Game 2013.Playoffs 6: Tigers at Red Sox

(credit to Detroit News for the image. Note to Detroit News – we’re not making any money off of this. Still, if you want us to take it down, just post here and we will)

3-2, 8 more to go.

Look, I’m happy to be here.

I am.

It’s better than the alternative.

But champagne parties seems a little excessive for one playoff series win. That I can think of, baseball is the only sport that goes to such extremes for advancing in the playoffs.

We’ve been here before. This is our fourth time in eight years to make it to the ALCS. We could be in the midst of a dynasty, to be honest (though we’d need two WS wins I think to qualify). At least perhaps we are building one. But let’s not act as if winning the first round of the AL playoffs means we have accomplished anything. This team was built to do one thing and we’re still 8 wins away.

Tom Verducci of SI had some fascinating stats in the SI playoff preview last week. The gist of the article discussed the whimsical nature of MLB playoffs, especially with the advent of the wild card. I think we’re all well aware of the A’s struggles in recent years, mostly at the hands of the Tigers, but did you know that Atlanta has now lost 7 straight post-season series? Over the past 22 postseasons, only 3 teams with the regular season best record went on to win the WS. In the 22 years before that, 8 teams did it. Last year’s Giants finished last in the majors in home runs…we saw what happened in the World Series. Home teams went 2-5 in elimination games last year, and are 2-3 so far this year.

On to the series at hand. The 2013 American League Championship series pits the top two offensive teams in the Majors, and numbers 3 (Boston) and 4 in terms of payroll. The Red Sox are good, very good. They led the AL with 97 wins this year, and really ran away with the toughest division in Baseball. As one of my friends remarked to me this year, how? How different are they than last year’s last place team?

Well, for one, the entire lineup is solid. Napoli was a steal in free agency. Ortiz has regained his science assisted form, and they still have Ellsbury and Pedroia, two of the better all-around players in the game. Their starting pitching has been solid top to bottom, and their bullpen as been one of the best, ending in the nearly unhittable Koji Uehara. Uehara’s WHIP this year was .565. In 74 1/3. I’m serious. BAA – .130, OPS against – .400. Oh, and Bobby Valentine is gone. Maybe there is something to that morale thing.

Your 2013 AL ERA title holder, Anibal Sanchez, gets the call for game one. Trivia for you – Sanchez started his career in the Red Sox system, before being traded away to Florida, and ultimately stolen by the Tigers. Despite his poor outing against Oakland last week, I love this match-up. Sanchez doesn’t have much of a track record against the current Red Sox lineup, which generally is an advantage for the pitcher.

The Red Sox take more pitches than any other team in the majors. In fact, they saw over 1,000 more than the next most patient team. That can wreak havoc on a staff. The key tonight will be first pitch strikes. Sanchez was 16th in the AL last year,a t 61.5%. That’s good, but it won’t be good enough tonight. Lester was just a few spots behind Sanchez at 60.9%.

Phil Coke was added to the playoff roster today, replacing Putkonen. The reason is likely because Ortiz is a lifetime 2-18 off of Coke, or perhaps Leyland likes to stress everyone out. Probably the former.

Lineup notes: Looks like Leyland is going to stick with Jackson in the leadoff hole. I’m okay with this. If we can win without him going, imagine what we can do when he does get going. And he’s bound to do so, soon. Peralta and Iglesias start today. This makes me very nervous with the Green Monster in left, but with a left-handed pitcher, I get it. What contradicts this is Avila getting the start again despite just 2 hits and a .449 OPS in the ALDS. He’s doing a great job of calling games and I’m sure that’s whey Leyland has him back there, but you gotta give Pena a chance to give your offense some help, especially with the struggles at the 1 & 9 spots.

Tonight’s lineups:

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


1. Ellsbury, CF
2. Victorino, RF
3. Pedroia, 2B
4. Ortiz, DH
5. Napoli, 1B
6. Nava, LF
7. Drew, SS
8. Middlebrooks, 3B
9. Ross, C (this is literally the first time I have ever heard of this guy)

140 thoughts on “Game 2013.Playoffs 6: Tigers at Red Sox”

  1. Yeah, I mean if you’re not going to start Pena tonight versus their only lefty then when would you? I think the only way Pena gets a chance is an Avila injury (not that I’m rooting for it to happen). Ol’ Smoky sure is a stubborn old bird.

    1. Pena v. Lester: .882 OPS, 4 RBI in 17 PA.
      Avila v. Lester: 1.167 OPS, 1 RBI in 6 PA

      I like Pena, myself, but hey.

  2. Good write up and good logo Kevin. I am with you, win 11 out of 19 and life is good. Tigers are capable of such. Looking at my scorebook the Tigers v. Red Sox games have been varied with high scoring and low scoring games. AJax must hit as when he does such, the Tigers chances for winning greatly improves. Also the series is much more enjoyable than playing the Yankees in the ALCS!

      1. Can’t argue that…but better fans and better media. A class team to match the Tiger’s class.

        1. Right now it looks as daunting as facing the Yankees used to look. Like facing the Yankees in 2006, really.

  3. Austin Jackson has hit the Red Sox pretty well in 2013. 8 for 21, .959 OPS. That’s something.

    However… prior tui the ALDS, he was 7 for 22 with .855 v. A’s in 2013.

  4. Red Sox catcher David Ross caught most of the series (and both of the wins) last time Detroit was at Fenway.

      1. What’s the TBS strike box? Do they show the strike zone all the time, every pitch? Superimposed?

  5. Jim always gives us a pre-game wave when we attend Tiger games at Arlington and KC. A class guy!

  6. Jackson makes solid contact. That’s good.

    Another 25-pitch inning from Sanchez and I’m thinking Fister.

  7. the ball was in his mitt and Infante was 15 feet off third…does anyone screw this up more than Detroit..tag out at the plate number 10000000000000

    1. Just where he should have been so he can score on a slow ball to any other part of the infield.

      1. It was go on contact, judpma. No fault, except for not calling for the squeeze to begin with. No fault on Peralta earlier, certainly

  8. No matter how predictable, with Infante at 3B and Iglesias at the plate, squeeze play is the call. What a waste.

  9. and yes I understand go on point is it never ever ever ever ever ever ever works for the Tigers

  10. as a hitter you absolutely can not hit a ball to third with that runner on third less 2 outs…but the Tigers never worry about things like situational hitting.Actually Mumbles doesn’t believe in it..notice he never ever ever talks about situational hitting!

    1. Smyly probably didn’t come in because Gomes would have been the countermove. Good call, I’d say. Even if it hadn’t worked.

  11. Who would bring Sanchez back out for the 7th? 116 pitches. I wouldn’t. That’s not to be confused with a vote of confidence for the bullpen.

  12. Both the last two hitters even thouh LH were only hitting .130..good move leaving him in..I agree even if it would have backfired.

  13. Sweet Alburqureque….Good times never seemed so good, Strike 1, Strike 2, Strike 3!

      1. They have destroyed a good song with that wedding reception version, by the way. I absolutely detest that BOP-BOP-BAH, SO GOOD SO GOOD SO GOOD thing.

  14. thats at least the 4th in the 2013 playoffs Mumbles has let his son Alex go Against a LH pitcher in a crucial situation…I just don’t get it..Mumbles the King of matchups, except with his son Alex!!!

  15. I’m not watching it, but I’ve seen Veras’s curve and can imagine. It can be pretty incredible.

    1. While we’re on the subject, nobody has yet to explain to me (convincingly) why Veras didn’t come in to pitch the 9th in game two of ALDS. All’s well that ends well, but I really really do need this question answered.

      1. Veras is an 8th inning guy, T. Leyland believes very strongly in such roles. I’m sure he had a gut feeling, or maybe a guy feeling, about bringing Al-Al back out and would defend it based on Al-Als 8th inning and suppositions about upcoming matchups in the 9th. When Benoit is unavailable, rules about the 9th get more flexible, except for Veras, former Houston closer, who must be kept away from the 9th inning unless the Tigers are behind or way ahead. Veras is an 8th inning guy because, without Benoit there, who’s your 8th inning guy? Essentially, Veras is the 8th inning guy because he’s the 8th inning guy.

        It all makes sense now, right?

        1. Hmmm… I was half hoping you would say Veras was constipated or something. Then I would gladly let it go.

          But yes, it is nonetheless all very clear to me now. Thank you. (Nothing that a good dose of Leylandspeak couldn’t clear up)….

          1. It’s all a misunderstanding. He does mumble a lot. He was trying to ask “where is the 8th inning guy,” and ever since Jose has been known as “Veras the 8th inning guy.”

            1. Well done. Coleman. I can’t help but see you as a natural closer. But I’m going to take this into extra innings.

              Seriously, Leyland hews to conventional wisdom in terms of set bullpen roles, and his staff seems to play along. Also, there are things we can’t know about that affect bullpen availability/selection (including constipation). We don’t know how guys are feeling that particular day or whether Jeff Jones has seen something he doesn’t like, etc.. And, but, also, if we were looking into it as deeply as Leyland has to (even if we doubt that he does this), we might agree that, yes, we see the rationale for such and such a decision.

              In the case of ALDS Game 2, bottom of the 9th: Alburquerque had just (inning before) come in and struck out Donaldson and Moss swinging with 2 on, in 9 pitches. Cespedes-Smith-Reddick due up. Nothing Al-Al can’t handle, lefties not a problem when he’s got it. My “hunch” about bringing Al-Al back for a second inning isn’t a rational argument against it. You might say that Veras is a good choice to face Cespedes, but Al-Al is actually better for the next two – why waste a reliever when a) extras are a strong possibility and b) Veras isn’t necessarily the *better* choice for Cespedes?

              Where I really diverge from what happened is the intentional walk and then bringing Porcello in.

              1. I would have left AA in for K candidates Reddick and Vogt. No IBB. Had that gone well, Benoit comes in to face Crisp, and will be back in the 10th, again assuming all goess well.

              2. Oh, I forgot – I don’t think Benoit was available. OK… I leave Alburquerque out there to face Crisp or die. 10th inning will depend. Tigers score – Veras. Tigers don’t – whoever. Alvarez, probably.

              3. I guess it would have been, not Crisp, but Callaspo batting for Sogard. Alburquerque, then. I didn’t realize I had so much confidence in Alburquerque that I really don’t have.

    1. It seems to have been a kind of team decision. Their cabinets are really quite extraordinary. This after the all the nice Amish crafts at the shop in Oakland.

  16. Don Kelly, it’s up to you to stave off the whining about pulling Cabrera… that I would be the first to start.

        1. Though as Jason Beck pointed out, the Red Sox had only put 8 balls into play when Kelly came in as a defensive replacement. Curious.

            1. It was one inning too soon. It cost at least run. They walk Miggy there to load the bases (in lieu of making Don Kelly look like a little leaguer whiffing on 3 pitches), and presumably, Prince puts contact on the ball. Certainly if he hits the same pitch that Drew made the miracle catch the run still scores with only one out.

              However the inning plays out after, then you pull him.

            2. Great win, outstanding pitching, but having said that if BOS would have tied the game (or scored 2) in the 9th, DET would have REALLY regretted some blown opportunities.

              And i’m sorry but I think JL’s decision to do a double-switch in the 8th was an incredibly bad decision, that fortunately didn’t cost him the game. First of all, I don’t think Santiago is much faster than Peralta (who’s been DET’s best hitter in the post-season), BUT if you’re going to pinch run for Peralta, why not bring in Dirks or Kelly (who both are faster than Santiago and can replace Peralta in LF), and then as you let DET’s half of the inning play out to determine whether or not you believe Cabrera has a shot at batting in the 9th, if it doesn’t look like he will you can always do a defensive replacement (w/Santiago) in the bottom of the 8th. BUT since Avila made the last out in the 8th, and therefore Cabrera ‘would be the 4th hitter’ in the 9th, he likely could bat in the 9th – especially if a guy or two before him got a hit or two (and they did). You simply do not pull Cabrera in the 8th in a 1-0 game, unless of course you’d rather have Don Kelly batting with a couple guys on base in the 9th instead of Cabrera – and even Don Kelly’s mom wouldn’t want that.

              1. “and even Don Kelly’s mom wouldn’t want that.”

                Ha! Best part. Agree with all of it. I definitely don’t understand Peralta being pinch run for twice already in the postseason.

              2. Yes great win. And yes, many missed opportunities that we need not lament over given the final result. And, sigh… yes. Quite correct on every other point as well. I don’t know a manager in the game that wouldn’t have played it like you suggest. Then again, while you clearly demonstrate strategic acumen, you may not be so well versed in Leylandspeak.

              3. It was actually even weirder than Mr. Storm (or is it Mr. Norm?) described above. Peralta was the TRAIL runner on the play. How fast do you have to be to run behind Prince Fielder? Even if Leyland was looking forward enough to anticipate the Infante intentional walk, there is no way anybody is throwing to third to start a double-play. So whoever the runner on 2nd was there was pretty much a non-issue.

        1. Dan just reminded me about the Iglesias play, knocking down the ball and throwing out Pedroia. That was pretty big, too.

          1. Or maybe it was Ellsbury. Or maybe Iglesias made two great plays. I find it harder to remember details of a game I just listened to as opposed to one I just watched.

    1. Kinda like dog years, huh… I am feeling good as a Tigers fan, but my Dodger blue is very, very blue…Donny baseball is not pushing the right buttons, but LOB and RISP suck too

  17. Unbelievable game. I could hardly breathe at the end. Welcome to October.

    Let’s take a moment to appreciate a once in a lifetime pitching staff.

    No hitter would have been amazing, but it doesn’t count as an extra win. There is only one goal.

    7 more.

      1. Yes, a little wind went out of the sails when the no-hitter was gone, but just a little. Possibly because at 1-0, it took no more than a hit or even just a baserunner to gravely threaten the win. The strong aversion to a Red Sox hit would have still been there if there had already been 12 of them earlier.

  18. Fantastic, nail-biting baseball once again goes the Tigers’ way!

    Good work from the pen facing 10 Boston batters and retiring 9 of them. Veras’s outing was especially encouraging; I was worried about the 8th inning before tonight.

    Oodles of strikeouts alert, ALCS version: Boston can’t strike out 17 times and expect to win games in this series.

    1. But they (Red Sox with 17 strikeouts) came pretty close.

      Strikeouts still aren’t runs. We’d be in business if they were.

      1. I’m against wasting beer. I don’t like champagne, and I can see why people would rather spray it all over each other than drink it. Well, actually, I can’t really fathom that, either. Don’t know why they make it at all.

        You have a beer, and I’ll have some more grapefruit juice. 7 more to go.

          1. Nice.

            Hey, check this out from Jason Beck:

            “I get debating the choice of reliever. But Sanchez was on pace for a 174-pitch complete game.”

            We should invite him over.

  19. I remember watching Zumaya dominate the Yankees one inning in the ’06 ALDS.

    That feeling was rekindled tonight when Al Al pitched b

  20. When oh when is the Tigers offense gonna tear it up? They seem more prone to doing this against really good (established) pitchers, if you ask me. Tonight could be the night.

  21. Apparently Don Kelly looked so good at the plate last night, tonight he gets the start in LF. Here is your DET Tiger starting lineup tonight against Buchholz (RHP):
    CF Austin Jackson
    RF Torii Hunter
    3B Miguel Cabrera
    1B Prince Fielder
    DH Victor Martinez
    SS Jhonny Peralta
    C Alex Avila
    2B Omar Infante
    LF Don Kelly

    me, i’d like to see Iglesias’ glove at SS and Peralta in LF… and Jackson batting in the 8th or 9th spot… but “that’s just like my opinion… man”

  22. Did Dirks insult Jim Leyland’s mother, or something? Is Kelly really that much better of a defender than Dirks?

    Wow. Another head scratcher.

      1. But Dirks is #1 in LF defense. Kelly’s good, no complaints about that.

        But between Dirks and Kelly “coming alive,” offensively, possibly, I like the potential upside of the former better.

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