Game 2012.11: Tigers at Royals

Tigers are now 7-3, and have increased their Central lead to 1 1/2 games, thanks to a dramatic 9th inning performance by Justin Verlander.  (link via stephen).

Verlander looked headed for an oh-no-not-again outing, with 8 great innings and a shaky 9th, until he put away Alex Gordon in dramatic fashion.  In fact, after Leyland visited the mound and left JV in, he told the ace “you’re going to get me fired.”  

Meanwhile, the offense still struggles, and had to rely once again on unlikely heros. The best hitter in the league is in his worst slump since his rookie season: Cabrera is now 0-for-his-last-21, and has not looked good doing it.

The team is struggling in clutch situations.  They have failed in half of their attempts with a runner at 3rd and less than 2 out, and have trouble advancing runners (they have grounded into 11 DP, and have yet to successfully bunt).

Ryan Raburn is, literally, the worst hitter in the league right now, with a .065 BA (lowest) and a .212 OPS (not even close: next worse is Miguel Olivo at .274). He has the further distinction of being the only American League starter who has yet to record his first RBI.  And as early as it is, there is not a lot of reason to trust that it will improve dramatically any time soon–Raburn’s CAREER BA for the month of May is .169.  Then there is his fielding…Raburn’s career UZR at 2B is negative 14.0, which is a fancy way of saying he is the worst 2B in the league.  So Ryan Raburn may have the current distinction of being the worst hitter AND worst fielder in the league simultaneously. That is not easy to do.

Nonetheless, Jim Leyland has opted to give Babe Inge a much-needed day off against lefty Bruce Chen (but see below!), pointing out that while Raburn is only batting .065 overall, he hits lefties much better, posting an .083 so far for the season.

Yet the Tigers are 7-3.  So how are they winning? Starting pitching, and Austin Jackson.  The Tiger starters have only allowed an average of 3.60 runs per game, 2nd best after Texas (2.40).  And as far as leadoff hitters go, the Tigers have spent several seasons at the bottom of the league, including last year with Austin Jackson.  So far this year though, Jackson has gotten on base at an incredible league-leading rate of .511 (.600 leading off the game), and consequently leads the league in runs scored (11).

Today Drew Smyly , a fan following, and a and a well-rested bullpen will take on the dreaded Bruce Chen, who always seems to give the Tigers problems.  Well, not seems, he does:  especially Inge (.043), Peralta (.111), and Jackson (.133).  Tonight would be as good a time as any for Cabrera to get back on track–against Chen he is 9-18 with 3 HR.

***

MLB has reviewed Delmon Young’s Bigtop Twirl in LF against the White Sox, and decided it was an error after all.  In protest, Ol’ Smokey has pencilled Delmon Young in at LF tonight, leaving the less peripatetically inclined Andy Dirks to watch the upside of every inning from the DH seat. (Young, by the way, has crushed Bruce Chen, 6-11 lifetime).

***

Today’s Player of the Pregame: Don Kelly

The versatile Kelly will be entrusted with protecting Drew Smyly from shoulder-seeking dugout missiles off the bat of Prince Fielder.

Today’s Smokey-Going-All-Out-on-Matchups Lineup:

  1. Austin Jackson CF
  2. Brennan Boesch RF
  3. Miguel Cabrera 3B
  4. Prince Fielder 1B
  5. Delmon Young LF
  6. Alex Avila C
  7. Ryan Raburn 2B
  8. Ramon Santiago SS
  9. Andy Dirks DH

18 Comments

  1. Coleman

    April 17, 2012 at 8:17 pm

    Cy Chen seems to be on his game early.

    • Coleman

      April 17, 2012 at 8:22 pm

      As is Clownburn

  2. Tigers Rule

    April 17, 2012 at 8:26 pm

    When it comes to putting together the line-up ….. Smokey is a blundering idiot ….. period!

  3. Steve

    April 17, 2012 at 8:28 pm

    Hi Everyone,

    I have MLB EI and currently watching through the internet on my lap top.

    >>> Does anyone know why the KC broadcast is in HD and the Tiger broadcast is not.

    So my choice is a really great picture with the KC guys or kind of a not acceptable picture with Mario and Rod.

  4. clanks

    April 17, 2012 at 8:30 pm

    OMG Ran-ran a hit a hit!

  5. Coleman

    April 17, 2012 at 8:32 pm

    Ramon comes through with the R3L2O!!

  6. Brenden

    April 17, 2012 at 9:11 pm

    Man, this offense is really scuffling as of late…I’m thinking the Tigers overpaid for their bats. I’d demand a refund…

    • Andrew in Toronto

      April 17, 2012 at 9:18 pm

      At this time last year, a lot of commenters on this blog were saying Alex Avila should be sent to the minors and only made the team because of his dad.

      I’d wait a little bit longer…

      • Brenden

        April 17, 2012 at 9:22 pm

        True… I guess I’m just having flashbacks to 2008 when the Tigers spent like the Yankees, to only have an implosion. Now, I’m not saying it is that bad. After all, the Tigers are in first, but the offense has just been weak since the first series against Boston…

  7. Chris

    April 17, 2012 at 9:48 pm

    Tigers just cant hit Goddamn Bruce Chen…. Very frustrating.

  8. Brenden

    April 17, 2012 at 10:25 pm

    Smyly looked good tonight. Nice to see the bats show up now!

  9. Jud

    April 18, 2012 at 1:41 am

    biggest problem with Raybums hit is it will guarantee another month of starts…..

  10. Stormin Norman

    April 18, 2012 at 7:47 am

    though its just been two game (against KC and TAM hitters), Smyly has been great, especially in light of the fact that he’s a rookie fill-in (just two yrs out of college), and DET’s offense is struggling a bit. Porcello has been huge also.

    Continued consistency from Smyly ensures they won’t try and rush Fister back.

  11. NWO

    April 18, 2012 at 8:05 am

    That was a perfect post. Well said Coleman

    • Coleman

      April 18, 2012 at 6:34 pm

      Thank you, glad you enjoyed it.

  12. Fazzer

    April 18, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    Glad I found this Blog…If I ever need Tigers insight
    I now know where to turn!

    • Coleman

      April 18, 2012 at 6:35 pm

      Welcome to DTW!

  13. Vince in MN

    April 18, 2012 at 6:14 pm

    Maybe we have a diamond in the rough with Smily. I thought the kid was on a low pitch count, but Leyland let him go to 101. I hope ‘Ol Smokey isn’t turning into Dusty Baker.

    If Wilks pitches well again in hs next start, it will be interesting to see who gets sent out when Fister comes back. Schlwereth anybody, despite the fact he cut his ERA in half without throwing a pitch yesterday.