About that sweep

There is so much not to like about a sweep at the hands of the Royals. The Tigers had a chance to really lock down the AL Central this week, but instead they managed to play some of their worst baseball of the season. There is reason to be frustrated with the offense, and we’ll cover that in a minute, but the bigger issue in this series was on the run prevention side of things.

It is easy to point to the bullpen as a major problem this series. The team did blow 2 late inning leads and the pen turned a 1 run game into a 5 run game. They issued too many walks to a team that¬† doesn’t walk (7 pen issued walks and a HBP in the 3 games). Thursday game they allowed 2 homers. Zach Miner continued his seesaw season and followed up several good and important outings against Cleveland and Tampa Bay by getting shelled. In general there was nothing good to say, even about arms like Seay, Rodney, and Ni who have been reliable for the most part this year. Their failures were glaring and significant, but it wasn’t all the pen.

Tigers starters threw 299 pitches in the the 3 games, and yet the faced exactly one batter after the 6th inning (Rick Porcello allowing a single to Yuniesky Betancourt). Porcello was efficient, but not particularly effective. Justin Verlander held the Royals to 1 run, but it wasn’t easy and he rang up 112 pitches in 6 innings. Jarrod Washburn just got hammered and allowed 10 baserunners in 5 innings and could have easily allowed more than the 3 runs that crossed the plate.

And then there was the outfield defense in the first game in which every ball turned into an adventure. Run prevention all around was not good this series, and probably the biggest reason for the sweep. But the offense isn’t immune from criticism.

Getting shut down by Tejeda didn’t bother me. He’s pitched well this year and his stuff was nasty on Wednesday. The offense didn’t get shutdown by Lenny DiNardo as they got to him for 7 hits and 3 walks in 5 inning, and they added 8 more hits against the Royals bullpen. That they hit into 5 double plays was more a matter of freakish happenstance than anything else (yes, the Tigers hit into lots of double plays anyways but 5 qualifies as freakish).

My bigger issue was the Tigers not beating up on Bruce Chen and the tattered Royals bullpen with more voracity. This is a team that used to feast on left handers and now they tend to fester. And with the Blue Jays throwing 3 southpaws at the Tigers this weekend that is troublesome.

You don’t get swept by a bad team without multiple things going wrong. In one way or another the Tigers completely collapsed for 3 games. Maybe it was the 400 people in the stands each night, or a let down after 3 breathtaking games in Tampa. The good news is that the lead in the Central is still safe, but the Tigers did waste a tremendous opportunity this week.

19 Comments

  1. jb61973

    September 11, 2009 at 10:42 am

    In a series that the bullpen really struggled and played a big part in losing for the team, it really is ponderous that the team’s best reliever did not get into any of the games. Brandon Lyon did not pitch once while we had Eddie Bonine, Zach Miner, Fu te Ni, etc. pitching in the late innings. How is Leyland allowed to continue, unchallenged by the media in this town?

    • mark_in_gr

      September 11, 2009 at 5:34 pm

      It’s good to see Lyon come around as a solid eighth inning guy, though. Now if we could only solidify the middle inning fellas. Had high hopes for Ni, but he seems a bit shaky. Still think he has potential in the future, though.

  2. VegasTigers

    September 11, 2009 at 11:07 am

    I agree jb. Sometimes JL baffles me. Like pinch hitting for Rayburn, when he’s had a 2-3 night already? Making defensive moves in the 6th inning?? His choice of relievers is amazing as well. Everything about this series was confusing.

    • jb61973

      September 11, 2009 at 11:12 am

      I thought he smartly used the bench in the TB series and I thought maybe he is starting to get better. Then, this series was a complete disaster.

      And, for the record, I am not saying that the Tigers would have won any or all of the games necessarily, but it is his job to put the players with the highest chance of succeeding in the game and he does not do that a lot of the time. His “they are here so we will use them” mantra makes no sense when you are in a pennant race in September.

      • Vince in MN

        September 11, 2009 at 6:36 pm

        Leyland good vs TB, bad vs KC = regressing to the norm. His inconsistency (not just this year, this is SOP since the beginning) leads me to believe that sometimes he guesses right and sometimes he guesses wrong. The key seems to be that more often than not he is guessing.

  3. Tbone

    September 11, 2009 at 11:16 am

    I can’t help but think that Raburn’s misplay on Josh Anderson’s line drive on Tuesday followed by Clete’s flub on the Butler foul fly set the tone for the series. If either of those plays get made, chances are good that we win the opener and the momentum shifts dramatically.

    Instead, the Royals got a couple of free passes and think they can hit all of a sudden. Anyways, its water under the bridge. Onward!

  4. Andre in Chi

    September 11, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    Random question, what’s the best place to buy Tigers jerseys online?

    • mark_in_gr

      September 11, 2009 at 5:31 pm

      Check out the Fanatic-U website. Haven’t ordered thru there myself, but the store is awesome. Friendly people working there too.

      • Andre in Chi

        September 11, 2009 at 5:36 pm

        Thanks mark, I’ll check it out.

        • mark_in_gr

          September 11, 2009 at 5:39 pm

          You are welcome, sir! Have a good weekend.

          • kw

            September 11, 2009 at 6:11 pm

            Mark, you’re such a troll. You only come around when people want to know where to find jerseys. BAN!

  5. Stephen

    September 11, 2009 at 2:37 pm

    This is my useless take: Yes in 2006 we staggered into the playoffs and did exceedingly well. And yes, the Arizona Cardinals did play like a special needs team in their last two regular season games and made it to the Super Bowl. But usually, it helps if the team is playing well come mid September. Getting swept by the Royals is no big thang by itself, but if it suggests a late season malaise, well, that’s not great.

    • billfer

      September 11, 2009 at 4:47 pm

      I’d agree that if it suggests a malaise that is less than ideal, but up until Monday this team was playing great. Stuff changes quickly. They are 6-3 in September, I don’t know that I’d panic yet.

      • Andre in Chi

        September 11, 2009 at 4:56 pm

        I don’t know Bill, they have yet to win a single Monday game this month. Sound malaise-y to me, very malaise-y indeed. WS-caliber teams wouldn’t have this problem.

  6. Doctor Detroit

    September 11, 2009 at 2:58 pm

    Agree with T-bone about Raburn’s play setting the tone for that series. I think if they would have won that first game a lot could have been different in the end. Tonight they need to come out and take it to the Jays and since we don’t get Halliday in the series, I think it’s a must to get three. The Twins and White Sux have a lot of ground to make up and it would take an epic collapse. 87 wins will do it, I think 84 probably gets it done to be honest but 87 is the Tigers going 12-11 down the stretch. With 14 home games I really like their chances.

    Washburn is of particular concern to me. He is probably the difference in them being able to win a series or three in the postseason. Where is the guy with a 1.08 WHIP?

    • Stephen

      September 11, 2009 at 3:11 pm

      The problem with Raburn is he plays multiple positions poorly. He’s like the neighborhood repairman who says he can fix everything–washing machines, vcr’s, Mack Trucks etc.. Then a week later, you have to call in a real expert.

      • Coleman

        September 11, 2009 at 3:46 pm

        Strangely he seems to be developing into a better hitter than fielder.

        • Vince in MN

          September 11, 2009 at 5:47 pm

          A utilityless utility player. What to do. Perhaps we can switch him with Clete Thomas so that when a RH batter is up Raburn plays RF and when a LH batter is up he switches to LF and vice versa with Thomas. NEVER let him put on a 3B glove however.

          • colin

            September 11, 2009 at 5:55 pm

            Perhaps we could play him…he is hitting better this season than every regular Tiger besides Cabrera…