Game 2013.141: Tigers at Royals

81-59, first place, 6.5 games ahead of the Indians. Too early to start talking about magic numbers. When GAMES REMAINING/GAMES AHEAD = <2, magic number time begins.

After a couple days off, one of which counted in the standings, the Tigers are back at it with three against the Royals in KC. (By the way, the weekend forecast for KC MO is scorching heat. The good news is that only Sunday is a day game. Fister might pitch well in heat, I don’t know, but I fear for his longevity.) If you’ve followed the Detroit Tigers much this season, you already know the book on Tigers-Royals:

1. Neither team hits much against the other.
2. The Royals are going to steal bases at will.
3. With a little more help from the hitters, the starters could have carried the Tigers to a good 12 wins over KC. 15-4 against the Indians, and – what in the world??
4. The games will be contested and close; these two squads have been playing playoff baseball against each other all season.

The season series stands at 6-7. 43 RS, 43 RA – how ’bout them apples? A review of the last 5, which played like an ALDS:

TIGERS 4 Royals 1 WRAP
Royals 2 TIGERS 1 WRAP
Royals 3 TIGERS 0 WRAP
TIGERS 6 Royals 5 WRAP
TIGERS 6 Royals 3 WRAP

The Royals aren’t out of it. A sweep and they are way in it. Watch out, Tigers. Get your runs early and keep your starters out there for 7. Liable to be trouble otherwise.

Say what you will about the 20-4 drubbing at the hands of the Red Sox, but it’s not an indictment of the whole team. OK, so it’s a mistake to push Porcello when he’s fading. OK, so Alburquerque makes one of those pitches that the batter doesn’t miss a bit of, and now the Tigers won’t get back into this one. So it’s a 10-4 loss, more or less, after half of a tight game. What transpired thereafter, however, is an indictment of some of the more marginal bullpen pieces (shards? crumbs?), Alburquerque included, and also of Jim Leyland. Regardless of the score, I don’t think it’s ever a “waste of a pitcher” to make a serious effort to record outs. I don’t understand leaving someone out there to be hammered, batter after batter. I don’t agree that it would have been ridiculous to bring in Smyly, Veras, Rondon, or even Benoit. Whatever it took. If “getting it over with” was the idea,  getting some outs would have been a good way to go about it. Put the 14 runs allowed over 3 innings on Leyland’s ERA.

Tigers have given up 13 or more runs 3 times on Wednesdays this season. Which hasn’t otherwise been an unusual day of the week for the Tigers.

Seems as though Iglesias will be back in the lineup, the shin splints not being the news they appeared to be. Still a concern, though. There didn’t appear to be a cloud in the Iglesias sky up until now. Visions of 10-15 years of seriously deranged shortstopitude. Miggy? Well, we just don’t seem to know any more, do we? Day to day.

Just as I’d gotten to thinking that maybe Fister was the odd man out rather than Porcello, and even had thoughts of a 6-man rotation in 2014 (dream on – innovation from Leyland? Ha!), I’m disillusioned again. And then it hit me – Porcello belongs in the bullpen!* I really think so. Ah, but he’ll probably insist on a starting role, and he’ll probably be doing that elsewhere in 2014. Too bad, because I think Porcello would excel in the bullpen. He might yet, somewhere, someday. I think he’s reached his ceiling as a starter, however. Usually gassed after 5. Not real promising for a starter. A 24 year old starter.

*Not claiming it’s an original idea.

So where does everyone stand on Jhonny Peralta? Bring him back for the anticipated post-season? I don’t see why not, myself. What’s not to like about that bat on the bench?

More to come on that constant thorn in our side, the Tigers bullpen, but feel free to get started…

TIGERS BULLPEN GIVEN ANY LEAD: 0.92 RPG, 68-8 team W-L 

TIGERS BULLPEN GIVEN A TIE: 1.56 RPG, 6-10 team W-L

TIGERS BULLPEN GIVEN ANY DEFICIT: 2.20 RPG, 6-40 team W-L

5+ RUN LEAD: 0.58 RPG, 29-0

4 RUN LEAD: 1.00 RPG, 14-1

3 RUN LEAD: 0.92 RPG, 12-0

2 RUN LEAD: 1.38 RPG, 5-3

1 RUN LEAD: 1.33 RPG, 8-4

TIE GAME: 1.56 RPG, 6-10

1 RUN BEHIND: 1.46 RPG, 3-10

2 RUNS BEHIND: 2.20 RPG, 2-13

3 RUNS BEHIND: 3.63 RPG, 0-8

4 RUNS BEHIND: 0.25 RPG, 0-4

5+ RUNS BEHIND: 3.17 RPG, 1-5

Ah, numbers. What to make of it all?

The Tigers bullpen has fared pretty well against the Royals. This would be a good time for them and the pitching staff in general to rise to the occasion after a pretty shaky week or so. Anibal’s last loss came against the Royals, and it was a hard-luck affair for him. Maybe the bats can get him some runs this time. Hitting has been none too perky just lately in terms of converting hits into runs. Go Tigers.