Game 2014.52: Tigers 2, Mariners 3

31-20, 1st place, 6 games up.

Two things caught my eye this morning as I read the papers (well, through the internet, on my cell phone).

1) VMart may have had one of the best at bats of his career yesterday. It looked good watching it, but think about this. He gets up 2-0, then watches 2 called strikes go by. He follows by fouling off 5 straight pitches, before ripping the 10th into the RF stands. Considering it effectively put the game away off of a Cy Young candidate (against all teams, not just the Tigers), it really was an incredible at bat.

2) Ausmus said after the game that Verlander’s velocity was up from the start of the game. I didn’t remember that, so I went back and checked. It was. 95 in the first inning, and he touched 98 in the 6th. This is HUGE. Really happy about that.

Tonight’s if it ain’t broke don’t change it series winning? lineup.

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

I’ll be checking in late. Talk to you guys then.

Game 2014.51: Tigers 6, Mariners 3

Hello win my old friend. I’ve come to talk with you again. Don’t ever disappear like that on us again. Ever.

Quick standings update:

Det  30-20   —
Chi  28-27   4.5
KC 25-28     6.5
Min 24-27   6.5
Cle   24-30   8.0

Well, the Tigers took 2 out of the last 3 from Oakland, and were perhaps a Castellanos catch away from taking the series. Considering how we had been playing, and the circumstances (best team in the AL on the road), I was very pleased with our last 3 games. That said, you have to wonder about Joe Nathan. Nathan is on pace for the worst year of his career; because even if he pitches perfectly from here on out, he’s already surpassed his 2013 HR allowed and blown save totals. Let that soak in.

Justin Verlander climbs the hill tonight. Rumor is that he used to be a dominating ace, though this last few starts have looked more like Dontrelle Willis than even a middle of the rotation pitcher. If he allows less than 8 baserunners tonight, that will be the first time he’s done that since his second start of the season. EIGHT. Let that soak in.

The Tigers face Hisashi Iwakuma tonight. Cano is out with an illness.

1. Kinsler, 2B
2. Hunter, RF
3. Cabrera, 1B
4. Martinez, DH
5. Jackson, CF
6. Avila, C
7. Castellanos, 3B
8. Romine, SS
9. Davis, LF (guess he’s not injured anymore.


That was about as clean as a win as you could ask for, unless, of course, you have JV on your weak hitting fantasy baseball team (it’s a sim league). In which case there is a huge difference between 2 and 3 earned runs. And that 3rd earned run is a tough one to swallow, resulting from Krol’s wild pitch and then a double off of Krol. I don’t know what it is, but 8 IP and 2 ER allowed seems like a dominating performance. 7 2/3 and 3 ER allowed, meh. Verlander did allow only 7 baserunners (there was one HBP), which resulted in his second game of the season with a WHIP less than 1.


Game 2014.50: Tigers 5, A’s 4

The Tigers lost a golden opportunity last night to take a road series against the team with the best record in the league. With the quick turnaround to the day game today, we will see what they are made of.

Anibal Sanchez was simply great last night. I was hoping they would still leave him in after the opposite field squink of a double that Coco Crisp hit, but I suspect that Anibal let Brad know he was done. Points to BA for giving him the chance to start the 9th. Anyway, at this moment, he is the best starting pitcher on the staff.

Nathan looked awful, almost sailing two consecutive pitches over Avila’s head, and then later serving up a walk off. Castellanos didn’t help any by mispronouncing a line drive right off his glove into left field. And it would have helped to score another run or two.

Nathan didn’t waste any time throwing Castellanos under the bus after the game: “The big out there was getting Jaso,” Nathan said. “You get him and it changes everything, it gives me a chance to play with (Donaldson) a little bit.”

The crew has one more shot at the A’s today. No sleep ’till Seattle!


Considering how this series started, a split looks pretty good. Ricky looked pretty good today also, allowing one to hope that maybe he really is for real this season. The A’s are a legit scoring offense, they do lead the league in runs scored.

Nathan, on the other hand. Well here’s a scenario for you to mull over as the Tigers ride their bicycles north to Seattle. Alburquerque and Chamberlain have been pretty good lately; maybe they turn into a strong 7-8 inning combo. And when Hanrahan is ready to make his comeback, maybe he is good (and maybe he isn’t). But if he IS, and Nathan continues to pitch like he has been pitching…well, that creates an interesting scenario, doesn’t it?

Game 2014.49: A’s 3, Tigers 1

It would have been enough for me last night for the Tigers to just play a competitive game, and keep Oakland under 10 runs; that’s how bad things had gotten. But the Tigers did more, much more, and got a quality win against a quality team: Oakland leads the AL in both runs scored and fewest runs given up, which is a pretty good recipe for success.

Max Scherzer wasn’t great last night (although the did have some great moments), but he kept the Tigers in the game. The hitters put up 4 runs against a very tough Sonny Gray, led by Cabrera, Avila, and J.D. Martinez, who is quietly making a case for playing time. If 4 runs doesn’t sound like a lot, it should be pointed out that’s that most that has been plated against Gray so far this season.

The real fun started in the 7th though, when Hunter hit a massive (410 ft.) shot to dead center to tie the game. In the bottom of the inning Krol walked the leadoff hitter on 4 pitches, Ausmus yanked him, and from that point on the bullpen shut down the A’s.

Still, Detroit needed a run and that came at the hands feet of Rajai Davis. After Castellanos walked as a pinch-hitter (his 6th walk in 4 games!), Ausmus put Davis in to pinch-run. He promptly scooted to second on a passed ball, and then daringly stole 3rd while the catcher was throwing the ball back to the pitcher, and scored on a grounder to short when Jackson beat out the double-play attempt to first.

The stunned A’s announcers picked ex-A Rajai Davis as the Player of the Game.

The bullpen did the rest, with Kevin in Dallas nervously counting down the last 6 outs. It was a needed win, and a good one, and one won in a way the Tigers didn’t win games last season.

Davis gets a start today, as Austin Jackson sits against a lefty he has never managed to hit (3-for-14). In center, which could possibly be an adventure.

Anibal “Only Good Starter Last Week” Sanchez takes the mound against Scott Kazmir.  Look for Victor Martinez for the big hits (11-for-23 against Kazmir). Oh, and I’ll just throw this out there: Victor Martinez never takes an at bat off. Even in 10-0 games.

If you missed Vince in MN’s link, Suarez has been impressing people. More fun and excitement may be had at the shortstop position in the near future.

Tonight’s Never-Before-Used Lineup:

  1. Davis, CF
  2. Kinsler, 2B
  3. Cabrera, 1B
  4. V Martinez, DH
  5. Hunter, RF
  6. JD Martinez, LF
  7. Avila, C
  8. Castellanos, 3B
  9. Worth, SS

I jinxed Romine yesterday by mentioning his 4-game hitting streak, so now Danny gets a chance to show his worth.


Damn. Best start by any Tiger this year. That one hurt.

Game 2014.48: Tigers 6, A’s 5

Well down your lattes, slap your own cheeks, and prepare for a 10:05 spectacular (except for those of you not in the Eastern time zone, which is, actually, probably, a majority of you).

The Tigers have been plagued with facing Cy Whoever lately, but tonight, at least, they get a legitimate Cy Young candidate in Young Sonny Gray (pardon the redundancy), the 24-yr old with the 1.99 ERA and the 5-1 record. Let’s take a moment to pre-tip the cap to Sonny Boy, but that’s no reason we have to give up double-digits again. We need a chance to back off the ledge here, so, no matter what happens with Sonny, let’s keep these guys to single digits tonight, okay? We don’t need to win tonight, but we can’t have another massacre.

The Tigers are all about Team Unity right now: they wear matching Zubaz, their pitching–even the celebrated Starting Pitching–has been awful, and the bats are in tune, making average pitchers seem like Cy Young. We’ve seen this before, and every team sees it at some point every season. But didn’t it just rankle you a little bit when, shut down by Random Rookie Guy or Bruce Chen or Whoever,  Jim Leyland would start his post game comments with “you’ve got to tip your cap to Random Rookie Guy…?” Right?

Well it looks like it bothered Legendary Lloyd a bit too. McClendon’s Mariners were shut down by Houston’s Dallas Keuchel (remember him? he went all Cy Young on the Tigers on May 8). Lloyd was NOT about to cap-tip: “I saw average stuff,” he said. “We didn’t swing the bats very good. At some point, you’ve got to stop giving credit to average pitchers. That becomes a broken record. At some point, we’ve got to start swinging the bats.” Lloyd’s getting some blowback for that one, but I find it refreshing. By all means, tip your cap to Sonny tonight if he shuts us down, but it’s not ALWAYS good pitching.

What we really need is a Zubaz bonfire. I mean the stuff became popular in the early 90s in professional wrestling circles (red flag!). I don’t really believe in an actual Zubaz Curse, but I do think there is a symbolic aspect worth contemplating. I appreciate the team-unity aspect of the Zubaz-flaunting. But other than the hideous patterns of the stuff, the big selling point of Zubaz is the comfort. Thus the symbolic aspect: did the team get too comfortable, too early? Burn it.

Also, a sacrificial lamp wouldn’t hurt (tip of the cap to Jud). It’s very cool that Ausmus is all cerebral and whatnot, but that would make it even more effective were he to smash a lamp in the clubhouse. And wear the lampshade in the dugout.

Well, we can make our suggestions here, but they mostly float into the ether like the smoke from a Leyland Marlboro. What we CAN do though, is choose appropriate nicknames, and I’m not feeling it for “Smokey Jr.” Ol’ Smokey was perfect for Leyland, but Ausmus is just not a Leyland Jr. to me (among other things, the lineup shakeup yesterday was very un-Leyland-like). This may be a trial-and-error thing, but I’m going to throw this one out there to start: Ol’ Smarty.

Tonight’s Ol’ Smarty’s Slump-busting Lineup:

  1. Kinsler, 2B
  2. Hunter, RF
  3. Cabrera, 1B
  4. V Martinez, DH
  5. JD Martinez, LF
  6. Kelly, 3B
  7. Jackson, CF
  8. Avila, C
  9. Romine, SS

Andrew Romine now has a 4-game hitting streak.

Game 2014.47: A’s 10, Tigers 0

This afternoon the Tigers begin a 7-game road trip to the dreaded West Coast: dreaded because of the travel, but also because those of us on the East Coast are treated to games that begin after 10 pm. Today is an exception, a rare day game to start off the trip, without a day off for travel.

Speaking of which, by the time the Tigers finish this trip they will have played 17 straight games without a day off, including a trip to the West Coast for a day game, and a Zubaz-clad flight-delayed morning on the way to Cleveland. Previous to that they played 13 straight, giving them only two games off and two coastal road trips in the month of May.

Could their current struggles simply be the result of fatigue?

Below are the days/times (in EST) and projected starters for the road trip:

Tigers at A’s

Monday       May 26 – 4:05     Drew Smyly vs Tommy Milone (L)

Tuesday      May 27 – 10:05    Max Scherzer vs Sonny Gray

Wednesday  May 28 – 10:05   Anibal Sanchez vs Scott Kazmir (L)

Thursday     May 27 – 3:35      Rick Porcello vs Jess Chavez

Tigers at Mariners

Friday      May 30 – 10:10     Justin Verlander vs Hisashi Iwakuma

Saturday  May 31 – 10:10     Drew Smyly vs Chris Young

Sunday     June 1 – 4:10       Max Scherzer vs Roenis Elias (L)

The should not be an easy trip, considering that the A’s may have leapfrogged Detroit as the best American League team after its collapses against Cleveland and Texas. Oh wait, Oakland has lost 4 in a row themselves. What kind of way is that for two teams to head into a best-in-the-league showdown?

At least Oakland’s games were close; Detroit lost by a combined 35-15 against Texas. Oakland has been beating up on teams this year and has a run differential of +90, which is best in MLB by a lot (the Angels are 2nd best at +47). Some of those teams Oakland has beat up on have been the Central teams: Oakland has a 9-3 record so far against the Central Division. But they have yet to play the class of the division, which is Detroit. Right?

Today’s Memorial Day Shake-Up Lineup:

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

Jackson batting 2nd, as some of us here suggested trying. Didn’t see Worth at 2B coming–Kinsler has been Detroit’s hottest hitter and is hitting .308 career against Milone. Then again, Kinsler hasn’t had a day off yet this season.

Hope everyone has a great Memorial Day, and a big thank you to all the men and women who have given their lives for our country, and their families.



Game 2014.46: Rangers 12, Tigers 4

The Detroit Tigers (28-17, 1st place Central, 1st place AL – still) can still salvage a split with the Texas Rangers (24-25, 4th place West, 11th place AL) before heading out on the road again after this brief “homestand,” and that would be a good idea, because the trip is to the West Coast. Trouble. M-O-O-N, that spells trouble. Laws, yes. Texas sends out Colby Lewis, and the Tigers counter with Justin Verlander. I have no comment on the expected pitch count for JV through 5.

Corey Knebel does have quite the curveball, and Danny Worth quite the knuckleball, but neither are ready to crack the bullpen, as was amply demonstrated mere hours ago. Andrew Romine is looking more comfortable and less pathetic at the plate. That’s nice. Meanwhile, the Rangers have to be encouraged by how their “team of scrubs” is handling Detroit.

So… the Tigers have lost 5 of their last 6, and they’ve had their donkeys (or mules, or whatever) handed to them in three of those losses. I mean, really. Beatdowns. There has been admirable restraint here. No one calling for team meetings or an Ausmus rampage behind closed doors. The team just has to play better, pitch better, and also pitch better, not to mention play better, or the losses will continue to pile up, however many Tigers hitters might be in the AL Top 10. It’s that simple.

Game 2014.45: Rangers 12, Tigers 2

The series now even-IngeBasher, the Tigers (28-16, 1st place Central, 1st place AL) seek the advantage over Texas (23-25, 4th place West. 11th place AL)) in a game to be broadcast throughout the solar system, with Nick “Don’t Call Me Cy” Martinez on the mound for the Rangers and Rick “Don’t Call Me Frederick Alfred” Porcello for the Detroit. Yes, the Detroit. I left that in there because it looks so stupid. Anyway, I wish I could be of one mind on W-L records for pitchers, because I really do think that they’re practically meaningless, but still feel that great ones are cool, so I’ll feel as dazed and delighted as you will if Porcello can push it to 8-1 today. You may recall that Rick was stellar against Texas (at Arlington) last season in salvaging one win in an otherwise dismal series.

I recall a discussion this past offseason or the one before about players likely to be on the hot seat for criticism. This season has been such a success that there has been nothing on the Inge, Sheffield, or Renteria level, nothing close. Nor even the like of the Cold V-Mart impatience or the Fielder murmurs of 2013. (I’m sorry, but I can’t take the occasional scathing critique of Ausmus as more than venting in frustration. I think he’s been flat-out brilliant.) But the favored whipping boys on a more subdued level have clearly been Phil Coke, Alex Avila, and more recently Andrew SombreRomine (trademark Coleman). Now that the Bullpen As A Whole has essentially redeemed itself, that is. Wouldn’t you know it, Avila has really been swinging a better stick lately, and Romine just hit a HR. Which leaves us with Phil Coke.

On the positive side… well, we’re not really raving about anyone, are we? It’s hard to miss the more eye-popping stats of Victor Martinez and Miguel Cabrera (who has been on an absolute tear that is somehow flying a bit under the radar), and we recognize them, but the most fearsome 3-4 combo in baseball has been taken for granted to some extent. Even before the recent four-game blemish, I think the starting pitching had been… a little lot taken for granted. Could be a side effect of success. Team success. But Max Scherzer, Rick Porcello, Ian Kinsler, Rajai Davis, and Torii Hunter can be added to the list of those who deserve a little more raving about. Adding any of the bullpen guys to that list is probably tempting fate, so I’ll wait.

Speaking of tempting fate, I tempt the Tigers to make a monkey out of me by losing after I’ve said it, but my, what a fun team to watch.  2011, 2012, 2013, 2014. You wouldn’t think it could keep getting better, but it does.

Game 2014.44: Tigers 7, Rangers 2

Down a game in the series, Detroit (27-16, 1st place Central, 2nd place AL) is back at it against Texas (23-24, 3rd place West, 10th place AL), with Anibal Sanchez (who has fared poorly v. the Rangers) facing Scott Baker.

Reliever Corey Knebel is called up from Toledo – talk about a fast track to the majors – while starter Robbie Ray returns there to work on his curveball. Luke Putkonen (on the DL) will not require surgery, but the rehab path looks to be slow and uncertain for him. Meanwhile, injury-riddled Texas has been dealt a couple more blows with the loss of Prince Fielder for the season and the same possibility facing them regarding Jurickson Profar, not to mention OF David Robertson’s injury Thursday.

The silver lining in Thursday’s 9-2 drubbing by the Rangers would seem to be the revelation of Danny Worth’s knuckleball. A clean inning from any Tigers pitcher is something of a novelty these days, so welcome to the pen, Danny. Four straight losses and four straight collapses of the team’s greatest strength leave you wondering how long this can go on. Rough stretch, but 6-4 on a rollercoaster still beats a 5-5 of one step forward, one step back, doesn’t it? That six-game ride was fun. Let’s get back there.


Game 2014.43: Rangers 9, Tigers 2

The Texas Rangers (22-24, 4th in the West, 11th in AL) visit the Detroit Tigers (27-15, 1st in the Central, 2nd in AL) for four games (1 PM, 7 PM, 4 PM, 1 PM), Yu Darvish against Robbie Ray in the first one Thursday.

SS Eugenio Suarez has been promoted to AAA Toledo. Rick Porcello (left side soreness that bothered him last two starts and delayed this one) should be ready to face the Rangers on Saturday. Prince Fielder will miss the beginning of the Tigers series and may not play at all.

Game 2014.42: Tigers 10, Indians 11

Really bad outing by Verlander yesterday, its going to happen. I thought that Vince in MN had a great point regarding Verlander’s transition into a finesse pitcher. If you need any more evidence than what you’re watching, check out his K and BB rates. His K rate this year is a 6.7/9, the lowest it has been in 8 years. Only his rookie year had a lower K rate (6.0). Meanwhile, his walk rate has been jumping at an alarming rate over the past two years, as he struggles to put away hitters with dominant stuff. This season it is a 3.7/9, which is the highest since it was 3.9 in 2008 (when he went 11-17). I think it make sense that he’s walking more as he tries to pitch around some hitters rather than through them.

He’s still one of the best, and he’ll get it sorted out.

Not a lot of time to dwell on it, as first pitch is less than an hour away.

Today’s Let’s Not Get Swept By the Indians Lineup:

1. Rajai Davis, LF
2. Ian Kinsler, 2B
3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
4. Victor Martinez, DH
5. J.D. Martinez, RF
6. Austin Jackson, CF
7. Nick Castellanos, 3B
8. Bryan Holaday, C
9. Danny Worth, SS


The entire game was a long drawn out kick to the groin. Can’t get out of there fast enough. Some pitching tomorrow would be a welcome sight.

We’ll likely have another dozen or two games just like this throughout the remainder of the season. It’s every true fan’s curse.

Game 2014.41: Tigers 2, Indians 6

You know, as you peruse through the AL stats leaderboard and notice that Miguel Cabrera is 2nd in the AL in batting at .325, behind some old guy, 2nd in the AL in RBI, 5th in XBH and 8th in TB, you may forget that the Tigers have played an average of 5 games less than everyone, which equates to 20+ PAs for Miggy.

Last night’s game as about as exciting as one can get where you lose to the Indians in extra innings. Starting pitching was bad, Coke was bad, yet the Tigers were in a great spot to win in the late innings.

In other news –

– Romine/Worth here to stay. Drew wasn’t really discussed, says Brad Ausmus.

– No word on whether Joba owns Zubaz stock. Since Miggy is wearing the t-shirt: have fun.

Gotta win tonight if we want to take the series.

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