Game 2013.74: Red Sox at Tigers

41-32, 1st place, 3 games up on Cleveland, winning streak at 1. Now it’s time for Justin Verlander (vs. Doubront) and the most satisfying series win of the season. Some bench guys are going to get starts today. Count on it, and don’t complain about it. The bench has been good. Tub is Love, and Bench is Good. Considering Miggy’s stats in JV starts, it might be a good time to give him a day off. But I wouldn’t count on it, and that I would complain about.

If we update this:

OFFENSIVE WPA/RE24 HEROES (bold = win) + OPPONENT

GAME 68 JACKSON (BAL) 
GAME 69 JACKSON
GAME 70 TUIASOSOPO
GAME 71 PERALTA (BOS) 
GAME 72 CABRERA

And then update this:

OFFENSIVE WPA/RE24 TURDS (bold = loss) + OPPONENT

GAME 68 PENA (BAL)
GAME 69 CABRERA 
GAME 70 JACKSON 
GAME 71 CABRERA, MARTINEZ (BOS)
GAME 72 FIELDER 

And then tote up all the “best in wins” and “worst in losses,” we might come up with something like this:

OFFENSIVE W-L

TUIASOSOPO 4-0
KELLY 3-0
SANTIAGO 1-0
CABRERA 13-3
JACKSON 4-2
PERALTA 3-2
FIELDER 9-7
AVILA 3-3
PENA 0-0
DIRKS 3-5
MARTINEZ 4-8
HUNTER 1-2
GARCIA 1-2
INFANTE 2-5

If we instead looked at “best in losses” and “worst in wins,” we’d get a look into where team results mask the individual contribution:

THE CONTRARIANS W-L

FISTER 1-0
CABRERA 10-3
TUIASOSOPO 4-2
KELLY 2-1
FIELDER 9-5
PERALTA 3-3
PENA 3-3
JACKSON 2-3
INFANTE 2-4
HUNTER 3-7
AVILA 2-5
GARCIA 1-3
SANTIAGO 0-1
DIRKS 0-6
MARTINEZ 0-6

Much of all that won’t surprise you, but some of it should. For instance: Infante, Hunter, Garcia… all overrated offensively.

If JV is ordinary today, let us hope for more of the extraordinary from the Comerica Strong bats.

POST-GAME: Tigers 7, Red Sox 5. Wow, what a game. Dramatic, start to finish. Couple things: A. 1B Victor Martinez made the defensive play of the year on Jacoby Ellsbury in the 6th, knocking down a ball scorched down the 1B line, getting back on his feet and to the ball quick as a cat, and then scooping the ball from the ground to 1B and into Smyly’s glove without looking, facing away from the play. SENSATIONAL. B. The Tigers sure caught a break in the 8th on RF Daniel Nava’s catch-and-drop that was called an error, huh? But here’s the thing. To the unaided human eye farther away than 10 feet from Nava, that was an error. Not only did Nava not get back on Garcia’s flyball well enough to make a normal catch, but he was pulling the ball out of his glove (and dropping it) before he’d even established that he’d made the catch. 2B ump Mike DiMuro may have blown the call, in retrospect, but what made this possible is that Nava blew the play.

The Tigers kept giving Verlander the lead, and he kept giving it back. Both Felix Doubront and Verlander struggled with their command on this steamy day and took only 5 innings – as long as either lasted – to go over 100 pitches. After that, it was a battle of the bullpens. The centerpiece of Detroit’s 2-run 1st was Cabrera’s blast to dead center (HR everywhere else, ground rule double at Comerica). CF Ellsbury prevented further damage by robbing Peralta of a RCF gap double with a great catch. 7 Red Sox hitters came to the plate in the two-run Boston 2nd that set the always-in-trouble tone for Verlander’s outing. The Tigers 2nd was a gutsy one. After Infante’s CS/pickoff left the bases empty, 2 outs, Holaday and Jackson came though, and Holaday came in to score on C Ryan Lavarnway’s lazy PB. 3-2 Tigers. The Red Sox 3rd was on the defense. How Peralta and Infante weren’t charged with throwing errors I have no idea, but their clown show helped make it 3-3. With help from Verlander’s strike three called a ball on Mike Napoli. In the 4th, another bluff from crafty Hunter prevented Lavarnway from scoring from 1B on the Ellsbury double, which was big until the next AB, when he scored for a 4-3 Boston lead anyway. In the Tigers 4th, with the bases loaded, RF Victorino bounced off the RF corner wall while making a great catch on Hunter’s deep (just foul) flyball. The post-5th battle of the bullpens was close and tense for a while. Smyly was in a spot of trouble in the 7th, two on and none out. Napoli flied out to Garcia, and Dustin Pedroia had the nerve to tag from 2B. Garcia had him nailed on a perfect throw to 3B, but Cabrera never had it and lost it on the tag, yet another uncharged Tigers error. But Smyly pitched out of the jam. It all started to fall apart for the Red Sox in the 7th. Strange play there. Jackson on 1B, Hunter hits a soft liner that 2B Pedroia drops. Pedroia picks up the ball and runs toward 1B, Jackson retreats to 1B, Pedroia throws to Napoli who tags Jackson at the bag, shortly followed (or preceded?) by Hunter crossing 1B. It ends with Hunter out, Jackson still at 1B. Evidently, Pedroia should have gone to 2B, lost the force there by failing to. Or maybe it was Napoli not tagging Jackson before Hunter got to 1B. I don’t know. Anyway, Tigers load the bases but only tie the game at 4-4 by virtue of an Andrew Miller HBP on Peralta. Remember the great catch by Victorino? He hurt his back. That’s why Nava comes in and strikes out with Ellsbury on 2B against Benoit to end the Red Sox 8th, and that’s why Nava was in RF to make the (official) two-base error that began the Tigers winning 8th. Karma! After Red Sox manager John Farrell was ejected arguing the Nava call, his bullpen collapsed. Miller, Wilson, Breslow. Hunter knocked in the go-ahead run with a sac fly, and Fielder came through with a based-loaded single to make it 7-4. The Benoit 9th was not relaxing, but it ended. He struck out Ortiz. He allowed a run. Hunter ended the game in style with a tumbling catch of Stephen Drew’s liner to RCF. Lost in all the excitement: A truly horrid day from Martinez at the plate. Back at it already.

ALL-STAR TEAM

C Holaday
1B Napoli
2B Pedroia
SS Drew
3B Cabrera
LF Garcia
CF Jackson
RF Hunter
DH Fielder

P Smyly

RULE 5 DRAFT PICK: Jacoby Ellsbury

DFA: Daniel Nava