Pregame 5: Baltimore Orioles at Detroit Tigers

Before this season started, a lot of Tiger followers predicted that this year’s Tigers would win more one-run games than last year (20-26). I don’t think yesterday was what they had in mind.

There was a lot to like about yesterday’s game (how about that Donkey!), but almost blowing a 6-run lead conjures up the spectre of the dreaded blowpen. Evan Reed had a 2nd good outing, but Phil Coke…is Phil Coke. The real worry is Joe Nathan. The season is still in its infancy, but Nathan has now had two bad, almost disastrously bad, outings in a row, and has a very un-closer-like WHIP of 1.875. History says Nathan will be fine. Until then, fingernails will be bitten.

Rick Porcello though, that is a different kind of surprise. Some people predicted this would be a breakout year for him (while others wished Detroit would have dealt him instead of Fister), and he sure looked like it yesterday. Porcello overcame a rough start and his own history (he has typically pitched poorly early in the season and in cold weather) to toss a gem, getting 11 outs on groundouts.

Is there a broom in the house? The Tigers are MLB’s last undefeated team.

“Hopefully we go 162-0.” –Torii Hunter

Today’s Leylandesque Sunday Lineup:

  1. Kinsler, 2B
  2. Hunter, RF
  3. Cabrera, DH
  4. Martinez, 1B
  5. Jackson, CF
  6. Collins, LF
  7. Castellanos, 3B
  8. Holaday, C
  9. Romine, SS

DET P: Justin Verlander (RHP)

BAL P: Chris Tillman (RHP)



    April 6, 2014 at 1:05 pm

    Is VMart at 1B and Miggy at DH?

    • Coleman

      April 6, 2014 at 1:12 pm

      Fixed that. Thanks for the assist.

  2. jud

    April 6, 2014 at 1:07 pm

    This is definately a Mumbles Jr if Mumbles called Asmus last night and said…heres what I would do!…..lets sweep them anyway!

    • Coleman

      April 6, 2014 at 1:13 pm

      If I recall last season Verlander got the bulk of the Sunday lineups too.

  3. jud

    April 6, 2014 at 1:53 pm

    Seems like JV got that alot as if. … well he should be able to overcome a AAA lineup

  4. Vince in MN

    April 6, 2014 at 1:56 pm

    Porcello did fine for 6 innings, keeping the ball on the ground, which is when he is most effective. However, his velocity dropped precipitously by then too, so same old same old as far as that goes. We’ll take it of course, but RP might be your prototypical 6-inning pitcher.

    I see it is Bench Day at Comerica, hope JV is on.

  5. jud

    April 6, 2014 at 2:48 pm



    April 6, 2014 at 2:49 pm

    We need the Sunday bats to wake up and give JV some deserved support!

  7. jud

    April 6, 2014 at 3:13 pm

    A NOTE (from JV to Asmus)..hey Skip thanks for the horsecrap batting lineup…again!

  8. jud

    April 6, 2014 at 3:31 pm

    Can’t win them all…but you could at least try …not much effort today!

  9. StorminNorman$

    April 6, 2014 at 3:42 pm

    ‘5 hits and 1 run’ is not going to get a team a win 99.8% of the time… so by my calculations that’s 1 down 67 more (losses) to go.

    sweeps are nice, but i’ll take a 4-1 home stand every time.

  10. Smoking Loon

    April 6, 2014 at 9:47 pm

    The offense collapses without linchpin Avila.

  11. Smoking Loon

    April 6, 2014 at 10:05 pm

    Oh, it’s the Sunday Lineup complaint again. Kinsler, Cabrera, and Jackson were 1 for 12 with 3 strikeouts. I don’t think we’d normally expect Davis, Gonzalez. and Avila to save the day from all that. Collins made a couple good plays in LF and Romine one at SS. Tillman was tough on everyone. Too bad about the Wieters HR off Alburquerque – that took some strategy and excitement out of the bottom of the 9th.

    Great start from JV. It was a game, start to finish, no complaints there.

    Was anyone else hoping for a suicide squeeze attempt when Romine was up with a man on third?

  12. Smoking Loon

    April 6, 2014 at 11:32 pm

    It came up last year whether the staff performed better when Avila was catching, as opposed to Pena. I resisted the idea, but there does seem to have been credence to it. How about this game? Any evidence that Holaday had any adverse effect, not framing the pitches as well, etc.?

    • KW

      April 7, 2014 at 7:18 pm

      Avila doesn’t frame pitches at all, so that could actually be looked at as a tick against him (if you think framing helps get calls). Also, it’s not like Tigers pitching had a particularly bad game yesterday, so I’m not sure there’s much to debate at this point.

      • Smoking Loon

        April 7, 2014 at 8:01 pm

        Why it would it require a badly pitched game for there to be a debate? Good or bad, the question is there: Did the catcher have some discernible impact on the pitching?

        According to Lee Panas and others, Avila is quite the pitch-framer. I wouldn’t know. I see all catchers doing what they can to make a ball look like a strike and don’t have any expert sense of what a good job of this looks like.

        • KW

          April 8, 2014 at 9:02 am

          Well, your questions was “Any evidence that Holaday had any adverse effect, not framing the pitches as well, etc.?” So I thought you were saying it would require a badly pitched game. My point is one game is too small a sample size to make any kind of comment about it, good or bad, unless Holaday did something that clearly impacted how the pitcher pitched.

          I just saw Panas’s article about pitch framing. I stand corrected. The reason I said Avila doesn’t frame pitches is because I rarely see him catch a borderline pitch and hold it the way some do. Maybe he’s doing something else to get the calls, such as not moving his body as much when he catches the ball. I’ve read that a still head is actually more effective than a still glove.

          • Smoking Loon

            April 8, 2014 at 8:40 pm

            You’re right – I suppose I was “framing the question” (he he) a particular way. But I thought I’d raise the question early. Verlander wasn’t that great his first game, but Avila caught that day, and the Tigers won. Verlander was quite good this game, but Holaday caught and the Tigers lost. As the season rolls on and the numbers pile up, it’ll be easy to say (for example), oh. Tigers are .580 when A catches and only .513 when Holaday catches, gee, Alex really has a way with that pitching staff. What I’m saying is let’s watch it now. Let’s make observation the basis of opinion, not a bunch of numbers from games we hardly remember.

            Yes, I’s guess that being a good pitch framer must involve subtlety.

            I have to admit that I don’t know for certain who’s calling games. I imagine that Alex proposes and the pitcher (most of them, anyway, certainly the proven veterans) disposes, and that they’re usually in agreement. I don’t know how it works with Holaday or any backup catcher, and I don’t know exactly what comes in from the dugout and when, aside from pitchouts and whatnot.

            No CS from the Tigers catchers yet (I don’t think – I think I would have noticed the ticker-tape parade), but no WP or PB either, either, as far as I know. Gosh darn solid defensively, if nothing else.

  13. Smoking Loon

    April 6, 2014 at 11:35 pm

    If we could get the opposing teams to agree to have their hitters wear Tigers uniforms when Nathan is pitching, and New York Yankees uniforms when Coke is pitching (and hypnotize Coke into believing it’s October), everything would be fine.

    • alantrammellfan

      April 7, 2014 at 9:44 pm

      That was tried with Raburn (making him believe it was the second half) . It did not work

      • Smoking Loon

        April 8, 2014 at 8:41 pm

        It did in Cleveland. Better hypnotist, maybe.

  14. jud

    April 7, 2014 at 12:32 pm

    The thing I don’t like about that lineup is it sends the wrong message. We start all our bench players because we are off to a great stary and we really don’t need this one. Brad could have easily substitutud one bench player in each game of the series instead of totally listening to Leyland who you know advised him on the proper way to let your team know you don’t care if you dump this game…..with the best pitcher on the planet starting for you….JV faced a whole different lineup than Tillman. I see the Orioles didn’t play their bench players.Tillman had to work to get 5 guys out..JV had to work hard to get 9 guys out.

    • Vince in MN

      April 7, 2014 at 3:15 pm

      Tillman had to work to get 6 guys out actually, since our best bench player, Don Kelly (!!!), sat.

      • Smoking Loon

        April 7, 2014 at 7:44 pm

        JV didn’t have to work that hard to get Lough, Flaherty, Lombardozzi, and Schoop out. Or in general. He was good, Tillman maybe a bit better. Jones, Cruz, and Markakis came through for the O’s. Tillman outpitched Detroit’s big boys, plain and simple. Neither a surprise nor great failure for the bench to go 0 for 9 under these circumstances.

        No one starts bench players because they don’t need to win. I don’t think it’s about sending messages in any sense. The bench contributed on the field, as did the whole team. The Tigers were outplayed, no lack of effort. It does happen.

        The bench is an important part of the team. They wouldn’t be there if they weren’t. They are not for emergencies only. You’ve gotta play these guys. Disuse doesn’t improve a bench. Leyland was inclined to let everyone but Don Kelly gather dust. I much prefer the Ausmus approach, which I don’t see as coming from Leyland at all.

        Those disapproving of the Tigers bench might offer opinions on who doesn’t belong and who the Tigers should have instead.

        One slight bit of disappointment in Ausmus was what happened in the bottom of the 9th. You might say that when you’re down by 2 you’re not playing for 1 – if you’re Jim Leyland. Me, I would have liked to see Davis pinch-running for V-Mart after the double. Davis either steals third or gets in Hunter’s head – either way, the complexion of the AJax AB changes. Tigers could have gotten *something* going there. As it was, it reeked of “slugging it.”

        • Jim EggersUSMC

          April 8, 2014 at 2:53 am

          Agree, was looking for the PR in that situation too, but I am not going to second guess the Ivy League Skipper, at least not till we are, you know, sucking.

          • Smoking Loon

            April 8, 2014 at 8:53 pm

            What about the squeeze with Romine up, man on 3rd, two out? 5th inning. Did that cross your mind? Ausmus has these possibilities crossing my mind now. It’s a fine thing.

  15. jud

    April 7, 2014 at 6:22 pm

    Asmus says I like to play the hot I guess Kelly sat for not going 4-4. Must not have been hot enough

  16. judpma

    April 8, 2014 at 2:18 am

    No ones complaining about playing the bench…its about playing almost all of it in one game..I noticed Showalter played his best lineup with his best pitcher…that didn’t come close to happening with Detroits best pitcher…and it shouldn’t either

    • Smoking Loon

      April 8, 2014 at 8:50 pm

      Think you’re barking up the wrong tree, judpma. Don’t see Davis, Gonzalez, and Avila putting any hurt on Tillman. The Tigers lineup could consist of the regular 1-5, and then you, me, Kevin, and Coleman, and I would expect that offense to score more than one run, all day every day.

      Verlander puts up the Tillman line and the Tigers win, and we’re saying JV dominated. Turn it around and we’re talking about blame, some of it a bit displaced, mayhap. Give Tillman credit. 4 of 5 starters (yes, even Norris) have done pretty well against the Tigers, but Tillman was able to stay out there longer and keep it going. Sure, a bench that goes 0 for 9 helps that cause. But I wouldn’t overrate it.

  17. Jim EggersUSMC

    April 8, 2014 at 2:58 am

    Just saw the clip of Omar Infante getting drilled in the face, hope he is OK. Was at a clinic for 10-12 year old ball players Saturday, and the High School coach (old friend) asked me to speak about the “fear” of the ball. Lots of parents came up and said that is their biggest fear, and the toughest thing to talk with their sons about.

    • StorminNorman$

      April 8, 2014 at 9:53 am

      i’ve always thought giving two bases (for batter and any base runners) for HBP might mitigate ‘some’ of the ‘plunking’ that occasionally goes on… granted in a blowout, that policy would have little effect.

      …and now w/replay they could review whether the batter intentionally leaned into (tried to get hit with) that inside 81 mph curve ball…or not

      • Smoking Loon

        April 8, 2014 at 8:22 pm

        I could go along with draconian measures against intentional plunking – for instance, pitcher *and* catcher *and* manager are ejected, and batter and any runners take two bases (hey, maybe the guy on 3B could score and then go back to 1B). Otherwise, I can accept the high and tight pitch or the leaning in as part of the game.

  18. Coleman

    April 8, 2014 at 10:56 am

    • StorminNorman$

      April 8, 2014 at 5:07 pm

      I guess technically its a potential criminal/legal issue that indirectly involves DET’s bullpen. Personally, I think a bullpen minus Reed (and possibly another DET relief pitcher or two) might be an improvement. – Interesting quote from Reed re: opening day ‘It’s the first time I woke up before my alarm and I’m not tired.’ –the day after the alleged assault

      • Smoking Loon

        April 8, 2014 at 7:41 pm

        Ouch. An off-the-field issue to cloud things, uglier than most. Didn’t need that.

        • Vince in MN

          April 8, 2014 at 8:24 pm

          Perhaps Reed, “Knuckles” Laird, and “Gas Can” Urbina could stage a cage match during the 7th inning stretch. Any other living Tigers (or ex-) you would like to invite?

          • Smoking Loon

            April 8, 2014 at 8:59 pm

            Yeah, they’re not necessarily nice guys. But they could do me a favor and save the criminality, or at least the exceedingly poor judgment, for when their baseball careers are over. I don’t want to be distracted by their humanity unless it’s positive. Let me enjoy the sport.