Game 2013.123: Royals at Tigers

71-51, 1st place, still way ahead of Cleveland and Kansas City, whoever they think they are.

I’ve just returned from the past, but I can’t tell you anything you don’t already know about the Tigers losing two in one day to the Royals. 2-1, 3-0. Yup. Royals-Tigers scores there, fer shur. The results were disappointing, but were the games bad? No, not really.

I don’t know whether to blame or Ned Yost, but I was told that the first game starter for the Royals was going to be Big Game James. This appears to have confused the Tigers as well, a problem they solved by deciding to hit neither pitcher.

We complain a lot around here. It’s only natural. We want nothing but hits and runs from Tigers hitters, and nothing but outs from Tigers pitchers. We want nothing but wins from the team. If the Tigers were to finish 161-1 some season, that one loss would haunt us for years. It also seems like the negative lends itself to more description and analysis (and more humor). But this season has been a good one that only seems to be getting better, so I’m going to try to focus more on the positive. Once in a while.

It’s easy to be positive about the Tigers starters. Some look askance at the notion of “quality start,” but to my mind, going 6 innings or more while allowing 3 runs or less is about as big a contribution to a winning effort as any individual player is capable of, even though more dramatic events, especially late in a game, might draw more attention. Only 6 pitchers have started for the Tigers this season – that’s quite an accomplishment in its own right, and testimony to the health and consistency of the staff. Here’s how they have fared as far as quality starts go:

Sanchez: 15 QS in 21 starts, streaks of 7 and (currently) 6 in a row
Verlander: 16 QS in 26 starts, streak of 6 early
Fister: 17 QS in 24 starts
Scherzer: 20 QS in 24 starts, streak of 10
Porcello: 14 QS in 22 starts, streak of 6
Alvarez: 1 QS in 5 starts

Further good news is the team record (59-23) in these quality starts:

Sanchez: 11-4
Verlander: 10-6
Fister: 11-6
Scherzer: 16-3
Porcello: 10-4
Alvarez: 1-0

Drew Smyly is the most underrated good news of the season. Prior to the season, most of us had our money on either Porcello being traded or Smyly to Toledo. That Smyly would be so good out the bullpen… well, no, that’s not it. He worked out of the pen in 2012, too. The surprise is that he’s this good, and that it’s been that way all year.

Losing Jhonny Peralta to a suspension was a thing of dread, and being without Omar Infante for a month was an unexpected blow, and having these circumstances overlap could have been a disaster. And yet from it all emerges SS Of The Future Jose Iglesias and Utility Infielder Of The Middle Distance Hernan(do) Perez, just when we thought the pickings were slim and the cupboard was bare. Talk about a silver lining.

Matt Tuiasosopo is perhaps the biggest (positive) surprise. Even though I liked him right away and was delighted when he made the team, even I was waiting for the other shoe to drop. I mean, look at his career numbers prior to this season. There is nothing there to indicate that he was anything. You had to see him to suspect it. You have to watch him now, perhaps, to continue to believe. He’s good. He’s an asset.

Look at Rick Porcello. He’s quietly having a career year, and is both still young and a veteran. Porcello, I would wager, is no longer the guy who falls off the edge of the table when Smyly is slid onto it. Uh-uh. Have you found yourself feeling something resembling confidence when Porcello is slated to start? I have.

Take another look at Justin Verlander. Look over his game logs and such. You know what? He’s still Justin Verlander. This is good.

Victor Martinez is the bad news that became good news. His roaring comeback is such that I find it hard to remember what it was like earlier in the season. I never doubted him, of course.

Torii Hunter, for all the occasional overstating and overrating, and some at bats and plays that make you go “huh?,” lights a fire under this team. It has helped a good deal how he’s gone from setting the table to clearing it.

Don Kelly. On balance, not a bad idea keeping him around, eh? How I wanted Berry and Worth over Kelly and Santiago. But Don Kelly has earned his keep.

And then there’s Miguel Cabrera, having an insanely productive year of insane consistency. What’s a slump for Miggy this season – 1 for 8 with only 1 HR? Every day we watch an all-time great playing at a high level, and while it’s fun, it’s just an everyday thing, isn’t it? You get used to it. For Most Valuable Player, defined carefully and reasonably, there is no competitor and no contest. And statistically, he’s having a Triple Crown season whether he literally acheives that or not. Winning a Triple Crown is usually if not always a matter of seasonal accident in one of the three categories. As of Game 121, the full season pace Cabrera was setting is this (without penalty for games missed): .359, 54 HR, 166 RBI. That’s not even modern. That’s black-and-white photo, herky-jerky newsreel stuff.

You know, one thing Miggy has over a number of contemporary and near-contemporary greats is his personality and showmanship. Did you see, not too long ago, when he tripped over third base and, after getting up, tipped his helmet to the fans? The kicker was that he didn’t grin and ham it up. He was annoyed with himself and embarrassed, you could tell. And he still made a joke of it. He knew it (the stumble) was funny, he knew people watching thought it was funny. There was nothing to add to it except an irritated but obliging tip o’ the cap. Which made all of it even funnier. Perfect touch. Prince Fielder was dying in the dugout.

What’s your 2013 Tigers good news? I know there’s more.

All right. Still time to take this series. Go Doug. Go Miggy. Go Iggy. Is he just on loan from the Red Sox or what? I’m having a difficult time associating the plays Iglesias is making at SS with the uniform he’s wearing. Is this for real? Do the Tigers get to keep him?

Go Tigers.

67 thoughts on “Game 2013.123: Royals at Tigers”

  1. This would have been a big deal if we had won, but both games of the double-header featured successful appearances by AlburCokey. Who would have predicted that?

    1. AlburCokey – love it.

      I only saw the second game, didn’t realize the Al-Al/Phil-Phil reprise.

      The phenomenon you posit as a potential big deal is also known as the AlburCokey Impossible Triangle. Seems possible, looks real, but can’t happen. It would tear the fabric of space-time if it did, and open wormholes into other dimensions. Frightening dimensions where the Tigers re-sign Jose Valverde for the stretch run.

  2. It is time to sit Fielder for a few games. He will never reach the goal of games played. Now he is hurting, himself and the team. Sometimes letting go is the friend that tells you to do just that .
    Pride builds a team when it is shared. Be brave… Not foolish!

    1. Is Prince playing for the streak, or does he just not like to sit? I really don’t know, myself.

  3. Nice to see these positive comments, Mr. Loon. Seems like most baseball fans can be their favorite team’s worst critics. A bit ironic that the Tigers might be most admired by the objective fans of other teams. Keep the faith!

  4. Tigers inability to manufacture runs got exploited yesterday…that being said we need to get back to what we can do and thats bang in some runs!

  5. there are several nice things about Pena…he doesn’t give at bats away like a lot of the Tigers for one

  6. Who says we can’t manufacture runs?! When was the last time you saw the Tigers squeeze? I’m loving having Iglesias–he can’t do some things the other Tigers can, but he can do the things they can’t.

    1. Suicide. Infante scored before they fielded the ball. Big show of faith in Iglesias. Gold star for Jim Leyland.

  7. Since things are slow but the Tigers are now scoring, let me post a list of some of the bumper music played on Detroit Tiger radio; what a great way to start an inning:

    CC Ryder, Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels
    China Grove, The Doobie Brothers
    What I Like About You, The Romantics
    Band on the Run, Wings
    Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo, Rick Derringer
    Hot Pants, Rod Stewart
    Barracuda, Heart
    Journey to the Center of the Mind, The Amboy Dukes
    Life During Wartime, The Talking Heads
    Danger Zone, Kenny Loggins
    Stay with Me, Rod Steward
    Live and Let Die, Wings

    1. OTFM, these songs are actually pretty standard music choices for Tiger radio broadcast “bumpers”. China Grove, Danger Zone, Journey to the Center of the Mind, and Rock and Roll Hootchie Koo are played just about every game at some point of the broadcast as bumpers. The others are not quite as frequently used by whomever produces radio broadcasts for the Tigers. “Stay With Me” by Rod Stewart is one that I don’t think I’ve heard them use before.

      1. Yeah, I love that bumper music on Tigers radio. All of it. Nearly fell off my chair when Rush’s “Free Will” came on.

        1. The Mud Hens music is pretty cool, too, last I heard. Not name stuff, Atmospheric metal, you might call it.

  8. Wow, Kelly almost crushed one…and then the walk, as he continues to be the only Tiger with more walks than strikeouts.

  9. Iglesias is now in the Tiger record books with 1 successful suicide squeeze………Leyand looked at Mac and asked if it was legal…Mac said ” Huh!”

    1. Here’s another option…the first baseball I ever attended was KC A’s vs. Minn Twins on 08AUG62. Ed Charles won the game for the A’s in the 9th by stealing home. I have never seen that since!

  10. I love how the Tigers are playing today–including Leyland. Kelly batting 2nd: good move (4-for-7 against Davis, can run, more walks than strikeouts, doesn’t hit into DPs). Like how they are coming out confident and aggressive after yesterday’s Double Downer. And the suicide squeeze just feeds into that, nice move. Kelly and Pena are proving to be MVBGs (Most Valuable Bench Guys), and it is huge having Omar back.

      1. Jim Price is really been chirping from the broadcast booth tempting the homeplate umpire to toss Hosmer after Fister’s swingback

    1. Fister bounced a pitch in on Escobar that hit his bat after the bounce and went to the backstop. Getz who was on first advanced to third. Fister even ran to the backstop to retrieve the ball as Pena was still in awe of the call. Leyland came out to discuss and then went back to the dugout where he may of saw the play on replay. He then started yelling from the dugout with the 1B umpire ejected him. Pena was ejected after Escobar doubled down the three base line scoring Getz and tying the game. He was chirping at the homeplate umpire.

      1. And Fister dodges and avoids a fleet of on-base Royals, uncooperative teammates and managers to go 6 1/3 with 6Ks!

  11. unbelievable….no I take that back…everyone can do this to every catcher in the Tiger sysrem….clowns behind the pate defense

  12. Really feel strongly that AJax should not have been trying to bunt there. So many other ways to advance the runner.

      1. Yeah, it was a waste of two strikes and ultimately an AB.

        I don’t think AJax wants to be a leadoff hitter, and he most definitely lacks some of the tools for the job.

  13. no way to predict the outcome of this one, of course, but so far I’d have to say that KC has beaten the Tigs. They are hitting and running us ragged.

  14. the only reason KC isn’t 10 games up on the Tigers in the standings….Cabrerra….they are so much better in every area

  15. KC vs Tigers

    starting pitching..-2
    runs scored…-2

    be interested in what you guys think

    1. judpma,

      Are these your score for the Tigers on Saturday night?? If so I’ve got a big disagreement on your bullpen score. Smyly and Veras each gave up one run leads in the 7th and 8th innings respectively. How is that a +3??

  16. The Fielder home run (another!) was nice to see. One thing I have to say about Prince: despite his slumping (hopefully he is pulling out of it), he ALWAYS is giving full effort out there, including running and fielding.

  17. Gotta say that tonight’s game is why I love sports (especially baseball) so much! Its what keeps me coming back because its such a thrill when games like this happen and they go the way of your favorite team. Great baseball game and a game that I really felt that we needed.

    I want to win the series, but my gut feeling before the series was that if we get at least two that I’d be OK with it. Detroit losing 4 of 5 would have been a huge momentum builder for KC and would have had them only 4.5 games back with more than a month to play. Even if they get us tomorrow (won’t be easy for us as Chen has been fantastic since re-joining the KC rotation), I won’t feel too bad about what happened this weekend. Of course I’d rather win and push KC 8.5 games out, but even if they leave town 6.5 back tomorrow night I won’t feel anywhere near the sense of dread that I would’ve felt if we dropped 4 of 5. So glad that we won tonight because IMO it really takes the pressure off of the good guys for Sunday’s game. Hopefully by Sunday evening we are talking about a series win, but even if we aren’t I’m not going to worry a bunch about it.

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