Game 2014.19: Tigers 7, White Sox 4

YOU SAID IT

StorminNorman$ April 24, 2014 at 2:45 pm

Scherzer w/96 pitches through 5… with DET’s bullpen and a 2-1 game… concern is inevitable

A White Sox offense that just won’t leave us alone deserves a dose of Max Scherzer. Detroit gets to face a lefty in Jose Quintana, and I think that’s good news. The main thing is that they get to bat again and might score some runs, and it might not take so many this time, especially if Max can go (9? Please? Please?), oh, let’s say 8 innings.

How demoralizing would not salvaging this series be? Well, 10-9 sounds a bit ugly, but some good things have happened last three games, more than you’d think in dropping two of them.

Dan and Jim brought up the interesting statistic of how the Tigers have been badly outscored in 1st and 9th innings but own the rest. So I’ll throw a few team stats out there today.

Tigers starters are sporting a seriously impressive 2.96 ERA and 1.20 WHIP, nearly the best in the AL. And we know that they are the best. The opposition is batting .240 against them, good for a fairly high rank there. Few teams are getting 6+ IP on average from starters. It might surprise you to know that the Tigers are.

Things are a bit different for the bullpen. Worst ERA at 5.60 (!), WHIP ugly at 1.36 but middle of the pack as far as the AL goes. Batting average against is a clearly unacceptable .271 –  a starter can get away with that, but not an entire pen. And they are more prone to the long ball than even the Orioles or Astros, their miserable companions at the league bottom.

Interesting is how the staff as a whole is handling LHB (.223) vs. RHB (.285).

Detroit is climbing the ladder in Defensive Efficiency (10th), and they are 4th in double plays! We’re only at 18 games, but still, I think you would have to go back a number of years to find the Tigers high in the DP rankings. Maybe even at 18 games.

You might also have go back some to find the Tigers above average in the team Power/Speed Number (see bbref team stats), but that’s what they are right now. For a team not scoring a lot of runs per game, the Tigers are (mostly) quite the above-average offense. They strike out only 17% of the time and put the ball in play 71% of the time, and in case you were wondering, those are very good numbers.

But let’s try to find some awful stats, because those are our favorites. Well…

* Tigers have a .700 OPS against RHP (.842 against lefties)

* Detroit’s Sunday OPS (3 games) is .499 (1 HR in 93 AB)

* Tigers are batting .172 in the 1st inning

* Hey, how’s that 1st inning pitching? 7.00 ERA, 1.94 WHIP

* Hey, how’s that 9th inning pitching? 8.35 ERA, 1.80 WHIP

* Friday is not a good day to be a Detroit pitcher – 21 ER in 3 games,  7.27 / 1.58 / .306

I’ll leave it to you to find some unusually positive stats, because there are plenty of those out there, too. Probably more of them. Remember, 10-8 = 90-72. The way the AL Central is shaking out, that could be a winner.

POSTGAME: I got to see this Sox-Tigers game. What did I see? A Tigers victory that survived the worst bullpen in MLB and the two worst defensive plays all season, Torii Hunter’s three-base error (scored as a triple for the unstoppable Dayan Viciedo) and Bryan Holaday’s physically and mentally misguided throw into (eventually) CF that made it 5-4 (and his 9th inning crap throw to 2B wasn’t better). The only thing dumber was clumsy Jose Abreu interfering with Holaday for Nathan’s gift third out. Maybe the White Sox weren’t at their best, either. Four straight days in Detroit might be the equivalent of not eating your Wheaties, I don’t know. For Chicago White Sox-type people, I mean, of course. Nice area.

Max Scherzer went a good 6 and could have gone 8, pitch count be damned. But no. The Tigers did as much as they had to against a pretty good Jose Quintana, and more still against the Sox bullpen. All drama should have ended at 5-2, when Miguel Cabrera’s deceptively hard-hit grounder past Alexei Ramirez (quite a show at SS today, tip of the cap) drove in what turned out to be the winning runs. But then Ausmus had to go and take out Max, who was just fine.

That bullpen. Nothing to like. Ol’ One-Pitch Al came in for the 7th, no confidence but no runs. Joba Chamberlain, then, and between him getting slapped around and the defense getting indefensible, it looked lost. Late inning offense that included smartness on the bases saved the day. (I like 3B coach Dave Clark’s style. I don’t think I’d like to miss or run through any of his signs. He looks kinda big and mean. Closer Joe Nathan just looks kinda big and lost.)

In between Miggy’s big single and the sky falling, there was a clutch 8th inning that saw Holaday redeem himself with a solidly hit RBI single, and when Rajai Davis’s second line shot to deep LF on the day (the first had left the park) was good for a double and a 7-4 lead, our comfort level going into the 9th improved to one of mere agonizing doubts and heart palpitations.

The White Sox struck out 15 times today, 10 of those belonging to Max. Nary an authentic double play was turned by either side, which seems odd in a game with 26 baserunners and 12 groundball outs. Hmmm.

I went without audio, but I take it that Danny Worth was awarded the IF hit by virtue of the transfer rule, whereby the ball coming out of  1B Abreu’s glove 10 minutes after Worth was called out made him safe. That silliness is going to go against us one of these times. Oh, I guess it already did. Romine. Remember?

Tigers are hitting again (forget the bullpen), Tigers are 11-8 (forget the bullpen), Tigers hit the road with a win at their backs (forget the bullpen). There’s really no reason to dwell on the bullpen. Exhale.