Detroit Tigers: 20-15, 2nd Place (.5 behind Cleveland)
The Tigers slipped down into 2nd place after losing 2-of-3 to the Cleveland Native Americans, and even though they didn’t win the series there were some things to like about how they played (and things not to like).
The big news for today though, is that the Tigers put center fielder Austin Jackson on the 15-Day DL with a sore hamstring, and called up outfielder Avisail Garcia to take his spot (A-Gar is not in today’s starting lineup). I am guessing this means we will be seeing a lot of Don Kelly: I doubt Garcia will be playing center (although he has in the minors). Dirks in center and either Tui or A-Gar in left will happen at some point. They also have the option of a Tui-Torii-Avi configuration against lefties.
The bright side of Jackson on the DL, if it can be called that, is that it means that his hamstring was probably a lot worse than we thought, and may be the cause of his precipitous decline at the plate. Let’s hope a fully-recovered Jackson returns from the DL in his early-season form.
It is natural to overemphasize the importance of individual events and individual games; it is part of the nature of a daily blog and game post commenting. Perhaps the most damaging effect of the Cleveland series though is that Cleveland is hot, and they are beginning to believe. The Tigers hardly need that.
The bad outing by Verlander is of less concern; bad days are bound to happen to even the best pitchers. It was bad though: he even walked in a run. Not that he has never done it before–he has. Two times. Yes, in over 1.600 innings pitched he has walked in a total of 3 career runs. (Valverde, by comparison, has 5 in only 596 innings).
Speaking of Valverde: not good. He only has one pitch, and can’t locate it. And the first batter he walks takes 2nd free.
Also not good: Victor Martinez. When he was struggling earlier in the season, he was having good but unlucky at bats. Now the line drive outs and warning track flies are being replaced by pop ups, and even more uncharacteristic, strikeouts (5 in the Cleveland series). It will be interesting to see what, if anything, the team does if he hasn’t improved by June.
There were good things though: an offensive outburst on Friday; a late-inning rally on Saturday; a good outing by Rick Porcello, perhaps even better than his line would indicate; continued production from the bottom-of-the-order, especially the continued hitting of the hot bat of Omar Infante (.421 over the last 7 days); a clutch return appearance by Phil Coke. And perhaps most of all, knowing the Houston Astros are on deck.
The Tigers complete their season series with the Astros, after sweeping the four games in Houston. Houston continues to struggle (10-28), and designated one of the starting rotation from the last road trip (Philip Humber). Tonight they go with their staff ace Bud Norris, who at 4-3, 3.40 has literally won half of their games. Detroit hands the ball to Anibal “No Run Support” Sanchez.
Today’s Player of the Pre-game: Prince Fielder. Fielder has struck out 6 times in 20 ABs against Norris, but is the only Tiger to ding him for a home run. Fielder goes 1-4 with 3 Ks and a HR.
Today’s Donkey-Time Lineup: