Game 2009.134: Tigers at Rays

PREGAME: The Tigers managed a .500 road trip and a series win the last time they ventured out beyond Montcalm and Witherell. That hasn’t happened a whole lot this season. They’ll try to build on some recent success as they head under the cat-walked dome.

Justin Verlander faces the Rays for the second time in a row. He managed 8 innings and a win when Polanco guided a 3 run homer into the Tigers bullpen rescuing Justin from another stagnant offensive performance.

Jeff Niemann will be his adversary again. Niemann only allowed 5 hits and no walks in 7 innings last Sunday against Detroit. The Tigers will have to do a little more. Their offense has plated runs the last couple games, but they’re not really tearing the cover off the ball.

Detroit vs. Tampa Bay – September 4, 2009 | Gameday

POSTGAME: I find sometimes I work backwards on these post game reports. The Tigers have had their share of late inning comebacks, but today it was the outing of Fernando Rodney that is catching my attention. Rodney was not good. Not at all. He’s been very good this year, and he hasn’t even been having many scary saves lately. Prior to tonight he had a 10 game stretch with 10.1 innings, 9 K’s and a 200/273/200 slash line against him. Not tonight though.

It may have been just one of those nights. It may have been the fact he pitched 2 days in a row, fully warmed up the third, and this was nearly his 4th game in a row. Regardless, with 35 pitches to the Rays and one ball heaved into the stands (not sure what’s up with that, but it wasn’t cool) we won’t see him tomorrow night.

But beyond Rodney, Verlander pitched a tremendous game once again and Jeff Niemann has to be thrilled to not go up against him anymore this season. Niemann got the short end again, and he was better tonight than last time. On Sunday the Tigers hit some balls hard right at fielders. Tonight they hit about 3 balls hard, one of them was a Cabrera blast that left the yard and 2 were Aubrey Huff doubles down the line.

But the Tigers put an impressive rally together in the 9th. Like Thursday’s 10th inning it involved Ryan Raburn getting on base. And then Leyland pushed the right buttons. Inge fanned, but Thames worked a walk as a pinch hitter for Laird. He stuck with Everett (a move that would have raised ire had it not worked) who delivered the go ahead hit. Granderson avoided the sombrero with a first pitch grounder between first and second that plated pinch runner Wilkin Ramirez. Then a sac fly from Polanco and it was a 3 run lead that they’d need all 3 of.

Oh yeah, back to Verlander. He was awesome again. I still think Zach Greinke is the most deserving Cy Young candidate at the moment (stuff can certainly change and it doesn’t mean Grenike will win it even if he is deserving), but Verlander has the wins, the first place team, and a gaudy strike out total to support his cause.

  • I can’t believe how quickly Ramirez got around from second base and his slide was a thing of  beauty
  • Raburn did a nice job getting the ball in quickly and keeping the tying run on 3rd base in that 9th inning.
  • You have to tip your cap to Longoria on his first RBI double. That was a 97mph pitch that was off the plate inside and he turned on it and pulled it. That’s just nice hitting.

116 thoughts on “Game 2009.134: Tigers at Rays”

  1. Just win one against the Rays. Assuming Chicago doesn’t take three straight from the Red Sox and Minnesota doesn’t get a road sweep, the Tigers lead drops by one game at most during their toughest remaining series. Just win one.

  2. We do have our #1 and #2 pitchers taking the mound during this series. So while I’d accept one win, I’d like to see the Tigers find a way to win 2 out of 3.

    1. I like that, lets be positive and if we can’t beat the Rays 2/3 we aren’t going anywhere in the plays offs anyways. I dont want to do into the playoffs just happy to be there and hope for a miracle, Either we have a team that has the potential to win any series or we don’t

  3. Always like starting a tough series with our Ace on the mound. Hopefully all those regulars that had the day off yesterday will come back nice and refreshed. The Twins catch a break with Sizemore being put on the shelf for the rest of the season with the Indians. Would love to see another road series win and our 5 gm lead staying the same.

  4. Runners on 1st and 3rd with no outs — batters 7 – 9 at the plate matching up against Niemann, you have to try the suicide there, at least once. I’m schocked Laird didn’t lay one down with how well he bunts. Note to Leyland: this was a layup call, no brainer. One might argue against the suicide — but you have to factor in the hitting skills and mostly lack thereof of Inge, Laird, and Everett to deliver in that situation.

  5. Those are the opportunities that just cant be wasted. 2 on none out..

    Coleman is there any way of seeing how we stack up against the league on these types of things.


    1. There probably is, but it’s too complicated for this unfrozen caveman. I would guess that we aren’t any worse than most teams, not in any significant way.
      Here’s one stat–success at advancing a runner on 2nd with no outs (some of which would be your 2 on situation):

      No outs, runner on 2nd:Advance %
      DET 47% (3rd)
      AL Avg: 43%
      1st: LAA 49%

      Like the runner on 3rd problem (which we actually are near the bottom of the league at, but only at a loss of 6 or 7 runs), the real problem isn’t how we perform with baserunners in such and such, the problem is getting the baserunners.

      Look at the front end of the percentages above, the total number of opportunities with a runner on 2nd and no out:

      No outs, runner on 2nd:
      DET 254 PAs (14th)
      AL Avg: 310
      1st: TBR 368

      So even if we were 5%, 10% better, and led the league at advancing the runners, we still would only make up a small fraction of what we lose by having so many below average opportunities–114 less than Tampa Bay, that’s almost 50% more opportunities than we’ve had.

  6. I have the Tampa announcers tonight, they are pretty decent and not so “homey” as some can get. They love Verlander and are regularly updating the scores that affect the Tigers.

    BTW 3-1 Tribe B5

    1. Except on that ball 4 to Bartlett, where they clearly showed it caught the corner from the overhead cam. Then talked about how good of job the umpire was doing when he missed the call.

      Feel free to make your own reality boys…

  7. The problem with this lineup is Guillen has no protection. That was a no-brainer walk to Guillen with Inge on deck.

  8. Miggy has had some nice swings tonight, you had a feeling he just might get hold of one.

    I don’t know what to say about Binge. Here’s hoping he hits a hot streak before 09 is all said and done. Right now he’s just an easy out.

  9. Mike Hessman is doing the uber-utility thing tonight for Toledo. He’s played every fielding position through the first 8 innings. I think he’s pitching the 9th. Oh, and he fanned 4 times.

    1. I was going to comment on Hessman not being up while Inge fades towards Mendoza, but the Golden Sombero looks the same whether it is Inge or Hessman.

  10. Wow Deja vu all over again now if only F-Rod puts 2 on before getting the save and its a carbon copy for JV and his C.Y. resume all though highly doubtful

  11. Mike Hessman just blew the save in Toledo. He had a 1 run lead, got 2 quick outs, then a single, a wild pitch and a single tied the score.

  12. Wow another classic Rod Allen quote “with Minnesota losing tonight he really wants to win this game” as opposed to the Twins winning and Leyland would not mind losing rofl

    1. I don’t know. He already has been overworked this year, at least relative the the rest of the league. And he probably doesn’t have a much better chance of closing out the game than Rodney does.

      1. His arm looked pretty live in the 8th.
        Certainly my perceptions are jaded by Rodney’s heart-attack inducing presence on the mound. Maybe it’s just the emotional investment I have in this team, but is there another contender whose closer so regularly flirts with disaster?

          1. There are Twins fans ready to release Joe Nathan because he’s been flirting with disaster lately. Nathan. Probably the best closer not named Rivera over the last half dozen years and people are frustrated. It’s the nature of the position. There is no good time to blow a save.

        1. I don’t know. My statement isn’t so much based on confidence in Rodney so much as a team has about a 3% chance of blowing a 3-run lead in the 9th even with an average pitcher, and I don’t think Verlander would lessen these odds by much.

          1. Point taken about the low odds of blowing a 3 run lead in the 9th. My comment was with the benefit of hindsight after Rodney’s less than stellar performance.
            You would think that Nathan’s earned a little collateral in Minnesota. I can’t remember ever feeling good about him taking the mound in the ninth. When did Minnesota fans become like Philly fans?

          2. In my humble opinion most Twins fans are just not the brightest lights in the stadium when it comes to understanding the finer points of the game. At least that is the impression I get when I occasionally delve into the Twins forums here in MN. The quality of the discussion on DTWB may have made be overly biased however.

          3. Every team has a faction of idiots like that, I’m sure. My point above was that they clearly don’t know the first thing about baseball, so it’s a waste of time to even acknowledge their opinion.

          4. “Every team has a faction of idiots like that, I’m sure”
            Indeed they do. Have you ever read the Free Press message boards?

          5. Coleman,
            Yes. Sometimes I catch myself browsing through pages filled with asinine comments over there — I have no idea why I do it. Same with ESPN or any other mainstream site.

  13. notice—no laird—almost blew the game!!!! need to keep him behind the plate!!! just as important as the pitcher!!

  14. Rodney can’t keep this up. It’s only a matter of time before he implodes in one of thosse situations. My great fear is that he will wait until the playoffs to do it. Especially with a 3 (or more) run lead you are pressing your luck.

    1. I agree. Like Jason points out, he’s 31/32, which his agent would be trumpeting in negotiations if the season ended today. However, there’s something wrong with the save criteria that lets him walk away with one pitching like he did tonight.

      1. There are probably more accurate ways of evaluating a closer’s worth (WIN shares or something – Coleman or Billfer would know), but for just a quick guide for the less stat prone fan maybe there should be a distinction between a QS (Quality Save – say protecting a 1-run lead) and an AOS (Any Old Save – 2 or more runs) which could get separate columns or be separatd by a slash in team stats.

        1. Bill James does this. He categorizes saves as easy, normal, or tough. Also he counts “clean” outings. Unfortunately he doesn’t do leaderboards until his book comes out in the offseason, but Rodney has 44 of his 58 outings as clean outings where he doesn’t allow a run or an inherited run.

          1. Don’t know. There isn’t a leaderboard until the book comes out and I’m too lazy to look at every other closer.

        2. Rodney is 3rd behind Papelbon and Rivera in terms of WPA. He’s also been pulled from a game fewer times than any other closer. Rodney ain’t perfect by any means, but he’s been very good this year.

          1. I appreciate your putting Rodney’s year in perspective, not only relative to closers on some other contenders, but also relative to some of the big dogs. Hopefully his ninth inning antics will be easier for me to digest the rest of the way.

  15. Awesome win!
    Inge hitting .172 since July 1. Easily worst batting average of a regular in the major leagues.
    Oh for the glory days of 2008 when he hit .205

  16. And pardon my Inge obsession nightly rant. Can someone tell me exactly what knee problem you have where you are quick as a cat in the field, but somehow the knee prevents you from hitting? Sorry, but I’m calling b.s. on that.

    1. I don’t think he’s been as quick in the field. I think the knee is bothering him in both facets. He can’t get down to first well at all. But, I don’t know how the knee would completely destroy the strike zone judgment he was employing earlier in the year.

      1. If the timing goes, perhaps, in an attempt to compensate, the judgement can falter also, creating a kind of downward spiral/domino effect in coordination/efficiency? Just a thought if it makes any sense.

    2. speaking of cat-like quickness, the bare-handed play by Longoria was a beauty. He’s the total package at third base.

    3. Well there are knee problems that hurt when you move side to side but not straight, some that don’t let you flex/jump, some that are worse when you put weight on them and some not, etc, so it’s probably safest to start out assuming that whatever the player/coaches are saying is more or less what’s going on.

      He is noticeably impaired running the bases though. That may be completely unrelated to his hitting problems. It may be the same cause of his hitting problems. It could even be that his knees are making him think, the heck with baserunning, Brandon’s going long! thus leading to that swing for the fences approach that we are all so fondly familiar with.

      I always wondered if his new swing was working mostly because of the effect it had in his head vs anything mechanical. Perhaps McClendon should try telling him he has observed that the new swing isn’t ideal for his knees, and make up some new new swing for him to use. I’m only half joking…

      1. Coleman, all of what you say makes sense if he was a newish player. Maybe his knees are bothering, but the fact is Inge has batted .225 against right handers in over 1400 at-bats since the beginning of 2006. Except for momentary hot streaks and sporadic power outbursts, like April, the guy really can’t hit.

  17. OK I’ve sufficiently calmed down after that. I thought for sure that was going to be Rodney’s first “aww F&%&” outing, but he got out of it. Big picture he’s 32/33 and there were certain variables tonight that aren’t always in play (the heavy workload). I’m confident riding with ‘nando in October.

  18. Did anyone catch that story on Sports Center tonight that they did on Brandon and his work with the kids at Children’s Hospital. That was pretty awesome. He’s an asset to the community and I feel stupid giving him grief here.

    1. Mike Maroth was the same way. He and his wife did tremendous charity work in Detroit. But, we all know why he isn’t pitching anymore.

  19. It’s OK to praise Inge’s batting 1.000 for his work with kids while pointing out his failings in his other job. Personal slurs and attacks would be reprehensible, but pointing out performance deficiencies based on the statistical facts is fair.

  20. Tonight, I’m more convinced that Fernando Rodney is the real deal when it comes to closers. Yea, he struggled. But in the end, he got the job done.

    1. He sure didn’t have his best stuff and control. Miraculously, he got out of it. He needs a day off, which reportedly Leland is going to give him. I’d only be concerned if it (his walks, etc.) happens again in his next game. He has had tendonitis problems in the past.

      1. Did it seem to anyone else that Avila was doing an exceptionally poor job of framing pitches? He was jumping out of his crouch and lunging at pitches two inches off the plate. I think a couple balls to the first two batters were strikes (or at least close enough to maybe get the call), but the ump had no chance to call a strike with the amount of movement coming from Avila. There was definitely one to Bartlett where, just from watching Avila, I assumed the pitch was about a foot and a half outside and in the dirt. It ended up being really, really, close to the zone. I think Avila was making pitches into balls well before they crossed the plate.

        If Laird could just hit a little tiny bit, he would be super-awesome-guy. If we’re gonna sacrifice D for offense (which was probably the right call), can it be Inge sometimes? Please?

  21. Oh, Fernando. You can’t steam the ball into the stands like that. Never in a million years would I think he had any sort of evil intent behind it. Fernando seems to be a very emotional creature. I would, however, understand if he’s suspended for five days. That’s just the sort of thing that, if tolerated, kills a fan eventually. It would suck to lose him for a week for one exuberant outburst that hurt no one, but it becomes dangerous ground very quickly.

    1. You’re worried about Rodney throwing a ball into the stands that will be brought down by gravity, but you’re not worried about batted balls? You’re joking about killing someone right? Try to find the last time a batted ball killed someone. Can’t imagine it was anytime soon.

      1. The problem with Rodney’s act is that it can viewed as intentional. The best case is that it was a thoughtless emotional act. But, given that a fan could be injured there is only a slight difference. A batted ball going into the stands is part of the game, throwing one is not.

        1. It was totally intentional. Without malice, I feel, but totally intentional. Keep in mind, dudes like Elijah Dukes play in this league. You have to be careful what you let generally good guys like Rodney do because someone’s gonna take it too far eventually.

      2. Did you see what happened to David Wright? Also a ball brought down by gravity. Now picture Wright as a seventyish guy five beers in with a mesh-backed cap on with his back turned talking to the ump. People aren’t paying attention when the game’s over. It’s kind of a thing.

        Every team worries about batted balls. But it’s kind of a necessary evil, and they tend to only happen during the actual game.

        Just because people haven’t died in this precise way yet doesn’t mean that simple and logical precaution is unnecessary.

        And you realize Mike Coolbaugh was like two years ago, right? Kind of a big and awful story.

        1. Mike Coolbaugh was a coach. On the field. I did ask for a fan in the stands.

          What the one where Wright got beaned in the head from a ball thrown at his head? If not that one I apologize, but that’s not gravity. My example of a batted ball is that those rarely hurt people. The speed of a batted ball and a ball thrown into the stands being brought down by gravity isn’t even comparable.

          Should outfielders also not throw balls into the stands for fans? Usually kids are standing there. Sure they don’t fire it as hard but it is thrown. They’re kids too with softer heads. Wouldn’t want to hurt them.

          When did society become so weak where we’re picking apart Rodney for firing a ball into the stands. It’s just a baseball.

          1. The initial velocity difference between a liner that goes into the stands and a maximally thrown ball is something like 25%. A batted ball has much more spin on it, thereby losing a significant portion of its kinetic energy to the rotation proper, and the ballistic curvature resulting from that over time. You can do the math if you want, but I just saved you the trouble. A thrown ball has as much, if not more, direct momentum by the time it hits row 7 in section 132.

            As for the rest, if you believe so strongly that this is not a problem, I’ve got nothing to convince you otherwise. But seriously, you would be cool with an MLB pitcher throwing heat at you from behind from, say, 155 feet? I wouldn’t.

            Read this if you really want the answer to your question:


            I think I should reiterate: I don’t think Rodney meant any harm whatsoever. He pitched badly, and it was a very gut level reaction. But it’s just not an okay thing to do. I don’t think he’d ever do it again. But he deserves at least a mild punishment.

          2. “My example of a batted ball is that those rarely hurt people.”
            “Should outfielders also not throw balls into the stands for fans?”

            Do you not see the difference between a baseball coming toward someone who is watching the game and someone who is walking to the exit with their back to the field?

  22. He didn’t fire it straight into the stands. Nor did he wind up. Your argument is flawed because he didn’t stand up on the mound, wind up, and hurl it straight into the stands. It had arc it would fall to the earth more so than be thrown. That’s fine, compare a fastball to a liner. That isn’t what happened though.

    The link you provided was a page full of examples of batted balls. Awesome. That’s my point. If a thrown ball was as dangerous something would have happened already.

    You can give me math, but history is the only example needed. He did not throw a fastball into the stands. You really have to distinguish between a fastball into the stands and a ball just tossed into the stands.

  23. It was dumb but not worthy of a suspension. A fine probably and that would be ok. He didn’t chuck it at someone like a weapon. It was thrown up into the stands and not thrown like a pitch. Coolbaugh and David wright aren’t particularly germaine for a number of reasons.

    1. Is the incident under review by the league or has Rodney indeed been suspended? I have checked around on the internet but haven’t seen anything regarding this.

      Regardless of Rodney’s intent, I can see the logic if they do suspend him. In effect, it would be a proactive type of punishment which sends a strong message to EVERYBODY (not just the players, but management as well), to not allow this sort of thing. I don’t think fines have the inhibitory effect on bad/thoughtless behavior that a suspension would. A suspension grabs the headlines and everyone pays attention.

  24. Throwing the ball in the stands was dumb and is deserving of a fine. A 5 game suspension would be an extreme punishment and wouldn’t fit the crime.

    Coolbaugh and Wright aren’t good analogies because they are on field personnel. There was a minor league brawl last year that got ugly and a pitcher picked up a ball and used it as a weapon and that ball went in the stands. It is probably a bettyr analogy but unlike Rodney there was intent to harm. Also in Rodneys case the ball went in the press box and not at fans.

    I really don’t think this is a big deal. Dumb yes. Deserving of a punishment, probably. But not a big deal where he was endangering lives.

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