Game 2013.58: Rays at Tigers

Detroit Tigers: 31-26, 1st Place (2 ahead of Cleveland).

This afternoon’s game will be a rubbery affair between Detroit and Tampa Bay who have split the first two of the series, but also between Detroit’s Feast or Famine offense, who put up 10 runs Tuesday but 0 last night.  The indicator is twitching toward the Feast side of the dial, with Max Scherzer on the mound. Max so far this season has gotten run support to the tune of 8+ runs per 9 innings. This would seem to be random luck, but perhaps Max has special powers. I have been unable to verify the rumor that Doug Fister has been following Max around in an attempt to learn his secret.

At any rate, Fister had another great outing last night. Until the Rays finally broke through in the 9th inning, Fister had put together a stretch of 21 consecutive scoreless innings–a stretch in which the Tigers scored a total of 2 runs. Detroit did support him with some good defense, including a great unassisted double-play by the much-maligned Alex Avila. But no real hitting to speak of–or great pitching by Cobb, depending on which side of the coin is facing up–and a couple of failed attempts to manufacture something (a failed SB with a runner on 3rd and 1 out, a failed sac bunt), and the Tigers came up empty.

Today the Tigers face Roberto Hernandez, if that’s really his name. Tiger fans probably best remember Hernandez (in his younger guise as Fausto Carmona) for playing a tune on Gary Sheffield’s noggin.


Whether the Tigers go Feast or Famine today, or even that rare 4-run game, we will probably know fairly early in the game. For whatever reason (I have no explanation for you), the Tigers don’t seem able to score runs in the last 1/3 of the game.

The average AL team has scored 71 runs so far this season in innings 7-9; the Tigers have only scored 53, just nosing out Seattle (52) for that 14th of 15 spot. Their inning 7-9 OPS (.631) is also 14th ahead of only Cleveland (.615. Maybe that’s why Cleveland is struggling?). Their late-inning slugging really suffers, with a dead-last (by a comfortable margin) Slugging % of only .322


And I would be remiss if I did not point out that David Spade is throwing out the first pitch before today’s game. Just because.


Today’s Player of the Pre-Game:  Prince Fielder. Joe Maddon and the Rays will not be shy about walking Cabrera another two times today, or even more if the situation dictates. Prince struck out after both intentional walks last night, but previously had a spree of RBI hits following Cabrera walks. What Prince does today may make the difference in the game.

Today’s Max Run Support Lineup:

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

Loon gets his wish and Kelly takes over CF from Garcia

34 thoughts on “Game 2013.58: Rays at Tigers”

  1. TAM’s 6th – a walk + SB + one single = run. I’ve heard about this concept of ‘manufacturing runs’ 😉

    with DET’s bullpen, every run counts… as Scherzer learned in his last outing (Valverde meltdown)

    1. Yes, good and important win today, to keep *our* sprits high if nothing else. A strong series against Cleveland could be a real propellant.

    2. Its nice that we won the series, but I’m seeing another season like 2012. Any year where a team wins the AL pennant cannot be termed as a bad year, but it was nonetheless a frustrating one for the most part. I see much of the same going forward in 2013. Our offense is maddeningly inconsistent and our bullpen is below average. We are slow and below average defensively as well. Our one true strength is starting pitching and it will probably be enough to carry the division, but not enough to run away with it because of our inadequacies in the other aforementioned areas.

      I don’t see a World Series championship this year either as I cannot see us beating STL or SF in a seven game series as the team is currently constructed. I am still of the mind that we will need to deal Porcello or Castellanos at the trade deadline in order to get a bonafide closer. I don’t think Valverde is going to hold up over the long haul of a 162 game season. To make matters worse, our setup guy (Benoit) is looking shaky way too often for my taste as well. I just don’t trust anybody in our bullpen at the moment not named Smyly.

    1. He had one incredible splitter. More of that please.

      Weak swings otherwise, looked like a team ready to go home in the 9th.

      1. Credit given where credit due, Valverde. It worked like it was supposed to today.

        Benoit, despite some of his numbers, has looked like an accident waiting to happen all season. No more confidence there than with Coke. Less, maybe. Based on observation.

  2. Good game/series win…now win 2 or 3 vs CLE; then on to KC where teams (other than KC) go to win… prior to KC beating MIN yesterday, KC had lost 11 straight home games.

  3. I was working and missed the game today, but from the box it looks like it was all Tigers all the way. Nice to see Martinez have a productive day with 3 RBI; the middle of the order responsible for 9 of the 13 hits; even Avila now has a 2-game hitting streak; Peralt showing no fear; Scherzer another ace performance.

    Dirks and Hunter are in funks, so maybe more Infante at leadoff and I want to see more Tui starts in LF and not just against LH.

    Leyland Factor = 0 again today I assume.

    1. Well, a bit of discussion is now called for on the Leyland Factor rules. At issue: In games where it is not the case that one or two plays are said (not entirely correctly) to have won or lost the game, are we automatically absolving of the manager of both blame and credit?

      Good calls included hit and run in the 5th that moved Kelly to 2B (he scored what proved to be the winning run), 6th inning pinch-hitting Garcia who came through with a sac fly (not fair to call it a no-brainer – even Kelly against a LHB can come up with that or a cheap single), and Miggy’s SB (later scores on single) on the Fielder K in the 7th (I could be wrong, but I think that’s green light from Leyland). I think taking Max out after 7 was a good move, too, despite Benoit. Starting Kelly in CF proved most fortuitous.

      If we raise the bar for credit above all that, we should similarly raise the bar for blame.

      1. Proposed rule: If they win, JL gets no credit, if they lose it is all his fault. I mean has it always been so?.

        1. I always thought it was the other way around: If they lose, the players didn’t perform, if they win Leyland pushed all the right buttons.

          1. Around here, the slant has been more like Jim’s rule. Maybe the press plays up the genius of Leyland, I don’t know. I’m neutral. He’s a colorful character. That I enjoy. No manager is ever better than his players. Maybe they can be worse.

            But back to my question. It might be a stretch to give Leyland a +1 for this win, but we should bear in mind and apply the same reasoning when there’s a loss where similar decisions/non-decisions don’t go as well and add up to a lesser game. What say you-all?

      2. I think keep it simple and admit only critical in-game strategic decisions, although we could argue what constitutes a critical decision. For example, the H&R with Kelly might be a good play, but since they won 5-2, Kelly really didn’t score the winning run. Similarly, the Garcia steal attempt last night seemed like a dumb move to me, probably costing a chance to score but in the end didn’t really matter, so I don’t consider that a blunder. PH for Kelly is always a no-brainer (just kidding, only most of the time), Taking Max out after 7 with a 5-1 lead also not rocket science since he had throw 100 pitches, and anyway running your 8th and 9th inning guys out in that kind of a situation is SOP. If Miggy gets thrown out on the steal, is it then a dumb play? I don’t think you can knock him down every time a move backfires, but I don’t think he necessarily deserves credit every time some perceived move works. If we nitpick, we end up in a potentially polarized Leyland good/Leyland bad dichotomy. My hope with all this is that it gives us the opportunity to explore the roiling waters of the mental part of the game. I just think dipping our toes in a more judicious way to begin. We can worry about swimming with the sharks later.

        1. OK, I’m fine with 0 on today’s Jimbometer for an overall -1.

          I think we make this a more interesting blog simply by going beyond the venting on the common complaints (Leyland, the blowpen, current deserving whipping boys Avila and Martinez, etc.) and actually paying attention through the ups and downs. Making a discussion out of it. Instead of the usual “see, I told you” when something happens to support your position. (That last not directed at anyone in particular. I do it myself.)

          1. What constitutes a game-winning run is certainly debatable. By one definition, the 3rd run in a game won 5-2 is the winning run, whenever it may have scored. One rebuttal of that is that no run counts for more than any other in the final score. No shortage of ways to look at it. And that’s even before you examine the matter of “runs prevented.” Every out recorded can count as at least one of those. And what about “runs not scored”?

            1. I wasn’t very happy about the Garcia SB attempt in the 3-0 loss Wed., either, but mainly because of the result. I realize it was a gamble, a gambit to raise the odds of scoring more than 1 run. More often Leyland is criticized for being a stick in the mud and not being aggressive in such a situation (as other teams tend to be against the Tigers), with one of the few speed guys at 1B and a rare opportunity. In the end I couldn’t fault the attempt, and still wonder if Garcia’s lack of experience/baserunning savvy had anything to do with the failure (no idea).

      3. I’m not sure about the Cabrera steal–I think he did that one on his own (so no Leyland points); he also seemed headed for home before he got any signal from Brookens. I think he Cabrera calls his own game (he used to routinely defy whatever Lamont signaled).

  4. DET drafted RHP Jonathon Crawford (FL) with their 1st round (20th overall) pick

            1. He’s young and presumably will get bigger. The mid-high 90s fastball is what makes him initially attractive I think.

  5. For anyone who didn’t watch the game, there was a little head game going on between Hernandez and Miggy. 2nd AB, Miggy strikes out and Hernandez celebrates. Miggy gives him a kind of bemused “we’ll see about this” look walking away. During the next AB, Miggy raises an index finger to Hernandez – not sure what it meant. Jokingly calling for a certain pitch? Indicating “try that one more time”? Anyway, Cabrera singles in Kelly, and while on 1B, is even more full of expression than usual, some of which is surely meant for Hernandez. It was fun.

    1. I had meant to do a little post-game bit but wasn’t able, but I was going to focus on that. I’ve always been a bit wary of the motivational angle to interpreting things–you know, the guys aren’t trying, everyone is waiting for Cabrera to do something, stuff like that. But there may have been something going on today.

      Fausto Carmona–oops, Hernandez–was showing up Cabrera. After he struck him out he did a little Valverde-like dance, then walked toward home staring him down. Cabrera gave him a bit of a look back, then dropped it and went back to the dugout. What happened next: Fielder scorches a line drive single. Martinez goes deep. Peralta singles. Avila singles, and Hernandez is pretty much done. If someone were to argue that the guys were pissed off that Hernandez was showing up Cabrera and went to the plate with some extra special motivation, well, it would be hard for me to argue with them (Well, OK, it wouldn’t: I’d say it was Hernandez, he was distracted by his own emotions toward Cabrera. But still).

  6. I, too, reacted to the Avila DP immediately as “unassisted.” But Fielder got the assist. Avila two putouts. Maybe one unassisted? A 3-2-2 DP?

  7. A manager can only do what he wants to do or should do based on who he has in the lineup (or on the bench) and what those players can or cannot do. In my coaching days I loved to get the game in motion (hit and run, run and hit, steal, bunt etc) but if the kids I had were plow horses, then we were station to station. In Professional ( remember two definitions: 1) you are very good at what you do or 2) you get paid!) Baseball, you have the luxury of building your team the way you want it, and then hope everyone has career years and no one gets hurt. I think the true test of a Big League skipper is game and player management in extra inning games, and in the post season. In 1995 the M’s beat the Yuckees in that famous 5th game (Jr. Griffey, Edgar, Unit out of the pen) and Sweet Lou (the knig of the Red Azs) was perfect in every move he made. Of course, it didn’t hurt he had the aforementioned professionals.

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