Game 2013.26: Twins at Tigers

15-10, in first place and leading K.C. by half a game still, and the win streak is at 5 games and counting. Anibal Sanchez got this thing rolling with a career outing against the Braves last Friday, and while we won’t see 17 strikeouts from him today, we might see a more subtle masterpiece here in his second 2013 outing vs. the Twins. Such as a no-hitter, for example. Just a suggestion.

I had the thought that the Tigers hitters might “let up” a bit when they had the lead. One gets that impression once in a while. So I checked it. Not true, and it’s easy to see why I shouldn’t have expected otherwise. Here’s a clue: The Tigers lead the AL in BA, and we don’t even have to look it up to know that the Tigers have spent the majority of their innings in the lead. So….

You might know this, but I just heard about it. Compared with 10 years ago, strikeouts in MLB are at a frequency where you might say we are in another era. Why is this? And what are the new parameters for judging a pitcher’s K/9? We are programmed to consider a strikeout per inning the baseline for being impressed. Do we need a new standard? I wonder the same things about other shifting stats: BA, HR, wins for pitchers. Is that .300 batting average thing as arbitrary as it seems? It seems we are now in an era where 20+ home runs should impress us as much as it did 40 years ago, are we not? And 20 wins as the threshold for greatness just seems completely out of line today. 15+ is more like it. Pitchers aren’t starting 40 games a year any more, and I would bet that no-decisions are more frequent than they used to be.

Your one-stop shop for some rapid perusal of the current state of Tigers minor league teams and players:

Toledo (7-20, last place; 18 of their games have been on the road so far)

Erie (12-11, first place)

Lakeland (11-14, tied for 4th of 5)

West Michigan (10-13, 5th of 8)

Some Tigers team stats AL rankings:

Hitting: Best in AVG and OBP, 3rd in OPS. Best hitters at home by a mile; nearly the worst on the road. Best two-strike hitters, again by a mile; decisively the worst at first-pitch hitting. Tops in hits, 3rd in walks, and 3rd fewest strikeouts. Among the elite with 2 outs, and 6th with RISP. Against LHP, 3rd best; RHP, 6th best. Considering who the slumpers and strugglers have been, this LHB line is no surprise: 227/317/363. Well, maybe a bit of a surprise. Hey – the Tigers are 6th best at staying out of the DP. There’s a surprise.

Starting rotation: Rivaled only by Texas and Boston, and Detroit starters have given up the fewest HR by far (7 in 156 IP!). (Side note: Doug Fister – the pitcher – is tied with the Yankees and Orioles – the entire rotations – for the AL lead in HBP.) Let me put this in perspective: If Tigers starting pitching totals were projected out to 34 GS, that stat line would win the Cy Young award handily. Mr. Tiger would trounce Mr. Red Sox and Mr. Ranger. That’s how good Tigers starters were in April. Phenomenal or close to it.

Bullpen: Well, you know, they’ve allowed 37 of Detroit’s 92 earned runs. 12th in WHIP, but 4th best in BAA. Tops in strikeouts, but also 2nd in walks. Tied for 2nd best in HR allowed. Oft-maligned but serviceable, and maybe getting better. The 1-5 W-L counts for something more than it would for starters, though. Gotta even that up.

Speaking of which… I have no confidence in Al Alburquerque. None. It’s Dejareal all over again. Did someone say “DL” or “Toledo”? I didn’t say that, but I thought I heard something there.

Miguel Cabrera makes some nifty plays at 3B sometimes. Great arm, of course. He has decent range in my view, and good reactions. Why is he a liability there… still? It’s his glove – literally. Glove control. It’s also a hands thing, ball transfer and such, and also, often, a judgment thing. He’s got the legs and the arm, but the hands…

Watching Pedro Florimon of the Twins, I thought, that guy’s swing reminds me of Don Kelly’s. Kelly has a nice-looking swing, in my opinion. Despite that, it’s obvious that it’s not a swing that’s ever going to get much done at the plate with any frequency. I can’t tell you why. I’m not a hitting coach or an amateur baseball genius. But it’s a nice-looking swing.

Andy Dirks and Victor Martinez are back. I don’t think it’s too early to declare this. On the other hand, I have just about resigned myself to a bad year at the plate from Alex Avila. No real signs of life. The occasional HR is not the same as what you saw with Martinez, which was good contact more and more frequently, well before the hits actually started to fall. I also think Jhonny Peralta is overachieving a bit, but he did that for an entire season not so long ago, so let it ride.

Kelly has been good in the outfield, but then so has Dirks. I’m hoping this Kelly as LF replacement late in games isn’t one of those auto-Leyland things. Because I think Dirks has an even nicer-looking swing than Kelly does.

Still wondering why Martinez was sent home to be thrown out last night. Did you see him rounding third? Maybe it’s just a traditional thing for games against the Twins,  or maybe Tom Brookens felt Dirks needed the RBI. He did, but he wasn’t going to get it with Martinez on second.

Maybe today Ramon gets the start at SS or 2B. Even though he’s better as a LHB. So maybe not. The real question is whether Matt Tuiasosopo gets the presumed start in LF. Matt is one of my guys, but I’d roll with Dirks today, roll with the hot hand. Will Leyland? I’m guessing… no.

On to the sweep. (Jinx, schminx.) Doesn’t have to be a blowout. I’ll take 7-0 Tigers.

POST-GAME: Twins 6, Tigers 2. They weren’t without their chances, but the Tigers were outplayed in all aspects of the game today. The game hung on 5 events, most before it floated out of reach courtesy of Rondon and Downs:

1. Twins 1st. Close to 40 pitches already, men on 1st and 2nd, Sanchez gives up a LF single to Parmalee. Tuiasosopo makes perfect throw to the plate that Pena a) is not positioned well on, and b) that Pena drops while turning to make the tag on Morneau he would have gotten.

2. Tigers 1st. Two men on, two outs, and Martinez gets under one for an easy flyball out to Hicks in CF.

3. Twins 2nd. Twins score their 3rd run on Carroll double that makes it to LF to Cabrera’s right. Don’t know whether to blame Cabrera or Sanchez or just give Carroll (and the running on pitch Florimon scoring from 1B) credit, but 3 will be enough.

4. Tigers 6th. The tide was turning, the score was 3-2, the Tigers had capitalized a mistake into one of those runs. Cabrera at 3B, 2 outs. Martinez scorches one that hooks foul down the LF line. Then hits a grounder to 2B in the RF grass that most any person with legs would have had an IF RBI-single on. It’s all over.

5. Tigers 9th. Cabrera at 2B, Fielder at 1B, no outs. This is what you call a rally when you’re down 6-2. Martinez hits the first pitch to Carroll at 3B for a 5-4-3 DP. This is what you call a dead rally.

PLAYER OF THE GAME: Scott Diamond, Justin Morneau
HONORABLE MENTION: Pedro Florimon, Jamie Carroll, Chris Parmalee. Miguel Cabrera, Jose Ortega
NOT SO GOOD: Brayan Pena, Victor Martinez, Bruce Rondon

Sanchez finished strong after an uncharacteristically labored beginning, retiring the last 11 he faced… Nice acting job by Miggy on his “HBP”… Prince lingered at the railing after pursuing an out of play foul ball. Brought some laughs to the people there with whatever he said or did. Cool moment… Pena and Peralta premiered their new comedy routine “Hit and Run,” one pretending to swing while the other pretended to run. Nice ABs today, Brayan. Platoon? Ha ha ha… It’s official. The bullpen stinks. But Ortega was dynamite. Could the Tigers be saved by not one but two Jose’s?… Strikeouts thrown are not runs scored, unfortunately. I’m a bit weary of strikeout hoopla.

38 thoughts on “Game 2013.26: Twins at Tigers”

  1. Dear Smoking Loon ….. I hope you didn’t jinx us for today’s game by posting our record as 15 – 11 in your preamble. We are 15 – 10! Cheers.

    1. Oh man! Total typo! I guess I did put the jinx on. I’ll correct it for the record, but plead guilty here. Good catch.

  2. I hope VMart is ok. He looked a little gimpy running to first after his last hit. Could he have injured himself at the plate when sent by Brookens earlier in the game.

  3. Today’s Sweepy Lineup:
    1 Jackson CF
    2 Hunter RF
    3 Cabrera 3B
    4 Fielder 1B
    5 Martinez DH
    6 Tuiasosopo LF
    7 Peralta SS
    8 Pena C
    9 Santiago 2B

    Tigers are 4-2 when Pena starts.

  4. Smokey makes my blood boil ….. there is no way Santiago should be replacing Omar ….. period …… case closed! Tui and Pena ….. fine ….. but Santiago no way ….. there is no valid reason ….. other than trying to give Minny a game!! I hope this team is good enough to overcome the many Smokey gaffs.

    1. Tui can’t hit righties and he’s already busy spelling Dirks against lefties
      Pena… can he even play 2B? Regardless, he’s a marginal hitter and he’s already going to get too many ABs spelling Avila
      Santiago’s solid defense makes up for any offensive deficiencies relative to other possible backups
      It’s a long freakin season; only 4 guys in the entire league played all 162. You need 30-40 guys each year. If you’re not going to play Santiago, get him off the roster and tell me who you would use as your backup 2B.
      The marginal difference between giving a spot start to one backup vs another is very, very minor. The season is won or lost on the strength of your top 9.

      1. There is no need to substitute for Infante in today’s game! The loss in offense from Infante far outweighs any defense Santiago brings to the table and he sure as hell doesn’t bring any offense …. look at his stats …. just pathetic!

        1. How do you know? Did you chat with Omar this morning? Do you know how many games he misses in a typical season? Do you even know how many games the typical player misses each season?

          I’m guessing that you made your decision on little more than your unrealistic desire to see the starters start every game. Maybe you took the time to check Infante’s numbers against Diamond and maybe you even checked Santiago’s numbers against Diamond, but that’s probably all the research you did before forming such a strong opinion. Do you honestly think you have access to enough information to accurately second guess the manager?

          There’s nothing wrong with questioning a decision, but it’s downright infantile of you to do it with the kind of arrogance you’re displaying. Just because you don’t know the reason behind a decision, doesn’t mean there wasn’t one.

          P.S. Santiago brings the same level of offense that any AAAA player brings.

          1. And the answer is ….. apparently Omar is suffering from a sore knee. No need to get your knickers in a knot Jeff!

    2. Ol’ Smoky has been making my blood boil for seven years now. He insists on playing his backups on get-away day games to close out homestands, despite it rarely working in our favor. I understand Tui playing LF today with a lefty starting for Minny. I don’t mind Pena catching as Avila’s bat has been horrid, but I agree that Santiago should be used if/when Omar gets hurt or as a late inning defensive replacement/pinchrunner. There is no need to start the guy especially when the Twins are starting a lefty and Omar is a right-handed hitter (and a far superior one to Santiago).

      These are the type of situations where I’d like to see Ol’ Smoky put the hammer down and go for the sweep (especially versus a divisional opponent), but as the original poster in the thread says it just seems like Ol’ Smoky instead takes the mindset of “we got the first two so this one is just a throwaway and if we get it that’s fine, but if we don’t I’m not going to lose any sleep over it”. Its frustrating because it leads to regular seasons like last year where they should have had the division well in hand by September, but instead have to get involved in a dogfight for the division right down to the final week of the season.

      1. Yeah I hear ya man, I for one think he should have been fired MANY years ago and he doesn’t deserve to have the job he has. He has let this team down in countless ways for such a long time and him continuing to get paid big bucks to lead this team is just a travesty in my mind. I don’t see any effort by him to improve himself or solve team problems. I chalk that up to him probably just being stubborn and not willing to listen to anybody else’s advice. Leyland does things his way totally content and not seeing any flaws within his systems and philosophies and he doesn’t have to be held accountable to high standards to keep his job. The result is a frustrating job performer that keeps on anchoring this team down from achieving their max potential.

  5. Sanchez missing some bats today again. Unfortunately when he is not missing the bats…

  6. Rondon still a member of the “not ready for primetime” crew that also includes Villareal at this moment. Rondon has absolutely no command whatsoever, and has now allowed a base stealer to get ridiculous jumps in two of his three appearances. I feel like a Tigers prospect hasn’t been this oversold to the public since Torrey Lovullo.

    Mr. Dombrowsi, please send Rondon back to Toledo for more seasoning. A winnable game just became a lot less so as Rondon has now failed in both of his one-run appearances (one when we were up a run and now failing to keep us within a run). Making it worse is that both came versus AL Central opponents.

    1. Obviously, Rondon won’t be around long at this pace, but he’ll probably get a couple more chances to settle down. As much as the downside hurts, you have to remember that he’s a player with a lot of upside. If he gets it right, he’ll have the kind of impact on this season that Zumaya had in ’06. It’s worth the risk to see what he has, especially when you remember that we needed to replace Villareal anyways and the other options in Toledo aren’t very impressive.

      1. His chances to settle down will thankfully occur in Toledo. Contending teams like Detroit cannot afford for Rondon to have his apprenticeship take place at the major league level. He should be left there for a minimum of a month. I don’t want to see Bruce up here again any earlier than June. He needs at least that long to figure out what he is doing wrong and gain some consistency. If we were the Houston Astros I wouldn’t have a problem letting him take his lumps in the bigs, but alas this is not Houston and we cannot afford to let this kid learn at the expense of our place in the standings.

        1. I don’t think anyone was suggesting that he “learn” in the majors. Obviously, this isn’t 2003; everyone on the roster needs to produce.

          I was just pointing out that baseball is a numbers game. You don’t get very far by make snap judgments about a player based one at-bat or one outing. When they called him up, i was a virtual certainty that he was going to get at least two outings and I honestly thought he’d get one or two more. It’s a shame it didn’t work, but I don’t regret them taking the chance and I hope to see him again mid-summer.

    2. Bringing in Rondon in this situation was another of Smokey’s poor decisions. We needed a shutdown inning ….. seeing that we made the game close with two runs the bottom of the inning before.

      1. If you haven’t noticed, we have a bullpen that’s mediocre at best. We’re not going to get “shutdown innings” on command and the best pitchers will pitch most of their innings when we have a lead to protect.

  7. Santiago should be put on the DL for lack of playing ability…can’t hit a ball out of the infield

  8. Raburn 2-for-2 already tonight, now batting .346. Inge hitting .321. The Apocalypse is nigh.

    1. I love it, I liked Raburn a lot and I just want to see him do well and get a chance to play and be his best.

  9. SL, well I might agree that Don Kelly has some pretty swings from time to time, but he’s definitely not effective at it, and a swing needs to be more functionally beneficial than aesthetically. He doesn’t hit for much power potential and he’s had consistency problems putting the bat on the ball, so it seems like he’s not strong with his hand eye coordination like a Miguel Cabrera is. I suspect he hits too aggressively for powerful intent to make up for the lack of his physical gifts and that makes him slightly more prone to whiffing at the ball. He can’t do what a guy like a Ryan Raburn can do, which is a natural gift and bonafide talent to hit a baseball and hit it well and with power. To get better control of his bat and more potential for at least making contact, he often chokes up and takes shorter swings, but then that approach doesn’t give him much potential to hit lots of quality hits.

    Both of those guys in my opinion need to work on their mental approach to hitting quite a bit, and for me I just see Don Kelly as all screwed up in the head and now in his mechanics. Do I swing for power, or contact, or short swing, or follow through, or choke up, or hold the bat upside down, heck every day he’s probably getting new tweaks and instructions from his hitting coach that is just confusing him and not really working through the core of his problems.

  10. We have come here not to bury Raburn, but to praise him.

      1. What’s the old saying? A friend will help you move, a true friend will help you move a body? I got a shovel, I assume there is an airport in Cleveland, work us up an alibi or two, and we can do this. ( Guess watching Goodfellas this morning has twisted my mind a little)

          1. funny, like a clown? (grandsons lay this one on me all the time)

  11. What he is doing in Cleveland right now makes me hate him even more considering the fact that in the past three years in each of the first halves of each season Rayburn was practically the worst player in the American League’……hey Ryan thanks for nothing!

    1. Well maybe we should have hired a different hitting coach then. It’s not necessarily Ryan’s fault if the Tigers let him down.

      1. True. Never blame a player for lack of performance. It’s always a) the manager’s fault, b) the GM’s fault, or c) both. Teams should also carry individual hitting/pitching/defensive/baserunning coaches for each player, for an additional layer of blame absorbency and more fire/hire capability. The only thing standing between a HOF baseball career for Ryan Raburn, or indeed any MLB player, or indeed any guy on the street, or indeed any living person, is poor coaching and poor management at every level. Another example of how professional baseball is an enterprise doomed to ineptitude and failure because of MANAGEMENT and its illogical approach, which is wholly lacking in omniscience and omnipotence.

        No, seriously. Raburn isn’t a starter anywhere for the Tigers, and there’s no sense in carrying a bench guy who can’t play any position particularly well. Also, see his game log for 2013 and how he was doing through the first 13 of his 16 games as of April 28. All of a sudden he’s a player who “got away”? I don’t think so. The Indians took a flyer on him. Good for them. I don’t think they expect more than 2011 level performance from him, and in the long run, they’ll be lucky to get it.

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