do you seriously think that an at bat in Game 7, 9th inning with 2 outs in a tie ball game as the same psychological effect on all players because by that point in their career they have overcome pressure? Why would one profession, baseball, eradicate this everyday fact? As much as we see them as titans, pro-baseball players are people just like the rest of us. Bilfer et al, your number crunching is blinding you to an every day fact you already know to be true.

  105. You know I started reading Prospectus a few years ago and I stopped watching baseball entirely! Now I just run diamond mind projections and read up on my PECOTA and I don’t need to watch real men playing baseball anymore! It’s incredible how accurate that stuff always is! Just like deep blue! Why does Kasparov keep playing?

    Tim McCarver is the final word in common perception and Derek Jeter is overrated because he isn’t really as good as Babe Ruth!

  106. Charly –

    I don’t think I ever said any such thing. But to be clutch, don’t you have to elevate your performance in difficult situations? And if you have the mental fortitude to do this in clutch situations then why don’t you have that capacity in non stressful situations?

    I don’t think all players react the same, but seperating a player’s emotional response, from their physical skill, and the skill of the opposing batter/pitcher, and accounting for luck, I’m not sure how you can decide who is clutch.

    Again, I said I accept the premise that some players may wilt under pressure. I just also stated that players that haven’t shown an ability to handle stressful situations probably aren’t playing in game 7 of the World Series.

    The criteria to become a MLB player is exponentially more difficult than the other professions you mentioned.

  107. uh..umm..must find witty response to Bilfer….choking, choking….wilting. Classic me, not clutch. I see your point.

    Why is there even a such thing as a closer in baseball if clutch doesn’t mean anything? Why not simply match up lefties and righties and have a bullpen by committee?

  108. How about this. Nobody, in regular game situations, can always have the same emotions. You’re more likely to buckle down and grit your teeth and let yourself get angry if you need it more. You can’t expect Kenny Rogers to pitch the way he pitched in the playoffs…probably ever again. Why? Because he was emotionally dialed in.

    Why do you think Joel Zumaya does worse in situations where he doesn’t have to be top-notch-Joel? Not as if it’s like he’s not TRYING to do as well, it’s just that…well, a guy like Joel thrives under high pressure situations.

    So the point that “why shouldn’t a guy be able to do the same as when he’s in a high pressure situation as when he’s not” doesn’t really make sense. Because if there’s such a thing as guys who thrive in high pressure situations, there’s such a thing as guys who thrive in low pressure situations. And then, in a high pressure one, they choke.

    Didn’t we all know that Inge was going to strike out to end the World Series? I did, and you know what? I think so did he. I mean, if you have to pick a player to hit in a two-outs-in-the bottom of the ninth situation – who do you pick? Surely you don’t base that all on batting average.

  109. Aren’t the Pistons clutch? The tricky thing, to Billfer’s point, is that the flipside of their clutchness is that they seem to underperform until they encounter a clutch situation. And if you make your free throws in the first quarter or grind out a run in the fourth, you don’t need to be clutch as often.

    And how about momentum? How does that work? Are there stats for that?

  110. Why do you think Joel Zumaya does worse in situations where he doesn’t have to be top-notch-Joel? Not as if it’s like he’s not TRYING to do as well, it’s just that…well, a guy like Joel thrives under high pressure situations.

    That’s true, but I think the nature of his job skews the data. Z, and all other top-tier relievers spend 90% of their careers in high pressure situations, so I think that should be the baseline performance. I would be willing to bet he would put up the same numbers equally good numbers if you always used him in the 7th inning. He would obviously be less valuable to the team in that role, but he’s still that good.

  111. Again, I know I’m not qualified to join the fray here, not being a stat-oriented kind of person, but I just have to say I think a high-pressure situation is the fuel some players need to elevate their performance. They can’t just turn it on and off like a machine, they need that external stimulus. Also I don’t think “non-clutch” guys wilt under pressure; as Billfer said, if that were the case they’d never make the MLB at all. I just think they lack that capacity to turn high-pressure into high-performance.

  112. “Aren’t the Pistons clutch?”

    I don’t think basketball and baseball are comparable with regard to clutchness. Basketball is much more an effort-based sport. You can hustle more in key situations and improve your performance (i.e., what the entire NBA does in the playoffs). In baseball, if you try harder to hit the ball, you’ll likely just increases your odds of striking out. If you try harder to pitch the ball, you’ll probably just end up overthrowing.

    There may be something to the “emotionally dialed in” angle, but baseball requires such a high level of concentration to start with, I’m just not convinced there’s any significant room to concentrate more in key situations. Someone who doesn’t concentrate to the full extent possible over the 500 PAs in a season that aren’t clutch probably isn’t going to last long in the league.

  113. I think part of the problem we’re having on agreeing about whether “clutch” exists or not is that one group seems to view it as the ability of professionals to exceed their everyday performance in stressful situations,while the second(among which I count myself)sees it as the ability to maintain everyday performance in those same situations,which is in fact borne out by messy statistics and in which group the vast majority of professionals in any occupation,including baseball, belong.Over time, everyone performs to their own unique capability.That’s not to say we don’t all run hot and cold for shorter periods,and sometimes those shorter periods coincide with a shining spotlight.Thats when cliches are born.
    Unfortunately,boneheads like Tim McCarver and his peers among broadcasters as well as sportswriters do have disproportionate effect on perceptions.

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