Game 2013.35: Indians at Tigers

20-14, 1st place, 1 game up on Cleveland. Hypotenuse game of the series coming up, and it will be for all the marbles. Or at least half of them.


Get Al Alburquerque out of Detroit. At least for a while. Please. This has gone on long enough. Game 34 was Tigers 6, Indians 4, Tigers Bullpen -3.* The bullpen pooped the bed yet again. What is that – 10 times this season already? Take away the walk-offs – it happens – and it’s still 7 times. (I think. I’ll check it out.) Rather a lot for a team with 14 losses.

* I’m conveniently leaving the Indians pen out of it.


Danny Worth has been out with a heel contusion for a while, but is close to rejoining the Mud Hens. This is good. We’d all like to see him raise that batting average down there. Along with Quintin Berry. Makes you wonder what’s happened to them. Devastated by not making the big club out of camp? The International League is a pitcher’s league, true, but the numbers on these guys… yikes. Up and down the Toledo roster, the batting numbers are pretty frightening. Only 1B Jordan Lennerton has put up anything halfway decent.


Even though the Tigers fell short last night, you’ve got to be encouraged by rally after rally in the late innings. 7th, 8th, 9th – they just kept coming. And speaking of encouragement, the good signs for Alex Avila keep coming every now and again. On what looked to be an effortless swing the first time up, he sent a fly to deep CF that chased Michael Bourn back and back and back.


OK, excluding the walk-off loses, I count (7) games so far where the bullpen has either lost the game outright (1), blown up (3), or let the score slip out of reach (3). While we’re playing the blame game for losses, let’s assign (2) to starting pitching and give the batters (5) (which will include the 3 walk-offs, all in low-scoring games). Come to the bullpen’s defense, someone. I’m sure there is something positive to say. I feel more like being negative after being disappointed by Smyly and Al-Al (and all the more disappointed given the low pressure nature of their latest assignment).

Tigers pitching in the Late/Close split (includes some but not much starting pitching): 11th in the AL in ERA, 10th in BAA, 9th in WHIP. Tied for 2nd (worst) in runs allowed.


What’s up with Austin Jackson? All the good numbers are going down down down over his last 19 starts (though he still manages to score runs). But there has been some hitting anemia going on in that leadoff spot. It’s not good. While Victor Martinez has actually been worse over that same stretch (that’s right – you have to consider that he’s “coming around” only by comparison to an especially horrid start), AJax’s fade has been more damaging to the team.


Let us take a moment to recognize the main reason Detroit has won 20 and could “easily” be 25-9 right now, and to congratulate the contributors: The starting rotation. Only 2 stinkers in 34 games. 17-9 with a 3.27 (AL best) ERA, and also the fewest runs overall allowed. Only 11 HR allowed (AL best). Tops in K/9, 3rd best in walks allowed. 2nd in WHIP, and 6th in BAA. Is that wow good? I’m saying it is.

Rick “The Outlier” Porcello takes the mound today, with (individual, positive sense) regression to the mean on his and our side.

POST-GAME: INDIANS 4, TIGERS 3 (10 INNINGS). Quality starts for Rick Porcello and Zach McAllister, but hardly easy going. An exciting one, but also a heartbreaker of a giveaway. The bullpen blows another one, right? Yes and no… maybe. Each team paid for costly mistakes early. 3rd inning, Torii Hunter, yet again, overthrew the cutoff man (and the throw was wide of 3B besides) to allow Michael Brantley to take 2B on a single. Brantley scores as a result. 4th inning, Lonnie Chisenhall’s throwing error on a routine play leads to an Omar Infante sac fly and a Tigers 3-2 lead. Then it became a contest in stranded runners and failed rallies. McAllister, incredibly, with bases loaded and 1 out, retires Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder easily. Porcello gets Asdrubal Cabrera to ground into a bases-loaded, inning-ending 4-6-3 (very sharp play by Infante). Phil Coke gets Brantley to ground into a 2 men on, inning-ending 4-6-3. But then came the 9th, when “closer” Jose Valverde reminded us how things can go when you’ve got nothing but a fastball and can’t locate it, and Darin Downs reminded us that he’s not a shutdown guy, and meanwhile the bats have nodded off completely. Valverde walking Michael Bourn (same as a double, essentially) to lead off the 9th was where the game went irretrievably south. Yes, make no mistake – this one was on the bullpen. No shortage of clutch failure, though, spotlight on Miggy and Prince. Victor Martinez looked absolutely sickly at the plate. Let it be known that Miggy committed 2 more errorless errors at 3B. Best play of the game was Jhonny Peralta to Brayan Pena to gun down Asdrubal at the plate in the 10th. Two outs, no runs in! That should have turned the tide. The pinch-hitting by Mark Reynolds and Bourn won the game for Terry Francona and Cleveland. Meanwhile, Ryan Raburn was 0 for 2 but made a very nice play in RF and another great effort there, more than can be said for Hunter today.

PLAYER OF THE GAME: Mark Reynolds, Michael Brantley, Michael Bourn
HONORABLE MENTION: Rick Porcello, Zach McAllister, Brayan Pena, Yan Gomes, Joe Smith, Phil Coke, Omar Infante
NOT SO GOOD: Jose Valverde, Darin Downs, Victor Martinez, Prince Fielder

44 thoughts on “Game 2013.35: Indians at Tigers”

  1. Jackson is a mess at the plate. Takes pitches right down the middle swings at every ball inside..he’s dropped about 80 points in average the past three weeks…hope he gets on track soon. He’s back to working the count which he is terrible at instead of being aggressive like he was at the beginning of the year….

    1. You could be on to something. Seems like a lot of strikeouts looking for him recently.

      1. Maybe Jackson’s head position is the problem, as he glances back over his shoulder at those strikeouts that are looking for him.

  2. If you take away that 1 horrid start where Porcello gave up 9 runs in 2/3 of an inning, today’s starting pitching matchup should favor… the Indians. RP will likely give up 3-4 runs in 5-6 innings, after which the bullpen “takes over”. We’ll see Coke today I imagine as JL tries to get him going. No sleepy bats please, we’ll probably need a bunch of runs.

  3. It’s hard to say that a game this early in the season is “must-win”, but think about this from Cle’s standpoint:

    – They are red hot and come into Det with a chance to take over first.
    – The Tigers pound them in the opener with JV due up next.
    – Rather then roll over, they jump on JV, and then hold off the Tigers, including getting the best hitter in baseball to bounce out meekly to end the game.
    – The Indians now have a chance for a series win and a first place tie, against the 1 weak link in the Tigers’ staff.

    This is one of those game where a win for Cle will mean a whole lot more to them than a L will for us. But I’d hate to give in.

  4. Mike Maroth can rest easy: 0-8 Philip Humber was DFA’d by the Astros. It is not as easy to lose 20 games at it might seem: you have to manage to stay in the rotation, which Humber couldn’t manage, even on a team as bad as the Astros.

    1. Well, hopefully he’ll be signed by someone to at least a minor league deal, because I’m hoping he’ll lose 12 more. I drafted Humber for my All Levels Anti-Fantasy League team.

      Fortunately, I was able to corner the market on Toledo Mud Hens…

  5. That Hunter single should have been an out if the guy at 3B is playing his position normally and properly. But he had to get cute and try to protect for the surprise bunt, because that would have been such a devastating play if Hunter was able to get one down and beat out the throw. It was just too much of a threat that the fielder had to completely change his position. Why, I don’t know, but I sure hope his Manager didn’t instruct him to do it that way. On my scorecard that goes down as an Error.

  6. Martinez is consistent at least, he threw his bat at the ball yesterday and just did it again today…he used to have a great eye….that pitch
    was a foot outside..I bet he is wondering why he is hitting .200

    1. Yeah I’m not too happy about VMart myself. All of his numbers are way down, and he’s the kind of hitter that isn’t going to supply a lot of power anyhow, so he has to deliver a really high BA to make up for it, and that just doesn’t leave a lot of room for a major benefit. He either has to figure out some way to create power that doesn’t exist, or he needs to get hits at a super high clip rate, and that’s just not a favorable risk/reward ratio for us. And then he doesn’t even add much positional flexibility plus he’s expensive. That’s just not a good set of circumstances from a value and strategy standpoint. I wonder what his Hitting Coach and Manager have to say about VMart.

  7. Did DD sign Pena for 1 or 2 years…he has been a solid back up…..that should be platooning with Avila

  8. The Tigers lack of basic fundamentals,led by Mumbles and crew, rears its ugly head ASD Hunter had a zero chance of throwing that runner out at third….thus tie game…

      1. well it goes like this ….if I am going to spend 3-4 hours a day, which I actually like to do , watching the Tigers, which I have for 30 years. I expect fundamentally sound baseball. That would please me ……I personally don’t believe this coaching staff provides this with the Tigers. I spend the first week if spring training in Lakeland every single year and the fundamental work is basically just going thru the motions just because they have to do it. Very little instruction, NO correction….coaches just watch. I attend almost every game the Tigers have played here in LA. I flew in for the World Series last year
        So because of my investment in the Tigers I expect alot.

          1. Oh and I haven’t ever made to Lakeland or flown in for a World Series, that too. 😉

      1. Maybe he can use the same advice that his coaches one gave him that led him to be a .244 career hitter.

  9. Nothing but garbage fast balls either with no action or well out of the zone. Wow, he has really got his game back — not.

    1. Seriously, since he has returned he has been heaving the same garbage we saw last year. I see no real difference.

  10. The CLE bench helped win that game today. It’s nice to be able to rotate players in and out of the lineup who can actually hit.

  11. Valverde is on DD, not Leyland. We saw what happened prior to Valverde. Unfortunately, he’s the best we have. Awful as that is.

    Huge series for Cle. Not a big deal for us. Long season.

    1. The FSD broadcasters are fond of crediting Valverde’s return with the bullpen’s improvement. But in the 18 games before Valverde, there was only one game lost in the 9th inning. The temporary improvement shown by the bullpen, very recent as a trend and apparently over, wasn’t even coincidental with Valverde. The day after he got his first save, they blew up big time. Why wasn’t Valverde the Miracle Worker pitching the 9th and 10th that game against KC? 18 pitches the night before was too much?

      Valverde is far from the best the Tigers have. Unfortunately, the Tigers don’t have the best the Tigers have. So maybe you’re right. Valverde does pitch faster than Benoit. There’s that. A 1-2-3 inning from Benoit is a 15-minute affair, minimum. Every pitch takes at least one minute.

      Seriously, Valverde does not look impressive at all and has not even when successful.

  12. Dirks, Hunter’ Cabrerra got on base 7 times.. Not only din`t score none of them even advance after the 10 Fielder and Martinez at bats except for Cleveland advancing Cabrerra with a BB……that was the ball game…the blow pen did its usual thing!

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