Game 2014: 37 Tigers 1, Red Sox 0

The Tigers continue their East Coast road trip with a 3-game sweep of Baltimore under their belts, and an 8-game road win streak, their longest since 1984 (good luck catching that one: 17).

Going into Fenway comes with its perks, and the Tigers will be showing on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball, which is a treat for those of us who normally watch the games via laptop. On the downside, the series is being inevitably plugged as a rematch of that ALCS some of us would like to forget, and the promos all feature that Ortiz blast that makes us feel whatever the opposite of warm and fuzzy is.

Here is the series schedule; Anibal Sanchez is scheduled to make his comeback on Sunday night.

Tigers (24-12) at Red Sox (20-20)

Friday        May 16    7:10     Max Scherzer vs John Lester (L)

Saturday    May 17    7:10     Rick Porcello vs John Lackey

Sunday      May 18    8:00     Anibal Sanchez vs Jake Peavy

Boston, at .500, might not look like quite the same team that handled Detroit in the ALCS (although it is worth noting that Boston was only 23-17 at this point last season).  The Red Sox are also only 10-11 at Fenway, and 3-3 against the AL Central, having just lost 2-of-3 to the Twins. One difference so far for Boston has been less offense. Last year’s league leader in team OPS (.795) is currently 7th at .721. Perhaps they are missing Jacoby Ellsbury more than anticipated.

Tonight Max Scherzer (5-1, 2.04) takes on lefty Jon Lester (4-4, 2.75).  Before the Tigers get too excited about getting a rare shot against a lefty, they might want to check out Lester’s 2014 splits: right hand batters are only hitting him for .220 this season (.617 OPS).

One guy who is probably looking forward to facing Lester is Miguel Cabrera, who is hitting over .500 against him (10-for-19). On the other side, Boston’s big man is certainly not phased by Max: 7-for-15, with 3 HRs. This game may hinge on the battle of the big men.

Game time weather forecast: 64 with 30% chance of rain. At the moment (4:15) rain is 100% likely at the park.

In other news, Putty Time is on hold. Luke Putkonen’s rehab assignment has been halted, and he and his elbow are off to see Dr. James Andrews. Could Putkonen by joining this season’s Tommy Johnapalooza?

Tonight’s Green Monster-Bashing Lineup:

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

Postgame

OK, so there wasn’t much bashing going on last night. When Torii Hunter drove in a run with a clutch 2-out single in the first, it looked like the game was off to a good start, but in fact the scoring was all done for the day. Max was great (as was Lester), the bullpen held–again–and here we are with a 4-game winning streak and a 6 1/2 game lead.

Thumbs Up

  • Torii Hunter, for the 2-out single that turned out to be the game-winner
  • The Tiger Bullpen (Reed, Krol, Chamberlain, Nathan). The bullpen is still yet to give up its first run on this road trip.
  • Max Scherzer. He struck them out when he needed to (7), and got the double play when he needed to. Ausmus after the game “This might have been the best his stuff has been all year, really.”
  • The Tiger infield. Three double plays killed Red Sox rallies.

Thumbs Down

  • The weather. Max struck out the side in the bottom of the 3rd, and looked unhittable. Then the rain started, and it looked like some of that Fenway bad luck. Luckily it only lasted 45 minutes, and didn’t seem to throw Scherzer off his game.
  • Evan Reed. It might seem picky when the bullpen is doing so well, but starting an appearance with a balk and a hit batter is not what we were looking for. I could throw in Alex Avila and the strike zone, which drew some comments, but two thumbs down is enough–the Tigers won!

85 Comments

  1. Vince in MN

    May 16, 2014 at 6:02 pm

    Hey Jud:
    “It really didn’t matter who was going to pitch,” Ausmus said. “Alex had two days off. He was going to play.”

    He has relented and written Worth onto the lineup card though.

  2. Vince in MN

    May 16, 2014 at 6:14 pm

    Outkonen’s injury perhaps legit?
    http://beck.mlblogs.com/2014/0.....r-andrews/
    Cynical us.

    • Coleman

      May 16, 2014 at 6:17 pm

      Outkonen would be an awesome name for a relief pitcher.

      • Vince in MN

        May 16, 2014 at 7:07 pm

        Yeah, but if his injury is really serious, his name might be Outgoen.

        • Smoking Loon

          May 16, 2014 at 9:02 pm

          Very nice.

          This is obviously just a ploy to embarrass me. Either that or the Tigers have paid Outkonen a handsome sum under the table to hurt himself and go away, so as not to cast selecting a guy they never intended to pitch to head north with the team in an unfavorable light.

  3. jud

    May 16, 2014 at 7:27 pm

    How can you bat Avila 7th against a LH PITCHER…HE Should be batting 10th or lower….heres 4 K’s waiting to happen…

    Well heres 1 as I am typing

    • Vince in MN

      May 16, 2014 at 7:30 pm

      Because Smokey Jr. says so.

  4. Vince in MN

    May 16, 2014 at 7:28 pm

    Great decision by Lester to load the bases to pitch to Avila. Even after going 3-0 the percentages were still way in Lester’s favor.

  5. TIGERS RULE

    May 16, 2014 at 7:29 pm

    The umpiring is more pathetic than ever ….. what should have been ball 4 on AA was called a strike ….. wasn’t even close to a strike!

    • Vince in MN

      May 16, 2014 at 7:35 pm

      With rain coming, the umps are probably disposed to get this one in, therefore most likely not a lot of walks tonight. Another good reason to not have the human House By The Side Of The Road in the lineup.

      • Smoking Loon

        May 16, 2014 at 9:03 pm

        True, the 4th pitch call on Avila was a travesty.

  6. Angus

    May 16, 2014 at 7:31 pm

    Great lineup. We will wow them with our ability to strikeout. Maybe JV is available for a pinch hit.

    • Smoking Loon

      May 17, 2014 at 12:14 am

      Well, through 36 Detroit was only striking out 6.39 times a game, pretty darn good. Imagine what it would be without Avila (or Castellanos). But it’s true that Verlander and Sanchez rule the team in OPS, and a shame they don’t get the call to pinch hit more often.

  7. jud

    May 16, 2014 at 7:33 pm

    Wow! Grady Sizemore alive and well..he disappeared for a few years!

    • Vince in MN

      May 16, 2014 at 7:37 pm

      The question is how long he will hold up before he gets injured again.

  8. TIGERS RULE

    May 16, 2014 at 7:35 pm

    This home plate ump is blind as a bat ….. what was easily strike three to Sizemore was called a ball!

    • TIGERS RULE

      May 16, 2014 at 7:38 pm

      This throws “Vince in MN” theory out the window.

  9. jud

    May 16, 2014 at 7:39 pm

    Well with Putkonen out that basically saves Cokes job. ..I really don’t have any problem with Coke being on the team…..as long as he never gets to play!!!

  10. Smoking Loon

    May 16, 2014 at 7:48 pm

    Jesus! This home plate ump is a chump. One strike zone for Lester, another for Scherzer.

    • Vince in MN

      May 16, 2014 at 7:59 pm

      Jeff Nelson. Haven’t we had trouble with him before?

      • Smoking Loon

        May 16, 2014 at 11:29 pm

        Name doesn’t ring a bell, but probably. In light of the whole game, I’d say it wasn’t an unfair strike zone, but a very flexible and generally expansive one. Easily the most inconsistent strike zone I’ve seen all season.

  11. jud

    May 16, 2014 at 7:55 pm

    This ump and Avila go to the same eye doctor… .fact!

  12. Vince in MN

    May 16, 2014 at 8:05 pm

    Well Lester tried to walk Jackson again to get to Avila, but he wouldn’t cooperate.

    • Smoking Loon

      May 16, 2014 at 11:30 pm

      Jackson is sinking like a stone. That defense is strong, though. I’m not being sarcastic.

  13. Angus

    May 16, 2014 at 8:17 pm

    Two for Two. Golden Sombrero????

  14. jud

    May 16, 2014 at 8:20 pm

    Hey Brad somewhere in that fancy Dartmouth notebook of yours it must say Avila is battinfg .050 against LH pitching lifetime!!!…and if you don’t have it in there, put it in!

    • Vince in MN

      May 16, 2014 at 8:26 pm

      See post No. 1.

    • Vince in MN

      May 16, 2014 at 9:08 pm

      Surprisingly, Avila is hitting .292/.320/.500/.820 against LHP so far this year (at game time) in only 25 PA though. I would expect that to go down as the season progresses though. Of course, this begs the question of what is he hitting against RHP- .196/.366/.321/.688. Very ugly, with the exception of OBP because he has gotten a lot of walks. Maybe he should be leading off.

  15. Coleman

    May 16, 2014 at 8:30 pm

    #%^*!

  16. Smoking Loon

    May 16, 2014 at 9:06 pm

    It’s official. Jerry Remy is more difficult to listen to than Rod Allen.

    • Coleman

      May 16, 2014 at 9:12 pm

      Rod’s bad moments are as bad as anyone’s, but he does actually have good moments also. We really don’t have it that bad.

      • Smoking Loon

        May 16, 2014 at 11:59 pm

        With Remy, it’s the voice. Rod’s voice is fine. He’s just not, er, um, verbally dextrous. This is sort of called for in that profession, though the call is frequently not answered. He doesn’t come close to Ron Santo, anyway. That dude was downright painful.

        During the Padres series, Rod was chatting with Dick Enberg. One of Enberg’s suggestions for broadcasters was to learn to write, to be a good writer first. If Rod would take that advice to heart, he would improve, I think. He has interesting anecdotes to offer, at the very least. I’m embarrassed for him when I hear him falling back on the same phrases and harping on the same things game after game after game. I’ll have to go back to FSD for the next two games, unfortunately. I don’t mean to pick on Rod exclusively – Mario is almost too bland for parody himself. (Blandness is hard to parody – how would anyone recognize the parody?)

        It is interesting to catch the “enemy” broadcasts, I must say. Most have been pretty good. They are on a par with our guys – TV and radio – for not being annoying homers. Every series, though, I catch a few or at least one “oh really.” Such as:

        Kinsler is not good defensively, Infante was better
        Valverde came out of retirement last year to pitch for Detroit
        Holaday can’t run

        “That bad” depends on your standards. To me, Dan Dickerson and Jim Price set the standard. I’m afraid that Mario and Rod are, by comparison, fluff in substance and vanilla, white bread in humor. My tastes run to more serious when serious and more silly when silly, I guess. I’m as dull as anyone, but you won’t find me in the middle of the road very often.

  17. joe z

    May 16, 2014 at 10:00 pm

    great moment there, and a well done pitch by max to get the double play ball.

    • Smoking Loon

      May 17, 2014 at 12:21 am

      Yeah. Strong Max there. Not surprised he was allowed to come back out for the 7th, though it didn’t last long.

  18. Smoking Loon

    May 16, 2014 at 10:23 pm

    Rajai is very afraid of walls.

    • Vince in MN

      May 16, 2014 at 11:06 pm

      And his hot start at the bat seems to be petering out.

      • Smoking Loon

        May 16, 2014 at 11:19 pm

        You never know with Davis. He’s the kind of hitter who looks like he’s “not even trying” a lot of the time (and so, to a lesser extent, does Kinsler). Just when you think you’ve had enough, he has a great game or a few good ones.

  19. Brenden

    May 16, 2014 at 10:30 pm

    Great start to the inning with Reed…Balk and Hit by Pitch…

    • Smoking Loon

      May 16, 2014 at 11:21 pm

      But it all ended so happily. The balk call was questionable, to say the least.

    • Coleman

      May 16, 2014 at 11:21 pm

      It was a clever tactic.

      • Smoking Loon

        May 17, 2014 at 12:01 am

        Now that you mention it, yes.

  20. jud

    May 16, 2014 at 10:33 pm

    Here we go blow pen at its best….how about Davis pulling up on that pop up and letting it fall in!!!..he is looking at the stands that are a good 25 feet from him like he is going to run into them so he pulls up

    • Smoking Loon

      May 16, 2014 at 10:48 pm

      You saw it too, eh?

  21. jud

    May 16, 2014 at 10:34 pm

    I vote to put MaX back in!!!

  22. PHToy in HK

    May 16, 2014 at 10:40 pm

    Love the double plays!

  23. Smoking Loon

    May 16, 2014 at 10:41 pm

    There’s a feather in Krol’s cap. After an incredible drought, the Tigers bullpen has gone on a great run of inducing double plays.

  24. jud

    May 16, 2014 at 10:43 pm

    Wow one the TIger killers GIDP ..big time Krol!!

  25. Vince in MN

    May 16, 2014 at 11:05 pm

    3 Ks and tapper to the mound.I guess AA got rusty with his two days off.

    • Smoking Loon

      May 16, 2014 at 11:22 pm

      He looked pretty awful tonight. His takes on some strikes are actually more aggravating than the swings and misses. That defense is strong, though. I’m not being sarcastic.

      • Vince in MN

        May 16, 2014 at 11:27 pm

        Yeah, you can’t have an all-star at every position, but Ausmus should just bat him 9th and try to teach him how to bunt.

        • Smoking Loon

          May 17, 2014 at 12:25 am

          I try to focus on the positive – the game calling, defense, receiving, and the walks – but the recurring annoyance is how he *looks* like he should be a good hitter. His size, his stance, his demeanor, his swing – all these things suggest a real LHB threat at the plate. I guess he is a threat, but not to the other team, so much.

  26. tbran

    May 16, 2014 at 11:06 pm

    Ingvila = Pitcher’s other best friend.

  27. Smoking Loon

    May 16, 2014 at 11:14 pm

    Oh yeah. Outstanding. I’ve been waiting since last October for this one.

  28. Vince in MN

    May 16, 2014 at 11:15 pm

    It’s a joy to see a team with multi-dimentional abilities and ways to win. It’s been a long time.

  29. jud

    May 16, 2014 at 11:17 pm

    The bully actuslly does it…Excellent

    1-0 who’d a thunk it….Max..Reid..Krol..Joba..Nathan……heck ya!!

    • Coleman

      May 16, 2014 at 11:25 pm

      I have Sox fan friends…trust me, the Joba part of the equation has their Fenways in a bunch.

  30. jud

    May 16, 2014 at 11:19 pm

    Avila POG..he could of K 4 times and they only got him 3…obviously the difference in the game!

    • Smoking Loon

      May 16, 2014 at 11:24 pm

      He ran into one in his own special way.

  31. jud

    May 16, 2014 at 11:31 pm

    Baseball reference state Avila is hitting .467 with 0-0 count and .171 with any other count!!!. …I thought The. 171 WAS A LITTLE HIGH!

    • Smoking Loon

      May 17, 2014 at 12:04 am

      Hey! Who told you you could go to baseball-reference.com yourself? Coleman! I declare this man way out of bounds!

      • Smoking Loon

        May 17, 2014 at 12:06 am

        Seriously, that’s amazing. 7 of Avila’s 18 hits are on first pitches. I also note that he has yet to strike out on the first pitch.

  32. jud

    May 17, 2014 at 12:17 am

    Actually I went baseball reference cause I didn’t believe you guys about the Avila hitting .292 against LH P…then I saw the .467…i will not infringe on the research dept again…promise….not my job!!……lost my head for a second!…AA will do that too you!

    • Smoking Loon

      May 17, 2014 at 12:33 am

      Well, the .292 came from Vince, another violator, but I suppose we can allow you guys to go look up Avila stats on your own. We’ll take it slow. If all goes well, we’ll discuss allowing you to branch out.

  33. Kevin in Dallas

    May 17, 2014 at 12:30 am

    Tonight’s game, and Saturday’s game are on MLB Network. ESPN on Sunday.

    12 straight scoreless innings for the bullpen. This team is freaking good.

    • Smoking Loon

      May 17, 2014 at 12:34 am

      Good stat. Didn’t realize that. How easily traumatized we are, or I am.

    • Jim EggersUSMC

      May 17, 2014 at 2:20 am

      I got the Rangers -Blue Jays WHY!!! So, had to enjoy an evening with Ms. Watney, splendid in Blue Velvet. Did not need my Oxygen mask…..

      Looking forward to the weekend—- lets get em 2 times!!!

      • Coleman

        May 17, 2014 at 11:59 am

        Hopefully you don’t get stuck with Orioles-Royals tonight! Tip of the cap for the Blue Velvet reference.

  34. jud

    May 17, 2014 at 2:33 am

    Accoarding to Asmus if Ortiz would have batted in the 8th with a man on he would have brought Coke in to pitch to him……………………apparently we might be giving Smokey Jr a little to much credit for how smart he is supposed to be!!!!!!!!

    • Vince in MN

      May 17, 2014 at 11:49 am

      Maybe he just said that to keep Coke upbeat, but didn’t really mean it. Now that would be smart.

      • Coleman

        May 17, 2014 at 11:56 am

        I would be fine with a whole lot of “would’ve used Coke if…” this season.

        • Smoking Loon

          May 17, 2014 at 3:20 pm

          Also spot on.

  35. StorminNorman$

    May 17, 2014 at 11:14 am

    1-0 road wins (especially against reining champs) are huge, especially considering DET’s bullpen struggles prior to this road trip. Can’t say enough about how effective DET pitching has been lately…as well as Ausmus’ pitching decisions.

    it will be interesting to see if Sanchez hits the ground running on Sunday – national tv game… if he’s “on”, his stuff can be really challenging for BOS’ “big swinger” lineup

    • Smoking Loon

      May 17, 2014 at 3:20 pm

      Spot on.

  36. StorminNorman$

    May 17, 2014 at 11:25 am

    http://www.freep.com/article/2.....ut-Red-Sox
    AMAZING stat cited by John Lowe: “Nathan has never allowed an earned run or a home run at Fenway Park”

    hope repeating this fact doesn’t prompt the ‘baseball gods’ to put an end to Nathan’s prowess at Fenway

    • Coleman

      May 17, 2014 at 11:32 am

      Funny you posted that as I was just looking it up–he’s had 12 appearances there, 12.1 innings, 8 saves, and 0 earned runs.

    • Coleman

      May 17, 2014 at 11:45 am

      And Lowe is on the hook for any jinx that results, so you can rest easy.

  37. Smoking Loon

    May 17, 2014 at 3:09 pm

    Going back to 1984 (32-5), the Tigers have been even nearly as good through 37 games only once: 2006, when they were 24-13.

    Game 37′s in 1984, 2006, and 2014 were all 1-run victories for Detroit (Oakland, Cleveland, Boston). A comparison of lineups/pitchers (the years will need no further clarification):

    CF Granderson / Lemon / Jackson
    2B Polanco / Whitaker / Kinsler
    DH Rodriguez / Grubb / Martinez
    RF Ordonez / Gibson / Hunter
    SS Guillen / Trammell / Worth
    1B Shelton / Evans / Cabrera
    LF Monroe / Herndon / Davis
    C Wilson / Lowry / Avila
    3B Inge / Garbey / Castellanos

    Maroth-Grilli-Walker-Zumaya-Rodney
    Wilcox-Hernandez
    Scherzer-Reed-Krol-Chamberlain-Nathan

    Barbaro Garbey singled in Johnny Grubb in the 4th for what proved to be the game-winning run. Milt Wilcox struck out 0 in 6 IP (only 4 reached) and Guillermo Hernandez got the 3-inning save. (Bring it back.) Detroit sent Oakland starter (and Michigan native) Lary Sorensen to his 6th consecutive loss with the 4-3 win over the A’s in Detroit. Nothing but outs from “Willie” in the save… almost. Future Tigers C Mike Heath touched him up for a solo HR to lead off the 8th.

    Facing an Indians team featuring Victor Martinez and Jhonny Peralta (and Grady Sizemore), Detroit got a good start from Mike Maroth and rallied for 3 in the 7th, Craig Monroe doubling in one and two scoring on an error by Cleveland 1B Eduardo Perez. Fernado Rodney got the save, but Joel Zumaya really saved it, in part by striking out V-Mart with none out and men on 2nd and 3rd. Despite 23 base runners all told, 4 of the 5 runs in the Tigers’ 3-2 victory scored on errors or outs; the teams combined for a 2-15 RISP.

    Max Scherzer overcame his Red Sox allergy and a 47-minute rain delay in the 4th to shut out Boston at Fenway through 6+, and Ian Krol, Joba Chamberlain, and Joe Nathan did the rest. Boston’s Jon Lester stymied big threats in the 1st and 3rd, and the strikeout-proof Tigers ended up fanning 10 times, but fortunately, Torii Hunter came through to drive in the game’s only run in the 1st. If there’s pitching worth $30M/year (or at least $24.4M), Max showed what it was last night.

  38. StorminNorman$

    May 17, 2014 at 3:26 pm

    great research & perspective.

    and regarding your last sentence, if Scherzer continues to be this effective; ‘good news’ = DET will greatly benefit this year. (potential) ‘bad news’ = there will be more than one MLB team that will offer him a $30M multi-year deal.

    I hope I’m wrong but suspect Scherzer will be pitching for STL next year…for big $’s

    • Smoking Loon

      May 17, 2014 at 3:44 pm

      Thanks. It’s too early to dwell on it, but the elephant in the room is the choice the Tigers will face regarding Scherzer. It will affect everything, not just the pitching staff. Keeping the present rotation together through at least 2017 makes your mouth water, but…

      A lot hinges on that elusive World Series championship. If it happens this year, maybe they do the unexpected and rebuild the winner rather than stand mostly pat.

      • Vince in MN

        May 17, 2014 at 4:50 pm

        World series or no, Scherzer and Hunter are gone after this year; money in Max’s case and age in Tori’s. Some spare parts on the bench and in the bullpen will also get changed. How Dirks does on his return may impact what happens for LF. Obviously a new RF will have to be procured (I don’t think there is anyone in the minors at the moment to fill a full-time role). I wouldn’t be surprised to see V-Mart back. Ray slides into the #5 spot and everybody else moves up one. Avila, for better or worse, remains as 1st-string catcher. Iglesias hopefully will be back, but if not then maybe the hunt for a SS ensues. That is not a radical roster makeover, so a complete rebuild, probably not. If all continues to go well, the New Look Tiger approach should continue with only a few changes.

        • Smoking Loon

          May 17, 2014 at 7:08 pm

          Not that I disagree vehemently or say any of this is unlikely, but none of it is foregone conclusion because so much can happen between now and then, and *some* of the unlikely is likely. Such as:

          Tigers sign Scherzer
          Hunter is brought back (as DH, no less?)
          New catcher
          V-Mart signs elsewhere
          Collins in RF
          Iglesias, Dirks both traded
          Not Ray but Lobstein

  39. Smoking Loon

    May 17, 2014 at 3:32 pm

    26 of the Tigers’ last 29 games this season will be against the AL Central. This could be a good thing.

    • Vince in MN

      May 17, 2014 at 4:26 pm

      Are you suggesting home field advantage throughout the playoffs is assured?

      • Smoking Loon

        May 17, 2014 at 7:10 pm

        I wish I could suggest that, but at present it only portends a strong finish.

  40. Vince in MN

    May 17, 2014 at 4:09 pm

    http://beck.mlblogs.com/2014/0.....-a-toledo/

    Too bad for Robertson, I was pulling for him, but it was a long shot in any case. I’m not sure who replaces him and Martinez on the Toledo roster. I assume this means promotions all along the line.