Game 2014: 30 Astros 6, Tigers 2

20-9. That sure looks nice in print, doesn’t it? A lot better than, say, 21-10.  Either way, the Tigers remain the last team in baseball with single-digit losses, and try to keep that going when they finish off their 4-game Houston series this afternoon in Detroit. (There are also no teams with 10 losses. Or 11. Or 12). Sweeping any team in a 4-game series is no easy task, whether that team is the 2014 Houston Astros or 2003 Tigers or whomever. Enjoy it now, though, it’s only a matter of time before everyone starts proclaiming the Tigers as the Best Team in Baseball, to be followed by a losing streak, because That’s Baseball.

Detroit also leads the American League in hitting, with a .285 team batting average, and a .772 team OPS. It’s still early to proclaim them a great offense, but it’s worth pointing out that they have put up those numbers without much help from Miguel Cabrera, who has a lower OPS than Victor Martinez, Torii Hunter, Austin Jackson, and Rajai Davis (yep). Anyone miss Prince Fielder yet? The Tigers don’t seem to.

I was being tongue-in-cheek of course with the Don Kelly player of the game prediction last night, but he did go 2-for-3 with a walk and a stolen base, and raised his average to .333 in the process. Today I’m all about Rajai Davis. He is moved up to the leadoff spot, where he tends to cause havoc. He stole his 12th base last night, which is the most for any Tiger since Quintin Berry stole 21 in 2012.  Why not Cabrera, you ask? Miguel Cabrera is beginning to be Miguel Cabrera. He hit another home run last night, and is facing a lefty today. Sadly, he is at DH today, where he has been a ho-hum .245 (.719 OPS) hitter for his career.

Looking for another reason to be encouraged today? Today’s pitcher, Drew Smyly, so far has thrown 42% breaking pitches. Since last season, the Astros have hit .185 against left-handed breaking balls, .129 this season (stats courtesy of ESPN).

Today’s Mountain Drew Lineup:

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

66 Comments

  1. Smoking Loon

    May 8, 2014 at 12:31 pm

    Oh! I should have called it! I can’t prove it now, but I saw this lineup coming (I wouldn’t claim to be alone in this). Avila resting was obvious. Worth against a lefty and for various other reasons, check. Hunter probably due for a day off. My indecision there was whether Davis might not get a start in RF. But I was pretty sure they would get J.D. in at least twice this series.

    I was sure wrong about Davis not being a leadoff hitter. Maybe they should keep him there.

    • Smoking Loon

      May 8, 2014 at 6:21 pm

      That Davis is no leadoff hitter. You heard it here first.

  2. Smoking Loon

    May 8, 2014 at 12:47 pm

    http://tinyurl.com/mqzdq4l

    Cabrera’s best game ever as DH, an incredible game all around (August 5 being annual Beat Chris Perez Day).

  3. Smoking Loon

    May 8, 2014 at 1:03 pm

    http://tinyurl.com/kjygx46

    It *was* really close on Miggy’s “bomb.” Didn’t look a home run off the bat, even though Miggy’s reaction suggested that if felt that way. Springer could have really taken the wind out of our sails there. Big turning point in the game and preserving the win streak.

  4. StorminNorman$

    May 8, 2014 at 1:19 pm

    today’s starting pitchers: Smyly and Keuchel were roomies at U of AR

  5. Smoking Loon

    May 8, 2014 at 1:23 pm

    Springer in RF comes in hard and dives to take a possible high bloop hit away from Miggy.

  6. Smoking Loon

    May 8, 2014 at 1:39 pm

    Jackson beating out the DP relay is big as Castellanos first-pitch doubles him in. Starters are looking tough, another low-scoring game seems likely.

  7. Smoking Loon

    May 8, 2014 at 1:45 pm

    Hoes’ IF hit (good for him, breaks 0-20) was a sweet play by Worth in the hole, bouncing throw could have gotten him with tag at 1B but V-Mart couldn’t hang on. No big deal, but Miggy makes that play.

  8. jud

    May 8, 2014 at 1:48 pm

    How about Castellanos so far this whole year…numbers other than a higher BA are solid. Good power…knocks in runs..is starting to make better base running decisions….ok defensively…..and best of all seems like his RBIs are at important times..

    • Smoking Loon

      May 8, 2014 at 1:57 pm

      We’ll have to look into why that BA is low. The knocks do always seem to be pretty big, makes the BA seem surprisingly low.

  9. Smoking Loon

    May 8, 2014 at 1:49 pm

    Kinsler hit it hard but they had him played perfectly with Altuve up the middle, ground ball after ground ball for the Tigers, which is what Keuchel does.

  10. jud

    May 8, 2014 at 1:56 pm

    Hunter wouldn’t have caught that…JD got a great jump on it where Hunter has slowed in that area

  11. Smoking Loon

    May 8, 2014 at 1:56 pm

    A couple hard-hit outs against Smyly in the 4th. J.D. Martinez looking pretty good in RF going back for the fly balls in the gap.

  12. jud

    May 8, 2014 at 2:00 pm

    Victor is red hot….how!!!

  13. Coleman

    May 8, 2014 at 2:01 pm

    Victor Martinez now has two consecutive home runs on 0-2 counts. That’s hard to do.

    • Smoking Loon

      May 8, 2014 at 2:12 pm

      True. 6 of 7 this season with 2 strikes, though.

      • Smoking Loon

        May 8, 2014 at 2:33 pm

        Once before in his career (2005) has Martinez hit consecutive HRs on 0-2. Not in consecutive games, though.

        • StorminNorman$

          May 8, 2014 at 3:02 pm

          Martinez is a hitting machine – I’m hoping some of his skills/focus rub off onto some of the younger DET hitters

          • StorminNorman$

            May 8, 2014 at 3:03 pm

            that’s “VMart” not the other Martinez

  14. Smoking Loon

    May 8, 2014 at 2:01 pm

    That’s Victor. Takes two good pitches for strikes from Keuchel and takes number three out to LF. Classic. I saw it coming.

  15. Smoking Loon

    May 8, 2014 at 2:07 pm

    Jackson is out at 1B. I love replay, even when it goes against the Tigers. When the call is good, that is.

  16. jud

    May 8, 2014 at 2:11 pm

    I think that Springer has a great future ahead of him!!!

  17. Smoking Loon

    May 8, 2014 at 2:24 pm

    Crucial at bat there, Altuve vs. Smyly, 2 on 2 out. Altuve wins. Tight strike zone today, lots of borderline pitches not getting the call. Not unfair, but it played a part in this at bat, I think.

  18. jud

    May 8, 2014 at 2:31 pm

    I thought the same thing on the tight strikezone…Unfortunately the Tigers being hackers usually do not benifit from a tight zone…but thats the way it is

    • Smoking Loon

      May 8, 2014 at 2:44 pm

      Castellanos gave us a clue about the low BA in that last AB.

  19. Smoking Loon

    May 8, 2014 at 2:39 pm

    Yeah, I can see taking Smyly out. Steady downward since the 4th.

  20. Smoking Loon

    May 8, 2014 at 2:43 pm

    SWEET! Evan Reed is the double play king. Keep it close, Tigers, please. I don’t want this streak to slip away. Nothing “oh well” about it!

  21. Smoking Loon

    May 8, 2014 at 2:47 pm

    Keuchel is too good. Gonna have to take this one back against the Astros bullpen.

  22. Smoking Loon

    May 8, 2014 at 2:52 pm

    Jeez. Keuchel has Cabrera in his pocket. Where’s that big hit? Cabrera gets one more shot at it, and I’m kinda hoping something happens before that. Miggy’s strikeouts aren’t looking good, like he was actually out pitched.

    I recommend the Astros CHS broadcast.

    • StorminNorman$

      May 8, 2014 at 2:59 pm

      Ashby and Blum (Astros’ announcers) do a respectable job in a pretty difficult situation. Today since Astros are winning and doing pretty well, Ashby and Blum are not forced to continually talk about ‘how well Houston’s minor league players/teams are doing’

      • jud

        May 8, 2014 at 3:14 pm

        Not only is Houston the youngest team in the MLB…but they also have 8 of the top 75 prospects in baseball in their system

        • Smoking Loon

          May 8, 2014 at 3:44 pm

          The Astros broadcast also features better stats that I’ve ever seen on FSD.

  23. Smoking Loon

    May 8, 2014 at 2:59 pm

    Good time for some come for behind.

  24. Smoking Loon

    May 8, 2014 at 3:06 pm

    Spotlight on Nick. For the game, now. Nice hit, Austin. Victor. Now let’s go.

  25. Smoking Loon

    May 8, 2014 at 3:11 pm

    Crap ABs for J.D. and Nick. Nice job Austin to keep it alive breaking up the DP. Torii, well, he was 0-6 against Keuchel last season, had hopes anyway. Another turning point goes in Houston’s favor. Running out of chances. Keep it close, that’s all I ask.

  26. Smoking Loon

    May 8, 2014 at 3:20 pm

    What’s the optimism level here? Going into the bottom 8th, mine’s kind of flagging. Making it 9 in a row with a come from behind would be huge.

  27. Smoking Loon

    May 8, 2014 at 3:20 pm

    Man, get Keuchel out of there, please.

    • jud

      May 8, 2014 at 3:24 pm

      He is very very good today!

  28. jud

    May 8, 2014 at 3:22 pm

    Hey Brad..why would you PH for Holaday when you would never ever ever ever PH for Avila???

    • Smoking Loon

      May 8, 2014 at 4:14 pm

      Well, pinch-hitting for the catcher is always a bit dicey, positionally speaking. This situation with Holaday was a favorable one to do it in. Hunter is the obvious choice today, 0-6 against Keuchel or not. Romine, Kelly, Avila, all obvious nots. But… Holaday batting (bunt, anyone?) might have been the gutsier and more interesting call. And he can poke a hit. Anyway, turned out to be last call for Tigers offense.

      The wheels came off for Smyly, unfortunately. Lasting longer would have improved the odds for Detroit.

      31 groundball outs for the Tigers vs. Cosart and Keuchel. Aside from the 11-4 game, not a real good hitting series for the Tigers. Pitching had to carry this series, and today it just didn’t, though it could have and probably should have. I’m blaming Smyly.

  29. Smoking Loon

    May 8, 2014 at 3:26 pm

    Tie game on one swing coming up, would sure make tipping the cap to Keuchel feel better.

    • Smoking Loon

      May 8, 2014 at 3:29 pm

      Ugh.

  30. jud

    May 8, 2014 at 3:26 pm

    Keuchel has handled Cabrerra easily today.. why would you take him out???

    • Smoking Loon

      May 8, 2014 at 3:55 pm

      To let the next guy handle him easily. Sharing is caring.

  31. jud

    May 8, 2014 at 3:28 pm

    Ya I am not a fan of hat tipping, but today I tip it to Keuchel!!

  32. jud

    May 8, 2014 at 3:31 pm

    Hey Brad get out that fancy college notebook of yours.
    1. Find the Cabrerra page
    2. Look up Cabrerras DH numbers
    3. circle that page and put a tab on it that says…..NEVER DH MIGGY!

    • Smoking Loon

      May 8, 2014 at 3:42 pm

      I wouldn’t mind if the approach to getting V-Mart some time at 1B was to start Cabrera at 3B in those games. Compensate for Castellanos with J.D. – they’re quite similar. Good when they’re good, gone fishing when they’re not.

      • jud

        May 8, 2014 at 3:50 pm

        Agree!

  33. Smoking Loon

    May 8, 2014 at 3:36 pm

    OK, it’s over. Thanks, Miller.

    • Vince in MN

      May 8, 2014 at 3:40 pm

      Right-handed Phil Coke. The question now is who replaces him on the roster.

      • Smoking Loon

        May 8, 2014 at 3:49 pm

        Before the bomb, I was going to say that Miiler looks here to stay, not because he’s so good, but because he’s that mop-up guy, eat a couple-three innings guy that maybe Putkonen isn’t. But I guess you’d expect Putkonen to come back in and replace him now. The Coke thing appears to be on hold, and at this point you’d have to to expect to see Coke again some time soon. Might as well have been today.

        • Vince in MN

          May 8, 2014 at 4:20 pm

          Putkonen just started his rehab assignment yesterday, so he will not be Miller’s imminent replacement. Ortega hasn’t been gone long enough to return. Maybe Mercedes, who is the only other reliever on the 40-man roster. Amazing how bare the cupboard is. Coke, by default, stays on. It looks like his role will be the guy that comes in only when the rest of the bullpen needs a rest or the game is so far gone not to warrant the use of anybody else.

          • Smoking Loon

            May 8, 2014 at 4:22 pm

            Any opinion on what it will take for the last straw to be seen as the last straw for Coke?

            • Smoking Loon

              May 8, 2014 at 4:25 pm

              Yes, Putkonen won’t replace Miller right away, though I’m sure he could. Rehab times from fictitious injuries may vary.

            • Vince in MN

              May 8, 2014 at 4:32 pm

              Given the paucity of relief help avaiIable in the minors, I think the last straw will only be reached when a legitimate relief pitcher is found, which most likely can be done only through a trade. Good luck with that at this point in the season. Coke might be the 25th man for quite some time. I can live with that as long as he doesn’t pitch except in extreme situations as noted above. However, it is a pretty sad commentary on the state of Tigers bullpen staffs across the whole system when potential legit replacements are a year or two away.

          • Vince in MN

            May 8, 2014 at 4:24 pm

            Valdez and Crosby are on the 40-man, but neither is a realistic option at this point.

            • Smoking Loon

              May 8, 2014 at 4:26 pm

              But Miller and Putkonen are (sad to say). Can’t this push Coke off the plank?

              • Vince in MN

                May 8, 2014 at 4:36 pm

                Probably Coke hangs on with the help of a left-handed fingernail.

              • Smoking Loon

                May 8, 2014 at 4:47 pm

                But the suspense is killing us. What is it they can’t replace? I’m sure Mercedes or Hardy or Robertson or Ortega or anyone could manage a 9.32 ERA. Maybe it’s the 4.93 FIP that’s precious and irreplaceable. It’s well-known how he’s doing against LHB, so…

                Whatever it is, a pitcher shouldn’t be your 25th man (though Putkonen seemed to fit that category before they finally brought him into a game). How can any bullpen afford a guy you don’t want to use?

              • Vince in MN

                May 8, 2014 at 5:19 pm

                I agree. Fact is, with a starting 5 that regularly gives you 6 IP, I don’t think you need a 12-man staff and could do better with an extra bench guy. That probably won’t happen though.

                Coke may have veteran value (?!). In other words, if you just dump him, somebody else will likely take a flyer on him (and that 1.9M investment goes poof). If that is true, then perhaps he is tradeable. Of course he would only be tradeable by improving his stats. The problem there is that if he improves, the temptation, based on the rationale that he has returned to veteran form, would be to keep him, because LOOGY.

              • Smoking Loon

                May 8, 2014 at 6:19 pm

                Yes.

                I don’t suppose we need to get too wrapped up in the Coke thing. Or anything. It’s all going fairly well. You have go back to April 23 for the last time a game was in hand and then lost from a bullpen collapse.

                30 games and really thumped only once. Pretty good.

                I joked about Cabrera’s inconsistency, but game to game… still kinda makes you wonder. Isn’t he supposed to go on a rampage some time soon?

  34. jud

    May 8, 2014 at 3:38 pm

    At least the streak ends with the other team playing very well,!..I think the Tigers were confused and thought they were the get away team!… oh well…new streak starts tomorrow

  35. Jim EggersUSMC

    May 8, 2014 at 3:39 pm

    dang! that was not a cheapie, and we now need a grand slam to win this thing! C’mon, lets get it done!

  36. jud

    May 8, 2014 at 3:43 pm

    Keuchel used the same formula that is usually successful against the Tigets…throw a lot of off speed and do not throw many strikes…usually works and did today!

  37. Smoking Loon

    May 8, 2014 at 4:20 pm

    Worth did a fine job at SS today. I think the Tigers are all set with Romine and Worth.

  38. Smoking Loon

    May 8, 2014 at 4:39 pm

    20-10 is something of a miracle with a bullpen this bad, but it still doesn’t look right. -10 can only look good if there’s a 30 or better in front of it.

    Having won only 8 of their last 9, the Tigers stink. That’s how a loss like this feels.