2014: Extra Innings (0-3)

We would never have marched so far to be food… food… for an Oriole?

So the Detroit Tigers will finish their season 72% of who they were to begin with:

SP Scherzer
SP Verlander
SP Price
SP Porcello
RP Sanchez
RP Nathan
RP Chamberlain
RP Soria
RP Alburquerque
RP Coke
RP Lobstein
C Avila
C Holaday
1B-DH Cabrera
2B Kinsler
SS Suarez
3B Castellanos
IF Romine
IF Perez
IF-OF Kelly
LF J. Martinez
CF-LF Davis
RF Hunter
OF Carrera
DH-1B V. Martinez

Detroit goes into the ALDS with a couple dark clouds overhead. The old one is the ever-shaky bullpen. Being able to include starter Anibal Sanchez in it seems like a curse (his late-season injury) turned into a blessing. The new one is the health of Rajai Davis, who is far from 100% with a pelvic strain. The decision to stick with Davis on a day to day basis tips the balance in favor of 14 position players and Hernan Perez as 25th man rather than Tyler Collins or Steven Moya. Blaine Hardy’s late season struggles, along with Sanchez’s inclusion and Kyle Lobstein’s utility as both lefty and long man, make him the odd man out on the 11-man staff.

So Detroit heads to Baltimore and the madhouse of an Orioles Park filled with screaming throngs of orange…

 Lettuce

Game 1: Scherzer v. Tillman. ORIOLES 12, Tigers 3. Never ahead, down 9.
NICE PLAYS: CASTELLANOS-CABRERA, LF J. MARTINEZ-KINSLER, SS Hardy-1B Pearce, J. MARTINEZ-AVILA, ROMINE-CABRERA, CF DAVIS
MISPLAYS: ROMINE, CASTELLANOS, AVILA
BASERUNNING NEWS: The Orioles were certainly more dynamic, in part because they had more opportunities to be. Not much in the way of SB attempts for either side, but the Jones swipe of 2B in the 8th did play a part in changing the complexion of that inning. Aggressive at precisely the wrong moment, Detroit was badly burned in the 8th by KINSLER taking off on the 2-2 pitch to HUNTER that resulted in the lineout (to SS) double play. Next up, CABRERA hits a home run. Ay yi yi.
THE BIG HIT: Man on 3rd, 2 out, 0-0 in the first, Cruz 2-run HR off SCHERZER.
THE BIG OUT: Bases loaded, 2 out, Tigers down 3-2 in the 5th, Tillman retires HUNTER on a groundout to SS, force at 2B.
GOOD HITTING: Cruz, De Aza, Schoop
BAD HITTING: HUNTER
GOOD PITCHING: Miller
BAD PITCHING: CHAMBERLAIN, SORIA, COKE
OBVIOUSLY: You had the feeling they were going to pull it out, right up to that 8th inning sucker punch to the gut.
AND, BUT, ALSO: Although SCHERZER would strut some stuff later, he was not sharp early, while Tillman most assuredly was (5 K through 2). Back to back jacks by the MARTINEZ brothers took the crowd out of it, but only briefly, because SCHERZER was unable to shut the door at this opportune moment. The Tigers did make Tillman work and hasten his exit; KINSLER alone saw 30 pitches. Miller the ex-Tiger was instrumental in keeping the Tigers on ice. Detroit made almost every standout defensive play – CASTELLANOS-CABRERA made a brilliant play on a good bunt, and J. MARTINEZ-KINSLER killed a Pearce double – and yet the few misplays were devastating. It doesn’t exonerate the bullpen, but ROMINE’s bungling of a playable groundball and CASTELLANOS’s inability to handle a perfectly good throw from DAVIS (who was charged with the error, ridiculously) played a sizable part in the 8th inning nightmare. Still, more than anything, the Tigers pitching was not up to the task, and that includes SCHERZER and his gopher balls.

Max Scherzer:  “Just frustrated with how I pitched tonight. Walking off the mound, just felt like I didn’t quite do my job to the fullest. You’ve got to bring your ‘A’ game here in these situations every single time you step on the mound in a playoff game. Even though I was fully prepared to face their lineup, I just didn’t feel like I executed pitches at the highest level I could, and that’s the frustrating part.” *** Brad Ausmus: “It’s a team effort, and in baseball, team effort is if someone makes an error, you hope the pitcher picks ’em up. If a pitcher struggles, you hope the lineup picks him up. Tonight, we just didn’t get it done. It’s as simple as that.” *** The Nelson Cruz HR was his 7th career vs. Detroit in the postseason alone.

 WinningRun

Game 2: Verlander v. Chen. ORIOLES 7, Tigers 6. Up 3, down 1.
NICE PLAYS: P Chen, 3B Flaherty-2B Schoop-1B Pearce, CABRERA-SANCHEZ, ROMINE-CABRERA, CF Jones-Schoop-C Joseph, LF J. MARTINEZ-KINSLER-AVILA
MISPLAYS: CF CARRERA
BASERUNNING NEWS: It was nice to see CARRERA come in for DAVIS and steal 2B just as well, and it could have made a difference, but again Baltimore just does better on the bases, case in point being Hardy scoring the winning run from 1B while CABRERA was thrown out trying to do the same (and much less advisedly).
THE BIG HIT: Bases loaded, 1 out, Tigers up 6-4 in the 8th, Young 3-run triple off SORIA.
THE BIG OUT: Runners on 1st and 2nd, none out, Tigers up 5-3 in the 8th, V. MARTINEZ doubles off Gausman to score HUNTER, but CABRERA is thrown out at home (Jones-Schoop-Joseph) trying to score from 1B.
GOOD HITTING: Young, Markakis
BAD HITTING:
GOOD PITCHING: Gausman, SANCHEZ
BAD PITCHING: Chen, CHAMBERLAIN, SORIA
OBVIOUSLY: Unbelievable. This one was in the bag! Unbelievable.
AND, BUT, ALSO: Detroit starts to whale on Chen in the 4th, 4 batters, 4 runs, and once again back to back jacks, J. MARTINEZ and CASTELLANOS going oppo big-time. But in comes Gausman, and out go the lights – for a while. VERLANDER holds the line but can only last 5+. SANCHEZ comes in and allows nothing out of the infield (nor any hits) for 2 innings. The Tigers get to Gausman at last, but a bigger inning is stunted by CABRERA needlessly running into an out. (A fair measure of Gausman’s good pitching was *great* Baltimore defense behind him.) We are astonished to see SANCHEZ leave the game and then livid to see CHAMBERLAIN and SORIA replay yesterday’s bullpen meltdown. The come-from-behind hope for the Detroit 9th is represented by PEREZ-ROMINE-SUAREZ. There is no unexpected magic.

Ausmus on the whole 8th inning debacle: “I don’t know that I necessarily have an answer for that, but if we have a lead in the eighth inning on Sunday, we’re going to have to find somebody… When you have a three-run lead going into the last couple innings, you feel like you should get the job done. But we didn’t.” On removing Anibal Sanchez with a pitch count limit in mind: “It’s more about [Sanchez] not being stretched out. He was hurt — what was he out? six weeks? — and he threw one inning [plus] one simulated game.” *** Rajai Davis had to come out of the game in the 4th, having hit a double that he had to settle for a single on when his injury tightened up. *** For the second game in a row, another ex-Tiger (this time Delmon Young) plays a heroic role. *** Nelson Cruz: “They are a great team. They have a good lineup and pretty good starting pitchers. So, the main thing for us is to stay focused and hopefully in late innings like today we can do damage.” *** Joba Chamberlain: “This one’s on me. If I don’t put us in that situation, Soria doesn’t have to come into that situation. Obviously, this one’s on me and I’ll wear it.” *** The Tigers head into Game 3 facing 5 in 44 odds of a happy ending to this ALDS.

 OhNo

Game 3: Norris v. Price. Orioles 2, TIGERS 1. Never ahead, down 2.
NICE PLAYS: KINSLER, KELLY, KINSLER-ROMINE, HOLADAY, PRICE-CABRERA
MISPLAYS: CASTELLANOS, KINSLER, LF Lough, C Hundley, 2B Schoop, SS Hardy-Schoop
BASERUNNING NEWS: Some great small ball in the 2nd with AVILA tagging to take 3rd and ROMINE almost nearly almost squeezing him in with a bunt. The Schoop SB was another very, very close play – hard to ask for a better throw by HOLADAY, ROMINE maybe a tad slow with the tag. The strange play of the game was where KELLY got caught too far off 2B on the HUNTER grounder to SS Hardy. KELLY was clearly out and didn’t help by hitting the deck far off the bag… except that Schoop dropped the ball and then blatantly interfered (think football tackle) with KELLY while recovering the ball and tagging KELLY again. AUSMUS came out to discuss, but it was a non-reviewable judgment call where the umpires clearly failed. Did it make a difference in the scoring? Maybe. PRICE’s pickoff of Cruz in the 8th was some small measure of revenge.
THE BIG HIT: Man on 1st, 1 out, 0-0 in the 6th, Cruz 2-run HR off PRICE.
THE BIG OUTS: Men on 1st and 2nd, 1 out, Tigers down 2-1 in the 9th, Britton retires PEREZ on a 5-4-3 DP.
GOOD HITTING: Cruz
BAD HITTING: KINSLER
GOOD PITCHING: Norris, PRICE
BAD PITCHING:
OBVIOUSLY: The offense chooses this as their day off, and the season flies away on the wings of a home run that was barely more than a long foul ball.
AND, BUT, ALSO: Despite the strong outing from Norris, Detroit didn’t go down quite as quietly as it appears. While PRICE was cruising (no unfortunate pun intended), the Tigers were within an eyelash of a run in the 2nd and had Norris on the ropes in the 3rd. The 9th inning last chance was exciting, and much too much is made of PEREZ grounding into the double play (which is something HUNTER, CABRERA, and V. MARTINEZ have been known to do.) V. MARTINEZ was, in fact, both big out and big hit, popping out to strand men at 2nd and 3rd, then doubling and scoring the Tigers only run. Gutsy call by AUSMUS and great bunt by ROMINE on the suicide squeeze in the 2nd. ROMINE was out by a mere eyelash and it was well worth the challenge. KELLY had a fine game filling in for DAVIS in CF (he was 3 of 9 total Detroit baserunners), the only caveat being the baserunning mistake. NATHAN pitched the 9th like a closer, and for the second time in three games, the Tigers were the better defenders. Despite a 1-7 RISP, the loss ending the season was less crushing than the two preceding it.

Ausmus: “It’s disappointing. You feel like you let the fans down and you feel like you let the organization down. You feel like you let [ownership] down. So it’s disappointing, no question. But there is nothing we can do about it now…  Norris pitched outstanding. I don’t know if our right-handers got a hit off him. To me, that was it.” *** Torii Hunter: “I still don’t understand how [Cruz] hit that ball out.” *** Scherzer: “We got beat. No other way to say it. We got outplayed in this series in every facet. It’s frustrating. I know how talented this group is. I’m not trying to take anything away from what they did. They outplayed us. They’re a great ballclub.” *** Alex Avila suffers a concussion (a lot of that going on over the past month) from a foul tip to the mask and comes out in the 6th.


So there you have it.

The Tigers put on their 93-player* (48 players during the regular season, including 13 making their MLB debut), 192-game, 7+ month show, and it was a good show. Having experienced it twice, I can tell you that the only truly disappointing thing about it was how it ended. But that’s how it goes for 90% of the top 10 teams in baseball every year now, doesn’t it?

*I was amazed to discover how many players had made Spring Training appearances.

The 2014 Detroit Tigers were a very good team, at least as good as any of the Leyland teams. What kept them from greatness, besides the Baltimore Orioles and chance (a lot of that in baseball, a lot of overlap between lucky and good)? You decide. While the post-2014 departures and arrivals are already well underway, it remains a relevant question. 2014 is the starting point for all the speculation about 2015.

If you feel the Tigers let you down overall during 2014 and wanted some examples to point to, look no further than the season series against the Minnesota Twins, Toronto Blue Jays, and Seattle Mariners. 12-19 only hints at it. For whatever reason, everything wrong with Detroit seemed to come to the fore against these teams.

If, on the other hand, you (like me) have a more positive take on this past season, have another look at some of the great wins (I’ve highlighted the best for each inning, though in keeping with my true nature, i haven’t neglected to also highlight the most aggravating losses).

A tip of the cap to Jason Beck & Co. for reportage and writing that helped bring the season back to life for me. A tip of the cap to Kevin in Dallas for his considerable efforts in bringing the appearance and functionality of this blog into the second decade of the 21st century at long last. Further tips of the cap to both Coleman and Kevin for keeping the lights on at DTW for so long in the absence of that remarkable one-man Detroit Guy show who got this whole thing rolling.

Over and out.

RESEARCH MADE POSSIBLE BY: MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL and BASEBALL REFERENCE. PHOTO CREDIT: AUSMUS: Elizabeth Conley/Detroit News

Tigers D


	

2014: The 9th Inning (11-7)

All’s well that ends well.

So the Detroit Tigers are now:

SP Verlander
SP Scherzer
SP Lobstein
SP Porcello
SP Price
RP Nathan
RP Alburquerque
RP Chamberlain
RP Coke
RP Hardy
RP Johnson
RP Reed
RP Ray
RP McCoy
RP Farmer
RP Ryan
C Avila
C Holaday
C McCann
1B-DH Cabrera
2B Kinsler
SS-2B Romine
SS Suarez
3B Castellanos
IF-OF Kelly
IF Perez
RF Hunter
OF Carrera
LF-CF Davis
LF-RF J. Martinez
RF Moya
OF Collins
DH-1B V. Martinez


scrapL145

Game 145: Vargas v. Scherzer. TIGERS 4, Royals 2. Never behind, up 3.
NICE PLAYS: AVILA-ROMINE, P Vargas-SS Escobar, HUNTER, KINSLER-ROMINE, Escobar, NATHAN-KINSLER
MISPLAYS: 1B Hosmer, 3B Moustakas, CASTELLANOS, 2B Infante, CF DAVIS, Escobar
BASERUNNING NEWS: Long ball was how Detroit scored their runs, and aside from a steal by CARRERA, small ball wasn’t working. ROMINE put down a bad sac bunt, and DAVIS was picked off 1B. Defense against KC baserunners was the story off the day, with AVILA-ROMINE combining on a superb CS of Aoki, and a crucial pickoff of Dyson at 2B by NATHAN.
THE BIG HIT: Runner on 1st, 1 out, Tigers up 1-0 in the 2nd, DAVIS 2-run HR off Vargas.
THE BIG OUT: Runners on 1st and 2nd, 1 out, Tigers up 4-2 in the 9th, Dyson is picked off of 2B by NATHAN-KINSLER.
GOOD HITTING: Infante
BAD HITTING: Perez
GOOD PITCHING: SCHERZER, Crow
BAD PITCHING:
OBVIOUSLY: KC tried to chip away but got started too late.
AND, BUT, ALSO: The key to SCHERZER’s win was not yielding a single XBH and getting out of two jams nearly untouched. KC was 1-10 RISP.

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Game 146: Shields v. Porcello. Royals 3, TIGERS 0. Behind from the 4th on.
NICE PLAYS: P Shields, Shields-1B Hosmer, KINSLER-AVILA, 3B Moustakas-1B Hosmer, 1B V. MARTINEZ, KINSLER-V. MARTINEZ, SS Escobar, ALBURQUERQUE-CASTELLANOS
MISPLAYS: AVILA, LF J. MARTINEZ, 2B Infante
BASERUNNING NEWS: Detroit baserunning can be summed up as KINSLER – lead far too generous – getting picked off 1B by Shields in the 1st inning (and taking the tag in a sensitive area). Called safe but ruled out on the appeal from Ned Yost. For KC, Hosmer was brilliant, beating a throw from CASTELLANOS with a headfirst slide for an IF single, and later putting down a brilliant bunt to load the bases against ALBURQUERQUE. Cain’s extra effort to earn a triple paid off with a late insurance run.
THE BIG HIT: Men on 1st and 2nd, 1 out, 0-0 in the 4th, Perez RBI single off PORCELLO.
THE BIG OUTS: Men on 1st and 2nd, 1 out, Tigers down 2-0 in the 7th, Shields retires V. MARTINEZ (flyball to deep CF) and J. MARTINEZ (K).
GOOD HITTING: Cain
BAD HITTING:
GOOD PITCHING: Shields, PORCELLO, Davis, ALBURQUERQUE
BAD PITCHING:
OBVIOUSLY: A virtually complete silencing of the bats by Big Game James.
AND, BUT, ALSO: Tough loss for PORCELLO, who pitched well. Again no XBH allowed by the Detroit starter. Rain came down hard in the 4th and 5th innings, and this is when the game got away from the Tigers, but not because of sloppy play. Superb defensive efforts on both sides. A perfectly positioned KINSLER throwing out Escobar at the plate in the 2nd (close – Tigers might have gotten the benefit of the doubt there), Moustakas (throw) to Hosmer (tag) to nab HUNTER at 1B in pouring rain in the 4th, and ALBURQUERQUE-CASTELLANOS combining on a lineout double play in the 8th (bases loaded!) really stand out.

scrap146

Game 147: Carrasco v. Price. TIGERS 7, Indians 2. Down 1, up 6.
NICE PLAYS: SUAREZ, AVILA-KINSLER, 3B Chisenhall -1B Santana (2), AVILA, Chisenhall, RF Raburn
MISPLAYS: Raburn, P Carrasco-1B Santana, SS Ramirez
BASERUNNING NEWS: Beautiful caught stealing on Ramirez courtesy of AVILA-KINSLER. V. MARTINEZ scores from 1B and helps turn the J. MARTINEZ double into a triple. Not to be outdone, fellow burner Giambi scores from 1B later.
THE BIG HIT: Runner on 3rd, 1 out, 1-1 in the 4th, J. MARTINEZ 2-run HR off Carrasco.
THE BIG OUT: Runners on 2nd and 3rd, 2 out, 0-0 in the 3rd, PRICE retires Bourn (groundout SS).
GOOD HITTING: J. MARTINEZ
BAD HITTING:
GOOD PITCHING: PRICE
BAD PITCHING: Lee
OBVIOUSLY: Strong pitching and a nice burst in the 7th make this a comfortable win.
AND, BUT, ALSO: But not too comfortable, even though Cleveland managed only 1 RISP against PRICE. The Indians seemed poised to stay in the game when Lee struck out CABRERA in the 7th, but thereafter it unraveled for them.

scrap147

Game 148: Salazar v. Lobstein. TIGERS 5, Indians 4. Down 2, up 1.
NICE PLAYS: LOBSTEIN-CABRERA, CABRERA-ROMINE, CABRERA-LOBSTEIN, HUNTER (2), KINSLER-CABRERA, ROMINE-KINSLER-CABRERA, NATHAN-1B KELLY
MISPLAYS: RF Raburn (2)
BASERUNNING NEWS: KINLER falls asleep at 1B again and is picked off. It might have looked dumb considering the situation (Tigers down by 1) when CASTELLANOS held at 2B on what turned out to be a ROMINE single to LF, but it was really a smart and cautious read (especially with Brantley in LF). ROMINE failed at a sac bunt (isn’t that what we pay him for?). DAVIS was awesome challenging Brantley to tag and advance to 2B.  
THE BIG HIT: Man on 2nd, 2 out, Tigers down 4-3 in the 8th, AVILA 2-run HR off Shaw.
THE BIG OUTS: Men on 2nd and 3rd, 1 out, Tigers down 4-3 in the 5th, Salazar retires KINSLER (lineout SS) and HUNTER (flyout RF).
GOOD HITTING: AVILA, Aviles
BAD HITTING: Chisenhall
GOOD PITCHING: Salazar, TIGERS BULLPEN (4 scoreless), Atchison
BAD PITCHING: Shaw
OBVIOUSLY: Back and forth, the bats come though, the bullpen holds.
AND, BUT, ALSO: Your heroes: Team defense (HUNTER made a retrospectively game-saving catch in the 8th), the Detroit bullpen, and that catcher who can sure run into one when it’s needed. An challenge by AUSMUS that kept Shuck off the bases in the 8th was pretty big, too. 

scrap148

Game 149: Bauer v. Verlander. TIGERS 6, Indians 4. Down 2, up 3.
NICE PLAYS: 1B Santana (2), CF Bourn, CF DAVIS (2), 3B Chisenhall-Santana (2), SS ROMINE, SS SUAREZ, 3B KELLY-KINSLER-1B V. MARTINEZ
MISPLAYS: ROMINE, AVILA, CASTELLANOS, Santana, C Perez, P Lee
BASERUNNING NEWS: An exciting 7th, DAVIS beating out a groundball and stealing 2B, and then the great bunt for a hit by HUNTER (ingenious, not only bunting after a home run, but after the home run that gave the Tigers the lead). CABRERA on his way around the bases (comedy included) in the 6th is required watching for any fan (hint: not talking about a home run). This is why people pay to watch baseball. AVILA (among other troubles) got whacked in the face in the course of being picked of 1B (but it was Santana’s wrist/forearm, not ball in glove as it had first appeared). 
THE BIG HIT: Runner on 2nd, none out, Tigers down 3-2 in the 7th, KINSLER 2-run HR off Shaw.
THE BIG OUTS: Runners on 1st and 2nd, none out, Tigers up 6-4 in the 9th, NATHAN retires Gomes on a 5-4-3 DP.
GOOD HITTING: J. MARTINEZ, Brantley, KINSLER
BAD HITTING: V. MARTINEZ, Chisenhall
GOOD PITCHING: REED, Crockett, Atchison
BAD PITCHING: Shaw, Lee (part of his awful day was pitching behind SUAREZ, who was squared to bunt), HARDY (concentrated awful)
OBVIOUSLY: More late-inning offensive goodness saves the day. Plus, Cleveland kept shooting themselves in the foot.
AND, BUT, ALSO: This game was just TOO MUCH going on (which is maybe why it lasted almost four hours). The J. MARTINEZ HR off Shaw was Dead Central. VERLANDER was Houdini in the 4th inning (and pulling him in the 6th was smart, even if HARDY made it look dumb). AUSMUS challenged and won when a KINSLER “foul tip” was shown to be a HBP (hit him right on the batting gloves). NATHAN was bailed out of a typical 9th inning with the help of a DP CASTELLANOS would never have turned. Kudos to AUSMUS for the KELLY substitution.

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Game 150: Scherzer v. Swarzak. Tigers 8, TWINS 6. Never behind, up 6.
NICE PLAYS: SS Santana-2B Dozier-1B Mauer, Dozier-Santana-Mauer, RF Arcia, LF Parmelee-C Suzuki, CF DAVIS, HOLADAY-KINSLER, P Achter-Mauer
MISPLAYS: CF Schafer, LF Parmelee (3)
BASERUNNING NEWS: V. MARTINEZ is hereby stripped of bogus speed credentials by getting thrown out on a sac fly by LF Parmelee. HUNTER was brilliant going 1st to 3rd on an IF single to 2B. (The run would have been huge in the 7th, but CASTELLANOS struck out.)
THE BIG HIT: None on, none out, 6-6 in the 9th, HUNTER HR off Fien.
THE BIG OUT: Men on 1st and 2nd, 2 out, 6-6 in the 8th, RYAN retires Nunez on a 6-4-3 DP.
GOOD HITTING: J. MARTINEZ, ROMINE, Mauer, Santana
BAD HITTING: KINSLER, DAVIS
GOOD PITCHING: RYAN, SORIA
BAD PITCHING: Swarzak, Fien, CHAMBERLAIN, COKE
OBVIOUSLY: The one came way too close to being a bullpen blow. Late power!
AND, BUT, ALSO: Sweet! HUNTER and CABRERA go back to back (on 3 pitches between them) in the 9th to win it so dramatically. Ah, but ay SCHERZER and ay BULLPEN, because it had no business being that close. Tremendous defensive plays in this one, in particular the 3 double plays turned by the Twins. DAVIS and KINSLER failed to reach base even once in 9 PA. Is this Twins outfield crap or what?

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“I hate baseball.”

Game 151: Porcello v. Nolasco. TWINS 4, Tigers 3. Up 1, down 2. Walk-off loss.
NICE PLAYS: CF Santana-2B Dozier, PORCELLO, 3B KELLY-KINSLER-CABRERA, ROMINE-KINSLER, HOLADAY-KINSLER, LF J. MARTINEZ
MISPLAYS: CF DAVIS, CF CARRERA
BASERUNNING NEWS: Setting the tone early with aggressive running is good, even when it doesn’t work out, as with KINSLER getting greedy for 2B in the 1st. HOLADAY-KINSLER cutting down Schafer at 2B was textbook, picture perfect. HUNTER was brilliant in the 9th, taking advantage of the little pop fly into no man’s land and making it a double.
THE BIG HIT: Runners on 1st and 3rd, 2 out, Tigers down 2-0 in the 9th, J. MARTINEZ 3-run HR off Perkins.
THE BIG OUT: Runners on 1st and 3rd, 1 out, Tigers down 2-0 in the 9th, Perkins retires V. MARTINEZ (popout 2B).
GOOD HITTING: J. MARTINEZ, Vargas, Suzuki
BAD HITTING: KELLY
GOOD PITCHING: Nolasco, PORCELLO
BAD PITCHING: NATHAN, Perkins
OBVIOUSLY: With an 11th-hour comeback win at hand, NATHAN “wins” the closer save-blowing contest.
AND, BUT, ALSO: Tough loss. CARRERA gambled on a diving catch and lost, and ROMINE couldn’t quite make a miracle play, and thus NATHAN gets yet another “defensive asterisk.” As with all close games lost, however, “what might have been” is in multiple places.

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Game 152: Price v. Gibson. TWINS 8, Tigers 4. Up 2, down 4.
NICE PLAYS: P Gibson, CASTELLANOS, 2B Dozier, SS Nunez, Gibson-1B Mauer, LF J. MARTINEZ
MISPLAYS: Nunez (2), CF DAVIS
BASERUNNING NEWS: Not for the first time, the Twins made monkeys of the Tigers with their hustle (Dozier, Santana) and daring (Hicks, Mauer) on the bases. 3 stolen bases off HOLADAY, 2 of those runners scoring. Hicks got as great of a jump from 1B off a lefty (PRICE) as you’ll ever see. J. MARTINEZ was fantastic going 1st to 3rd to set up Detroit’s last gasp in the 8th. What should have been a run-scoring 7th inning, maybe even a big inning, was derailed by a baserunning clown show, take your pick of blaming CABRERA or HUNTER for that.
THE BIG HIT: Man on 2nd, 2 out, 4-4 in the 6th, Dozier RBI triple off ALBURQUERQUE.
THE BIG OUTS: Men on 2nd and 3rd, 1 out, Tigers down 6-4 in the 7th, Pressly gets V. MARTINEZ to ground out to 1B and CARRERA is throw out at home for a double play.
GOOD HITTING: CABRERA, Santana, Mauer
BAD HITTING:
GOOD PITCHING:
BAD PITCHING: PRICE
OBVIOUSLY: The pitching all fell apart in the 6th, and the subsequent threats failed miserably.
AND, BUT, ALSO: PRICE was as hittable as he gets from the start, and so the offense had its work cut out for it. DAVIS and KINSLER failed to reach base even once in 9 PA. Have I said this before? But hits weren’t the problem, just runs.

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Game 153: Verlander v. Vargas, Tigers 10, ROYALS 1. Never behind, up 10.
NICE PLAYS: SUAREZ-KINSLER-CABRERA, CASTELLANOS, CABRERA, CASTELLANOS-KINSLER-CABRERA, 2B Infante-1B Hosmer
MISPLAYS: LF Gordon, 2B Infante
BASERUNNING NEWS: It was nice to see CABRERA beat Perez at the plate with a great slide (and follow-up). A nice sequence was seeing McCANN steal 2B nicely (following his first MLB hit) and then score on the KINSLER double. It was odd to see Perez hold at 3B on a 2nd inning sac fly opportunity. Either it was the score (Royals down 4) or they really respect HUNTER’s arm (no disrespect, but I’m saying Perez could have scored).
THE BIG HIT: Runner on 2nd, 1 out, 0-0 in the 1st, CABRERA RBI double off Vargas,
THE BIG OUTS: Runners on 2nd and 3rd, 1 out, Tigers up 4-0 in the 2nd, VERLANDER retires Butler (flyout RF) and Infante (groundout 3B).
GOOD HITTING: KINSLER, J. MARTINEZ
BAD HITTING:
GOOD PITCHING: VERLANDER
BAD PITCHING: Vargas, C. Coleman
OBVIOUSLY: A rompin’, stompin’ blowout of Our Rival (after two debilitating losses and with first place directly at stake!).
AND, BUT, ALSO: The day off must have helped. Detroit was pounding Vargas right away, but he only gave up half of the 19 Tigers hits. VERLANDER was certainly up for the “pressure” of a huge lead. The KC crowd remained vocal throughout the game. Must be nice.

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“It’s great to be alive and to be a Tigers fan.

Game 154: Scherzer v. Shields. Tigers 3, ROYALS 2. Never behind, up 2.
NICE PLAYS: 2B Infante-1B Hosmer, SCHERZER-CABRERA, 3B Moustakas-Hosmer (3), KINSLER, HUNTER, CF Dyson
MISPLAYS: CABRERA, KINSLER-SUAREZ, C Perez, McCANN
BASERUNNING NEWS: Baserunning? It was all about the baserunning (and related defense). Wild pitches set up 2 Detroit runs and 1 for Kansas City. Another Royals run can be chalked up to speed and alertness by Dyson, scampering home from 2B on a poorly played grounder up the middle. But the biggest story was the run that didn’t score when S. Perez was called out by H. Perez (in the dugout) for failing to tag at 3rd (on a line-drive out to KINSLER) before running home on the frightful miscue by SUAREZ at 2nd. Inning over on what was undoubtedly the most crucial replay challenge of the season to date. Except that technically, it wasn’t a replay challenge at all. But they got it right, much to the Royals’ chagrin.
THE BIG HIT: Men on 2nd and 3rd, 2 out, 1-1 in the 7th, COLLINS RBI single off Shields.
THE BIG OUT: Men on 2nd and 3rd, 2 out, Tigers up 3-2 in the 9th, NATHAN retires Ibanez (groundout 1B).
GOOD HITTING: Escobar
BAD HITTING: Willingham, Infante
GOOD PITCHING: SCHERZER, Shields, Herrera
BAD PITCHING:
OBVIOUSLY: This was one gutsy win. Feels like a comeback but wasn’t. Like maybe the Royals should have won.
AND, BUT, ALSO: Ace vs. Ace for 6 innings, no doubt. The Boys of September (PEREZ from the bench, COLLINS off the bench) were worth their weight in gold. AUSMUS pinch-hitting COLLINS for HOLADAY, and COLLINS delivering (against Big Game James), was obviously huge. Imagine the Tigers with a corner infield combo like Moustakas-Hosmer. Golly.

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Game 155: Porcello v. Guthrie. ROYALS 5, Tigers 2. Never ahead, down 3.
NICE PLAYS: HOLADAY-KINSLER, SS ROMINE, LF Gordon (2), SS Escobar-2B Infante, P Guthrie, 3B Moustakas-Infante-1B Hosmer, Hosmer, SUAREZ, KINSLER, CASTELLANOS
MISPLAYS: Moustakas, 1B V. MARTINEZ, Escobar, HOLADAY, LF J. MARTINEZ
BASERUNNING NEWS: Aside from a nice CS of Escobar early from HOLADAY-KINSLER, Kansas City had the edge and got their legs into all of their runs. All Detroit had going on was a fine sequence from J. MARTINEZ, beating out an Escobar throw, going 1st to 3rd, and then cashing in alertly to score on a bizarre error from Moustakas (taking a throw from the outfield).
THE BIG HIT: Men on 1st and 2nd, 1 out, 2-2 in the 4th, Aoki 2-run triple off PORCELLO.
THE BIG OUT: Man on 3rd, 1 out, Tigers down 2-1 in the 3rd, PORCELLO retires Gordon (K) and Perez (popout 2B).
GOOD HITTING: Aoki
BAD HITTING: DAVIS
GOOD PITCHING: Herrera, Davis, Holland
BAD PITCHING: PORCELLO
OBVIOUSLY: Detroit let this one get away too easily.
AND, BUT, ALSO: Both teams were withstanding their starters getting slapped around for the first three innings. Where it turned bad for good was really the Aoki triple that a more nimble first baseman than V. MARTINEZ (and even CABRERA, perhaps) might have prevented (it certainly wasn’t scorched). After that… well, climbing back into a game against the KC bullpen is not recommended (Tigers go 1 for 12, and were 0-8 RISP for the game). But hey, the Detroit bullpen kept it close. Kind of.

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Game 156: Bassitt v. Lobstein. White Sox 2, TIGERS 0. Behind from the 2nd on.
NICE PLAYS: HUNTER, ROMINE, C Flowers-2B Sanchez, SS Ramirez-Sanchez-1B Abreu, RF Garcia, Sanchez-Abreu (2), CASTELLANOS, AVILA-KINSLER, 3B Semien, Sanchez, Flowers-Abreu, AVILA-ROMINE
MISPLAYS: Ramirez (2), CABRERA
BASERUNNING NEWS: AVILA back = opponent’s running (and even bunting) game shut down! Not that Detroit was doing anything themselves. The SORIA pickoff of Danks was a great move by him and a bit of hack job (slow tag) by CABRERA (which he got away with, apparently, because the hand the diving Danks put back on must have on CABRERA’s blocking shoe rather than the bag itself).
THE BIG HIT: Runner on 2nd, 2 out, 0-0 in the 2nd, Flowers 2-run HR off LOBSTEIN.
THE BIG OUTS: Runners on 1st and 2nd, 1 out, Tigers down 2-0 in the 4th, Bassitt retires AVILA (K) and ROMINE (groundout 2B).
GOOD HITTING: Flowers
BAD HITTING: J. MARTINEZ
GOOD PITCHING: Bassitt, LOBSTEIN, Petricka
BAD PITCHING:
OBVIOUSLY: Yes, you could call it an offensive failure. Let’s waste some fine pitching from our rookie starter and even the bullpen, shall we?
AND, BUT, ALSO: OK, so Detroit is now 0-14 RISP over its last two. Um. The defensively spectacular AVILA was mystified by Chicago rookie starter Bassitt, striking out 3 times. For all that, it wasn’t a flat game, but a good game. Lots of good stuff, particularly on defense, but a bit more of it accrued on the Chicago side. Poor LOBSTEIN was done in by one grooved pitch to Flowers.

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Game 157: Carroll v. Price. TIGERS 4, White Sox 3. Never behind, up 3. Walk-off win.
NICE PLAYS: CF DAVIS (2), LF Viciedo, LF J. MARTINEZ (2)
MISPLAYS: 1B Konerko, 3B Semien, CASTELLANOS, RF Garcia
BASERUNNING NEWS: DAVIS was brilliant in the 5th (a do-it-yourself run from a single) and again in the 7th (pushing the envelope twice and getting back to base, surviving to score again), and ROMINE came in late and did plenty himself (nice slide nets him a challenged/upheld steal of 2B). I don’t know what “ground rule” was invoked on the HUNTER double to LF, but it cost the Tigers another big leg run from KINSLER that would have spared us more drama later.
THE BIG HIT: Men on 1st and 3rd, 2 out, Tigers up 3-2 in the 9th, Semien RBI single off PRICE.
THE BIG OUT: Bases loaded, 2 out, 3-3 in the 9th, NATHAN retires SANCHEZ (flyball to deep CF).
GOOD HITTING: HUNTER
BAD HITTING:
GOOD PITCHING: PRICE, Carroll
BAD PITCHING: Belisario, Petricka
OBVIOUSLY: It didn’t need to be this dramatic, but they pulled it out.
AND, BUT, ALSO: PRICE was great but in too long, but with this bullpen… NATHAN walked one and drew the boos, but a suitable role for him may have been discovered: one-out closer. Detroit’s big guns had a chance to put this one in their pocket in the 7th and failed. A very strong Tigers outfield saved the day just as much as the game-winning knock from CABRERA did.

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Game 158: Verlander v. Sale. TIGERS 6, White Sox 1. Down 1, up 5.
NICE PLAYS: HUNTER, ROMINE-KINSLER, 2B Semien-SS Ramirez-1B Abreu, CABRERA-HOLADAY, CF Eaton, CABRERA
MISPLAYS: C Phegley, SS Ramirez, HOLADAY
BASERUNNING NEWS: DAVIS again set the base paths on fire en route to scoring two runs. A nice sac bunt by HOLADAY set up a beautiful squeeze bunt from ROMINE. Detroit simply demoralized Chicago with the small ball. Beautiful. Credit to Viciedo for some great hustle on a triple, taking what the Tigers outfield is all too often willing to give.
THE BIG HIT: Runner on 1st, 1 out, 1-1 in the 7th, KINSLER RBI double off Guerra scores DAVIS,
THE BIG OUT: Runners on 1st and 3rd, 1 out, 0-0 in the 5th, Eaton grounds to 1B off VERLANDER and CABRERA-HOLADAY combine to retire Danks at home.
GOOD HITTING: KINSLER, DAVIS
BAD HITTING: Garcia, CABRERA (golden sombrero!)
GOOD PITCHING: VERLANDER, Sale
BAD PITCHING: Lindstrom, Guerra
OBVIOUSLY: A tense one that got easier once Sale had left the game.
AND, BUT, ALSO: Sale (supposedly) goes cuckoo and drills V. MARTINEZ for (supposedly) having a spy with binoculars tipping Sale’s pitches. KINSLER later makes the famous “binoculars face” at 2B after hitting a double. Whatever the real reason was for the Sale-MARTINEZ incident that cleared benches and bullpens, Sale did himself and his team no favors with that little episode, which took him and his team right out of the game from that point forward. DAVIS and KINSLER combined to reach base 7 times in 9 PA. VERLANDER was fantastic and all fired up when he recorded his 24th and final out.

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Game 159: May v. Scherzer. TIGERS 4, Twins 2. Never behind, up 3.
NICE PLAYS: CABRERA, 3B Escobar, KINSLER-CABRERA, CF DAVIS (2), SUAREZ, CASTELLANOS, P Pressly-Escobar, NATHAN
MISPLAYS: LF J. MARTINEZ, Escobar
BASERUNNING NEWS: DAVIS put down an unplayable bunt and stole 2nd. He got a bit cocky later (who can blame him, after his last few games) trying to steal 3rd and was an easy out. KINSLER just narrowly averted getting picked off 1B for the 100th time this season.
THE BIG HIT: Men on 1st and 3rd, 2 out, Tigers up 3-0 in the 5th, Mauer 2-run double off SCHERZER.
THE BIG OUT: Men on 1st and 2nd, 2 out, Tigers up 3-2 in the 5th, SCHERZER retires Arcia (flyout RF).
GOOD HITTING: V. MARTINEZ, Mauer
BAD HITTING:
GOOD PITCHING: SCHERZER, May, SORIA
BAD PITCHING:
OBVIOUSLY: Close but held at arm’s length by Tigers power and bullpen.
AND, BUT, ALSO: Detroit was just on it this evening; very nice, sharp game all around. They look playoff-ready.

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Game 160: Swarzak v. Porcello. Twins 11, TIGERS 4. Never ahead, down 7.
NICE PLAYS: KINSLER-CABRERA (2), 3B Escobar-2B Dozier-1B Mauer, CABRERA-RYAN, Dozier-Mauer, RF Arcia (2), CABRERA-HARDY, CABRERA, HUNTER-CABRERA, Mauer-P Thompson
MISPLAYS: CASTELLANOS-CABRERA, CASTELLANOS, HUNTER, SANCHEZ
BASERUNNING NEWS:
THE BIG HIT: Runner on 1B, 1 out, Tigers down 1-0 in the 1st, Arcia 2-run HR off PORCELLO.
THE BIG OUTS: Runners on 1st and 2nd, 1 out, Tigers down 6-3 in the 5th, Achter retires V. MARTINEZ (flyout to RF, HUNTER to 3B) and J. MARTINEZ (flyout to deep CF).
GOOD HITTING: Dozier, Arcia, CABRERA
BAD HITTING:
GOOD PITCHING: Achter
BAD PITCHING: PORCELLO, RYAN
OBVIOUSLY: Despite the rough start, there was still the possibility of a contest until the 6th inning bullpen collapse.
AND, BUT, ALSO: Yes, there was some real excitement there in the middle, and also some fine defensive plays from both teams. I think Arcia (who had already broken PORCELLO’s back with a HR) just broke the Tigers’ back with his 5th inning catch in the RF corner on V. MARTINEZ (and he made a real circus catch later, this guy who we’d seen earlier in the season looking lost in RF). Not a proud day for Tigers pitching.

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Game 161: Nolasco v. Lobstein. Twins 12, TIGERS 3. Up 1, down 10.
NICE PLAYS: KINSLER, CF Hicks, ROMINE, KINSLER-CABRERA, CF CARRERA-CASTELLANOS, 2B Dozier-1B Mauer, ROMINE-KINSLER, Dozier-SS Santana, SS SUAREZ-2B PEREZ-1B KELLY
MISPLAYS: C Pinto, CASTELLANOS, CABRERA-LOBSTEIN
BASERUNNING NEWS: It seemed like Minnesota was running all over the place, but in fact they didn’t take any extra bases at all (with 23 runners!) aside from a stolen base that amounted to nothing. All they did was go 9-18 RISP. Hmmph.
THE BIG HIT: Bases loaded, 2 out, Tigers down 2-1 in the 5th, Fryer 2-run single off LOBSTEIN.
THE BIG OUT: Men on 2nd and 3rd, 2 out, Tigers up 1-0 in the 2nd, Nolasco retires DAVIS (groundout SS).
GOOD HITTING: Escobar, Herrmann
BAD HITTING:
GOOD PITCHING: Nolasco
BAD PITCHING: LOBSTEIN, COKE, HARDY, RAY
OBVIOUSLY: Close through 4 innings, this one blew up in our faces, and kept blowing up.
AND, BUT, ALSO: The pitching, my God, the pitching. The horror, the horror. Meanwhile, Nolasco owns Detroit all of a sudden. A couple poor infield plays set the stage for LOBSTEIN’s demise, while the Twins again pulled off some buzzkill plays. The Tigers didn’t look flat or disheartened at any point, and the home crowd remained into it, but the pitching just wasn’t there on a day that the offense wasn’t, either. DAVIS hurt himself in his first PA and came out of the game.

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Game 162: Gibson v. Price. TIGERS 3, Twins 0. Ahead from the 3rd on.
NICE PLAYS: P Gibson-1B Mauer, CF Hicks, Gibson, CF CARRERA, SS Santana, Hicks-Santana-Mauer
MISPLAYS:  C Pinto
BASERUNNING NEWS: J. MARTINEZ was feeling frisky but wasn’t frisky enough. Going halfway to 2B before stopping to reconsider was the mistake that took away his single, big mistake in a close game. ROMINE is nearly as exciting on the bases as DAVIS, as he races home to beat the throw and score a big run.
THE BIG HIT: None on, 2 out, 0-0 in the 3rd, KINSLER HR off Gibson.
THE BIG OUTS: Runners on 1st and 2nd, 1 out, Tigers up 1-0 in the 4th, PRICE retires Arcia (K) and Escobar (groundball to and force out at 2B).
GOOD HITTING: KINSLER
BAD HITTING:
GOOD PITCHING: PRICE, Gibson
BAD PITCHING:
OBVIOUSLY: Fair to call this one a pitcher’s duel. The Tigers scratched a couple runs in late to help us breathe.
AND, BUT, ALSO: PRICE made a real statement in a game the Tigers had to win (and the bullpen held). It was a masterpiece. He struck out 8, but it seemed like 16. Gibson was pretty good, too. The perfect ending to a tight, nerve-wracking game was getting ROMINE and CARRERA on base and scoring them both for some breathing room in the 8th, and then a no-nonsense 9th from NATHAN. KINSLER was an offense unto himself on a day when the 3-4-5 guys went 1-10. After the game, the Tigers took to the field to celebrate their 4th consecutive division title.

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DEFENSIVE SCORECARD (in terms of outstanding plays one way or the other, X = good, O = not)

C AVILA XXOXXOXX +4
SS ROMINE XXXXXOXXXXXX +10
RF HUNTER XXXXXXXO +6
2B KINSLER XXXXXXXXXXXOXXXXXXXXXX +20
P NATHAN XXX +3
3B CASTELLANOS OXOXXXXOXOOXO +1
CF DAVIS OXXXOOXXXX +4
1B V. MARTINEZ XXXO +2
P ALBURQUERQUE X +1
LF J. MARTINEZ OXOXXO zero
SS SUAREZ XXXOXXX +5
P LOBSTEIN XXO +1
1B CABRERA XXXXXXXXOOXXXXXXXXXXOXO +15
1B KELLY XX +2
3B KELLY X +1
C HOLADAY XXOXO +1
CF CARRERA OXX +1
P SCHERZER X +1
C McCANN O -1
P RYAN X +1
P HARDY X +1
P SANCHEZ O -1
2B PEREZ X +1

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SUMMING UP THE SEASON DEFENSIVELY (nice plays – misplays)

C AVILA 55 38 *** PLUS 17 Brilliant
C HOLADAY 19 26 *** MINUS 7 Minor league
C V. MARTINEZ 1 5 *** MINUS 4 Never again
C McCANN 0 1 *** MINUS 1

1B V. MARTINEZ 36 12 *** PLUS 24 Comes with a cost
1B CABRERA 178 30 *** PLUS 148 Quite good
1B KELLY 23 2 *** PLUS 21
1B WORTH 0 1 *** MINUS 1
2B KINSLER 167 33 *** PLUS 134 Major winning factor, can’t be overstated
2B ROMINE 4 0 *** PLUS 4
2B PEREZ 1 0 *** PLUS 1
SS ROMINE 75 18 *** PLUS 57 Solid but rarely spectacular
SS GONZALEZ 3 6 *** MINUS 3
SS WORTH 14 3 *** PLUS 11
SS SUAREZ 95 32 *** PLUS 63 Flash offset by the gaffes
3B CASTELLANOS 92 51 *** PLUS 39 Unacceptable
3B KELLY 9 2 *** PLUS 7
3B CABRERA 4 1 *** PLUS 3

LF DAVIS 23 15 *** PLUS 8 Erratic, part-time brilliance
LF J. MARTINEZ 23 21 *** PLUS 2 A liability
LF KELLY 4 0 *** PLUS 4
LF COLLINS 2 0 *** PLUS 2
CF DAVIS 24 10 *** PLUS 14 Talent shines through better here
CF CARRERA 4 7 *** MINUS 3 A bust
CF KELLY 2 1 *** PLUS 1
CF JACKSON 16 16 *** ZERO Not a playmaker
RF HUNTER 45 21 *** PLUS 24 Better than you thought
RF KELLY 1 1 *** ZERO
RF COLLINS 1 0 *** PLUS 1
RF J. MARTINEZ 4 4 *** ZERO Nondescript

P VERLANDER 4 4 Needs practice
P ALBURQUERQUE 2 0
P SCHERZER 8 2
P CHAMBERLAIN 6 0
P KROL 2 2
P PORCELLO 12 4
P NATHAN 10 1 Gold Glove
P SMYLY 8 2 Gold Glove (“posthumously”)
P RAY 3 1
P SANCHEZ 8 4
P WORTH 1 0
P KNEBEL 1 0
P REED 2 0
P HARDY 6 2
P COKE 2 2
P McCOY 0 1
P SMITH 1 0
P JOHNSON 2 0
P PRICE 1 0
P LOBSTEIN 2 1
P RYAN 1 0

Innings played per misplay

C AVILA 26.8
C HOLADAY 15.2

1B-2B-3B-LF-CF-RF KELLY 68.3 Elite defensive player

2B KINSLER 42.8
SS ROMINE 36.2
1B CABRERA 36.1
1B V. MARTINEZ 23.7
3B CASTELLANOS 24.1
SS SUAREZ 19.4

RF J. MARTINEZ 60.5
CF JACKSON 54.3
RF HUNTER 53.0
LF DAVIS 45.6
CF DAVIS 37.4
LF J. MARTINEZ 32.8


 

GAME 145: Max Scherzer picks up his 16th win, Joe Nathan his 30th save, and J.D. Martinez his 20th HR. *** Andrew Romine on the brilliant Nathan pickoff of Jarrod Dyson: “This is exciting. I got goose bumps when we picked him off. I was pumped.” *** Torii Hunter was back in the lineup after the outfield collision with Don Kelly, sore neck but nothing worse. *** Joakim Soria will come off the DL for tomorrow’s game. Jim Johnson has been an absolute bust as any kind of stopgap, even considering Soria’s own underwhelming results.
GAME 146: The most grueling stretch of the season comes to an end. 24 games in 23 days, 14-10 record. *** Brad Ausmus: “They’re a pretty good team, and James Shields is a pretty good pitcher. Are we disappointed? You’re disappointed every time you lose. We didn’t give this game away. They beat us. They pitched better and they hit better. That happens. The big picture is we won two out of three, we gained a game since they were here. We’ve still got plenty of time.” *** Phil Coke left the game with a lower back injury after attempting to field a bunt. *** Romine makes his 4th consecutive start at SS, though Eugenio Suarez is healthy and able to play. “Glove consistency” is the word.
GAME 147: Detroit climbs back in to first place with the win. *** J.D. Martinez hits his 6th HR vs, the Indians this season: “That’s one thing I learned from watching great hitters hit. A lot of hitters, they’re ready to hit from pitch one. When I’m at my best, I’m ready to hit from pitch one. When I go up there and I’m passive, I’m not as successful. When I fall behind, my swing changes. I’m still trying to swing hard with two strikes, but I’m trying to get more contact with it. If I’m ready to hit early, if I get fooled, then whatever. I’ve still got two more strikes.” *** The Tigers announce their Minor League Players of the Year as OF Steven Moya and P Austin Kubitza.

Miguel Cabrera

GAME 148: Ausmus on Avila and the game-winning HR: “I know he’s hitting about .220, but he has the ability to hit a home run. Home runs can be game changers, as we saw tonight.” On Kyle Lobstein: “He was fine. He wasn’t as much down in the zone as he had been in his previous starts.” Detroit has won all 4 games Lobstein has started. *** Hunter: “I don’t care about the Royals, really. I only care about what the Tigers are doing right now. Sometimes you keep looking back and you trip over a rock.”
GAME 149: Ausmus on Verlander: “He didn’t have his best stuff today, but he gutted it out. He made pitches when he had to. He mixed up his pitches as much as I’ve seen him.” *** Nathan: “I’m kind of glad we’re done with the Indians for the season. It’s a team that has played us tough all season.” *** Avila comes out of the game late with light-headedness, having taken a foul tip off the mask and also gotten whacked in the face on a pickoff at 1B.
GAME 150: Ausmus: “Blaine [Hardy] has been scuffling a little bit throwing strikes lately. We needed another lefty … We thought Kyle could handle it.” Kyle Ryan: “Unbelievable. I was shaking like a leaf on the mound in the bullpen, and then out on the mound on the field, I was still shaking, just knowing I’m coming into a situation where I need to get two outs. I needed a double play, so I went out there and did what it took.” *** Avila was out of the lineup, situation day to day. *** Anibal Sanchez throws a 25-pitch mound session and feels fine. His return (not to be expected for at least another week) and role remain up in the air. *** Hunter, he of the game-winning HR: “It means something because it’s Septober. Septober is awesome. In Septober we’re trying to win games and keep fighting. You just never give up.”

VM3

GAME 151: Ausmus on the Ezequiel Carrera dive and miss: “We’ve already talked to Zeke about it. He was trying his tail off, which is good, but the smart play there is, if you’re not sure you’re going to catch it, you contain it and keep it at first and second… I’m sure for a split second he thought he could catch the ball. It just didn’t work out.” *** Nathan: “You can’t do much more than locate a fastball when [Hicks] was probably looking slider on the 3-2 pitch and get him to reach out and hit a ground ball, which is what we were looking for to get out of the inning. Unfortunately, he puts it in the perfect spot, so hats off to them — team speed and a couple balls that were inches from going our way.” *** J.D. Martinez on his game-winning HR that turned out not to be: “Everyone was excited. We know what’s going on. We’re all in it. To come through was huge, but [the loss] hurts at the same time. Right now it’s pointless.”
GAME 152: David Price (3-4, 4.09 with Detroit thus far): “Giving up two leads is not the way you want to go out there and pitch. I definitely didn’t command the ball the way I can. They spoiled some good pitches. They put some good swings on what I thought were some pretty good pitches in the first inning. But that’s just baseball. Sometimes you’ve got to tip your cap.” *** Hunter takes the blame for a Miguel Cabrera baserunning blunder: “I might have [taken] a jump, took a couple quick steps and got Miggy off a little too far and got him in no-man’s land, and he’s not moving too well, so it’s hard for him to get back. You have to make sure you’re safe at home — I didn’t want him to throw the ball and I’m out at home. That would have looked worse. But I accept that, full responsibility. I misled [Cabrera], and that’s my fault.”
GAME 153: Justin Verlander after a shutdown performance that ran his career record vs. the Royals to 19-7: “Guys do recognize the moment. I think that’s what makes this team so special. I think this entire team, especially the veterans, recognize the moment. This is one of those moments when you need to step up, and obviously I wasn’t the only one. We scored 10 runs.” On rookie catcher James McCann (who picked up his first MLB hits): “He did a great job. I can’t say enough about how he did back there. We were on the same page a lot tonight. What an incredible job he did for the first time he’s caught me in a game situation. He just did all the little things right.” *** Eric Hosmer of the Royals: “They came out swinging the bats tonight. We just flat-out got beat. They beat us in all aspects of the game and there’s nothing we can do about this one tonight.” *** Ausmus on what Avila (not officially on the DL) is calling a concussion: “Alex will each day come in and do some type of activity. And until he can go through that activity without any side effects, we probably won’t be able to play him.” *** At age 35, Victor Martinez becomes the third-oldest player in history to post his first 30-homer, 100-RBI season. 

Tampa Bay Rays v Detroit Tigers

GAME 154: Hernan Perez on the play that will live on in legend: “I was at the end of the dugout, so I could see the third baseman and second base. I was looking at the play at second and when I saw that Suarez missed the ball, I saw Perez, he didn’t go back to the base. When that happened, I ran to [first-base coach] Omar Vizquel and told him to appeal at third base.” Max Scherzer (now 17-5 after another brilliant start) on recognizing Perez’s contribution for the dugout: “Oh yeah, whatever he wants. In that situation, he can have dinner, lunch, breakfast, drinks, you name it.” *** Ausmus on pinch-hitting Tyler Collins: “I just think of all the left-handed hitters we have in terms of needing to produce a run, he’s probably the best suited for it.” *** Ausmus on Suarez: “I don’t know that he needed a rest. He wasn’t overworked by any stretch. Sometimes it’s more beneficial for a young player to watch a few games in September and get the pangs to be on the field.”
GAME 155: Rick Porcello: “I was up in the zone the whole day. I really just didn’t make a whole lot of good pitches, to be honest. It was one of those things where I kept battling to get the ball down and just really struggled to do so, and that resulted in a lot of hits… The Aoki at-bat, I think it was one of the better at-bats that I had pitched. I was throwing some pretty good fastballs on the inner half of the plate and he kept fouling them off, fouling them off. He finally turned on one and hit it down the line.” *** Bryan Holaday: “This is a really, really good team, and we came in and we won the series. We did what we had to do.” *** Sanchez throws a simulated game. *** The Tigers conclude the season series with Kansas City with a 13-5 W-L and are a game and a half up on the Royals.
GAME 156: Ausmus on Lobstein’s best start to date in a losing cause: “You never want to waste a good pitching performance, so yeah, you feel like you might have wasted a chance, an opportunity. But there’s nothing we can do about it now.” *** Ian Kinsler: “Miguel [Cabrera] is looking over there [the scoreboard] every other pitch, so he might get me to turn around and check it out. We control what we can do in here, and if we win the rest of the games, we’re in. So that’s all we’re worried about right now.” On facing Chicago rookie Chris Bassitt for the second time: “Throwing the same pitches, just locating the ball better, getting ahead of hitters and did a good job.” *** Sanchez will return from the DL tomorrow, but to the bullpen rather than the starting rotation (for the duration of the season, including any eventual postseason). *** Avila is back in the lineup after a week away.

MS71

GAME 157: Price: “I just want to go out there and pitch well. It’s not me wanting to be the guy. It’s going out there and throwing the ball to my capabilities. For the most part today, I did that … It happened for the most part, then the ninth came.” Ausmus on leaving Price in: “Really, I went out there thinking I was going to leave him in unless he told me he was running out of gas. It didn’t look like he was running out of gas.” *** Cabrera, he of the game-winning RBI single: “Every team wants to be in the playoffs. That’s our first goal. It’s been tough this year, but you don’t give up. You have to go out there and fight. You have to find a way to win games and, hopefully, we can do it tomorrow.” Cabrera joins Hank Greenberg and Magglio Ordonez as the only Tigers ever to have 20+ HR, 100+ RBI, and 50+ doubles in a season.
GAME 158: Verlander quietly picks up his 15th win, and Detroit clinches a playoff berth. *** Alternative explanations for the Chris Sale/Victor Martinez HBP dustup: Sale describing a fan and why he had pointed out to CF during a previous AB (strikeout) as well: “Talking trash, saying I was going to get lit up,” Sale said. “Victor was going to do all these different things to me. I figured I would have some fun with the fans, too.” Victor Martinez: “Now [Sale] did really hit me on purpose,” Martinez said. “But like I said before, I never had any issue with him, any problem with him.” White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers: “I just call the pitches. I don’t throw them. We went heater in. It hit him. He didn’t like it. Sale didn’t like him looking at him. Other than that, I don’t know much.” And yet Sale had made a binocular-imitating gesture from the dugout and said “your boy out there” to Martinez after the HBP. Who knows.
GAME 159: Scherzer, who left the mound after 6 innings to a standing ovation: “Obviously you want to pitch a little bit longer, but anytime you can get a win in this situation, this stage of the game, it means the world to everybody in this clubhouse, because everybody’s counting on everybody to do their job. When you can say, ‘I did my job tonight,’ it’s very gratifying.” Max finishes the season with 252 strikeouts, 6th most in Tigers history. “I feel like I’m executing pitches at a higher level than I was last year,” Scherzer said. “Last year I was very consistent, and that’s something that’s so hard to strive for. I had a few more ups and downs this year, but overall, I still did a heckuva job this year — in some ways, numberwise, pitched pretty much the same.”

Tigers D

GAME 160: Win #16 eludes Porcello for the 7th start in a row. Ausmus on Porcello crossing the 200 IP mark: “I don’t see a huge degradation in his stuff. His ball’s still sinking. His breaking ball’s still good. It’s just a matter of location. Like I said, I’m not blind to the fact that it could be related to innings, but we’re at a point in the season where we can’t not start Rick Porcello today. That’s kind of where we’re at.” *** Sanchez on his scoreless inning of relief: “Today was the first test for my arm. Both pitch, location, everything is fine.” *** Even as Cabrera’s HR binge has subsided, he’s slugging .607 during this period.
GAME 161: Ausmus: “It’s frustrating, for sure,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “Today was almost a carbon copy of yesterday. A couple of defensive mistakes, we didn’t pitch well and you’re in such a deep hole that it’s tough to climb out of. I wasn’t concerned at all going into the game today that something like that would happen again. I’m a little surprised by it, but again, we can’t do anything about it. We’ve got a game tomorrow that we’ve gotta win — and I mean, we’ve *gotta* win.” *** Lobstein: “I felt like I had the same stuff, same pitches. I kept making good pitches in the fifth inning, too. Unfortunately, they got some hits.” Ausmus on Lobstein: “He looked good up until that point, and then it all came unglued. Everything they hit seemed to find a place to land, and they kept pushing runners across the plate. It was just one of those nights for him. First four innings, he was clean. I don’t know what — I couldn’t tell you exactly what happened.” *** Rajai Davis leaves the game with a sprain of the pubic symphisis and will be day to day. Ausmus: “He’s actually moving pretty well. He said he actually feels pretty good. But that’s obviously not running. He’s just walking around the clubhouse.”
GAME 162: Still assured of nothing but *some* kind of playoff berth when the game began, Detroit takes first place in the AL Central with the win. *** Brian Dozier of the Twins on Price: “That’s the best I’ve ever seen him command every pitch in and out, but especially his cutter. It was sharp. It wasn’t just a little baby cutter. It was moving pretty good. When he commands that 93-94 [mph] with a backdoor cutter, he’s tough.” *** Kinsler on Twins starter Kyle Gibson: “I was lucky enough to get a hanger from him. He didn’t make a lot of mistakes today. To be able to capitalize was just big.” *** Victor Martinez: “I understand that the fans were frustrated, but there was nobody more frustrated than ourselves. We know what kind of talent we have here. We really were frustrated, and you know what, I’m really proud of this group today. We stayed together, and here we are.”

IK3

90-72, 1st in the Central, 3rd in the AL, ALDS-bound to face the Baltimore Orioles…

RESEARCH MADE POSSIBLE BY: MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL and BASEBALL REFERENCE.
PHOTO CREDITS: HUNTER: Ed Szczepanski/USA Today; MARTINEZ: Rick Osentoski/USA Today; SCHERZER: ? CABRERA: Carlos Osorio/AP; J-MART & CASTY: Mark Cunningham/Getty Images; KINSLER: Rick Osentoski/USA Today.

 

Detroit at Baltimore

2014: The 8th Inning (11-7)

I have to admit it’s getting better. A little better all the time.

So the Detroit Tigers are now:

SP Verlander
SP Scherzer
SP Lobstein
SP Farmer
SP Porcello
SP Price
RP Nathan
RP Alburquerque
RP Chamberlain
RP Coke
RP Hardy
RP McCoy
RP Johnson
C Avila
C Holaday
1B-DH Cabrera
2B Kinsler
SS-2B Romine
SS Suarez
3B Castellanos
IF-OF Kelly
RF Hunter
CF Carrera
CF-LF Davis
LF J. Martinez
DH-1B V. Martinez


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Game 127: Farmer v. Pino. TWINS 12, Tigers 4. Never ahead, down 8. (Game 1 of makeup doubleheader.)
NICE PLAYS: RF KELLY, ROMINE, CF Santana-SS Escobar-P Pino-3B Nunez
MISPLAYS: CASTELLANOS, Escobar (2), RF Parmelee, Nunez
BASERUNNING NEWS: CASTELLANOS was out by a mile trying to stretch a double into a triple; something definitely went wrong there. Two examples of typically soft Detroit defense: Dozier scoring from 1B on a single, and the Santana triple.
THE BIG HIT: Bases loaded, none out, 1-1 in the 2nd, Schafer 3-run triple off FARMER.
THE BIG OUTS: Man on 1st, 1 out, Tigers down 1-0 in the 1st, FARMER strikes out Vargas and Parmelee.
GOOD HITTING: Mauer, Vargas, Dozier
BAD HITTING: Parmelee (golden sombrero)
GOOD PITCHING: Pressly
BAD PITCHING: FARMER, McCOY
OBVIOUSLY: The all-minor league pitching gets spanked, what a surprise.
AND, BUT, ALSO: All the Twins had to do was hit, and they did. They moved it on the bases pretty well, too.

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Game 128: Verlander v. May. Tigers 8, TWINS 6. Down 2, up 2. (Game 2 of makeup doubleheader.)
NICE PLAYS: KINSLER-1B V. MARTINEZ, LF Schafer, KINSLER, RF Arcia, SS Escobar-2B Dozier-1B Mauer, 3B Plouffe-Mauer
MISPLAYS: CF DAVIS, V. MARTINEZ, LF J. MARTINEZ, Dozier
BASERUNNING NEWS: HUNTER going 1st to 3rd and the challenge that reversed the out call helped put a run on the board. Santana again challenges the Tigers OF and wins for a triple. Holding up V. MARTINEZ at 3B on the J. MARTINEZ double was smart and helped put two big (and decisive) runs on the board.
THE BIG HIT: Runners on 2nd and 3rd, 1 out, Tigers down 4-3 in the 6th, SUAREZ 2-run single (with advance to 2B on E8) off May.
THE BIG OUTS: Runners on 1st and 3rd, none out, Tigers down 4-2 in the 5th, May retires CABRERA on a 6-4-3 DP (run scores).
GOOD HITTING: HUNTER, J. MARTINEZ, Plouffe, Dozier
BAD HITTING: Arcia
GOOD PITCHING:
BAD PITCHING: May, Burton
OBVIOUSLY: It wasn’t easy, but they didn’t quit.
AND, BUT, ALSO: Key defensive plays helped keep it a close game for both scuffling starters. Another hitters game, with 32 baserunners. Detroit failed to draw a walk and had to settle for 17 hits. AUSMUS pulling VERLANDER in the 6th was a very good move.

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Game 129: Scherzer v. Gibson. Tigers 13, TWINS 4. Never behind, up 9.
NICE PLAYS: HUNTER, C Suzuki-2B Dozier, 1B KELLY (2), Dozier, CF DAVIS, SS Escobar
MISPLAYS: Dozier-Escobar, AVILA, LF Schafer, Suzuki, Escobar, RF Arcia, CASTELLANOS
BASERUNNING NEWS: J. MARTINEZ was an easy out trying to steal 2B.
THE BIG HIT: Men on 2nd and 3rd, 1 out, Tigers up 3-0 in the 3rd, Santana 2-run double off SCHERZER.
THE BIG OUTS: Men on 1st and 3rd, 1 out, Tigers up 5-3 in the 5th, SCHERZER retires Arcia (K) and Plouffe (flyball to deep CF).
GOOD HITTING: HUNTER, V. MARTINEZ
BAD HITTING: Arcia, Mauer
GOOD PITCHING: JOHNSON
BAD PITCHING: Gibson, Fien
OBVIOUSLY: Detroit had the offense to win and then piled on against Minnesota bullpen and poor defense.
AND, BUT, ALSO: A 42-pitch 3rd inning was part of the reason an inefficient SCHERZER had to settle for 5 innings. The Twins had a big opportunity to jump back in the game in the 6th vs. the Tigers pen and failed.

KL3

“It’s great to be alive and to be a Tigers fan.”

Game 130: McCarthy v. Porcello. TIGERS 5, Yankees 2. Never behind, up 4.
NICE PLAYS: KINSLER-SUAREZ-CABRERA (2), CABRERA-PORCELLO (2), 3B Headley-1B Teixeira, Headley, KINSLER-CABRERA, LF Suzuki, CABRERA-SUAREZ, SUAREZ, CABRERA-NATHAN
MISPLAYS: KINSLER
BASERUNNING NEWS: DAVIS was all in from the start on the 7th inning single-turned-double, beating a good throw by Suzuki, and he soon scored. That’s the way you do it.
THE BIG HIT: None on, 2 out, Tigers up 2-0 in the 5th, Ellsbury HR off PORCELLO.
THE BIG OUT: Bases loaded, 1 out, 0-0 in the 2nd, McCarthy retires KINSLER on a 5-3 DP.
GOOD HITTING: Ellsbury, J. MARTINEZ, DAVIS
BAD HITTING: KINSLER
GOOD PITCHING: PORCELLO
BAD PITCHING:
OBVIOUSLY: Good to see them adding on when the lead got slim.
AND, BUT, ALSO: Outstanding infield defense from the Tigers. Aside from Ellsbury’s 2 home runs, PORCELLO didn’t allow an extra base hit. NATHAN even had a 1-2-3 9th. What a win!

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Game 131: Greene v. Price. Yankees 8, TIGERS 4. Never ahead, down 8.
NICE PLAYS: KINSLER-SUAREZ-CABRERA, SS Jeter-1B Teixeira, LF J. MARTINEZ, CASTELLANOS-CABRERA, SUAREZ
MISPLAYS: CABRERA, 2B Prado, AVILA
BASERUNNING NEWS:
THE BIG HIT: Runner on 2nd, none out, 0-0 in the 3rd, Jeter RBI double off PRICE.
THE BIG OUTS: Runners on 1st and 3rd, 1 out, 0-0 in the 2nd, PRICE retires Cervelli on a 4-6-3 DP.
GOOD HITTING: Headley
BAD HITTING:
GOOD PITCHING: Greene, COKE, McCOY
BAD PITCHING: PRICE
OBVIOUSLY: The “What just happened here?” game with that 8-run Yankees 3rd inning.
AND, BUT, ALSO: PRICE’s Baseball Reference Game Score was 2 (that is an insanely low number). Strange as it seems, this was not the lost cause it appears to be. Detroit left 5 runs on the table with its 1-8 RISP. The Tigers bullpen committee was immaculate through 7 innings, the only runs (charged to PRICE) coming in on a couple sac flies.

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Game 132: Kuroda v. Lobstein. TIGERS 3, Yankees 2. Down 1, up 1. Walk-off win.
NICE PLAYS: CASTELLANOS, 1B Teixeira, CF DAVIS
MISPLAYS: CASTELLANOS, C McCann (2)
BASERUNNING NEWS: Hit and run with CASTELLANOS and KELLY pays off with an early and important run.
THE BIG HIT: Men on 1st and 2nd, 2 out, 2-2 in the 9th, AVILA RBI single off Kelley wins it.
THE BIG OUT: Men on 1st and 3rd, 2 out, 2-2 in the 9th, COKE strikes out McCann.
GOOD HITTING:
BAD HITTING:
GOOD PITCHING: Kuroda, LOBSTEIN, HARDY, CHAMBERLAIN
BAD PITCHING: Kelley
OBVIOUSLY: Well-pitched all around and down to the wire.
AND, BUT, ALSO: Yet another clutch hit (and 2 of 3 Detroit RBI) from the guy who can’t hit otherwise (we’ll take it). LOBSTEIN struck out 0 through 6 but was nonetheless efficient and impressive in his first MLB start.

BF3

Game 133: Verlander v. Carroll. Tigers 7, WHITE SOX 1. Down 1, up 6.
NICE PLAYS: HUNTER-KINSLER-CABRERA, SUAREZ, SUAREZ-KINSLER-CABRERA, KINSLER-SUAREZ (2), 3B Gillaspie-1B Abreu, KINSLER-SUAREZ-CABRERA, SS Ramirez-1B Viciedo
MISPLAYS: VERLANDER-CABRERA, HUNTER, LF De Aza, Abreu (2), CABRERA, CASTELLANOS (2)
BASERUNNING NEWS: De Aza getting thrown out trying for a triple in the 2nd was a game-changing play. KINSLER took 3rd on a double (ill-advised throw home) and then scored. SUAREZ and CARRERA pulled off a double steal. CARRERA got caught on the subsequent RBI groundout to SS, but it was hard to see what else he could have done.
THE BIG HIT: Runner on 1st, 1 out, Tigers down 1-0 in the 3rd, KINSLER RBI double off Carroll that scores CARRERA, with KINSLER advancing on the throw.
THE BIG OUT: Bases loaded, 2 out, Tigers down 1-0 in the 1st, VERLANDER strikes out Flowers.
GOOD HITTING: Eaton, HUNTER, J. MARTINEZ
BAD HITTING:
GOOD PITCHING: VERLANDER, Belisario
BAD PITCHING: Carroll
OBVIOUSLY: What looked like a trying game through 2 innings turned into a cakewalk.
AND, BUT, ALSO: HUNTER’s 8th inning ground-rule double with KINSLER on 1B was actually interfered with by a Chicago fan. KINSLER scored on the play, and it looked like he should have been called back to 3B, but the run stood for some reason (maybe it was ruled that he would have scored without the interference?).

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Game 134: Scherzer v. Sale. WHITE SOX 6, Tigers 3. Up 3, down 3. (Game 1 of makeup doubleheader.)
NICE PLAYS: SS Ramirez-2B Sanchez-1B Dunn, SUAREZ, HUNTER, CASTELLANOS, Sanchez-Ramirez-Dunn
MISPLAYS: CABRERA, KINSLER
BASERUNNING NEWS:
THE BIG HIT: Man on 1st, 1 out, 3-3 in the 3rd, DUNN 2-run HR off SCHERZER.
THE BIG OUT: Men on 2nd and 3rd, 2 out, Tigers up 3-1 in the 3rd, Sale strikes out CASTELLANOS.
GOOD HITTING: Dunn
BAD HITTING:
GOOD PITCHING: Sale
BAD PITCHING:
OBVIOUSLY: It started off so well. Losing the lead against Sale is not a good plan.
AND, BUT, ALSO: CABRERA and HUNTER each struck out thrice against Sale (although why HUNTER wasn’t awarded 1B when he was hit by a pitch still isn’t clear to me). Pin this one on SCHERZER. He was given a decent lead, and he blew it. 4 runs allowed in 18 pitches.

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Game 135: Ryan v. Bassitt. Tigers 8, WHITE SOX 4. Never behind, up 5. (Game 2 of makeup doubleheader.)
NICE PLAYS:KINSLER-ROMINE-1B KELLY, CF Eaton, AVILA, 1B Konerko, 2B Sanchez-Konerko (2), KELLY-CHAMBERLAIN, RF Garcia-Konerko-C Nieto, NATHAN
MISPLAYS: KINSLER, Sanchez (2), LF Viciedo, Nieto-Sanchez, CASTELLANOS, Nieto, ROMINE
BASERUNNING NEWS: Tons of speed and hustle from Detroit was the 4-run margin of victory, CARRERA, DAVIS, and KINSLER starring in that show. CARRERA made a single into a double, and DAVIS blazed home without hesitation on a shallow single to LF. The only fly in the ointment was AVILA getting thrown out trying to score from 1st, never really a good idea.
THE BIG HIT: Runners on 1st and 3rd, 1 out, Tigers up 5-1 in the 8th, Viciedo 3-run HR off CHAMBERLAIN.
THE BIG OUTS: Runners on 1st and 3rd, 1 out, Tigers up 2-0 in the 3rd, Bassitt strikes out J. MARTINEZ and AVILA.
GOOD HITTING: KINSLER, CARRERA, KELLY, Viciedo
BAD HITTING: ROMINE, J. MARTINEZ. Garcia
GOOD PITCHING: RYAN
BAD PITCHING: Cleto, Guerra, JOHNSON, CHAMBERLAIN
OBVIOUSLY: It got much tighter than it should have late in the game. The immediate answer was refreshing.
AND, BUT, ALSO: Very nice MLB debut from RYAN. The bullpen nearly managed to throw it away, allowing 4 runs in the span of 6 batters faced. The Tigers scored their 8 runs without a HR and with only 2 XBH altogether.

KR3

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Game 136: Porcello v. Quintana. WHITE SOX 6, Tigers 2. Never ahead, down 5.
NICE PLAYS: 1B KELLY (2), HOLADAY-SUAREZ, 3B Gillaspie (3), HUNTER, CF Eaton, 2B Sanchez
MISPLAYS: 1B Wilkins, LF J. MARTINEZ (2), HUNTER, SUAREZ (2), KELLY, CASTELLANOS, CF DAVIS, SS Garcia, HOLADAY
BASERUNNING NEWS: Chicago stole 3 bases and took every extra base possible on all of Detroit’s misplays and giveaways. HUNTER getting doubled off 2B on a pop fly to CF added a baserunning dimension to the overall clown show.
THE BIG HIT: Men on 1st and 3rd, 2 out, 0-0 in the 1st, Gillaspie RBI single off PORCELLO.
THE BIG OUT: Man on 2nd, none out, 0-0 in the 1st, PORCELLO retires Sanchez and Abreu (Eaton to 3B) to *almost* escape the inning.
GOOD HITTING: Garcia
BAD HITTING: J. MARTINEZ
GOOD PITCHING: Quintana, Putnam, Petricka
BAD PITCHING:
OBVIOUSLY: 5 Chicago runs had something to with a Detroit error. Ugh.
AND, BUT, ALSO: An absolutely awful defensive game from the Tigers, and not much to like about the offense, either. The White Sox were 2 for 17 RISP… and won.

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Game 137: Price v. Kluber, Tigers 12, INDIANS 1. Never behind, up 11.
NICE PLAYS: SS Ramirez-2B Kipnis-1B Santana, Kipnis-Ramirez-Santana, KINSLER-1B V. MARTINEZ, Ramirez-Santana, 3B Chisenhall
MISPLAYS: RF Aviles (2), CF CARRERA (2), Chisenhall-Santana, LF J. MARTINEZ, RF Walters
BASERUNNING NEWS: Good to see KINSLER hustling into 3B twice (triple, then advance on error), even when he only scored once and not in a small ball way. Exciting play!
THE BIG HIT: Runner on 1st, 2 out, Tigers up 2-1 in the 3rd, V. MARTINEZ 2-run HR off Kluber.
THE BIG OUT: Runners on 2nd and 3rd, 2 out, Tigers up 2-1 in the 2nd, PRICE retires Bourn (groundout 2B).
GOOD HITTING: V. MARTINEZ, CABRERA, COLLINS, AVILA, J. MARTINEZ
BAD HITTING: CARRERA, HUNTER
GOOD PITCHING: PRICE
BAD PITCHING: Kluber, Price, Adams
OBVIOUSLY: The win seemed secure early, but pouring it on late was good.
AND, BUT, ALSO: Power to spare (5 HR)! Blowouts don’t get any better: Detroit roughed up a good starter, PRICE pitched like he didn’t have a comfortable lead, and all the new positional September call-ups got in the game. MOYA got his first MLB hit, and COLLINS his first MLB home run (a 3-run blast to straightaway center). CABRERA (looking a bit limpy) hit 2 home runs, the first a scalding line shot to LF to spoil Kluber’s day. Aviles left the game after 3 innings due to “dizziness,” a.k.a. inability to play RF.

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Game 138: Lobstein v. Carrasco. Tigers 4, INDIANS 2. Down 2, up 2.
NICE PLAYS: 2B Kipnis-1B Santana, Kipnis-SS Ramirez-Santana, HARDY-1B V. MARTINEZ, C Gomes-Kipnis
MISPLAYS: AVILA
BASERUNNING NEWS: DAVIS was amazing beating Kipnis for an infield single, but not quite as amazing getting caught stealing (late break). KIPNIS stole two, off of AVILA, no less.
THE BIG HIT: Men on 1st and 2nd, 1 out, Tigers down 2-1 in the 9th, J. MARTINEZ 3-run HR off Allen.
THE BIG OUT: Men on 1st and 3rd, 1 out, Tigers down 2-1 in the 6th, Atchison retires HUNTER on a 4-6-3 DP.
GOOD HITTING: J. MARTINEZ, Santana
BAD HITTING: HUNTER, Bourn
GOOD PITCHING: LOBSTEIN, COKE, Shaw
BAD PITCHING: Allen
OBVIOUSLY: Thrilling 9th inning comeback for a well-deserved win.
AND, BUT, ALSO: This was nearly the story of many missed opportunities and a hard-luck loss for LOBSTEIN. Carrasco was great at dodging bullets (10 strikeouts helped). Innings 2-7, after scoring their first run, Detroit left 15 runners on base without scoring. A key play in the 7th was HARDY picking off Ramirez at 1B (challenged, upheld). Nice to see a Tigers pickoff play not bungled for a change.

SM3

Game 139: Verlander v. Salazar. INDIANS 7, Tigers 0. Behind from the 1st on.
NICE PLAYS: 3B Chisenhall-2B Kipnis-1B Santana, CF DAVIS, LF J. MARTINEZ, Kipnis-SS Ramirez-Santana, CASTELLANOS-1B V. MARTINEZ, VERLANDER, HUNTER-KINSLER, RF Walters (2), KINSLER-V. MARTINEZ
MISPLAYS: Walters, HOLADAY (2), V. MARTINEZ, 1B KELLY
BASERUNNING NEWS:
THE BIG HIT: Runner on 2nd, 2 out, 0-0 in the 1st, Santana 2-run HR off VERLANDER.
THE BIG OUT: Runners on 2nd and 3rd, 1 out, Tigers down 2-0 in the 4th, Salazar retires J. MARTINEZ (K) and CASTELLANOS (groundout SS).
GOOD HITTING: Ramirez, Chisenhall
BAD HITTING: J. MARTINEZ (golden sombrero)
GOOD PITCHING: Salazar
BAD PITCHING: VERLANDER
OBVIOUSLY: VERLANDER might have been in a batter too long, but Salazar was in 9 innings too long.
AND, BUT, ALSO: Salazar was just brilliant (ask yesterday’s hero). You wouldn’t know it from the score, but there was a lot of nice defense to enjoy. Not all nice. It might have seemed like a lack of effort on HUNTER’s part not to at least try to make a play on Ramirez scoring the 7th run, but considering what happened at home earlier (is there a catcher in the house?), it was just as well.

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Game 140: Scherzer v. Bauer. Tigers 11, INDIANS 4 (11). Never behind, up 7.
NICE PLAYS: LF Brantley, CF DAVIS, SS Ramirez-1B Santana, 1B V. MARTINEZ, CHAMBERLAIN, HOLADAY-ROMINE, LF DAVIS
MISPLAYS: C Gomes, SS Ramirez, KINSLER, LF DAVIS, HOLADAY
BASERUNNING NEWS: A lot happening at first base. 6th inning, DAVIS getting nipped by Ramirez – almost close enough for a challenge – changed what might have been a clinching inning for Detroit. 8th inning, CASTELLANOS hustled heroically down the line to beat the throw from 3B Chisenhall, but was ruled out on a challenge. 10th inning Bourn hit a ball to the perfect spot at 1B, forcing V. MARTINEZ’s hand and making it a footrace between Bourn and COKE (no contest). HOLADAY subsequently gunning down Bourn at 2B with a throw that couldn’t have been more perfect was a game-saver of a play.
THE BIG HIT: Man on 1st, 2 out, Tigers up 4-3 in the 7th, Brantley RBI double off HARDY.
THE BIG OUT: Men on 1st and 3rd, 1 out, 4-4 in the 10th, Atchison retires CASTELLANOS (K) and HOLADAY (groundball SS force at 2B).
GOOD HITTING: V. MARTINEZ, KINSLER, ROMINE
BAD HITTING:
GOOD PITCHING: SCHERZER, COKE
BAD PITCHING: Tomlin, Price
OBVIOUSLY: A slow-evaporating lead. An unreal 11th inning explosion.
AND, BUT, ALSO: Maybe it’s not a good idea to give SCHERZER (124 pitches through 6 IP) too much of a lead too early. Once HARDY had surrendered the lead, the bullpen was immaculate. The 1st and 11th inning were a lot alike. Seems like once the party started, the Tigers just couldn’t stop, runnin’ all over and hitting everything. SUAREZ, HOLADAY, and ROMINE combined to knock in 6 on 3 hits.

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“I hate baseball.

Game 141: Peavy v. Porcello. Giants 8, TIGERS 2. Never ahead, down 7.
NICE PLAYS: LF Blanco, KINSLER, HOLADAY-CABRERA, C Posey-1B Ishikawa, CASTELLANOS-HOLADAY, CASTELLANOS, 2B Panik-SS Crawford-Ishikawa, Panik-Ishikawa, Panik
MISPLAYS: CABRERA (2), CASTELLANOS, 3B Sandoval, Blanco
BASERUNNING NEWS: San Francisco made Detroit look old and tired without even stealing a base. One strange play was Panik being called out at 1B on what appeared to be an error by either KINSLER or CABRERA. The ball got away. Why wasn’t he safe? Next thing you know, Panik’s heading back to the bag in a panic, while HOLADAY gathers the loose ball and throws to CABRERA. Out. I dunno. There were two outs and a runner scored from 3rd. Might be related to that. Fine day for KINSLER, getting picked off 1B and also getting doubled up on a lineout.
THE BIG HIT: None on, none out, Tigers down 1-0 in the 2nd, Blanco triple off PORCELLO.
THE BIG OUT: Runner on 3rd, 2 out, Panik grounds to 2B off PORCELLO, and is thrown out at 2B by HOLADAY in the ensuing run-scoring but mercifully inning-ending play.
GOOD HITTING: Blanco, Crawford
BAD HITTING:
GOOD PITCHING: Peavy, Kontos
BAD PITCHING: PORCELLO
OBVIOUSLY: Pretty thoroughly outclassed.
AND, BUT, ALSO: What a pathetic and disheartening game. There was a long rain delay after 3 innings; Tigers fans could only hope the game would be rained out, but no such luck. The Giants certainly did their homework on PORCELLO. Detroit only got on the board at all as a result of a half inning of San Francisco clown show (LF Blanco’s 306-game errorless streak came to an end with a really bad-looking play). CABRERA was back at 1B, and is looking very limpy on the bases of late.

HP3

Game 142: Bumgarner v. Price. Giants 5, TIGERS 4. Never ahead, down 4.
NICE PLAYS: 3B Arias-2B Panik-1B Posey, CASTELLANOS, LF Blanco, Panik
MISPLAYS: SUAREZ
BASERUNNING NEWS: Looked like they had DAVIS caught, but that speed and a very clever slide made it so close. Called out, challenged, out. I thought he was safe.
THE BIG HIT: Men on 1st and 2nd, 2 out, Tigers down 1-0 in the 1st, Susac 2-run double off PRICE.
THE BIG OUTS: Men on 1st and 2nd, 1 out, Tigers down 4-2 in the 2nd, Bumgarner gets popups to 2B from both KINSLER and HUNTER.
GOOD HITTING: CABRERA, Posey
BAD HITTING:
GOOD PITCHING:
BAD PITCHING:
OBVIOUSLY: Detroit ran out of time trying to make up for that 1st inning.
AND, BUT, ALSO: Bumgarner struck out none and walked none and did nothing impressive but win. Losing this one just wasn’t fair. 2 home runs from CABRERA, and they really had Bumgarner on the ropes early. But the 5th inning Posey HR off PRICE was the nail in the coffin.

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Game 143: Hudson v. Lobstein. TIGERS 6, Giants 1. Never behind, up 5.
NICE PLAYS: 3B Arias, 2B Panik-SS Crawford-1B Duvall, 1B KELLY-JOHNSON, CF DAVIS, CASTELLANOS-KINSLER, KINSLER
MISPLAYS: C Posey (3), Crawford, KINSLER
BASERUNNING NEWS: ROMINE was the man with a plan, stealing twice and scoring twice – pretty big runs, too, in the scheme of things. Speaking of big plays, I think HARDY picked off Blanco at 1B in between his big outs, but the safe call withstood an AUSMUS challenge. CABRERA, clearly hobbled, still manages to score from 1B on a double.
THE BIG HIT: Runner on 1st, 2 out, Tigers up 1-0 in the 3rd, CABRERA 2-run HR off Hudson.
THE BIG OUTS: Runners on 1st and 3rd, 1 out, Tigers up 3-1 in the 7th, HARDY retires Pagan (flyout to RF) and Panik (foul popup to C).
GOOD HITTING: CABRERA, J. MARTINEZ
BAD HITTING: Pagan, AVILA
GOOD PITCHING: LOBSTEIN, HARDY
BAD PITCHING: Kontos
OBVIOUSLY: It all hinged on that 7th inning, Giants turned away, Tigers not.
AND, BUT, ALSO: It fell to Lobstein (first MLB win, with big help from CABRERA) to put San Francisco in their place.

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Game 144: Guthrie v. Verlander. TIGERS 9, Royals 5. Never behind, up 6.
NICE PLAYS: LF J. MARTINEZ (2), 3B Moustakas (2), SS Escobar, 1B Hosmer-P C. Coleman, CF KELLY, LF Gordon, Hosmer-Escobar-P Frasor
MISPLAYS: Hosmer (3), Moustakas, CASTELLANOS
BASERUNNING NEWS: J. MARTINEZ beating out the DP played a part in the big inning – big difference between 2 out, man on 3rd and 1 out, 1st and 3rd (ask Guthrie). KELLY was picked off 1B by Downs. Gak!
THE BIG HIT: Bases loaded, 2 out, 0-0 in the 2nd, a ROMINE groundball to 1B off Guthrie results in a two-error play that scores 2.
THE BIG OUTS: Man on 1st, 1 out, 2-2 in the 3rd, VERLANDER retires Infante on a 6-4-3 DP.
GOOD HITTING: HUNTER, Hosmer, ROMINE, AVILA
BAD HITTING: KINSLER
GOOD PITCHING: VERLANDER
BAD PITCHING: Guthrie
OBVIOUSLY: Big 3rd inning answer says “Royals go away.”
AND, BUT, ALSO: The outfield collision between KELLY and HUNTER that resulted in the inside-the-park HR by Cain actually wasn’t such a collision. It was how HUNTER fell (backwards and then on his head, hail Torii full of grace) that hurt him (but he stayed in, doubled and scored his next time up). This “collision” was actually foreshadowed by a near miss earlier in the game.

JM3


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DEFENSIVE SCORECARD (in terms of outstanding plays one way or the other, X = good, O = not)

RF KELLY X +1
SS ROMINE XXOX +2
3B CASTELLANOS OOXXOOOXOOXXXOXXO -1
2B KINSLER XXXXOXXXXXXOXOXXXOXXXO +12
1B V. MARTINEZ XOXXXXOX +4
CF DAVIS OXOXXX +2
LF J. MARTINEZ OXOOOXXX zero
RF HUNTER XXOXXOX +3
1B KELLY XXXXXXOOX +5
C AVILA OOXX zero
SS SUAREZ XXXXXXXXXXXXXOOO +10
1B CABRERA XXXXXXXXXOXXXOOOXOO +7
P PORCELLO XX +2
P NATHAN XX +2
P VERLANDER OX zero
P CHAMBERLAIN XX +2
C HOLADAY XOOOXOXX zero
CF CARRERA OO -2
P HARDY X +1
LF DAVIS XO zero
P JOHNSON X +1
CF KELLY X +1

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GAME 127: Callups Kyle Lobstein and Pat McCoy got lost and were late to the game they ended up in. *** Brad Ausmus: “We have to sort it all out. The injuries we’ve had, with the doubleheaders, we’re a day at a time.” *** 32 runs allowed over the last two is the 4th-highest two-game total in franchise history.
GAME 128: Torii Hunter: “The first two games, we had some young guys on the mound. Of course, they’re going to get better and they’re going to learn from some of the mistakes they probably made. But I promise you, having Verlander on the mound, a guy that’s been around, that knows how to pitch, I think that he contained the situation and gave us a chance to win.” *** Ausmus on the Ian Krol mystery: “When he came back, there were times where the ball didn’t seem to be jumping out of his hand like it does when he’s right. We sent him down [before], and when he came back he looked good. I can’t really explain it. It hasn’t really been a pattern.”
GAME 129: After four games in 48 hours: Rajai Davis: “I think we were really fighting on at least tying this series. We were able to have a lot of good at-bats and hit the ball hard a lot. We hit some holes, caught some breaks really, and we took advantage.” *** Ausmus: “We had a nice recovery. The good thing, the four games here, the bats really picked up the pace.” 30 runs on 60 hits, unfortunately countered by 42 Twins runs. *** Victor Martinez matches a career high with his 25th home run.
GAME 130: Yankees manager Joe Girardi on Rick Porcello: “I actually thought we swung the bats pretty decent; we had nine hits off him. It’s hard to elevate the ball on him, so you’re going to see singles. You have to put a lot of singles together in the course of an inning to score runs. That’s what he’s so good at, being a sinkerballer.” *** The return of Anibal Sanchez from the DL is now indefinite, pain from scar tissue not allowing him to pitch at all. Team officials do not sound optimistic, if you read between the lines.
GAME 131: David Price becomes the first MLB pitcher in 25 years to allow 9 consecutive hits. “Didn’t get enough outs. Just didn’t have it.”
GAME 132: After an impressive starting debut, Lobstein is “procedurally optioned” to Toledo. Minor league starter Kyle Ryan will take his place for the next spot start. The Tigers also purchase the contract of Evan Reed from Toledo. Mud Hen Jose Ortega is DFA to make room for Reed.
GAME 133: Another stretch of four games in 48 hours begins. *** “We had a chance,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said, “and you don’t take advantage of it. He [Justin Verlander] usually gets stronger as he goes along. You see him in the middle there, all of the sudden he can get it up there at 95. He gets stronger as he goes along and you have to take advantage of it early and we just missed our shot.”
GAMES 134/135: Max Scherzer: “The margin of error between success and failure, right now, when you’re facing a team like this is razor thin. You have to be really be on top of your game to have success. Really, in my mind, I felt I had great stuff today. But it only takes a couple pitches to get beat.” *** Justin Miller, in spite of a terrific season at AAA, is DFA to make room for spot starter Ryan. *** Ausmus on Ryan, whose MLB debut was a good one: “He’s got kind of a funky delivery. He kind of hides the ball. He turns his back a little bit to the hitters. I think the hitters have a little bit of trouble picking it up. He’s got a little cutter, slider, fastball obviously, but I think the deception in his delivery creates issues for hitters.” *** Miguel Cabrera leaves game two of the doubleheader early, again bothered by his ankle. *** Detroit moves back into a tie for first place in the AL Central.
GAME 136: Don Kelly: “You can have the other team beat you. The thing that’s tough is when you beat yourselves. That’s the thing that eats at you, especially with a guy like Rick [Porcello], who works fast and gets ground balls, gives you a chance to make plays. We just didn’t make the plays.” *** Cabrera out of the lineup, day to day with ankle injury. *** The September additions to the expanded roster will be OF Steven Moya, C James McCann, IF Hernan Perez, OF Tyler Collins, and pitchers Robbie Ray, Buck Farmer, Lobstein, and Ryan. It’s pretty clear at this point that Luke Putkonen and Andy Dirks won’t be coming off the DL and rejoining the team, and if you even remember Joel Hanrahan, that won’t be happening, either.
GAME 137: Ausmus: “This was a day that Moya and McCann will never forget, and it was nice for Tyler to hit his first home run up here. You always enjoy a game like that. We were pitching good, hitting good. It was a lot of fun.” *** Back in the lineup already, Cabrera hit 2 home runs, including his first since August 2 (a month!).
GAME 138: J.D. Martinez on his 9th inning, game-winning home run: “It was one of those swings that feels perfect, like you couldn’t have done anything better. When I reached home, I was so pumped up, I wasn’t sure if I had touched all the bases. It’s September, this is win-or-go-home time. I’m so excited because I want to make the playoffs for the first time so bad.” *** Alex Avila was struck in the mask by a foul ball and had to leave the game, but said he’s fine. *** Ausmus on Cabrera’s ankle and the ongoing DH-1B concerns: “It’s going to be a balancing act from here on out because I can’t run Victor out there every day. That won’t be good for Victor, so it won’t be good for us. There is no one else on our team that I want following Miggy in the order than Victor, but it isn’t fair to make him our first baseman. This is just something else we’re going to have to work through.”
GAME 139: Bryan Holaday on Danny Salazar’s dominant performance: “Salazar was really tough and kept challenging us with his fastball all night. We just couldn’t hit him.” *** Victor Martinez’s monster August earns him AL Player of the Month honors. *** Hunter suffers a bone bruise on his foot from a fouled-off pitch.
GAME 140: Scherzer: “It was an absolute physical grind for me, but I battled as hard as I could and found a way to get through six. The way the game ended made it a great night with Suarez to be able to come up with that hit and Victor’s homer.” *** Victor Martinez has reached base in 23 consecutive games.
GAME 141: Porcello: “Really I think a lot of the bad pitches started to come in the third inning. First and second inning, I actually felt like I made some good pitches and they were just getting hits.” *** Avila misses his 3rd consecutive game, as the Tigers aren’t convinced he’s free of concussion-like symptoms as yet. *** The rain delay was about as long as the game itself. The Tigers’ head groundskeeper was injured getting the tarp onto the field.
GAME 142: Price on the 1st inning: “With the exception of Susac, I was OK with the pitches that I was throwing,. Posey did a great job, Pence, Sandoval. They just put bat on the ball.” *** Victor Martinez: “It was a tough, tough loss, trying to come back and just falling short by one run. I always say a loss is a loss, but this one was really tough… You know what, we have 20-some games left. Out of those, we have six more left against the team that’s ahead of us.” *** First MLB start for McCann: “They’re a very aggressive team. We started moving the ball in and out and keeping the ball down in the zone and letting them make quick outs.”
GAME 143: Avila (back in the lineup) on another good start from Lobstein: “There’s guys that throw 82 and get guys out in the big leagues. It’s just a matter of locating with movement, stuff like that. He’s got a good sinker, a good four-seamer that may be 90, but when you’re able to mix in all your other pitches, it looks 94.” *** Cabrera is on a September home run tear after a lengthy drought, and reaches 100 RBI for the 11th straight season. *** It appears that the last week of the season is the earliest that Anibal Sanchez might return.
GAME 144: Andrew Romine on the Royals: “We’ve gotta jump on them. Obviously, that team can swing and they can pitch. They’re a good team and they’re really hot right now, so for us to get ahead, perfect for us. That’s exactly what we needed to do today.” *** Verlander: “Most of us in the locker room have been here and experienced games in September that mean this much — high-intensity games in September. We did it a couple years ago when we were chasing the White Sox. That experience is extremely valuable when you get into these situations, and hopefully we can draw from that.” *** Cabrera has been diagnosed with bone spurs in his ankle, which puts a name to the problem but doesn’t change the day to day rest-DH-1B decision-making. *** Hunter gets the worst of an outfield collision with Kelly but appears to have escaped a concussion.

JJO3

79-65, 2nd in the Central, 6th in the AL, on pace for an 89-73 season…

RESEARCH MADE POSSIBLE BY: MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL and BASEBALL REFERENCE.
PHOTO CREDITS: DAVIS: Kirthmon F. Dozier/Detroit Free Press; LOBSTEIN: Associated Press; FARMER: Associated Press; RYAN: Ed Zurga/Getty Images; MOYA: Rick Osentoski/USA Today; PEREZ: Associated Press; McCANN: Associated Press; JOHNSON: Rick Osentoski/USA Today.

2014: The 7th Inning (7-11)

Win now! First stop: Second place.

So the Detroit Tigers are now:

SP Verlander
SP Scherzer
SP Sanchez
SP Porcello
SP Price
RP Nathan
RP Alburquerque
RP Chamberlain
RP Coke
RP Hardy
RP McCoy
RP Soria
C Avila
C Holaday
1B-DH Cabrera
2B Kinsler
SS-2B Romine
SS Suarez
3B Castellanos
IF-OF Kelly
RF Hunter
CF Carrera
CF-LF Davis
LF-RF J. Martinez
DH-1B V. Martinez


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Game 109: Scherzer v. McCarthy. YANKEES 2, Tigers 1. Never ahead, down 2.
NICE PLAYS: SUAREZ-KINSLER-CABRERA, 3B Prado-1B Headley, 2B Drew, HUNTER (2), CF CARRERA, KINSLER-CABRERA, HUNTER-CABRERA-SUAREZ, KINSLER-SS ROMINE-CABRERA, Headley-P Thornton, P Warren
MISPLAYS: Prado
BASERUNNING NEWS: SUAREZ got a great jump on his steal of 2B, and it set up the Tigers’ only run. However, a) he hurt himself sliding again, not sure how, looked fine to me, and b) maybe because of that, he made a clumsy step off the bag after standing up that could have cost him the base. ROMINE came in to pinch-run and scored, all good. Gold star to HUNTER-CABRERA-SUAREZ for turning a potential RBI single into a rundown of Gardner to end the Yankees 4th.
THE BIG HIT: Men on 1st and 3rd, 2 out, Tigers down 1-0 in the 3rd, McCann RBI single off SCHERZER.
THE BIG OUTS: Bases loaded, 1 out, 0-0 in the 2nd, McCarthy strikes out AVILA and SUAREZ.
GOOD HITTING:
BAD HITTING: AVILA
GOOD PITCHING: McCarthy
BAD PITCHING:
OBVIOUSLY: Was it close, or did it just look close?
AND, BUT, ALSO: It *was* close. Detroit played one heckuva game defensively. CARRERA’s catch on the Ellsbury sacrifice fly was *amazing*, and he and HUNTER played a key role in keeping the damage to a minimum in SCHERZER’s one troubled inning. COKE pitched a clean 9th inning. Unfortunately, the one big scoring opportunity came and went in the 2nd. You want this one back, but you can’t feel too badly about it.

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“It’s great to be alive and to be a Tigers fan.”

Game 110: Price v. Kuroda. Tigers 4, YANKEES 3 (12). Down 2, up 1.
NICE PLAYS: C McCann-1B Teixeira, PRICE-CABRERA, CABRERA-KINSLER, SS Jeter, 2B Ryan, CF DAVIS, 3B Headley-Teixeira, RF Prado, LF Gardner, RF J. MARTINEZ
MISPLAYS: CF Ellsbury, KINSLER (2), CASTELLANOS, McCann
BASERUNNING NEWS: If Detroit’s first run was the winning one, credit DAVIS reading Ellsbury (bobble) and speeding to 3B from 1B. Strange play: PRICE and CABRERA have Ellsbury picked off, but KINSLER blows it by losing a race to 1B (why?) with Ellsbury, where he goes all Ty Cobb, stepping on Ellsbury’s hand and tagging him when the hand was removed from the bag (clever, but apparently time had been called). McCann’s passed ball was on a pitchout! V. MARTINEZ starts the tying rally by beating the shift with a left side IF single, and later (11th inning!), steals 2B *before* being lifted for a pinch runner (sweet).
THE BIG HIT: None on, 1 out, 3-3 in the 12th, AVILA HR off Daley.
THE BIG OUTS: Runner on 2nd, 1 out, 3-3 in the 9th, Kelley retires J. MARTINEZ and CASTELLANOS on consecutive groundouts to 3B.
GOOD HITTING: AVILA
BAD HITTING: J. MARTINEZ
GOOD PITCHING: PRICE, Kuroda, CHAMBERLAIN, Betances, NATHAN
BAD PITCHING:
OBVIOUSLY: The inexorable comeback, and how sweet it is.
AND, BUT, ALSO: Exhausting. Didn’t look good in the 5th. Prado had just homered. Kuroda had retired 14 straight. 3-1 looked big. Then PRICE struck out the side, and then ROMINE put one in the RF seats, and it was turning around ever so slowly. AVILA drove in both the tying and winning runs, 5 innings apart.

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Game 111: Verlander v. Capuano. YANKEES 5, Tigers 1. Up 1, down 4.
NICE PLAYS: RF Prado, C McCann-1B Teixeira, CF CARRERA, KINSLER-CABRERA, CF Ellsbury, HARDY, SS Jeter, CABRERA-ROMINE
MISPLAYS: Jeter, McCann, P Capuano, ROMINE, HOLADAY (2), 2B Drew, LF DAVIS, HARDY
BASERUNNING NEWS: Excellent bunt for a hit by CARRERA, got to 2B on the speed forces error bonus. ROMINE blazed to 3B standing up on the CARRERA single to RF in the 7th.
THE BIG HIT: None on, 1 out, 1-1 in the 7th, McCann HR off VERLANDER.
THE BIG OUT: Men on 1st and 3rd, 1 out, Tigers down 2-1 in the 8th, Warren retires J. MARTINEZ (strikeout) and CASTELLANOS (flyball to RF).
GOOD HITTING: McCann
BAD HITTING:
GOOD PITCHING: Capuano, VERLANDER, Warren
BAD PITCHING: HARDY
OBVIOUSLY: How to lose when you should have could have might have won … oh forget it. “How to lose worse” is more like it.
AND, BUT, ALSO: But honestly, the 4-error Yankees didn’t deserve this one, aside from Capuano (ROMINE and CARRERA had 4 of the Tigers 5 hits against him!). The Tigers had big chances in the 7th and 8th before HARDY settled things. The great catch at the wall by Ellsbury that took extra bases away from J. MARTINEZ in the 6th might have been a sign that a win was not to be, and HOLDAY missing the tag on Teixeira at the plate in the 8th took care of all that “Tigers played better” feeling. (It was an odd play that scored New York’s final two runs. It started off well with a great snag by CABRERA that should have led to a 3-6-1 inning ending DP, except that HARDY was “in the vicinity but not there” and completely whiffed on ROMINE’s throw. HARDY recovered well enough to recover the ball quickly and send a bullet to HOLADAY, who opted for tagging Teixeira’s chest in spite of the hand about to touch home plate.)

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Game 112: Porcello v. Greene. YANKEES 1, Tigers 0. Behind from the 4th on.
NICE PLAYS: KINSLER-ROMINE-1B KELLY (2), 2B Ryan-SS Drew-1B Headley, Ryan-Headley
MISPLAYS:
BASERUNNING NEWS:
THE BIG HIT: Runner on 1st, none out, Tigers down 1-0 in the 9th, V. MARTINEZ draws a walk from Robertson.
THE BIG OUTS: Runners on 1st and 2nd, none out, Tigers down 1-0 in the 9th, Robertson ends the game with a CABRERA double play (KINSLER to 3B) and a popout to SS from KELLY.
GOOD HITTING:
BAD HITTING:
GOOD PITCHING: Greene, PORCELLO, Robertson
BAD PITCHING:
OBVIOUSLY: Keeping it that close was the unsatisfying consolation prize.
AND, BUT, ALSO: Drew’s RBI double was just a little slice to LF barely fair. Easy to blame the “B team” lineup, but don’t. CABRERA was there to pinch-hit and failed. The post-strikeout whistles from the PA system at Yankee Stadium don’t take long to get on your nerves.

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Game 113: Sanchez v. Dickey. Tigers 5, BLUE JAYS 4. Down 4, up 1.
NICE PLAYS: SANCHEZ-CABRERA, CABRERA,  SS Reyes-1B Valencia, 3B Kawasaki-Valencia, CASTELLANOS, CF DAVIS, LF DAVIS
MISPLAYS: C Thole, LF J. MARTINEZ (3), SANCHEZ, CASTELLANOS (2)
BASERUNNING NEWS: Toronto bunted 5 times (2 hits, 2 sacrifices, 1 out, 1 RBI). The safety squeeze by Goins was particularly good, close at 1B but withstanding a challenge. J. MARTINEZ forced an error stealing 2B and got to 3B.
THE BIG HITS: Man on 2nd, 1 out, Tigers down 4-2 in the 9th, CASTELLANOS and SUAREZ hit back to back HR’s off Janssen.
THE BIG OUT: Bases loaded, 2 out, Tigers up 5-4 in the 9th, NATHAN retires Thole on a flyout to LF foul territory.
GOOD HITTING:
BAD HITTING: CABRERA, Thole
GOOD PITCHING: ALBURQUERQUE, HARDY
BAD PITCHING: Janssen, SANCHEZ
OBVIOUSLY: Gadzooks! A rally, and the Tigers steal one.
AND, BUT, ALSO: SANCHEZ came out in the 5th after injuring himself on a pickoff throw. A very sloppy game from the Tigers, who almost deserved to lose. The SUAREZ game-winning HR was to dead center.

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Game 114: Scherzer v. Stroman. BLUE JAYS 3, Tigers 2 (10). Up 2, down 1. Walk-off loss.
NICE PLAYS: P Stroman-2B Goins, 3B Kawasaki-Goins-1B Francisco, KINSLER-CABRERA, RF Bautista, CF DAVIS
MISPLAYS: CABRERA, HOLADAY
BASERUNNING NEWS: OK, DAVIS leads off with a hit to RF, takes the turn, throw comes in from Bautista to Francisco, DAVIS gets back to 1B. Am I seeing things, or did DAVIS actually leap and kick Francisco as he was taking the throw? Anyway, ball gets away, Francisco is charged with an error, and DAVIS gets to 2B. Then Stroman-Goins pick him off. Karma, I think. CABRERA scored from 1B on a double, which never ceases to impress me.
THE BIG HIT: Runner on 1st, none out, 2-2 in the 10th, Reimold RBI double off CHAMBERLAIN.
THE BIG OUTS: Bases loaded, 1 out, 2-2 in the 9th, SORIA retires Francisco (popout SS) and Kawasaki (groundout 1B).
GOOD HITTING:
BAD HITTING:
GOOD PITCHING: SCHERZER, Stroman, SORIA
BAD PITCHING: NATHAN, CHAMBERLAIN
OBVIOUSLY: An unfortunate waste of some brilliant pitching.
AND, BUT, ALSO: NATHAN and CHAMBERLAIN wasted little time throwing this one away. 7 batters faced, 6 reached base. The entrance of CHAMBERLAIN was set up by the exit of SORIA due to injury.

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Game 115: Price v. Beuhrle. BLUE JAYS 6, Tigers 5 (19). Up 5, down 1. Walk-off loss.
NICE PLAYS: CF DAVIS (2), C Navarro-3B Tolleson, AVILA-CASTELLANOS, CABRERA-ROMINE, 1B Bautista (3), LF Cabrera, P Jenkins-C Thole-Bautista, HUNTER (2), CF Rasmus (2)
MISPLAYS: SS Reyes, CASTELLANOS (2), 3B Francisco, PORCELLO-KINSLER
BASERUNNING NEWS: Smart and alert baserunning in the 3rd from CABRERA and J. MARTINEZ. CASTELLANOS attempting to steal 3B seemed ill-advised and lame even with a 5-run lead. Signals must have gotten crossed when DAVIS was off to the races from 1B and KINSLER swung at the first pitch for a popout double play. The challenge on the Gose steal of 2B in the 9th that reversed the out call was huge. In the 13th, ROMINE looked like he had brilliantly evaded the rundown between 1st and 2nd, but yet another challenge f0iled that and turned getting caught out into a major gaffe.
THE BIG HIT: Man on 2nd, 2 out, Tigers up 5-4 in the 9th, Reyes RBI single off CHAMBERLAIN.
THE BIG OUT: Bases loaded, 1 out, 5-5 in the 16th, Jenkins retires HUNTER on the rare 1-2-3 double play.
GOOD HITTING: Cabrera, J. MARTINEZ, Reyes
BAD HITTING: DAVIS (0 for 8 with a BB!), HUNTER, Francisco (Reimold was 0 for 7 with *platinum sombrero* plus 2 BB)
GOOD PITCHING: Jenkins, ALBURQUERQUE, HARDY, Redmond, Sanchez
BAD PITCHING: Buehrle, COKE, PORCELLO (in relief)
OBVIOUSLY: Do you complain about 15 consecutive scoreless innings from the offense, or console yourself with 9 consecutive shutout innings from the bullpen? No, you get angry that Detroit blew a 5-0 lead.
AND, BUT, ALSO: Only 1 home run between the teams was one of many strange things about this 6 and a half hour game. The Valencia double that went off PRICE’s leg into RF in the 6th was the exact point where the game started tipping Toronto’s way. PORCELLO’s throwing error on the Reyes bunt in the 19th was at least as much KINSLER’s error. Have you noticed when watching how difficult it is to see the baseball against the turf at Rogers Centre?

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Game 116: Verlander v. Locke. PIRATES 11, Tigers 6. Up 1, down 7.
NICE PLAYS: 3B Harrison-1B Davis, LF Snider-C Martin, LF J. MARTINEZ-AVILA, Harrison, RF Polanco-Martin
MISPLAYS: Martin, CF DAVIS, 1B V. MARTINEZ, AVILA (2), HUNTER, Harrison
BASERUNNING NEWS: Both AVILA and DAVIS were easy outs at home thanks to the arms of the Pirates’ outfield. The Tigers got one back, with J. MARTINEZ-AVILA nailing Harrison at the plate to help avert even more of a blowout early.
THE BIG HIT: Bases loaded, 1 out, Tigers down 1-0 in the 1st, Marte 3-run triple off VERLANDER.
THE BIG OUTS: Runners on 2nd and 3rd, 1 out, Tigers down 5-1 in the 2nd, Locke gets DAVIS to line out to LF, and AVILA is thrown out at home.
GOOD HITTING: Snider, Marte, HUNTER
BAD HITTING:
GOOD PITCHING: KROL, Hughes
BAD PITCHING: VERLANDER, Locker, WHELAN, MILLER, Sadler
OBVIOUSLY: This one got out of hand quickly. Hard to remember the Tigers scoring first.
AND, BUT, ALSO: VERLANDER pitched one lousy inning and then contributed a sac bunt before leaving the game with some kind of shoulder issue. Lousy defense from Detroit, but   it’s also pretty hard to defend against 4 home runs. One of Snider’s was a real blast into the upper reaches of the RF stands.

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Game 117: Ray v. Volquez. PIRATES 4, Tigers 2. Up 1, down 2.
NICE PLAYS: P Volquez-C Martin, SUAREZ-1B V. MARTINEZ, AVILA-KINSLER, V. MARTINEZ-ROMINE, 3B Harrison-1B Davis
MISPLAYS: 2B Nix, CF CARRERA-LF DAVIS, AVILA, COKE
BASERUNNING NEWS: Pittsburgh turned two SB into two runs, while the Tigers had nothing going on.
THE BIG HIT: Man on 1st, 1 out, Tigers up 1-0 in the 2nd, Sanchez RBI double off RAY.
THE BIG OUTS: Men on 1st and 2nd, 1 out, Tigers down 4-2 in the 9th, Melancon retires HUNTER (flyout RF) and DAVIS (groundout 3B).
GOOD HITTING:
BAD HITTING:
GOOD PITCHING: Volquez
BAD PITCHING:
OBVIOUSLY: Slipped away early and fell short late.
AND, BUT, ALSO: Detroit came out full of energy and plated a small ball run, but as soon as Volquez had made his brilliant snag of the comebacker and caught KINSLER between 3B and home, the wind seemed to have been taken out of their sails.

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Game 118: Worley v. Farmer. TIGERS 8, Pirates 4. Down 3, up 4.
NICE PLAYS: KINSLER-CABRERA, RF Polanco (2), 3B Harrison-1B Davis (2), CASTELLANOS-CABRERA (2), KINSLER-SUAREZ-CABRERA, Harrison-2B Nix-1B Davis, SS Mercer-Nix-Davis, LF KELLY
MISPLAYS: SUAREZ, CF Marte, HUNTER, C Martin (2), CF CARRERA, Kelly, Polanco (2), Nix-SS Mercer
BASERUNNING NEWS: Good to see Tigers (CASTELLANOS and CARRERA) galloping into 3B on triples at Comerica. The way it should be.
THE BIG HIT: None on, 1 out, 4-4 in the 6th, CASTELLANOS HR off Worley.
THE BIG OUT: Runner on 1st, 1 out, 4-4 in the 6th, HARDY retires Snider on a 4-6-3 DP.
GOOD HITTING: V. MARTINEZ, Mercer
BAD HITTING: KELLY
GOOD PITCHING: HARDY
BAD PITCHING: Worley, Pimentel
OBVIOUSLY: Ah, at last, pitching we can hit.
AND, BUT, ALSO: This did not look good early, not at all. The AVILA HR must have gotten into Worley’s head, because it all started to unravel for Pittsburgh at that point. There was three games worth of defensive action in this one, both good and bad, on both sides.

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Game 119: Liriano v. Scherzer. TIGERS 5, Pirates 2. Never behind, up 5.
NICE PLAYS: AVILA-SUAREZ, LF J. MARTINEZ, C Stewart-2B Martinez, 3B Harrison, Harrison-1B Davis, CASTELLANOS-CABRERA, Martinez, KINSLER-CABRERA (2), HUNTER
MISPLAYS: P Liriano, 2B Martinez (2), SS Mercer, Stewart
BASERUNNING NEWS: Nice headfirst slide by KINSLER nets him a steal of second in spite of a great play against him. SUAREZ got burned trying to take 2B from a throwing error to 1B well backed up by C Stewart, and it looked pretty costly at that point in the game. Smart CABRERA reads another error beautifully to score from 2B. Pinch-running KELLY for J. MARTINEZ in the 8th was one of those under the radar smart moves. Snider busting up the DP in the 9th tacked another run onto COKE’s ERA.
THE BIG HIT: None on, none out, 0-0 in the 5th, J. MARTINEZ HR off Liriano.
THE BIG OUTS: Bases loaded, 1 out, Tigers up 1-0 in the 6th, Liriano strikes out HUNTER and CASTELLANOS around a run-scoring walk (J. MARTINEZ) to escape with minimal damage.
GOOD HITTING: J. MARTINEZ, Sanchez
BAD HITTING: HUNTER
GOOD PITCHING: SCHERZER, Liriano
BAD PITCHING: Cumpton, COKE
OBVIOUSLY: SCHERZER so untouchable that 5 runs (on 6 hits) makes it a blowout.
AND, BUT, ALSO: Batters were swinging out of their shoes at both SCHERZER (14 K) and Liriano (9 K), but Pittsburgh had some clown show going and it cost them. J. MARTINEZ could do no wrong after striking out the first time up (HR, walked in a run, singled in a no-RBI run). A good game ends on a high note with fine defensive plays, including a diving catch from old man HUNTER.

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Game 120: Paxton v. Porcello. Mariners 7, TIGERS 2. Never ahead, down 5.
NICE PLAYS: 1B Morrison, SUAREZ-KINSLER-CABRERA, SS Taylor-Morrison, 3B Seager, HOLADAY-SUAREZ, CASTELLANOS-CABRERA (2)
MISPLAYS: KINSLER-PORCELLO, HOLADAY, Taylor, CF Jackson, SUAREZ-KINSLER, P Paxton, C Zunino, KROL
BASERUNNING NEWS: DAVIS blazed to 3B for a triple despite slipping round 1B. Later on, Miller would show how it’s done without the slip. HUNTER was called safe on a throw from Taylor that pulled Morrison off the bag and then kept going for 2B (did he think Morrison’s tag was a deke?) and got thrown out when Morrison came to and threw down to 2B. Well, actually, he was called safe, but it was close. But the call that got challenged was the one at 1st, and here it became clear that Morison *had* tagged HUNTER. Jackson lost his steal of 2B to an alert SUAREZ holding the tag on him as he briefly came off standing up. KROL, with runners at 1st and 3rd, took the bait on a designed play, went for the pickoff at 1B, allowed the run. Since that made it a 5-run lead, I’d call it getting burned.
THE BIG HIT: Men on 1st and 2nd, none out, 0-0 in the 2nd, Morrison RBI single off PORCELLO.
THE BIG OUT: Men on 1st and 3rd, 2 out, 0-0 in the 1st, Paxton retires HUNTER on a groundball (forceout at 2B).
GOOD HITTING: Taylor, Morrison
BAD HITTING: Jackson
GOOD PITCHING: Paxton
BAD PITCHING: PORCELLO
OBVIOUSLY: Losing in a very undramatic fashion.
AND, BUT, ALSO: It started poorly for Detroit and got worse. Not a defensive gem, this one, with some drunkenly bad plays on both sides. The bright spot was 2 scoreless innings from MERCEDES in his MLB debut.

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Game 121: Hernandez v. Price. TIGERS 4, Mariners 2. Never behind, up 3.
NICE PLAYS: RF Denorfia (2), 2B Cano, SUAREZ, CABRERA, CASTELLANOS-CABRERA, P Hernandez, 3B Seager, CABRERA-SUAREZ
MISPLAYS: SS Taylor, C Zunino, SUAREZ, Seager, NATHAN-CABRERA
BASERUNNING NEWS: J. MARTINEZ swipes 2B and it sets up a run. Cano caught the Tigers sleeping going 1st to 3rd on a grounder to NATHAN in the 9th.
THE BIG HIT: None on, none out, 1-1 in the 4th, CASTELLANOS HR off Hernandez.
THE BIG OUTS: Bases loaded, 1 out, Tigers up 4-1 in the 8th, PRICE retires Jackson (K) and Ackley (grounder to SS, force at 2B).
GOOD HITTING: CASTELLANOS
BAD HITTING: Ackley
GOOD PITCHING: PRICE
BAD PITCHING: Maurer
OBVIOUSLY: Detroit was better across the board.
AND, BUT, ALSO: PRICE got a huge round of applause for his performance. NATHAN didn’t get quite as much love for his 9th inning. The contrast was pretty stark. Little things that change ballgames: If 3B Seager had cut off the throw from LF Ackley and thrown home as he should have, Seattle could have nailed CABRERA at the plate and ended the 7th inning down only 2-1.

JJ3

“I hate baseball.”

Game 122: Young v Ray. Mariners 8, TIGERS 1. Never ahead, down 7.
NICE PLAYS: 1B V. MARTINEZ-RAY, V. MARTINEZ, JOHNSON, LF DAVIS, 2B Cano, ROMINE, 2B Miller-SS Taylor-1B Morrison
MISPLAYS: V. MARTINEZ (2), AVILA, 3B Seager, LF DAVIS, CF CARRERA, CASTELLANOS
BASERUNNING NEWS: DAVIS steals three bases and the Tigers can’t score him once, but CABRERA covers three bases to score on a double.
THE BIG HIT: Runners on 1st and 3rd, 1 out, 0-0 in the 1st, Morales RBI single off RAY.
THE BIG OUTS: Runner on 3rd, 1 out, Tigers down 3-0 in the 3rd, Young retires KINSLER (foul popup) and CARRERA (K).
GOOD HITTING: Morales, Cano
BAD HITTING: KINSLER
GOOD PITCHING: Young
BAD PITCHING: RAY
OBVIOUSLY: Detroit was worse across the board. Trounced. Just plain trounced.
AND, BUT, ALSO: It was really that 6th inning where things went from difficult (trying to hit Young) to embarrassing. M’s manager McClendon was tossed in the 9th (by the 3rd base ump) for who knows what following an AVILA walk and seemed as surprised as anyone by it.

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Cleveland Indians

Game 123: Scherzer v. Archer. Tigers 8, RAYS 6 (11). Down 4, up 3.
NICE PLAYS: LF Joyce, 1B Loney-SS Escobar, 3B Longoria-2B Zobrist-Loney, Escobar
MISPLAYS: CF DAVIS, Loney-Escobar, ROMINE, RF Kiermaier, C Molina
BASERUNNING NEWS: AVILA must have had gotten a huge break off 2B to score the tying run so easily, because even when he’s running like a track star (and he was) he’s just not that fast. The Tigers stole a couple bases but didn’t let it affect their scoring.
THE BIG HIT: None on, none out, 5-5 in the 11th, KINSLER triple off Balfour.
THE BIG OUT: Men on 1st and 3rd, 2 out, 5-5 in the 10th, McGee strikes out DAVIS.
GOOD HITTING: Loney, Zobrist, DAVIS, Longoria
BAD HITTING: Jennings
GOOD PITCHING: SCHERZER, McGee
BAD PITCHING: Balfour, Beliveau, CHAMERLAIN
OBVIOUSLY: They battled back and came through late in the clutch.
AND, BUT, ALSO: You could have been forgiven for turning this one off after 2 innings. It took SCHERZER a while to find his game. A couple key plays in the 5th turned the tide Detroit’s way: A Loney-Escobar IF mishap that loaded the bases, and the trap catch by CF Jennings that AUSMUS successfully challenged. After that, the Rays (their bullpen especially) seemed determined to give the game away. It just took the Tigers (2-15 RISP) a long time to get the message.

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Baltimore Orioles

Game 124: Porcello v. Odorizzi. Tigers 6, RAYS 0. Ahead from the 1st inning on.
NICE PLAYS: 3B Longoria (2), CABRERA-PORCELLO, KINSLER-PORCELLO, CF DAVIS, LF J. MARTINEZ, RF Kiermaier
MISPLAYS: 1B Loney (2), Longoria, C Casali
BASERUNNING NEWS: CABRERA was on base 4 times and did something good/smart 3 of those times (trotting home on the V. MARTINEZ HR was easier).
THE BIG HIT: Bases loaded, 2 out, Tigers up 2-0 in the 7th, V. MARTINEZ grand slam off Yates.
THE BIG OUT: Bases loaded, 2 out, Tigers up 1-0 in the 6th, Odorizzi retires CASTELLANOS (groundout 2B).
GOOD HITTING: V. MARTINEZ
BAD HITTING: (Golden sombrero for Mr. ROMINE.)
GOOD PITCHING: PORCELLO, Odorizzi
BAD PITCHING: Yates
OBVIOUSLY: The “duel with a one-inning decisive explosion” makes its triumphant return after a long absence.
AND, BUT, ALSO: Pseudo-duel, really, as there was no match for PORCELLO (3rd complete game shutout), who retired 20 in a row at one point. All 6 Tigers runs began with two out, no one on situations! It was still a nail-biter until the V. MARTINEZ slam (a true bomb to RF). DAVIS got the party started with his two-out double off Odorizzi.

DC3

Game 125: Price v. Cobb. RAYS 1, Tigers 0. Behind from the 1st inning on.
NICE PLAYS: SS Escobar-1B Loney, HUNTER, CF DAVIS, RF Kiermaier
MISPLAYS: SUAREZ
BASERUNNING NEWS:
THE BIG HIT: Runner on 1st, 1 out, 0-0 in the 1st, Guyer RBI triple off PRICE.
THE BIG OUTS: Runners on 2nd and 3rd, 2 out, Tigers down 1-0 in the 7th, Cobb retires J. MARTINEZ (K) and CASTELLANOS (flyball to deep CF).
GOOD HITTING:
BAD HITTING: DAVIS, J. MARTINEZ
GOOD PITCHING: Cobb, PRICE
BAD PITCHING:
OBVIOUSLY: Oh, they had their chances late.
AND, BUT, ALSO: One hit for the Rays. One hit. And they win. The runner that scored in the 1st inning was there by virtue of the throwing error by SUAREZ. Meanwhile, RF Kiermaier made the game-saving catch on the shallow DAVIS flyball in the 8th.

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Detroit Tigers

Game 126: Ray v. Milone. TWINS 20, Tigers 6. Up 1, down 14.
NICE PLAYS: P Milone-1B Mauer, LF J. MARTINEZ, LF Schafer, 1B Mauer, CF DAVIS, 2B Dozier-SS Escobar-Mauer, CF Santana
MISPLAYS: KINSLER (2), Escobar (3), Santana (2), C Suzuki, DAVIS, CASTELLANOS, 3B Plouffe-1B Parmelee, CF CARRERA
BASERUNNING NEWS: There’s a certain minimum of good pitching and defense required to make baserunning relevant. Not met.
THE BIG HIT: Man on 2nd, 1 out, Tigers down 2-1 in the 2nd, Escobar 2-run HR off RAY.
THE BIG OUTS: Men on 1st and 3rd, 1 out, Tigers down 6-5, Pressly retires V. MARTINEZ on a 4-6-3 DP.
GOOD HITTING: Plouffe, Santana, Mauer, Escobar, Arcia, Dozier, Schafer, KINSLER
BAD HITTING: Suzuki, DAVIS
GOOD PITCHING: COKE, Pressly
BAD PITCHING: RAY. Milone, KROL, JOHNSON, CHAMBERLAIN, ROMINE
OBVIOUSLY: Would you believe this horror story was only 6-5 Twins (with Detroit threatening) in the middle of the 6th inning? Even Minnesota played like a AAA team – what does that say about Detroit’s effort?
AND, BUT, ALSO: The game started with a blast from KINSLER, and RAY struck out two in the bottom half. Right away it looks like a Detroit win. Had you tuned back in for the top of the 6th, you would have said “Minnesota is going DOWN.” Then came the bottom of the 6th, a nearly unimaginable collapse of pitching and defense: 15 Twins batted against JOHNSON/KROL/ALBURQUERQUE. 7 batted with the bases loaded, 1 out recorded. Errors and misplays everywhere. Tigers pitch count for the game was 214. I want to blame AUSMUS for the spectacle of ROMINE pitching the 8th (how humiliating for Andrew himself), but the rest of the bullpen, particularly CHAMBERLAIN, really left him no choice. All that said, the whole game might have turned on Detroit’s failure to score in the 6th.


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DEFENSIVE SCORECARD (in terms of outstanding plays one way or the other)

1B CABRERA (+26, -2) +24
2B KINSLER (+14, -7) +7
CF DAVIS (+8, -3) +5
SS SUAREZ (+9, -4) +5
RF HUNTER (+7, -3) +4
SS ROMINE (+6, -2) +4
3B CASTELLANOS (+8, -7) +1
LF J. MARTINEZ (+4, -3) +1
1B V. MARTINEZ (+4, -3) +1
RF J. MARTINEZ (+1, 0) +1
LF KELLY (+1, 0) +1
1B KELLY (+1, 0) +1
P JOHNSON (+1, 0) +1
P RAY (+1, 0) +1
P PRICE (+1, 0) +1
C AVILA (+4, -4) 0
P PORCELLO (+2, -2) 0
P SANCHEZ (+1, -1) 0
P HARDY (+1, -1) 0
LF DAVIS (+2, -3) -1
P COKE (0, -1) -1
P KROL (0, -1) -1
P NATHAN (0, -1) -1
CF CARRERA (+2, -4) -2
C HOLADAY (+1, -4) -3

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GAME 109: The novelty of the Tigers having the last three AL Cy Young Award winners is played up for the Yankees series, where they will make consecutive starts. *** Eugenio Suarez injures himself (sprained knee), again with a slide into second base, and will likely miss a few games. *** Ezequiel Carrera draws raves for a catch in his first start in CF. Jacoby Ellsbury: “I haven’t seen a better play made all year. The time of the game. Bases loaded. Just a tremendous play. Shows his athleticism to get that ball. I think that’s three RBIs, and at least a triple. That kept them in the ballgame. If that ball lands, it might break open the game for us.”
GAME 110: Detroit signs RP Jim Johnson to a minor league deal, with the expectation that he will be ready for promotion after some tune-up in Toledo. *** Torii Hunter is day to day after leaving the game with a bruised hand (Dellin Betances HBP). *** Joba Chamberlain had to put up with some extra boos, in his first return to New York, after hitting Derek Jeter with a pitch (he felt bad). *** Brad Ausmus on Ian Kinsler: “I guess I was hoping for solid second base; he’s been outstanding second base. He’s a complete baseball player.” *** The Tigers debut of David Price is an unqualified success.
GAME 111: Ausmus: “Tonight was as bad as we’ve been offensively, I think, really all year. Again, Chris Capuano did an excellent job, but the first seven innings of the game, we didn’t seem to make many adjustments.”
GAME 112: Victor Martinez, after a four-game series in which the Tigers scored 6 runs: “They did everything they could to win ballgames,” he said of the pitching staff. “Offensively, we just didn’t do anything. It’s very — I’m having a hard time finding the right word to say it… Offensively, we just didn’t put anything together.”
GAME 113: Anibal Sanchez exits the game early with a right pectoral strain after a pickoff throw to first base. *** Rajai Davis, back in Toronto for the first time, on his game-ending catch in LF: “It actually seemed like it started off fair and then it kind of tailed off. But as soon as it was hit, I knew I had a shot at it. I just put my head down and ran as fast as I could to a spot where I thought it was going to be at. I looked up, took my slide and slid a little longer than I planned. It worked out for us.” *** A hamstring injury is the latest setback in the minor league rehab assignment of Andy Dirks.
GAME 114: Day game after night game includes a morning hotel fire alarm adventure for the team. *** Joakim Soria exited the game with some kind of left side injury. *** Max Scherzer on not coming back out for the 9th inning: “I was done. I mean, there’s nothing else to it. I was done. I’m not going to sit here and play second-guessing the manager. I was done.” *** Ausmus on defensive shifts: “Omar [Vizquel] and I, we’ve kind of felt that was the way to go. If you’re going to shift and you’re worried about a guy bunting, you bring the one [defensive] guy in and move him back with each strike.” *** Luke Putkonen begins throwing bullpen sessions, still an outside chance of a September return.
GAME 115: The marathon: “Nineteen innings, on turf,” said Torii Hunter, one of five Tigers position players who were on the field for all 19. “It wears your muscles out, not really your joints. This is more your muscles, your calves, your hamstrings, shoulders, everything.” *** Sanchez and Soria (left oblique strain) are placed on the 15-day DL. Robbie Ray will take Sanchez’s place in the rotation. *** Ausmus takes in the marathon game from the clubhouse, having been ejected in the 3rd inning for comments from the dugout about the strike zone Mark Buehrle was getting. *** Game duration of 6:37 is the second-longest since 1914 for Detroit. *** Melky Cabrera became the first player to reach base 8 times in a game since 1972.
GAME 116: The Tigers fall out of first place, and the flash flood of injuries to pitcher continues, as Justin Verlander exits after only one inning with right shoulder soreness and doesn’t think much of his stuff (“The worst of my career”). *** Ausmus: “We were a little sloppy in the field early, and had a couple of baserunning blunders as well. So it was a sloppy game all around. But we did swing the bats better, and that’s the one positive.” *** A flurry of roster moves in response to injuries and the marathon game: Relievers Ian Krol, Justin Miller, and Kevin Whelan come up from Toledo, relievers Blaine Hardy and Pat McCoy are optioned to Toledo (though maybe just on paper), and Mud Hen P Casey Crosby is released to clear room on the 40-man.
GAME 117: Hunter on the just-completed 2-7 road trip: “We’re not pointing fingers at any particular people here. We haven’t hit as a whole on this road trip. As a team, we haven’t scored runs. We’ve gotten hits at times. We haven’t scored runs. And we’ve got to find a way to drive runners in.” Ausmus: “It was a crappy trip. That’s how I would assess it.” *** Hardy never actually has to leave due to roster technicalities about replacing the DL’d Sanchez, while Miller’s stay was short to make room for starter Ray. Following all this? *** Trainer Kevin Rand on Verlander: “At this point right now, we’re looking at hopefully he’ll only miss one start and we’ll go from there.”
GAME 118: P Buck Farmer (only two starts above A-ball) is called up to make his MLB debut as the spot starter, so Whelan is sent back to Toledo and Erie C Ramon Cabrera is DFA to clear the roster space (and the Pirates immediately claimed him on waivers). *** The Pirates’ Travis Snider on Farmer’s debut: “Early on, he was effective. Later in the game, he made a couple mistakes. Overall, he gave his team a chance to win, so you’ve got to tip your cap on that one.” *** Pigeons have replaced gulls as the birds of distraction at Comerica, causing some distraction and amusement early in this game. *** This was the game of the famous Joe Nathan chin flicks to the crowd after closing out the win *after* struggles that drew some significant booing. Nathan explained and apologized soon thereafter.
GAME 119: Max Scherzer strikes out 14 and becomes the first AL starter with 14 wins. *** The first Scherzer out on a ball in play (8 K’s on first 10 batters) wasn’t until the 4th inning, on a fine run-saving play at the wall in LF appreciated by Max. J.D. Martinez: “He [Travis Snider] put a good swing on it. The wind was blowing out in that direction. I knew it was going to carry. I was just going, going, going, try to just get there, have a chance at it.” *** Farmer returns to the minors, Johnson wants another tune-up outing in Toledo, and so reliever Melvin Mercedes comes up to take Farmer’s spot.
GAME 120: Rick Porcello: “I was up in the zone the whole night, didn’t make the proper adjustments to get the ball down. Just didn’t pitch well at all,” he said. “This wasn’t a good performance on my part, put us out of the game early.” *** J.D. Martinez on coming out of a 13-72 post-break slump: “Me and [assistant hitting coach] Darnell Coles, we were working really hard on not crossing my front foot. It seemed like I’ve been crossing it a lot more and just hitting a lot of ground balls to the left side of the field, which when I’m going good I’m not doing.” *** Austin Jackson makes his first appearance in Detroit as a Mariner, going 0-5 with a GIDP that plated a run *** Mercedes has an impressive 2-inning MLB debut, but is sent back to Toledo after the game as Johnson is called up.
GAME 121: David Price, making his home debut as a Tiger before the biggest crowd since Opening Day, on Ausmus leaving him in to get out of his 8th-inning jam: “I’m pretty sure that’s the first time I ever had the manager come out and I’ve been able to stay in the game. That’s cool. I love that.” *** Ausmus on questions about one particular player’s recent offensive struggles: “As a group, we haven’t scored a bunch of runs lately. We have trouble scoring runs. We can’t string hits together. So I’m not going to single out one particular player and say that’s the reason we’re struggling. First of all, it’s not true, and it’s completely unfair to that player.”
GAME 122: Miguel Cabrera: “You want to get good at-bats. That’s what you want to get, get deep in the counts, like we do yesterday with Felix. I think we don’t do a very good job with this pitcher today. I think we have to battle better. We have to do a better job offensively.” *** Ausmus after a game of dismal defense: “It is baseball, but we need to play better. We’re a better team than this. Period.” *** Davis after his rather Detroit-historic day on the basepaths (3 SB, reaches 30 for the season): “I just try to get into scoring position. It’s easier to score from 90 feet closer than it is from 90 feet further away.” Davis bruises his thumb on one steal, leaves the game eventually, goes day to day.
GAME 123: Scherzer: “I was giving up some runs, and walking guys, and, you know, that’s frustrating. But I didn’t let it beat me down. They didn’t knock me out of the game. I didn’t let them get the best of me. I was able to settle down and get back on track. Just found a way to get it done. That’s all I can say.”
GAME 124: Porcello: “We had a couple of guys set up. The right-handers, we were pounding them in with sinkers. When you throw consecutive pitches on the inner half or in off [the plate] and you get them swinging at it, it makes the outer half of the plate look pretty far away.” *** Tampa Bay’s Kirby Yates on the Victor Martinez grand slam: “Those guys are geared up to hit those kinds of pitches, and bottom line is I didn’t execute. I knew it was gone as soon as it left my hand.”
GAME 125: The first time since at least 1914 that a pitcher – Price, in this case – has lost a complete-game, one-hit, no-walk start without allowing an earned run. Hunter: “I mean, you talk about almost a no-hitter. I just wish we would have scored some runs. At least one run. It’s really frustrating, you know? Of course it was a good game both ways, but — at least one run? Can’t we get one?”
GAME 126: Ausmus: “This was a bad game. It was an embarrassing game, really. There’s really not much to say about it. It is what it is.” On using Andrew Romine as a pitcher: “He took one for the team. He picked us up, really. Didn’t really matter how he pitched, we just were hoping that he could get through three outs without an injury or overextending himself.” *** Ray on suspecting he was tipping pitches: “They knew when it (an offspeed pitch] was coming,” *** Cabrera was at DH rather than 1B for some rest. Ausmus: “He re-aggravated an old ankle injury. It goes back a little ways. It’s not the first time it’s happened. It flares up from time to time, and a lot of times when he slides, it re-aggravates it for whatever reason.” *** Ray and Krol return to Toledo, replaced by Kyle Lobstein and McCoy, and Farmer is recalled for a spot start in the next game. ***  Verlander will miss only the one start he has already, and will be scheduled to follow Farmer in the imminent doubleheader.

EC3

68-58, 2nd in the Central, 6th in the AL, on pace for an 87-75 season…

RESEARCH MADE POSSIBLE BY: MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL and BASEBALL REFERENCE.
PHOTO CREDITS: PRICE: Kathy Willens/AP; JONES: Duane Burleson/Getty Images; LAMONT: David Richard/USA Today; JOYNER: Joy R. Absalon/USA Today; COLES: Mark Cunningham/Getty Images; MARTIN: Rick Osentoski/USA Today; CARRERA: Jeffrey Phelps/Getty Images.

DTW News and Notes 12-2-14

Throwing up a new thread to post notes ahead of the winter meetings.

In case you missed it, Torii Hunter back to the Twins. One year for $10.5M. The Tigers did not make him an offer. Bummer that he never won a ring.

There’s been some other news recently, let’s get it going in the comments.

Hope everyone’s holiday season is off to a great start.

2014: The 6th Inning (8-10)

It’s like forgetting the words to your favorite song. You can’t believe it. You were always singing along. (So imagine what this could have been like without 6 games against inferior NL West opponents.)

So the Detroit Tigers are now:

SP Verlander
SP Scherzer
SP Sanchez
SP Porcello
SP Smyly
RP Nathan
RP Alburquerque
RP Chamberlain
RP Coke
RP Hardy
RP Smith
RP Krol
C Avila
C Holaday
1B-DH-3B Cabrera
2B Kinsler
SS-2B Romine
SS Suarez
3B Castellanos
IF-OF Kelly
RF Hunter
CF Jackson
LF-CF Davis
LF-RF J. Martinez
DH-1B V. Martinez


 

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Game 91: Verlander v. Chen. ROYALS 5, Tigers 2. Up 2, down 3.
NICE PLAYS: SS Escobar-2B Infante-1B Hosmer, 3B Moustakas, CABRERA, CF Dyson
MISPLAYS: Moustakas, Escobar, C Hayes, SUAREZ
BASERUNNING NEWS: The Tigers stole some bases without stealing them, as DAVIS went first to third en route to scoring and JACKSON went first to home on the J. MARTINEZ popup into LF no man’s land (questionable effort by Escobar there, sun ball or not.) AVILA beat the shift with an IF single to SS.
THE BIG HIT: Bases loaded, 2 out, 2-2 in the 7th, INFANTE 2-run single off ALBURQUERQUE.
THE BIG OUT: Bases loaded, 1 out, 2-2 in the 7th, KROL retires Aoki (popout 2B).
GOOD HITTING: J. MARTINEZ
BAD HITTING: Aoki, KINSLER
GOOD PITCHING: Ventura
BAD PITCHING: ALBURQUERQUE, COKE
OBVIOUSLY: The team that sends 11 men to the plate in the 7th tends to win.
AND, BUT, ALSO: The Tigers 2 runs in the 3rd made it look like luck was on their side (and if the CABRERA sac fly had been a bit deeper, as in gone, it’s a different game). Move of the game may have been bringing in Ventura to put Detroit on ice (they called it a day and finished 1 for 12), and luck turned sharply the other way in the 7th. A slip and a failed lunge by VERLANDER, and the table was set for the big inning the Tigers bullpen could do nothing to prevent.

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ALL-STAR BREAK

“I hate baseball.”

Game 92: Bauer v. Sanchez. Indians 9, TIGERS 3. Up 3, down 6.
NICE PLAYS: SANCHEZ, SUAREZ-CABRERA, RF Murphy-2B Kipnis-C Gomes, JACKSON, HUNTER, SS Cabrera-Kipnis-1B Santana, 3B Chisenhall
MISPLAYS: Gomes-Chisenhall, Gomes, SUAREZ, LF J. MARTINEZ
BASERUNNING NEWS: J. MARTINEZ was out at home trying to score from 1B, but it took a mighty fine play to get him. Stealing 3B to draw the possible error is great strategy when it works, and it did for HUNTER (who scored on the play). The CABRERA steal of 2B wasn’t all Gomes’s bobble; he had a great jump, though not as great as the one Brantley got off SANCHEZ (or as much of an impact).
THE BIG HIT: Men on 2nd and 3rd, 2 out, 3-3 in the 7th, KIPNIS 3-run HR off ALBURQUERQUE.
THE BIG OUT: Men on 2nd and 3rd, 1 out, 3-3 in the 7th, ALBURQUERQUE strikes out Dickerson.
GOOD HITTING: Kipnis, Swisher
BAD HITTING: JACKSON
GOOD PITCHING: Bauer
BAD PITCHING: ALBURQUERQUE, SMITH
OBVIOUSLY: Another late collapse. Remarkably, the opponent sends 11 men to the plate in the 7th for the second consecutive game.
AND, BUT, ALSO: No question that the Tigers played well and won the first 6 innings, or that the offense kept knocking at the door the rest of the way. Did the unraveling start with the Brantley IF single that should have (?) been an out? Not a reason for the bullpen to be gasoline. V. MARTINEZ was back in the lineup after an extended absence, 2-4 with a couple of K’s.

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AS73

Game 93: Kluber v. VerHagen. Indians 6, TIGERS 2. (Game One of makeup doubleheader.) Never ahead, down 5.
NICE PLAYS:  HOLADAY-SUAREZ-CASTELLANOS, SS Cabrera, 2B Kipnis-1B Santana (2), HOLADAY-SUAREZ (2), KINSLER-SUAREZ-CABRERA, 3B Chisenhall, KINSLER, Santana
MISPLAYS: CABRERA, Kipnis, KINSLER, HOLADAY (3)
BASERUNNING NEWS: A good news/bad news day for HOLADAY defensively. The good news was that he was death to would-be thieves, and the CS on Brantley and Murphy were just sensational combos. The hustle on the CASTELLANOS 9th inning double did not go unnoticed. Good read and no hesitation scores CABRERA from 3rd on a groundout (though it took a good play from 1B Santana just to stop the would-be single off the bat of J. MARTINEZ).
THE BIG HIT: Runner on 1st, none out, 0-0 in the 5th, SWISHER RBI double off VerHAGEN.
THE BIG OUTS: Runners on 1st and 2nd, none out, Tigers down 3-0 in the 5th, KLUBER retires DAVIS on a 1-4-3 DP, SUAREZ advancing to 3B.
GOOD HITTING: Murphy, Gomes, Kipnis
BAD HITTING: Brantley, Raburn, DAVIS
GOOD PITCHING: Kluber
BAD PITCHING: KNEBEL
OBVIOUSLY: Detroit couldn’t get to Kluber (10 K and 13 groundball outs) and was beaten soundly for it.
AND, BUT, ALSO: Not as flat as the scoring might indicate, and closer; both teams came to play with good defense and action on the bases, and there were quite a few bang-bang plays. Kluber was just dealing, and the Tigers’ runs were truly scratched in. The mop-up style finish was disheartening. 4-1 is a blowout, KNEBEL, HOLADAY, AUSMUS?

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Game 94: McAllister v. Scherzer. Indians 5, TIGERS 2. (Game Two of makeup doubleheader.) Up 1, down 3.
NICE PLAYS: HUNTER-KINSLER-SUAREZ, 3B Chisenhall, CABRERA-SUAREZ, CABRERA
MISPLAYS: SCHERZER-CABRERA, P McAllister, AVILA (2), JACKSON (2), 2B Kipnis, P Axford
BASERUNNING NEWS: Not much. They were all tired. Strange play where McAllister tried stopping his pitch in the middle of his delivery (with a man on 1st) and ended up throwing it down to the infield grass. Looked like a balk, scored a wild pitch, apparently.
THE BIG HIT: Bases loaded, 2 out, 2-2 in the 9th, Santana 3-run double off NATHAN.
THE BIG OUTS: Man on 3rd, 1 out, Tigers down 2-1 in the 6th, Axford strikes out J. MARTINEZ and HUNTER.
GOOD HITTING: JACKSON, Dickerson, Santana
BAD HITTING: KINSLER
GOOD PITCHING: McAllister, Axford, KROL
BAD PITCHING: NATHAN
OBVIOUSLY: A game that could have gone either way resoundingly blown by our closer.
AND, BUT, ALSO: Before we heap all the blame on Nathan: JACKSON’s misplay was a key in his demise. The teams combined for 1-18 RISP. The “1” belonged to Cleveland. Both starters scuffled (and lefties were clobbering SCHERZER), and Detroit especially left a lot of runs out there (1 walk in 5 tries with a runner at 3B!). Defense was poor. Relief pitching was actually the least of it, aside from losing the game in the top of the 9th and all.

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DV78

Game 95: Tomlin v. Smyly. TIGERS 5, Indians 1. Never behind, up 4.
NICE PLAYS: RF Murphy-1B Santana, HUNTER, 1B V. MARTINEZ-SMYLY, Santana-P Tomlin, AVILA-KINSLER, ROMINE-KINSLER, Santana-P Adams,
MISPLAYS: 3B Aviles, LF Raburn
BASERUNNING NEWS: The Tigers challenged every Indians OF arm in the 1st inning and won each time, with JACKSON scoring on a shallow single and KINSLER tagging up twice and coming in to score. JACKSON got a little greedy the next time and got doubled off 1B for gambling that KINSLER’s RF fly would drop. ROMINE reached on a swinging bunt to the left side. He was out stealing 3B except that Aviles couldn’t glove the good throw from Gomes, and so it went as a double-steal for ROMINE-JACKSON. HUNTER motors home from 1B on the CASTELLANOS double.
THE BIG HIT: Runner on 1st, 2 out, Tigers up 2-0 in the 4th, HUNTER 2-run HR off Tomlin.
THE BIG OUTS: Runners on 1st and 2nd, none out, Tigers up 4-0 in the 6th, SMYLY retires Cabrera-Brantley-Santana in order.
GOOD HITTING: CASTELLANOS, HUNTER
BAD HITTING: AVILA
GOOD PITCHING: SMYLY, Crockett, Lee
BAD PITCHING: Tomlin
OBVIOUSLY: A very good start stands up. 4 runs of support is starting to look “big.”
AND, BUT, ALSO: Over the course of 4 at bats in the 5th and 6th (all strikeouts), Detroit left 10 baserunners standing where they were. This is the game where the guy who catches HUNTER’s home run is accosted by Fat Drunk Guy. Maybe they were buddies. Let’s hope so.

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Game 96: Verlander v. Nuno. Tigers 4, DIAMONDBACKS 3. Never behind, up 3.
NICE PLAYS: 3B Prado (2), 3B CABRERA, VERLANDER-KINSLER-1B V. MARTINEZ, V. MARTINEZ, RF Parra, KINSLER-V. MARTINEZ, HOLADAY-V. MARTINEZ (2), CF Peralta, CABRERA-KINSLER, LF Trumbo-2B Hill.
MISPLAYS: LF DAVIS
BASERUNNING NEWS: A close game with plenty of baserunners, but no steal attempts. DAVIS (on base three times himself) wishes he would have taken one more base on his double (it was offered). CABRERA thought his (would-be) double off the CF “balcony” was a HR (I sure did), which may have played a part in how Trumbo was able to gun him down. It still went as the game-winning hit (JACKSON scored from 3B).
THE BIG HIT: None on, 2 out, Tigers up 3-2 in the 6th, Parra HR off Verlander.
THE BIG OUTS: Men on 1st and 3rd, 2 out, Tigers up 4-3 in the 7th, ALBURQUERQUE retires Goldschmidt (groundball 3B, forceout at 2B).
GOOD HITTING: JACKSON
BAD HITTING:
GOOD PITCHING: CHAMBERLAIN, NATHAN, Stites
BAD PITCHING:
OBVIOUSLY: The Tigers answered the comeback and won a close one the way you should.
AND, BUT, ALSO: HOLADAY-V. MARTINEZ to pick off Inciarte at 1B in the 7th was huge, a game-changer. Or a game-keeper, just when momentum was starting to tilt the other way. The HUNTER home run to LF sure got out of the park in a hurry. An outstanding game defensively for both teams, but it made the winning difference for Detroit.

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JV70

Game 97: Porcello v. Anderson. DIAMONDBACKS 5, Tigers 4. Up 1, down 1.
NICE PLAYS: RF Parra, PORCELLO, P Anderson-2B Hill, KINSLER-SUAREZ-1B V. MARTINEZ, SUAREZ-V. MARTINEZ, Hill, CF Peralta-C Montero, Hill-1B Goldschmidt
MISPLAYS: 3B Prado, C Montero
BASERUNNING NEWS: Peralta’s two triples were impressive as feats of baserunning alone. JACKSON did a fine job staying out of a DP and came around to score. Nice bunt by KINSLER goes for a hit and puts two on. HUNTER’s jump on the SB attempt would have been amazing if the guess about Anderson’s imminent delivery would have been correct (easy 1-4 out). Great hustle by KINSLER going first to third was a big deal in the Tigers’ dramatic 8th, as was getting caught in an extended rundown between 3rd and home (if you’re going to get caught, you can’t do it much better). All works out for the best with the help of a key pinch-running assignment for KELLY.
THE BIG HIT: Bases loaded, 2 out, Tigers up 4-3 in the 8th, Montero 2-run single off KROL.
THE BIG OUT: Runners on 1st and 3rd, none out, Tigers down 3-2 in the 8th, Ziegler gets a grounder to 1B from V. MARTINEZ and KINSLER is thrown out trying to score from 3B.
GOOD HITTING: Montero, Peralta, CABRERA
BAD HITTING: AVILA
GOOD PITCHING: PORCELLO, Anderson, De La Rosa
BAD PITCHING: COKE, ALBURQUERQUE, KROL, Ziegler
OBVIOUSLY: An exciting Detroit comeback is quickly erased by 1 inning of bullpen.
AND, BUT, ALSO: I don’t want to wear out the phrase, but this was playoff baseball. Great game. Pitchers Ziegler and COKE were both struck by line drives that deflected off them in the 8th inning, and in neither case did the pitching improve as a result. But while Detroit got an out thanks to 3B CABRERA, COKE’s two subsequent walks were the runs that won the game for Arizona.

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Game 98: Sanchez v. Cahill. Tigers 11, DIAMONDBACKS 5. Never behind, up 7.
NICE PLAYS: RF Parra, 3B CABRERA-KINSLER-1B V. MARTINEZ, KINSLER-ROMINE-V. MARTINEZ, CABRERA-V. MARTINEZ, LF Trumbo, KINSLER
MISPLAYS: SANCHEZ, 2B Hill, Trumbo, C Montero, P Stites
BASERUNNING NEWS: The Diamondbacks’ stolen bases were definitely on SANCHEZ. And they both led to runs. V. MARTINEZ had get up and go moving 1st to 3rd on the KELLY single, which played a part in enabling KELLY to score from 1B on the subsequent AVILA double. CABRERA was wincing after the slide at home on the sacrifice fly.
THE BIG HIT: Runners on 1st and 3rd, 1 out, 0-0 in the 2nd, AVILA 2-run double off Cahill.
THE BIG OUTS: Runners on 1st and 2nd, 1 out, Tigers up 7-5 in the 7th, CHAMBERLAIN retires Goldschmidt (6-4-3 DP).
GOOD HITTING: CABRERA, JACKSON, Parra, Gregorius
BAD HITTING: Montero
GOOD PITCHING: HARDY, De La Rosa, Perez
BAD PITCHING: Cahill, SANCHEZ, Stites
OBVIOUSLY: Another lead was evaporating before the Tigers put it away in the 8th.
AND, BUT, ALSO: The AUSMUS challenge that overturned the out call on ROMINE at 1B (subsequently scored an error on 2B Hill) opened the door for 4 more two-out runs in the Tigers 4th. Big. CABRERA had to look long and hard from home plate at his 3-run HR that put the game out of reach (it hit the LF foul pole). Bullpen-proof, but the bullpen pitched well anyway.

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MLB: Detroit Tigers at Minnesota Twins

“It’s great to be alive and to be a Tigers fan.”

Game 99: Scherzer v. Richards. Tigers 6, ANGELS 4. Down 2, up 3.
NICE PLAYS: RF Calhoun (2), SS Aybar-1B Pujols, HUNTER-SUAREZ, C Conger, CF Trout (2), 3B Freese, JACKSON, LF Hamilton, SUAREZ-KINSLER-CABRERA
MISPLAYS: Conger, SUAREZ
BASERUNNING NEWS: Trying to catch the Tigers off guard with a suicide squeeze backfired when Aybar’s first-pitch bunt turned into an easy pop to CABRERA at 1B. JACKSON burned from 1B to home to score that big 5th run. SUAREZ made it look easy stealing 2B, and soon scored.
THE BIG HIT: Men on 1st and 2nd, none out, Tigers down 3-1 in the 6th, HUNTER RBI double off Richards.
THE BIG OUTS: Men on 1st and 3rd, none out, Tigers up 6-3 in the 8th, CHAMBERLAIN retires Hamilton (sacrifice fly) and Aybar (6-4-3 DP).
GOOD HITTING: SUAREZ, Calhoun
BAD HITTING: Aybar
GOOD PITCHING: SCHERZER, NATHAN
BAD PITCHING:
OBVIOUSLY: Detroit answered the sudden L.A. outburst right away, added on, and held on. Beautiful.
AND, BUT, ALSO: JACKSON’s leaping, HR-robbing catch of the Calhoun drive in the 7th was the defensive game-winner to match the CASTELLANOS double in the 6th that put the Tigers on top. SCHERZER only sagged in one inning, and the Angels certainly made the most of very little. NATHAN was the closer we’d heard about way back when: The Angels were flailing away, 12 pitches, 3 swinging strikeouts. HUNTER got buzzed high and tight (97 MPH) for ball four in his first AB against Richards; a bit scary.

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Game 100: Smyly v. Skaggs. ANGELS 2, Tigers 1. Up 1, down 1.
NICE PLAYS: 3B Freese-1B Pujols, P Skaggs, Skaggs-Pujols-2B Kendrick, Kendrick-SS Aybar-Pujols, HUNTER, SUAREZ-CABRERA, LF J. MARTINEZ, AVILA-SUAREZ, SUAREZ, KINSLER-CABRERA
MISPLAYS: LF Hamilton, Freese, KINSLER, HUNTER-SUAREZ
BASERUNNING NEWS: SUAREZ got a little bold with the jump off lefty Skaggs (playing SMYLY) and was an easy POCS. Nailing Aybar stealing 2B late in the game above average in both form and impact for AVILA-SUAREZ. Letting Pujols go 1st to 3rd in the 8th (even though he wouldn’t score) was a subtle example of how the Tigers defense softens up when it can least afford it, “little” things not done quite right.
THE BIG HIT: Runners on 1st and 2nd, 2 out, 1-1 in the 6th, Navarro RBI single off SMYLY.
THE BIG OUT: Bases loaded, 2 out, Tigers up 1-0 in the 6th, Morin strikes out HUNTER.
GOOD HITTING:
BAD HITTING: AVILA
GOOD PITCHING: Skaggs, SMYLY. Jepsen
BAD PITCHING:
OBVIOUSLY: A well-pitched game, with both teams mounting rallies in the decisive 6th inning (different results).
AND, BUT, ALSO: SMYLY was great, bullpen was good, and the defense was pretty sharp, but unfortunately, the Angels pitchers were a match for all three. HUNTER covered JACKSON nicely on a play (double that could have been more) that I was sure saved a run (it really didn’t, none on, but still), and then struck out (3rd out) with the bases loaded next half inning. Hamilton leaving the game early turned out to be bad luck for Detroit. (I remember watching the game when it aired and thinking Hamilton had been pulled for dogging it to 1B, but of course it all had to do with injury).

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Indians Tigers Baseball

Game 101: Verlander v. Shoemaker. ANGELS 4, Tigers 0. Behind from the 2nd on.
NICE PLAYS: HUNTER (2), P Shoemaker-1B Pujols, LF Navarro (2), SS Aybar, CASTELLANOS-CABRERA (2), CASTELLANOS-KINSLER, LF J. MARTINEZ-AVILA, CF Trout
MISPLAYS: HUNTER (2), KINSLER
BASERUNNING NEWS: SUAREZ had it rough on the bases, picked off at 1B and then called out on an otherwise good bunt – for stepping on home plate.
THE BIG HIT: None on, none out, 0-0 in the 2nd, Navarro HR off VERLANDER.
THE BIG OUT: Men on 1st and 3rd, 2 out, 0-0 in the 1st, VERLANDER retires Kendrick (groundout to P).
GOOD HITTING: Navarro
BAD HITTING: McDonald
GOOD PITCHING: Shoemaker
BAD PITCHING:
OBVIOUSLY: Quality start against outstanding start not a contest, no drama (well, some – it was mostly close) and certainly no offense from Detroit.
AND, BUT, ALSO: You wouldn’t have suspected that the game had ended in the 1st when V. MARTINEZ struck out to strand a runner at 3B, but the Tigers were just up against it with Shoemaker (3 hits and 0 walks in 7 IP). AUSMUS was tossed in the 3rd for arguing legitimately that Mike Scioscia had challenged the safe call on SUAREZ at 1B (overturned, pickoff) much too late. Jim Joyce countered that the umps have discretion on what to review, also legitimately, as it turns out. Someone tell that Navarro guy to go away.

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Game 102: Porcello v. Santiago. ANGELS 2, Tigers 1. Up 1, down 1.
NICE PLAYS: RF Calhoun (2), SUAREZ-KINSLER (2), KINSLER-SUAREZ-1B V. MARTINEZ, CASTELLANOS, P Smith-1B Pujols, LF DAVIS
MISPLAYS: PORCELLO, JACKSON, C Conger
BASERUNNING NEWS: Heads-up baserunning by Aybar (and the perfect bunt from Kendrick that put Aybar at 2B) turned out to be pretty large in a game with few baserunners at all.
THE BIG HIT: None on, 1 out, 1-1 in the 8th, Freese HR off CHAMBERLAIN.
THE BIG OUTS: Runner on 2nd, 1 out, 1-1 in the 5th, PORCELLO recovers from his own costly error to retire Navarro (lineout 3B) and Freese (lineout CF).
GOOD HITTING:
BAD HITTING:
GOOD PITCHING: PORCELLO, Santiago, Morin
BAD PITCHING: CHAMBERLAIN
OBVIOUSLY: Neither side hitting (0-4 RISP combined), a duel someone had to lose.
AND, BUT, ALSO: Oh, man! An instant of PORCELLO-JACKSON clown show,  CHAMBERLAIN serves up a meatball, and there’s your ballgame. Except for the 3 hits, no walks part. Bad day for the bats, and (DH) CABRERA (he of all the “offense” in the prior two games) was worst of the bunch. Tough luck for PORCELLO, but he did help to make it that way.

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JC76

Game 103: Quintana v. Sanchez. White Sox 11, TIGERS 4. Up 2, down 9.
NICE PLAYS: SUAREZ-1B V. MARTINEZ, SS Ramirez-2B Beckham-1B Abreu (2), RF Viciedo, JACKSON, KINSLER, HOLADAY-SUAREZ, P Quintana-Abreu, 3B Gillaspie-Beckham-Abreu, RF Sierra
MISPLAYS: SS Ramirez, SUAREZ-V. MARTINEZ, SUAREZ, 3B CABRERA, LF DAVIS (2), RF J. MARTINEZ
BASERUNNING NEWS: J.  MARTINEZ is quite the triples guy. ROMINE, an early substitution, promptly got himself picked off 1B with a big sleeping lead. The White Sox made the most of their many baserunners; Tigers, maybe not so much. A good caught stealing on Gillaspie (and good AUSMUS challenge) did thwart a big inning brewing in the 4th.
THE BIG HIT: Men on 1st and 2nd, 1 out, 2-2 in the 7th, Flowers single that scores a run on E7 off SANCHEZ.
THE BIG OUT: Men on 1st and 2nd, none out, 2-2 in the 7th, SANCHEZ retires DeAza (popout SS).
GOOD HITTING: Abreu
BAD HITTING: DeAza, DAVIS
GOOD PITCHING:
BAD PITCHING: SORIA, KROL, Thompson
OBVIOUSLY: It *was* a game for 6 innings, Defense, bullpen intervene.
AND, BUT, ALSO: Yes, the White Sox should have won (they turned 3 double plays to the Tigers 0, for one thing), but not this big. The 7th was brutal, the whole mess started by 3B CABRERA. It may as well have been a position player pitching instead of SORIA: 15 pitches, 6 runs. There seemed to be some doubt on the JACKSON HBP (Webb) whether the ball had hit his bat rather than his hand. Clearly, it was the latter. Maybe the pain display wasn’t dramatic enough (see HUNTER for lessons).

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Game 104: Noesi v. Scherzer. TIGERS 7, White Sox 2. Never behind, up 6.
NICE PLAYS: ROMINE-KINSLER-CABRERA, SCHERZER-KINSLER-CABRERA, SCHERZER-CABRERA, 2B Beckham-SS Ramirez-1B Abreu, Abreu
MISPLAYS: Ramirez, C Nieto
BASERUNNING NEWS: Speed merchant CABRERA raced home from 2B to score (as did fellow speed merchant V. MARTINEZ soon enough), nice, but I wish he’d stop sliding when it wasn’t necessary.
THE BIG HIT: Runners on 1st and 3rd, 1 out, Tigers up 3-0 in the 1st, CASTELLANOS 3-run HR (opposite field, nice catch by a fan) off Noesi.
THE BIG OUTS: Runner on 1st, none out, 0-0 in the 1st, SCHERZER retires Ramirez (6-4-3 DP).
GOOD HITTING: CASTELLANOS, J. MARTINEZ, HUNTER
BAD HITTING: JACKSON
GOOD PITCHING: SCHERZER
BAD PITCHING: Noesi
OBVIOUSLY: Wrapped up in the first inning, and no lead evaporation.
AND, BUT, ALSO: The Tigers pummeled Noesi early, and SCHERZER was both good and very efficient, keeping a solidly played game a nicely uneventful win. The Dunn HR (off ALBURQUERQUE) was a bit unusual, especially for a Dunn HR. It hit the top of the wall in RF and bounced between wall and railing in a way that left it improbably just lying on top of the wall. A “doubter,” I suppose.

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MS71

Game 105: Danks v. Smyly. White Sox 7, TIGERS 4. Up 1, down 3.
NICE PLAYS: SUAREZ-KINSLER-CABRERA, SMYLY-KINSLER-CABRERA, SS Ramirez-C Flowers, 1B Abreu-Flowers, AVILA-CASTELLANOS, 2B Beckham, KINSLER, Ramirez-Beckham-Abreu, CASTELLANOS, HUNTER, Ramirez-Abreu, Beckham-Ramirez-Abreu
MISPLAYS: CF Eaton, LF J. MARTINEZ (2), 2B Beckham, AVILA (4), LF Viciedo, CASTELLANOS, 3B Gillaspie
BASERUNNING NEWS: I’d call KINSLER’s double + E8 more of a triple, such a good read, great hustle, and exciting play as it was. Unfortunately, coming home on contact on the CABRERA grounder to SS was not such a good plan (much too hard-hit). SMYLY catching Eaton (1) in a POCS was a great way to end the 2nd not a moment too soon. Allowing Konerko (at age 97) to move 5 BASES en route to two runs scored says something about the Tigers’ OF defense. J. MARTINEZ got greedy on his single (+ Viciedo bobble) that HUNTER was blazing to 3B on and essentially killed the inning. Contrast this with Eaton getting to 3B on the single to LF (no bobble, just no arm) and what happened then. If you thought V. MARTINEZ actually beat out a DP, you’re technically correct (it withstood a challenge), but he was out at 1B.
THE BIG HIT: Man on 1st, none out, 4-4 in the 7th, Ramirez single off SORIA moves Eaton to 3B with Ramirez taking 2B on the throw.
THE BIG OUTS: Bases loaded, 1 out, Tigers down 5-4 in the 7th, SORIA retires Beckham (popout 2B) and strikes out Flowers.
GOOD HITTING: Eaton, Sierra, HUNTER, CASTELLANOS
BAD HITTING: Garcia, CABRERA
GOOD PITCHING: Belisario, Guerra, HARDY
BAD PITCHING: SMYLY, Danks, CHAMBERLAIN
OBVIOUSLY: Back and forth for 6 innings before the Tigers threw in the towel.
AND, BUT, ALSO: Certainly was dramatic and action-packed. Failing to plate the run (from 3B) in the 1st set the tone for how frustrating it would end up. A few failures at critical junctures sealed Detroit’s fate in a winnable game, maybe. Or perhaps it was just being out-defended and outrun, after all.

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Game 106: Morales v. Verlander. TIGERS 4, Rockies 2. Never behind, up 3.
NICE PLAYS: CF DAVIS (3), SS Rutledge-1B Morneau, RF Gonzalez, CASTELLANOS
MISPLAYS: CABRERA, KINSLER, CASTELLANOS, HOLADAY
BASERUNNING NEWS: DAVIS didn’t really steal a base that counted (the batter walked), but it looked good. Coming home to score from 1B earlier looked even better. Even scoring from 2B looked amazing; just the way DAVIS runs. All told, he was involved in all the Detroit scoring. Barnes had a lesson for Detroit in how to score from 3B running on contact.
THE BIG HIT: Runners on 2nd and 3rd, 1 out, 0-0 in the 5th, DAVIS 2-run single off Morales.
THE BIG OUTS: Runners on 1st and 3rd, 1 out, Tigers up 3-1 in the 7th, VERLANDER gets through Rutledge-LeMahieu-Blackmon with a run-scoring fielder’s choice and two swinging strikeouts.
GOOD HITTING: DAVIS
BAD HITTING: Dickerson, CASTELLANOS
GOOD PITCHING: VERLANDER
BAD PITCHING: Masset
OBVIOUSLY: Detroit stayed a step ahead in a pitchers’ game.
AND, BUT, ALSO: It’s hard to see how the Rockies managed to have 11 PA with RISP, but obviously they did very little aside from putting them there. A very efficient and rather unstressful outing for VERLANDER. The Colorado runs resulted from – get this – 4 substandard defensive plays from 4 different Tigers in the same inning. Gonzalez hurt himself on a fine catch in RF foul territory.

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AA77

Game 107: Matzek v. Porcello. TIGERS 11, Rockies 5. Down 1, up 9.
NICE PLAYS: AVILA (2), AVILA-CASTELLANOS, 3B Arenado (2), SUAREZ-CABRERA, AVILA-KINSLER, CF Stubbs-1B Rosario-2B Culberson, Culberson-Rosario, CASTELLANOS-1B KELLY, SS Rutledge-Rosario, 2B ROMINE-KELLY
MISPLAYS: RF Blackmon, LF J. MARTINEZ, Rosario, P Matzek, Rutledge
BASERUNNING NEWS: J. MARTINEZ stole 2B and came in on the subsequent (game-tying) RBI single – nice. HUNTER set the aforementioned up by busting up the double play J. MARTINEZ was grounding into – nicer still. DAVIS was daring on his leadoff double – an on-target throw could have gotten him. His “single” later to the RF chalk might have been scored a double if he hadn’t fallen down rounding 1st (he got to 2nd anyway). The cavernous depths of Comerica showed up in 4th inning triples from Stubbs (fast but not that fast) and CASTELLANOS (not fast at all but determined). SUAREZ was alert in getting back to 1B safely after his RBI single (AVILA chugging hard 2B to home) when Colorado made a slick cutoff move that almost nailed him.
THE BIG HIT: None on, 2 out, 2-2 in the 3rd, CABRERA HR off Matzek.
THE BIG OUTS: Man on 3rd, 1 out, Tigers up 3-2 in the 4th, PORCELLO strikes out Rosario and McKenry.
GOOD HITTING: Stubbs, KINSLER, AVILA, DAVIS
BAD HITTING:
GOOD PITCHING: PORCELLO
BAD PITCHING: Matzek, McCOY
OBVIOUSLY: Wins made to look easy don’t get any better, with runs scored every inning and 10 strikeouts from your starter.
AND, BUT, ALSO: It was bang-bang from the get-go, and it seems like it stayed that way, even when PORCELLO was retiring 14 of his last 15 batters faced. Big time plays early from AVILA (assisted by his 2B & 3B) to nail runners, still a close game then, and strong defense overall, advantage Tigers without a doubt. Detroit never looked back after the 3rd inning blast from CABRERA. The offense went ballistic. Another mop-up job turned into tipping the bucket over, though, with McCOY failing to record an out.

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Game 108: De La Rosa v. Sanchez. TIGERS 4, Rockies 0. Ahead from the 3rd on.
NICE PLAYS: LF Pridie, 3B Arenado-1B Morneau (2), SUAREZ-CABRERA, SUAREZ (2), CASTELLANOS-CABRERA, P De La Rosa, SANCHEZ-AVILA-CABRERA, SS Rutledge-Morneau, C Rosario-Morneau
MISPLAYS: De La Rosa, SUAREZ, Rosario
BASERUNNING NEWS: The DAVIS two-out double was cold daring as much as speed, and would turn out to be pretty big as a hit. DAVIS’s steal of 2B was uncontested. He then went to 3rd on a WP, and almost scored on the WP on KINSLER’s strikeout which took a pretty good play to finish off and record the inning’s third out on.
THE BIG HIT: Runners on 1st and 2nd, 2 out, Tigers up 1-0 in the 3rd, V. MARTINEZ 3-run HR off De La Rosa.
THE BIG OUT: Runner on 2nd, 2 out, 0-0 in the 3rd, SANCHEZ retires Dickerson (groundout 3B).
GOOD HITTING: V. MARTINEZ, CABRERA
BAD HITTING:
GOOD PITCHING: SANCHEZ
BAD PITCHING:
OBVIOUSLY: Shutdown lockdown from SANCHEZ, and one big inning is more than enough.
AND, BUT, ALSO: They made it look so easy, but the one big inning (in which Detroit had 40% of their total baserunners for the game) was actually all two-out runs. Really, SANCHEZ made it look easy all by himself, and was followed by a spotless job from the bullpen.

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DEFENSIVE SCORECARD (in terms of outstanding plays one way or the other, X = good, O = not)

1B CABRERA XXXOXXOXXXXXXXXXXXOXXXX +17
SS SUAREZ OXOXXXXXXXXXXOXXXOXXXXXOOXXXXXO +17
P SANCHEZ XXO +1
CF JACKSON XOOXOX zero
RF HUNTER XXXXXOXXOOX +5
LF J. MARTINEZ OXXOOO -2
C HOLADAY XXXOOOXOXX +2
3B CASTELLANOS XXXXXXXOXOXXX +9
2B KINSLER XXOXXXXXXXXXXXXOXOXXXXXXXXXOX +21
P SCHERZER OXX +1
C AVILA OOXXXXOOOOXXXXX +3
1B V. MARTINEZ XXXXXXXXXXXXXO +12
P SMYLY XX +2
SS ROMINE XXX +3
3B CABRERA XXXO +2
P VERLANDER X +1
LF DAVIS OXOO -2
P PORCELLO XO zero
RF J. MARTINEZ O -1
CF DAVIS XXX +3
1B KELLY XX +2
2B ROMINE X +1

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GAME 91: “Things were rolling fine, and a couple balls find the right spots, and the next thing you know, I’m out of the ballgame,” Justin Verlander said. “It [stinks] to be able to throw the ball pretty well, and walk away with a sour taste in your mouth.” *** Austin Jackson wraps up the series in K.C. 8 for 18 with 5 runs scored.
GAME 92: “A slider [Al Alburquerque pitch on the Jason Kipnis home run] that was probably a little bit up,” Alex Avila said. “I wouldn’t say it was a terrible pitch, but obviously trying to look for the strikeout there. It probably caught a little more plate rather than going down and in. But you’re talking about centimeters. That’s all it takes.” *** The Tigers extend their spring training partnership with Lakeland, Florida, through 2036. *** Pitcher Drew VerHagen (2012 draft pick) is called up from Toledo for (and only for) tomorrow’s doubleheader spot start.
GAME 93: Corey Kluber has had 6 consecutive quality starts versus Detroit. “I don’t think there’s a magic formula to it,” Kluber said. “I just think it’s making better pitches against them.” *** VerHagen’s debut: “They know he’s a young guy, and they were pretty patient the first time through the lineup,” Bryan Holaday said. “And then they started being a little more aggressive.” *** Top relief pitching prospect Corey Knebel is also (back) up from Toledo, with Chad Smith’s demotion being the corresponding move.
GAME 94: Ankle soreness from an old injury has been bothering Joba Chamberlain more than usual lately, and it kept him from staying on for the 9th inning in place of Joe Nathan. *** Brad Ausmus on Nathan: “Joe’s done it for years. It wasn’t a good outing tonight, but he’s our closer.” *** Jackson on the Roberto Perez 9th inning double: “I don’t ever remember trying to make a catch in that part of the field. As many balls as have been hit out there, I can’t recall making a play there. It was a little different. You’re running back into a chain-link fence and your depth perception is kind of off a little bit. Went hard after it and wasn’t able to come up with it.”
GAME 95: “[Drew Smyly] was flipping that breaking ball over at will,” Cleveland manager Terry Francona said. “And then, because of that breaking ball, I thought he threw some fastballs that caught some of the plate, but we just weren’t ready to hit it.”
GAME 96: Verlander: “I could tell right from Jump Street – it felt like I was able to throw the way I want. Really the first time all year that I felt like I’ve been able to locate my fastball as well as I would like to.”
GAME 97: The Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association announced utility player Don Kelly as the Tigers’ 2014 Heart and Hustle Award winner. “Every day, I try to go out and play the game the right way,” Kelly said. “I love playing the game. I play it with passion and leave everything out on the field. Really, that’s all you can do. It’s a great game to play and I love playing it.” *** Tigers half of the 8th inning: “I chose to put Eury De La Rosa in a tough situation,” D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. “Porcello was just cruising. He had just had a five- or seven-pitch inning. So I basically loaded the bases up and made [Ausmus] make a move and try to get into his bullpen. When Eury went to 3-0, I didn’t look so smart. He came back and got [Davis], and that was big for that kid.” *** Rick Porcello: “We don’t like to lose any game. Regardless of the situation, when we lose, we all take it hard. We win and lose as a team, and it stinks either way – if we’re down by 10 or we lose by one, it still stinks.”
GAME 98: “It was good to see the guys swing the bat,” Ausmus said. “We really haven’t busted out for some runs like this since before the break.” *** The 7th inning double play on Paul Goldschmidt: “Just had to execute a pitch, and we executed a pitch and got exactly what we wanted,” Chamberlain said. *** J.D. Martinez was out of the lineup, day to day with an upper quad injury
GAME 99: Max Scherzer: “That’s why when I’m in that situation and I’m having to face Trout, Pujols and Hamilton, if I can just limit the damage, I have a shot. I know my guys can come back and win this game.” *** On Garrett Richards and the 6th inning: “We were aggressive off his fastball, and we swung at strikes that inning,” Nick Castellanos said.

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The Tigers trade highly regarded pitching prospects Corey Knebel and Jake Thompson to the Texas Rangers for their closer (and longtime Detroit nemesis) Joakim Soria, though not with the intent of replacing closer Nathan. The plan is to use Soria in a variety of late inning relief roles. Meanwhile, “At this point, I would say we’re not counting on [Joel Hanrahan] at all,” team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski said.

GAME 100: Smyly on the Efren Navarro hit: “That was the biggest at-bat of the game,” he said. “That was the guy I have to get. That’s the guy I got all last year coming out of the bullpen. To get a loss on that guy beating you is a little frustrating, but that’s how it goes.” *** Smyly is the first Tigers southpaw in 21 years to record 11 strikeouts. “The rotation on [Smyly’s] cutter, it just must have been so tight tonight that they all thought it was fastballs coming in,” Ausmus said.
GAME 101: “We haven’t swung the bats great the last couple days,” Ausmus said. “Offenses go through ups and downs. That happens.”
GAME 102: On the pickoff play gone awry: “If we don’t try to at least show Aybar that we’re paying attention to him, he’s going to take third,” Porcello said. “I think it was a necessary play. You take a chance. Just didn’t get it done.” Jackson adds: “I came up and was looking to throw the ball to third, and then I looked and saw that Howie was going to second. I kind of got caught in between where I wanted to throw the ball. Aybar, being heads-up, could see that. He pretty much never broke stride. As soon as he hit third and saw the ball wasn’t in yet, he kept going. Heads-up play by him and just a brain fart by me, pretty much.” *** 8 runs in the 4-game Angels series: “Every game was a close game, good pitching games,” said Miguel Cabrera.
GAME 103: Castellanos bruises a finger during practice and Miggy gets the start at 3B instead, while Eugenio Suarez hurts his lower back during the game and comes out. Day to day. *** Anibal Sanchez: “I think everything [that has] happened in that situation is something that I don’t know what happened. I feel good. I feel great. I’ve never done that before [this year]. All the time when I got really good beginnings of games, all the time I finish really strong. Right now, that’s not happening. It’s not because I feel tired. I think it’s part of the game.” *** Rajai Davis on the 7th inning error: “I was just trying to charge it, just to slow the runner up. I didn’t get a perfect hop. It hit my glove. It just hit off it hard.” *** Soria on his Detroit home debut: “That didn’t go the way I wanted it to. That was probably the worst outing of my career.”
GAME 104: Verlander hosted the Agar family in his suite at Comerica Park. *** “We know Noesi throws hard, he throws a lot of fastballs,” said Castellanos. “So the game plan was to be aggressive on pretty much fastballs around the plate, because he’s going to give it to you. It’s not so much swing at first pitches, it’s just swing at good first pitches.” *** “We all had a plan,” said Torii Hunter. “Just to see the team stick with it, be aggressive in the strike zone today, just to see everybody go with that plan and it worked, that’s awesome.” *** On White Sox starter Hector Noesi settling down after the Tigers’ big 1st inning: “It just felt like one big long inning from the third to the sixth,” said Tigers starter Scherzer. “Every time I came out, I got a drink of water and by the time I got down below [the inning was over]. Credit Noesi.”
GAME 105: On the wild pitch that allowed Adam Eaton take first base on a K in the decisive 8th inning: “It’s a ball I block a million times,” said Avila. “I should block it. And I didn’t. I felt terrible for Soria because it’s a whole different inning.” *** Ausmus: “I wouldn’t say that was a rough outing, to be honest with you. I thought [Soria] threw the ball pretty well.” *** After the game, the Tigers formally announce a stunning trade (already in the news, with the trade deadline falling within the game in progress) involving two players who’d started the game: Lefty ace David Price has been acquired in a three-way deal with Tampa Bay and Seattle, at the price of Austin Jackson, Drew Smyly, and minor league SS Willy Adames. Jackson exits the game in the 7th inning to a standing ovation. More on the “human side” of this trade. Meanwhile, Toledo CF Ezequiel Carrera (having an outstanding season at AAA) gets the call to replace Jackson on the roster, the plan being that Davis will move to CF and that Carrera will fill the role of defensive replacement, occasional starter, and pinch runner.
GAME 106: Verlander: “I put [new center fielder Rajai Davis] to work the first couple innings, had him running around pretty good. ‘Here it is, go get it’ type of thing.” Davis: “This is definitely one of the biggest ballparks. When you go to other ballparks, it kind of feels small when you get in their outfield.” Verlander: “Those guys were being aggressive. Early on they were hitting some balls hard but right at people. Early in the game you keep the ball in center field, it’s tough to hit it out there.”
GAME 107: The Tigers become the first team since 2006 to score in every inning. *** On Cabrera’s 445-foot home run to center field: “That,” winning pitcher Porcello said, “was pretty sweet. I just keep thinking about Miggy’s home run. It was awesome to watch.” Ausmus: “Frankly, everybody knew it was gone when it was hit. It’s not like we were on the edge of our seats. There’s not many people that can reach that.” *** Pat McCoy is back in the bullpen after DL and then Toledo, so Ian Krol must be out and in Toledo. Presumably. It’s getting hard to keep track.
GAME 108: Ausmus on Sanchez: “I’ve said it before: Sanchez, just pure stuff, might have the best stuff on our team.” Sanchez on Sanchez: “That’s the key today. When I came to the seventh inning, I said I need to keep the ball down, I need to keep strong like I used to do and I need to show that I can stay longer in the game. So today was a big game for me. I didn’t try to throw a couple fastballs and go to another pitch. I just keep my fastball, keep it on the corners, and I used it all the time.”

Detroit has scored 5+ runs only 5 times in the last 18 games, and is enduring its most prolonged offensive slump of the season to date. Remove the two outbursts against NL opponents, and you find 16 games (6-10) with 50 runs scored, 68 allowed. *** The Tigers bullpen has taken a turn for the worse, and Soria has been no help at all. Phil Coke (on a two-month run of ERA improvement, for what that’s worth) is a kind of indicator. In 7 games, 6.1 IP this period, the ERA is 2.84 and BA .280. However, the OPS is .819, WHIP is 2.05, strike% is 58%, IRS is 38%, and the team’s record in these games in 1-6. Yeah. It’s beyond stats and perhaps in spite of them. The bullpen is losing games and helping to lose them.

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61-47, 1st in the Central, 3rd in the AL, on pace for a 91.5-70.5 season…

RESEARCH MADE POSSIBLE BY: MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL and BASEBALL REFERENCE .
PHOTO CREDITS: MARTINEZ: Tim Heitman/US Presswire; SANCHEZ: Rich Schultz/Getty Images; VerHAGEN: Mike Mulholland/MLive; VERLANDER: Paul Sancya/AP; PORCELLO: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images; SMYLY: Carlos Osorio; CHAMBERLAIN: Associated Press; SCHERZER: ? ALBURQUERQUE: ? COKE: Rick Osentoski/USA Today; SORIA: Paul Sancya/AP; CASTELLANOS: Duane Burleson/Getty Images.

2014: The 5th Inning (13-5)

The boys are back in town. And the name of the place is “I Like It Like That.”

So the Detroit Tigers are now:

SP Verlander
SP Scherzer
SP Sanchez
SP Porcello
SP Smyly
RP Nathan
RP Alburquerque
RP Chamberlain
RP Coke
RP Hardy
RP Smith
RP McCoy
C Avila
C Holaday
1B-DH Cabrera
2B Kinsler
SS-2B Romine
SS Suarez
3B Castellanos
IF-OF Kelly
RF-DH Hunter
CF Jackson
LF-CF Davis
OF-DH J. Martinez
DH-1B V. Martinez


 

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Game 73: Smyly v. Lewis. Tigers 8, RANGERS 2. Never behind, up 7.
NICE PLAYS: SMYLY-CABRERA-KINSLER-SUAREZ, SMYLY, CABRERA-SUAREZ, C Chirinos-3B Beltre, Chrinos-SS Andrus, SUAREZ, COKE, CASTELLANOS-1B KELLY
MISPLAYS: SUAREZ, SMYLY, KINSLER-CABRERA
BASERUNNING NEWS: V. MARTINEZ really had no business trying to score from 1B on a double, running into the 3rd out. Odd line with both JACKSON and DAVIS going 1-2 in SB. Andrus held the tag on an over-sliding DAVIS. JACKSON took him to school on technique with a brilliant feet-first slide to steal 2B. SMYLY is at it again with a steal attempt pickoff, and Andrus plays football in the rundown in a comical attempt at drawing an interference call.
THE BIG HIT: Man on 2nd, none out, 1-1 in the 7th, J. MARTINEZ 2-run HR off Lewis.
THE BIG OUT: Man on 1st, none out, 1-1 in the 6th, DAVIS caught stealing 2B by Chirinos-Odor (Lewis pitching).
GOOD HITTING: Beltre, KINSLER, V. MARTINEZ
BAD HITTING: Pena
GOOD PITCHING: SMYLY
BAD PITCHING: Poreda, Rowen
OBVIOUSLY: Close until the Tigers exploded late.
DON’T OVERLOOK: The lone run off SMYLY was truly was unearned.
AND, BUT, ALSO: As though scripted: First time back in Texas, KINSLER homers in his first AB and gives a sly little wave to the Rangers dugout.

Game 74: Sanchez v. Saunders. Tigers 8, RANGERS 6. Never behind, up 5.
NICE PLAYS: CF Martin, LF Choice, C Chirinos-2B Odor, Odor, SANCHEZ-CABRERA, CF DAVIS, RF HUNTER, KINSLER-CABRERA, SUAREZ-CABRERA
MISPLAYS: Odor, SS Andrus, CABRERA, HOLADAY (2), CASTELLANOS, LF J. MARTINEZ (2), HOLADAY-CABRERA, 3B KELLY
BASERUNNING NEWS: SUAREZ was an easy out stealing 2B, as was HOLADAY “at” home trying to score from 1B on a double. The Rangers 7th was some fine small ball with a model hit and run.
THE BIG HIT: Runner on 1st, 1 out, Tigers up 1-0 in the first, V. MARTINEZ double off Saunders scores KINSLER from 1B.
THE BIG OUTS: Runners on 1st and 2nd, 1 out, Tigers up 5-3 in the 4th, SANCHEZ retires Odor (flyout CF) and Martin (groundout P).
GOOD HITTING: Beltre, J MARTINEZ, KINSLER, Chirinos
BAD HITTING:
GOOD PITCHING: HARDY, Frasor
BAD PITCHING: Saunders
OBVIOUSLY: Built a good lead and held on.
DON’T OVERLOOK: Good thing they brought the bats. Bad defense undermined everything; felt more like a loss than a win.
AND, BUT, ALSO: 6 HR in 9 games for J. MARTINEZ.

Game 75: Porcello v. Martinez. Tigers 6, RANGERS 0. Ahead from the 2nd on.
NICE PLAYS: CABRERA, SS Andrus-2B Sardinas-1B Pena, KINSLER-SUAREZ-CABRERA (3), SS Andrus, Pena-Andrus-P Baker, CASTELLANOS
MISPLAYS: HUNTER, LF Choo (2), Pena, 3B Beltre, Sardinas
BASERUNNING NEWS: A nice hit and run with CABRERA on and V. MARTINEZ up pays off with a sacrifice fly run. And the 5th run *always* matters.
THE BIG HIT: Men on 2nd and 3rd, 1 out, Tigers up 1-0 in the 3rd, JACKSON 2-run single off Martinez.
THE BIG OUT: Bases loaded, 2 out, 0-0 in the 2nd, Martinez retires CABRERA (flyball deep CF).
GOOD HITTING: KINSLER
BAD HITTING: Andrus
GOOD PITCHING: PORCELLO, Baker
BAD PITCHING: Martinez
OBVIOUSLY: Brilliant start and a no doubt about it win.
DON’T OVERLOOK: Sharp defense from Detroit. 6 Texas baserunners, 3 double plays.
AND, BUT, ALSO: The Rangers’ PA guy announces V. MARTINEZ as “DH Edgar Martinez.” As we saw earlier in the season, the Rangers have some issues with outfield communication.

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Game 76: Verlander v. Peacock. ASTROS 4, Tigers 3 (11). Up 1, down 1. Walk-off loss.
NICE PLAYS: 3B Dominguez-1B Singleton, SS Villar-2B Altuve-Singleton, CASTELLANOS, CASTELLANOS-KINSLER-CABRERA, CABRERA-SUAREZ
MISPLAYS: AVILA (2), C Castro, Dominguez, CABRERA, AVILA-CABRERA, Villar-Singleton
BASERUNNING NEWS: Aggression was trouble for Detroit, with AVILA and J. MARTINEZ no challenge at all trying to stretch singles on the Houston OF. 3B coach CLARK and SUAREZ were caught sleeping on an opportunity to take 3B on a Springer bobble. Altuve was also trouble.
THE BIG HIT: None on, 1 out, 3-3 in the 11th, Castro game-winning HR off HARDY.
THE BIG OUTS: Altuve on 1st, none out, 3-3 in the 10th, HARDY retires Springer (K) and Singleton (groundball DP).
GOOD HITTING: Altuve
BAD HITTING: HUNTER, Singleton
GOOD PITCHING: Peacock, VERLANDER, Buchanan
BAD PITCHING:
OBVIOUSLY: A close one, a comeback, but ultimately a heartbreak.
DON’T OVERLOOK: In a game where defense had big impact both ways for both sides, you could say the winning run scored early, possibly when CABRERA had his back turned to tag after the ill-advised pickoff attempt by AVILA.
AND, BUT, ALSO: The Tigers managed 1 hit in their last 7 innings.

Game 77: Scherzer v. Oberholtzer. Tigers 4, ASTROS 3. Down 1, up 1.
NICE PLAYS: SUAREZ, RF Springer, LF Hoes, SS Gonzalez, P Williams-1B Singleton
MISPLAYS: SUAREZ (2), CF DAVIS (2), HOLADAY
BASERUNNING NEWS: HOLADAY laid down a beauty of a bunt hit that could have set up winning earlier, and even managed throw out a baserunner (but not two-SB Altuve).
THE BIG HIT: Men on 2nd and 3rd, 2 out, Tigers down 2-1 in the 9th, KINSLER 3-run HR off Williams.
THE BIG OUTS: Bases loaded, 1 out, Tigers down 2-1 in the 7th, Zeid retires DAVIS (groundball 3B, forceout at home) and KINSLER (flyball LF).
GOOD HITTING: SUAREZ, Presley, KINSLER
BAD HITTING: DAVIS, Castro
GOOD PITCHING: SCHERZER, Oberholtzer, Zeid
BAD PITCHING: Williams
OBVIOUSLY: Close all the way, big 9th-inning rally wins it.
DON’T OVERLOOK: SCHERZER provided his own defense because he had to – 13 strikeouts in a masterpiece. KINSLER heroics spared SCHERZER the hard-luck loss that the spectacular catch by LF Hoes had nearly handed him.
AND, BUT, ALSO: Weak middle in the Tigers D.

Game 78: Smyly v. Feldman. ASTROS 6, Tigers 4. Never ahead, down 3.
NICE PLAYS: HUNTER, 3B Dominguez-2B Altuve, CABRERA-SUAREZ, Dominguez (2), LF MARTINEZ, SUAREZ-AVILA-CASTELLANOS, Altuve-1B Singleton, SS Villar-Altuve-Singleton, CASTELLANOS, RF Springer, Dominguez-Singleton, HARDY-2B ROMINE
MISPLAYS: SUAREZ, AVILA (2), C Corporan, Villar
BASERUNNING NEWS: AVILA couldn’t find the ball right under him, leading quickly to Houston’s 3rd run on a sac fly. V. MARTINEZ beats the shift with a dribbler on the left side. Good read and great hustle (never slowed down) by CASTELLANOS on his LF (!) triple – Villar made assumptions on the relay and got burned. HUNTER catches ‘em off guard with a steal of 3B with CABRERA up.
THE BIG HIT: Runners on 1st and 2nd, 2 out, Tigers down 5-2 in the 8th, CASTELLANOS 2-run triple off Veras.
THE BIG OUTS: Runners on 1st and 2nd, none out, Tigers down 4-1 in the 5th, Feldman retires JACKSON (groundball 6-4-3 DP).
GOOD HITTING: Springer, Corporan, CASTELLANOS, AVILA
BAD HITTING: Presley, JACKSON (golden sombrero)
GOOD PITCHING: SMITH, Sipp
BAD PITCHING: SMYLY, Veras
OBVIOUSLY: Behind early, kept chasing, fell short.
DON’T OVERLOOK: Pinch-hitter (!) KINSLER stuck out on 3 pitches with the tying run at 3B in the 8th.
AND, BUT, ALSO: Old and listless through almost 3 compared to the dynamic Astros, somehow Detroit came to life instantaneously with SMYLY’s exit.

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“It’s great to be alive and to be a Tigers fan.”

Game 79: Kazmir v. Sanchez. TIGERS 5, Athletics 4. Down 3, up 1. Walk-off win.
NICE PLAYS: SUAREZ, CF Crisp, LF DAVIS (2), RF Moss, JACKSON, SUAREZ-CABRERA, 1B Vogt, CASTELLANOS-KINSLER-CABRERA, 3B Callaspo-2B Sogard-Vogt, Callaspo
MISPLAYS: CABRERA, SANCHEZ, Vogt (2), SUAREZ, P Kazmir
BASERUNNING NEWS: Aggression was good, with CABRERA motoring for a double, CASTELLANOS getting a SB and going 1st to 3rd at a most opportune time, a daring tag and advance from 1B by J. MARTINEZ, and KINSLER beating a pickoff for a steal of 2B. Luck was also there, as 1B Vogt dropped the ball on a would-be pickoff of DAVIS stealing 2B.
THE BIG HIT: Bases loaded, 1 out, Tigers down 4-1 in the 9th, DAVIS game-winning grand slam off Doolittle.
THE BIG OUTS: Man on 2nd, 1 out, Tigers down 1-0 in the 6th, Otero retires CASTELLANOS (groundout P) and AVILA (groundout 3B).
GOOD HITTING: DAVIS, Lowrie
BAD HITTING: Callaspo, SUAREZ
GOOD PITCHING: Kazmir, COKE, Otero
BAD PITCHING: Doolittle, CHAMBERLAIN
OBVIOUSLY: 7 innings of duel, comes undone, and then it’s miracle rally time.
DON’T OVERLOOK: How the bottom of the order (with help from the opponent’s C playing 1B) set the table for the rally.
AND, BUT, ALSO: What a way to cap off the Monday night ceremony commemorating the 1984 World Series champions. Also, JACKSON made a diving catch in CF, albeit awkwardly.

Game 80: Mills v. Porcello. TIGERS 3, Athletics 0. Ahead from the 4th on.
NICE PLAYS: JACKSON, HUNTER, C Vogt-2B Punto, CF Crisp, 3B Donaldson-Punto, SS Lowrie-Punto, Lowrie-Punto-1B Callaspo
MISPLAYS: Lowrie, LF Gentry
BASERUNNING NEWS: CABRERA making the serious 1st to 3rd effort is part of the reason the J. MARTINEZ double in the 4th – to LF – *was* a double, and he comes home on a groundout. This guy can run.
THE BIG HIT: Man on 1st, 1 out, Tigers up 1-0 in the 6th, J. MARTINEZ 2-run HR off Mills.
THE BIG OUTS: Men on 2nd and 3rd, 2 out, Tigers up 1-0 in the 4th, Mills strikes out HOLADAY.
GOOD HITTING: J. MARTINEZ
BAD HITTING:
GOOD PITCHING: PORCELLO
BAD PITCHING:
OBVIOUSLY: No chance for the A’s against PORCELLO.
DON’T OVERLOOK: Not much noise from the Tigers’ bats, either.
AND, BUT, ALSO: 17 of PORCELLO’s 27 outs were on groundballs. First MLB shutout with neither strikeout nor walk in 25 years.

Game 81: Chavez v. Verlander. TIGERS 9, Athletics 3. Down 2, up 7.
NICE PLAYS: C Norris-2B Punto, AVILA-ROMINE, 1B Freiman, ROMINE-CABRERA, 3B Callaspo-Punto-Freiman
MISPLAYS: KINSLER, LF Vogt, Callaspo, Norris, AVILA
BASERUNNING NEWS: KINSLER goes 1st to 3rd on a LF single and soon scores. Norris and AVILA traded perfect throws to nail good runners (second time in 2 games DAVIS has been gunned down despite all).
THE BIG HIT: Runner on 2nd, 2 out, 2-2 in the 4th, JACKSON singles in ROMINE off Chavez.
THE BIG OUTS: Bases loaded, 2 out, Tigers up 3-2 in the 6th, VERLANDER retires Punto (flyball RF).
GOOD HITTING: Moss, HUNTER, CABRERA, JACKSON
BAD HITTING: Lowrie
GOOD PITCHING:
BAD PITCHING: Chavez, Johnson
OBVIOUSLY: Detroit breaks it open with a 6-run 6th and puts it away.
DON’T OVERLOOK: What a struggle it was outside of that charmed 6th inning. VERLANDER was in and out of bases-loaded jams twice.
AND, BUT, ALSO: There was no shrugging off or holding in; VERLANDER was visibly upset with himself over the two 1st-inning home runs allowed.

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Game 82: Bedard v. Scherzer. TIGERS 8, Rays 1. Down 1, up 7.
NICE PLAYS: SCHERZER, SS Zobrist-2B Figueroa-1B Loney, SUAREZ, 3B Longoria-Figueroa-Loney
MISPLAYS: CF Jennings, RF Kiermaier
BASERUNNING NEWS: CABRERA was the running man, taking 3 “extras,” scoring 4 times, and scoring all the Tigers’ runs after the 1st.
THE BIG HIT: Man on 1st, none out, Tigers down 1-0 in the 1st, KINSLER 2-run HR off Bedard.
THE BIG OUTS: Man on 2nd, 2 out, Tigers down 1-0 in the 1st, SCHERZER retires Loney (groundout 1B).
GOOD HITTING: V. MARTINEZ, HUNTER, CABRERA
BAD HITTING:
GOOD PITCHING: SCHERZER, Yates
BAD PITCHING: Bedard
OBVIOUSLY: Big 1st inning and a major shutdown from SCHERZER. So easy it was almost boring.
DON’T OVERLOOK: SCHERZER retired 23 of the last 24 batters he faced.
AND, BUT, ALSO: SMITH had a 1-2-3 inning.

Game 83: Cobb v. Smyly. Rays 6, TIGERS 3. Never ahead, down 3.
NICE PLAYS: 3B Longoria-2B Forsythe-1B Loney, SUAREZ, Forsythe, KINSLER
MISPLAYS: SUAREZ, Loney, AVILA
BASERUNNING NEWS: How could Loney miss the good pickoff throw from Cobb so completely, and why didn’t KINSLER go all the way to 3B? There’s a story here.
THE BIG HIT: Runners on 1st and 2nd, 1 out, Tigers down 3-1 in the 5th, Rodriguez 2-run triple off SMYLY.
THE BIG OUTS: Bases loaded, none out, Tigers down 5-2 in the 6th, Boxberger retires HUNTER on a 6-4-3 DP (run scores) and strikes out KELLY.
GOOD HITTING: Longoria, Rodriguez, Zobrist, J. MARTINEZ
BAD HITTING: Loney
GOOD PITCHING: Boxberger
BAD PITCHING: SMYLY
OBVIOUSLY: The 6th inning was like a coin toss for the game. Rodriguez wins, HUNTER loses.
DON’T OVERLOOK: Despite only 6 hits, plenty of chances to win one they should have. The pitch that did SMYLY in wasn’t so bad.
AND, BUT, ALSO: The combined 3 for 22 RISP makes you wonder how *any* runs scored. There was a little spate of hit batters (who knows). Joe Maddon took exception to his pitcher drawing the warning and got himself ejected.

“I hate baseball.”

Game 84: Archer v. Sanchez. Rays 7, TIGERS 2. Never ahead, down 7.
NICE PLAYS: SS Zobrist-2B Forsythe-1B Loney, RF J. MARTINEZ, Forsythe-Loney, ROMINE-KINSLER-CABRERA (2), P Archer
MISPLAYS: J. MARTINEZ, KINSLER, AVILA, COKE, McCOY, HARDY
BASERUNNING NEWS: The Rays’ 17 baserunners were certainly stepping livelier than the other side’s, though the Tigers did turn 3 double plays. Forsythe’s run-scoring bunt single in the 6th couldn’t have been located any better; CABRERA and SANCHEZ looked silly but couldn’t help it.
THE BIG HIT: Runner on 1st, 1 out, Tigers down 1-0 in the 5th, Kiermaier RBI triple off SANCHEZ.
THE BIG OUTS: Runners on 1st and 2nd, 1 out, Tigers down 3-0 in the 5th, Archer retires ROMINE (K) and DAVIS (groundout 1b).
GOOD HITTING: Kiermaier, Forsythe, AVILA
BAD HITTING:
GOOD PITCHING: Archer
BAD PITCHING: SANCHEZ, COKE
OBVIOUSLY: Fell apart in the middle, but a quick hook for aces requires bullpen.
DON’T OVERLOOK: Archer was unbeatable, yes, but again it seemed like the whole team – not just SANCHEZ – played half a game and then quit. The complexion of the game changed completely with one walk to a weak hitter and a terrible play in RF.
AND, BUT, ALSO: Tigers pitchers put on a bad fielding clinic. Tigers offense put together a special version of 0-6 RISP, with 3 different pairs of failure.

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patrick-mccoy11

Game 85: Price v. Porcello. Ray 7, TIGERS 3. Never ahead, down 6.
NICE PLAYS: SUAREZ, RF Kiermaier (2), CASTELLANOS, C Molina-1B Loney, CABRERA-PORCELLO, SS Zobrist, CABRERA-SUAREZ, LF DAVIS, CF Jennings (2), HUNTER-HOLADAY, LF Joce-Zobrist-Molina
MISPLAYS: CASTELLANOS, HOLADAY
BASERUNNING NEWS: SUAREZ fell down between 3rd and home, costing Detroit a respectability run.
THE BIG HIT: Man on 1st, none out, Tigers down 1-0 in the first, Joyce 2-run HR off PORCELLO.
THE BIG OUTS: Men on 1st and 2nd, 1 out, Tigers down 4-1 in the 5th, PORCELLO retires Loney on a 3-6-1 DP.
GOOD HITTING: Jennings, Joyce, Zobrist
BAD HITTING: Forsythe
GOOD PITCHING: Price
BAD PITCHING: PORCELLO
OBVIOUSLY: Thoroughly outclassed at home for the nth time this season.
DON’T OVERLOOK: So that’s what outfield defense looks like. Tigers had some, too. Good game for the defenses overall. 4 Tigers relievers yielded 8 hits (but no runs).
AND, BUT, ALSO: If the rain was trying to help, it showed up a bit late (bottom of the 9th).

Game 86: Ryu v. Verlander. TIGERS 14, Dodgers 5. Down 5, up 9.
NICE PLAYS: SUAREZ, RF Puig (3), SS Rojas, LF Kemp (2), Rojas-1B Gonzalez, CASTELLANOS, LF DAVIS, 2B Gordon-Rojas-Gonzalez, SMITH-SUAREZ-1B KELLY
MISPLAYS: AVILA, C Ellis
BASERUNNING NEWS: Too much. HUNTER challenges Puig and wins when the chips are down, steals 2B later when it’s a blowout. A good hold on DAVIS rounding 3rd makes him fall down, but preserves an inning and more runs, and a later swinging bunt works for an IF single. Good sacrifice bunt by SUAREZ sets up 2 runs. Both J. MARTINEZ and CABRERA leg out triples, all hustle.
THE BIG HIT: Runners on 1st and 2nd, 1 out, 0-0 in the first, Gonzalez 2-run double off VERLANDER.
THE BIG OUTS: Bases loaded, 1 out, 5-5 in the 2nd, Ryu retires HUNTER on a 6-3 DP.
GOOD HITTING: CABRERA, AVILA, CASTELLANOS, AVILA, DAVIS, Uribe
BAD HITTING:
GOOD PITCHING: Detroit bullpen
BAD PITCHING: Ryu, Wright, Maholm
OBVIOUSLY: A disastrous 1st followed by a quick and incredible turnaround.
DON’T OVERLOOK: The importance of HUNTER challenging Puig or AUSMUS challenging the out call. They didn’t just come back – they blew the door off the hinges, and VERLANDER recovered to set down 13 straight. You’ll not see a better offensive game from Detroit.
AND, BUT, ALSO: Some blowouts are sloppy. This was the total action game with no clown show to be found on either side. 14 unanswered runs without a HR, too.

Game 87: Greinke v. Scherzer, TIGERS 4, Dodgers 1. Never behind, up 3.
NICE PLAYS: JACKSON-KINSLER-CASTELLANOS, SUAREZ-CASTELLANOS, LF DAVIS, CASTELLANOS-1B KELLY, LF Kemp-C Ellis, 1B Gonzalez-SS Rojas-P Greinke
MISPLAYS: Ellis, Gonzalez-3B Uribe
BASERUNNING NEWS: Puig gets erased from 3B on alertness from SUAREZ-CASTELLANOS. JACKSON turns some Dodgers OF lack of effort into a triple and scores. J. MARTINEZ a beats good throw home to score from 2B. DAVIS steals 3B but is stranded.
THE BIG HIT: Man on 2nd, 2 out, Tigers up 1-0 n the 1st, KELLY RBI single off Greinke.
THE BIG OUTS: Men on 1st and 2nd, 1 out, Tigers up 2-0 in the 3rd, SCHERZER retires Puig on a 5-3 DP.
GOOD HITTING: KELLY
BAD HITTING: AVILA
GOOD PITCHING: SCHERZER, Greinke, CHAMBERLAIN, NATHAN
BAD PITCHING:
OBVIOUSLY: Close but under control from the start. A Tigers pitching show to match the offensive show in the last game.
DON’T OVERLOOK: Strong defense from Detroit. The 1st inning alone was a game-changer.
AND, BUT, ALSO: No CABRERA, no V. MARTINEZ, but KELLY and JACKSON step up with key hits against a tough pitcher.

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Game 88: Smyly v. Guthrie. Tigers 16, ROYALS 4. Never behind, up 13.
NICE PLAYS: JACKSON, 3B Valencia-2B Infante-1B Hosmer, SUAREZ, 3B Valencia, RF Cain, KINSLER (2), AVILA, 2B Valencia, 1B KELLY, COKE-KELLY
MISPLAYS: Valencia, LF Ibanez, CF Dyson, KINSLER
BASERUNNING NEWS: Classic hit and run AB from KINSLER with JACKSON on sets up a small ball 3-run 1st. The Royals were getting uncharacteristically good jumps off SMYLY early.
THE BIG HIT: Runners on 1st and 2nd, 2 out, Tigers up 4-1 in the 4th, CABRERA 2-run double off Guthrie.
THE BIG OUTS: Runners on 1st and 2nd, none out, Tigers up 3-1 in the 3rd, Guthrie retired HUNTER on 5-4-3 DP (CABRERA to 3B) and strikes out CASTELLANOS.
GOOD HITTING: J. MARTINEZ, CABRERA, HUNTER, Hosmer, SUAREZ
BAD HITTING:
GOOD PITCHING:
BAD PITCHING: Guthrie, Coleman, Downs
OBVIOUSLY: A satisfying thrashing, even if 16-2 would’ve been more like it.
DON’T OVERLOOK: Tigers offense goes berserk (with only 1 HR, a solo shot) and won’t quit!
AND, BUT, ALSO: 26 baserunners for Detroit, with 23 getting into scoring position and 13 scoring. Wow.

Game 89: Sanchez v. Duffy. Tigers 2, ROYALS 1. Never behind, up 1.
NICE PLAYS: CASTELLANOS (2), RF J. MARTINEZ, RF Cain, 2B Infante, 1B Hosmer, 3B Moustakas-C Perez, SUAREZ (2), JACKSON, Moustakas-Hosmer
MISPLAYS: P Duffy, Perez, KINSLER, CASTELLANOS, Infante
BASERUNNING NEWS: SANCHEZ catches Perez sleeping at 1B with a pickoff, challenged but upheld. Infante was caught way too far off 2B by CASTELLANOS for a DP on the play after the CASTELLANOS error that had put him there. Running on contact from 3B on the bouncer to 3B was the wrong choice for CASTELLANOS, easy out that wasted a threat and another fine sacrifice bunt from HOLADAY to set it up.
THE BIG HIT: None on, none out, Tigers up 2-1 in the 7th, Moustakas double off SANCHEZ.
THE BIG OUTS: Men on 1st and 2nd, 1 out, Tigers up 2-1 in the 9th, NATHAN retires Escobar (K) and Aoki (groundout 1B).
GOOD HITTING:
BAD HITTING:
GOOD PITCHING: SANCHEZ, Duffy, Crow
BAD PITCHING:
OBVIOUSLY: Very tight, very clutch, very frustrating for the Royals.
DON’T OVERLOOK: Defense was everything. Duffy misses ball up the middle – run. KINSLER passes on cutoff throw: run. Infante can’t glove pickoff throw:  run. Slick and alert play by SUAREZ: no run.
AND, BUT, ALSO: The interference call on Cain in the 8th – the right call – was huge. 5 hits, no walks and a win for Detroit. Royals 1-11 RISP.

Game 90: Porcello v. Shields. Tigers 5, ROYALS 1. Never behind, up 4.
NICE PLAYS: C Perez-2B Infante (2), RF Cain, ROMINE-KINSLER-CABRERA, SS Escobar, Infante-Escobar-1B Hosmer, 3B Moustakas-Hosmer
MISPLAYS: Perez, CF Dyson-Moustakas, Moustakas
BASERUNNING NEWS: HUNTER turns it on for a triple, aided to some degree by a clumsy tag from Moustakas. There’s your winning run. Detroit was only 1-3 in SB, while Kansas City couldn’t get their main speed guys on base at all.
THE BIG HIT: Runner on 2nd, 2 out, 0-0 in the 3rd, KINSLER RBI single off Shields.
THE BIG OUTS: Runners on 1st and 3rd, 1 out, 0-0 in the 2nd, PORCELLO retires Escobar on a 6-4-3 DP.
GOOD HITTING: AVILA, J. MARTINEZ, Butler
BAD HITTING: Escobar, Cain
GOOD PITCHING: Shields, PORCELLO, CHAMBERLAIN
BAD PITCHING: Crow
OBVIOUSLY: 8 innings of duel, put out of reach by Tigers’ 9th-inning rally. Somewhat outplayed, Detroit wins anyway.
DON’T OVERLOOK: Shields was never in trouble, while PORCELLO had some jams to pitch out of (and did).
AND, BUT, ALSO: An odd-looking DP when DAVIS on 1st breaks for 2nd on a bluff and is left standing awkwardly near 1B on the ensuing grounder to 3B from JACKSON. The AVILA HR gets a bonus from the AUSMUS challenge on the previous CASTELLANOS IF single (out call overturned, looked out to me); Moustakas had turned a bad play into a good one with one missile of a throw.


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DEFENSIVE SCORECARD (in terms of outstanding plays one way or the other, X = good, O = not)

P SMYLY XXO +1
1B CABRERA XXOXXXOOXXXXXXOOXXXOXXXXXX +14
2B KINSLER XOXXXXXXOXXXOXXXOOX +9
SS SUAREZ XXXOXXXXXXOOXXOXXOXXOXXXXXXXX +17
P COKE XOX +1
3B CASTELLANOS XOXXXXXXXOXXXXXXO +11
1B KELLY XXXXX +5
P SANCHEZ XO zero
CF DAVIS XOO -1
RF HUNTER XOXXX +3
C HOLADAY OOOOXO -4
LF J. MARTINEZ OOX -1
3B KELLY O -1
C AVILA OOOXOOXOOOOX -6
P HARDY XO zero
2B ROMINE X +1
LF DAVIS XXXXX +5
CF JACKSON XXXXX +5
SS ROMINE XXXXX +5
P SCHERZER X +1
RF J. MARTINEZ XOX +1
P MCCOY O -1
P PORCELLO X +1
P SMITH X +1

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To date, the conundrum only deepens, as Alex Avila’s netherwordly hitting (70 K, 15 RBI in 207 PA) is offset by otherworldly defense (outstandingly few PB & WP, +35% CS) without peer in the AL. And yet Detroit is 10-4 when he doesn’t play. *** Tigers prospects OF Steven Moya and P Jake Thompson earn spots for the upcoming MLB All-Star Futures Game. *** Torii Hunter takes his place in RF again, after some extended hamstring recovery time courtesy of the hot hand of J.D. Martinez (which hasn’t cooled). *** “We may need a little bit of help in the bullpen,” said Dave Dombrowski, “maybe middle as we go forward, or someone that can help pitch later in the game. But we’re not looking for that closer and that gives you a very comfortable feeling.” *** Detroit puts together an impressive streak reminiscent of their earlier one, with 7 straight wins and 6 on the road. All made possible though Joba Chamberlain bringing out the lineup card before the games, it appears. *** There’s All-Star talk surrounding Rick Porcello, who reaches 10 wins (first Tiger) with a complete game shutout. *** Victor Martinez has admiring words for Rangers 3B Adrian Beltre: “I had a chance to play with him, and I’ll tell you what, I have a big amount of respect for him,” Martinez said. “He shows up every day ready to play baseball, ready to beat everybody. The way he goes about his business, he’s a role model for everybody, a great player all around.” *** On the 9-20 funk that the team appears to have emerged from: “I always felt like the team was too good to continue to play like that,” Brad Ausmus said, “and that it would turn around – not can turn around, would. When you’re going through that, it can never turn around quick enough, but I always felt like it would turn around. I think everyone did. I think that’s why when you walked through the clubhouse, guys were still enjoying coming to the park, having fun, because I think they knew it would turn around.” Porcello: “I think it’s a long season and you’re going to go through peaks and valleys. I think everybody in this clubhouse understood it, and nobody panicked when we weren’t playing well. Obviously we were all unhappy that we weren’t winning, but you understand that those things are going to happen and the important part is regrouping and coming out of that and playing well. We’ve been fortunate enough to get back to playing good baseball.” *** After a big game against the Astros, Ian Kinsler becomes the first Tigers player to have seven consecutive multi-hit games in one season since Frank Bolling in 1960. *** Austin Jackson goes 0-5 with 4 K in his first crack back at leadoff, part of both an Ausmus attempt at “getting him going” and some lineup shuffling unrelated to that. But yet another golden sombrero is in store for AJax as the #1 hitter. *** Houston’s Jose Altuve gets a boost to historic (4 consecutive multi-SB games) at the Tigers’ expense with 6 SB in three games. *** Anibal Sanchez hits 1,000 strikeouts for his career. *** June has come and gone, and now there is (another) setback in Andy Dirks’s rehab. Who? Some outfielder on the DL, I guess. *** Victor misses his first 3 games of the season as of the Oakland series, soreness in his side. *** Two straight CG shutouts from Porcello, including one with neither a walk or strikeout, are part of 25 consecutive innings he pitches unsecured upon. *** Ausmus on having Jim Leyland available for consultation: “When you manage as long as he has, he brings a lot of levity to situations,” Ausmus said. “I don’t think I’m overly emotional… but it’s good to have an experienced voice with levity remind you to stay the course.” *** Between Toledo and Detroit, J.D. Martinez has averaged one HR per 10.5 AB. *** Max Scherzer credits a new approach for the roll he’s been on: “I’ve really tried to be more aggressive towards the plate with all my pitches, actually all four of them,” Scherzer said after eight innings of one-run ball to beat the Rays, “not trying to get around them and make them come out of the zone laterally. I’m trying to come right at the zone, at the knees or down at the plate, down below the zone, and attacking that area.” *** The right side soreness of V-Mart ends up costing him 11 games in all, including 10 (and the last 7) during this period. Out of action July 5-17 including the AS break, no DL stint. Torii Hunter and J.D. Martinez fill in at DH most admirably, with 11 RBI in their 10 games. *** Ian Krol returns from DL a bit earlier than expected when Pat McCoy (pitching decently through 5 games of mostly mop-up duty) trades places with him by pulling a hamstring running to cover 1B. *** 4 Tigers are selected for the AL All-Star squad: Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez (who won’t play), Kinsler, and Scherzer. Porcello is close, getting Final Vote consideration. *** Sanchez now has a 1.07 ERA in 7 career starts vs. the Kansas City Royals. *** Ausmus had to leave the dugout for the visiting clubhouse early in Game 89, taken out of action by a stomach illness. *** With one game left before the break, the Tigers have run up their lead over 2nd place KC to 7.5 games. *** Detroit has gone relatively unscathed by injuries during the season thus far, the only significant ones being the blister that forced Sanchez to the 15-day DL (he was missed) and the extended day-to-day status (11 games missed) of V-Mart (who wasn’t missed, surprisingly enough) due to side/back soreness. *** Ian Kinsler is having a career season offensively: .307, .815, on pace for 21 HR, 93 RBI, and 117 R(!). He’s also been a revelation defensively. *** Rather historic team-wise, the Tigers will hit the break with 4 hitters at 50+ RBI. *** The team has gone 13-5 in Scherzer starts thus far. The “pretty good” 3.47 ERA, 1.19 WHIP is actually a composite of a lot of great set off by one rough stretch, but “Mr. 10.5 K/9” is back on his game. *** Andrew Romine is the Forgotten Man, appearing in only 6 games during this period and only 3 at SS. Not coincidentally, Eugenio Suarez has started to make a difference defensively. *** The Martinez Brothers are getting the headlines, but Cabrera remains the offensive engine. During a stretch where he hits .250 with 1 HR, he still figures into 23% of the Tigers’ runs (25 of 107). *** .331 OBP and 24 SB for Rajai Davis, not to mention the biggest wWPA hit of the season to date in the walk-off against Oakland. Can you say “windfall”? *** Don Kelly has scorched the opposition just lately to the tune of a .955 OPS (5 singles and a couple walks, one intentional). *** Joe Nathan is 4-4 in saves over his last 6 appearances, but 4 of these outings have still been what you would call adventures. *** No surprise if you’ve been following, but Detroit is a .500 team at Comerica. The mystery is why.

eugenio-suarez14

53-37, 1st in the Central, 3rd in the AL, on pace for a 95-67 season…

RESEARCH MADE POSSIBLE BY: MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL and BASEBALL REFERENCE .
PHOTO CREDITS: KINSLER: Matthew Emmons/USA Today; HARDY: Associated Press; SMITH: Matthew Emmons/USA Today; KROL: ? McCOY: Rick Osentoski/USA Today; SUAREZ: ?

2014: The 4th Inning (9-9)

Your fingers may freeze, worse things happen at sea; there’s good times to be had. Nothing’s easy.

So the Detroit Tigers are now:

SP Verlander
SP Scherzer
SP Sanchez
SP Porcello
SP Smyly
RP Nathan
RP Alburquerque
RP Chamberlain
RP Coke
RP Knebel
RP Reed
RP Krol
C Avila
C Holaday
1B-DH Cabrera
2B Kinsler
SS-2B Romine
SS Suarez
3B Castellanos
IF-OF Kelly
RF Hunter
CF Jackson
LF Davis
LF-RF J. Martinez
DH-1B V. Martinez


 

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Game 55: Dickey v. Porcello. Blue Jays 8, TIGERS 2. Up 1, down 6.
NICE PLAYS: KINSLER, LF DAVIS, RF Bautista (2), KINSLER-ROMINE-CABRERA, P Dickey-1B Encarnacion, Dickey, CABRERA-KNEBEL, P Jenkins
MISPLAYS: C Thole, SUAREZ, CABRERA, DAVIS, CASTELLANOS, 3B Lawrie, Encarnacion
BASERUNNING NEWS: CASTELLANOS swipes 2B thanks to a bad throw.
THE BIG HIT: Men on 1st and 2nd, 2 out, Tigers up 2-1 in the 6th, Lind 2-run double off PORCELLO.
THE BIG OUTS: Bases loaded, 1 out, Tigers down 3-2 in the 6th, Loup retires both DAVIS and KINSLER on foul popups.
GOOD HITTING: Bautista, Lind
BAD HITTING: DAVIS
GOOD PITCHING: PORCELLO, Loup
BAD PITCHING: REED, KNEBEL
OBVIOUSLY: Porcello pitched a winner, but the 1-8 RISP offense had other ideas.
DON’T OVERLOOK: Weak defense played a major part in the late inning unraveling.
AND, BUT, ALSO: The bottom of the order was 4 for 8 and on base 7 times, nary a run scored.

Game 56: Happ v. Verlander. Blue Jays 7, TIGERS 3. Up 2, down 4.
NICE PLAYS: 3B Francisco-2B Lawrie-1B Lind, ROMINE-KINSLER-CABRERA, RF Bautista (3), C Kratz-Lawrie, ROMINE, SS Reyes-Lawrie-Lind, P Jenkins-Reyes-Lind, 3B Lawrie
MISPLAYS: LF Cabrera, HUNTER, 2B Lawrie
BASERUNNING NEWS: Toronto was movin’ it. Detroit, not so much, though the run scored in the 3rd by KINSLER was all hustle. J. MARTINEZ is caught stealing 2B, though it was kind of close. ROMINE bunt sets up the (briefly) tying run.
THE BIG HIT: Runner on 1st, none out, 3-3 in the 6th, Francisco 2-run HR off VERLANDER.
THE BIG OUT: Runners on 1st and 2nd, 1 out, Tigers down 6-3 in the 7th, Jenkins retires ROMINE on a 1-6-3 DP.
GOOD HITTING: Bautista
BAD HITTING: Gose, J. MARTINEZ
GOOD PITCHING: Jenkins
BAD PITCHING: VERLANDER
OBVIOUSLY: Back to back jacks off VERLANDER in the 6th sucked all the life out of this one, and the last chance died on the ROMINE GIDP.
DON’T OVERLOOK: Detroit did claw their way back as late as the 5th.
AND, BUT, ALSO: HUNTER’s silly error in the 4th doesn’t quite let VERLANDER off the hook. 6 double plays between the two teams today.

“It’s great to be alive and to be a Tigers fan.”

Game 57: De La Rosa v. Smyly. TIGERS 6, Red Sox 2. Down 1, up 4.

NICE PLAYS: CASTELLANOS, CASTELLANOS-KINSLER-CABRERA, SMYLY-CABRERA-ROMINE, 2B Pedroia, SS Herrera-Pedroia-1B Holt, CF Bradley (2), KINSLER, CABRERA, Pedroia-Holt, JACKSON, NATHAN, P Badenhop-Herrera-Holt, ROMINE
MISPLAYS: CASTELLANOS, C Pierzynski, ROMINE
BASERUNNING NEWS: SMYLY hung Herrera out to dry on a would-be stolen base attempt. CASTELLANOS scoring from 2B on a ball that just got through the infield was a thing of beauty. ROMINE did a swell job of busting up a DP. Holaday split the gap in two and motored to 3B with ease.
THE BIG HIT: None on, 2 out, Tigers up 2-1 in the 5th, KINSLER solo HR off De La Rosa.
THE BIG OUT: Men on 1st and 3rd, none out, 1-1 in the 4th, V. MARTINEZ facing De La Rosa lines out to CF, scoring Hunter, but the throw in from Bradley goes 8-6-3 to nail CABRERA trying to get back to 1B.
GOOD HITTING: HUNTER
BAD HITTING:
GOOD PITCHING: SMYLY, CHAMBERLAIN
BAD PITCHING: De La Rosa, Capuano
OBVIOUSLY: Firing on all cylinders. The kind of win you savor.
DON’T OVERLOOK: Well-played game on both sides, impressive defensively.
AND, BUT, ALSO: HUNTER wore a Zubaz outfit before the game to prove a point about “The Curse of the Zubaz,” and proved it.

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Game 58: Lester v. Scherzer. TIGERS 8, Red Sox 6. Never behind, up 4.
NICE PLAYS: 2B Pedroia, 1B Holt, JACKSON (2), KINSLER-SUAREZ-CABRERA, SUAREZ, C Ross-Pedroia.
MISPLAYS: RF Sizemore, CASTELLANOS
BASERUNNING NEWS: It was a race to the bag between Holt and HOLADAY on the bunt single. Looked to me like Holt applied the tag, but it must’ve been one heck of a brilliant evasion by HOLADAY (no challenge). Likewise, JACKSON stealing 2B in the 3rd was too close to call, but call it they did (out).
THE BIG HIT: Runner on 2nd, 2 out, 0-0 in the 1st, V. MARTINEZ RBI double off Lester.
THE BIG OUT: Runners on 1st and 2nd, 2 out, Tigers up 8-6 in the 9th, NATHAN retires Drew on a deep flyball to CF.
GOOD HITTING: CASTELLANOS, JACKSON
BAD HITTING:
GOOD PITCHING:
BAD PITCHING: Lester, Tazawa, NATHAN
OBVIOUSLY: The Tigers offense took this one by themselves in what should have been a blowout.
DON’T OVERLOOK: SCHERZER struggled to get the third out in the 5th and 6th but was left in to face Ortiz in the 7th.
AND, BUT, ALSO: Just plain dumb: Man on 2B in the 9th, CASTELLANOS trots over to RF for the shift on Ortiz, leaving not a soul on the left side of the infield. Bogaerts breaks for 3B, leaving NATHAN with nothing but a footrace (and it was close). Run scores on a groundout next play. 7 batters come to the plate in the 9th against Nathan. Zero K’s for Lester.

Game 59: Lackey v. Sanchez. Red Sox 5, TIGERS 3. Up 1, down 2.
NICE PLAYS: 3B Bogaerts-1B Napoli, LF Holt, SUAREZ-KINSLER-CABRERA, CASTELLANOS-1B KELLY, 2B Pedroia-Napoli, KINSLER-SUAREZ-KELLY, Bogaerts-Napoli, Bogaerts
MISPLAYS: CASTELLANOS (2), Bogaerts
BASERUNNING NEWS: It wasn’t the speed of DAVIS that got him the stolen base, but the great slide and somehow managing to glue his foot to 2B afterward.
THE BIG HIT: Men on 1st and 2nd, 1 out, Tigers up 3-2 in the 9th, Ortiz 3-run HR off CHAMBERLAIN.
THE BIG OUT: Men on 1st and 3rd, 2 out, Tigers up 3-2 in the 8th, COKE strikes out Bradley.
GOOD HITTING: SUAREZ, Napoli, Holt
BAD HITTING: DAVIS, HUNTER
GOOD PITCHING: Lackey, SANCHEZ, COKE
BAD PITCHING: CHAMBERLAIN
OBVIOUSLY: Almost a hard-fought win, which makes blowing it in the 9th even worse.
DON’T OVERLOOK: Playoff baseball. Strangely reminiscent of 2013 ALCS.
AND, BUT, ALSO: CABRERA exited in the 6th after limping down to 1B. Tight left hamstring. Trouble seemed to begin earlier in the game after he slid into 2B.

Game 60: Porcello v. Noesi. WHITE SOX 6, Tigers 5. Never ahead, down 3.
NICE PLAYS: 1B V. MARTINEZ-SUAREZ, CF Eaton, SS Ramirez-1B Abreu, AVILA, KINSLER, SUAREZ-V. MARTINEZ, RF Viciedo, 3B Gillaspie, Gillaspie-Abreu, KINSLER-SUAREZ-V. MARTINEZ, V. MARTINEZ-KROL, LF J. MARTINEZ
MISPLAYS: V. MARTINEZ, J. MARTINEZ (3), RF KELLY, PORCELLO, CASTELLANOS, RF Sierra, LF De Aza
BASERUNNING NEWS:
THE BIG HIT: Runner on 2nd, none out, Tigers down 6-4 in the 9th, Avila RBI double off Belisario.
THE BIG OUTS: Runner on 3rd, 1 out, Tigers down 6-5 in the 9th, Belisario retires KINSLER (K) and HUNTER (groundout 3B) to end the game.
GOOD HITTING: V. MARTINEZ
BAD HITTING:
GOOD PITCHING: Putnam, REED
BAD PITCHING: PORCELLO
OBVIOUSLY: Didn’t play so well, and yet you still felt cheated by the loss. They kept climbing back in it only to fall short.
DON’T OVERLOOK: PORCELLO made a very poor decision attempting any kind of a throw on De Aza’s perfect bunt in the 6th. That error turned into the 6th run.
AND, BUT, ALSO: 6 of the 11 runs scored had something to do with an error or misplay. The rest was home runs.

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RAINED OUT!

Game 61: Verlander v. Danks. WHITE SOX 8, Tigers 2. Never ahead, down 7.
NICE PLAYS: 1B V. MARTINEZ-VERLANDER, KINSLER, RF Viceiedo, CASTELLANOS-KINSLER-V. MARTINEZ, LF De Aza, CASTELLANOS-AVILA, KINSLER-SUAREZ-V. MARTINEZ, SUAREZ- KINSLER, 1B Abreu-3B Gillaspie-2B Beckham, Abreu, Abreu-P Guerra, Beckham, CASTELLANOS
MISPLAYS: De Aza-SS Ramirez, VERLANDER-V. MARTINEZ, CASTELLANOS, SUAREZ
BASERUNNING NEWS: Add 1 base to any extra base hit for Eaton at Comerica. CABRERA manufactures a run (hamstring must be better), advancing on tag-up and scoring on grounder. A nice bunt by SUAREZ set up Detroit’s best chance while there was a chance, and he later scored from 1B on a double. It’s fun to watch DAVIS beat out a grounder and then take 3B on a single, even when the Tigers are down 6.
THE BIG HIT: None on, none out, 0-0 in the 2nd, Abreu solo HR off VERLANDER.
THE BIG OUTS: Men on 2nd and 3rd, 1 out, 1-1 in the 5th, Danks retires DAVIS (infield popup) and KINSLER (lineout to LF).
GOOD HITTING: Dunn
BAD HITTING: KINSLER
GOOD PITCHING: Danks
BAD PITCHING: VERLANDER, KROL
OBVIOUSLY: Close until the 6th, it all fell apart along with VERLANDER.
DON’T OVERLOOK: VERLANDER fell behind 7 straight batters in the 6th (and the 8th hit his first pitch for the killing blow). Outstanding play from CASTELLANOS-AVILA in the 5th had cut down Eaton at the plate and kept the score tied at 1.  Wouldn’t you know it: Plenty of good defense in a lopsided game.
AND, BUT, ALSO: A weird play was SS Ramirez dropping the pop fly in short LF (thanks to the apparently blind and deaf De Aza) but throwing to 2B for the force on SUAREZ. This put DAVIS on 1B, who promptly stole 2B (out challenged and overturned). But nothing became of the whole affair.

Game 62: Scherzer v. Sale. Tigers 4, WHITE SOX 0. Ahead from the 5th on.
NICE PLAYS: SS Ramirez-1B Abreu, 2B Beckham-Abreu, KINSLER, P Sale-Abreu-Ramirez, LF J. MARTINEZ, SUAREZ, RF Viciedo, SCHERZER, HUNTER, CF Eaton
MISPLAYS: SUAREZ, CABRERA, Sale, Beckham, C Flowers
BASERUNNING NEWS: DAVIS gets figured out in a 1-3-6 caught stealing.
THE BIG HIT: Runners on 2nd and 3rd, 2 out, Tigers up 1-0 in the 8th, CABRERA hits a single (to 2B? – it’s actually a ball up the middle that Beckham attempts to barehand and drops) off Petricka that scores HOLADAY and SUAREZ.
THE BIG OUT: Runners on 2nd and 3rd, 1 out, Tigers up 1-0 in the 8th, Petricka strikes out KINSLER.
GOOD HITTING: CABRERA, HOLADAY
BAD HITTING: KINSLER, Viciedo
GOOD PITCHING: SCHERZER, Sale
BAD PITCHING: Petricka
OBVIOUSLY: SCHERZER 1, Sale 0, thanks to a V. MARTINEZ home run.
DON’T OVERLOOK: That V. MARTINEZ home run in the 5th, just barely outta the park in the LF corner, one of only 5 hits off Sale (10 K, 0 BB).
AND, BUT, ALSO: First career complete game is a shutout for SCHERZER. Only 113 pitches.

“I hate baseball.”

Game 63: Gibson v. Smyly. Twins 2, TIGERS 0. Behind from the 3rd on.
NICE PLAYS: AVILA, LF KELLY (2), 3B Plouufe-2B Escobar-1B Mauer, KINSLER-ROMINE-CABRERA, RF Arcia
MISPLAYS: CASTELLANOS, SS Nunez, 3B Plouffe, SUAREZ
BASERUNNING NEWS: A nice bunt from ROMINE followed by more of a straight sacrifice from DAVIS help set up the potential big inning for Detroit. AVILA’s throw should have nailed Santana at 3B; not a very skilled tag from CASTELLANOS there.
THE BIG HIT: None on, none out, 0-0 in the 3rd, Escobar solo HR off SMYLY.
THE BIG OUT: Bases loaded, 1 out, Tigers down 1-0 in the 5th, Gibson retires CABRERA on a 5-4-3 DP.
GOOD HITTING: Escobar
BAD HITTING: CABRERA, Arcia
GOOD PITCHING: Gibson, SMYLY, COKE
BAD PITCHING: NATHAN
OBVIOUSLY: Gibson’s sinker was just too good, and the Tigers couldn’t cash in on their one big chance.
DON’T OVERLOOK: The kind of 9th inning we’ve become accustomed to, featuring at least one error/misplay plus NATHAN, who had to be relieved by COKE this time. SMYLY got big outs nearly as big as Gibson’s, getting out of a bases-loaded jam in the 3rd and keeping Detroit in the game.
AND, BUT, ALSO: SUAREZ in for ROMINE late in a close game might not be such a good idea.

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Game 64: Deduno v. Sanchez. TIGERS 12, Twins 9. Down 1, up 10.
NICE PLAYS: 3B Plouffe-1B Mauer, HUNTER, CASTELLANOS, Plouffe, SUAREZ, 2B Escobar-Mauer, SUAREZ-CABRERA, SS Santana-Mauer, KINSLER-CABRERA (2), CABRERA, CF Fuld (2), CASTELLANOS-CABRERA
MISPLAYS: P Deduno, AVILA (2), JACKSON, HUNTER, SUAREZ, CABRERA, SS Santana
BASERUNNING NEWS: Extra base hits abounded, no small ball today. J. MARTINEZ demonstrates triples legs to go with Comerica gap power.
THE BIG HIT: None on, none out, Tigers down 1-0 in the 3rd, SUAREZ solo HR off Deduno.
THE BIG OUT: Men on 1st and 3rd, none out, 0-0 in the 2nd, SANCHEZ strikes out Arcia.
GOOD HITTING: Dozier, Fryer, Nunez, Santana, SUAREZ, KINSLER, V. MARTINEZ
BAD HITTING: Mauer, Arcia (sombrero time)
GOOD PITCHING: SANCHEZ
BAD PITCHING: Deduno, Swarzak, REED, ALBURQUERQUE
OBVIOUSLY: A hammering blowout courtesy of the offense (big inning helped by some fortunate bounces) obscures the fine start from SANCHEZ.
DON’T OVERLOOK: With a 9-run lead, the bullpen let in 7 runs in 2.2 IP, again with “help” from shoddy defense, some of it just plain inexcusable.
AND, BUT, ALSO: KINSLER had the tag on Santana between 1st and 2nd for a spectacular DP but didn’t get the call. With the score at 10-1, it wasn’t challenged. A very eventful game defensively, where the Twins often looked clownish but where the Tigers actually were the sloppier team.

Game 65: Nolasco v. Porcello. TIGERS 4, Twins 3. Never behind, up 2. Walk-off win.
NICE PLAYS: 3B Escobar-1B Mauer, RF Arcia, KINSLER-CABRERA (2), SS Santana (2), SUAREZ, LF J. MARTINEZ, CABRERA, CABRERA-PORCELLO, CABRERA-CHAMBERLAIN, HUNTER
MISPLAYS: Arcia (2), LF Willingham, Escobar, AVILA (2), CF Fuld
BASERUNNING NEWS: Not even a pitchout (more or less) can stop DAVIS with a good jump. A great read on the ball bouncing around in the left field corner by JACKSON, CLARK, or both, got the Tigers a triple and an easy 2nd run. KINSLER’s headfirst slide into 1B worked, Dozier’s didn’t (but man was the latter close).
THE BIG HIT: Runners on 1st and 2nd, 1 out, Tigers down 3-2 in the 6th, CASTELLANOS RBI double off Nolasco.
THE BIG OUTS: Bases loaded, 1 out, 3-3 in the 6th, Burton retires SUAREZ (popout) and KINSLER (flyout).
GOOD HITTING: V. MARTINEZ
BAD HITTING: Dozier
GOOD PITCHING: PORCELLO, CHAMBERLAIN, Guerrier
BAD PITCHING:
OBVIOUSLY: The Tigers needed a few breaks to win this one, and Arcia and the Twins defense obliged.
DON’T OVERLOOK: Two well-timed manager moves: Gardenhire going to his bullpen, and AUSMUS not (yet) going to his bullpen. PORCELLO had the win in his pocket and it fell out; Detroit’s offense had a chance to break it open and failed. Thus the need for luck.
AND, BUT, ALSO: Gardenhire had no luck with the calls (fan interference on JACKSON triple, Dozier at 1B, HUNTER tagging early on the game-winning sacrifice fly.) Arcia’s first misplay was a sun ball in RF.

Game 66: Vargas v. Verlander. Royals 11, TIGERS 8. Up 2, down 9.
NICE PLAYS: JACKSON, SS Escobar, 3B Moustakas-2B Infante-1B Hosmer, SUAREZ-KINSLER-CABRERA, RF Aoki, LF DAVIS-AVILA, CASTELLANOS-AVILA-KINSLER, CF Cain (2), Moustakas-Hosmer, Cain-Moustakas-Escobar, REED, CABRERA-HARDY, 2B ROMINE
MISPLAYS: SUAREZ (3), RF J. MARTINEZ, AVILA, CASTELLANOS, Moustakas
BASERUNNING NEWS: Being hung out on attempted pickoff is apparently not even enough to catch DAVIS with a good jump from stealing 2B. SUAREZ can sac bunt, too, we see, and it sets up the first run of the game. Moustakas put down just about the ugliest sac bunt ever, but it worked. The Tigers nailed two runners trying to score from 3B and had a chance at THREE! Plus, JACKSON doubled up Butler at 2B after a nice catch. (Think what the score might have been otherwise.) V. MARTINEZ was making a bold 1st-to-3rd attempt, but his mad scramble back to 2B (safe) was even more impressive. He scored from 2B on the next play, but may have been a mere pawn in Cain’s clever ruse that caught J. MARTINEZ (pinch-running for HUNTER) way past 2B, the mad scramble back unsuccessful this time after the relay from Moustakas to Escobar. This put a dent in what could have been a bigger 4th inning.
THE BIG HIT: Bases loaded, 1 out, Tigers up 2-1 in the 5th, Butler bases-clearing double off VERLANDER.
THE BIG OUT: Men on 1st and 3rd, 1 out, Tigers down 1-0 in the 3rd, Vargas retires CABRERA on a 5-4-3 DP.
GOOD HITTING: J. MARTINEZ, DAVIS, Infante, Butler
BAD HITTING:
GOOD PITCHING: Vargas, HARDY
BAD PITCHING: VERLANDER, Joseph, REED
OBVIOUSLY: Stranger even than the score would indicate. A hotly contested game in spite of the scuffling starter, right up until the Infante 3-run HR off VERLANDER in the 6th. After Cain’s magnificent catch in the bottom half, the baseball gods had spoken, although the 8th inning clown show seemed like an unnecessary reiteration of the speech. The mop-up crew turned 11-2 into something respectable.
DON’T OVERLOOK: Well, 6 runs in the 9th inning is something, even against a (deja vu) Royals minor leaguer. More late-inning heroics from J. MARTINEZ (grand slam). An example of why some fans always stay until the end.
AND, BUT, ALSO: HUNTER left the game early with hamstring cramps and was very upset with himself. VERLANDER nearly beaned Perez.

romaine

Game 67: Ventura v. Scherzer. Royals 11, TIGERS 4. Never ahead, down 8.
NICE PLAYS: 2B Infante-SS Escobar-1B Hosmer, RF Cain, Hosmer, SUAREZ-CASTELLANOS, SUAREZ, KINSLER-CABRERA, CABRERA-REED, Hosmer-Escobar, 2B ROMINE-1B KELLY
MISPLAYS: RF J. MARTINEZ, Escobar (2), 3B Moustakas
BASERUNNING NEWS: The DAVIS surprise bunt (down 10-2?) might have been intended as a surprise squeeze (1st and 3rd), but it’s good enough to load the bases and lead to a run. The Tigers manage to stay alert and catch a sleeping Gordon off 3B on a groundball heads-up SUAREZ-CASTELLANOS play.
THE BIG HIT: Runner on 2nd, none out, 0-0 in the 2nd, Gordon 2-run HR off SCHERZER.
THE BIG OUT: Runners on 1st and 2nd, 1 out, Tigers down 7-2 in the 2nd, SUAREZ grounds into a 4-6-3 DP off Ventura.
GOOD HITTING: Infante, Gordon, Cain
BAD HITTING: Hosmer, SUAREZ
GOOD PITCHING:
BAD PITCHING: SCHERZER
OBVIOUSLY: This can’t be happening. 10 ER in 4+ from SCHERZER?
DON’T OVERLOOK: The Tigers kept playing like they didn’t know the score. Kansas City turned 4 double plays.
AND, BUT, ALSO: Freaky ending to what could have been a big 5th inning for Detroit. Bases loaded, V. MARTINEZ at the plate, Ventura’s pitch sails way over C Perez but bounces right back to him off the backstop, and advancing runner SUAREZ is dead between home and 3B.

Game 68: Guthrie v. Smyly. Royals 2, TIGERS 1. Never ahead, down 2.
NICE PLAYS: KINSLER-1B V. MARTINEZ, LF Gordon, SMYLY-V. MARTINEZ-SUAREZ
MISPLAYS: V. MARTINEZ-SUAREZ, 1B Hosmer
BASERUNNING NEWS:
THE BIG HIT: None on, 2 out, Tigers down 1-0 in the 5th, Infante solo HR off SMYLY.
THE BIG OUTS: Man on 1st, none out, Tigers down 2-1 in the 9th, Holland retires MARTINEZ-MARTINEZ-AVILA to end the game.
GOOD HITTING:
BAD HITTING:
GOOD PITCHING: Guthrie, SMYLY, Davis
BAD PITCHING:
OBVIOUSLY: Call it the bad luck game, where the winning run was scored in the 1st on an easy out that hit the 2B bag and turned into an RBI single. Or call it a day off for the offense, which couldn’t buy a baserunner.
DON’T OVERLOOK: Good bullpen kept it close.
AND, BUT, ALSO: Detroit struck out 13 times, 9 against Guthrie.

Game 69: Duffy v. Sanchez. TIGERS 2, Royals 1. Down 1, up 1.
NICE PLAYS: HOLADAY-CABRERA, LF Dyson, 1B Hosmer, RF Aoki-SS Escobar, CABRERA-SANCHEZ, CASTELLANOS, JACKSON, RF J. MARTINEZ, CABRERA, Aoki
MISPLAYS: LF DAVIS, 3B Moustakas
BASERUNNING NEWS: A dramatic race to the 1B bag between Hosmer and DAVIS, with both sliding into it, results in a narrow victory for Hosmer. Oh man, did CABRERA get burned by Aoki and Escobar, standing casually just off the 2B bag as the throw came in from RF. Cost the Tigers a run, which could have been costly indeed. HOLADAY’s bunting skill pressures Moustakas into an error and gets HOLADAY all the way to 2B. Next, SUAREZ’s sac bunt is so bad that it’s good, confusing the KC defense into allowing HOLADAY to reach 3rd. This little burst of small ball should have resulted in an 8th inning insurance run, but it didn’t.
THE BIG HIT: Runner on 1st, none out, Tigers down 1-0 in the 4th, CABRERA double off Duffy scores JACKSON.
THE BIG OUTS: Runner on 1st, none out, Tigers up 2-1 in the 8th, CHAMBERLAIN retires Infante (lineout SS) and Hosmer (4-6-3 DP).
GOOD HITTING: CABRERA
BAD HITTING: V. MARTINEZ
GOOD PITCHING: Duffy, SANCHEZ, NATHAN
BAD PITCHING:
OBVIOUSLY: A sigh of relief at managing 2 runs on 4 hits and at this being enough.
DON’T OVERLOOK: NATHAN struck out the side on 15 pitches in the 9th, protecting a 1-run lead.
AND, BUT, ALSO:  A command performance from Sanchez, 7 innings of 1 run ball with – no strikeouts?

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Game 70: Porcello v. Kluber. Tigers 6, INDIANS 4. Never behind, up 5.
NICE PLAYS: KINSLER-SUAREZ-CABRERA, RF Murphy (2), C Gomes-3B Chisenhall, SUAREZ, Chisenhall, CABRERA-SUAREZ, SS Cabrera-2B Kipnis-1B Santana
MISPLAYS: SUAREZ
BASERUNNING NEWS: Both KELLY and especially HOLADAY were easy outs trying to steal. HOLADAY muffed a sac bunt (popout).
THE BIG HIT: Man on 1st, none out, 0-0 in the 4th, V. MARTINEZ 2-run HR off Kluber.
THE BIG OUT: Man on 1st, none out, Tigers up 2-0 in the 6th, PORCELLO retires Cabrera on a 3-6-3 DP.
GOOD HITTING: J. MARTINEZ, V. MARTINEZ
BAD HITTING:
GOOD PITCHING: PORCELLO, Kluber
BAD PITCHING: KROL, Axford
OBVIOUSLY: A matter-of-fact win briefly interrupted by frightening bullpen.
DON’T OVERLOOK: 7 innings of shutout by PORCELLO and ALBURQUERQUE. The Indians paid the price for walking one MARTINEZ to get to the other. KINSLER recovered from 3 bad strikeouts to double in the 9th inning insurance.
AND, BUT, ALSO: 9 of 10 runs scored were on home runs. Different ballpark, but another passed ball bounces right back to the catcher, keeping the Tigers baserunner from advancing.

Game 71: Verlander v. Bauer. Tigers 5, INDIANS 4 (10). Down 1, up 2.
NICE PLAYS: CF Bourn, KINSLER, RF Murphy, CABRERA, 1B Santana, CASTELLANOS, CABRERA-NATHAN, SS Cabrera-2B Kipnis-Santana
MISPLAYS: KINSLER, CASTELLANOS (2)
BASERUNNING NEWS: Cabrera (the other one) laid down about the most perfect 3B-line bunt you’ll ever see, inspiring a bit of comedy from VERLANDER. DAVIS was way out (unusual) trying to steal 2B in the 5th.
THE BIG HIT: Runners on 1st and 3rd, 2 out, Tigers up 4-3 in the 9th, Bourn RBI single off NATHAN.
THE BIG OUTS: Runner on 2nd (and then 3rd), none out, Tigers up 4-3 in the 8th, HARDY gets three harmless grounders from Brantley-Kipnis-Santana.
GOOD HITTING: V. MARTINEZ
BAD HITTING: Kipnis
GOOD PITCHING: VERLANDER, HARDY, COKE, Atchison
BAD PITCHING: NATHAN, ALBURQUERQUE
OBVIOUSLY: 40,000+ at Progressive Field (can you believe it?) saw one heck of a show. Back and forth.
DON’T OVERLOOK: HARDY and COKE bail out ALBURQUERQUE and NATHAN in what should have been a win for VERLANDER.
AND, BUT, ALSO: Some real blasts off the Tigers’ bats, not only the home runs (V. MARTINEZ, DAVIS, KINSLER) but also an out (AVILA to CF) and the game-winning RBI double from CABRERA in the 10th.

Game 72: Scherzer v. Tomlin. Tigers 10, INDIANS 4. Never behind, up 9.
NICE PLAYS: 2B Kipnis, ROMINE-KINSLER-CABRERA, LF DAVIS, SCHERZER-CABRERA, CABRERA-HARDY, 1B KELLY, SS Cabrera-Kipnis-1B Santana, JACKSON
MISPLAYS: Cabrera, C Gomes, CF Bourn, 3B Chisenhall (2)
BASERUNNING NEWS: CASTELLANOS gets a good read and moves with alacrity to take 3B on a WP that wasn’t so wild. KINSLER’s jump on his steal of 2B was too good for a throw.
THE BIG HIT: None on, 2 out, 0-0 in the 1st, CABERA solo HR off Tomlin.
THE BIG OUTS: Men on 1st and 2nd, none out, Tigers up 2-0 in the 3rd, SCHERZER retires Cabrera-Brantley-Kipnis in order.
GOOD HITTING: Brantley. CABRERA, KINSLER, J. MARTINEZ, CASTELLANOS
BAD HITTING: Kipnis
GOOD PITCHING: SCHERZER, Carrasco
BAD PITCHING: Tomlin, SMITH
OBVIOUSLY: Detroit’s offense would have been hard to deny anyway, but Cleveland buried themselves with a multitude of defensive lapses in the 5th.
DON’T OVERLOOK: A good game from SCHERZER somewhat obscured by the score and the inefficiency (114 pitches in 6 innings of work). The Indians were 1 for 8 RISP (4 strikeouts!) against him.
AND, BUT, ALSO: Bit of a rough debut for SMITH mopping up in the 9th, but a nice moment with smiles and congrats from AVILA when he’d gotten the third out.


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DEFENSIVE SCORECARD (in terms of outstanding plays one way or the other, X = good, O = not)

2B KINSLER XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXOX +26
LF DAVIS XOXOX +1
SS ROMINE XXXXXOXX +6
1B CABRERA XXOXXXXXXOXXXXXXOXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX +30
P KNEBEL X +1
SS SUAREZ OXXXXXXXXXOXOOXXOXXOOOXXXOXXXO +10
3B CASTELLANOS OXXOOXOOOXXXOOXXXOXXXOO +1
RF HUNTER OXXOX +1
P SMYLY XX +2
CF JACKSON XXXOXXX +5
P NATHAN XX +2
1B KELLY XXXX +4
1B V. MARTINEZ XXXXOXXXOXXO +6
C AVILA XXXOOOOXXO zero
P KROL X +1
LF J. MARTINEZ XOOOXX zero
RF KELLY O -1
P PORCELLO OX zero
P VERLANDER XO zero
P SCHERZER XX +2
LF KELLY XX +2
P CHAMBERLAIN X +1
P REED XX +2
P HARDY XX +2
2B ROMINE XX +2
RF J. MARTINEZ OOX -1
C HOLADAY X +1
P SANCHEZ X +1

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Eugenio Suarez makes the jump from AAA sooner than anyone expected. Andrew Romine has perked up a bit at the plate, but only to the tune of a .523 OPS. The countermove to Suarez is the DFA of Danny Worth (soon outrighted to Toledo). *** The MLB debut of Suarez isn’t entirely auspicious. As a defensive replacement he makes a caught-sleeping read on a playable hit, and later hurts his knee with an awkward slide that will delay his first starting opportunity. *** The Blue Jays sweep the Tigers in Detroit for the first time in 11 years, and the losing streak (highlighted by losing offense) reaches 5 games. *** Mechanical adjustments reported, Justin Verlander’s fastball tops out at 97-98 MPH over two outings, but the ERA continues to climb as well (4.19). *** Alex Avila sustains a mild concussion from being clipped on the mask with a David Ortiz backswing. *** Yes, strange defensive things do often happen with Joe Nathan on the mound, but that can’t entirely explain his 7.04 ERA. There’s an 80% contact rate on swings, and just 13% of strikes called are swinging strikes. After Game 57: “We’re going to need Joe Nathan,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “Wanted to get him out there and throw some pitches, and kind of work through this.” *** Anibal Sanchez finally yields his first HR of 2014 (Mike Napoli) after 10 starts and 55.1 IP. *** Suarez is causing a stir early as a SS who can hit, with clutch hits and home runs, even (2 in his first 4 games). *** Rookie 3B Nick Castellanos is in the midst of a quietly productive 18-game stretch that will see him hit .353 with only 10 K in 70 PA. *** After a surprisingly strong start at the plate, Don Kelly is on a slide that will see him go 54 PA with 1 XBH (and 1 RBI) along with a .167 average during that span. *** Aha, Luke Putkonen (DL) does need surgery after all (bone spur, right elbow), and will be out for at least another two months. *** Al Alburquerque pitches sparingly during this period, 7 games and 3.2 IP, little of note good or bad aside from a 33% IRS. “I’ve certainly been aware of how much we’ve used Alburquerque over the first two months,” Ausmus said. “I’ve tried to be a little more careful on how we use Alburquerque, because we’re going to need him for August and September.” *** After the game against the Twins in which he almost hit three out and one of them counted for #17, Victor Martinez is on a 44 HR pace, and Miguel Cabrera is on pace for 30 HR, 138 RBI (!), and 58 2B (!!). *** With a few weeks in the bigs under his belt, top prospect Corey Knebel returns to Toledo, and Blaine Hardy (who nearly made the team out of camp as a non-roster invitee) gets the call. *** With Alburquerque and Joba Chamberlain the only semi-reliable arms (that Ausmus has become leery of overtaxing), and Ian Krol and Evan Reed in serious decline, the bullpen situation inches toward Code Red. How so? Because a bullpen that blows every third game (not true) and a bullpen that would blow every third game, given the opportunity (very true – do the math), amount to the same thing. Krol, the New Old Phil Coke early on, since May 23: WHIP ~2.40, BAA .379, IRS 38%. Reed, the one power arm left, since May 18: WHIP 2.30, BAA .354, 43% LD rate. *** Detroit comes to terms with a number of their top draft picks, including their first choice, OF Derek Hill. *** On June 17, knocked out by the red-hot Royals, the Tigers get their first look at 2nd place in the AL Central. *** In response to a question about how he deals with the frustration of a 9-20 stretch for the team, Ausmus jokes that he beats his wife, which causes quite the stir in PC Nation and quite a bit of histrionic angst from Ausmus himself afterward. Fortunately, his comments on the new home plate collision rules (“totally gay”) are kept off the record. *** With Torii Hunter out for a spell (hamstring), J.D. Martinez gets his first real string of starting opportunities and has an eye-popping offensive series against the Royals. *** Rock stars no more: Only the stellar Sanchez (at a 2.33 ERA, sub-1.00 WHIP after 12 starts) has escaped the considerable scuffing and/or roughing up suffered by the other starters over the past 4-5 weeks. *** Although his defense is no more than sometimes brilliant, sometimes baffling, robust offense (.849 OPS) has kept Suarez in the lineup and made him the de facto starting SS faster than you can say all five syllables of his first name. *** Reed is DFA (and will land in Toledo), and fast-rising pitching prospect Chad Smith (starter in AA and AAA this season) is called upon for bullpen help. *** Bryan Holaday has been disappointing defensively as backup catcher, but – aided by his considerable skill at bunting –  is somewhat of a pleasant surprise with the bat (.303 average, albeit with a .677 OPS). *** Much is made of the Detroit bullpen’s “heavy workload,” but this seems to be based on appearances rather than actual innings pitched. *** Krol hits the DL with shoulder inflammation, a.k.a. bad pitching. Pat McCoy is called up from Toledo’s bullpen to take his place. *** Ausmus is 12 for 21 in successful replay challenges, one of the better scores among managers. *** Hunter is getting a bit more rest for his hamstring than anticipated, as the other Martinez catches fire and looks comfortable in the #5 spot. Over 15 games this period, J.D. is hitting .357 with 5 HR, 16 RBI,  and a 55% XBH rate. *** It seems too good to be true. Hardy, lefty reliever with a plus curveball, has faced 18 batters through 5 IP in 4 games. 1 hit, 2 walks, 0 runs, 0 IRS. *** Home run #19 for Victor (in Cleveland, off Trevor Bauer) is about as no-doubt as it gets, nearly to the second deck in RF on a line. *** Detroit’s stay in 2nd place is a short one, as they finish this inning with 4 straight wins. Moral of the story: Cursed by Zubaz? Beat your wife. (Or let her beat you. Versions of the story vary.)

Reed-AP-Tigers

 40-32, 1st in the Central, 2nd in the AL, on pace for a 90-72 season…

RESEARCH MADE POSSIBLE BY: MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL and BASEBALL REFERENCE .
PHOTO CREDITS: MARTINEZ: Jason Miller/Getty Images; KELLY: Paul Sancya/AP; ROMINE: Duane Burleson/Getty Images; REED: AP.

DTW News and Notes 11-3-14

Catching you up on a few things as the disappointment begins to fade away. See if you can find the theme below.

– Alan Trammell is back with the Tigers. Trammell said “it feels right.” It would feel more right if the Tigers hadn’t just been swept in the first round of the playoffs.

– The Tigers tendered qualifying offers today to Max Scherzer and Victor Martinez ($15.3M each). Neither guy will take it, but this guarantees a compensatory pick (or picks) in next year’s draft if the Tigers lose one or both. In case you’re unfamiliar with qualifying offers, they are meant to compensate teams who lose big free agents. The qualifying offer figure is set at the average of the top 125 players from last year. For each of those two free agents that the Tigers lose, the signing team will lose their 1st round pick (unless it’s a top 10 pick, in which case that team will lose a 2nd round pick), and the Tigers will get a compensatory pick at the end of the first round. Doesn’t really help much for 2015, and it definitely doesn’t change 2014.

– Andy Dirks is now a Blue Jay. Dirks was a nice player, but let’s not make him out to be more than he was. He wasn’t a long term solution here.

– Patrick McCoy was claimed off waivers by the Baltimore Orioles.

– Don Kelly and Evan Reed were optioned to Toledo.

– The Dirks/McCoy/Kelly/Reed moves were needed to make room on the 40 man for Bruce Rondon, Luke Putkonen, Drew VerHagen, and shortstop Jose Iglesias. I guess their 60 days is up.

– Finally, Mike Hessman has been resigned to a minor league deal. Yes, that Mike Hessman. Could have used his bat in the playoffs.

2014: The 3rd Inning (7-11)

Tigers and Zubaz don’t mix.

So the Detroit Tigers are now:

SP Verlander
SP Scherzer
SP Ray
SP Porcello
SP Smyly
RP Nathan
RP Alburquerque
RP Chamberlain
RP Coke
RP Miller
RP Reed
RP Krol
C Avila
C Holaday
1B-DH Cabrera
2B Kinsler
SS Romine
SS-P Worth
3B Castellanos
IF-OF Kelly
RF Hunter
CF Jackson
LF-CF Davis
LF J. Martinez
DH-1B V. Martinez


 

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 “It’s great to be alive and to be a Tigers fan.” 

Game 37: Scherzer v. Lester. Tigers 1, RED SOX 0. Never behind, up 1.
NICE PLAYS: WORTH-KINSLER-CABRERA, 1B Napoli, KINSLER
MISPLAYS: 3B Middlebrooks, 2B Pedroia (2)
BASERUNNING NEWS: CASTELLANOS is caught stealing 2B, the news being that there was an attempt.
THE BIG HIT: Runners on 1st and 2nd, 2 out, 0-0 in the 1st, HUNTER scores KINSLER with a single off Lester.
THE BIG OUT: Men on 1st and 2nd, 1 out, Tigers up 1-0 in the 7th, KROL retires pinch-hitter Pierzynski on a 6-4-3 DP.
GOOD HITTING:
BAD HITTING: Sizemore, AVILA
GOOD PITCHING: SCHERZER, Lester, KROL, Badenhop
BAD PITCHING:
OBVIOUSLY: Pretty impressive to hold onto a 1-0 lead for 9 innings at Fenway.
DON’T OVERLOOK: Nothing but outs from CHAMBERLAIN and NATHAN.
HUH?: A 47-minute rain delay doesn’t faze SCHERZER or the Tigers.

Game 38: Porcello v. Lackey. Tigers 6, RED SOX 1. Never behind, up 5.
NICE PLAYS: 1B Napoli, 2B Pedroia-SS Bogaerts-Napoli, KINSLER (2), KINSLER-ROMINE-CABRERA, CABRERA, Pedroia, 3B Holt, CASTELLANOS (2), CF Sizemore
MISPLAYS: ROMINE, P Mujica
BASERUNNING NEWS: DAVIS at 2B makes pitchers nervous. Mujica’s pickoff attempt would have been great if the 2B ump played for the Red Sox and had been closer than 12 feet from the bag.
THE BIG HIT: None on, 2 out, Tigers up 1-0 in the 3rd, CABRERA hits a HR off Lackey.
THE BIG OUT: Bases loaded, 2 out, Tigers up 2-0 in the 4th, PORCELLO retires Pierzynski (4-3 groundout).
GOOD HITTING: CABRERA
BAD HITTING: ROMINE (golden sombrero), Pierzynski, Sizemore
GOOD PITCHING: PORCELLO, Capuano
BAD PITCHING: Lackey
OBVIOUSLY: PORCELLO with curveball/sinker working + defense is an unbeatable combo.
DON’T OVERLOOK: V. MARTINEZ and AVILA both beat the shift with hits, and both score.
HUH?: A slow roller down the 1B line in the 8th by Victorino led to a near-collision with PORCELLO, and Victorino was called out (and didn’t like it), though the ball had ultimately rolled foul. Whether it was interference or touching the ball (he didn’t, I don’t think), the out was good.

Game 39: Sanchez v. Peavy. Tigers 6, RED SOX 2. Down 1, up 4.
NICE PLAYS: 2B Pedroia, 1B Napoli, 1B Napoli-P Peavy, ROMINE, SANCHEZ-3B KELLY, C Pierzynski-3B Holt, KINSLER (2), CABRERA, CABRERA-CHAMBERLAIN
MISPLAYS: AVILA, KELLY
BASERUNNING NEWS: The Tigers had relentless legs, and it showed up in 3 of the runs. Fenway singles turned to doubles, a nice slide by CABRERA, a SB for J. MARTINEZ. The Red Sox pilfered a pair from AVILA, but it came to nothing.
THE BIG HIT: Man on 1B, 2 out, 1-1 in the 3rd, V. MARTINEZ HR off Peavy scores CABRERA (who had just scored KINSLER).
THE BIG OUT: Bases loaded, 1 out, 4-2 Tigers in the 5th, SANCHEZ makes a great snag of the line drive from Sizemore and doubles Victorino off 3B with help from KELLY.
GOOD HITTING: KINSLER, CABRERA
BAD HITTING: Sizemore
GOOD PITCHING: ALBURQUERQUE and the rest of the pen
BAD PITCHING: Peavy
OBVIOUSLY: The Tigers offense was relentless, squaring up Peavy right away and hitting safely in all 9 innings.
DON’T OVERLOOK: 4 scoreless (1 H, 0 BB) innings from the Tigers bullpen committee of 5.
HUH?: HUNTER’s home run to LF off Tazawa was clean out of the ballpark. A foul popup near the stands pops out of Pierzynski’s mitt and into the hand of Holt. Nice. Funny play where V. MARTINEZ bounces to 1B with HUNTER there, who draws Napoli into a bit of a rundown. Napoli seems to think that HUNTER is the 3rd out, but shouts from Peavy and other teammates and the slow runner save his bacon, as he guns to 1B just in time.

scrap14

Game 40: Smyly v. Kluber. INDIANS 5, Tigers 4 (10). Up 1, down 1. Walk-off loss.
NICE PLAYS: ROMINE, 2B Aviles-3B Santana-1B Aguilar, SS Cabrera-Aguilar, LF DAVIS-ROMINE-KINSLER, CASTELLANOS-CABRERA
MISPLAYS: AVILA, RF Raburn, P Kluber, SMYLY, ROMINE, CASTELLANOS, Santana, CF Bourn
BASERUNNING NEWS:
THE BIG HIT: None on, 2 out, 4-4 in the 10th, ALBURQUERQUE yields the game-winning HR to Brantley.
THE BIG OUT: Bases loaded, 1 out, 4-4 in the 9th, CHAMBERLAIN gets Aviles on a 5-3 DP started well by CASTELLANOS.
GOOD HITTING:
BAD HITTING: Aviles
GOOD PITCHING: Shaw, Atchison
BAD PITCHING: SMYLY
OBVIOUSLY: Both a bad game (very sloppy and yet no official errors) and a good game (rallies back and forth all evening, including an 8th-inning, game-tying, pinch-hit HR for J. MARTINEZ off Allen).
DON’T OVERLOOK: Detroit was 1 for 8 RISP.
HUH?: HUNTER saw 15 pitches in his 0-fer 5 PA and struck out 3 times. Wild pitch on an intentional walk for Kluber.

Game 41: Verlander v. Bauer. INDIANS 6, Tigers 2. Up 1, down 4.
NICE PLAYS: KINSLER-WORTH-CABRERA, CABRERA-WORTH, HUNTER (2), 2B Aviles-SS Cabrera-1B Swisher, LF Brantley-Aviles, SS Cabrera, Swisher-Cabrera-P Bauer, Swisher, 3B Chisenhall
MISPLAYS: CABRERA, CASTELLANOS, JACKSON
BASERUNNING NEWS: KINSLER was out by a mile trying to get to 2B on Brantley, but did make an interesting dance move (or maybe it was martial arts) after being tagged out. The Indians, meanwhile, were flying around the bases.
THE BIG HIT: Runners on 1st and 2nd, 1 out, 1-1 in the 2nd, Aviles 2-run double off VERLANDER.
THE BIG OUT: Men on 1st and 2nd, 1 out, Tigers down 5-2, Bauer retires CASTELLANOS on a bang-bang 3-6-1 DP, nicely finished off by the pitcher himself, safe call at 1B overturned.
GOOD HITTING: AVILA, Bourn
BAD HITTING: CASTELLANOS
GOOD PITCHING: Shaw
BAD PITCHING: VERLANDER
OBVIOUSLY: Cleveland took Detroit to school all the way around.
DON’T OVERLOOK: How it could have been worse (14 baserunners, 116 pitches for VERLANDER in 6 innings), or the importance of the Francona challenge on the big out play in the 6th.
HUH?: AVILA home run off Bauer hit the top of that tall wall in left-CF, quite the blast.

Game 42: Scherzer v. McAllister. INDIANS 11, Tigers 10 (13). Up 4, down 2. Balk-off loss.
NICE PLAYS: C Santana-1B Swisher, RF Murphy (2), CABRERA-SCHERZER, KINSLER-WORTH-1B KELLY, Swisher, LF DAVIS-HOLADAY, CASTELLANOS-KELLY, DAVIS-AVILA
MISPLAYS: 3B Chisenhall, JACKSON, SS Cabrera, WORTH-JACKSON, HOLADAY, WORTH
BASERUNNING NEWS: A couple exciting plays at the plate, but neither involved Detroit baserunners. Brantley stole twice and scored twice, while J. MARTINEZ had to settle for being thrown out at 2B rather easily.
THE BIG HIT: Man on 2nd, 2 out, Tigers up 9-7 in the 9th, Murphy hits a 2-run HR off NATHAN, 9-9 in the 10th, KROL facing Bourn, Chisenhall tries to score on the shallow fly to LF and is thrown out at home by DAVIS, double play and inning over.
THE BIG OUT: Runners on 1st and 3rd, 1 out
GOOD HITTING: V. MARTINEZ, Brantley, Murphy, Aviles
BAD HITTING: JACKSON
GOOD PITCHING: Tomlin, Atchison, KROL
BAD PITCHING: SCHERZER, McAllister, NATHAN, Axford
OBVIOUSLY: A crazy one that ended crazier. Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
DON’T OVERLOOK: It was a battle until the end. Scherzer took the Tigers out of it and then kept them in it, and was in line for a strange win before the blown save. Big-time clutch from DAVIS (bat and glove) and AVILA (13th inning home run) should not go forgotten.
HUH?: Way too much going on. ALBURQUERQUE’s flinch to balk in the winning run. CABRERA and soon AUSMUS getting ejected in the 6th – over a check-swing strike one call. Two balls lost in the sun by WORTH (one of those runners scores.)

Robbie Ray

 “I hate baseball.

Game 43: Darvish v. Ray. Rangers 9, TIGERS 2. Never ahead, down 9.
NICE PLAYS: RAY-CABRERA-ROMINE, AVILA-ROMINE, KINSLER-AVILA, 3B Beltre-2B Sardinas, KINSLER
MISPLAYS: JACKSON (2), KINSLER (2), CABRERA, ROMINE (2)
BASERUNNING NEWS: At least the Texas base-stealing was shut down in the brief time it mattered. CABRERA was fleet and positively athletic scoring from 2B, even if the HUNTER RBI was a double.
THE BIG HIT: Runner on 1st, none out, 0-0 in the 2nd, Rios doubles in a run off RAY.
THE BIG OUT: Men on 1st and 2nd, none out, Tigers down 5-0 in the 3rd, Darvish gets CABRERA to line out sharply to 3B, and KINSLER is doubled off 2B.
GOOD HITTING: Choo, Choice, Beltre
BAD HITTING: Sardinas
GOOD PITCHING: Darvish, COKE
BAD PITCHING: RAY, REED
OBVIOUSLY: Detroit dug themselves a big hole early, and the “homecoming” defense was beyond bad.
DON’T OVERLOOK: 5 innings of scoreless relief is never a bad thing.
HUH?: Comic relief provided by the remarkably successful debut of WORTH the knuckleballer. Texas lost CF Robertson early (batting .150 and caught stealing, tough times) when he collided with RF Rios, both hustling after the ball and sliding for it, Robertson sliding face first into Rios’s knee. Why wasn’t SMYLY – obviously available – brought in when it was 5-0 rather than 9-0? AUSMUS?

Game 44: Baker v. Sanchez. TIGERS 7, Rangers 2. Down 2, up 5.
NICE PLAYS: 1B Moreland, P Baker, SS Andrus-2B Odor-Moreland, AVILA-ROMINE, Andrus, KINSLER, Odor-C Chirinos, CABRERA-ROMINE-KROL
MISPLAYS: Andrus
BASERUNNING NEWS: DAVIS was ridiculously far off 1B when he got picked off by Baker, but his blazing speed in scoring the Tigers’ 4th run from 1B more than made up for it. KINSLER parlayed advances into runs twice, and running for home on contact worked on the HUNTER groundout. Next play reads odd – V. MARTINEZ out at home (from 2B) on a groundball to 2B? Odor ranged far to knock the ball down and overran it, would’ve been an IF single for JACKSON. V. MARTINEZ rounding 3rd tried to read the play, hesitated, and then just couldn’t beat a quick recovery and easy throw home by Odor.
THE BIG HIT: Man on 1st, 1 out, Tigers down 2-0 in the 2nd, JACKSON hits a 2-run HR off Baker.
THE BIG OUT: Runner on 3B, 1 out, 2-2 in the 3rd, Baker retires HUNTER on a flyout to LF too shallow to score CABRERA.
GOOD HITTING: KINSLER
BAD HITTING:
GOOD PITCHING: SANCHEZ
BAD PITCHING: Baker
OBVIOUSLY: Great start from “Sanchie” plus a lot of runs for 10 hits and 2 for 10 RISP.
DON’T OVERLOOK: Sanchez allowed 2, then ended the threat en route to retiring 14 of his last 15. A nice 3-6-1 DP ended the game.
HUH?: ROMINE, batting a cool .176, belts one out to RF off Baker, his first career HR. The Tigers struck out only twice (AVILA both).

Game 45: Martinez v. Sanchez. Rangers 12, TIGERS 2. Up 1, down 11.
NICE PLAYS: CASTELLANOS, AVILA-CASTELLANOS, LF DAVIS, PORCELLO, AVILA-ROMINE, CASTELLANOS-KINSLER-1B KELLY, KELLY-P WORTH, 2B Odor
MISPLAYS: CABRERA, AVILA, JACKSON, LF Choice
BASERUNNING NEWS: Nothing like ROMINE (scoring from 1B) and DAVIS (RBI double) running the bases simultaneously. Unfortunately, the recently blazing DAVIS was caught out badly stealing 3B. Two good AUSMUS challenges that reversed safe SB calls on very close plays. A good Washington challenge ends the Tigers 7th and any hope of consolation runs on a line out DP with bases loaded.
THE BIG HIT: Runners on 1st and 2nd, 2 out, Tigers down 2-1 in the 4th, Odor 2-run triple off PORCELLO.
THE BIG OUTS: Man on 2nd, 1 out, 0-0 in the 1st, PORCELLO strikes out Moreland and AVILA throws out Choo attempting to steal 3B, double play.
GOOD HITTING: Odor, Murphy. Martin
BAD HITTING: CASTELLANOS
GOOD PITCHING: COKE
BAD PITCHING: PORCELLO, KNEBEL
OBVIOUSLY: It started well enough. It didn’t blow up. It just snowballed until it was wretched.
DON’T OVERLOOK: The tipping point may have been the Gimenez double in the 4th, where the relay from RF to the plate wasn’t bad enough to call a bad play but not good enough to make it more than an almost close play on Beltre at the plate.
HUH?: Well, everyone looked good in the Negro League uniforms, anyway. WORTH pitched for the 2nd time in 3 days, knuckleball not nearly as sensational.

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Game 46: Lewis v. Verlander. Rangers 12, TIGERS 4. Never ahead, down 10.
NICE PLAYS: AVILA-ROMINE, CASTELLANOS, SS Andrus, SS Sardinas-2B Odor-1B Moreland
MISPLAYS: KINSLER, CASTELLANOS (2), Moreland (3), VERLANDER-KINSLER, CF Martin, ROMINE
BASERUNNING NEWS: DAVIS was excitement in the first, stealing, drawing a balk, coming home on a grounder. AVILA had a good lead and a great jump and still got caught handily stealing 2B.
THE BIG HIT: Men on 1st and 3rd, 1 out, Tigers down 3-1 in the 2nd, ROMINE doubles off of Lewis to score JACKSON with help from bumbling Martin.
THE BIG OUTS: Runners on 2nd and 3rd, 1 out, Tigers down 3-2 in the 2nd, Lewis retires DAVIS (lineout to SS) and KINSLER (flyout to CF).
GOOD HITTING: Moreland, Andrus, Rios, Chirinos
BAD HITTING: KINSLER, Martin
GOOD PITCHING: REED
BAD PITCHING: VERLANDER, KROL
OBVIOUSLY: The Tigers stunk and got stomped.
DON’T OVERLOOK: Detroit could have made it a slugfest against mediocre pitching but didn’t (2-12 RISP), and the defense added insult to injury.
HUH?: 11 hits and 6 walks for Tigers hitters, 4 runs.

Game 47: Smyly v. Milone. ATHLETICS 10, Tigers 0. Never ahead, down 10.
NICE PLAYS: SS Lowrie-1B Blanks, JACKSON, CASTELLANOS-CABRERA, 3B Donaldson, CASTELLANOS, CF Crisp, Lowrie, CABRERA
MISPLAYS: ROMINE, Lowrie, CASTELLANOS, HOLADAY
BASERUNNING NEWS: Lots of trotting around the bases for the A’s.
THE BIG HITS: 0-0 in the 2nd, Moss and Blanks hit solo home runs off Smyly.
THE BIG OUTS: SMYLY retiring Donaldson-Cespedes-Lowrie in order in the 1st, working out of a 1st and 3rd, none out jam.
GOOD HITTING: Norris, Blanks, Donaldson
BAD HITTING:
GOOD PITCHING: Milone. KNEBEL, Otero
BAD PITCHING: SMYLY, COKE
OBVIOUSLY: Demoralizing early, it got worse.
DON’T OVERLOOK: The COKE demolition was set up by a 4-pitch walk, another defensive miscue by HOLADAY (interference with the batter), and a botched routine play by CASTELLANOS.
HUH?: 4 home runs in the span of 30 pitches off SMYLY? Really?

Game 48: Scherzer v. Gray. Tigers 6, ATHLETICS 5. Down 2, up 2.
NICE PLAYS: 3B Donaldson-1B Moss (2), Donaldson, AVILA-3B KELLY, P Gray-Moss, ROMINE, 3B KELLY (2), LF J. MARTINEZ (2), CF Crisp, RF Reddick (2), C Jaso-2B Sogard, SS Lowrie-Sogard-Moss, CABRERA-CHAMBERLAIN, KINSLER, CABRERA-NATHAN
MISPLAYS: JACKSON, LF Cespedes, KINSLER, C Norris (2)
BASERUNNING NEWS: AVILA put down a nice bunt that took a good play by Gray to beat. DAVIS (inserted by AUSMUS to pinch-run for J. MARTINEZ) wins the game in the 8th with legs and smarts, capitalizing on C Norris and P Abad.
THE BIG HIT: Runner on 3rd, 2 out, Tigers up 4-3 in the 4th, Jaso hits a 2-run HR off SCHERZER.
THE BIG OUT: 2-0 Tigers in the 1st, none out, Crisp on 2B is caught stealing 3B by AVILA-KELLY on a very close play (challenged, and the out stood).
GOOD HITTING: Jaso, J. MARTINEZ, Callaspo, CABRERA
BAD HITTING: Crisp
GOOD PITCHING: NATHAN, ALBURQUERQUE, CHAMBERLAIN, Gregerson
BAD PITCHING: SCHERZER
OBVIOUSLY: A thrilling game that felt like playoff baseball.
DON’T OVERLOOK: Great defense on both sides prevented more runs than the pitching did.
HUH?: A misunderstood signal from AVILA led to the strange run-scoring balk in SCHERZER’s 4th-inning disaster. This miscue was outdone by the A’s battery in the decisive 8th.

corey-knebel-mlb

Game 49: Sanchez v. Kazmir. ATHLETICS 3, Tigers 1. Up 1, down 2. Walk-off loss.
NICE PLAYS: 3B Donaldson-2B Sogard-1B Moss (3), CF DAVIS, LF Cespedes, CABRERA-WORTH-SANCHEZ, CABRERA, CF Crisp, Cespedes-Sogard
MISPLAYS: C Norris, CASTELLANOS
BASERUNNING NEWS: CABRERA put on a nice show trying to evade the tag at 2B in the 8th and fooled the ump, but not replay.
THE BIG HIT: Men on 1st and 3rd, 1 out, Tigers up 1-0 in the 9th, Donaldson 3-run HR off NATHAN to win it.
THE BIG OUT: Tigers up 1-0 in the 9th, SANCHEZ gets the first batter Callaspo to ground out 4-3.
GOOD HITTING: Donaldson
BAD HITTING: KINSLER
GOOD PITCHING: SANCHEZ, Kazmir
BAD PITCHING: NATHAN
OBVIOUSLY: Couldn’t quite finish it off, but SANCHEZ was brilliant. As was Kazmir, with big help from his defense.
DON’T OVERLOOK: CABRERA running into the 3rd out in the 8th (or the Melvin challenge that got the safe call overturned), or how the Jaso single that set up the walk-off went right through CASTELLANOS, hard-hit though it was.
HUH?: A Tigers CF leaves his feet to make a catch!

Game 50: Porcello vs. Chavez. Tigers 5, ATHLETICS 4. Down 1, up 3.
NICE PLAYS: SS Punto-2B Sogard-1B Callaspo, PORCELLO-AVILA-CABRERA, LF J. MARTINEZ (3), RF Reddick, CABRERA, KINSLER-ROMINE-CABRERA, CASTELLANOS, ROMINE
MISPLAYS: Reddick (2), CASTELLANOS, CABRERA
BASERUNNING NEWS: ROMINE blazed home from 1B to score one run, as did CABRERA for another, thanks to a double buried in the RF corner by V. MARTINEZ. Conceding the run in the 3rd (CABRERA out 6-3, KINSLER scores from 3B) proves to be costly for the A’s.
THE BIG HIT: Man on 1st, 2 out, Tigers up 1-0 in the 4th, Punto 2-run HR off PORCELLO.
THE BIG OUT: Runners on 1st and 2nd, 2 out, Tigers up 5-4 in the 9th, NATHAN gets pinch-hitter Lowrie to ground out to 1B.
GOOD HITTING: Punto, V. MARTINEZ
BAD HITTING: Sogard, J. MARTINEZ
GOOD PITCHING: KROL
BAD PITCHING: Johnson, NATHAN
OBVIOUSLY: Not easy, but all the more impressive for that. Getting to the 9th with a 3-run lead was a good plan.
DON’T OVERLOOK: All kinds of clutch everything from Detroit, but especially the run-saving, inning-ending catch by J. MARTINEZ.
HUH?: PORCELLO walks 6 after having walked 9 all season.

Game 51: Verlander v. Iwakuma. Tigers 6, MARINERS 3. Never behind, up 4.
NICE PLAYS: SS Miller-1B Smoak, ROMINE-AVILA, AVILA-ROMINE, HUNTER, KINSLER, C Zunino-Miller, JACKSON
MISPLAYS: 2B Franklin, AVILA (2)
BASERUNNING NEWS: CABRERA at 2B draws a pickoff throw from Iwakuma and is probably out except for Franklin, but give credit for drawing the error. CASTELLANOS is an embarrassingly easy out at 3B trying to advance on an errant pitch, and ROMINE is surprisingly easy meat on his attempt at 2B.
THE BIG HIT: Runners on 1st and 2nd, 2 out, tied 2-2 in the 5th, V. MARTINEZ follows the intentional walk to CABRERA with a 3-run HR off Iwakuma.
THE BIG OUT: Man on 3rd, 1 out, 0-0 in the 2nd, Verlander gets a ground ball from Ackley and ROMINE guns down Seager at home plate.
GOOD HITTING: V. MARTINEZ, CABRERA, Seager
BAD HITTING: Ackley
GOOD PITCHING: VERLANDER
BAD PITCHING: Iwakuma
OBVIOUSLY: Felt like a solid, back to business win versus a top shelf pitcher, and a return to top shelf form for VERLANDER.
DON’T OVERLOOK: How the Tigers just said “no” to the momentum shift in the 4th and turned it right back around, strike ‘em out-throw ‘em out DP and then a 3-run answer next inning.
HUH?: Seattle’s Robinson Cano is nursing an injury and out, possibly for the series.

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Game 52: Smyly v. Young. MARINERS 3, Tigers 2. Never ahead, down 2.
NICE PLAYS: CABRERA, LF Gillespie (2), ROMINE, AVILA-CABRERA, RF Chavez, SS Franklin-2B Bloomquist
MISPLAYS: CABRERA, HUNTER, C Buck
BASERUNNING NEWS: A seemingly inconsequential steal of 2B by Gillespie in the 4th made a big difference, as did ROMINE’s inability to get a bunt down on Rodney in the 9th.
THE BIG HIT: Man on 1st, none out, Tigers down 3-2 in the 9th, KELLY singles off Rodney, WORTH (pinch-runner for AVILA) to 2B.
THE BIG OUTS: Runners on 1st and 2nd, none out, Rodney retires ROMINE (K), DAVIS (K), and KINSLER (groundout) in order, game over.
GOOD HITTING: Bloomquist
BAD HITTING: KINSLER
GOOD PITCHING: Young, REED, ALBURQUERQUE
BAD PITCHING: SMYLY
OBVIOUSLY: An exciting game with many late-inning chances.
DON’T OVERLOOK: Defense (Seattle v. Detroit) made the difference, particularly as the Mariners’ 3rd run in the 4th never should have been.
HUH?: Smyly threw 105 pitches in 4 innings and went to 3-2 counts on 9 of 20 batters faced, and yet walked only 1.

Game 53: Scherzer v. Elias. MARINERS 4, Tigers 0. Never ahead, down 4.
NICE PLAYS: 3B Seager-1B Smoak, CASTELLANOS, WORTH-HOLADAY, SS Miller-Smoak, P Elias, WORTH, JACKSON, WORTH-CABRERA, Seager-2B Bloomquist-Smoak
MISPLAYS: HOLADAY, HUNTER, WORTH, CASTELLANOS
BASERUNNING NEWS: No Tigers baserunners to speak of, but WORTH-HOLADAY did nail Bloomquist at home plate, who tried to score from 3B on a double steal (it actually went 2-6-2, no putout at 2B).
THE BIG HIT: Runner on 2nd, 1 out, 0-0 in the 1st, Saunders RBI double off SCHERZER.
THE BIG OUTS: Men on 1st and 3rd, 1 out, Tigers down 1-0 in the 3rd, SCHERZER strikes out Saunders, and then with Smoak at the plate, Bloomquist at 3B is out at home on the double steal attempt.
GOOD HITTING: Chavez
BAD HITTING:
GOOD PITCHING: Elias
BAD PITCHING:
OBVIOUSLY: Elias was unhittable and Scherzer wasn’t.
DON’T OVERLOOK: Three 1-2-3 innings for SCHERZER. Three hits for the Tigers (all singles).
HUH?: AUSMUS said afterward that the team played “flat.” Yes.

Game 54: Hutchison v. Sanchez. Blue Jays 5, TIGERS 3. Never ahead, down 5.
NICE PLAYS: CABRERA-3B KELLY, SS Reyes-1B Encarnacion, CABRERA-SANCHEZ, NATHAN-KELLY
MISPLAYS: 2B Lawrie, AVILA, ROMINE
BASERUNNING NEWS: Reyes is nearly picked off 3B in the 9th by NATHAN-KELLY in what could have been a game-changer, but the safe call withstands an AUSMUS challenge. SOP derailed: With a runner on 2nd, the adroit CABRERA fields a groundball at 1B and without hesitation throws to 3B to cut down the lumbering Francisco with ease. Big-time play in a scoreless game.
THE BIG HIT: Men on 1st and 3rd, 1 out, 0-0 in the 9th, Bautista RBI single off NATHAN.
THE BIG OUT: Men on 1st and 3rd, none out, 0-0 in the 9th, NATHAN retires Melky Cabrera on a popup to SS.
GOOD HITTING: Lawrie, J. MARTINEZ
BAD HITTING:
GOOD PITCHING: SANCHEZ, Hutchison
BAD PITCHING: ALBURQUERQUE, NATHAN, Delabar
OBVIOUSLY: A scoreless duel for 8 innings, another SANCHEZ gem wasted, another bullpen meltdown, but also some last-chance rally excitement with the 3-run bomb from J. MARTINEZ off Delabar.
DON’T OVERLOOK: The misplay by ROMINE in the 9th, possibly the difference between difficult and debacle.


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DEFENSIVE SCORECARD (in terms of outstanding plays one way or the other, X = good, O = not)

SS WORTH XXXXOOXXXXO +5
2B KINSLER XXXXXXXXXXXXOOXXOOXOXX +13
1B CABRERA XXXXXXXXOXXOXOXXXXXXXXXOXXOXXX +20
3B CASTELLANOS XXXOOXXXXXOOXXOOXOXO +4
SS ROMINE XOXXXOXXOOXXXXOOXXXXXXO +9
P SANCHEZ XXX +3
3B KELLY XOXXXXX +5
P CHAMBERLAIN XX +2
C AVILA OOXXXXXXOXXXXXOOXO +6
LF DAVIS XXXX +4
P SMYLY O -1
RF HUNTER XXXOO +1
CF JACKSON OOOOOOXOXX -4
P SCHERZER X +1
1B KELLY XXXX +4
C HOLADAY XOOXO -1
P RAY X +1
P KROL X +1
P PORCELLO XX +2
P WORTH X +1
P VERLANDER O -1
LF J. MARTINEZ XXXXX +5
P NATHAN XX +2
CF DAVIS X +1

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Luke Putkonen’s rehab is now halted, “clunkiness” in elbow, an examination for possible surgery scheduled. *** A Red Sox fan at Fenway Park (or maybe it was a Tigers fan, who knows) informs Joba Chamberlain that UPS is hiring. *** Signed to a minor league contract during spring training, LHP Nate Robertson’s comeback bid with the Mud Hens ends with his release. *** Lingering left side soreness for Rick Porcello (which didn’t affect his 8-inning dominance of the Red Sox) calls for extra rest and keeps Robbie Ray around for another start, leading to Justin Miller being sent to Toledo as Anibal Sanchez comes back from the DL. *** Brad Ausmus thinks Andrew Romine (.187 and falling) may be pressing a bit. *** Taking BP before a game, Ausmus hits one over the Green Monster as pitcher Lamont gets too much plate (“I put it right where he wanted it,” Lamont said). *** A jubilant team gets decked out in Zubaz (Joba Chamberlain’s idea) following the Boston sweep. There’s a problem with the airplane that delays the flight on to Cleveland until the next afternoon, and Drew Smyly is left all alone overnight in a strange town. Next thing you know, it takes the Tigers 15 games to win their next 4, and the legend of The Curse of the Zubaz is born (even though it may eventually reveal itself to be The Curse of Joba’s Beard). **** An impressive 11-game road win streak comes to an end in Cleveland. *** Tigers are grading out well so far in controlling base-stealing, improved over 2013. *** SS Eugenio Suarez makes the jump from Erie to Toledo (Danny Worth and Romine are batting under .200 combined). *** Ray returns to Toledo, and top prospect Corey Knebel is called up to join the bullpen. *** No surgery for Putkonen, just more rehab. *** Miguel Cabrera and Ian Kinsler are hitting doubles at a torrid pace. *** Austin Jackson and Torii Hunter are in the midst of great slumps that will take their BA’s down 30 points over 18 games. *** Justin Verlander keeps his chin up after the Texas demolition: “It’s not me and it’s never been me. Look forward to the next one and go out and give us a chance to win.” *** After Game 46, Victor Martinez had hit safely in 25 of his last 28 games, batting .366 with nine doubles, nine home runs and 22 RBIs. *** Ian Kinsler (batting .330, 2nd in the AL) gets his first game day off May 26. *** The Tigers pitching staff endures a 6-game stretch of 61 runs allowed in 56.2 innings. This overlaps 8 games of the team batting .174 (15-for-86) with RISP and stranding 75 runners, and coincides with 9 errors in 6 games (which only hints at the actual defensive performance). *** Rajai Davis bruises his shoulder on a great catch (in CF) but misses only one game. *** 4 weeks after signing Joel Hanrahan, not a lot of progress, still in arm strengthening phase. *** Though 8 starts and 43.1 IP, Sanchez has yet to allow a HR. The emergent ace (41 K, .183 BAA) hasn’t had one bad start, but has had some short ones (and of course some missed ones). *** Detroit’s offense limps away from this “inning” with 13 hits (and 28 strikeouts) in the final 3 games. *** Closer Joe Nathan has regressed to horrid during this period (16.88 ERA in 8 games), but Ausmus isn’t the only one defending him. Chamberlain: “You can’t replace him. He’s just one of those guys. He’s our leader. He continues to lead in so many ways.” Hmmm. *** Believe it or not, aside from Phil Coke, Nathan, and some bad numbers from the fringe guys, all of which makes the bullpen look terrible by the composite statistics  the core group of Chamberlain, Alburquerque, Krol, and Reed has in fact been quite OK overall, which is not to say consistent. And yet the only truly trustworthy arm has been Chamberlain, who seldom enters with runners aboard and is apparently cemented in his 8th inning role. 4 losses charged to the bullpen in the last 18 games (3 courtesy of Alburquerque) magnifies the sense of bad bullpen, but it’s a mixed bag at this point, and the recent tailspin actually has less to do with the bullpen than anything. *** Davis has been a pleasant surprise as more than the role player he was originally intended to be, with 16 of 19 in SB, 288/339/423, 17 RBI, and good play in LF. *** An impressive May: Cabrera drove in a run in 19 out of 29 games for the month, and plated multiple runs 11 times. *** Eugenio Suarez is off to a good start with Toledo and puts on a show in a game attended by Dave Dombrowski and Jim Leyland. *** Still in rather limited action, J.D. Martinez is starting to make some noise with his bat (1.183 OPS and 8 RBI in 29 PA this period). *** Nathan has become a lightning rod, thanks to his performance, throwing teammates under the bus (the comments become more careful but don’t mask it), and Ausmus’s insistence on him as one and only closer guy for closer guy situations. It’s not working, and he draws significant disdain from the home crowd in the Game 54 loss to Toronto.

smyly-ouch

31-23, 1st in the Central, 3rd in the AL, on pace for a 93-69 season…

RESEARCH MADE POSSIBLE BY: MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL and BASEBALL REFERENCE .
PHOTO CREDITS: JACKSON: Pat Sullivan/AP; RAY: Paul Sancya/AP; KNEBEL: ? SMYLY: Associated Press.

2014: The 2nd Inning (14-4)

Were it not for that regrettable Twins series at Comerica (a sweep for the taking!), this is a 16-2 run.

So the Detroit Tigers are now:

SP Verlander
SP Scherzer
SP Sanchez
SP Porcello
SP Smyly
RP Nathan
RP Alburquerque
RP Chamberlain
RP Coke
RP Miller
RP Reed
RP Krol
C Avila
C Holaday
1B-DH Cabrera
2B Kinsler
SS Romine
IF Worth
3B Castellanos
IF-OF Kelly
RF Hunter
CF Jackson
LF Davis
OF J. Martinez
DH-1B V. Martinez


 

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Game 19: Quintana v. Scherzer. TIGERS 7, White Sox 4.  Down 1, up 3.
NICE PLAYS: 1B Abreu, LF DAVIS, SS Ramirez-Abreu, Ramirez-Abreu, CF Danks, 2B KINSLER
MISPLAYS: RF Viciedo, HUNTER, Ramirez, KINSLER, HOLADAY
BASERUNNING NEWS:  Aggressive advance on a short WP leads to KINSLER scoring. 8th inning hit and run pays off, JACKSON on and CASTELLANOS at the plate. WORTH costs a run by getting run down on lame steal attempt just before the DAVIS HR.
THE BIG HIT: Bases loaded and 2 out, Tigers up 3-2 in the 7th, CABRERA singles in 2 off Webb.
THE BIG OUT: Runner on 3rd and 2 out, Tigers up 5-4 in the 8th, CHAMBERLAIN strikes out Flowers.
GOOD HITTING:  DAVIS. CABRERA, Viciedo
BAD HITTING: Danks, Abreu, KINSLER
GOOD PITCHING: SCHERZER, ALBURQUERQUE
BAD PITCHING: Webb, CHAMBERLAIN
OBVIOUSLY: The winning advantage was Tigers offense vs. White Sox bullpen.
DON’T OVERLOOK: The DAVIS two-out HR off Quintana in the 5th (breathing room), or how costly the HOLADAY throwing error that scored a run in the 8th could have been.
HUH?: Game ends on a strange note, NATHAN striking out Abreu (2nd out),  who stumbles over the plate and interferes (technically) with HOLADAY’’s (awful) throw to 2B with Semien stealing; Semien out, putout Holaday, game over. Another strange play was a great Ramirez-Abreu combo that got WORTH at 1B (though he was actually safe and it might have been challenged). Out call reversed when Abreu dropped the ball lifting his glove to show the ump, even though he obviously had possession and had kept if even when his glove had initially hit the ground. Something for everyone (safe but out, out but safe, finally out) as Worth then gets picked off.

Game 20: Porcello v. Correia. Tigers 10. TWINS 6. Never behind, up 9.
NICE PLAYS: CF Fuld-2B Dozier-C Suzuki, ROMINE, 3B Plouffe, Plouffe-Dozier-1B Mauer, Dozier, LF Kubel, KINSLER-ROMINE-CABRERA, CABRERA-NATHAN
MISPLAYS: RF Colabello, KINSLER
BASERUNNING NEWS: Trying to score AVILA from 1B on the ROMINE double ends badly.
THE BIG HIT: Runner on 2B, none out, 0-0 in the 2nd, CASTELLANOS hits a 2-run HR off Correia.
THE BIG OUT: Men on 1st and 2nd, 2 out, Tigers up 2-1 in the 2nd, PORCELLO strikes out Florimon.
GOOD HITTING: HUNTER, Kubel, CASTELLANOS
BAD HITTING: Florimon
GOOD PITCHING: Tonkin
BAD PITCHING: Correia, Swarzak, MILLER
OBVIOUSLY: The Tigers hitters simply unloaded on Correia and Swarzak and put this one away in 3 innings.
DON’T OVERLOOK: PORCELLO got away with a bit of a clunker, but the bullpen did actually let in 4 of the 6 Twins runs.
HUH?: DAVIS stealing 2B with Detroit up 10-5. Already, level of confidence in the bullpen is? CABRERA accounted for all 3 outs in Tigers’ 7-run 3rd.

Game 21: Sanchez v. Hughes. TWINS 5, Tigers 3. Up 2, down 3.
NICE PLAYS: HUNTER, CABRERA, 3B Plouffe
MISPLAYS: RF Fuld, ROMINE, HOLADAY (2), CASTELLANOS, Plouffe
BASERUNNING NEWS: CABRERA stretching a double to 3B is news, even with a bad throw; next batter, he huffs and puffs to score on a not especially deep sac fly from V. MARTINEZ. HUNTER puts down a bunt (2 on, 1 out) that Plouffe can’t handle to load the bases.
THE BIG HIT (that wasn’t): Runners on 1st and 2nd, none out, 2-0 Tigers in the 5th, Escobar, facing ORTEGA, puts down a sac bunt that HOLADAY throws away, scoring Fuld.
THE BIG OUT: Bases loaded, one out, Tigers down 4-2 in the 8th, Burton retires CABRERA on a groundball 5-3 DP.
GOOD HITTING: Plouffe, Mauer
BAD HITTING: Kubel
GOOD PITCHING: Hughes, Burton
BAD PITCHING: ORTEGA, COKE
OBVIOUSLY: Hughes got 16 consecutive outs after giving up 2 runs, and the Tigers bullpen caved.
DON’T OVERLOOK: Horrible defense from HOLADAY in the crucial 5th.
HUH?: A nasty blister on the right middle finger of SANCHEZ forces him out of the game after 2.2.

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RAINED OUT!

“It’s great to be alive and to be a Tigers fan.”

Game 22: Verlander v. Quintana. Tigers 4, WHITE SOX 3. Down 3, up 1.
NICE PLAYS: CF Eaton, HOLADAY-WORTH, HUNTER-KINSLER-CASTELLANOS
MISPLAYS: 3B Semien, HUNTER, RF Viciedo
BASERUNNING NEWS: The comeback to tie the game consists of consecutive challenges of the White Sox OF by CABRERA and V. MARTINEZ – both score from 2B!
THE BIG HIT: Man on 3rd, 2 out, tied 3-3 in the 9th, HOLADAY (facing Belisario) puts down a suicide squeeze bunt that scores JACKSON.
THE BIG OUT: Man on 3rd, 1 out, tied 3-3 in the 9th, Belisario strikes out CASTELLANOS, and HOLADAY comes to the plate.
GOOD HITTING: JACKSON
BAD HITTING: CASTELLANOS
GOOD PITCHING: CHAMBERLAIN, Belisario
BAD PITCHING:
OBVIOUSLY: A good comeback win after VERLANDER and Quintana pitch to a draw of quality starts.
DON’T OVERLOOK: How RF Viciedo’s blunder sets up HOLADAY’s heroics.
HUH?: DAVIS dons the golden sombrero. The game-winning bunt by HOLADAY is his choice, and would have been AUSMUS’s choice but for the fact that HOLADAY misses the signals!

Game 23: Scherzer v. Noesi. Tigers 5, WHITE SOX 1. Never behind, up 5.
NICE PLAYS: CF Eaton, JACKSON, 1B Abreu, ROMINE
MISPLAYS: KINSLER, 3B Semien, Abreu
BASERUNNING NEWS: HOLADAY would have been caught off 2B after his big double had the White Sox thought to cover 2B.
THE BIG HIT: Runners on 1st and 2nd, 2 out, Tigers up 2-0 in the 4th, HOLADAY hits a 2-run double off Noesi.
THE BIG OUT: Men on 1st and 3rd, 2 out, 0-0 in the 3rd, SCHERZER strikes out Dunn.
GOOD HITTING: HOLADAY
BAD HITTING:
GOOD PITCHING: SCHERZER, ALBURQUERQUE, CHAMBERLAIN, Petricka
BAD PITCHING: Cleto
OBVIOUSLY: A strong start from SCHERZER backed by one big inning was all it took.
DON’T OVERLOOK: The Tigers were practically shut down by the Chicago bullpen the last 5 innings.

Game 24: Porcello v. Shields. Tigers 8, ROYALS 2. Down 1, up 6.
NICE PLAYS: HUNTER-KINSLER-3B KELLY, KINSLER, SS Escobar
MISPLAYS: 3B Moustakas-2B Infante
BASERUNNING NEWS: Subtle, and it came to naught as far as scoring, but an alert KELLY advance on a WP that didn’t get far helped set up some additional bases-loaded stress for Shields. HUNTER scores from 1B on a CABRERA double, beating LF Gordon (to be fair, the ball rolled to the wall and then just died there).
THE BIG HIT: Man on 2B, none out, Tigers up 2-1 in the 4th, AVILA hits a 2-run HR off Shields.
THE BIG OUT: Bases loaded, 2 out, Tigers down 1-0 in the 2nd, Shields retires ROMINE on a flyball to shallow CF.
GOOD HITTING: V. MARTINEZ, J. MARTINEZ
BAD HITTING:
GOOD PITCHING: PORCELLO
BAD PITCHING: Shields
OBVIOUSLY: A solid beatdown in all aspects.
DON’T OVERLOOK: J. MARTINEZ took Herrera to RF for a 2-run double. PORCELLO-KROL-REED combined to retire the last 18 Royals batters in order.

MLB: Chicago White Sox at Detroit Tigers

Game 25: Smyly v. Duffy. Tigers 9, ROYALS 2. Never behind, up 9.
NICE PLAYS: 3B Moustakas (2), RF Aoki, HUNTER, JACKSON, WORTH, LF DAVIS-KINSLER, Hosmer
MISPLAYS: HOLADAY, SS Escobar
BASERUNNING NEWS: KINSLER chatted himself into being picked off 1B, and a later attempt to stretch a double into a triple didn’t make up for it. A perfect bunt by DAVIS was the centerpiece if not the big blow in the 9th.
THE BIG HIT: Runners on 2nd and 3rd, 2 out, Tigers up 1-0 in the 6th, CASTELLANOS hits a 2-run double off Herrera.
THE BIG OUT: Man on 3B, 1 out, Tigers up 1-0 in the 4th, SMYLY strikes out Butler.
GOOD HITTING: HUNTER, CABRERA, V. MARTINEZ
BAD HITTING:
GOOD PITCHING: SMYLY
BAD PITCHING: Brooks
OBVIOUSLY: 7 shutout innings from SMYLY and 3 RBI from Castellanos made it happen; the 6-run 9th was against recent callup Brooks.
DON’T OVERLOOK: Fine defensive plays on both sides. The 6-run explosion against Brooks (with half the Tigers’ hits for the game) made the 9th inning feel like a second game much different than the first. HUNTER’s 3-run HR to LF off Brooks was a moon shot.
HUH?: CABRERA dekes another OF (LF Gordon – it was Mike Trout a while back), this time to score on a sac fly.

Game 26: Verlander v. Vargas. Tigers 9, ROYALS 4. Never behind, up 7.
NICE PLAYS: ROMINE, HUNTER, LF DAVIS, SS Escobar
MISPLAYS: LF DAVIS
BASERUNNING NEWS: The Tigers offense had legs, legs, legs, particularly those of DAVIS and ROMINE. It’s a 4-4 game without that. There was also a smart hold early, KINSLER putting the brakes on just ‘round 3B.
THE BIG HIT: Men on 1st and 3rd, 1 out, Tigers up 3-0 in the 4th, CABRERA hits a 2-run double off Vargas.
THE BIG OUT: Runners on 1st and 3rd, 1 out, Tigers up 1-0, Vargas retires V. MARTINEZ on a flyball to short CF.
GOOD HITTING: HUNTER, Aoki, DAVIS
BAD HITTING: Hosmer
GOOD PITCHING: VERLANDER, Collins
BAD PITCHING: Vargas, Mariot
OBVIOUSLY: No contest, a thorough win.
DON’T OVERLOOK: VERLANDER had a no-hitter through 5.2 (he walked 4 overall), and then came the 7th.

Game 27: Cosart v. Scherzer. TIGERS 2, Astros 0. Never behind, up 2.
NICE PLAYS: 1B Krauss-3B Dominguez, SS Villar, HUNTER, AVILA (2), AVILA-ROMINE, KINSLER, CASTELLANOS (2), Villar-2B Altuve-Krauss
MISPLAYS: Villar, ROMINE, Krauss
BASERUNNING NEWS: KINSLER gets caught inexplicably between 3B and home in a none out, 1st and 3rd, ground ball to 1B situation – double play (and a really smart play by Krauss, who would later play the goat). That’s a huge out even in a 1st inning. ROMINE sets up the winning run with an excellent sacrifice bunt, crucial considering the runners on (CASTELLANOS and AVILA).
THE BIG HIT: Men on 2nd and 3rd, 1 out, 0-0 in the 7th, DAVIS singles off Cosart to score CASTELLANOS.
THE BIG OUTS: Runners on 1st and 2nd, 1 out, Tigers up 1-0 in the 8th, SCHERZER strikes out Altuve (full count) and AVILA guns down Gonzalez attempting to steal 3B, double play.
GOOD HITTING:
BAD HITTING: CABRERA
GOOD PITCHING: SCHERZER, Cosart
BAD PITCHING:
OBVIOUSLY: A pitching duel throughout and a close game won.
DON’T OVERLOOK: How 1B Krauss’s error on a routine play opened the door for Detroit, or how AVILA’s strong defense closed the door on Houston – twice.

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Game 28: Oberholtzer v. Ray. TIGERS 11, Astros 4. Never behind, up 10.
NICE PLAYS: 2B Altuve (2), 3B Dominguez, CASTELLANOS, KINSLER
MISPLAYS: RAY, CASTELLANOS, KINSLER, 1B WORTH
BASERUNNING NEWS: HUNTER gets erased pretty easily trying to steal 3B – right before the CABRERA HR. A HUNTER-KINSLER hit and run in the 7th sets up some runs. JACKSON swipes 3B (a rare treat) and soon scores.
THE BIG HIT: None on, 1 out, 0-0 in the 1st, CABRERA homers off Oberholtzer.
THE BIG OUTS: Men on 1st and 3rd, none out, 0-0 in the 1st, RAY retires the side (strikeout-strikeout-groundout).
GOOD HITTING: CABRERA, Springer, WORTH, KINSLER
BAD HITTING: Guzman
GOOD PITCHING: RAY, REED
BAD PITCHING: Fields
OBVIOUSLY: 4-hit, 4 RBI CABRERA support of a good MLB debut from RAY, lopsidedness courtesy of the Astros’ hapless bullpen.
DON’T OVERLOOK: A shoddy defensive effort and 5 runs off a pitcher throwing BP.
HUH?: KINSLER drops a routine pop fly in shallow RF, run scores, no error because he gets an out at 2B. But it wrecks RAY’s shutout. Moving SS WORTH to 1B for the 9th (score 11-1) – a kind of “what the heck” move by AUSMUS? – didn’t do MILLER any favors, either.

Game 29: Peacock v. Porcello. TIGERS 3, Astros 2. Never behind, up 2.
NICE PLAYS: RF Springer, 3B Dominguez, KINSLER-CABRERA, 2B Altuve-1B Krauss, HUNTER
MISPLAYS: AVILA, CASTELLANOS
BASERUNNING NEWS: Though the Tigers had it all over the Astros running, Villar getting to 2B (poor throw AVILA) and then 3B (CASTELLANOS failed to cover) was an easy two-out tying run in the 9th just waiting to happen.
THE BIG HIT: 1 on and 1 out, 0-0 in the 1st, CABRERA 2-run HR off Peacock.
THE BIG OUT: Man on 3B, 2 out, Tigers up 3-2 in the 9th, NATHAN strikes out Dominguez.
GOOD HITTING: Gonzalez
BAD HITTING: Altuve
GOOD PITCHING: PORCELLO, Peacock, CHAMBERLAIN
BAD PITCHING:
OBVIOUSLY: A close one that the PORCELLO and the Tigers were able to maintain control of with a key DP (6th inning) and a V. MARTINEZ insurance run (HR in the bottom 6th).
DON’T OVERLOOK: How RF Springer almost robbed CABRERA of his 2-run HR, or how a HUNTER charge and scoop and throw saved a big run (though it eventually scored anyway).
HUH?: Crazy play of the game: ROMINE steals second (as DAVIS swings and misses for strike one) and is called safe (he’s out), but DAVIS actually interfered (his bat) with C Castro, so DAVIS is out. Do over. KINSLER up, ROMINE tries again. This time he’s called out (he’s safe). AUSMUS challenges and it gets reversed. But nothing to show as KINSLER lines out to 3B Dominguez.

Game 30: Keuchel v. Smyly. Astros 6, TIGERS 2. Up 2, down 4.
NICE PLAYS: KINSLER, RF Springer, WORTH, 2B Altuve-1B Guzman, KINSLER-WORTH-1B V. MARTINEZ, WORTH-V. MARTINEZ
MISPLAYS: V. MARTINEZ
BASERUNNING NEWS: No small ball today, all extra base hits and double plays.
THE BIG HIT: Runners on 1st and 2nd, 2 out, Tigers up 2-1 in the 5th, Altuve hits a 2-run double off SMYLY.
THE BIG OUT: Men on 1st and 3rd, 1 out, Tigers down 3-2 in the 6th, REED retires Springer on a groundball 4-6-3 DP.
GOOD HITTING: V. MARTINEZ, Dominguez
BAD HITTING:
GOOD PITCHING: Keuchel
BAD PITCHING:
OBVIOUSLY: Keuchel had the Tigers’ number, and one pitch to Altuve (in a 9-pitch battle) was SMYLY’s undoing.
DON’T OVERLOOK: How the game – somehow – just turned on a dime after the nice play by 2B Altuve (and challenge by Bo Porter) got JACKSON at 1B to end the Tigers 4th.

WorthSpringTraining

Game 31: Hughes v. Verlander. Twins 2, TIGERS 1. Never ahead, down 2.
NICE PLAYS: CASTELLANOS, 2B Dozier-1B Colabello, AVILA-ROMINE
MISPLAYS: ROMINE, CASTELLANOS, LF Kubel
BASERUNNING NEWS: DAVIS did his exciting best in the 3rd to make a run happen (that didn’t), hustling a double out of the box and tagging to go to 3B. JACKSON on the move 1-2 with CASTELLANOS up (singles to RF) gives the Tigers their best chance against Hughes in the 4th. Speed demon AVILA gets his legs into his 9th inning double (the rocket bungled by LF Kubel) off Perkins; should have been the tying run.
THE BIG HIT: Bases loaded, 2 out, 0-0 in the 7th, Suzuki singles in two off VERLANDER.
THE BIG OUTS: 1 out, pinch-runner WORTH at 2B, Tigers down 2-1 in the 9th, Perkins retires J. MARTINEZ and DAVIS in order.
GOOD HITTING: Suzuki
BAD HITTING: Hicks, Plouffe
GOOD PITCHING: Hughes, VERLANDER, Fien
BAD PITCHING:
OBVIOUSLY: The Tigers wasted 6 good innings from VERLANDER, but he punched his own ticket in the 7th.
DON’T OVERLOOK: Detroit 1 for 9 RISP. Twins not much better, but better enough.
HUH?: A fire alarm at Comerica Park briefly disrupts play in the 9th. Sort of like how the Tigers’ would-be rally briefly disrupted the loss.

Game 32: Gibson v. Scherzer. TIGERS 9, Twins 3. Never behind, up 6.
NICE PLAYS: 1B Colabello-SS Santana-P Gibson, AVILA-KINSLER, LF KELLY, 3B Escobar-C Suzuki, RF Parmelee, KINSLER, CABRERA-SCHERZER, CABRERA-ROMINE
MISPLAYS: Santana-2B Dozier, Dozier, CF Hicks, CASTELLANOS
BASERUNNING NEWS: JACKSON at 3rd makes a bad decision on a sharp ground ball to 3B, dead at home plate. Alert 3B coach CLARK gets CASTELLANOS over to 3B on Hicks muff and helps a big inning along. Suzuki made one of the lamer attempts to steal 2B you’ll see. How CASTELLANOS stretched his single to double off LF Nunez was… just barely. Bit of luck with throw and tag.
THE BIG HIT: Men on 1st and 2nd, 1 out, 0-0 in the 2nd, AVILA single off Gibson scores KELLY and gets CASTELLANOS to 3B with help from Hicks. The big inning is underway.
THE BIG OUT: Runners on 1st and 3rd, 1 out, 0-0 in the first, Gibson gets V. MARTINEZ to ground into a 3-6-1 DP.
GOOD HITTING: CABRERA, HUNTER
BAD HITTING: Colabello
GOOD PITCHING: Swarzak, ALBURQUERQUE, CHAMBERLAIN
BAD PITCHING: Gibson, Tonkin
OBVIOUSLY: Detroit had it all going on except for a scuffling SCHERZER, and the bottom fell out for the Twins with their clown show 2nd inning.
DON’T OVERLOOK: Two highlight reel plays (oh, they’re called “web gems” now, right?) from KELLY (robbing a HR from Suzuki) and CABRERA (3-6-3 DP), or how CABRERA and V. MARTINEZ countered big fails in their first PA’s with 3-run bombs later.

“I hate baseball.”

Game 33: Deduno v. Ray. Twins 4, TIGERS 3. Up 3, down 1.
NICE PLAYS: 2B Dozier-1B Colabello, RAY-ROMINE-CABRERA, ROMINE-KINSLER-CABRERA, KINSLER, P Fien-Colabello, AVILA-KINSLER
MISPLAYS: C Suzuki, ROMINE, LF DAVIS, Parmelee, Colabello
BASERUNNING NEWS: Fun time play in the 8th from CABRERA, alertly taking 2B on a single, after the big round and hesitate, on end-of-play bumbling by RF Parmelee. He gets to 3B with the tying run but no further. Nunez singles in the winning run and then (mercifully) ends the Twins 8th by assuming he’ll go to 2B on the throw home. Smart cutoff by KINSLER hangs him out to dry.
THE BIG HIT: Runners on 1st and 2nd, 2 out, Tigers up 3-1 in the 8th, Pinto single plus error by DAVIS scores 2 off CHAMBERLAIN.
THE BIG OUT: Man on 3B, 2 out, Tigers down 4-3 in the 8th, Perkins retires CASTELLANOS on a flyball to CF.
GOOD HITTING: Pinto, KINSLER
BAD HITTING: Plouffe
GOOD PITCHING: RAY, Perkins
BAD PITCHING: CHAMBERLAIN
OBVIOUSLY: The Tigers had this one in the bag, and a lot would have to go wrong for them to lose. A lot went wrong.
DON’T OVERLOOK: How much it stings to lose a game and a series this way. Also, the pink bats and sleeves are cool, but don’t get caught losing with them.
HUH?: Bases loaded, one out in the 4th, JACKSON is struck by the batted ball between 2nd and 3rd and is out. Twins pick up the ball and get the force at 2B as well, but it doesn’t count. Gardenhire comes out to argue for two outs, puts on his show, and gets tossed. This inspires DAVIS to ground out to end the inning. It’s huge later.

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Game 34: Porcello v. Norris. Tigers 4, ORIOLES 1. Down 1, up 3.
NICE PLAYS: CASTELLANOS-CABRERA, CABRERA-PORCELLO, CABRERA-PORCELLO, P Norris, PORCELLO, C Clevenger-2B Schoop, SS Hardy, CASTELLANOS
MISPLAYS: LF DAVIS, ROMINE
BASERUNNING NEWS: KINSLER manufactures a run with a SB and a tag-up in the go-ahead 4th. CASTELLANOS awkwardly swings and misses in the 7th and then interferes with Clevenger trying to throw out JACKSON stealing 2B – inning-ending DP.
THE BIG HIT: Man on 1B, 2 out, Tigers up 2-1 in the 8th, KINSLER 2-run HR off Norris.
THE BIG OUTS: Tigers up 2-1 in the 7th, runner on 2B (and then 3B), KROL retires the side (flyout-groundout-flyout).
GOOD HITTING: Clevenger, KINSLER
BAD HITTING:
GOOD PITCHING: PORCELLO, Norris, ALBURQUERQUE, Guillmet
BAD PITCHING:
OBVIOUSLY: Good to get 4 runs and a win with only 5 hits (and 8 baserunners total).
DON’T OVERLOOK: The Tigers outshining the O’s defensively, or a rare 7 consecutive outs from the bullpen.
HUH?: HUNTER has some words for Norris after getting drilled in the ribs, coincidentally enough right after the KINSLER home run. Tempers flare, Norris gets tossed, benches clear, etc.. PORCELLO is pulled after only 83 pitches (6 innings) with tightness in his side.

Game 35: Smyly v. Jimenez. Tigers 4, ORIOLES 1. Down 1, up 3.
NICE PLAYS: CASTELLANOS, JACKSON, C Joseph-3B Machado, 2B Schoop-SS Hardy-1B Davis, ROMINE CABRERA, KINSLER-ROMINE-CABRERA
MISPLAYS: LF J. MARTINEZ
BASERUNNING NEWS: V. MARTINEZ and CABRERA both DOA on SB attempts. Both strikeout-throwout double plays. In the same game, the same close game, the same Tigers down 1-0 game. Throw in HUNTER trying to beat a WP that didn’t go far and getting gunned down at 3B with 2 on and none out in the 7th, V. MARTINEZ at the plate. Ouch. The oven mitt of PR DAVIS redeems all in the 9th.
THE BIG HIT: Runners on 1st and 2nd, 2 out, Tigers down 1-0 in the 9th, CABRERA 3-run HR off Hunter.
THE BIG OUTS: Men on 1st and 2nd, none out, Tigers down 1-0 in the 7th, HUNTER is cut down at 3B by Joseph, and then Jimenez gets a 4-6-3 DP off the bat of V. MARTINEZ.
GOOD HITTING: CABRERA
BAD HITTING: Hardy
GOOD PITCHING: SMYLY, Jimenez, MILLER
BAD PITCHING: Hunter
OBVIOUSLY: Detroit struck like lightning in the 9th after 8 goose eggs and at least validated a strong outing from Smyly.
DON’T OVERLOOK: What a gem that 9th inning was, and how it hung by the thread of a little knocker down the 3B line (against the shift) by AVILA, the pinch-runner insertion of DAVIS (and the SB and the AUSMUS challenge that preserved it), and HUNTER drawing a walk in a 3-2 count.

Game 36: Verlander v. Gausman. Tigers 7, ORIOLES 5. Never behind, up 6.
NICE PLAYS: 2B Schoop, KINSLER, 3B Machado, WORTH, 3B KELLY
MISPLAYS: P Gonzalez
BASERUNNING NEWS: The Tigers’ 3-run 4th was an exercise in small ball, hustle, and taking advantage, featuring a double steal (JACKSON-KELLY), but the centerpiece was the unplayable squeeze bunt put down by WORTH to score KELLY. V. MARTINEZ steals 2B in the 7th, aided in large part by disbelieving hesitation on the part of C Clevenger.
THE BIG HIT: Men on 1st and 3rd, 2 out, Tigers up 6-2 in the 5th, Cruz hits a 3-run HR off VERLANDER.
THE BIG OUT: Bases loaded, 2 out, Tigers up 6-5 in the 8th, CHAMBERLAIN retires Markakis on a fly ball to CF.
GOOD HITTING: Cruz
BAD HITTING: Markakis
GOOD PITCHING: NATHAN
BAD PITCHING: Gausman
OBVIOUSLY: The offense built up enough of a pad to survive VERLANDER’s fall, and the bullpen held.
DON’T OVERLOOK: The bottom of the order – KELLY-HOLADAY-WORTH – reaches 6 times, scoring 4, driving in 3.
HUH?: Cruz had a dirty look and some self-adjustment for VERLANDER after being plunked in the 4th (retaliatory; see Norris-HUNTER). VERLANDER followed up on his gamesmanship by allowing 5 runs the next inning, including a 3-run jack from Cruz.


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DEFENSIVE SCORECARD (in terms of outstanding plays one way or the other, X = good, O = not)

LF DAVIS XXXOOO zero
2B KINSLER XOXOXOXXXXXOXXXXXXXXXX +14
RF HUNTER OXXOXXXXX +5
C HOLADAY OOOXO -3
SS ROMINE XXOXXXOXOXXXOOXX +6
1B CABRERA XXXXXXXXXXXX +12
P NATHAN X +1
3B CASTELLANOS OXXXXOOXOOXXX +3
SS WORTH XXXXXX +6
CF JACKSON XXX +3
3B KELLY XX +2
C AVILA XXXOXXX +5
P RAY OX zero
1B WORTH O -1
1B V. MARTINEZ XXO +1
LF KELLY X +1
P SCHERZER X +1
P PORCELLO XX +2
LF J. MARTINEZ O -1

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Alex Avila goes day to day with a left shin contusion, and Bryan Holaday gets some consecutive starts. *** The Tigers (among others in baseball) are pleased with MLB revision of the “transfer rule,” a factor in a strange call on Andrew Romine earlier in the season. *** Bullpen shuffle: Justin Miller down,  Jose Ortega up. Oh, wait. Anibal Sanchez to the DL (blister), Miller’s back, 8-man bullpen for now. *** Avila now bothered by back spasms again, which fortuitously sets up Night Of The Living Bunt for Holaday. *** Detroit plays just 21 games in first 29 days of the season. *** Free agent reliever Joel Hanrahan, still on the rehab trail, is signed by the Tigers in hopes he might be ready by July, or mid-season, or something like that, and he begins his “spring training” at the Lakeland complex. *** No indications from Dave Dombrowski that the Tigers are shopping at SS or have any interest in the still-unsigned Stephen Drew. *** Drew Smyly: “To be honest, I’m kind of sick of the bullpen talk, that it’s where I should go. I’ve been a starter my whole life.” *** Nick Castellanos and Miguel Cabrera are tied for the team lead, after 25 games, with 17 RBI each. *** 7 straight starts with 7+ strikeouts from Max Scherzer to begin the season. *** Robbie Ray (fill-in for Sanchez in the rotation) is added to the 25-man roster, with Ortega returning to Toledo and room cleared on the 40-man roster by outrighting Toledo 1B Jordan Lennerton’s contract. *** Al Alburquerque is called out by Miggy as the worst dresser on the team. *** Brad Ausmus tosses early BP to Cabrera before Game 29. *** 8 HR (and fewer strikeouts) after 32 games for Victor Martinez. 5 starters in the lineup are batting .300+ and Cabrera has been picking it up as well after a slow start as far as average and power were concerned (the run production was there all along, and he now has 25 RBI after 32 games). *** The Detroit starting pitchers are rock stars: Scherzer has a 2.04 ERA, Justin Verlander 2.67, Smyly 2.70, and Rick Porcello 3.22. They’re 17-6 in W-L. *** Game 32 is Jim Leyland Day at Comerica, and the Tigers celebrate with a convincing win. *** OF Andy Dirks, recovering from back surgery, resumes light baseball activities with a June return in mind. *** Ausmus on Don Kelly after a comment on what a good NL guy he’d be: “I don’t want Donnie Kelly going anywhere. I want to keep him here.” Kelly is currently at .324 with an .820 OPS. *** Bullpen prospect Corey Knebel is on the fast track, making the jump from Erie to Toledo. *** Sparingly used OF J.D. Martinez is sporting a 219/257/313 slash with a heaping helping of strikeouts. *** Everyday Al (Alburquerque) pitches 4 games in a row. “It’s good. It’s early in the year,” Alburquerque said. *** Detroit has put together both an 8-game win streak and an 8-game road winning streak within this inning. *** Miller gets his good slider back, at least temporarily. *** Victor hits a HR in Baltimore’s Orioles Park that carries to Eutaw Street beyond the right field stands. *** Ausmus thinks that defensive shifting in baseball has “probably gone overboard.” *** Detroit’s run prevention, 131 allowed in 36 games, is second in the AL only to Oakland, no other teams even close. *** Luke Putkonen (DL) is said to be close to returning. *** Cabrera hits safely in 16 of 18 games, and the hits are BIG-BIG in at least 6 of those games. *** The bullpen during this stretch? Well, the two games it can be said to have blown required big help from poor defense to blow. Alburquerque has been good, and Joe Nathan in 8 games and 8 IP had 7 saves and a o.oo ERA. *** The Tigers NEVER TRAILED in 9 of these games, and a number of those were CONSECUTIVE. ***  Detroit matches its 2013 stolen base total of 35 by Game 36 of 2014.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim v Detroit Tigers

24-12, 1st in the Central, 1st in the AL, on pace for a 108-54 season…

RESEARCH MADE POSSIBLE BY: MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL and BASEBALL REFERENCE . 
PHOTO CREDITS: CABRERA: Associated Press; HOLADAY: Rick Osentoski/USA Today; WORTH: Steve Mitchell/USA Today; NATHAN: Leon Halip/Getty Images.

2014: The 1st Inning (10-8)

While this is partly inspired by the old Sam Hoff season-as-innings feature, I’m not going to do too much summing up of the innings or go deeply into composite team stats (there will be a concise summary of team pitching and batting – you can zoom in to make it readable – and also a novel attempt at tracking defensive performance). No, I’m going to recap the games, because the games are what happened. (You might be surprised at how clearly you remember some of them.) Note that this isn’t so much a review of the season as it is a retelling, a retelling from within, as it were. The narration isn’t that of an all-knowing future observer; I strive to keep my game reviews and reactions, as well as little summaries of newsworthy items and quotes from the contemporaneous news, in the context of the time. 

The story of 2014 begins with the 2013/2014 offseason, of course. Nothing unusual there, except that this was no ordinary offseason for changes. Check it out: Manager Jim Leyland stepping down after 8 years at the helm. The surprise hiring of rookie manager Brad Ausmus and a partial changing of the guard in the coaching staff. The shocking Prince Fielder for Ian Kinsler trade. The puzzling trade of Doug Fister. The can’t-miss acquisition of closer Joe Nathan. A number of good players left to go on to greener pastures (Benoit, Peralta, Infante, Veras, etc.). Interesting but speculative acquisitions such as Rajai Davis and Joba Chamberlain.

Spring training came along, and some best-laid plans began to gang a-gley. The news about Jose Iglesias’s shins went from bad to worst, and after a flurry of odd SS moves, the team was left with Alex Gonzalez/Andrew Romine. Back surgery for Andy Dirks nixed the Dirks/Rajai Davis LF platoon idea. High hopes for Bruce Rondon’s arrival as setup man ran into season-ending Tommy John surgery. Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera seemed OK after offseason surgeries, but Anibal Sanchez ran into sore shoulder problems that shortened his spring.

The media had the Detroit Tigers as quite probable to win the AL pennant, based largely on brand name star power. The fans were more skeptical. The team had lost a lot of offense, and one famous closer does not a bullpen make. On the other hand, the Tigers still had one of the best starting rotations in baseball, still had Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez, and maybe this Ausmus fellow would bring a more modern, effective, and perhaps daring approach to managing than we’d seen in a while. There was cautious optimism that team defense and team speed/baserunning had been improved. (How could it be any worse?) Maybe just enough of all the elements was finally in place?

The 2014 edition began the season as:

SP Verlander
SP Scherzer
SP Sanchez
SP Porcello
SP Smyly
RP Nathan
RP Alburquerque
RP Chamberlain
RP Coke
RP Putkonen
RP Reed
RP Krol
C Avila
C Holaday
1B Cabrera
2B Kinsler
SS Gonzalez
IF Romine
3B Castellanos
IF-OF Kelly
RF Hunter
CF Jackson
LF Davis
OF Collins
DH-1B-C V. Martinez


 

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Game 1: Shields v. Verlander. TIGERS 4, Royals 3. Down 2, up 1. Walk-off win.
NICE PLAYS: 3B Moustakas, VERLANDER, 1B Hosmer, KINSLER, GONZALEZ, CF Cain
MISPLAYS: JACKSON, HUNTER, GONZALEZ
BASERUNNING NEWS: CASTELLANOS gunned down by LF Gordon on ill-advised attempt to stretch a single.
THE BIG HIT: Man on 2nd, 2 out, Tigers down 3-2 in the 7th, GONZALEZ triples off Crow to score AVILA.
THE BIG OUT: Runner on 2nd, 2 out, 3-3 in the 8th, ALBURQUERQUE retires Cain.
GOOD HITTING: Perez, GONZALEZ
BAD HITTING: Gordon
GOOD PITCHING: Shields, TIGERS bullpen
BAD PITCHING: Crow
OBVIOUSLY: The comeback win at home on Opening Day is sweet, especially against the chief division rival.
DON’T OVERLOOK:  The JACKSON triple off Shields that set up run #2, or AUSMUS pinch-running COLLINS for AVILA in the 9th.
HUH?: HUNTER drops a routine flyball, and VERLANDER walks in a run.

Game 2: Vargas v. Scherzer. TIGERS 2, Royals 1 (10). Never behind, up 1. Walk-off win.
NICE PLAYS: LF COLLINS, CASTELLANOS (2), CABRERA, SS Escobar-1B Hosmer, LF Gordon, KINSLER, ALBURQUERQUE
MISPLAYS:
BASERUNNING NEWS: AVILA caught stealing 2B, GONZALEZ runs on contact into an out at home.
THE BIG HIT: Runners on 1st and 2nd, 2 out, 1-1 in the 10th, KINSLER hit to left center off Collins scores JACKSON to win it.
THE BIG OUT: Men on 2nd and 3rd, 2 out, 1-1 in the 9th, NATHAN retires Hayes (4-3 groundout).
GOOD HITTING: KINSLER (= Tigers offense)
BAD HITTING: Butler, Cabrera
GOOD PITCHING: SCHERZER, Vargas, ALBURQUERQUE
BAD PITCHING: Collins, NATHAN
OBVIOUSLY: A nail-biter and a great duel that SCHERZER should have won.
DON’T OVERLOOK: How NATHAN blew the win for SCHERZER, or the ALBURQUERQUE play and AUSMUS challenge that erased Aoki from 1B in the 10th, ending the threat and the inning.

RAINED OUT!

Game 3: Gonzalez v. Sanchez. TIGERS 10, Orioles 4. Down 2, up 8.
NICE PLAYS: CASTELLANOS, LF Lough, 2B Lombardozzi, ROMINE (2), CABRERA
MISPLAYS: Lough, SS Flaherty, LF DAVIS, HUNTER, ROMINE, JACKSON
BASERUNNING NEWS: Aggression doesn’t pay off for JACKSON (stretching a single v. Lough) or CASTELLANOS (overrunning 3B). V. MARTINEZ steals 2B.
THE BIG HIT: Men on 1st and 2nd, none out, Tigers down 2-0 in the 2nd, CASTELLANOS 2-run double off Gonzalez.
THE BIG OUTS: Runners on 1st and 2nd, none out, Tigers up 3-2 in the 4th, SANCHEZ retires the side (groundout-popout-strikeout).
GOOD HITTING: DAVIS, CABRERA, CASTELLANOS, HUNTER, Davis
BAD HITTING: V. MARTINEZ, Flaherty
GOOD PITCHING: SMYLY
BAD PITCHING: Gonzalez, Webb, CHAMBERLAIN
OBVIOUSLY: Early offense and strong middle relief made it a cakewalk.
DON’T OVERLOOK: The importance of SMYLY’s shutdown innings with SANCHEZ going only 4, and how the rain delay played to the Tigers’ advantage.
THE BAD CALL: Would-be DP where ROMINE had the force and then dropped the ball was ruled safe all around. Challenged to no avail.

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Game 4: Norris v. Porcello. TIGERS 7, Orioles 6. Down 1, up 6.
NICE PLAYS: LF DAVIS (2), SS Hardy, 2B Lombardozzi
MISPLAYS: KINSLER, HUNTER (2), 3B Schoop, GONZALEZ (2)
BASERUNNING NEWS: KELLY beats CF Jones to score on a shallow sac fly from DAVIS.
THE BIG HIT: Bases loaded, 1 out, Tigers down 1-0 in the 3rd, HUNTER clears the bases with a double off Norris.
THE BIG OUTS: Runners on 1st and 2nd, 1 out, Tigers up 7-6 in the 9th, NATHAN retires Cruz (strikeout) and Davis (with big help from LF DAVIS) to end the game not a moment too soon, formerly big lead almost evaporated.
GOOD HITTING: HUNTER, KELLY, PH Clevenger
BAD HITTING: Cruz
GOOD PITCHING: PORCELLO, REED
BAD PITCHING: Norris, COKE, Matusz, NATHAN
OBVIOUSLY: Detroit made it look easy for 8 innings.
DON’T OVERLOOK: How defense helped the Tigers bullpen crumble, or how the HUNTER-PORCELLO two-man show (less HUNTER’s defense, mind you) kept that from being fatal.

Game 5: Tillman v. Verlander. Orioles 3, TIGERS 1. Up 1, down 2.
NICE PLAYS: 2B Lombardozzi, ROMINE, SS Flaherty (2), JACKSON, LF Lough, RF Markakis, LF COLLINS
MISPLAYS: JACKSON
BASERUNNING NEWS: Markakis stretching the double to RF into a triple is huge.
THE BIG HIT: None on, 1 out, 1-1 in the 8th, Markakis triples off VERLANDER.
THE BIG OUTS: Man on 2nd, 1 out, Tigers down 3-1 in the 9th, Hunter retires JACKSON (strikeout) and COLLINS (groundout) to end the game.
GOOD HITTING:
BAD HITTING: Lough, JACKSON
GOOD PITCHING: Tillman, VERLANDER, Hunter
BAD PITCHING:
OBVIOUSLY:  The Tigers just ran into “better” beating “good.”
DON’T OVERLOOK: How strong Orioles defense supported strong pitching from Tillman.

Game 6: Scherzer v. Haren. DODGERS 3, Tigers 2 (10). Never ahead, down 1. Walk-off loss.
NICE PLAYS: AVILA (2), ROMINE (2), 1B V. MARTINEZ, RF KELLY-KINSLER-AVILA
MISPLAYS: JACKSON-SCHERZER, CF Kemp, LF DAVIS
BASERUNNING NEWS: KINSLER legging out a double was impressive. V. MARTINEZ caught stealing 2B in the 9th was deadly.
THE BIG HIT: Runner on 1st, 1 out, 2-2 in the 10th, Crawford double to LF off COKE past the not quite capable DAVIS scores Figgins from 1B to win it.
THE BIG OUTS: Man on 2B, none out, Tigers down 2-1 in the 9th, Jansen retires KELLY (groundout 3B) and CABRERA (strikeout) before V. MARTINEZ knocks in the tying run and then commits suicide on base.
GOOD HITTING:
BAD HITTING:
GOOD PITCHING: Haren, SCHERZER, Dodgers bullpen
BAD PITCHING: COKE
OBVIOUSLY: Just a close one that got away after Detroit came back to tie it.
DON’T OVERLOOK: CABRERA 0 for 4, RISP twice.
HUH?: Dee Gordon hits a HR off SCHERZER.
OUCH: HUNTER damages his knee sliding into the RF wall (foul territory) and leaves the game.

clark-collins

Game 7: Sanchez v. Beckett. Tigers 7, DODGERS 6 (10). Down 1, up 3.
NICE PLAYS: C V. MARTINEZ, P Beckett, GONZALEZ-CABRERA, CASTELLANOS (2), 2B Gordon, SS Ramirez-Gordon-1B Gonzalez, Ramirez, RF COLLINS, CHAMBERLAIN
MISPLAYS: V. MARTINEZ (2), V. MARTINEZ-GONZALEZ, GONZALEZ, Gordon, Ramirez-Gonzalez, Ramirez
BASERUNNING NEWS: KINSLER put on a show, manufacturing himself from 1B into a run not once but twice. Detroit was burned by a squeeze play, Beckett bunting with 2 strikes to put the Dodgers ahead (briefly).
THE BIG HIT: Runners on 1st and 3rd, 2 out, Tigers up 6-5 in the 9th, Gordon RBI single off NATHAN.
THE BIG OUT: Bases loaded, none out, Tigers up 6-4 in the 9th, NATHAN strikes out Puig.
GOOD HITTING: CASTELLANOS, V. MARTINEZ, Uribe
BAD HITTING: GONZALEZ
GOOD PITCHING: SMYLY, KROL
BAD PITCHING: NATHAN, Beckett, Jansen
OBVIOUSLY: NATHAN blew up, and V. MARTINEZ took the game back with his 10th inning HR. Phew.
DON’T OVERLOOK: How awful V. MARTINEZ was catching, or how much better RF has been the last couple without HUNTER.
HUH?: SANCHEZ hits an RBI double Miggy woulda been proud of.

Game 8: Porcello v. Cashner. PADRES 6, Tigers 0. Behind all the way.
NICE PLAYS: ROMINE (2), KINSLER (2), 1B Alonso, JACKSON, AVILA-ROMINE-1B V. MARTINEZ, Cashner, 3B CABRERA, V. MARTINEZ
MISPLAYS: Headley (2), RF KELLY, V. MARTINEZ
BASERUNNING NEWS: Hey, DAVIS swiped a couple bases in the one inning the Tigers had any chance against Cashner.
THE BIG HIT: Man on 3rd, 2 out, 0-0 in the 1st, Gyorko RBI triple off PORCELLO.
THE BIG OUT: Runners on 1st and 3rd, 1 out, Tigers down 2-0 in the 6th, CABRERA grounds into a 5-4-3 DP off Cashner, killing Detroit’s second and last rally shortly after their first and only hit.
GOOD HITTING: Headley
BAD HITTING: CABRERA
GOOD PITCHING: Cashner
BAD PITCHING: PORCELLO, PUTKONEN
OBVIOUSLY: Way outpitched and outhit, the Tigers did manage some good defense.
DON’T OVERLOOK: How much good baseball there actually was in a hopeless game.
HUH?: Four RF wall collisions in three games for Tigers right fielders. KELLY’s OK after his second.

Game 9: Verlander v. Kennedy. Tigers 6, PADRES 2. Never behind, up 4.
NICE PLAYS: CF Venable, RF Denorfia, KINSLER, CASTELLANOS, 1B Alonso, LF Smith, 3B Headley, C Grandal
MISPLAYS: AVILA, Headley, JACKSON
BASERUNNING NEWS: CASTELLANOS, in between his own double and the AVILA single that follows, gets picked off 2B by C Grandal.
THE BIG HIT: Men on 2nd and 3rd, 2 out, Tigers up 2-1 in the 4th, HUNTER 2-run single off Kennedy.
THE BIG OUT: Runners on 1st and 3rd, 2 out, Tigers up 4-2 in the 5th, VERLANDER strikes out Headley.
GOOD HITTING: KINSLER, JACKSON
BAD HITTING:
GOOD PITCHING: VERLANDER
BAD PITCHING: Stauffer
OBVIOUSLY: The kind of win you expect from VERLANDER and the Tigers offense.
DON’T OVERLOOK: 3 runs scored by DAVIS, one from each base, without stealing a base.
HUH?: VERLANDER picks up his first 2 MLB hits and scores a run, but is almost thrown out by RF Denorfia on the second single.

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Game 10: Scherzer vs. Ross. PADRES 5, Tigers 1. Never ahead, down 4.
NICE PLAYS: LF DAVIS, 2B Gyorko, SS Cabrera-1B Alonso, LF Smith
MISPLAYS: C V. MARTINEZ (2), GONZALEZ, 3B Headley
BASERUNNING NEWS:
THE BIG HIT: Runners on 1st and 2nd, none out, 1-1 in the 4th, Venable 2-run double to RF off SCHERZER. Alonso scoring from 1B without much of a play underscores the flatness of the whole Tigers effort.
THE BIG OUT: Men on 1st and 3rd, 2 out, Tigers down 1-0 in the 3rd, Ross retires KINSLER on a groundout to 2B.
GOOD HITTING: Venable
BAD HITTING:
GOOD PITCHING: Ross
BAD PITCHING:
OBVIOUSLY: The kind of loss you don’t expect from SCHERZER and the Tigers offense.
DON’T OVERLOOK: 104 pitches through 5 made SCHERZER’s 10 K’s and the lack of run support something of a moot point.

RAINED OUT!

Game 11: McAllister v. Sanchez. Indians 3, TIGERS 2. Never ahead, down 2.
NICE PLAYS: CASTELLANOS, RF Murphy (2), C Gomes, CF Bourn, HUNTER, AVILA, LF DAVIS, KINSLER-CABRERA, 1B Swisher-SS Cabrera
MISPLAYS: CABRERA, AVILA, 2B Kipnis, Bourn
BASERUNNING NEWS: Good read, good call, good hustle as AVILA steams into 3B as the tying run late after a Bourn bobble. KINSLER rundown ruse between 1st and 2nd with DAVIS on the loose from 2B is a nice try but stymied by the Indians. Running on contact works as CABRERA’s grounder to SS scores KINSLER from 3B.
THE BIG HIT: None on, 1 out, Tigers down 3-2 in the 9th, AVILA doubles off Axford in the 9th and advances to 3B on E8.
THE BIG OUT: Man on 3rd, 1 out, Tigers down 3-2 in the 9th, Axford retires KELLY (strikeout) and DAVIS (groundout to SS) to end the game.
GOOD HITTING: Gomes
BAD HITTING: HUNTER, Santana
GOOD PITCHING: McAllister, Axford, REED and the TIGERS bullpen
BAD PITCHING:
OBVIOUSLY: You have to be disappointed in the offense’s failure to take this one.
DON’T OVERLOOK: What a big factor defense was on both sides, mostly for good.
HUH?: The Indians swung at only 1 of SANCHEZ’s first 19 pitches (he walked the bases loaded). He recovered to strike out 8 through 5. Both teams combined for a 2-22 RISP.

Game 12: Salazar v. Verlander. TIGERS 7, Indians 5. Down 2, up 3.
NICE PLAYS: GONZALEZ, CF Bourn, AVILA-KINSLER
MISPLAYS: VERLANDER, AVILA, SS Cabrera, P Lee, KROL, C Gomes, CASTELLANOS
BASERUNNING NEWS: CABRERA going 1st to 3rd on a hit and run, DAVIS turning a pickoff into standing at 3B, a HUNTER infield single, and ROMINE going 1st to 3rd on SB + E – a Detroit baserunning show to go with 2 sac flies from JACKSON!
THE BIG HIT: Men on 1st and 2nd, 1 out, Tigers down 3-1 in the 5th, KINSLER go-ahead 3-run HR off Salazar.
THE BIG OUT: Bases loaded, 2 out, 0-0 in the 3rd, VERLANDER strikes out Kipnis.
GOOD HITTING: Brantley, KINSLER
BAD HITTING: Kipnis
GOOD PITCHING: CHAMBERLAIN
BAD PITCHING: Salazar, KROL
OBVIOUSLY: The Tigers offense answered the call when pitching and defense sagged.
DON’T OVERLOOK: How a capitalizing offense with legs made it happen, or the importance of AVILA cutting down Bourn stealing 2B in the 8th.
HUH?: Jason Kipnis strikes out swinging against VERLANDER and then gets himself ejected… by arguing a previous called strike.

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Game 13: Weaver v. Smyly. Angels 11, TIGERS 6. Never ahead, down 10.
NICE PLAYS: KINSLER (2), 2B McDonald
MISPLAYS:
BASERUNNING NEWS: V. MARTINEZ trifecta in the 9th! A) Hit double to RF, get to 1B. B) Only get as far as 2B on a single to RF. C) Get deked and then hung up between 2nd and 3rd for the last out of the game.
THE BIG HIT: Runner on 1st, 2 out, Tigers down 1-0 in the 2nd, Stewart RBI triple off PORCELLO.
THE BIG OUTS: Man on 3rd, 1 out, 0-0 in the 1st, SMYLY retires Pujols (strikeout) and Kendrick (groundout to SS).
GOOD HITTING: Trout, Kendrick, Pujols, Stewart
BAD HITTING:
GOOD PITCHING: Weaver
BAD PITCHING: SMYLY, PUTKONEN, Wall
OBVIOUSLY: Blown out by a team that has kicked their butts 10 straight now.
DON’T OVERLOOK: One glorious inning where the Tigers sent 10 to the plate.
HUH?: SMYLY’s first start of the season, PUTKONEN’s second appearance.

“It’s great to be alive and to be a Tigers fan.”

Game 14: Wilson v. Scherzer. TIGERS 5, Angels 2. Down 1, up 4.
NICE PLAYS: C Conger-2B Kendrick, CABRERA-ROMINE, CF Trout, SS Aybar, CASTELLANOS, P Wilson, KINSLER (2), LF Shuck
MISPLAYS: RF Boesch
BASERUNNING NEWS: CABRERA tags and advances to 3B, beating a good throw from Trout (and it took a good throw, because he’d been deked by CABRERA into throwing late). ROMINE dares Shuck in stretching a single and loses. HOLADAY puts down a beauty of a bunt for an IF single, later scores.
THE BIG HIT: Man on 1st, 1 out, Tigers down 1-0 in the 2nd, CASTELLANOS 2-run HR off Wilson.
THE BIG OUT: Runners on 2nd and 3rd, 2 out, Tigers up 3-1 in the 5th, SCHERZER strikes out.
GOOD HITTING: V. MARTINEZ
BAD HITTING: HUNTER
GOOD PITCHING: SCHERZER, Herrera, Chamberlain
BAD PITCHING: Wilson
OBVIOUSLY: A satisfying win, taking over the lead early and holding onto it with ease.
DON’T OVERLOOK: The importance of the AUSMUS challenge on the CABRERA-to-3B play, how Detroit capitalized, and how the Angels didn’t under similar circumstances the very next inning.
HUH?: Golden sombrero for Trout.

Game 15: Santiago v. Porcello. TIGERS 2, Angels 1. Down 1, up 1.
NICE PLAYS: AVILA (2), 1B V. MARTINEZ-PORCELLO, 2B Kendrick (2)
MISPLAYS: HUNTER-V. MARTINEZ, P Santiago-C Conger, Conger (2), Kendrick
BASERUNNING NEWS: KINSLER scores from 1B on a remarkable 3-error play, with hustle and some luck. ROMINE gets beat twice and still manages to get the two SB in with deft slides. Tigers push and run the Angels ragged.
THE BIG HIT: Runner on 2nd, 2 out, 1-1 in the 6th, CASTELLANOS RBI single off Jepsen.
THE BIG OUT: Man on 1st, none out, 1-1 in the 6th, PORCELLO retires Pujols (6-4-3 DP).
GOOD HITTING: ROMINE
BAD HITTING: DAVIS
GOOD PITCHING: PORCELLO, Santiago, NATHAN, KROL, ALBURQUERQUE
BAD PITCHING:
OBVIOUSLY: Well-pitched and saved by one clutch hit.
DON’T OVERLOOK: How Detroit’s aggressive baserunning paid off, challenging the L.A. defense and winning (both runs unearned). Good thing, because the bats were 1-11 RISP.

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Game 16: Danks v. Sanchez. White Sox 3, TIGERS 1. Up 1, down 2.
NICE PLAYS: CASTELLANOS, KINSLER-CABRERA, 2B Semien (2), SS Ramirez, CABRERA (2)
MISPLAYS: JACKSON, 3B Gilaspie, CASTELLANOS, LF DAVIS, RF Viciedo, CF Danks
BASERUNNING NEWS: Viciedo’s evasive slide to the plate beats AVILA and scores an injurious insurance run.
THE BIG HIT: Man on 2nd, 2 out, Tigers up 1-0 in the 7th, Abreu RBI double off SANCHEZ.
THE BIG OUT: Runners on 1st and 3rd, 1 out, Tigers down 3-1 in the 7th, Belisario retires KINSLER (inning-ending 5-4-3 DP).
GOOD HITTING:
BAD HITTING: KINSLER, Dunn
GOOD PITCHING: Danks, REED
BAD PITCHING:
OBVIOUSLY: A pitchers duel of sorts, more offensive frustration (0-10 RISP), and certainly one that got away.
DON’T OVERLOOK: Where it all unraveled for SANCHEZ after dominating, the Abreu double falling just on the RF chalk when HUNTER had so very far to go and slid a bit early. Bad break. But Detroit had their chances, before and after.

Game 17: Leesman v. Verlander. TIGERS 8, White Sox 6. Down 1, up 7.
NICE PLAYS: AVILA, ROMINE (2), SS Ramirez-1B Konerko, ROMINE-KINSLER, 3B Semien-C Nieto, LF J. MARTINEZ
MISPLAYS: RF Viciedo, Ramirez, C Flowers-2B Garcia, Garcia, J. MARTINEZ, Semien
BASERUNNING NEWS: Tigers are running hard and well all over the place, even the less speedy guys, and it translates to runs. Notable exceptions being AVILA caught stealing 2B easily, and CABRERA just standing at the plate on a tapper where KINSLER made it 2B to 3B (beating C Flowers’s throw) and he could have reached. V. MARTINEZ legs out a double, tags and advances twice to score!
THE BIG HIT: Runners on 1st and 3rd, 1 out, 1-1 in the 3rd, KINSLER 2 -run double off Leesman scores ROMINE and DAVIS (these three on the basepaths at the same time is like some kind of harmonic convergence).
THE BIG OUT: Men on 1st and 2nd, 1 out, 1-1 in the 2nd, VERLANDER retires Flowers (inning-ending 6-4-3 DP).
GOOD HITTING: CABRERA, KINSLER, Viciedo, Dunn
BAD HITTING: Flowers, HUNTER
GOOD PITCHING: VERLANDER, Putnam
BAD PITCHING: Leesman, COKE
OBVIOUSLY: A solid win that the bullpen declined to help with.
DON’T OVERLOOK: Detroit had their hitting shoes on but may have caught a break in dodging a Chris Sale start (DL).
HUH?: COKE strikes out 2 and then blows up.

“I hate baseball.”

Game 18: Rienzo v. Smyly. White Sox 6, TIGERS 4. Up 2, down 2.
NICE PLAYS: SMYLY, CF Danks (2), AVILA-CASTELLANOS, SS Ramirez, SMYLY-CASTELLANOS, 2B Garcia, CABRERA (2), ROMINE, Abreu
MISPLAYS:
BASERUNNING NEWS: White Sox baserunners got hung out to dry a couple times by the alert Tigers.
THE BIG HIT: Bases loaded (by REED), 2 out, Tigers up 4-2 in the 7th, Semien grand slam off KROL.
THE BIG OUT: Men on 2nd and 3rd, 2 out, Tigers down 6-4 in the 9th, Lindstrom retires AVILA (line out to 1B on a 3-0 pitch!).
GOOD HITTING: Semien, JACKSON
BAD HITTING: De Aza
GOOD PITCHING: SMYLY, Belisario
BAD PITCHING: KROL, REED
OBVIOUSLY: The double whammy of losing a 2-run lead on one pitch and then leaving the tying runs on base to end the game.
DON’T OVERLOOK: How the pitch count limit on SMYLY opened the door to bullpen disaster, one bad pitch from KROL proving to be the difference in a well-played game.


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DEFENSIVE SCORECARD (in terms of outstanding plays one way or the other, X = good, O = not)

P VERLANDER XO zero
2B KINSLER XXOXXXXXXXXXXXOX +12
SS GONZALEZ XOOOXOOOX -3
CF JACKSON OOXOOXOO -4
RF HUNTER OOOOXO -4
LF COLLINS XX +2
3B CASTELLANOS XXXXXXXOXXXX +10
1B CABRERA XXXXOXXXXXX +9
P ALBURQUERQUE X +1
SS ROMINE XXOXXXXXXXXXXX +12
LF DAVIS OXXOXXO +1
C AVILA XXXXOXOXOXXXX +7
1B V. MARTINEZ XXXOXO +2
RF KELLY XO zero
P SCHERZER O -1
C V. MARTINEZ XOOOOO -4
RF COLLINS X +1
P CHAMBERLAIN X +1
3B CABRERA X +1
P KROL O -1
P PORCELLO X +1
LF J. MARTINEZ XO zero
P SMYLY XX +2

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Postponements (home game rainouts) add to an unusual amount of April down time. *** Miguel Cabrera gets his 2,000th career hit.*** Torii Hunter goes day to day with a bruised knee. *** Evan Reed’s in trouble with the law. *** Joe Nathan reports a dead arm. *** Miggy not liking his swing: “My swing, he wants to pull the ball right now.” *** Alex Avila is off to a 3 for 23, 14 K start, and the “need to get him going” theme is revisited. *** Justin Miller is up from Toledo to refresh a “taxed bullpen,”  and OF Tyler Collins (.143 in limited action) sent down to Toledo. *** Austin Jackson is thriving in the #6 spot. *** The Alex Gonzalez experiment ends after only 3 weeks with his release, and the ever-buoyant Danny Worth rises up from Toledo again. *** Some guy named J.D. Martinez has hit 10 HR in 17 games with the Mud Hens and gets the call as a bench bat when little-used Luke Putkonen is placed on the DL with elbow inflammation. *** Max Scherzer and 1B Cabrera work on fielding communication drills before a game. *** Robbie Ray gets off to a good start in AAA. *** Brad Ausmus on Phil Coke: “There’s got to be spots where he can pitch.” *** Cabrera’s OPS sits at .698. *** Justin Verlander is 3-1, 2.18 though 4 starts, and Scherzer is also off to nice start at 1-1, 2.33.

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10-8, 1st in the Central, 4th in the AL, on pace for a 90-72 season…

RESEARCH MADE POSSIBLE BY: MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL and BASEBALL REFERENCE .
PHOTO CREDITS: GONZALEZ: Associated Press; COLLINS: Mike Mulholland/MLive; AVILA: Hanna Foslien/Getty Images; MILLER: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images.