9-5, 1st place, 1 game up.
Nice work, friends. Based on this morning’s chatter, there are a lot of tired DTW guys today.
On a night when more Tigers donned a golden sombrero (4) than crossed home plate (2), a Brayan Pena out, his 5th of the night, brought home Don Kelly (pinch running for VMart) in the top of the 14th for what would prove to be the winning run. Though not without some drama…Pena was the difference in the bottom of the 14th as well as the final link in a Hunter –> Fielder –> Pena relay on an Ackley double which even had Gene Lamont questioning why there was a play at the plate. Fielder’s throw was a good bit up the line and Smoak was still smoked. A better throw and Pena could have been in a better position to cushion the Smoak train. Smoak wasn’t even close. He may have made it to the RH batters box. The collision was fierce, but Pena held on.
As a result, your Tigers are on a modest 4 game win streak, have already clinched their 4th straight series win, and can get their first sweep of the season today.
We frequently like to call out the bullpen on here, so let’s give them credit when it’s due. The bullpen followed-up Scherzer’s brilliant 8 IP, 6 H, 1 BB, 1 ER and 12 K performance with an equally sparkling 6 IP, 5 H, 3 BB and 7 K combined effort. (Admittedly, the SEA staff was even better – .79 WHIP; and how about that Wilhelmsen?)
On to today’s game.
Hisashi Iwakuma was signed by the Ms in Jan of 2012 out of the Japan League. He was pretty darn good in his first year in the Majors, posting a 3.02 ERA and 1.16 WHIP in 146 innings. He doesn’t throw particularly hard (he can touch mid 90s but generally throws 89-90), but he’s got good control (2.43 BB/9) and a nasty sinker which had an 18% swinging strike rate last year. He was even tougher at home last year – going 7-3 with a 2.40 ERA and 1.14 WHIP. He’s only thrown 3 innings against the Tigers, so no significant match-up data. The Tigers will have their work cut out for them today.
JV is JV. Lifetime he’s 9-6 vs. the Ms with a 3.41 ERA and 94 Ks in 103 IPs. Kendry Morales may have JV figured out (7-18 for a .389 average), not much else to list here. Verlander is 49-17 with a 2.84 ERA in 84 day games, which is an active players best .742 winning percentage.
A few notes:
- Prince Fielder is the only Ms opponent to strike out 4+ times in back-to-back games.
- The 40 Ks last night are the 2nd most in the live ball era (43 between the A’s and Angels in 20 innings in 1971).
- Would you be willing to give up Avisail Garcia for Houston Street? I wouldn’t. I think that the Tigers can find a closer internally.
- I wrote a bit yesterday about the success of the top of the lineup. AJax and Hunter are getting on base at incredible rates, and it stems from their historic contact rates. Note that Hunter’s first walk of the year came on Tuesday. There were two great posts on Fangraphs about this yesterday. Check it out.
- Happy 30th Miguel Cabrera! Could he be chasing Hank Aaron?
Today’s I’m Surprised that JL Isn’t Resting More Regulars Lineup:
1. Jackson, CF
2. Dirks, LF
3. Cabrera, 3B
4. Fielder, 1B
5. Martinez, DH
6. Peralta, SS
7. Avila, C
8. Infante, 2B
9. Kelly, LF