Game 2013.36: Astros at Tigers

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.


Series Matchups:

  • Mon May 13 (7:08 pm):  Anibal Sanchez vs Bud Norris
  • Tue May 14 (7:08 pm):  Doug Fister vs Lucas Harrell
  • Wed May 15 (1:08 pm):  Max Scherzer vs Dallas Keuchel


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:

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

46 thoughts on “Game 2013.36: Astros at Tigers”

  1. Fielder may not get much of a chance to hit with those 5-6 hitters behind him, especially with 1B open and runners in scoring position. On the other hand, he hasn’t exactly been tearing it up lately either.

    Speaking of Martinez, why not sit him for a few games and have Tui DH? Just a thought, although I doubt Leyland will ever do it.

    And whatever happened to Ramon, Ramon… whatshisname, that benchguy who went 2 for 3 on May 5th and hasn’t been seen or heard of since?

    1. Well the Tigers have a tremendous amount of faith in VMart and his previous bad numbers this year will never scare them away from relying on him as the full-time DH. Leyland and DD would be the last 2 people on Earth to sour on VMart to the point of actually benching him on a regular basis. So whether they ever took him out for a couple games or not, I don’t think that would be enough to get them to deviate from the regular lineup plan. He will be entrenched in that 6 spot pretty much no matter what.

      Plus he is very aggressive and focused on doing what he thinks is best for the team, so he often makes an out for some kind of sacrifice attempt or to put the ball in play to move runners along. Whatever his stats read, the Tigers will always be giving him lots of bonus points of consideration for approaching each plate appearance the way they want him to approach it as being for the team moreso than his individual numbers.

    2. Yeah, Vince, Martinez certainly isn’t protecting Fielder these days. It would do the team good to get someone behind Prince who IS hitting, at least until Victor gets his thing together.

      1. Just a few games to clear his head. I’m guessing he is pressing. But, since we don’t know what is really going on behind the scenes, this is all speculative on my part.

        Which reminds me, back in the early to mid sixties the Tigers had a pitcher by the name of Bill Faul who used to see his personal hypnotist regularly in an effort to keep him positively focused on his game. I didn’t help to turn HIM into a superstar obviously, but you never know.

      2. Well still not yet, after that paltry little grounder to 2B he just lumbered his way towards first base and it was a little weird because he was so far into the grass on the field of play as he was making his way down there.

          1. Well it’s usually not a good sign when you have a crappy atbat, show crappy effort and hustle to move a little ways before parking yourself back on the bench, and then seemingly turned around and confused as to where you are even supposed to run towards first base. That was just a triple mess of a performance and effort. So something must be going on, otherwise he’s just a loser for no specific reason of consequence.

          2. And look at Peralta, he was almost out from being too aggressive with anticipating a drop and a way to be safe. But then again his head appears to be in the game.

      1. But the insurance companies aren’t going broke on this neither….BTW Kevin, we will be in Section 15, Row 12 on Thursday’s Tiger v. Ranger game. That is on the 3rd base side a bit down from the Tigers dugout. We will leave Mississippi at 10AM and hope to get there by 5PM or so to watch Tiger batting practice. Hope you can join us.

    1. Yeah I agree, it’s a messy business and very easy to wind up in those types of awful situations when you agree to risky long-term contracts with big money involved. Some teams just can’t resist throwing more money out there to buy a FA than anybody else will offer, while others essentially do that to extend some of their own players that they are trying to protect from leaving. The common denominator of the problem is you are asking for trouble when you overpay a player what they are worth. And especially with the top tier players that take $20MM or so to sign, you never get a bargain on those deals, and are always paying a premium and looking for a non-financial reason to justify paying extra beyond the actual value. And a rich and foolish owner is just a matter of time away from popping up on a list of this type.

  2. Nice game post, Coleman. When I read what you and Kevin write, I’m reminded of why, when I first discovered DTW, it became the first place I went to read up on the Detroit Tigers. Despite the host of other sites I’ve accumulated and bookmarked, it still is.

    1. Yeah I don’t know anywhere else that was supplying the Productive Per Play stats after 32 games. You have to come to Detroit Tigers Weblog every day if you don’t want to risk missing out on important nuggets of information and perspective.

  3. That didn’t take long: Astro castoff Rick Ankiel signed with the Mets and is starting tonight.

  4. Well, only two runs for the Astros there. That inning could have been a lot worse.

    1. Yeah and it was possible for Hunter to get that runner if he made a perfect throw. He did field it in a short position and he just had no margin for error and might have had too much confidence in the percentage of time that he can make a perfect throw.

  5. That’s better. Let’s hope that V-Mart didn’t just run into one and he’s turning it around.

    1. Well I like the strategy. If you are too lazy to run the bases then just blast the ball into the stands and you can take all the time you want.

      1. He only needs a triple for the cycle after only 4 innings, not many guys can often say that.

    1. That is a good question. I think I recall that during the off-season it was announced he would remain with the team as “assistant hitting coach.” But that was the last I heard of him.

      Perhaps he has left and is traveling around coaching ex-Tigers like Brandon Inge (.273) and Ryan Raburn (.316).

      1. I think it might be time to give him a call and have him give Lloyd some “assistance” with Avila.

        1. Avila was working on his advance the runner at 2B with a ground ball to the right side thing tonight. I don’t think there was ever an actual runner at 2B during his at bats, but it’s nice to see him at work honing his craft even within a game. Such dedication.

            1. No, I see a lot of said dedication. Don Kelly and Victor Martinez – and even Omar Infante to a degree – are working on lifting the ball and avoiding line drives, in preparation for any eventual sac fly situation. Torii Hunter is working on ignoring the cutoff man, I mean, his outfield assists. Al Alburquerque is working on… um, helping the catchers work on their blocking technique. Doug Fister is working on establishing ownership of the batter’s boxes, I mean, home plate. It’s all around.

  6. Always interesting stuff to peruse here:

    I’m mostly looking at how the Tigers (aka “Unluckiest Team in MLB,” “The 877-Run Offense”) stack up, of course, but I happened to notice that the Toronto Blue Jays have played an astounding 32 of 39 games against teams .500 or better.

    1. 23 of those games have come against their 4 division rivals, all of whom are over .500 and all of whom the Jays helped get there.

      1. That they play in the AL East has a lot to do with it, but if the split I was looking at it is to be worth anything, I take it to mean the .500 or better teams they faced were .500 or better *at the time* the Jays faced them. Otherwise, never mind.

        Ah yes, I see things are not as I thought. Useless stat.

    1. The worst thing might be being the butt of stale recycled sports jokes by late night tv comedians. This won’t last forever. They’ll be OK. Eventually. Provided, of course, that the organization has an intelligent plan for drafting, development and so on.

      1. Of all the Astros I feel bad for Pena as he has been down this road with the Tigers in the early ’00s. Also the Houston v. DFW competition comes into play here. Each city always tries to out do one another with the biggest stadiums and/or better teams. With the Astros entering the AL West with the Rangers this is going to tip this competition towards the DFW. Houstonites won’t sleep well on that!

    2. I envy them because they are one of the least screwed up teams in MLB in terms of finances. They have lots of inexpensive youth and the future can be tremendous for them as they aren’t restricted in any way and they have a wonderful opportunity that is far cleaner to a path of success for the future than many other teams have.

    3. No, I don’t feel bad for the Houston Astros. From what I’ve seen, they’re not an inept team, the Altuve-Paredes collision notwithstanding. They’ve taken the drastic rebuilding approach and have come up a bit short on pitching. But after the first two games of the series in Houston, I don’t go into these games assuming the Tigers are going to slaughter them. Not at all.

  7. I enjoy watching the younger players develop. Look at how the Tigers developed the 68 & 84 teams mostly young guys up through

  8. Way to call the Torii-Tui-Avi a couple days ago, Coleman. I really didn’t see it happening.

    1. Well, I’ve got to get an asterisk with that, I had Hunter in center and Garcia in right.

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