Game 2013.49: Pirates at Tigers

28-20, 1st place, 1.5 games ahead of Cle.

Happy Memorial Day everyone. Thank you Jim Eggers, judpma and any and all vets, active military, those who sacrificed their lives for this great country (baseball and all) and all military family.


Well, now that the Indians are playing, like, well, the Indians, order has been restored in the Central. For now. (RR watch – 0-3 in his one start v. Boston).

The  Tigers took care of business against Minnesota, with Scherzer capping off the series clinching win by allowing 1 ER over 6 innings for his 7th win this year against 0 losses. Covering his last two games Scherzer, set down 25 batters without allowing a base runner, and 38 batters without allowing a hit. (That’s likely enough batters to cover a no-hitter, unless Dontrelle Willis is pitching.) Avisail’s clutch (can we use that word?) pinch-hit 3 run triple put the game out of reach for the hapless Twins, and the bullpen came in and shut down a Twins team who looked like they had their bags packed early. The final was a 6-1 victory and 3-1 series win.

Today’s early start kicks off an unusual day-night two game set, oddly followed by a two game set against the same team. Interleague.

The Pirates starter is some guy named…Francisco Liriano? FRANCISCO LIRIANO? Where the H did he come from? After 7 years with the Twinkies (he was pretty good pre-Tommy John surgery, remember?), he was flipped to CWS for the stretch last year where he managed a 3-2 record in spite of a 1.52 WHIP. Pittsburgh rewarded him with a two year deal last December, and he celebrated by breaking his arm over Christmas while “closing a door.” Well, not sure if he was “celebrating” but this sounds an awful like “moving boxes” over the off-season. And Zumaya never came back from that one… Anyway, Liriano’s now made 3 starts for the Pirates, and they’ve been pretty good: 3-0 covering 18 IPs. In 2013 he’s posting a 1.00 ERA, a 1.11 WHIP, and has punched out 25 in those 18 IPs. Liriano was always a K machine – 9.13 career K/9, but it’s his slider now that’s his go to instead of his fastball. Lefties have yet to get a hit off of him in 14 PAs in 2013, and he’s holding righties to a .250 BA.

Here are some not so fun facts about Justin Verlander. He hasn’t reached the 6th inning since May 5th. This is the first 3 game stretch that the hasn’t reached the 6th since…September of 2006. You remember 2006, right?  Tough year…Pluto lost its planethood, Steve Erwin died, JV was 23…  This month he’s got a scary 7.32 ERA and opponents are batting .296 off of him. But, Verlander is 19-2 with a 2.64 ERA vs. the NL in his career, and 7-0 with a 1.29 ERA over the last two season. I’m betting on JV. Things are turning around today.


A few notes:

– Check out these fascinating Fangraphs articles on Cabrera. The gist of it is that he’s a badass, but you definitely want to read them. I didn’t notice this live, but Cabrera’s 1st home run off of Holland last Sunday was the fastest and lowest trajectory HR this season…Holland initially thought it was coming right back at him. Think about that – for an instant, Holland thought it may hit the pitcher.

– Bruce Rondon is dominating at Toledo – 1 ER in 17 2/3 IPs. He has walked 6, so that’s a concern, but he’s struck out 21 and has a 1.21 GO/AO. Dotel coming back soon too, look for some bullpen shuffling in the coming weeks.

– Good overview of the Tigers top 10 prospects thus far this year.

Today’s Camouflage Lineup (with #’s v. Liriano):

  1. Omar Infante, 2B (1-9, 3 K’s)
  2. Torii Hunter, RF (4-13, HR)
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 3B (9-26, 2 HR, 8 walks, 6 K’s)
  4. Prince Fielder, 1B (3-19)
  5. Victor Martinez, DH (11-24, HR)
  6. Jhonny Peralta, SS (10-34, 2 HR, 6 walks, 13 K’s)
  7. Matt Tuiasosopo, LF (0-5)
  8. Brayan Pena, C (4-13)
  9. Avisail Garcia, CF (0-1)

51 thoughts on “Game 2013.49: Pirates at Tigers”

  1. in a baseball related story. I flew home from Viet Nam after my year of service there, the day the Tigers played the Cards in ’68 WS. Landed in Alaska to re-fuel and watched Gibson strike out 16? in the opening game. Got back on a plane and flew home.

  2. Happy Memorial Day all! Reach out and thank a vet!
    Great post Kevin…and great story judpma.

    Let’s hope JV & DET can assist a very hot (good?) PIT team with an early installment of their typical ‘late season decline’.

    related DL news: AJ eligible to come off DL & CLE closer Chris Perez placed on 15-day DL (shoulder soreness) and will go in for MRI.

  3. Hold on to your Stroh’s as Inge is in the lineup batting 8th!

  4. i just hope this game isn’t below the Tigers cutoff temperature level outside….., of playing well…

  5. Inge doing what he does best: Swinging and missing at junk out of the zone. You’re a decent guy Inge, but you look much better in another team’s uniform.

    1. I think everybody looks better in these wonderful hats that honor our troops! 🙂

      1. Agreed. Very cool rendition of each team’s uniform. A very nice tribute to all those who have served.

  6. Can I ask why my message of thanking the heroes on Memorial Day is still awaiting moderation, what’s up with that?

    1. Ok I think I figured out what is happening after some further investigating. I have made several posts today that are all “awaiting moderation”. I’m guessing that Kevin in Dallas probably put an IP blocker of some sort to try and censor me, but I’m still curious as to why? Doesn’t everybody remember the exchange yesterday where Kevin made a punk post and I made a very strong and honest effort to defend the intelligence of my post after he blasted it for being an idiotic statement?

      So of all days, this guy chooses Memorial Day to try and censor me and take away my freedom of speech after all of the great Americans and other allies that have given up their lives and spilled their blood just so people could have these basic rights? I think we should all take our freedoms very seriously and appreciate them for what they are, for you never know when somebody is going to try and steal them back from you just because they don’t know how to accept people who are different or have different ideas than them. I for one think this basic right of freedom is too sacred to not step back and take a moment and really realize just how wonderful that right is. Let’s treasure and cherish those ideals, not fight to try and squash them. Too many sacrifices have been made and too much blood has been spilled.

      Let’s go Tigers!

  7. I’m wondering if Inge did that check swing strikeout…on purpose…just for the DTW…..everyone of us smiled!

    1. Somehow I don’t think Inge is interested in paying homage to any Detroiters.

    1. I’ve been wondering whether there’s any precedent in Victor Martinez’s career for the current extended slump. At a glance, it didn’t look like there *could* be. But there is. One lesser instance is in 2008, prior to him being out a couple months (I’m guessing) injured. But the real parallel is 2005:

      May 27, 2005: 163 PA, .192/.264/.274/.538 OPS, 2 HR, 12 RBI, 6 2B
      May 27, 2013: 206 PA, .230/.277/.310/.587 OPS, 2 HR, 24 RBI, 9 2B

      The good news is how Martinez finished 2005. He began his climb out of the slump on June 19. and from that point on:

      384 PA, .363/.430/.558/.997 OPS, 14 HR, 59 RBI, 24 2B

      1. The way that Victor’s 2-RBI double in the 5th caromed off the wall in LF foul territory and had to be flagged down rolling toward CF on the track was pretty big. Prince doesn’t score from 1B otherwise. Then again, Peralta would have knocked him in next anyway. Unless they would have walked him with 1B open to get to Tuiasosopo. It’s happened before.

    1. Indeed. And so many teams could have traded for him at the beginning of the season that now surely are regretting passing him up. His price just went up.

      1. The Pirates employed a shift on Peralta. First time I’ve seen that. They did it his first 3 times up, runners on or no. Didn’t help. (Two of his hits to the right side.) He might have beaten the shift once on that double past the first baseman, though I’m not sure Sanchez was out of normal position. What’s funny is that the shift was *not* on his 4th time up. With men on 1st and 2nd and one out, they were looking for the DP, and that’s when he hit it straight through Contreras up the middle, and SS Barmes could only get to it well enough to slow it into shallow CF. RBI. With the shift on, that would have been pretty much straight at the second baseman.

  8. Here we go. JV letting this one slip away. Back to back extra base hits with the tying run in scoring position.

  9. Question for everyone about Hunter. I like what he’s brought to the team this year in terms of a #2 hitter, but has his defense declined in a big way or what? When he was with Minnesota and the LAA he seemed like he ran down everything. This year with us it seems like every time a ball is over his head he is unable to go back on it and make a play. That triple by Snider had plenty of hang time on it and was not an unreasonable ball for Torii to make a play on. Curious as to what others think about Hunter’s precipitous decline defensively from his Twin/Angel days. I know the guy is 37 but it seems like he never runs anything down that is even moderately difficult in terms of fly balls this year.

    1. Well I agree with you that his Defense is not perfect, but the Tigers I think were mostly concerned with his veteran bat in the lineup. He has consistently hit reasonably well and that’s what the Tigers were looking for. Whatever his non-perfect Defense is worth is besides the point to the key thing that drove their decision to get him.

      Now it’s a little fluky because he is hitting really high BA with lower power right now, but his career averages were a bit different than that, he used to be a modest BA with modest power. His career SLG is .465 with .277 BA, but now with a much higher .311 BA he somehow only has .426 SLG. So his power took a huge dip too.

      1. It’s scary to think what if he only hits .277 for the rest of the year from this point and doesn’t have the same previous power? That would be a nightmare situation in my mind. He HAS to hit well above .300 to have any chance to get good overall leverage at this point.

        1. Hitting in the 2 hole so power or lack thereof is not that concerning to me. As long as Torii keeps his OBP at .345 or above I’ll be happy with his offensive production because his job is not to drive in runs, but rather set the table for the run producers like Cabrera, Fielder, and VMart.

          1. Yeah that’s a good benchmark of OBP to hope for. His career OBP is .335, so being used in the 2 spot as a “table setter” like you say, it would be nice to see him have a goal for a level 10 points higher than that like you suggest. He has .356 OBP this year so he’s on pace to hit your standard so far.

            1. Whether Torii is having a good year with the BA or SLG or a bad year with either, he tends to be pretty tight and consistent with the OBP. He has an unusually consistent OBP I would say.

    2. Jerry, on Hunter:

      I agree that on the Snider triple in the 7th, something went wrong for Torii. Bad read, bad jump, something. Something we’d normally expect him to get to. However, in the 1st, that throw on the sac fly was unbelievable. A slower Pirates runner at 3B or one dogging it would have been in for a huge surprise. Hunter also made a nice play in the 8th on the rapidly sinking P. Martinez fly. Overall, I don’t think I’ve seen decline and consider Hunter as-advertised in the OF.

  10. pretty rare occurance this year..Fielder..Martinez..Peralta with 8 hits generating 4 runs…..we will take it!

  11. Damn this team is frustrating to watch at times. We just restored the 3 run lead and now Benoit is getting hit hard in the 8th.

    1. Indeed, that was pretty alarming. Not just the result, but 4 straight hard-hit balls off of Benoit. I think that Joaquin’s stats overstate his case. He might be the only guy in the bullpen who hasn’t blown up at least once, but he has rarely been dominant, by my admittedly rather harsh standards.

      The pickoff of Harrison (karma!) at 2B was sweet, and crucial (mighta cost the Pirates the game), but did y’all notice how Benoit’s hesitation almost gave the out back?

    1. I didn’t get to watch (MLB network showing Os and Nats in Alabama)…did JV have better movement and location? I looked on MLB GameDaty, but you cant get a great feel for it that way.

      I know the past 3 starts were concerning, even given his consistency over the past 7 years. Hopefully, he turned a corner today…the 13 Ks and what, 2 walks seem to indicate that he may have done just that.

      1. I only got to watch intermittently, and I’m not sure about the movement, but his location was good, especially on the breaking stuff. He actually seemed to be getting squeezed on the strike zone, and the replays showed at least two strike three calls he should have gotten. His fastball was a tad less fast than it was last season, as usual.

        1. The curveball was outstanding. 4th inning, Sanchez up with a 1-2 count, the break on Verlander’s curveball for a strike was so sharp that it fooled the ump, who called it a ball low.

          1. On the other hand, the 5 XBH against him also say something, though I can’t say that all of them were location mistakes.

            1. It should also be noted that JV thought he was getting squeezed on the strike zone. There were several clear disagreements and apparently one discussion with the home plate ump.

      2. William,

        JV’s fastball was less than special again today. His fastest pitch was 95, but the majority of his fastballs were in the 91-93 range. He did have his curveball working today and that was big because he got a few called third strikes with that curve. His movement on that pitch was good, but his fastball seems to be lacking in both velocity and movement in comparison to previous seasons. Today was a step in the right direction, but JV is still not back to being JV yet IMO.

    1. It’s voodoo!

      I was impressed with the strikeout of McCutchen. Perfect location on the last pitch–they weren’t afraid of walking him, but it was close enough to the strike zone that McCutchen couldn’t take. His ball also looks like it has a bit more movement on it.

      1. I was already exasperated when he went 3-1 on the first batter, but yeah, that was good Valverde. That strikeout of McCutcheon, especially that last pitch, really bodes well.

        Every game of this series could be close. Note the 5 XBH off of Verlander on a day he struck out, what, 12? These Pirates are going to be really pesky, if pesky isn’t too arrogant a term for a team with a better record than the Tigers at the moment.

  12. I feel like I say too many negative things about Cabrera*, but he did honestly have a couple ABs today that looked rather sickly. Also, if someone would care to check out the updated stats on his hitting when Verlander starts, I think they’re still surprisingly bad.

    *MLB MVP, AL MVP, Tigers MVP, best hitter in baseball, great baserunner, cannon arm, absolute monster player, a joy to watch

    1. Miguel has looked bad the last three games. Not sure what is going on, but he is swinging and missing a lot more frequently than normal these last 3 games. Of course he was impossibly hot for the two weeks previous to these last three games so I can’t be too upset with the guy. Cabrera has not had an extra base hit or an RBI in the last three games. Tomorrow would be a good time to rectify both of those situations.

  13. Word has it that Torii Hunter is going to miss a couple games of the upcoming Orioles series. Son’s high school graduation.

    1. Yikes. Is Austin Jackson expected back by the BALT series or will we be down our two best outfielders for that series? IF AJ is still out come next Friday we’re looking at some kind of combo of Dirks/Tui/Garcia/Kelly in the OF at Camden Yard.

      1. The Jackson-less OF combo variety pack has done pretty well. I’m sure the Tigers can do without Hunter as well for a couple games. Good lineup, good bench, contributions all around.

  14. I like this, from Tom Snider of

    “Verlander, deciding to end his extended impersonation of someone human after having allowed 17 runs and 22 hits in the 12 2/3 innings of his last three starts, throttled the Pirates on four hits until buckling slightly in the seventh, his final inning. For good measure, he also notched his first double-digit strikeout game, with 13, since April 18.”

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