What a game, and what a way to lose a game, with a walk-off HBP.
Although losing tough ones at Progressive field has become something of a habit: the Tigers have lost 12 straight there, and all 4 this season–and all of them Cleveland has won it its final at bat.
I blame the rain. For the 2nd time in a row, the Tiger bats went dead following a rain delay. In fact the Tigers have only scored 1 run in their last 14 post-rain-delay innings.
As frustrating as the loss was, there were some things to cheer about: the Tigers played good defense almost the whole game, with standout plays by Brennan Boesch and Miguel Cabrera (the 14th inning play by Guillen, not so much). But mostly, it was the much-maligned bullpen, which came up huge. For 11 innings, from the 2nd to the 13th, Below, Schlereth, Coke, Alburquerque, and Benoit combined for 11 innings, giving up only 2 hits, with 3 walks and 12 strikeouts.
That’s the 2nd sparkling appearance in a row for Below. If he turns out to be a revelation the same way that Alburquerque has, the Tigers could end up with an impressive bullpen.
The bad news is that there isn’t much relief left for tonight, so Rick Porcello will take the mound and attempt to bring it all the way to Valverde. Porcello is on a hot streak right now: he is 5-0, 3.26 over his last 6 starts, and has the confidence of the team behind him. “Every time he goes out there now, we really feel we’re going to win,” says Brennan Boesch. Perhaps most impressive lately has been his control–he has only walked 2 in his last 26 innings pitched. This should help him work late into the game.
We didn’t get to see much of our trade-deadline catch Doug Fister last night. Tonight Cleveland brings out its deadline darling, Ubaldo Jimenez. He had a rough go of it in his first outing for Cleveland, giving up 5 runs to Texas, and more importantly, only lasting 5 innings (Cleveland’s bullpen is in as bad a shape as ours tonight).
In other news: He’ll be back…Brandon Inge says the Tigers assured him he would be back with the team on Sept 1.
Player of the Pre-game: Alex Avila
Avila caught all 14 innings last night. With Martinez still having a sore knee, He’ll strap on the gear again tonight.
Today’s Iron-man-Avila Lineup: