Game 2012.68: Cardinals at Tigers

33-34, 3rd place, 2 games behind Cle (Jake Peavy says watch-out to his CWS teammates)

Justin Verlander was fantastic yesterday. Even though he walked more than he struck out for the first time since June of 2010, Verlander allowed 1 ER on 5 hits over 7 innings. There was that tense moment in the 7th when Berry’s two base error plated two runs, and then a walk loaded the bases, but JV responded with the one of the best sliders of his career to get out of the jam. Before Saturday, the Tigers had won only two games where they led start to finish, got a quality start, and the tying run did not come to the plate in the 9th. They have now won three in a row like that.

Kevin Goldstein of ESPN wrote an article last week (you’ll need Insider) where he asked 12 ML execs who they would pick if they needed a pitcher for just one start. JV dominated the vote totals with 7 votes. The next highest was two.

Verlander was the runaway winner, but some might be surprised to see him get just more than half the votes. “He just walks to the mound like he owns it,” said an American League scouting official. “You’re talking about 95-100 mph to both sides of the plate, a hellacious curveball and a plus change.”

 A National League scout agreed, while focusing on the thought of just one game. “He’s capable of no-hitting anyone at any time, in any place,” said the talent evaluator. “Every time you see him you wonder if you’re going to see something special.”

 A National League front office member also focused on the one-game aspect but took a different angle. “Verlander has been the most consistent when it comes to maintaining plus-plus stuff deep into games, which for me is really what you ask for when looking for the best player to start one game,” the front office member said.

I love the line about “owning the mound.”


Could there be trouble brewing in the clubhouse? Leyland came out yesterday and said that the team needs more “dirtbags”, Leyland’s affectionate term for players scrappy players. In truth, these guys usually have little major league value and Leyland uses their “dirtbag” role to justify playing them well beyond their expiration date. At the same time Leyland mentioned that his team needs to play with a “mean streak.” I don’t think he intended for them to go Laimbeer on anyone, but rather dive, slide and hustle. But Prince Fielder didn’t respond too well to the comment, saying that he doesn’t have time for that.


The Tigers have been playing their best ball since the beginning of the season, and their playoff chances are looking better every day. That said, their schedule is only going to get tougher, as only 19 games of the remaining 96 are against teams under .500. They still have 31 games against the White Sox, Rangers, Angels, Yankees and Rays. 10 of those are against CWS and I’m guessing that Cle is going to falter, so those 10 against the White Sox could decide the division. Let’s not forget that the Tigers have only finished above .500 post All Star break once under Smokey.

Injury notes:

– Smyly is slated to throw three innings in Toledo tomorrow night.
– Valverde is going to rest his sore wrist for 3-4 games.

A few other notes:

– The Tigers have not been shutout in 135 games, the longest streak in club history.
– The Tigers have signed undrafted first baseman Andrew Allen, son of Rod Allen. I see you son.
– Keep an eye out for 21 year old reliever Bruce Rondon, as he was just promoted to Erie.
– Phil Coke drenched a few fans last night. Not everyone was pleased. Though those sitting next to Ashley may have been.

Tonight’s Series Clinching Does Smokey Know that this is the Same Lineup as Last Night Lineup:

1. Jackson, CF
2. Berry, LF
3. Cabrera, 3B
4. Fielder, 1B
5. Young, DH
6. Boesch, RF
7. Peralta, SS
8. Santiago, 2B
9. Laird, C


  1. Coleman

    June 20, 2012 at 6:03 pm

    So Leyland is basically saying what the team is missing is a guy like…Inge. Hilarious. I guess Raburn isn’t doing it for him anymore.

  2. Coleman

    June 20, 2012 at 6:13 pm

    StorminNorman already predicted Valverde would be shelved with an injury…or an “injury.”

    On the other hand, spitballers are known to be prone to wrist problems…hmm.

    • StorminNorman$

      June 20, 2012 at 7:25 pm

      could be a legit “wrist sprain” but i suspect it may have more to do with his ego-sprain.

    • Vince in MN

      June 21, 2012 at 7:15 am

      It’s the grip on the ball. Or lack of grip rather.

  3. Coleman

    June 20, 2012 at 7:26 pm

    Fielder should’ve been meaner just then.

  4. StorminNorman$

    June 20, 2012 at 7:31 pm

    Porcello has had 3 maybe 4 respectable outings this year. Some in the sports media predicted that this may be a breakout year for him… if that is the case, he’s got some catching up to do.

    ERA 5.13 – BA against .315 (96 hits in 73 IN) – lefties batting .329, .486 SLG

    I haven’t seen a lot of growth from him over the past few years

  5. Coleman

    June 20, 2012 at 7:39 pm

    Does our #5 hitter / DH really have a .688 OPS??? (Yep)…I mean, that’s not even as good as the A’s #5 hitter (.749)…guy named Inge…

  6. Kevin in Dallas

    June 20, 2012 at 8:12 pm

    I found a flaw in Berry’s game.

  7. Chris in Texas

    June 20, 2012 at 8:36 pm

    I love how Boesch just trotted after that foul out. I don’t think he could have gotten to it, but, he barely even ran. Also, can some one explain to me WAR. I made fun of it on Bless you Boys and everybody basically called me stupid. My point was Gregor Blanco and his .250 BA 4 HR and 15 RBI has the same WAR 2.1 as Miguel Cabrera. How does anybody have any faith in that stat? I understand, sample size..but, it sounds a bit like the QB rating. In some ways it works, but, come on, if you look on fangraphs…Miguel Cabrera is behind Mike Moustakis and Brett Lawrie for 3rd basemen. Can you imagine the Tigers w/out Cabrera in the lineup?

    • Kevin in Dallas

      June 20, 2012 at 9:29 pm

      WAR takes into account Defense. Cabby costs us quite a bit b/c of his lack of range.

      I like WAR, but I also think that there are a lot of baseball lemmings out there who are flocking to it b/c Dave Cameron says so. There’s a lot of unoriginal thought out there these days. See point #4 here:

  8. Chris in Texas

    June 20, 2012 at 8:41 pm

    When Fielder and Cabrera don’t hit, we usually don’t score. We need our #5 hitter to do something. Statistically, him and Boesch have been awful, they need to hit or we need new guys in their place..DH and RF are easy positions to find replacements.

    • Coleman

      June 20, 2012 at 9:18 pm

      Haha our #5 hitter is sub-Inge, and there is the rub, as the Shakespeareans say.

      • Chris in Texas

        June 20, 2012 at 9:28 pm

        When Jim says he wants a “mean streak” I guess our #5 hitter misunderstood.

  9. Vince in MN

    June 20, 2012 at 9:08 pm

    I see Porcello gave up 10 hits but had 16 ground ball outs tonight. How many of the hits were due to our lead spiked defenders?

    • Kevin in Dallas

      June 20, 2012 at 9:30 pm

      2-3 for sure.

  10. Chris in Texas

    June 20, 2012 at 9:17 pm

    What ridiculous defense. That is your starting SS and he is not even a good hitter. last year he survived because he didn’t commit any errors. His range and arm are pathetic for a major league SS, now, he can’t even make simple plays…He needs to not be re-signed.

  11. Coleman

    June 20, 2012 at 9:19 pm

    Chlown Show.

  12. Kevin in Dallas

    June 20, 2012 at 9:23 pm

    Westbrook has made Cabrera look silly. Hats off to JW, heck of a game.

    • Coleman

      June 20, 2012 at 9:30 pm

      That would be CW, as in “Cy”

  13. Chris in Texas

    June 20, 2012 at 9:23 pm

    If I were Dave Dombowski, I would go in a completely different direction. Next year, I would look to trade for a 2B/SS combo that can play defense. You can hit them 8th and 9th and your team will be much better…Our problem is we do not have a DH or a corner OF that can hit, sacraficing defense at 2B and SS for mediocre or bad hitting is crazy and goes against all tenants of winning baseball “Be strong up the middle” You can’t win a division losing games because your SS can’t make simple plays (It’s hard enough when you have 2 sinkerball pitchers and your left side of your infield’s range sucks, and the Right side is not much better. You just won’t win…Fielder and Cabby can hit well enough to overcome it, Peralta and Raburn will never hit enough to overcome their defensive liabilities. Last year, we got by because Peralta made no is how the Yankees are getting by w/ their weak defense. They lead the league in fewest errors.

    • Coleman

      June 20, 2012 at 9:33 pm

      Defense does not matter. Because our offense will score so many runs, so so many runs…

    • Vince in MN

      June 20, 2012 at 10:12 pm

      How about this for a future (next year) lineup:
      1. Jackson CF
      2. Dirks LF (assuming he doesn’t regress to a Raburn/Boesch type)
      3. Cabrera 3B
      4. Fielder 1B
      5. Martinez DH
      6. Avila C
      7. ? SS
      8. ? 2B
      9. Berry RF

      Where SS and 2B are mild hitters with some speed, but good fielders. If you had a RF that had some consistent pop, you could move him to 6th or 7th and drop SS/2B to the bottom of the order and leave Berry as a 4th outfielder who would still get plenty of playing time.

      Unless one of Cabrera/Fielder can be moved to DH when when the object would be to pick up a decent 3B (Castellanos – but when?) we are stuck with their respective fielding liabilities at the corniers. Martinez has another year on his contract and he is a wonderful hitter but only able to DH, so I think we just have to accept the current Corner Chaos for another year.

  14. Kevin in Dallas

    June 20, 2012 at 9:33 pm

    I really like using Below there. We’ve got about a 7% chance of winning this game. Valverde is injured for who knows how long. We really still don’t know how Dotel looks. The bullpen is close to chaos. Below has not pitched in the 9th (ever?) and I don’t think he’s had much, if any, 8th inning work. Great spot for him to get some late inning work.

    • Vince in MN

      June 20, 2012 at 9:56 pm

      Below is almost exclusively used in losing games. What does that say about his role?

  15. Coleman

    June 20, 2012 at 9:37 pm

    We were 1 for our last 18..,against a 5-6 pitcher, Cy Westbrook…dunno, it’s hard being impressed…

  16. Chris in Texas

    June 20, 2012 at 9:39 pm

    Somebody explain to me, why when you are down by 2 in the 9th and Prince is leading off the inning, and they have a shift on…why he doesn’t just drop a bunt down the 3rd base line and get a baserunner. Please, somebody explain to me, why any player would not do that? I would love to here the logic behind NOT dropping a bunt down in that situation. In any other sport it would be considered selfish, what he just did. I know one thing it’s losing baseball. They are giving you a single, if you can just bunt it hard enough past the pitcher, he should practice that daily for situations where he just wants to get on base. Perfect situation, right there.

    • Coleman

      June 20, 2012 at 9:41 pm

      He isn’t mean enough.

      • Coleman

        June 20, 2012 at 9:45 pm

        Yes, I realize he’s a 300 lb power hitter, but still…in my day I knew how to bunt, and I
        bunted with an attitude…downright mean stuff…

    • Kevin in Dallas

      June 21, 2012 at 1:12 am

      First of all, he doesn’t know how to bunt, and he shouldn’t. I don’t want him to a) break a finger, or b) hurt himself sprinting to first base.

      It’s the same reason why JV doesn’t take batting practice, and why quarterbacks don’t participate in tackling drills. It’s a useless skill for their position/role.

  17. Coleman

    June 20, 2012 at 9:39 pm

    If D. Young is still on the team after the All-Star break I’ll be, I don’t know, melancholy or something…

    • Chris in Texas

      June 20, 2012 at 9:46 pm

      The guy is beyond awful, Inge is laughing at him.

  18. Vince in MN

    June 20, 2012 at 9:52 pm

    Weak defense aside, they just got beat by a pitcher who was on tonight. It happens.

    However, due to the weak defense and spotty starting pitching, I don’t think they are going to be able to put together any kind of a sustained winning streak (e.g. 7 in a row or a 9 out of 10 kind of thing.) They are just going to have to scratch for everything (more dirtbags, more dirtbags) and hopefully not go into any long losing streaks or tail-spinning periods like they had from mid April through the end of May. Winning two out of every three isn’t bad, but they won’t be able to do that every series either. As constructed they might be able to pull it together enough to eek out a win of the division, but in no way are they going to win 95 games again. And winning the division is the only way for them to get into the playoffs, as there will be no wildcard team coming out of the Central.

  19. Just Me

    June 20, 2012 at 10:11 pm

    Somethings been rotten in the clubhouse long before Leyland stirred things with his comments to the press about lacking “moxie”. Surprised it took so long for him to admit it. These guys lack heart. Is it my imagination or do the Tigers produce more hits when JV’s on the mound. Like they hustle to support him. So why not all the other times? Maybe they lack an inner fortitude. Just sayin’

  20. Just Me

    June 20, 2012 at 10:20 pm

    Vince in MN…I think your pretty accurate about that. And even if they do that, they will probably face early elimination. Barring one heluva hot streak by divine intervention.

  21. Kevin in Dallas

    June 21, 2012 at 1:15 am

    Vince in MN, +1 on the got beat line. Westbrook was nails tonight. Let’s give credit where credit is due.

    I think they’ll be alright. There is too much talent in spite of Leyland & Lamont.