Game 2013.53: Tigers at Orioles

The Detroit Tigers (29-23, clinging by .5 to first in the AL Central, losing streak at 3) travel to Baltimore and Camden Yards to take on the Baltimore Orioles (30-24, third place AL East) in a three-game series. Local temperatures will be in the 90s for the day game Saturday, while rain may affect the Sunday game. Looks like it’s going to be a bit hot and sticky all weekend out there.

Torii Hunter will be giving the first couple games (son’s graduation) and possibly the whole series (elbow contusion after being HBP Wednesday) a miss. No shortage of outfielders to fill in, but it does leave the bench a man short. That can be a problem.

The difference in play, if not result, between the Rangers and the Pirates series is a positive one. Still, it’s abundantly clear that the Detroit Tigers aren’t yet ready to play with the big boys. Maybe that corner could have been turned last night. It wasn’t. Now they face a peer, another good team that can’t quite get it all together. It’s the Series Of The AL Also-Rans. If you think that’s harsh, you must be more satisfied with the prospect of finishing 7th best in the AL (playoffs or no) than I am.

The Baltimore Orioles at a glance are a hitting team; pitching is their weakness. Let’s pause for emphasis on HITTING; the Tigers have faced some good offensive teams, but have not yet seen the likes of this lineup. Five regulars are batting .290 or above, and six have 29 RBI or more. With Chris Davis in there, O’s fans are among the few in the AL who can say “Miguel who?” Not only that, but Baltimore is also speedy (very) and among the best defensive teams in the AL. The key will be jumping on that Achilles’ heel of theirs: Pitching. It won’t be easy. None of their opponents have decisively gotten the best of them (think Tigers v. Angels) thus far. But scoring at Camden Yards hasn’t been a problem for the Tigers the past couple seasons.

Friday, May 31, 7:05 PM EDT: RHP Max Scherzer v. RHP Miguel Gonzalez

Gonzalez wasn’t so hot last July against the Tigers, but he’s had decent outings recently. Max has been quite superb of late, and strikeouts are really the least of it. Much more to Max than Ks these days. Last July, though, the Orioles had their way with Scherzer in Baltimore, and all those bad dudes are still there to face him again.

Saturday, June 1, 4:05 PM EDT: RHP Justin Verlander v. RHP Jason Hammel

Hammel has been good the last couple starts. Against the Tigers last July, he left the game after only 3 innings, having allowed 2 runs and struck out 5. Hammel is the kind of pitcher Jhonny Peralta scorches. Justin is on the rebound from a rough stretch. Last July at Camden Yards, he was dominant in a shutout win. It is no exaggeration to say that Verlander owns current Orioles hitters. Not a lineup that will faze him in the slightest. Cause for worry?

Sunday, June 2, 1:35 PM EDT: RHP Rick Porcello v. RHP Kevin Gausman

Gausman is a rookie making his 3rd start who’s been hammered the first two. “Bad boding” for Sunday, as Billfer used to say? Rick is coming off a career start (with no decision) against the Pirates. Last August (at Comerica), Porcello had himself a good game and then blew it in the 7th (Chris Davis 3-run shot). Current Orioles find Rick quite hittable, but we can hope that this doesn’t necessarily mean scoreable-upon.

The Orioles bullpen isn’t terribly imposing, but then neither is that of the Tigers. Matching up either team’s big gun 3-4-5 hitters against bullpens, who’s got the edge? Tigers do. Might want to go light on the Coke, however. Even against lefties Davis and Markakis. O’s have barely seen Smyly and Downs. Often an advantage to the pitcher there.

In what I hope will become a personal tradition, the series-remainder game posts are going to be stat-heavy and comment-light.

Stay tuned or come back for the post-game.

Gimme dat lineup, Coleman-Man….

POST-GAME: Orioles 7, Tigers 5. Tough one to swallow, eh? Things got off to a sunny start in the 1st with Cabrera’s 2-run homer to right off Miguel Gonzalez. Max dodged the fearsome-first-inning O’s with a quiet 1st, but his 2nd was labored and slow. He escaped with only the sac fly allowed, but his troubles continued in the 3rd when Adam Jones connected on a 2-run HR to CF. 3-2 Baltimore. The Tigers followed the good script by coming back to tie it in the 4th on a kind of manufactured run. It started with a Martinez soft single, but through the good fortune of V-Mart getting erased on a fielder’s choice, Peralta came to be standing on 2B when clutch Garcia knocked one through the middle. Scherzer – once again (talk about a script) – righted himself after the rockiness and only grew stronger, retiring his last 16 batters in order and going double-digit with the strikeouts. 8 of those outs were flyballs, some deep, but an out is an out. The Tigers took the lead back in the 5th, loading the bases and threatening to break it open. Give Martinez credit for finding another gear and beating the DP relay to first, thus driving in the 4-3 run, but… but… Garcia gave the Tigers an insurance run and a 5-3 lead in the 6th inning, last one for starter Gonzalez, with a solo HR just over the RF scoreboard. That’s how you put the forth back in the back and forth game, right? Max and Avisail. Victory appeared within reach. Valverde came in for the save in the 9th. I wasn’t nervous. Nick Markakis homered to RF to lead it off. Garcia in RF almost took it away from him, got glove on it and everything. Mistimed leap? Give him an A+ for effort – it was that close. Oh well. 5-4 Tigers, none out and none on. I still wasn’t too nervous. But Valverde got himself in a heap of trouble, before almost getting himself miraculously out of it. Two popouts with men on 1st and 3rd – talk about dodging bullets. The sudden good fortune couldn’t stop now, could it? It could. Falling behind 2-0 on Chris Dickerson, Valverde’s 4th pitch wound up in the right-center field seats for the walkoff.

Kelly gave a rather stark illustration of his good and bad. Weak contact, weak outs, two with a runner in scoring position. But fine, difference-making defense in CF. J.J Hardy and Manny Machado made strong and smart plays on the left side, but Peralta was no slouch ranging far right to keep Jones’s 9th inning hit to the SS-3B hole an IF single rather than the double it might have been. Next play, the fleet Garcia in RF cut off the Davis smash to the gap to hold him to a single and keep Jones from scoring the tying run. Avila Watch: Still pathetic. V-Mart Watch: If you doubt that this guy is a liability who ought to be spending some of his time on the bench, see Innings 5 and 7. It’s been going on all season. Big Swinging Jhonny didn’t help the cause by going down in flames in the 5th, and he was right behind Victor again in the 7th inning rally kill. We can curse Valverde, but those 5th and 7th innings were also What Might Have Been so that we didn’t have to. We might not have had to see him at all. Give the Orioles pen some credit for keeping the walkoff in order. A mix and match of four arms over 3 innings kept Detroit off the board.

PLAYER OF THE GAME: Chris Dickerson, Max Scherzer, Adam Jones
HONORABLE MENTION:  Avisail Garcia, Miguel Cabrera, Nick Markakis, Andy Dirks
NOT SO GOOD: Jose Valverde

30 thoughts on “Game 2013.53: Tigers at Orioles”

    1. Thank you, Jim. Had some misgivings about sounding sour, but hey, the Tigers have dropped three straight, and I’m a fan with normal fan reactions.

  1. I am officially TIVO watching the Tigers. After watching this offense and basically wasting about 30 hoours of time will wait til the game is over and watch it if they win. I can’t take this poor rxcuse for offensive baseball any longer….check in with you later

  2. After basically wasting about 30 hours of this pathetic offense the past week I am on TIVO for awhile. Tape it and watch it if they win. I can’t take this any longer….check in with you later….

    1. After a loss, my immediate reaction is that I wasted my time watching. (I do have, though, so I can watch on my schedule and not theirs whenever that works for me.) However, since I want to really know the team, I watch all the games. I usually try to avoid knowing the outcome if I watch a game after the fact, but I’ve watched losses knowing they’d be losses, and it’s actually slightly easier than sitting through the suspense. Wins that you know are going to be wins aren’t quite as fun without the suspense, I must say.

      Then again, I study each game and take notes as I watch, which probably makes me something other than normal.

  3. Tonight’s Still Trying To Score Lineup:
    1. Infante 2B
    2. Dirks LF
    3. Cabrera 3B
    4. Fielder 1B
    5. Martinez DH
    6. Peralta SS
    7. Avila C
    8. Garcia CF
    9. Kelly RF

  4. Amazing game by Fister last night: 12 K with only 1 walk (and 1 HBP), only 4 hits, a great play on a bunt, 3 good at bats, including a single and a sac bunt.

    Whatever happened to the old Ramon Santiago who was all glove no bat? Without the glove, what’s the point? He is also one of the slower runners on the team.

    1. Yeah, a lot of good pitching throughout the Pirates series. Verlander better, Porcello off the charts, Sanchez mostly good, and Fister quite good indeed. No big complaints about the bullpen, either. When you can make it to the 11th twice, something must have gone right or at least not too wrong.

      I enjoyed Fister at the plate, too. I was hoping the bunt sign would be taken off attwo strikes, and my wish was granted and then some.

      There have been two recent instances of Santiago not being quite the defensive specialist you count on. Stone glove on a DP relay and last night’s sloppiness. He joins the list of non-contributors, which is at 3 by my reckoning. I don’t know what you do about it, though. I’d prefer Worth as I did to begin with, without being able to claim it’d make a big difference.

  5. Ramon is like Nefi without the greenies. Basically a waste of a roster spot that could be used by a minor leaguer.

    1. Not a lot of opportunities for Ramon this season, but it must be said that the closest he’s been to making a positive impact was the almost-HR clutch triple he hit some weeks back against I can’t remember who. He ended up stranded and the Tigers lost one of those toothless games – that much I remember (I think) without looking it up. I think I’ve noted maybe one outstanding defensive play on his part, nothing too monumental about it.

  6. My apologies for the error on game start time for tonight’s game. It’s 7:05 PM EDT, not 7:35.

    1. The interesting thing there is that Leyland called out Tom Brookens (he never did that with Gene). If you watch the play, Brookens doesn’t give the Go sign until after Tui is already at 3rd. The Orioles announcers actually said that Brookens gave a Stop and then changed it to a Go, but I couldn’t see that on the video.

      At any rate, despite what others say, I think Tuiasosopo is slow. I think he looks like he is running faster than he is. Whatever it is, in his brief playing time he has managed already to be thrown out 3 times at hime (tied for the league lead). STOP sending him already!

        1. I’ll agree that the way Tui runs makes it look like he’s faster than he is. Actually, the way Martinez runs makes everyone look faster than they are. Maybe that’s what is so confusing to Tom Brookens.

  7. The Orioles offense leads MLB in first inning runs, not to mention first inning everything.

    1. Well, his pitch count was getting up there. When he falls, he tends to fall hard. No that that would have been worse. Quicker, certainly. Jose could have served up the loss on one pitch.

  8. The experiment is over. Valverde has only 1 pitch, a 91-94 MPH flat fastball. His split finger is non-existent and he can’t paint his 92 MPH fastball. Leyland brings in Valverde (Who NO major league hitter fears) to face 3 left handed hitters (2 Home Runs and a gap single). Leyland says it was a “No-Brainer” to bring in Valverde for the 9th. I have to agree. I would rather they bring up Rondon and let the chips fall where they may….at least batters would have in the back of their head that they might get hit by a 101 MPH heater and be a bit uncomfortable in the box.

    1. “Leyland says it was a “No-Brainer” to bring in Valverde for the 9th. I have to agree.”

      Good one.

      “I would rather they bring up Rondon and let the chips fall where they may….at least batters would have in the back of their head that they might get hit by a 101 MPH heater and be a bit uncomfortable in the box.”

      +1, as our man in Dallas is fond of saying.

  9. An absolute kick in the nuts.

    Valverde has been a ticking time bomb, no surprise there. I’d like to think that this is enough to give Benoit a shot, but knowing JL and his loyalty and rigidity, I think it will take one more blown save.

    I agree with you Tigerforlife re: Valverde’s stuff, he has one pitch. Been like that since the middle of 2012.

    But let’s remember that we’ve already tried Rondon, Coke, and Dotel this year. We’re running out of options. If there were a better option, he’d be out there. Al Al can’t find the strike zone, you saw that Putkonen did last night. Who else?

    Rondon is going to get another shot here very soon, but he won’t have much of a leash. I think we need to seriously consider that we may have to give up Porcello, Smyly, Garcia or some prospects (other than Castellanos) for a certified closer in the near future.

    Also, I wanted to second what Smoking Loon said about the Pirates and Rangers. We’re chasing those guys right now.

    1. Kevin is right that one blown save won’t be enough, because it’s really not enough under any circumstances. It happens. But I was thinking that if this happens NEXT time Valverde’s out there in a save situation, the experiment is over, JL loyalty and all. Also agree about another shot for Rondon coming. Don’t know that the leash will be that short. I think they’ll let him take his lumps and let it ride. They’re running out of options. (Not literal minor league options.)

      In my estimation, Castellanos is tradable. Garcia, absolutely not. It’s not that I don’t like Castellanos. It’s that Garcia is so far ahead of him and that there is no immediate need for another Outfielder Of The Future. If there’s a pressing need for some big deal during the season, I consider Castellanos good as gone.

    1. I’m OK with it. These guys are pros. It’s an excellent hitting team overall. More BP won’t turn Kelly into a line drive hitter, nor will it affect the in-the-moment performance of Cabrera/Fielder/Martinez in clutch late-inning situations in any given game. The latter can be expected to improve “by itself” as a mater of probability.

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