Congratulations to Jose Alvarez on a fine 1st MLB victory yesterday. Thank you, Donkey Kong! Thanks also to Miguel Cabrera for the comedy of throwing his gum at Ryan Raburn rounding the bases after the HR. (It was Raburn who hit the HR, unfortunately. Sorry for the confusion. But it would have been funny either way.)
The Detroit Tigers (35-26, 5.5 games up in 1st place, winning streak at 4), after a 5-1 home stand that we mostly complained about (ha ha), begin their latest road trip with a three-game series at Kaufman Stadium against the Kansas City Royals (28-32, 3rd place, 6.5 GB). The two teams split a pair earlier this season when the Royals looked tough to beat. Since then, Detroit has ascended in a two steps forward (starting pitching), one step back (bullpen and where have the bats gone) manner that characterizes the entire season, while Kansas City, I have heard, has fallen from grace largely due to the disappearance of its offense. Kaufman Stadium, you may recall, is where Miggy got the standing O last October when his Triple Crown achievement was announced. Classy. Although I seem to also recall some not-so-classy reaction from the KC crowd at the 2012 All-Star Game that also made headlines. Don’t remember what that was about.
We all remember Fister’s 9 straight Ks against the Royals (at Comerica) last season. What we’ve forgotten is that his very next start was also against them, at Kaufman Stadium, and while it wasn’t a disaster, it was labored and ineffective, and he lasted only 4.1 (believe it or not, he also hit a batter). Guthrie happened to be his opponent that game, and picked up the win with a quality start. Current Tigers have a lot of history with Guthrie, and they have – unequivocally – hit him hard. Current Royals have a goodly amount of PA vs. Fister, but have hit him for average more than damage.
These pitchers faced each other in Detroit on April 24, and neither fared well in a game the Tigers eventually won (that also marked the return of Jose Valverde). Scherzer made his poorest start of the season (in 5 IP) but still picked up the win, while things just kind of progressively fell apart for Davis in his 3.2, with assistance from an untimely error by 3B
Eric Hosmer Mike Moustakas (duh). It should be noted that .197-at-the-time V-Mart was 2 for 3 with 2 RBI off Davis.
The last Verlander/Shields matchup was April 25 at Comerica, and it was a good and evenly matched one with no decision for either in a game later decided (in the 10th) by one of the more notable Tigers bullpen implosions this season.
WEATHER: The KC area forecast is all warmth and sunshine through Wednesday.
All stats current as of June 8.
MEET THE ROYALS: HITTING: .258 AVG (Tigers .283), .312 OBP (.350), .371 SLG (.434), .682 OPS (.785), 232 R (313), 31 HR (66), 45 of 55 SB (19 of 24). STARTING PITCHING: 3.86 ERA (Tigers 3.51), .268 BAA (.241), 1.32 WHIP (1.15), 289/110 K/BB (411/90), 54 HR (24). BULLPEN: 150 IP (Tigers 169), 11-9 W-L (4-11), 2.88 ERA (3.89), .228 BAA (.230), 1.21 WHIP (1.29), 138/55 K/BB (180/74), 15 HR (16). DEFENSE: .983 FPCT (Tigers .990), .694 DefEff (.682), 50 DP (44), 69% SBPCT (78%), OF ASSISTS 16 (6), UNEARNED RUNS 23 (13).
What should give the Tigers the edge is hitting. Aside from DH Billy Butler and LF Alex Gordon, production from the lineup has become a struggle for KC. You can see from the 31 HR and .371 SLG that the Royals are a team in need of manufactured runs that aren’t being manufactured. However, Detroit bats had best not go into famine mode here. The advantage swings to KC if the scores are low, and even if the Tigers managed to come away with 2 of 3, we don’t want another Mariners series, do we? No. We want domination, or at least two solid thumpings.
A TIGERS BULLPEN REPORT CARD THRU 60 GAMES
What the overall odds (Tigers 2013) are for the following per-pitcher, per-inning bullpen appearance results:
40% Nothing but outs
33% Reaches/advances but no runs during or after
24% Runs allowed
*3% Reaches/advances that later scored
73% No damage (combining the first two categories)
NOTHING BUT OUTS
(100% Porcello in 2 IP)
(Hey, the above
is was the current bullpen. What a coincidence.)
REACHES/ADVANCES BUT NO RUNS DURING/AFTER
REACHES/ADVANCES THAT LATER SCORED
(All others 0%)
NO-DAMAGE % (Porcello at 100%, of course)
Tell me your bottom line on all this. Are we being too hard on the Tigers pen? Without MLB-wide averages on % of “Nothing but outs,” etc., that’s a hard question to answer. For Jose Valverde in particular, it’s clear enough that his results have been good, and yet we decry his lack of stuff and forecast doom. And I obviously need to rethink my position on Benoit and Putkonen, among others. (Jose Ortega has been optioned to Toledo to make room for fill-in starter Jose Alvarez, by the way. You’d imagine that this is just a temporary roster shuffle and that Ortega will be back, pending the return to the rotation of formerly sore-shouldered Anibal Sanchez.)
Austin Jackson, who has missed nearly half the season now with the hamstring injury (the caution is understandishable), is to begin a rehab assignment with Toledo today (Monday). Meanwhile, the even longer-absent Octavio Dotel has become a popular attraction at early summer cookouts, his elbow apparently so inflamed that he’s able to grill burgers and brats on his bare arm. Dotel has been placed anew on the DL, I hear. 60-day.
Coleman’s game post/game result success continues. He’s 15-8, while Kevin is back in the race at 12-9 and I bring up the rear at 8-9 (not my fault, I tell you). I think it’s only fair to ask Coleman to provide tonight’s lineup(s) and rub some of his good luck off on this game.
Post-game will be right back here.
POST-GAME: Royals 3, Tigers 2. Well, you knew where this one was going after 3, didn’t you? Tigers fall behind, they tend to stay behind. But they were on top 2-0 first, on the strength of Cabrera’s long HR to LF in the 3rd off of Jeremy Guthrie with Hunter at 2B. Detroit was hitting Guthrie all evening. Trouble is, the balls kept ending up in the outfielder’s gloves, however deep or shallow they may have been hit. 10 flyball outs for Guthrie, 0 strikeouts. With the first run support of any kind in ages to work with, Fister promptly gave it all back in the bottom half. The mistake that cost him the game was the pitch to Salvador Perez that ended up in the RCF gap for a game-tying triple. Don’t miss Austin Jackson? See Garcia’s diving attempt? Now you do. The go-ahead run for KC scored with Perez at 3B and Lorenzo Cain beating out a grounder to Peralta at SS. Don’t fault Jhonny. Credit Cain – effective contact + speed. Strength of the Royals, weakness of the Tigers. It can make a difference in games like this, and obviously did. Fister (13 groundball outs and 2 DPs behind him) pitched well, and Guthrie pitched well. The flyball game turned out to be the better approach, and Doug came away with an 8-inning CG loss. So if there’s a bullpen to blame, it’s the other team’s this time. The last serious chance for Detroit came in the 7th, men on 1st and 2nd, one out when Aaron Crow relieved Guthrie. Cabrera’s swinging strikeout against Crow was the last gasp. What had led off the inning suddenly loomed larger – Infante had been robbed of a base hit by LF Alex Gordon’s diving catch. The defensive play of the game for the Tigers was the K-CS DP in the 4th that ended the inning. Alcides Escobar took strike three and Chris Getz took off for 2B. Avila’s throw was strong but to the SS side of the bag, and it took a strong effort by Infante to get the runner on a very close call that the Tigers might have caught a break on. That was a turning point that kept it close. Oddly, the Tigers didn’t seem to know there were 3 outs right away. Maybe no one heard the strikeout call.
THE ALL-STAR TEAM
RULE 5 DRAFT PICK: Aaron Crow
DFA: No one, really. Maybe Leyland for not pinch-hitting Tui somewhere…