Game 2013.39: Tigers at Rangers

22-16, 1st place, .5 games up.

The Tigers are 6-1 v. the Astros, outscoring them 55-19. (They could be 7-0 with a margin of 59-19 if Tiger stadium weren’t so big…) They are 16-15 versus everyone else. So how good are the Tigers, really? Well, the numbers, as posted by Coleman yesterday, are pretty darn good. Exceptional to be honest.

But only 1 game above .500 against everyone else? Why could that be?

Here’s a theory (other than the bad bullpen…3-6 in one run games…but we already know that one): their run differential is entirely misleading, because the boys are blowing out teams, and then not winning close games. The Tigers are posting a meager .526 OPS in “Late/Close” games (as defined by MLB.com stats). Contrast that with their .815 OPS when the team is ahead (4th in the majors). Their X W-L is 25-13. So they are either incredibly unlucky, and the wins will start to pile up, or they are over-achieving in meaningless situations. I recognize that I’m only pointing out symptoms and not solving any problems here, but the numbers don’t lie.

Anyway, so I heard there’s a game tonight…

You’re not going to see more excitement about a May matchup than tonight’s Verlander v. Darvish setting. Everyone is talking about it down here (though incredibly – 10,000 seats are still avail; but I can’t open a sports page or turn on sports radio with them talking about it). Many think that these two teams are two of the best in the Majors (you’ll need insider). It’s going to be a heck of a 4 game set.

I’m headed over to the Ballpark in a few hours, hopefully to have a beer with OTFiM.

Yu Darvish has quickly established himself as the Rangers’ ace, and he has become must watch TV around here. First, there was the opening night near perfect game. Then,there was what has to be the most viewed gif in FanGraphs history (it’s pretty cool, check it out). Darvish is striking out hitters at a record-breaking pace of 13.7/9 and sporting a cool .91 WHIP in 8 starts this year (6-1, 2.73 ERA). What makes Yu so unbelievable is that he’ll throw 7-8 different pitches, from virtually the same arm angle and with what looks to be the same arm speed. Don’t be surprised to see an eephus pitch tonight.

Now, JV ain’t no slouch (he got his own cool gif treatment a few weeks back), but he’ll have his work cut out for him against a Rangers team that is tied for a major league best 12 games over .500, has won 7-10, and recently took a series from division rivals Oak at Oak.

*************

A few notes:

- Al Al (and his 16.32 K/9) down, Evan Reed up. I really have no idea who this guy is, so look for him to enter (which would be his major league debut) in the 7th in an incredibly high pressure situation. Was anyone else shocked to see Leyland call out Albuquerque yesterday? Seems like JL never does that.

- I think we’ll have a new closer within 2 months.

Tonight’s I’ll Be There lineup is brought to you by the Jackson 5:

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

25 Comments

  1. Coleman

    May 16, 2013 at 6:30 pm

    Ah, the eephus. I saw Frank Tanana throw one to Jose Canseco, and it was worth the price of admission.

  2. The Strategy Expert

    May 16, 2013 at 6:36 pm

    I predict Tui will pinch hit for Kelly at some point.

    • Coleman

      May 16, 2013 at 7:49 pm

      Hopefully in the 2nd inning.

      • JimEggersUSMC

        May 16, 2013 at 8:24 pm

        Or sooner

        • Coleman

          May 16, 2013 at 8:50 pm

          Or not. Haha.

    • Coleman

      May 16, 2013 at 9:00 pm

      Jim Leyland is a much-maligned genius,

      • Smoking Loon

        May 16, 2013 at 11:54 pm

        It would be truly ingenious to remove Kelly from the game immediately following any hit or reaching of base, when you consider the odds against it happening again in the same game.

  3. jud

    May 16, 2013 at 9:04 pm

    that at bat by Martinez is more of what we are used to wheen he is on….working the pitcher

  4. Coleman

    May 16, 2013 at 9:18 pm

    Uh oh. Time for Evan Reed to get loose.

  5. jud

    May 16, 2013 at 9:25 pm

    hey Verlander…..this is supposed to be a match up of the best two pitchers in baseball….

  6. Coleman

    May 16, 2013 at 9:27 pm

    The phrase “unmitigated disaster” comes to mind. Two consecutive clown outings by Verlander. Time to load up on the ulcer meds.

  7. jud

    May 16, 2013 at 9:32 pm

    this is an ugly weekend already and its not even the weekend yet!

  8. PHToy in HK

    May 16, 2013 at 9:36 pm

    I guess he is human after all….

  9. Mark

    May 16, 2013 at 9:37 pm

    If this becomes a trend for Verlander this will be a long season. Looks like he got Porcelloed out there.

    • Smoking Loon

      May 17, 2013 at 12:01 am

      Except that Porcello hasn’t, if I’m not mistaken, walked in any runs this year. There was far more bad luck in that Angels v. Porcello disaster. Not sure if you could call anything in JV’s marathon 3rd inning bad luck. It’s like he was possessed by the spirit of Villalburquerque.

      • Mark

        May 17, 2013 at 3:07 pm

        I was thinking back a couple years when Porcello got shelled by the Rangers and got knocked out in the 1st inning. I sure hope that doesn’t happen tonight.

        • Smoking Loon

          May 17, 2013 at 7:22 pm

          Aha. Yeah, me too.

          In the past couple years, he has two notably good outings against the Rangers in 4 tries. Both were in Texas. The shelling was at Comerica last April 21. Ouch. Didn’t retire anyone until the 7th man faced. (There was an error, of course. Inge at 2B, no less.) Worse even than the Angels debacle. More eerie is that the final score was… 10-4. Duane Below did come on and shut Texas down for 6 innings, though.

  10. Bill

    May 16, 2013 at 9:41 pm

    Leyland has to wake up! Its obvious JV is only good vs the weak hitting teams. Don’t pitch him vs the good teams. He has made a living beating up on weak teams.

    • Smoking Loon

      May 16, 2013 at 11:46 pm

      All good players do.

      • Smoking Loon

        May 17, 2013 at 12:03 am

        For example, see V-Mart vs. Astros as compared to V-Mart vs. all others.

  11. Kevin in Dallas

    May 16, 2013 at 10:36 pm

    Clown show. Get it all out tonight.

  12. Kevin in Dallas

    May 16, 2013 at 10:52 pm

    This feels like the 2011 playoffs.

  13. Smoking Loon

    May 16, 2013 at 11:45 pm

    Musta been rough, Kevin. Did you stay for the whole game?

    I was impressed to see Verlander, just after getting knocked out of the game, not kicking things or sulking by himself, but at the dugout railing and later hashing something over with Avila.

    Those were some pretty funny moments in the Martinez v. Darvish matchups. The quick little smile from V-Mart in the first AB after he’d fouled off, like, the 10th pitch in a row. What *can* you do but laugh at a 62 MPH pitch for a strike?

    Nice face plant by Kinsler at 3B early on. He was laughing, too. And then there was Hunter selling the trap for a catch. Pretty entertaining game for the wrong kind of blowout.

    I think Miggy being called out on the close play at 1B was one of those giveth-and-taketh-away things, since the Tigers had gotten the call when Reed came off the bag on the Infante throw.

    After it was 8-3, I made up my mind to just concentrate on how Downs and Reed were pitching. It helped. It would have been some comfort to at least knock Darvish out, but the guy is a fiend. He made a monkey out of JV this time.

    So relieved, pardon the pun, that Al-Al is finally in Toledo.

    • Smoking Loon

      May 16, 2013 at 11:50 pm

      Also, continuing to play the optimist this time, recall that the Cleveland series started just this way, turned around. Look for the Tigers to win the next two in close games…

  14. Smoking Loon

    May 17, 2013 at 12:05 am

    “- I think we’ll have a new closer within 2 months.”

    Named Joaquin Benoit.