Game 2013.3: Tigers at Twins

Since the big question going into the season was the Tiger bullpen, it was almost inevitable that the big topic of discussion early on would be bullpen problems. These sorts of things become self-perpetuating don’t they? At the first sign of trouble it becomes “see, look, it’s happening!”

I am not the only person who suspects that Jim Leyland really isn’t buying the Closer by Committee business, and is itching to slap the closer tag on the back of someone’s warmup jacket.  And if you were going to try one guy to start with, who better than Phil Coke, he of the postseason heroics?

Well, the first go of that did not work out so well.  Coke hung fastballs on two consecutive bottom of the order boys and before you knew it the Tigers’ bid for an undefeated season was finished at one game (that last fly by the way was frustratingly an almost-playable one).

It is hard to blame anyone for remembering what Coke did in the playoffs, but it is also worth remembering this: Coke gave up a .396 average against right-handed hitters last season. One of the advantages to a Closer by Committee system is the ability to play match ups. Maybe let’s give that a try.

The game yesterday was only partly about the bullpen though. The basic story was that the Tigers just didn’t score enough runs to win a Major League baseball game, struggling against the very ordinary Kevin Correia. In fact, the vaunted Tiger offense has managed to grind out a paltry season OPS of .542 so far. This won’t continue, although hopefully they won’t have to wait for warm weather.

The good news from yesterday: the Tigers’ starters now have a season ERA of 0.00, as Anibal Sanchez turned in 5 innings of two-hit baseball.  The rubber game mound belongs to Rick Porcello, he of the sparkling Spring Training.  So when he leaves the mound with the lead after 5 innings, try not to think “oh no, here it comes.”

Today’s Not-So-Fun Fact: Tiger left-handed hitters so far this season are 3-for-27 (.111), with an OPS of .291.

Today’s Player of the Pre-game:  Don Kelly, who becomes the first bench player to get a start. The Donkey will bat 6th, naturally, because that is where the Left Fielder bats.

Today’s Chillin’ With DK Lineup:

  1. Austin Jackson, CF
  2. Torii Hunter, RF
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 3B
  4. Prince Fielder, 1B
  5. Victor Martinez, DH
  6. Don Kelly, LF
  7. Jhonny Peralta, SS
  8. Alex Avila, C
  9. Omar Infante, 2B


  1. The Strategy Expert

    April 4, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    I agree that Don Kelly is the most interesting player in the lineup today to warrant the Player of the Pre-Game award, and love the line about why he’s batting 6th! And it’s not hard for me to blame somebody; I easily and quickly have no problem pointing the finger at DD. But I’m more in the mood to blame him for the offensive offensive roster more than jumping on the bandwagon to complain about not having a “closer”.

  2. Only Tiger Fan in Mississippi

    April 4, 2013 at 12:15 pm

    I hope the Tiger outfielders work out their communication too! Meanwhile great photo of Little Ricky Porcello. I recall Jim Price saying after the fight with Youklis, “it was the day Porcello became a man!”

  3. Only Tiger Fan in Mississippi

    April 4, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    The Free Press is reporting Papa Grande being signed by the Tigers to a minor league contract:

    • Kevin in Dallas

      April 4, 2013 at 12:41 pm

      Unbelievable. Maybe he and Bondo can split an apartment.

      • The Strategy Expert

        April 4, 2013 at 12:50 pm

        Believable since I was mentioning not very long ago how this might happen very soon. A very obvious move since he is a better fit for DD and the Tigers than anybody else. No surprise here.

        • Kevin in Dallas

          April 4, 2013 at 2:30 pm

          Were you surprised by the Elvis Andrus contract today? Can you believe that they chose to give him that kind of money without offering it to Julio Borbon?

          • The Strategy Expert

            April 4, 2013 at 2:38 pm

            No response since the tone of your question seems to be mocking me in some way. You have made a similar post about Borbon in the past that didn’t make any sense and I’m not interested in playing games with somebody that I think is trying to attack my credibility for pure sport.

            • Kevin in Dallas

              April 4, 2013 at 2:52 pm

              I’m referring to your comments a few weeks ago when you stated that several players were more valuable than Elvis Andrus, including Julio Borbon.

              • The Strategy Expert

                April 4, 2013 at 2:55 pm

                You also referenced my words incorrectly with that previous attempt and I’m confused as to what your POV is or what you are insinuating. What about those comments, and what’s your real point here?

    • Jeff Molby

      April 4, 2013 at 2:29 pm

      I’m ok with a minor league contract. It’s basically free depth and if by some miracle he re-learned how to pitch, it’ll be great to have another experienced arm in the bullpen.

    • Smoking Loon

      April 4, 2013 at 9:32 pm

      Stunned by the Valverde signing. Really shouldn’t be. On the one hand, a) it reeks of panic, and b) I wanted the Tigers to stay done with him, don’t want him on the team, and almost don’t want him to do well at all. On the other, it’s a move that makes sense in several ways. Little risk. He’s deservedly well-regarded by the organization and reaching out to him accordingly can only be respected. And it’s undoubtedly a contingency plan that has been on the table for a while rather than a hasty reaction.

      Can’t complain, really.

      • The Strategy Expert

        April 4, 2013 at 10:01 pm

        Well in baseball there’s no rooting for a teammate not to do well, so you just need to find your comfortable bright side. Maybe Valverde can play well and become trade bait when we dump him off as filler to complete a more exciting trade later! The Tigers being willing to give him another chance gives him credibility as a legitimate potential player, and perhaps we soon have a roster space free up for one of many possible reasons and they bring him up and he happens to get a few batters out when it counts.

  4. Bill

    April 4, 2013 at 12:59 pm

    Tigers just signed Valverde! OMG

    • Vince in MN

      April 4, 2013 at 3:45 pm

      Another happy comeback tale in the making. After some extended ST down in Lakeland, he should be ready to go in two or three weeks. Now we have a real Closer. I can hardly wait.

      • Vince in MN

        April 4, 2013 at 4:36 pm

        Maybe they don’t even wait that long. Villarreal down and Valverde up by the end of next week. Problem solved.

        • The Strategy Expert

          April 4, 2013 at 6:18 pm

          Great thanks for solving the problem! Now about that offense?

  5. Coleman

    April 4, 2013 at 3:41 pm

    And there it is, the dreaded double-K with R3L2O. Pathetic. I guess we need the warm weather. Hopefully it will be 85 in Detroit.

    • Vince in MN

      April 4, 2013 at 3:46 pm

      The new and improved Tiger offense is in early 2012 form.

      • Coleman

        April 4, 2013 at 4:06 pm

        It reminds me more of the vaunted 2009 “1000 Run” Offense. But then again hardly fair to judge them against those Monsters of the Mound, the Twins pitching staff.

    • Vince in MN

      April 4, 2013 at 3:48 pm

      On the other hand, we should maybe give some credit to Gardenhire, who apparently understands the concept of ‘matchups’.

      • Kevin in Dallas

        April 4, 2013 at 3:50 pm

        Hard to have a worse sequence of at-bats then that.

  6. mcb

    April 4, 2013 at 4:07 pm

    Only game 3, but sure does feel the same as last year!

    • Kevin in Dallas

      April 4, 2013 at 4:16 pm

      Let’s not forget where we ended up last year.

      It’s a long season. They won’t go 1-10 with RISP every game.

  7. Angus

    April 4, 2013 at 4:34 pm

    I do not think Villareal will be our closer after that outing. I think Al Al maybe the way to go. If he can keep his walk count down he probably has the best stuff of any of the relievers.

    • Vince in MN

      April 4, 2013 at 4:39 pm

      Anyway, with his great K rate, he is the guy you want to bring in when the opposition has a R3L2O situation late in the game – like yesterday for example. Somebody tell Leyland.

      • Angus

        April 4, 2013 at 4:50 pm

        Ole Smoky does not listen to anyone except his same old set ways. We all can pretty much do his lineup and predict his pitching changes. That would be a good game at BW3 kind of like the NFL game where you predict the play.

  8. Kevin in Dallas

    April 4, 2013 at 4:35 pm

    I hate baseball.

    • Coleman

      April 4, 2013 at 4:56 pm

      I am starting a Curling blog, are you in?

      • The Strategy Expert

        April 4, 2013 at 6:04 pm

        I just played curling for the first time last year, I’m a big fan. Although it’s one of those games that’s more fun to watch than play. It’s made for TV. 🙂

        • Smoking Loon

          April 4, 2013 at 9:19 pm

          Ha ha, guys.

          Up until that awful 8th inning, I was going to say, “Three well-played, exciting games.” Actually, that comment was shot down by the time of the Tigers’ 7th, the 3rd consecutive failed rally, when I started getting that queasy, no way they can win this World Series feeling again.

          Credit Leyland with leaving Villareal in after he was obviously getting hit hard. This spared us from seeing AlAl give up 3 runs on wild pitches. At least the Twins had to earn them against Villareal.

          Tough break for Prince (not to mention Villareal). Kinda hard to break to cover 1B when you have no idea where the ball is. As it was, Infante made that play about as close as it could get.

          Hunter is getting himself in a hole chasing those high fastballs. Avila is reminding me of Boesch at the plate, as he did all spring. He looks like a guy taking theoretical at bats, working on a method rather than reacting to the pitches. That’s what it looks like to me. I don’t know what’s really going on or whether anything has changed – maybe he’s always looked that stiff at the plate. I know he did last season.

          Darin Downs was a bright spot. Nice work.

  9. scott

    April 4, 2013 at 6:39 pm

    I didn’t see the game today, but I do see that Porcello allowed 3 runs…..that’s reasonable; got no problem with that. what I also notice is the blowpen allowed 5 more runs. so now the totals are: starters, 15.1 IP, 3 ERs allowed………’pen, 10 IP, 10 ERs allowed. nice…….that’s gonna get it done……. 🙁

    • Smoking Loon

      April 4, 2013 at 9:50 pm

      No inherited runners scored for a change. There’s that.

  10. Jim Eggers USMC Rifle Expert1971

    April 5, 2013 at 2:17 am

    Used to coach with a great man who went on to be the Principal of the local HS; whenever the team would give up a few runs early in a game, he would say”This game is young, boys, we got a lot of baseball left.” 159 to go, it will all work out. A win or loss in April counts the same as a win or loss in the dog days of August. “This season is young, men!”