Game 2013.131: A’s at Tigers

77-53, 1st place, 6 games ahead of Cleveland. 24 games above .500 is a new high water mark. Best team in baseball (Baseball Reference SRS). Best record in the AL.

It was early in the season, so early that the yet to be coined AlburCokey would have still meant a good thing, and the Tigers were off to a so-so start when they traveled to Oakland to take on the yellow-green-hot A’s. First game, Bartolo Colon was as frustratingly baffling as usual, and in my mind’s eye I can still see Brayan Villareal serving it up to Josh Donaldson for the game-loser in the 12th. (For us more easterly sorts, a West Coast extra innings loss is just about the worst.) Less easily recalled is that Drew Smyly blew the save. After that, the Tigers mauled a couple of young A’s starters (staff widely considered “best in baseball” at that time) to take the series, and order was momentarily restored. In retrospect, the Tigers were this close to a road sweep, though it should be noted that Oakland was without Cespedes and Crisp for parts of the series. Nonetheless, our early season Tigers had now more or less dominated the first couple strong teams (+ Blue Jays, though they were struggling early) they’d faced. But were only 7-5 to show for it.

April 12 A’s 4, Tigers 3 (12) WRAP

April 13 ¬†Tigers 7, A’s 3 WRAP

April 14 Tigers 10, A’s 1 WRAP

This time around, Oakland is fighting to keep pace with the Rangers, while Detroit continues its efforts to stiff-arm the Indians. The stretch draws near, and these are two very likely playoff teams. Let’s call it a big series, even if they all loom large now. The Tigers may catch a break by not having to face Colon, who has been on the DL. Other news out of Oakland is that Josh Reddick might be headed to the DL and that Yoenis Cespedes has been in a slump. Their best hitter over the past month has been SS Jed Lowrie, while Coco Crisp and Brandon Moss have been swinging it over the past week. Notable: Crisp and Cespedes have combined for 1 SB over the past month. However, the A’s are yet another opposing team with a bit of speed sprinkled throughout the lineup, which will be the usual stressor if the games are close. Oakland has some rotation issues going on, leading to the ever-annoying TBA as currently-named starter from Tuesday-Thursday. I like to have my images set before a series, so I don’t think I’m going to wait on Bob Melvin to name his starters.

The 12-game winning streak seems like only yesterday. Gone but not forgotten, that bolt from the blue put the Tigers in the catbird seat they currently occupy. The Tigers are 9-8 since, but you may have noticed that the high level of play has continued. There was a lot to like about every game of the just-concluded sweep of the Mets. It all starts with another 3 quality starts back to back, Fister-Scherzer-Porcello. Too much to cover, really, but I will mention that the emergence of new secret weapon Victor Martinez the Catcher is an exciting development. For starters, it opens up some possibilities related to a certain MC (who) Hammer(s). Also, I could get used to having my prayers for an insurance run answered like they were in the 9th inning of the final game against the Mets. But there’s never enough, is there? I cursed Torii Hunter for ending the onslaught, and then became nervous again when Jeremy Bonderman walked the first batter in the bottom half. With an 8-run lead.

With Porcello’s Sunday win, for the first time since 1962 the Tigers have 5 starters with 10+ wins. Max Scherzer, now 19-1, faces uphill odds in trying to beat ElRoy Face’s long-standing winning percentage record of .947 (Face was 18-1… as a reliever!), but wouldn’t that be sweet? For starters (pun intended), that would mean more wins for the team… unless we’d be willing to take a bunch of no-decisions and eventual losses. Hmmm. Well, I’ve thought about it, and I think I’d prefer that Scherzer finished 25-1. That record would stand for a while, I think.

Now it’s the Tigers back home at Comerica, with Anibal Sanchez, who has, can, and should again own the A’s hitters, going up against A.J.Griffin, who has given up an MLB-leading 30 HR. I like what that points to, but you know how baseball can be.

31 Comments

  1. Smoking Loon

    August 25, 2013 at 10:19 pm

    And speaking of those 1962 Tigers:

    2B Jake Wood (who had led the league in both triples and strikeouts the year before – what an odd combo that is) reached base 117 times and scored 68 runs. That’s pretty remarkable.

    • Coleman

      August 25, 2013 at 10:41 pm

      Speaking of Tiger 2nd basemen, how about Dick McCauliffe in 1968? 658 plate appearances, and went the whole season without grounding into a DP.

      • Smoking Loon

        August 25, 2013 at 11:29 pm

        That’s amazing, and he had some astonishingly low GIDP before and after 1968 as well.

        It would appear that McAuliffe came along and replaced Wood at 2B. There might be someone here who would recall the ’62 season. I’m curious. I can go back as far as late 60′s, though not with great clarity, and certainly not with clarity about the particular ups and downs of those seasons. 1972 is probably as far back as I have clear memories of listening to Tigers games on radio.

        • Vince in MN

          August 26, 2013 at 3:51 pm

          McAuliffe broke in with the Tigers in 61 as a backup infielder, spelling Chico Fernandez at SS and Steve Boros at 3B. In ’62 he played as a regular (139 games), but shifted between 3rd (spelling Boros again) and 2B, splitting time with Wood. In ’63 he was the regular SS, which is where he stayed until ’67 when he moved to 2B. Wood’s bat disappeared (I think he got injured in ’63), was replaced as the regular 2B by Jerry Lumpe in ’64 (who came overn along with Dave Wickersham in the big trade that sent Rocky Colavito to KC), Wood was relegated to a reserve role and he was gone the following year.

          • Vince in MN

            August 26, 2013 at 4:05 pm

            Check that, Wood was with the Tigers through ’66 and briefly in ’67 until he was traded. He was out of the majors for good before the end of the season. He played half a season in ’62 and a bit more than half in ’63, so maybe his injury(?) was late in ’62. Anyway his rookie year (’61) turned out to be the high point of his career even though by modern standards his results were fairly pedestrian.

          • Coleman

            August 26, 2013 at 4:05 pm

            I recall Dick McAuliffe was also known for getting into a scrape or two.

            • Smoking Loon

              August 26, 2013 at 11:47 pm

              Thanks, Vince.

    • Vince in MN

      August 27, 2013 at 9:51 am

  2. judpma

    August 25, 2013 at 10:27 pm

    these days if you strikeout 117 times you won’t even make the top 20

  3. PHToy in HK

    August 26, 2013 at 3:39 am

    When was the last time ANY team had 5 starters win at least 10 games?

    • Smoking Loon

      August 26, 2013 at 11:57 pm

      Not sure if it’s the most recent, but the 2010 Minnesota Twins and Tampa Bay Rays both did, as did the 2009 Colorado Rockies.

      • PHToy in HK

        August 27, 2013 at 1:28 am

        Thanks, I thought this would be more rarely done than it is.

  4. William

    August 26, 2013 at 8:05 am

    Sanchez leads the AL in ERA. not bad for one of the “other guys” on the DET staff.

    • Vince in MN

      August 26, 2013 at 4:06 pm

      Not bad for a No. 4 starter.

  5. Vince in MN

    August 26, 2013 at 3:34 pm

    • Coleman

      August 26, 2013 at 4:19 pm

      Very interesting stuff, thanks for the link. Question to ponder: is the reason Avila is good at framing pitches the same reason that he gets dinged more than other catchers?

      One caveat I would throw out there: the Tigers have a staff of well-respected, veteran pitchers, and it is an accepted “truth” in baseball that these guys get the benefit of the doubt in close calls. The fact that ALL of the Tiger catchers appear to be good at pitch framing makes me say hmmm.

      • Vince in MN

        August 26, 2013 at 8:22 pm

        Avila to his pitcher: “Hit me in the mask”.

        Pat two of your comment is interesting. All five have good BB/IP ratios, although the guy with the best reputation (JV) has the worst.

  6. Vince in MN

    August 26, 2013 at 8:23 pm

    There goes the QS. And so much for leading the league in ERA.y7o9=[]\tyu9

  7. Vince in MN

    August 26, 2013 at 8:55 pm

    Miggy! Again! The amazing thing is that he only gets an average number of walks. And considering who is hitting behind him, specifically Fielder having a poor year, I find that kind of odd.

  8. judpma

    August 26, 2013 at 9:22 pm

    hope Alvarez doesn’t think he has to pitch like Coke just cause he’s taking his place…just sayin!

  9. judpma

    August 26, 2013 at 9:28 pm

    as soon as AlAl walks his guy he should be gone…..period!!!!….everytime he does that!

  10. Vince in MN

    August 26, 2013 at 9:30 pm

    Poor bullpen management tonght. On the other hand, I guess you gotta keep the scrubs sharp. What’s a game or two?

  11. PHToy in HK

    August 26, 2013 at 9:40 pm

    Now it gets interesting…

    • Coleman

      August 26, 2013 at 9:45 pm

      Or not.

  12. T Smith

    August 26, 2013 at 9:52 pm

    If Prince Fielder doesn’t start hitting MIggy isn’t going to see another strike for the rest of the year.

  13. judpma

    August 26, 2013 at 9:53 pm

    we have a new blowpen combo of AlvaAl….just as bad as the AlCoke combo

  14. Coleman

    August 26, 2013 at 10:05 pm

    Alvaquerque.

    • Smoking Loon

      August 26, 2013 at 11:59 pm

      AlburEz.

  15. Kevin in Dallas

    August 26, 2013 at 10:22 pm

    We’re not going to win them all (though there is still a little game left…).

    The positive news is that even with the bullpen’s awful performance (nice to get it all out at once) the Tigers have still had their chances.

    This is a very good team.

    • Coleman

      August 26, 2013 at 10:28 pm

      The Cabrera home run, I would imagine, is one of those worth-the-price-of-admission things,

  16. Kevin in Dallas

    August 26, 2013 at 10:39 pm

    Double then a single and we’re tied.

    Let’s go Tigers.