Game 2013. Playoffs 10: Red Sox at Tigers

First game of a 3-game series.

“My favorite pastime is definitely baseball. We have a star-studded team & it’s going to be fun tonight”

Thank you Calvin (or is it Johnson?). I couldn’t have said it better myself.

It was a small thing really: take one guy from the front of the lineup, move him to the back, move everyone else up one. Could it really make that big of a difference? It could. Austin Jackson was struggling mightily, historically: he had struck out in over 50% of his at bats in this postseason, and it was weighing on him, it was bringing down the team, and it was upsetting the fans. So Leyland pulled the trigger, and decided to see if batting lower in the order would take some pressure off.

Austin Jackson is a very good professional baseball player. Austin Jackson has skills, and it is unlikely that those skills suddenly left him. But baseball is a game played partly in the head, and it was worth a shot to change his perspective a bit, and boy did it work.

But nobody, least of all Jim Leyland, expected this: Austin Jackson’s first at bat in his new spot in the lineup comes up in the second inning with the bases loaded and 1 out. This after losing the night before partly because the Tigers failed to score a run on two tries with a runner on 3rd and 1 out. Talk about “taking the pressure off” backfiring. But then Peavy did Jackson a favor: a pitch too far outside the strike zone for even the struggling Jackson to swing at. And then another. Suddenly Jackson was in a favorable 2-0 count. Then 3-0. The 4th pitch was close, but in a take-all-the-way situation, all Jackson had to to was watch ball four, take first base, walk in the first run of the game, and soak in the applause.

It was only the 2nd inning, but I think that was the at bat of the game, and in its own way may contend with importance with the Ortiz at bat in Game 2, albeit in a way not tailored to highlight. I’m not sure what Peavy was doing, or trying to do, but I think the whole game turned on that at bat. The Tigers ended up scoring 5 in the inning; if Jackson had struck out there, not only do the Tigers probably not score, but Jackson is probably back in his funk. And it was only the 2nd inning, not a dramatic 8th inning home run, but I think scoring early is the key to beating Boston in this series, and the second inning outburst of runs was huge.

That wasn’t Leyland’s only move with Jackson of the game though. In the 4th inning, probably encouraged by his 2nd inning RBI walk, Jackson singled Infante in from 2nd. Two at bats, two RBI. Now Jackson is probably really feeling good, right? So Leyland sends him, and Austin has his first stolen base since September 17. The stolen base was useful: Jackson came around to score. But don’t think the gamble Leyland was taking here had nothing to do with taking Jackson’s energy and bumping it up a notch. Leyland at his best.

The other, probably unintended effect of the lineup change is that it gave the Tigers a slow half/fast half of the lineup setup: with Infante/Jackson/Iglesias/Hunter all batting together, we were treated to a burst of base running/bunting/infield hit action that Tiger fans haven’t seen in a while. I’m not sure why the change tonight (Avila moved up one spot).

*****

Then there is Prince Fielder. Kevin mentioned that T Smith and KW had already dealt him before yesterday; it seems StorminNorman$ has also dealt him today. With Jackson having a good day, Prince takes the hot seat. Fielder had a mildly disappointedly regular season, but the disappointment is hot and spicy for his postseason. Which seems familiar…oh yes, the same thing happened last year.

In fact, Fielder’s career postseason OPS is now .701. Oh wait, that’s Don Kelly’s. Prince’s career postseason OPS: .632.  I’m not sure what is going on with Prince. Last month I talked about how much I liked Prince, even while being disappointed with him: he tried hard, ran hard, put his body in front of balls, anything he could do to help. Not so much right now. I’m not a fan of the facial expression analysis school of baseball fandom–it’s too easy to read things into expressions and body language through a lens of disappointment (in Cabrera’s first year in Detroit he looked “disinterested,” “lazy” and one commenter kept insisting he would “be out of baseball in 3 years”).  But he sure doesn’t scare anybody on other teams, say the way Ortiz scares us when he steps up to the plate.

A year or two back I read a good analysis about the difference between the Yankees and the Tigers–the Tigers were giving out some big contracts, but all of the Tiger big contracts were good big contacts: the Verlanders and Cabreras were actually worth the money, while the Yankees were stuck with a bunch of big contracts that were dead money. Did the Tigers pull a “Yankee” with Fielder? Is it too soon to tell?

*****

Well, here we go: last game at Comerica, until the Dodgers or Cardinals stop by. Which would you prefer? When it looked like St. Louis would sweep, I was all for St. Louis–let them sit for a week until this thing is over. Now, I may have changed my mind. At any rate, this is my last ALCS post. I hereby turn this thing over to the capable hands of Kevin and Loon. It has been quite the postseason so far.

*****

We have Anibal tonight. The Red Sox couldn’t hit him last time. They have Lester. The Tigers couldn’t really hit him. It’s playoff baseball, fasten your seat belts, and pack plenty of provisions, it will probably be a long one!

*****

Quote of the day goes to Don Kelly, via Jerry Crasnick: “I’d have a hard time if I played for the #redsox. I would have had to start my beard 3 years ago.”

Today’s Player of the Pre-game: Austin Jackson. Is there momentum in baseball?

Today’s Score Early Lineup:

  1. Hunter, RF
  2. Cabrera, 3B
  3. Fielder, 1B
  4. Martinez, DH
  5. Peralta, LF
  6. Infante, 2B
  7. Avila, C
  8. Jackson, CF
  9. Iglesias, SS

Whatever happened to Brayan Pena? Just wondering (I think I can make this line into a template).

118 thoughts on “Game 2013. Playoffs 10: Red Sox at Tigers”

  1. He he. I think you’ve made the line into a template.

    Now that you delve into a bit more, I’m on board with the greater significance of the AJax lineup move and others.

    I agree that a bit much has been made of Fielder’s “attitude.” He doesn’t have the ebullience of Hunter or Cabrera. More of a serene and stoic fellow, but as far as I can see on the radio, there doesn’t seem to be a lack of effort or enthusiasm.

    1. Fixed! I guess “we have ___ tonight, the last time the Red Sox couldn’t hit him” works for pretty much everybody, doesn’t it?

    1. Look who’s running, why even bother sending him, and possibly risk injury. If Brookens did send him ….. he should be fired immediately!

        1. Only listening. The call was that Miggy ignored the sign. I was in a lather about Cabrera after the error, believe me. If he missed the stop sign, OK. But the error… man.

          1. Brookens was waving him home as he was going from 2nd to 3rd, as he got to 3rd he threw up the stop sign, but it looked like Cabrera never looked back at him.

    1. I don’t understand why, even as Cabrera passed Brookens, Brookens kept his arms up. It’s almost like he was trying to fake out the Red Sox. Whatever it was, it was a little league error. Seriously, have you ever seen something like that happen outside of little league? Even high school baseball players don’t play that stupidly.

  2. Mumbles will call it the greatest “send” in the history of baseball…and thas because they are both idiots!

      1. OK, not a save. Down 4-0 not a real good situation for the Tigers. I’d rather be the Red Sox in that situation.

  3. Cabrera with an almost home run, then screwed on the 3rd strike call. Fielder with the quick & painless 1-pitch groundout. I don’t like how this game is trending.

  4. Never fear, BOS will maintain the 4-run lead until the 8th when the mgr will pull their starter and then make a few more questionable pitching changes, which don’t work, and when the bases are loaded the mgr will bring in… Benoit, er I mean…Uehara for the game tying GS

  5. lets see if you play a 5 game series and you can’t score in 3 of them…I don’t think you have a very good chance at the series!

    1. Prince Fielder has be consistent at one thing… ending a rally (on a weak ground out to 2nd).

      Yes, we desperately need Martinez behind Cabrera. Instead we’ll see a Martinez lead off single the next inning, stranded on second or third.

      1. Three guys hitting: Cabrera, Martinez, and Peralta (I guess maybe Jackson too). And the human Rally-Kill plopped right in between them.

  6. Seeing that the Tiger bats are usually asleep in the latter stages of the game …… switching to the Red Wing game.

  7. You know, if they lose tonight, it’ll be a lot easier to take than the Papi Slam game or the 1-0 Verlander loss. That’s positive takeaway.

    Having said that, WIN THIS GAME. MY SANITY DEPENDS ON IT.

  8. Compare what Verlander and Scherzer have done this postseason versus our 2 power hitters. The former have delivered every time even in relief but Cabrera and particularly Fielder have been abysmal both at bat and in the field.

    1. The foul by Jhonny and Miggy’s mistake trying to score in the third didn’t help either. However, lets take Uehara deep in the 8th!

  9. after DET gets their first base runner against Uehara, the next DET hitter needs to call time out and make him cut that long leather string off his glove…its been bothering me since the TAM series, and it might throw him out of his rythm

  10. So wait–we walk a guy to set up the double play, then concede 2nd??? What kind of brilliant strategy is that??

  11. hey ump I think we can trust you to make the right call from 3 feet away instead of 6 inches off the bag and in the way!

  12. Speaking on behalf of all baseball Zenophobes everywhere, who had the great idea of letting these Japanese pitchers in ‘Merican Baseball? Of course since they pitch in the 7-9th innings, traditionally the famine portion of the Tigers batters, is it their native land or is it the Tigers’ non hitters? off to Beantown, lets get 2!!!

  13. Boston looks like they want it more.

    We rallied back all night long but just couldn’t push this one over the hump…was hoping to see Miggy come up to the plate one more time to try to redeem himself for the GIDP to critically thwart the seventh inning come back.

  14. You could see Uehara was gassed at the end of the game…one baserunner, and Boston might have had a problem. Red Sox fans were sweating it.

  15. Fielder has a couple of impressive streaks going. There is his consecutive games streak, and there is also his postseason streak: 65 at bats without an RBI.

  16. Fielder extended his postseason drought without an RBI to a career-long 65 at-bats and that helped Boston hold on for a 4-3 win and a 3-2 series lead that put the Tigers on the brink of elimination.

    “He’s had some good at-bats, doesn’t have a lot to show for it, and some not so good at-bats,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “I know people say, `Well, you keep waiting for it.’ I still feel good something big could happen at any time. He’s one of those electric guys.”

    NOTE to the Skipper: somebody needs to plug in ‘the electric guy’

  17. Miggy discussing Brookens:
    “He send me, he stopped me later, but that’s baseball. …”

    Congratulations everyone who played Miggy in the “that’s baseball” pool.

    1. i’m kidding, but whenever a DET player, manager or coach uses the “that’s baseball” expression as a catch-all excuse, they should be required to insert the word “Tiger”… as in, “that’s Tiger baseball”

      if some entity kept track of Runs Not Scored (because of base running/coaching errors), i’ve got a pretty good idea which team might have led the league in that category this year…

      i wonder if Lamont ever gets any sinister pleasure when Brookens F’s up

    2. You got to “tip your hat” to those who played that excuse in the pool! I believe it was after Game 4 that Torii said one run in the playoffs equal 10 runs in the regular season. More the reason to play sound baseball. The Tigers had the opportunity to put Lester on the ropes in the first and lost that chance when Cabrera was put out at the plate. What a different the game would have been especially if Peralta’s blast in the first when fair for a homerun…..”that’s baseball!”

  18. Quite possible Scherzer and Verlander run the table. Otherwise, point to remember: The Wall Street Journal says if Tigers win World Series they would be, statistically, the worst defensive team ever to win title.

    Defense matters. Dombrowski has decided to ignore this for years.

    1. Going to a Game 7 are the memories of what great Tigers seasons are made of! Hold on tight and enjoy the ride!

    2. Defense and baserunning. The Red Sox excel at both. The Tigers were built on starting pitching and power hitting at the expense of defense and base running.. The power has disappeared, leaving them a team built on starting pitching and crossing your fingers.

      (An uninjured Cabrera upgrades the team in power, running, and fielding, so part of this is bad luck).

  19. Right now, all the Tigers fans saying ‘With Scherzer and Verlander, we got this’ are watching Kershaw and taking a long slug of Wild Turkey.

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