Game 2013.33: Indians at Tigers

Were you disappointed by the short series against the Nationals? I sure was. Sweep the Astros, fall flat against the Washington National Angels (can’t they beat teams that wear red?)…what does that spell? It spells O-V-E-R-R-A-T-E-D. Until the next bout of euphoria, anyway.

The recently somewhat deflated and first place by a nose Detroit Tigers (19-13) return home following a 4-2 road trip to take on the red-hot Cleveland Indians (18-14) in a three-game series.

Friday, May 10, 7:08 PM ET: RHP Corey Kluber vs. RHP Max Scherzer

Saturday, May 11, 7:08 PM ET: RHP Ubaldo Jimenez vs. RHP Justin Verlander

Sunday, May 12, 1:08 PM ET: RHP Zach McAllister vs. RHP Rick Porcello

WEATHER: I’m sorry I didn’t get this up right away as I’d intended. Rain could be a factor Friday and Saturday evenings, and even on Sunday. Game time conditions are, in any event, not likely to be pleasant tonight and on Sunday. Winds will be getting stronger over the course of the weekend, and Sunday is going to feel like early April.

This is the first real divisional showdown of the young season, which kind of makes you wish Kevin Verlander in Dallas (7-3) or Coleman Scherzer (8-5) was on the game post mound, but Smoking Rick Loon (4-5) will give it his best shot. Cleveland is only a game behind the Tigers at this point and it’s really no fluke, but on the other hand, their recent history is to start strong (18-14 in 2012, 20-12 in 2011) before eventually fading with a vengeance. Sweeping them out of town could put them out of sight for a bit, but not out of mind. Recall that they were an early pain last season – the Indians took the first 5 games. And 10 of 18 overall.

Anyway, we Tigers fans find ourselves in an odd position for the month of May: No positional controversies. Aside from a bit of bullpen sorting out that remains to be done, the pieces are largely in place. For once, the focus is on execution on the field. That’s refreshing. And, by and large, with a 19-13 record to back it up, the Tigers are getting it done. It took Detroit 96 games (and the departed Jacob Turner’s first MLB win) to get to 8 games over .500 in 2012; it took 30 games this year, shaky bullpen and all.

KLUBER v SCHERZER: Current Tigers have done rather poorly against Kluber in a small-sample 44 PA. (BENCH ALERT: Kelly could start in place of Dirks. Actually, this could be the day to “rest” Cabrera as the DH and start Tuiasosopo at 3B. But 3 days off in a row for Victor? OK. maybe not.) Last time Kluber pitched at Comerica was September 3, 2012; he held the Tigers down and outdueled Anibal Sanchez for the win. Current Indians are at a disadvantage vs. Scherzer, with a .664 OPS in 134 PA. Last time out against Cleveland at Comerica (August 5, 2012), though, they hit him hard, and he only lasted 5 innings. Prediction: Runs will score in this one, most of them for Detroit. I cannot guarantee that the bullpen will hold onto the lead.

JIMENEZ v VERLANDER: Everything about Jimenez’s considerable history against the Tigers and current Tigers and at Comerica says Detroit has his number. (BENCH ALERT: Outside chance of a Pena start.) In 232 PA, current Indians are no more successful vs. Verlander than anyone else is. Michael Brantley’s numbers are so good that we can expect JV to hang a golden sombrero on him. (Any and all predictions I make from here on out on these matchups will be of the stray from the norm/regress to the mean variety. These predictions are silly, and I should really give them up.) Justin did not face the Indians at home in 2012. Prediction: Pitching duel.

McALLISTER v PORCELLO:  52 PA is not much history for current Tigers against McAllister, but Austin Jackson might be looking forward to it. (BENCH ALERT: Santiago could get the call, not that I advocate resting Peralta or Infante at home.) McAllister faced the Tigers twice at Comerica in 2012, pitching fairly well in both Cleveland wins. Current Indians have Porcello’s number in 159 PA. 7 HR in there, too. Porcello’s last time out against the Indians at Comerica (September 4, 2012) was your typical OK/living on the edge outing for Rick, winnable but for a little more run support. Prediction: Porcello doesn’t go more than 5, but the Tigers put such a beat-down on McAllister and even the Indians bullpen that it doesn’t matter.

The Indians lead the AL in HR, paced by Mark Reynolds and Carlos Santana, and are one of the top 3 in hitting overall. Best on the road, incidentally. CF Michael Bourn will be returning to the lineup for the series as well. The fair-to-middlin’ starting pitching has exceeded all expectations, and their 4th-best BAA of .238 compares favorably to Detroit’s .249. Their bullpen is top-tier and arguably what the Tigers might have the most cause to fear. Scoring early is recommended. At least the Tigers won’t have to face Vinnie Pestano this time (out with injury). Actually, Pestano and Chris Perez are the only guys with frightening stats against current non-Cabrera Tigers. So why am I thinking Cleveland’s bullpen has been such a pain?

It might be more pertinent to consider how the Tigers bullpen matches up against current Indians. Detroit heads into the first game with everyone in the pen available except (probably) Smyly and Benoit. Let’s see… Nick Swisher is hard on Valverde. Benoit, gets hit by A. Cabrera and Swisher. Not enough PA for the other guys, unless Coke comes back… OK, Coke shouldn’t really pitch against the Indians.

The ever-controversial (for us) Ryan Raburn, recent AL Player of the Week, makes his unexpectedly triumphant return to Detroit as a Cleveland Indian. I expect every AB, every pitch, every play in the field, to be seen as vindication of opinions for and against him. In reality, there’s no bad blood or “extra incentive” at play here, of course. Raburn was well-liked on the team and has earned Rod Allen’s seal of approval as a “good dude,” and I believe everything Rod Allen says. So I hope the fans at Comerica are nice about it. I also hope that Raburn goes 0 for whatever and commits as many errors as possible. Good dude and all. With Bourn back in CF, it remains to be seen how much we’ll see of Raburn. Some, surely.

Tonight’s “Doug Fister is available to pinch hit for Alex Avila” lineups:


The usual “A-team” lineup you know by heart


CF Bourn
2B Kipnis
SS A. Cabrera
DH Swisher
C Santana
1B Reynolds
LF Brantley
RF Stubbs
3B Chisenhall

POST-GAME: Tigers 10, Indians 4. Max seemed quite hittable at first, but that didn’t last, aside from the new prospective Tiger-killer candidate Nick Swisher. Still, I can see Scherzer winning 20 games this year with a +4.00 ERA. Kluber was hittable right away, and it was only a matter of time. Prince’s first-pitch bomb in the bottom of the 3rd was the exclamation point on that, and Miggy’s 3-run shot in the 4th put this one away. If there was a turning point, it might have been the Tigers not getting doubled off from 1B on two early IF line drives. Torii Hunter had the unusual experience of canceling his own RBI by getting tagged out at 1B on a single in the 2nd inning – big heads-up play by cutoff man Mark Reynolds at 1B. That changed 4-1 to 3-1 and ended what could have been a devastating inning; this could have been bigger than it turned out to be. Hunter also played a part in another (shallow RF) gaffe scored as a hit; on Hunter, not Infante, as I saw it. And then there was the Swisher RF double turned triple…

PLAYER OF THE GAME: Max Scherzer, Miguel Cabrera
HONORABLE MENTION: Nick Swisher, Alex Avila, Omar Infante, Jhonny Peralta
NOT SO GOOD: Corey Kluber, Torii Hunter, Michael Bourn

47 thoughts on “Game 2013.33: Indians at Tigers”

  1. Oh, sorry about the mistake on the pitching matchup for the first game. I see the Tigers are sending out Max Schnerzer, not Max Scherzer. My bad. I’m sure Mr. Schnerzer will do just fine.

    1. The real deadly Indians match-up for The Schnerz is Shin-Soo Choo, who absolutely kills him (.571, 1.714 OPS), 2 doubles, a triple, and 2 home runs in 21 at bats. Oh wait, never mind. Thank you, Cincinnati!

      1. Evidently, Max himself commented on how glad he was to not have to face Choo. Nick Swisher seems to have stepped into that role.

  2. Great series setup SL! And virtually nobody in Detroit really can have any sour grapes about Raburn, he was overwhelmingly trashed on by the fans and everybody rooted for him to be gone, and now he’s gone and everybody got what they wanted and they all should be very happy about that. I wish the Tigers would do moves that I root for. Win or lose I wouldn’t have any sour grapes, but I never get what I want, and the Tigers gave the Raburn axe gift to everybody that was clamoring for it.

    1. Thank you, TSE.

      Raburn was one of those homegrown guys you root for to really, really arrive as a solid full-time performer. (Andy Dirks is in a bit of a similar position now.) If he had been 26 or 27 last season, 2012 would have been seen as a step back rather than an unmitigated disaster. More than anything, his departure had to do with him being a role player the Tigers no longer had a role for. Change of plan – a set lineup! Who’da thunk?

      1. I’ve never cared for Dirks as a prospect and don’t think he has very much potential, so if he never plays another game for the Tigers again then that would be ok with me. I only wish somebody would trade for him or that he would have been traded at any point in the past.

  3. You know, TSE is starting to make sense to me. Should I be concerned? In other news, 2 game “series” are stupid.

    1. 🙂

      That’s up to you, you can choose to have peace or concern, as baseball is a game of making choices of what to put into it and seeking what to get out of it, and you get to decide how to feel about your own experience!

              1. Ok that’s good to know. Now I just need you to pinch my butt, I mean pinch-bunt.

              2. Butt-pinching, er, pinch-bunting, is a National League thing. I’m strictly an AL guy. I’m not even NL-curious.

    2. Jim – I’m not much for the 2-game series myself, but they undoubtedly come in handy for the people who have to sew together schedules of such complexity. They are the baseball schedule version of the inevitable 2-letter words in crosswords (12 Across: Egyptian sun god).

        1. Yup. Crossword puzzle basic. There might not be an English crossword puzzle that doesn’t contain this word.

      1. I think he mouthed in the OF the next inning, “I’ll get an extra one later” or something like that.

  4. Hunter should have been a lot farther along towards second seeing that Infante almost made it two bases..

    1. He is old. Maybe he needs a day off. Tomorrow would be good, since Verlander is pitching and we need to get the subs in there.

      1. I wouldn’t mind seeing Dirks in RF and Tuiasosopo in LF tomorrow if Hunter gets a rest. It’s getting to the point where I’m a little annoyed with Kelly as the “automatic” against righties just because he’s a LHB. To wit:

        Kelly vs. RHP in 2013: 107/242/179 = .421 OPS in 33 PA.

        Kelly has hit LHP well in 2013, strangely enough. Ordinarily, he just blisters RHP to the tune of a .233 BA and .642 OPS, of course.

        I guess I have my first gripe of 2013: Jim, stop wasting ABs on Kelly and get Tuiasosopo in there more often.

        1. Plus we have some other guys waiting in the wings, like Castellanos who has played 35 games this year at LF, and Garcia is still in the mix and then of course Tyler Collins. Dirks just doesn’t have much time left to carve out a role. A home tonight though sure feels good!

          1. Castellanos is far from ready. The press is falling over themselves to hype him, but watch a Toledo game some time. Avisail Garcia is way ahead of Nick, which shouldn’t be surprising. There’s no problem in LF at present and no room in the OF unless they drop Kelly, and the only move that would foreshadow is calling up Quintin Berry (regardless of his Toledo stats) to “spark the team” or “add a different dimension.”

            1. Oh yeah I’m thinking a little more down the road than tomorrow. Just for Andy Dirks’ case as an individual. Because he’s such a young guy and is this going to be his last season or what is the plan beyond just this one year? It’s something to think about and keep in mind as this season winds up in that second half.

    1. It’s a fluke. Cabrera will be out of baseball in a coupla years. No-talent bust, if you ask me.

      1. There was a guy who used to say that here, do you remember that? Forget who he was though.

        1. Yeah, I was quoting him almost verbatim. 2008, Chris in San Diego, I believe. Billfer was always threatening to ban him. Good times.

  5. Miggy could up his Triple Crown numbers by 25% and it wouldn’t surprise any of us who watch him daily!

  6. I can’t believe VMart made it to 3B on that Avila double. Nice hustle on his part, and gutsy call by Brookens to send him.

    How long do I have to hold the straight face?

  7. Sure do love watching this team do it to it. Had the honor the other day of allowing my former Co-Coach rub my head for good luck as they played in a loser out playoff game against the dreaded Ferris Hillies. Bad guys up 7-1 but our boys pulled it out 10-9. my hand still stings after the high fives from the kids, one of whom is on his way to play football at Oregon. Real good Baseball week, cept for that thing in DC.

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