Game 2013. Playoffs 7: Tigers at Red Sox

One down, three to go.

That makes it sound a lot easier than it will be. Once the celebrations subsided after last night’s thrilling, nail-biting victory, the questions crept back. Are the Tigers back to their frustrating habit of the all-or-nothing, feast-or-famine offense? It was a classic famine game: a bunch of base runners, most of whom were left hanging out in scoring position or thrown out on the base paths through a combination of bad luck, untimely strikeouts, failed sacrifice attempts, and whatnot.

And Boston was not the AL leader in runs per game and team OPS for nothing: their bats won’t be held down forever.

Dash the questions though–there was just so much to enjoy about last night’s game, which leaves the Tigers in a best case scenario, up 1-0 on the road with Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander lined up.

And despite the frustrating inability to score, there were some positive signs from the offense: Torii Hunter finally got a hit;  Alex Avila got a hit and hit the ball well; Austin Jackson struck out twice, but when he did hit the ball, hit it well; Omar Infante continued to hit the ball hard without any luck (the luck will come), and Peralta continued to be Jhonny on the Spot. And how about the much-maligned bullpen? 3 innings pitched, 0 runs, 0 walks, 1 hit, 5 Ks.

The real story of the game was Anibal Sanchez, who was unhittable.  The Red Sox had a plan for Anibal, and it worked: take as many pitches as possible, drive up his pitch count, and get an early stab at the bullpen. The Red Sox do that well: they saw more pitches this season than any other team (1500 more than Detroit). It is a concerted team effort, up and down the lineup.

For the game, they took 29 of 35 first pitches. That’s dedication to a game plan.

Anibal never got frustrated, despite all the 3-2 counts, the walks, the rising pitch count. When an early strikeout turned into a safe-on-a-wild-pitch, a stolen base, and a subsequent walk, he just methodically struck out Ortiz and Napoli (Ortiz would have 3 checked-swing strikeouts on the day). It’s as if he threw random pitches until he got into a 3-2 count, then threw the last pitch they were expecting.

And in doing so, he tied a record, becoming just the 2nd person to strike out 4 in a postseason inning (and the first Tiger in any game), joining ol’ Orval Overall, who did that on the way to clinching the last ever Cubs World Series title against the Detroit Tigers (one of his 4 victims was Ty Cobb).

  • The Tigers also became the first postseason team to ever have back-to-back no-hit bids beyond 5 innings.
  • The Tigers also became the first team to shout out the Red Sox at home in the postseason since 1918.
  • Anibal Sanchez also became the first pitcher in postseason history to be pulled with a no-hitter as late as the 6th inning.
  • The Tigers as a team also tied a postseason record with 17 strikeouts, tying The Cardinals, who, in the person of Bob Gibson, struck out 17 Tigers in the 1968 World Series.


Jim Leyland seemed to make all of the right moves yesterday, from starting Peralta in left to pulling Sanchez after 6. Alburquerque blew through the 7th inning in impressive fashion (maybe starting the inning instead of coming in with runners on helped out here), and even more impressively is what happened in the next inning: Jose Veras was brought in to replace Alburquerque. Al has had a number of frustrating outings this year when he pitches a shutdown inning, only to fall apart in the next inning. Leyland learned from that:

“If you try to send him back out there [for a 2nd inning], things normally don’t work out so good.” (Jason Beck tweet).

The one head-scratcher of a move was pulling Peralta for a pinch-runner in the 7th (Santiago), and replacing him in left with Don Kelly. It makes sense if (and only if) Leyland had already decided that regardless of the outcome of the inning, that Cabrera was done for the day, and Peralta was done in the field (not that anybody was hitting any balls anywhere last night). With Cabrera’s spot coming up the next inning, the double-switch allowed Leyland to get Kelly batting in that spot, who was presumably a better bat at that point than Santiago.


Anibal set the bar pretty high. Let’s see what Max can do tonight. The key to the game will be keeping the first two hitters, Ellsbury and Victorino, off the bases. They have been hitting over .400 each in the postseason, and when they do get on they will steal. They were a combined 73-of-80 in the regular season, and that is against a bunch of teams that are all better than Detroit at stopping the running game. The one time either of them got on base last night was when Victorino struck out on the wild pitch, and he promptly stole 2nd.


Tonight Leyland is going with Peralta at SS. “This guy’s no donkey.” Well, how dumb does he think we are? We all know that Don Kelly is The Donkey, and he will be playing left.

Today’s Player of the Pre-game: Omar Infante. With Peralta getting on base a lot and Omar hitting the ball hard (although with nothing to show for it) I am predicting Infante will come through with a big RBI.

Today’s Who’s the Donkey? Lineup:

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

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

139 thoughts on “Game 2013. Playoffs 7: Tigers at Red Sox”

  1. Somehow Pena got in Mumbles Doghouse, ( it doesn’t take much, depending on who you are) and hasn’t been seen since. 3-4 times against Oakland and Boston Mumbles son Alex has come up late in a game in a big at bat against a Lefty. Each time he has K’d…He did get the hit off Lester, which was his first hit against a lefty in like forever. Maybe thats why.

  2. Good to see Tiger fans in the crowd at Fenway. How did they ever get those seats?

  3. VMart just dropped “oh sh*t…he had me right there”. They may want to turn down the 2B mic.

  4. speaking of Tiger fans at the game…how does DD get such good seats all the time…He must know somebody!!!

  5. you know things are going good when Buck says..” he had a good rip at that one”..and it is just a fouk ball to the screen!!!

  6. ok thats enough excitement for Boston lets get back to shutting them down….I hate Fenway..2 ..300 foot pop ups are a run!!!!

    1. A down and away slider…you could see it coming for Pappi and he couldn’t hold off. A great pitch!

  7. Interesting…Dubrount started game 72 against the Tigers with Verlander going to the mound against him. Tigers won 7-5. He is now in the bullpen. Perhaps like Porcello?

  8. Long-Ball is back! No problem, they just tied things up to set the stage for some heroics from Miggy.

  9. and Hunter leaves the strikezone to make an out over and over and over and over….Jackson always lets the first FB down the middle and takes it…every time anyone in the dugout paying attention to this

    1. I agreed with taking out Scherzer at the time. The bullpen did their job in Game 1.

      That said… Verlander has to be ready to pitch 15 innings tomorrow if need be.

  10. I don’t have a problem with the grand slam. Ortiz is a great hitter and the Red Sox have the best offense in the majors for a reason.

    But the Fielder drop and Porcello WP were lazy.

    This one really, really stings.

    Gotta win at home. It’s pretty simple.

    1. I have a problem with the bullpen. I have a problem with Benoit serving up a first-pitch HR to Ortiz. I have a problem with Porcello. I have a problem with Iglesias. Surprisingly, I don’t have a problem with Leyland. His players couldn’t hold a 5-1 lead late in the game.

      I would have liked to have seen Max back out for the 8th, but it wasn’t unreasonable to expect the bullpen to keep a lid on this one.

    2. I have a problem with a first pitch fast ball. That’s the pitch Ortiz is waiting for, and you know he’s waiting to do one thing, tie the game.

      It should have been an off speed pitch.

      1. One of the reasons Coke was activated for this series: Ortiz can’t hit him. So…why wasn’t Coke brought in in the 8th. Or, why was Coke activated for this series?

      2. I’ll take Coleman/Kevin’s word for it and have a problem with Fielder as well, then.

        Sickening loss. I hope the team can put it behind them. I resolve to, myself. If the Tigers can take this series, there will be no occasion to revisit it. If they can’t…

        1. Yes, why not Coke against Ortiz was something many of us were pondering even before the slam. Had that gone wrong, though, there would have been much gnashing of teeth about throwing Coke into the fire after he hadn’t pitched in a while. I didn’t mind Benoit, only what Benoit ended up doing. That situation is getting perilously close to the the V word.

          1. I can think of a lot of reasons to not pitch Coke there. My point is, if not then, when? So why was he put on the ALCS roster??

            1. It’s a good point. Some courageous broadcaster or journalist might think to ask Leyland this question, or at least the question of why Coke wasn’t warmed up and brought in to face Ortiz.

              Coke might be on the roster because Benoit is slowly but surely going V-v-v-v-v….

              1. He he.

                Seriously, someone *has* to broach the subject somehow. I expect to be reading some kind of quote on this from Leyland tomorrow. Even if there’s no direct question, I think something Leyland says will bear on it, because Leyland will catch the drift. He may be a mumbler, but he’s not stupid or unperceptive.

              2. Quote from Leyland: what odds would you be willing to give against him saying something including either “that’s baseball” or “tip your cap?”

              3. Yes, it will include both those phrases, but we have our filters set for that. There might be some actual content left afterward. Very heavy on defensiveness, I would imagine.

              4. I do not want to hear either of those phrases. What I want to hear — and nothing less will be acceptable — is something like, “…we were attacking hitters all night long with success and so we made an error in judgement and decided to roll the dice and attack one of the best clutch HR hitters in Bosox post-season history… Oops.” Or something to this affect.

                Or a simply apology would be nice. Leyand and Benoit are human, after all. But, please. No excuses. No defensive banter. You $*%&$^%ed up. Own it.

            2. agree 100%. why have him on the roster? if there’s lost of reason to NOT pitch him, why have him take up a spot?

              I swear, if Leyland brings him into a key situation later in the series, my head may explode.

              Ortiz was 2-19 lifetime vs Coke. if that isn’t playing the numbers, I don’t know what is.

  11. On the bright side going into game 1 if you told us we would take a split we would be happy but it sure feels like we let this one get away from us real fast. GO JV.

    1. The problem is that we has the Red Six down and confused. Now they believe even if they are no-hit for 7-innings, they can still win. That 8th inning could be the turning point of the series.

    1. Wasn’t their fault tonight. It was Leyland’s for overmanaging the bullpen—and Benoit’s for throwing one the best home run hitters of the past 10 years a batting practice fastball.

      1. It wasn’t a very smart pitch to throw. Maybe on a 3-2 or 2-0 count if you have to, and then hope for the best, but not on the first pitch. Man, the Tigers pitchers have been so smart this entire series… all it takes is one boneheaded pitch to change the momentum of the series.

      1. Frankly, I’ve never been to easy with him in the closer role. He had a decent stretch, but I just don’t think he’s a closer-type pitcher. He’s a good setup guy.

        1. He’s a perfect illustration of the problems inherent in trying to turn 8th Inning Guy into Closer Guy. He is a mutant miscreant, Dr. Leylandstein’s Leylandstein, and now he’s running amok and out to destroy his master and creator. It’s a morality play about the consequences of trying to subvert the natural order of things with bizarre experiments. (This applies in reverse to account for any 8th inning failure by Veras.)

          Also, without the magic 9th inning adrenaline available only to closers during the 9th inning, it was obvious that he was helpless to make a better pitch selection, or any pitch selection at all. He was only playing catch with Avila, and was rudely interrupted.

    1. The key to the inning in my mind was Smyly walking Ellsbury. He just can’t do that and it was illustrated why in spades last night. When you are brought in to get one guy with a four run lead and one man on, you had better get him or give up a hit. Walking or hitting the batter are NOT options. If Ellsbury gets a base hit, double, home run (whatever) I can live with it as he won that matchup. But when you get ahead of a guy 1-2 and then try to nibble with that four run lead its a dangerous game to play.

      That being said, I wish Ol’ Smoky would have left AL-AL in. The one thing about AL is that he rarely gives up bombs. At worst he gives up a two run single to Papi and if that happens, THEN go get Benoit. Ol’ Smoky really overmanaged that 8th inning last night.

  12. I said at the beginning of the series that the team that has the Irony Advantage will win. I think the Tigers grabbed it last night, with the ex-Red Sox pitcher Sanchez shutting down his former team. Iglesias even caught the last out against the shortstop who replaced him!

    Tonight: advantage Red Sox, since “Fielder” was anything but.

  13. Mulling it over, it’s clear Leyland thought Benoit was his best option against Ortiz (since he burned Smyly, took out Q, and didn’t warm up Coke).

    Really? Yes, small sample size dominance, but still? A good-not-great RH reliever when Ortiz, whose whole approach all series has been HR or bust, steps up?

    Leaving aside “Should Scherzer have stayed in?” and going to Ortiz’s PA, I think Leyland had three better options:

    Best: What Joe Maddon would do – walk Ortiz to force in a run – make Carp or Napoli beat you!

    2nd: Bring in Porcello, get a ground ball; even if it’s a hit it’s not a HR and we keep the lead.

    3rd: Leave in Q. Couldn’t have done worse.


    2. The only way the Tigers lose the game is if Ortiz hits a Grand Slam. I would have managed against that at all costs and sacrificed a run or two if necessary. You only need four outs. For the love of God anything but the Grand Slam.

      Best: Let Max pitch the 8th. He was DOMINATING. If he falters, sure. Pull him.

      Second Best: Bring in Veras for the 8th and let him finish the inning. Even if he gives up a run or two (after the double) the score is still only 5-2 or 5-3 – then let Benoit close it out in the 9th

      Third Best: If you must over-manage the bullpen in the 8th inning, save Smyly and bring him in only to face Ortiz (the one guy most likely to hurt you with the long ball)

      Fourth Best: Let Coke face Ortiz

      Fifth Best: Let Benoit come in with bases loaded for a 4 out save.

      Worst: Let Benoit come in with bases loaded for a 4 out save and serve up a first pitch fast ball.

      Now: hindsight is 20-20 and any one of the options above could have salvaged the game. The odds are just become less favorable from best to worst.

      1. I think you summed it up well in the first paragraph. OK, now I have a problem with Leyland as well.

  14. Fastball first pitch is the one strategic error. The rest? Stuff happens. But starting with a fastball which I’m guessing was called from the bench, yowza.

  15. TIGERS NEED A NEW MANAGER! YOU DONT HAVE TYPE OF TALENT YEAR AFTER YEAR AND CONSISTANTLY LOSE! What the heck is Jim Leyland thinking? Has a 5-1 lead and takes the best pitcher in the American league out of the game after 7 complete innings, giving up just 1 run, on 2 hits, AND 13 STRIKEOUTS!! just because his pitch count was 100? LEYLAND CHOSE NOT CHANGE PITCHERS AFTER A WLD PITCH, AND AT LEAST GIVE THE BULLPEN A CHANCE TO STRIKE OUT THE SIDE. NEVER SEEN A MANAGER JUST GIVE UP IN A PLAYOFF GAME LIKE THIS AFTER HAVING THE GAME MORE LESS WON WITH HIS BEST PITCHER STRIKING OUT 13 REDSOX AND GIVING UP JUST 2 HITS. Of course I have never seen a luckier team than the 2013 boston rexsox either .. so go fig…..

    1. I don’t think you’re going to find any defense of Leyland here. The Red Sox hatred is appreciated, though. We don’t much like them, either, at least while we’re playing them.

  16. My only problem with ALL of this was the first pitch fastball……the rest is just baseball between two very good teams. And face it if it gets down to pitching decisions or pitchers used when….we don’t stand a chance and we all know that.

    1. Yeah, I honestly don’t get it. You hear over and over and over, from pitchers and managers–especially in the playoffs–that at all costs they are not going to let (insert Star Slugger) beat you. Whoever it happens to be. And yet Benoit pitched to Ortiz to specifically give the Red Sox their best chance to beat the Tigers. If there was only a 10% chance the Red Sox could pull out a victory tonight, Benoit pitched to Ortiz to absolutely maximize those odds.

  17. Veras gives up the double
    Smyly does the only thing he cannot possibly do ..a reliever walk
    AlAl with a devastating slider throws to fastballs and Petroia rips one….what!!! wheres the slider!!!
    A firstball fastball to Ortiz is birderline insane….
    well this has about .05% of happening and it does……we have gone thru a year of this with the blowpen…are we actually surprized!

    1. According to Benoit, it was a changeup. Not that it really matters. By the way, should changeup be hyphenated or not? I think it should be, Change-up.

  18. On a bright note, Seth Smith could have connected on the same meatball Benoit served up in bottom of the ninth in game 5 of the ALDS and we wouldn’t even be having this conversation now….

    1. I think Scherzer is being Mr. Team Player Guy here. Looking out for skipper and the bullpen. Good job. He wasn’t tired. Not buying that he was *asking* to come out. Hard to see that happening with Max.

  19. Nobody said the Red Sox would be push-overs. The Big Cats have taken home field advantage and the Red Sox will still have to face Verlander, Sanchez again. I like our chances!

  20. I would like to take a moment to commend Leyland on a job well done. He guided the Tigers so they could snatch a defeat from the jaws of victory. This same insane strategy ALMOST came back to destroy us in game 1……and it did in game 2……and it did numerous times during the season, too. I’m becoming very skeptical of the Tigers’ chances; even with the better team, they can’t get past their managers’ blundering and GIVING AWAY games. This is absolutely moronic…and it’s gotta stop, or the Tigers won’t win. The Tigers’ strength is their starting staff, not their blow-pen; and anyone who’s followed ’em this year knows it. Taking Scherzer out at that point was criminal; he was giving a stellar performance…..and I don’t care if it took 200 pitches – you LEAVE HIM IN UNTIL HE SHOWS HE’S WEAKENING. There were no signs; this was just the same dogmatic approach Leyland’s used all year. As soon as Scherzer was pulled, the Sox came to life. If that doesn’t say it all, then I don’t know what does.

  21. couple thoughts on last night’s debacle, er…um, game:

    Coaching Decisions
    1) sometimes the best coaching decision is to do nothing
    2) the best coaching decisions are always made within hours ‘after’ the game

    1) prior to the bottom of the 8th inning last night, DET’s “confidence account” was overflowing, while BOS’ was pretty close to being overdrawn. At the end of the 9th, BOS had gained a bunch and DET had lost a bunch.
    2) just like prior to game 1, both teams’ confidence “accounts” are more on equal footing, and either JV or Lackey (and each teams’ hitters) have the opportunity on Tuesday to disrupt that ‘balance’ again.

    1) there are no ‘style points’ in baseball, the only stat that ‘really’ matters is “Runs scored”, and only “the total” (runs scored) at the end of the game
    2) DET totally dominated BOS for 16 of 18 innings, but in the end it doesn’t matter which stat record was set or who won the stats battle, because the series is tied 1-1; sure DET has the home field advantage, but that only is only relevant if …(see #1 immediately above)

    “Adversity is the state in which man most easily becomes acquainted with himself, being especially free of admirers then.”–John Wooden

    1. yeah…except we didn’t win(g)

      perhaps it will turn out like the meltdown in game 4 of last year’s ALDS. Verlander made it irrelevant the next night, so perhaps the fact that he’s up next is foreshadowing.

  22. “That’s baseball. It happens quick,” Smyly said. OK, whoever had Smyly in the “that’s baseball” pool scored. Still waiting on the “Tip Your Cap” pool.

    1. I missed that. Saw the “happens quick,” focused on that. I think my eyes glaze over instantly at the words “that’s baseball.” that’s baseball that’s baseball damn i keep typing and i’m not seeing anything something wrong with this keyboard oh there we go

  23. Anybody still like the Prince Fielder signing (if anybody ever did)??? Fielder was brutal in the 9th inning last nite. Doesn’t knock down the errant throw from Iglesias (and it was pretty easy to knock down) and then he drops a pop-up with his eyes closed (yes I know that he was right up against a fan but c’mon… have to want it more than the fan in those situations). With all the moaning about Leyland and the bullpen (deservedly so), this fat $@%# deserves plenty of scorn today as well as the aforementioned people. Fielder was absolutely pathetic in that 9th inning last night. Totally different inning if he knocks down Iglesias’ throw and keeps the runner at first and THEN catches Salty’s pop-out. Maybe we get out of that inning and maybe we win it in extras. A lot of maybes I know, but at least do what you can to give your team a chance.

    1. Not Prince’s finest hour, that inning. Maybe he’ll get in shape and whack 50 next season. A bit early to write him off, as some (not you, necessarily) are beginning to.

  24. I’ve come to the conclusion the world is run by morons………Leyland, Capitol Hill, Matt Millen……the Norris family [way back when]…….maybe this is why I feel like a square peg being shoved into a round hole all the time. When stupid people are put in positions of power, look what happens: games get blown, 0-16 seasons, 2 decades of mediocrity……..And yeah, I’d agree with the Fielder assessment above too – he swung at way too many bad balls this year to be classified as a ‘good’ hitter….and he definitely should’ve knocked down that throw, no question…..and how many wild pitches has Porcello thrown this year? It would suit me if we never saw Porcello or Coke again……

    1. The world is owned and operated by fundamentally dishonest people (not an original thought of mine). Against that backdrop, baseball is relatively honest and moron-free, I’d say. Relatively speaking.

  25. This must be some sort of postseason record: when Ortiz hit his grand slam, 4 different pitchers were charged with an earned run.

    1. I was thinking of that right away. Talk about solidarity. Bullpen’s got that going for themselves.

  26. there is no possible way in the world that Coke would have gotten Ortiz out..with Coke pitching Poppi might have hit a 6 run dinget and end the game there!!!!!!

  27. there is no possible way in the world that Coke would have gotten Ortiz out..with Coke pitching Poppi might have hit a 6 run dinger and end the game right there!!!!!!

    1. Impossible to say, but Coke has mighty impressive numbers against Ortiz in a fairly significant sample size for a relief pitcher.

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