Game 2013.30: Tigers at Astros

Detroit Tigers, 18-11, 1st Place (.5 ahead of KC).

The Tigers have their bags packed, and prepare to leave Houston a bit reluctantly, one imagines, after their party of a game last night and a 3-for-3 start to the series.  After leaving the strangely-named Minute Maid Park (there is not a tiny maid anywhere in sight), the Tigers have a two-game howdy of a series in Washington, and then back to Detroit to play three with Cleveland, and then…more Astros!

One interesting (if trivial) aspect of the new Interleague play schedule: pitchers, of course, have to bat in National League parks since the play is by National League rules there, with no Designated Hitter.  Since there are at most three consecutive games in National League parks under the new scheduling,  theoretically a pitcher could manage to make it through the season without ever having to bat.  Mr. Justin “Hitless” Verlander is off the hook for the Washington series. The next away Interleague games are May 28-29 in Pittsburgh, and Verlander’s schedule should get him out of that one also.

At any rate, Verlander does climb the hill this afternoon for the asphalt game of the series, broom in hand. His counterpart will be Philip Umber, who with an 0-6 start has a shot at the coveted Maroth Award this season.


Today’s Player of the Pre-game: Miguel Cabrera. I was going to say Alex Avila, since he had a 2nd consecutive good day at the plate, which is a bigger deal for the Tigers’ season than a shellacking of the Astros is. But today he rests. Cabrera has 2 home runs in 6 at bats against Umber

Today’s B-Team (Broom-Team?) Lineup:

  1. Jackson, CF
  2. Dirks, LF
  3. Cabrera, 3B
  4. Fielder, 1B
  5. Martinez, DH
  6. Kelly, RF
  7. Pena, C
  8. Infante, 2B
  9. Santiago, SS


  1. Jerry The Tiger Fan

    May 5, 2013 at 2:55 pm

    Santiago for Peralta? Ugh. Ol’ Smoky trying his best to give Porter a game in this series. It almost feels like Ol’ Smoky feels bad about ever sweeping a series as he almost always comes out with his “B” lineup just about every time the Tigers are poised to sweep a series. Kelly in RF today for Hunter (double ugh!). I can live with the Pena for Avila, although now that Alex has finally put back-to-back good games together it does seem to be odd timing (disrupting Alex’s “flow” that he has finally seemed to have found). Add to it that the Tigers have Monday off and the “resting” of Hunter twice in a week’s span just seems odd. Just another oddity in the litany of Ol’ Smoky head scratchers.

    • Coleman

      May 5, 2013 at 2:59 pm

      It was a long series, even if was a sweepable one (14 inning game, laps around the bases all night last night), so I don’t mind resting a few players–but then that is what off days are for, right? And it is an easy travel day on top of it (late afternoon game, Houston to DC, day off, night game). I think Leyland is just banking on the haplessness of the Astros combined with having Verlander on the mound.

    • Vince in MN

      May 5, 2013 at 4:17 pm

      Playing the subs is pretty standard when Verlander pitches. In his first 7 starts, the best nine have backed him up twice (Opening Day and his last one). I guess that every 6th day the bench needs to play, and by some odd coincidence those happen to be Verlander’s starts as well. That’s baseball.

      • Smoking Loon

        May 6, 2013 at 12:48 am

        Every series played, I’ve seen the other team getting their subs in there quite actively. Every series, every team. Why is this standard practice thought to be such a Leylandism, and how is it wrong to give your bench guys regular work?

        Name the game where a start for any of the bench guys cost the Tigers the win.

        • Vince in MN

          May 6, 2013 at 6:58 am

          The point is, that if the bench guys played 5 out of every 7 starts for each pitcher, they would be the starters and not bench guys. Verlander gets singled out for weak lineups.

          • Smoking Loon

            May 6, 2013 at 12:02 pm

            Verlander’s bench guy weak lineups (JV has been “singled out” twice by opposing LHP starters):

            April 7: 4 for 11, Tuiasosopo .040 WPA
            Cabrera-Fielder-Martinez 1 for 12
            SS Santiago makes nice play up the middle but can’t beat Suzuki IF single
            SS Santiago mental error not forcing lead runner costs a run (with Tigers down 5-0 and JV out of the game)

            April 13: 3 for 5, 2 R, 2 RBI, combined .048 WPA & 1.6 RE24
            Jackson-Hunter-Cabrera 2 for 14

            April 18: 1 for 3
            Jackson-Dirks-Cabrera 1 for 12

            April 25: 0 for 4
            Cabrera-Fielder-Martinez 1 for 11

            May 5: 3 for 12, 3 R, 2 RBI, combined .156 WPA & 0.4 RE24
            Cabrera & Martinez 2 for 9
            Kelly draws a leadoff walk and scores
            Pena 2-run HR second biggest play of the game
            Pena busts it to 1B and nearly beats out 1-3 grounder
            Nice rundown by RF Kelly to catch Ankiel RCF flyball
            Santiago 2 for 3 with BB, doubles and scores from 2B on single to RF Ankiel

            No SB off Verlander/Pena in 3 starts

            BENCH GUYS: 11 for 35 (.314, .375 OBP), 5 R, 4 RBI, 4 BB, 4 K
            SELECTED CAN’T-MISS REGULARS: 7 for 58 = .121, 2 R, 2 RBI

            I find in favor of the weak lineups. Also:

            vs, RHP
            Dirks 16 for 65, .718, 2 HR, 7 RBI
            Tuiasosopo 5 for 11, 1.364 OPS, 1 HR, 6 RBI

            All I’m saying here is that the idea that Tui “can’t” hit righties can be thrown out. Matt’s problem heretofore has been not being able to hit anyone. In fact, neither Dirks nor Tuiasosopo show strong “typical” platoon splits at all. When Leyland plays the percentages here, he’s playing some pretty minute ones. One hopes that TYPE of LHP/RHP would factor into the decision; there may well be a type of same-handed pitcher that favors/disfavors match-ups.

            • Smoking Loon

              May 6, 2013 at 2:31 pm

              Miguel Cabrera is 4 for 29 in 7 Verlander starts, 1 HR and 4 RBI, and 5 of those games were notably poor in terms of WPA and RE24.

              Victor Martinez is 5 for 25 in those 7 games, 0 HR and 0 RBI, and 4 were notably poor in terms of WPA and RE24.

  2. Kevin in Dallas

    May 5, 2013 at 3:52 pm

    I’m okay with it. You gotta get the bench guys some ABs so they can stay ready, and the two days off will be great for those getting it. We’d be heavily favored if Paws were batting 1-9.

  3. StormenNorman$

    May 5, 2013 at 4:42 pm

    At the game…a bullet from Pena.
    Perfect weather…and some continued offense…nice

    • Kevin in Dallas

      May 5, 2013 at 4:45 pm

      Outstanding. You’ve represented DTW well out there this weekend. Next summer I’ll meet you down there for a game.

      • Only Tiger Fan in Mississippi

        May 5, 2013 at 4:57 pm

        Sounds like a great idea!

  4. Coleman

    May 5, 2013 at 4:43 pm

    B-Team Rally!

  5. StormenNorman$

    May 5, 2013 at 4:46 pm

    Even Ramon getting in the hit parade

  6. Vince in MN

    May 5, 2013 at 4:58 pm

    Humber is being humbled.

  7. jud

    May 5, 2013 at 5:02 pm

    Humbler how much worse can it get when Ramon cracks a double off you..He is having so much trouble with the lefties Avila keeps bugging Mumbles to get in the game……

    • Vince in MN

      May 5, 2013 at 5:05 pm

      He has allowed 26 runs in his last 13 innings, so it has been pretty bad for a few games now.

    • Vince in MN

      May 5, 2013 at 5:17 pm

      Lefties hitting .443 against him before today – ouch.

  8. jud

    May 5, 2013 at 5:21 pm

    and look what the LH have done this game…

  9. StormenNorman$

    May 5, 2013 at 5:30 pm

    Humber = lumber

    • Vince in MN

      May 5, 2013 at 5:38 pm

      How about LHumber?

  10. Vince in MN

    May 5, 2013 at 5:58 pm

    Darvish with 14 Ks vs BOS today. That’s 72 in 45.2 IP (7 starts) so far. At that rate, if he starts 35 games like he did last year, he’ll finish close to 350. And as noted yesterday, MIggy could reach 200 RBI. What’s going on? I think we are looking at some record breaking stats by the end of ’13.

    • Smoking Loon

      May 6, 2013 at 12:50 am

      It’ll all regress to the mean.

      • Smoking Loon

        May 6, 2013 at 12:09 pm

        Or I should say, *toward* the mean.

  11. Coleman

    May 5, 2013 at 6:01 pm

    Wow, Cabrera channeling his inner-Inge at 3rd. This game is pretty interesting for a 8-0 game.

  12. jud

    May 5, 2013 at 6:41 pm


  13. jud

    May 5, 2013 at 6:55 pm

    Dirks has hit at every level of baseball he has played—good to see him getting back on track this weekend!

    • Smoking Loon

      May 6, 2013 at 12:10 pm

      Well, except for the April 2013 MLB level. But yes.

  14. Judpma

    May 5, 2013 at 7:12 pm

    This Houston team is so bad the 2006 Tigers would beat them 5- out of 7

    • Vince in MN

      May 5, 2013 at 7:16 pm

      It’s gonna be a long season, and probably get longer after the trade deadline.

      • Smoking Loon

        May 6, 2013 at 12:11 pm

        No, I’m pretty sure the season is shorter then.

    • Smoking Loon

      May 6, 2013 at 12:28 pm

      The Astros looked pretty good the first couple games. I don’t think they’re nearly as pathetic as their record indicates. But deficiencies in starting pitching can lay a team low pretty quick.

      • The Strategy Expert

        May 6, 2013 at 2:19 pm

        They’re doing pretty well for having less than a $25MM payroll.

        • Smoking Loon

          May 6, 2013 at 3:04 pm

          Yes, and I wouldn’t laugh too loud when they lose over 100. Strong farm system, probable advantage in drafts, etc., etc.. The Tigers were once a laughingstock and then in the WS 3 years later.

          However, is too late to move them to the AL Central for 2013? I think Houston might be farther east than Kansas City. Close to it. Close enough. Houston is also closer to a major body of water. That should be enough. All the other AL Central teams are close or fairly close to the Great Lakes. Clearly, the Royals don’t belong. Furthermore, in my view, there’s only room for one winning record in this division.

          • The Strategy Expert

            May 6, 2013 at 4:48 pm

            Well I just checked the standings and they are dead last in MLB. Last time I looked at Houston there were a few other teams that had the same number or just 1 win off. They lost 9 of their last 10, so I should revise my statement that they are doing “pretty well” to “not well at all and about as expected giving the circumstances”.

            And frankly I think the organization is making a big mistake to not unload a couple of other somewhat sizable contracts for players I don’t see fitting into their very long-term plan. They have a lot of work to do and could easily transform to a very strategic shape by clearly making themselves #1 in baseball in terms of lowest amount of financial liabilities. That’s a tremendously powerful position to operate from. It’s easy for them to transform to greatness if they have the vision for it.

  15. Vince in MN

    May 5, 2013 at 7:14 pm

    Now pinch-running for Fielder… Slopo!!

  16. Vince in MN

    May 5, 2013 at 7:37 pm

    Nice recovery by Downs to get the last five batters, 4 on Ks. With the exception of AlAl’s outing yesterday the bullpen was lights out this series: 13 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 4 BB 19 K, 1 HBP

    • Smoking Loon

      May 6, 2013 at 12:19 pm

      It was a nice recovery by Downs, but I’d have to exempt him from the lights out category, 4 K’s notwithstanding. Walking the leadoff hitter is a sin regardless of the score, and not leaving the guy at 1B or erasing him kicks any reliever off consideration for my “honorable mention” list.

      Downs’s ERA caught a bit of a break when the Astros didn’t send the runner home. Not sure if that was respect for Kelly’s arm or ordinary caution factoring in the out situation and apparent hittability of Downs.

  17. StorminNorman

    May 5, 2013 at 8:23 pm

    after going to 3 out of the 4 DET games in HOU, for a number of reasons and without reservations i can honestly say, “welcome to the AL”

  18. Smoking Loon

    May 6, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    I thought Minute Maid Park was a weird but kinda cool ballpark. I like the catch Dirks made in the LCF “nook,” not to mention his expression and the look he gave Jackson after the catch.

    I think the the tiny maids are there. You just can’t see them, for obvious reasons. I think they live in the tiny corner foul territories.

    • StorminNorman$

      May 6, 2013 at 5:27 pm

      Minute Maid Park (formerly “Enron Field”) is a great place to see a game before Houston’s heat/humidity sets in… and when it starts to get unbearable (July – Sept) or a threat of rain, they typically close the roof and kick up the AC – but then it becomes “indoor baseball”, which i’ve never been a fan of (TOR, Astrodome and the dreaded Metrodome)

      • Smoking Loon

        May 6, 2013 at 9:22 pm

        Sounds like the park was hastily built, though. Maybe from frozen concentrate?

  19. Coleman

    May 6, 2013 at 7:04 pm

    And your AL Player of the Week Is: Ryan Raburn.

    (Do players actually care if they are POW or not?)

    • Vince in MN

      May 6, 2013 at 8:46 pm

      High profile players like Pujols, Cabrera, etc., may not think too much of it, but then they are generally in the running for POM, or even Cy Young, or MVP. But it might make a player of the stature of Raburn feel pretty good.

      It’s actually kind of nice to see an Average Joe get recognized for a brief period of super above average play even if they never attain those heights again in their career.

      On the other hand it can be seen as merely a statistical anomaly, after which said player will undoubtedly regress towards the mean, whereby their feat is rendered of only very temporary, and therefore statistically pointless, value. It is such a small sample size after all.

    • The Strategy Expert

      May 6, 2013 at 9:04 pm

      Well for some it sure does mean a lot, some of these guys have very big egos and a variety of sorts of insecurities, just like people anywhere and everywhere. For some it doesn’t mean much, but for others it’s a pretty huge deal.

      • Smoking Loon

        May 6, 2013 at 9:07 pm

        It’s probably a lot like being named Employee of the Month. I wonder if they get their own special parking space.

        • The Strategy Expert

          May 6, 2013 at 9:08 pm

          Yeah and in the case of the movie “Employee of the Month”, people sometimes go to war over such an honor!

    • Smoking Loon

      May 6, 2013 at 9:10 pm

      Well, Prince Fielder did go through that thing where one week he was POW, and the next several games he was WHIFF.

      Raburn will probably go from being POW to MIA.

  20. Coleman

    May 6, 2013 at 7:12 pm

    Well, as bad as the Astros are, they have no use for Rick Ankiel–they DFA’d him today. Did not see that coming.

    • Coleman

      May 6, 2013 at 7:13 pm

      Tom Brookens breathes a sigh of relief.

      • Vince in MN

        May 6, 2013 at 8:52 pm

        It’s possible Ankiel could be picked up by a one of our future opponents.

        • Smoking Loon

          May 6, 2013 at 9:05 pm

          Surprising. I thought they might try him out as a starting pitcher again after the last 2 games of the series.

          • The Strategy Expert

            May 6, 2013 at 9:12 pm

            I’d be surprised if he could pitch well again, I think he’s done and out of that game. If he could pitch he would be doing it now, so he’s a subpar OF because that’s apparently his best position. But who am I to tell Ankiel what he can and can’t do, so I merely only think he can’t do it.

            • Smoking Loon

              May 6, 2013 at 9:23 pm

              Maybe he could do it better than Umber. It takes a lot longer to walk in all the runs. Gives the bullpen more time to warm up.

              • Smoking Loon

                May 6, 2013 at 9:24 pm

                Or Humber, even.

              • The Strategy Expert

                May 6, 2013 at 10:38 pm

                Yeah maybe he could. But maybes can cash in for 0 runs in the big leagues. You gotta get in the game first and that door is closing quickly at the moment.

            • The Strategy Expert

              May 6, 2013 at 10:39 pm

              Or cashed in for saved runs.

            • Jerry The Tiger Fan

              May 7, 2013 at 10:38 pm

              Strategy Expert,

              I believe that your sarcasm detector may be broken. I believe that Smoking Loon was being sarcastic when he suggested that HOU might try Ankiel out for a starting pitcher.

              • The Strategy Expert

                May 7, 2013 at 11:15 pm

                I think I picked up on that quite fine, it was a pretty well designed and witty remark.

              • Jeff Molby

                May 7, 2013 at 11:16 pm

                I don’t know… his problems weren’t largely psychological, weren’t they? There’s a good chance he’s outgrown them by now. If his OF career is over, it’d make sense to toss him in a minor league bullpen and see what he has left in the tank.

              • Smoking Loon

                May 8, 2013 at 12:12 am

                From what we saw in the series, Ankiel is just fine as an OF. In fact, I had the thought (after the DFA) that the Tigers could do worse than dropping Kelly and adding Ankiel. Never gonna happen, not suggesting it, but it would make sense in several ways. I’m sure he can pitch better than Kelly, on top of all the rest.

                I *was* just kidding about the Astros using him as a pitcher. Mostly.

  21. Kevin in Dallas

    May 7, 2013 at 5:15 pm

    Tonight’s game postponed – rescheduled for Thursday.