Game 2009.026: Postgame

These are the types of games that make me love baseball. It’s much easier to say this after a 9-0 win, but it’s not just the favorable result for the Tigers that I’m talking about*. It’s the disconnect between everything we know about baseball and what happens on a given night.

With a rich statistical history we are able to study the game in such detail. We know so much about how runs are scored and how they are prevented. We can talk about true talent level and the disadvantages of small ball and proper lineup construction. And I believe the majority of it to be true. With so many stats we can make some pretty good educated guesses about what will  happen. And on any given night we can be so wrong.

I was very critical of the lineup that Jim Leyland put together tonight, and I’m not even someone who puts a lot of stock in lineups. The newly recalled Clete Thomas has no business hitting third. I don’t mean to disparage Clete at all, but that is simply not the right spot for someone with his skillset. Even for someone who had 12 hits, 7 of which were for extra bases, and 6 walks in his last 10 games in the minors.

But there was Clete, batting in the spot typically reserved for the team’s best hitter, and it took him 2 at-bats to match Magglio Ordonez’s season total for extra base hits. There was Clete anchoring a lineup that has struggled to score runs of late, even against inferior and/or struggling pitchers, and the offense exploded for a much needed laugher.

Despite tonight’s results I’m still firm in my conviction that this probably isn’t a lineup that will stand up in the long haul. But tonight, it sure did work.

(I’m not moving to seperate posts pre and post game, I just thought this one warranted some more space. *Also as to that unpredictability, I can appreciate Jackson’s start against the Yankees for the utter absurdity of what took place. Still didn’t care for the result though)

  • Rick Porcello kept the ball in the park and got him 78% of a shutout. He only allowed 4 hits and if he hadn’t walked a couple in the 7th, he probably would have been out for more as he only needed 87 pitches to record 21 outs. He was helped by the GIDP, but as a ground ball pitcher that’s what happens.
  • The Twins fielding was uncharacteristically bad. Joe Crede bobbled a ball in the first in which Polanco should have been cut down at the plate. Delmon Young played a Josh Anderson blooper into a double. Michael Cuddyer got an assist on Clete’s triple. Crede botched another play. The Tigers offense had help for sure.
  • Miguel Cabrera is hitting everything hard. His homer was absolutely crushed. Since the off day on Thursday there isn’t much that hasn’t been blistered off his bat.
  • Curtis Granderson. Nine homers already. Who knew?
  • Brandon Inge hasn’t reached base for 2 straight games and hasn’t looked good at the plate. Is this his first slump of the season?
  • A 4-4 homestand isn’t bad, but it would have been nice to be on the winning side of the ledger.

32 thoughts on “Game 2009.026: Postgame”

  1. You summed up my entire feelings on baseball in general, Bill. Too bad I didn’t get to see this game, though.

    Also, I always wondered why you never made Pre and Post game posts separate.

  2. Too bad the Royals won again.
    They’re running away with this, it’s only a matter of time. They’re for real.
    The timely hitting is there. The starting pitching is there. Everyone in the back end of their bullpen seems to have an ERA of 1. They’re rallying back when they fall behind.
    I’m worried.

  3. What stood out for me in this game was the pitching style we saw from Porcello, not so much the great offense from this unorthodox lineup, though that was a pleasant surprise. It was a different Rick for sure and that lineup was probably just a lucky.

    Porcello’s fastballs averaged about 90 mph throughout his 7 innings tonight, down from his usual mid-upper 90s velocity. Nice and easy motion over the top… I didn’t see a fastball measured above 91-92 mph all night. Efficiency was outstanding at 70 pitches going into the 7th before he got into trouble with base on balls and ran his total up to 87.

    It looks like JL & RK are trying to help work out the control inconsistencies Porcello has had, by slowing him down a bit so he can work on his mechanics. He threw breaking pitches a bit more often tonight than in previous starts and several of them were strikes down, in good locations in and out near the corners, with breaking ball improvement and frequency showing up more in the later innings. This kid seems to respond well to adjustments and teaching from the coaches, if this one outing can be any measure.

    One of the Twins said after the game that Porcello was impossible to pick up, was picking the corners both in and out, and that they had no idea what he was throwing to them from pitch to pitch. I hope that they can find a way to keep a spot for Porcello in the rotation for a few more starts, because he definitely looks like a responsive student with a skillset that can quickly convert lessons into results.

    I imagine Rick Knapp was all smiles after the game tonight… confident smiles. Someone outta’ pat him on the back and say thanks for all the fun or something…

  4. Now, if Golly pitches to contact instead of away from it tomorrow, we may have another good game to enjoy. And another ‘attaboy for Rick Knapp and Jeff Jones post game.

  5. I think Casilla not throwing home on Santiago’s hit to RF was the biggest error. This was the error that started the Twins unraveling. He should of been able to gun out Laird at home but instead ate it. I think the next two plays involved 2 errors.

  6. On the lineup (as has been said before by others) I’d switch Granderson and Thomas, but otherwise like it.

    What I really like is the young outfield: Switching Maggs and Guillen for guys who can cover more ground will make the difference in a few games this year.

  7. The Royals are the team to beat. Detroit will be there in a couple of years, and they have a great chance this year, but the Royals are more complete and balanced. That said, it could be this year that starts a long run! Go Tigers!

  8. One thing I wonder about is why we brought up both Thomas and Larish. IMO, are outfield has too many lefty bats and we’re still stuck with Raburn playing against Lefty pitchers. I perfectly understand wanting to platoon Anderson in Left, but the problem with that is that Raburn can’t hit lefties either.

    Raburns lifetime splits
    .225 AVG, .292 OBP, and .671 OPS vs Lefties
    .269 AVG, .317 OBP, and .727 OPS vs Righties

  9. I tend to agree with you, Mr. X. I think Clevlen or even Rameriz would have made more sense, unless you’re planning on giving all of Josh Anderson’s at bats away.

    I hope they move Granderson into the 3-hole and leave him there.

  10. I’m not a believer in the Royals just yet. Greinke has been retarded so far. He’s going to have a phenomenal year, but he’s obviously going to be scored upon at some point. Meche and Davies are decent enough, but I don’t think they’re any better than Verlander, Jackson or Galarraga. Relying on Sidney Ponson and Horacio Ramirez is no recipe for success at the back end of the rotation. KC’s bullpen is pretty stout, but if Soria goes down (he’s already been sidelined) they might be in trouble. And there’s always the Farnsworth Effect. Offensively, they have too many black holes in the lineup. Guys like Butler, Teahen and DeJesus are nice but they’re hardly stars. Jacobs has sick power but also makes a lot of outs (.318 career OBP). They’re a nice story, but I’m not sure they have staying power. Of course, no one is going to run away with the division so they may prove me wrong.

    FUN FACT: Zach Miner has induced 60.6% ground balls thus far in 2009 for a 2.67 GB/FB ratio.

    1. They don’t have to rely on Ramirez. Brian Bannister is up and looks like 2007, almost ROTY Bannister.

      They have plenty of time to figure out what to do with Farnsworth. They have a proven veteran lefty in Mahay, Juan Cruz looks good, Jamey Wright looks like a steal… even former Rangers castoff Robinson Tejeda has a sub 1.50 ERA.

      1. As a person who watches a lot of Rangers games, I’ll note that Jamey Wright and Robinson Tejeda are both highly suspect, if not downright awful. I like Cruz and Soria, and Mahay’s fine as a LOOGY. Apologies to Joe Posnanski, but Bannister has to walk a tightrope every time out there and a good, patient lineup will kill him. Hochevar’s been lights out at Omaha, though. When they come to their senses and end the Ponson experiment, he’ll be a big upgrade. You just hope they don’t run into the problem the Twins had with Livan Hernandez last year (i.e. waited too long to realize that he sucked, thus costing them the division title). OK, this is starting to sound like a Royals blog!

  11. The Royals have had some luck with the scheduling too. Somehow they have been avoiding the #1 starters from almost every team these past few weeks.

    vs Detroit they avoid Verlander and Jackson
    VS CHW they avoided Buehrle and Danks
    VS Toronto they avoided Halladay
    vs Minnesota they avoided Liriano
    In their upcoming games vs Sea they’ll avoid Hernandez and Bedard.
    This weekend VS LAA they’ll avoid Weaver.

    It’s not hard to see why the Royals are in 1st place when they never have to face the other teams best pitcher(s).

    1. “This weekend VS LAA they’ll avoid Weaver. ”

      I always think of Jeff when I hear Weaver…that’s why I laughed so hard at the thought of KC being lucky to avoid a Weaver.

      1. Liriano isn’t exactly a #1 starter, is he? He starts the season 0-4 with an almost 7 ERA? But let me think….who else do the Twins have?

        Okay, he can be your #1.

  12. another FUN FACT: Zack Grienke’s ERA+ is 1170. Not 170, but 1170.

    That’s sick.

    1. Yeah, Greinke is on another level right now. If it weren’t for a division rival, it would be fun to watch.

  13. It’s really, really nice to see a kid that had such mental issues that you kinda worried about whether he’d be alive next week be able to get himself together and do something like this. Time to stop all the Josh Hamilton BS, this is the real amazing heartwarming comeback story.

    1. Both are heartwearming stories in their own way. I don’t think you can discredit Hamilton just because his story is self-inflicted. There’s millions of addicts out there who draw inspiration from him to overcome their own demons, so I think that’s not something to be discounted. Greinke’s problems weren’t of his own making and as such it’s more of a Disney Channel story. Not that I’m making light of his struggles…they are just more socially acceptable. I wish success for both guys. Just not against the Tigers.

      1. Speaking of comebacks, am I the only one rooting for Dontrelle to make it back? Not only do I want him to pitch well for selfish reasons, but he seems like a pretty good guy.

        1. No, I think all Tigers fans would like to see Willis become some semblance of his former self.

          It’s just that most of us aren’t counting on it.

          That said, I’m not sure many folks were counting on Grienke “becoming” Greinke during the bottom of all his troubles.

          There is hope, just not expectation.

        2. I can’t see any reason why Willis can’t comeback and be effective. There doesn’t seem to be anything physically wrong with him at all. He just needs to chill and get his groove back. There are drugs that can help fix that.

          1. And it seems like they’re working. We’ll get him back just in time for his contract to expire.

  14. If I remember right, we went into KC for 3 and won that series. Without JV and
    Galaraga . So I have no worries about KC

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