Game 2014.17: Tigers 8, White Sox 6

YOU SAID IT

Vince in MN April 22, 2014 at 10:25 pm [edit]

I just want Phil Coke to finally disappear.

With the loss out of the way and no Sale to face, the stage is set for Detroit (9-7) to be Detroit (12-7).

Avila.

Cabrera.

J.D.Martinez.

Panas on Porcello.

To take our mind off the offense, let’s have a word on defense. And it will be words. I wish I had numbers, but I don’t yet have a handle on a good statistical presentation on defense. It will have to be anecdotal and observational.

Observationally, I would judge the Tigers’ defense to be average. There’s really no scathing criticism to be leveled at any one defender. The worst I could say:  Alex Gonzalez was surprisingly unreliable. Victor Martinez wasn’t ready to catch out West.  Nick Castellanos is a bit clunky over there at 3B sometimes. Austin Jackson has lost his above-average rating (admit it). The occasional flash from Rajai Davis, well… you get the impression that his defense is a lot like his hitting, if you catch my drift. On the other hand, Ian Kinsler has been brilliant, and the same can be said for our erstwhile MVP at 1B. Andrew Romine has been mostly impressive (work on tags, please). The oft-criticzed Alex Avila is underappreciated for a lot of defense that flies under the radar.  In all, I can’t think of single guy who’s played the field and hasn’t done something notably good defensively. Even forgotten man Torii Hunter, who seems to be fielding more hits in RF than putout chances, has shown that he still has the arm. No one is awful, or even often awful.

But the notion of average is countered by the team DefEff (Defensive Efficiency) score, a stat I think I can get my head around. As I understand it, you turn balls in play into outs at a goodly rate, you get a good score. You don’t, you don’t. Simple. The Detroit Tigers don’t get a good score. Worst in the AL, last I checked. Why?

Can’t think of any major clown shows through 16. All those little things add up, I guess. The double play that almost gets turned, etc. etc. etc.. Not all of it will figure into DefEff, I suppose, like the throw to the wrong base, the missed cutoff, and suchlike. After only 16 games, “luck” could still be a factor, as well. But the Tigers aren’t playing a bunch of rangeless stiffs out there, are they? I’m wondering about positioning and whether we should be expecting better, what with the new “defensive coordinator” thing going on. Too early to expect dramatic results? I also wonder about the effect of coordinating defensive positioning strategy with pitching strategy. Maybe there’s some disjoint, similar to the way the “runner control” had until recently seemed to be every man for himself? I don’t know. I’m only speculating.

I should mention that the notion of average is also countered by what I often see from Tigers opponents. We’ve seen some bad days at the office from the other side – Hank Conger and Chase Headley come to mind – but on balance, my observation has been that the opposition has been smoother, sharper, and crisper than the Tigers at all the routine business of defense. It’s a bit of a letdown that the New Tigers we were bracing ourselves for, leaner but possibly meaner on offense, same great starting rotation, don’t yet have the defensive part of that potential winning equation together (yet?). The loss of Jose Iglesias and Andy Dirks is keenly felt.  But Kinsler is certainly providing the kind of defensive energy that can raise a team, and if the Romine/Worth tandem can follow suit, it might be contagious. Let’s see how the Tigers’ DefEff looks at the end of May. Nowhere to go but up.

POSTGAME:  In a game where so much is going right, my reaction is greed. 6-1? I want 12-1 (and not 12-2). Every run counts. Those “add-ons” often turn out to be game-winners, don’t they?

As the Tigers’ first six opponents caught a break by facing an offensively challenged Miggy, Detroit caught a break by not having to face newly-DL’d Chris Sale, and rookie call-up replacement Charles Leesman was in the wrong place at the wrong time against an awakening Tigers offense. For most of the game, all a White Sox fan had to hold onto were Jose Abreu’s blast to dead center in the 1st and fairly impressive work from a lot of bullpen, especially Zach Putnam. Justin Verlander was at normal efficiency and command, which is to say that he was fabulous in the way we’ve learned to take for granted.

That 3rd inning explosion was something. 9 batters with nothing but hits or walks or productive outs. I was ready for more when Andrew Romine struck out with runners at the corners to end it. But the 2 runs tacked on in the 5th, scored with two outs, turned out to be oh so vital. Infield single, steal and advance on throwing error, double, walk, double. Nice.

Miguel Cabrera and Alex Avila stole the show, the former with his sudden resurgence, and the latter with his “surgence.” Who is this guy with the same name as our old catcher? He sure can hit.

However. [pause] With an 8-2 lead, the bullpen nearly gave it all right back. Oh, nothing went right. Alburquerque’s 8th was a debacle. The Tragedy Of Phil Coke was briefly interrupted by two strikeouts. A commercial break, I guess. 0-2 on Adam Dunn, 8-4 Tigers now, come on and let’s get this one in the books. Oops, gone, 8-6. Joba Chamberlain comes in and walks the first batter on four pitches. There was even some doubt and drama to the final out, with J.D. Martinez having a difficult time on the shallow flyball (lights?).

It wasn’t easy like it should have been. But it was a win. We’ll take it. And MIGGY IS BACK!

34 Comments

  1. Vince in MN

    April 22, 2014 at 6:50 am

    From Beck’s blog today:
    “We’ve got to get Alex going,” manager Smokey Jr. said.

    • Coleman

      April 22, 2014 at 11:43 am

      Someone is being “advised!”

      Stay tuned for “you’ve got to tip your hat” and “that’s baseball.”

      • Vince in MN

        April 22, 2014 at 6:35 pm

        Actually, we’ve already had them, but don’t make me gol

      • Vince in MN

        April 22, 2014 at 6:37 pm

        Actually, we’ve already had them (or similar), but don’t make me go look them up.

      • Vince in MN

        April 22, 2014 at 6:41 pm

        Advice to Ausmus:
        Enough with the old cliches. If you must use cliches, please come up with some new ones.

  2. Commerce Dave

    April 22, 2014 at 8:20 am

    We caught a break in Sale going on the 15 day DL. I hope we don’t use the opportunity to make another ordinary pitcher look like Cy Young. This is gettin’ old.
    More and more I’m convinced Cabreras troubles are tied to his injury or the surgery. Either he’s not fully recovered or the whole thing has gotten in his head. It would be interesting to know what the typical recovery period and rehab regmen is for a procedure like this is.

    • Smithereens

      April 22, 2014 at 9:32 am

      I recall Mario, during the west-coaster, saying that Cabrera noticed a hitch in his swing and was working on it. Still, I just can’t start to worry about the big fella.

  3. Smithereens

    April 22, 2014 at 9:37 am

    The last place DefEff is surprising, but I would consider two things:
    1. The prolific use of the shift (thanks, Joe Maddon). The tigers ARE better defensively than they were last year, no doubt. Compared to our peers, who are using the shift and turning would be hits into outs, we rank lower. This admittedly is just a hunch…

    2. Torii Hunter. It pains me to speak ill of him, but he seems to be having trouble getting behind balls hit to RF. This is the ever unscientific eyeball test here, but it seems like if he doesn’t catch it, it’s at least a double. I can’t remember the last single to RF against us.

    • Coleman

      April 22, 2014 at 11:49 am

      I’m with you on Torii–that play that was reviewed that turned out to be fair on the line, should have neither been fair nor foul, but caught. Standing up.

  4. Commerce Dave

    April 22, 2014 at 10:10 am

    Rereading my earlier post – I would like to mention that my “English as a Second Language” classes are proceeding in fits & starts at best.

  5. Coleman

    April 22, 2014 at 11:52 am

    I am going with the small sample size explanation of the fielding. Not only have the Tigers played the fewest games in the league, but they are near the stop in strikeouts per game, so just not that many balls in play yet at this point in the season. I expect they will end up ranking a tad below the average (unless Iglesias miraculously comes back at the All-Star break).

  6. jud

    April 22, 2014 at 12:34 pm

    This just in….Memo to Brad from Jim Leyland:
    Alex got his hit yesterday so start hin in 10 of the next 12 game. He is due to get at least another hit. That is all!
    ps: 1 rbi should be overlooked. Its not his fault when guys can not hustle and score when he strikes out!

  7. jud

    April 22, 2014 at 12:51 pm

    Position for position defensively compared to last year in my opinion
    Better at 1st
    Better at second
    Almost a wash at SS with Romine. Bad stats from Gonzo
    Same at third Nick vs Miggy
    Slighty less in left ..Dirks was VG
    Less in center..AJ range or judgement decrease some
    Less in right .Hunter is brutal so far.terrible judgement
    AA Is better defensively .blocking has been exc.throwing the same but not worse.

    The total D is better in the infield and 2-4 steps slower in the outfield to get to balls

    • Coleman

      April 22, 2014 at 1:11 pm

      We are worse 20% of the starts on the mound. Fister was gold glove caliber out there.

  8. Only Tiger Fan in Mississippi

    April 22, 2014 at 3:40 pm

    For something entirely different, former Mudhen 2nd baseman and hometown boy, Justin Henry came in for relief and earned his first save for the Pawtucket Red Sox: http://www.milb.com/news/artic.....8;sid=l117

    • Only Tiger Fan in Mississippi

      April 22, 2014 at 3:43 pm

      The last time he pitched was for his highschool team over ten years ago.

  9. TIGERS RULE

    April 22, 2014 at 7:46 pm

    Did Smokey Jr. take his stupid pills this morning …… allowing AA to try and steal!

    • Vince in MN

      April 22, 2014 at 8:51 pm

      He’s sending a message to the opposition: beware, we send anybody, anytime.

  10. Vince in MN

    April 22, 2014 at 9:01 pm

    I guess they have got Alex going. For one game anyway.

  11. Bill

    April 22, 2014 at 9:26 pm

    I’ll ask before the inning. Why is JV out there after 97 pitches and six innings in a 8-2 game?

    • Vince in MN

      April 22, 2014 at 9:48 pm

      He’s a horse and will 99% of the time get his 115-120 pitches in unless he is getting hammered, which certainly doesn’t happen that often. When he is efficient (which isn’t always the case), you can depend on him for at least 7 innings. That’s a good break for the bullpen. Same story with Scherzer I think. Not quite as much with Sanchez and much less often with Porcello (will this year be different?) and very unlikely to happen often with Smyly this year. The bullpen can get a workout with the bottom of our rotation. And I get the feeling that Ausmus is going to work the bullpen, so…

  12. Bill

    April 22, 2014 at 9:34 pm

    120 pitches on a 50 degree night in a 8-2 game is inexcusable! Are we trying to hurt JV?

    • Vince in MN

      April 22, 2014 at 9:57 pm

      I think pitch counts are relative to the pitcher. JV has been pitching with this kind of workload for years and no serious arm trouble. When we first got Scherzer the impression was that he was only good for about 90-100 pitches and six innings, but he has improved on his ability to pitch deeper into games the last couple of years. Porcello has so far in his career looked like a guy that started to dramatically poop out after about 90 almost every outing. Hopefully he can stretch that out now, but we’ll just have to see. Smyly I would be careful with though because he has never pitched more than about 150 innings in his career and is coming off a season where he only pitched relief, so pulling him after about 100 or even less is probably a good idea.

  13. Vince in MN

    April 22, 2014 at 10:00 pm

    AlAl setting up a save opportunity for Nathan here.

  14. joe z

    April 22, 2014 at 10:24 pm

    lol phil coke

  15. Vince in MN

    April 22, 2014 at 10:25 pm

    I just want Phil Coke to finally disappear.

  16. StorminNorman$

    April 22, 2014 at 10:30 pm

    i know DET’s farm system is not packed with good (MLB-ready) relief pitcher prospects, but there has to be someone with more to offer the team than Phil Coke…

    a Valverde-like finish tonight

  17. Kevin in Dallas

    April 22, 2014 at 10:30 pm

    Coke giving up more hits to lefties. He has no place in a major league bullpen. I’m sure he’ll turn into Grilli or Rodney somewhere else, but its time for him to go.

    • William

      April 22, 2014 at 11:06 pm

      What is it they say about the definition of insanity ? Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

  18. jud

    April 23, 2014 at 12:09 am

    I had to work tonight and I miss a 3 hit game by AA….simply amazing feat!!!

    What !! Miggy had 3 hits…I need to work more nights!!

  19. jud

    April 23, 2014 at 12:13 am

    I will predict this…tomorrow Asmus will say he was encouraged by how well Coke threw…you will read it tomorrow!

    • Kevin in Dallas

      April 23, 2014 at 12:21 am

      I’ll take that bet.

  20. Kevin in Dallas

    April 23, 2014 at 12:27 am

    My takeaways:

    1) Miggy has been swinging the bat well the last week. Things just fell right tonight. It was good to see him go oppo 2X for extra bases.

    2) Verlander was not sharp. 8 hits and 2 BBs = 120 pitches in the 7th. But even when he’s not sharp that means 2 ER over 7. He’s one of the best of our era and we’re fortunate to see him every 5. Let’s not forget that. That said, I think he can be better.

    3) Lots of stolen bases = lots of caught stealing.

    4) The bullpen is an absolute disaster. Our SP is out of this world, and our lineup is a plus lineup on an off day, and top 1 or 2 in the AL when we’re clicking. But we cannot win a WS with this bullpen. A move has to be made for another lefty, and Joba’s job is written in very light pencil.

  21. jud

    April 23, 2014 at 12:53 am

    Speaking of Grilli another guy we ran out of town is one of the top LH relievers at Toledo…3 total runs allowed in 12 innings..2.19 era..10 k’s….the one the only Nate Robertson..at least if they brought him up for Coke the fans could still continue to booo…but then again can he be worse than Coke!!!