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.

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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

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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.

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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