Game 2013.93: Rangers at Tigers

51-41, 1st place, 2.5 games ahead of Cleveland.

Very good win last night. Only a couple things marred the enjoyment: 1. Will someone please explain why Miggy didn’t catch the foul ball that dropped 10 feet away from him, and am I making too big a deal out of it? 2. What Ortiz did to the Tigers in relief of Grimm would have been less amusing without a 7-2 lead.

Torii Hunter, aptly described by M. Impemba as the wily veteran, constantly amuses us with Wily Veteran Things, most recently two clever, heads-up slides that avoided outs and scored a run. I was high on Hunter to begin with, and he started the year at a torriid pace, but his stock dropped with me after that. I was seeing “solid” numbers that weren’t really translating into W’s. Obviously, he’s been back on track for a while now. I’m acknowledging it.

Bruce Rondon just pitched 4/3 innings like the phenom he was supposed to be. Coleman voiced what many of us were thinking – we might have just witnessed the start of something big. The Tigers Volunteer Fire Department might be about to upgrade from a couple of fire extinguishers and a bunch of leaky buckets to a by golly fire truck.

Prince Fielder legging out that IF single last night is but one of many reasons you can’t get too down on the guy for an extended slump. If the dude in the following paragraph could get down to 1B like that, I would have held my tongue about sitting him. Actually, the way he can play 1B, maybe I should have. He can’t help being a DH and having limited opportunities.

Now that Victor Martinez is starting to silence us critics, we turn our attention to a few other things set to low heat on the debate stove.

Left field. Andy Dirks is a plus defender in LF and can play all over the OF. He was a good hitter with a model swing as recently as early in the season. I like him, don’t really get what’s going on with him at the plate. On the other hand, I was enthralled by Matt Tuiasosopo from the beginning, even before he started to hit in ST. I liked his demeanor and his hustle. He also reminded me of Freddie Mercury, not that there’s anything wrong with that. Not only can Tui hit, but even more impressively, he’s been able to do what he does off the bench, and consistently, and even upon returning from a DL stint. I consider that mighty impressive. Tuiasosopo is average in LF, with a good arm. On the bases, well, he’s certainly not Dirks’s equal. Overall, logically, statistically, it looks like LF should be a timeshare unaffected by silly platoon crap that doesn’t apply. Right? Well, you know how things work in LeylandWorld. It’s hard to win a job, and it’s hard to lose a job, and a position that doesn’t get settled by a trade or free agent signing tends to remain unsettled. Clearly, LF isn’t going to be handed to Tuiasosopo any time soon, and who’s to say that it should be? But man, can that guy hit, and here’s the thing: Aside from Cabrera, Detroit simply doesn’t have that kind of power from the right side (or aside from Fielder, anywhere else). So why the fascination with any LHB LF (without similar power) for “balance”? Does AJax need a lefty for balance? Incidentally, when was the last time there was a fixture in LF for the Tigers? Certainly not during the Leyland Years. The muddle may continue through 2014 or 2015 or…

Ramon Santiago. Why? Hernan Perez, make yourself at home. Oh wait – that’s in my world.

Phil Coke. I like the guy. Don’t really want to see him pitch any more, at least not for the Tigers. Could he maybe become assistant to the bench coach, or something? He’s a very entertaining figure, don’t want to throw away all the talent. Where’s Jose Ortega? Is Evan Reed gone yet?

Tonight it’s Max Scherzer on the hilly mound toeing the rubbery slab, and how can you not have a good feeling about that? Is it jinxing it to say 14-0? I don’t think so. It’s what we’re all thinking. The Rangers missed Scherzer last time around, and this only adds to my good feeling. The last time out against Holland was a loss, a wild one, but he was hammered. It was Miguel’s 3-HR game, and Matt Tuiasosopo drew 4 walks (which I suspect is nearly as rare as a 3-HR game). I like Tigers chances. Kevin aptly points out the importance of perspective in that Rangers fans have “fear of Tigers” much as we suffer from “fear of Rangers.” Let’s continue to shift the balance of fear in a southwesterly direction. Max!!!!

National game tonight, which means radio for us TV-less folk.

Tonight’s “Hammer Time, Der Kommisar Scherzer’s In Town” lineup (stolen from Vince below, who beat me to “stealing” it from Jason Beck by 18 minutes):

1. Austin Jackson, cf
2. Torii Hunter, rf
3. Miguel Cabrera, 3b
4. Prince Fielder, 1b
5. Victor Martinez, dh
6. Jhonny Peralta, ss
7. Matt Tuiasosopo, lf
8. Brayan Pena, c
9. Hernan Perez, 2b


  1. Vince in MN

    July 13, 2013 at 3:54 pm

    Good point on LF issues, in the past as well as the current Dirks/Tui question; Santiago/Perez; Coke. The Santiago/Perez issue will resolve itself upon Infante’s return. For the others, you will likely be able to repost these points in a future edition.

    • Smoking Loon

      July 13, 2013 at 5:31 pm

      “…you will likely be able to repost these points in a future edition.”

      How true. It’s nice, though, when a recurring complaint finally falls off the table in a good way, as with Valverde and more recently with Martinez. I’d like nothing more than to have glowing reviews for the bullpen for a change. That is the complaint I would most like to drop, the thing I’d most like to stop harping on.

      Haven’t refreshed my memory on Perez. Don’t know if he’s really strong enough at SS to be the utility IF, but I’m desperate enough to unload Santiago that I’d put anybody there.

      • Vince in MN

        July 13, 2013 at 8:26 pm

        As far as the bullpen (and how it has been employed) goes:

      • Vince in MN

        July 13, 2013 at 8:43 pm

        Perez looks to be a purely MiL secondbaseman at this point. I don’t think he has played SS this year and he doesn’t belong on the big club yet. Unless Worth is the answer, they’ll have to make some kind of a deadline deal. I’m not confident. The bench has sucked for years and I get the feeling that it it isn’t a big priority. If it was, this could have all been taken care of in the offseason. But, nooooooo. $%*#@#!&

  2. Vince in MN

    July 13, 2013 at 3:55 pm

    1. Austin Jackson, cf
    2. Torii Hunter, rf
    3. Miguel Cabrera, 3b
    4. Prince Fielder, 1b
    5. Victor Martinez, dh
    6. Jhonny Peralta, ss
    7. Matt Tuiasosopo, lf
    8. Brayan Pena, c
    9. Hernan Perez, 2b

  3. bada bing

    July 13, 2013 at 6:06 pm

    I really like Dirks’ defense, but does anyone really think that he is the best LF in baseball? According to UZR, he has been this year. Sample size and all that.

  4. Kevin in Dallas

    July 13, 2013 at 6:55 pm

    Great post SL. Really enjoyed it. I laughed at the bench coach joke.

    Fascinating point bada bing (aka best name on DTW).

  5. bada bing

    July 13, 2013 at 7:26 pm

    Beltre the best all-around third baseman in baseball? LOL at Mitch Williams. That is some expert trolling right there.

  6. bada bing

    July 13, 2013 at 7:41 pm

    ‘A walk to Cabrera is almost as good as an out.’

    These announcers are terrible.

  7. Vince in MN

    July 13, 2013 at 8:31 pm

    At 80 pitches after 4, it looks like it is going to be a short outing for Scherzer. Who in the bullpen will get the call to keep the mighty Rangers offense in check?

  8. StorminNorman$

    July 13, 2013 at 8:38 pm

    i agree with MWilliams, that was a ‘nice piece of hitting by Perez’… brought the hands in and turned it around

  9. Vince in MN

    July 13, 2013 at 9:14 pm

    Scherzer threw 12 curves tonight: 8 Balls and 4 strikes resulting in 1 groundout and 1 single.

  10. StorminNorman$

    July 13, 2013 at 9:37 pm

    for a guy (on a team) not known for its bunting prowess, i’m not sure why Hunter (who already had two hits off Holland) was bunting for a hit there? i’m probably not the only guy wondering the same

    • Vince in MN

      July 13, 2013 at 9:58 pm

      Agreed, a dumb move by the crafty veteran.

  11. StorminNorman$

    July 13, 2013 at 9:39 pm

    the newest “white flag” – Coke!

    • Vince in MN

      July 13, 2013 at 9:59 pm

      Followed by the other “white flag” – AlAl. That’s OK since they aren’t going to win today anyway, might as well let the mop up guys get their work in.

  12. StorminNorman$

    July 13, 2013 at 9:59 pm

    Fox cuts away to Zimmerman trial (in Houston market)… the judge says, “we the jury find that Max Scherzer has taken his first loss of the season”

  13. Vince in MN

    July 13, 2013 at 10:02 pm

    Anybody know what the steal success rate vs Tigers is this year? Must be about 80%.

    • StorminNorman$

      July 13, 2013 at 10:11 pm

      Caught Stealing Percentage
      Pena – .313
      Avila – .180

        • Vince in MN

          July 14, 2013 at 11:50 am

          And Holiday – 143. 20 CS out of 91 tries translates to a 78% success rate.

          Pitchers bear some of the responsibility for keeping runners close, but regardless that is pretty bad. I’m surprised other teams aren’t running even more.

          It’s an interesting coincidence that Avila’s throw out rate matches his batting average.

          • Smoking Loon

            July 14, 2013 at 12:26 pm

            Fister and Verlander are the only two Tigers pitchers I can think of with good pickoff moves. Overall, the staff doesn’t seem very good at keeping runners close. Even so, Avila’s 18% is way down while the staff hasn’t changed much. I wonder what, if anything, is in store for the C position in 2014. Alex is young, and guys do have off years and bounce back. I’m guessing nothing happens.

  14. Vince in MN

    July 13, 2013 at 10:04 pm

    Ortega up, AlAl down after the break.

  15. Kevin in Dallas

    July 13, 2013 at 11:19 pm

    Is it just me, or did 7-2 last night feel much closer than 7-1 tonight? Perspective.

    Tomorrow is a must win. To the extent that one can exist before the AS break.

  16. JimEggersUSMC

    July 14, 2013 at 12:17 am

    Was pretty sure Max was not going to go 25-0 for the season, so might be OK that he lost one, takes off the pressure…

  17. Kevin Smith

    July 15, 2013 at 10:30 am

    Scherzer is the real deal. Him and Harvey