Game 2015.56: Blue Jays 7, Tigers 3

The offense was truly offensive last night, and doomed to another series loss, the Tigers continue to fade. It’s lefty J.A. Happ against Justin Verlander in the day game finale, Detroit (31-24, 1st Central, 3rd AL) vs. Toronto (36-24, 1st East, 2nd AL).

I was going to link to good games for all of the 25 Tigers, and report on what I liked about each player with only a light sprinkling of stats, but the Tigers have worn me down with how they are finding ways to lose. Makes me even more tired than I already am. It’ll have to wait.

Welcome, Eugenio Suarez – MLB debut last night as late-inning replacement. The DFA of Danny Worth the infielder was predictable, but I’m not sure the DFA of Danny Worth the knuckleballer was warranted. That was more fun to watch than some other bullpen performances we won’t mention or name names about, wasn’t it?

Big funk going on. It tempts me to make some kind of dire prediction. “Heads are gonna roll,” that sort of thing. But honestly, what is there to do for them but get it together? We know they can.


  1. 80HD

    June 5, 2014 at 9:41 am

    Watching the Tigers go from kings to hobos in less time than it takes to sneeze, I wonder, “How does this happen?”. The expression “WTF?” has come to mind a lot lately. I suspect I’m not alone on that train of thought. So, I set aside for a moment who’s not hitting and who can’t throw a strike and took a wider view. I’m pretty sure it’s just the nature of the game (no great surprise).

    I always thought the difference between the very best and very worst baseball teams is a lot closer than in the other major sports. It turns out the difference between the best and the worst is only about 20%. If you play .600 ball (97 wins) you’ll probably be the best team in the major leagues. In 2013 the Red Sox won 97 and had the best record. If you play .400 ball (66 wins) you’ll certainly be among the worst. In 2013 four MLB teams won 66 or fewer. So, .600 ball minus .400 ball, that’s 20%.

    Now, how does that compare? In the NFL, for example, how many teams in 2013 played .600 ball (10 wins)? Ten NFL teams won 10 or more. How about the NBA – how many teams played .400 ball (33 wins)? In 2014 nine NBA teams won 33 or fewer. Here’s the data:

    Teams that played ,600 ball or better Teams that played .400 ball or worse
    MLB (2013) 1 MLB (2013) 4
    NFL (2013) 10 NFL (2013) 7
    NHL (2014) 6 NHL (2014) 4
    NBA (2014) 8 NBA (2014) 9

    My point is that the distance between very good and very bad in MLB is small and the trip (at least for a while) can be made with startling speed. The trip probably doesn’t require airfare – more like a walk across the street. I think this explains why even really bad teams can play well for a while even against obviously better teams. The numbers suggest they should get smoked every night but they don’t. There may be some comfort for the Tigers that this also explains (in part) how obviously good teams can play like crap for a while.

    Certainly, I’m not suggesting the answer is to just sit there and lose while thinking positive thoughts and whistling a happy tune. There are easily apparent problems to be solved. That said, it’s probably not the end of the world as we know it either.

    Careful analysis of the data suggests baseball is a strange game.

    • StorminNorman$

      June 5, 2014 at 12:26 pm

      You make some good/valid points 80HD, and your last sentence seems to be a great synopsis… as well as you comments about the fine line between best and worst…though regarding DET i believe its more of a comparison between good or great teams and mediocre teams – and obviously DET has run the gambit this year between great – good – mediocre – just plain bad.

      Two of the keys in all sports that separate good teams from the great teams are: 1) the contribution of your support or ‘non-star’ players, and 2) taking care of the little things – which usually allows the big things (wins) to occur… and when DET has been strong in these two categories this year they typically win, when they don’t they lose.

      The ‘silver lining’ may be that every MLB team has their (roster) weaknesses and during the course of the 162-game season all teams are subject a “funk” – the better teams minimize the occurrence of them. The ‘gold lining’ is DET is in the AL Central…so we have that going for us…which is nice.

      • 80HD

        June 5, 2014 at 12:44 pm

        Hey, StorminNorman$, I really like your comment about the small things. Since the sample size is so large small things take on a real importance. Things like hitting the cutoff man, scoring in R3L2O situations and completing double plays are a big deal. One of my best friends grew up in London and I struggle explaining this to him. It’s in my DNA but probably not in his.

        • StorminNorman$

          June 5, 2014 at 2:19 pm

          …speaking of the “little things” – JV enters the 4th inning with just 27 pitch count…Hunter (in RF) gives TOR a 2-base error on what shoulda been an easy out… and 28 pitches and 3 runs later, JV finally gets out the 4th…now trailing 3-2.

          BTW – and TOR 7th & 8th hitters picking up the 3 RBI that inning.

          …fine line between winning and losing

          • 80HD

            June 5, 2014 at 2:29 pm

            Damn! Forgot it was an afternoon game.

            Whats become of Hunter? All those gold gloves? Fangraphs had him listed as the worst defensive player in the bigs out of 200 or so qualifiers. As defensive stats tend to be kind of fuzzy, he may not be dead last but this is hard to misunderstand.

  2. jud

    June 5, 2014 at 11:05 am

    So the Tigers throw Worth under the bus despite the fact that Worth has nothing to do with the current 4-12 and Hunter.. Casty…Jackson…Avila..all hitting well under .200 in this streak all get a free pass..Romine in the streak is at least hitting .250 which makes him one of the leaders

    ….a “funk”….A funk is an 8-10 series where things go bad…..a 16 game slide where you are the worst team in the entire AL isn’t a funk. It is a problem….

  3. StorminNorman$

    June 5, 2014 at 12:06 pm

    today’s lineup vs LHP Happ
    1. Ian Kinsler, 2B
    2. Torii Hunter, RF
    3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
    4. Victor Martinez, DH
    5. J.D. Martinez, LF
    6. Austin Jackson, CF
    7. Alex Avila, C
    8. Nick Castellanos, 3B
    9. Andrew Romine, SS
    Starting pitcher: Justin Verlander

    DET have and continue to give Romine his chances to produce, before transitioning to (recently promoted) Suarez

    • StorminNorman$

      June 5, 2014 at 3:32 pm

      i bet Suarez starts at SS tomorrow… and will become the regular SS if his fielding is good or adequate and he produces at the plate

      • StorminNorman$

        June 5, 2014 at 7:28 pm
        apparently Suarez is ‘day to day’ with a knee issue… so it may be ‘the lettuce’ until Suarez’ knee is right

        • Smoking Loon

          June 5, 2014 at 8:35 pm

          Ha. The lettuce. Maybe we should call Suarez Baby Spinach. (Much better than any lettuce for a salad.)

          • Coleman

            June 5, 2014 at 9:22 pm

            except a Caesar salad, or a Mendoza.

            • Smoking Loon

              June 5, 2014 at 10:31 pm

              Render unto Romine what is Romine’s. Actually, that would be a good message for Nick Castellanos at 3B.

  4. Only Tiger Fan in Mississippi

    June 5, 2014 at 12:32 pm

    Given the offense funk has spread to nearly all postion player Tigers, it makes me wonder whether all is warm and fuzzy in the Tiger clubhouse?

    • 80HD

      June 5, 2014 at 12:50 pm

      I wondered about that, too. I’m curious about whether Ausmus did anything with respect to the Nathan-Castellanos thing and whether/how he might address what has looked to me like some half-hearted efforts in recent days.

    • Vince in MN

      June 5, 2014 at 3:28 pm

      Warm and fuzzy. Is that a good thing, or is that a bad thing?

  5. jud

    June 5, 2014 at 1:03 pm

    I am not sure if Asmus Disneyland managerial style of do nothing and everyone will live happily ever after is working….just saying

  6. Kevin in Dallas

    June 5, 2014 at 2:02 pm

    Any doubt that the run will score here?

    • Kevin in Dallas

      June 5, 2014 at 2:14 pm

      There you go.

  7. jud

    June 5, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    Hey Jackson you can’t hit a lick how abiut taking charge of those fly balls. That is 100% your ball as tha CF…at least do something to help this poor team

  8. jud

    June 5, 2014 at 2:35 pm

    Can’t even hit and run correctly….maybe you guys should try slow pitch….oh thats right yoou would have to catch routine fly balls in slow pitch….nevermind!

  9. jud

    June 5, 2014 at 2:38 pm

    If Hunter is rated below Raburn…that is really something to worry about !!!!!

  10. Kevin in Dallas

    June 5, 2014 at 2:50 pm

    Verlander is killing us with these walks. Now a bomb.

    • StorminNorman$

      June 5, 2014 at 3:30 pm

      according to Gamecast, Francisco’s HR off a 84 mph changeup (0-0 count), and Lawrie’s HR off a 93 mph JV fastball (3-2 count)

      hitters have been rarely off-balance when facing JV this year

  11. Coleman

    June 5, 2014 at 2:53 pm

    BP Verlander, we’re getting swept.

  12. Kevin in Dallas

    June 5, 2014 at 3:00 pm

    I don’t know what to say. Rationally, we’re still in 1st, and it’s a long season. But I have no hopes of winning this game, and I have no idea how to get out of this funk. You think this is exactly what JV gets paid $20M+ per year to do. Go out there and put an end to losing streaks. But he’s been the biggest culprit throughout this entire horrendous stretch. Makes me question his resolve. I can’t remember ever doing that before.

    • Vince in MN

      June 5, 2014 at 3:19 pm

      JV isn’t an ace. He wasn’t one last year either. To continually expect him to pitch like one is to get your hopes up way to high. One has to accept the fact that he has regressed to a good #3 or #4 starter on most days. Can JV get some of his mojo back? Sure, but so far not looking too good. Expectations AND how he is managed should be adjusted accordingly. Treating him like Cy Young when he is crashing and burning doesn’t help the team. Even when this team’s offense is clicking, it is hard pressed to overcome a 5- or 6-run JV outing.

    • StorminNorman$

      June 5, 2014 at 3:23 pm

      i’m with you… and to clarify, JV will make $20M this year, then $28M for the NEXT FIVE YEARS (though 2019)! If any pitcher can ‘turn it around’ he can, but haven’t seen many positive signs of any ‘turn around’ (w/him) anytime soon.

      He does not appear to have any arm/health issues and did note that his velocity seemed to be up today – didn’t watch the game but followed on Gamecast – and he threw a lot of 94-95 mph fastballs the first couple innings, taking it up to 98 in the 4th…

      • Kevin in Dallas

        June 5, 2014 at 3:26 pm

        You don’t see a lot of pitchers decline so precipitously at his age. That’s why I think it’s mental – could be the money, could be the star power, could be the girls. But this is embarrassing, and frustrating to those of us who pay to watch.

        • KW

          June 5, 2014 at 4:10 pm

          To be fair, he’s 31, and a lot of pitchers are on the decline well before then. Evidence:

          Since he hasn’t lost a ton of fastball velocity, I’m not going to say he’s washed up. But JV has always been a power pitcher, and 95 mph isn’t that hard for a major league player to hit. He’s seemed to have pitched his best in recent years when his breaking ball is a knee-buckler. He’s going to have to figure out how to become that kind of pitcher consistently.

          As far as his salary, it helps to look at it as being paid for past performance instead of future. He was underpaid when he was an ace and will be overpaid going forward. Let’s hope the overpayment for his earlier years doesn’t heavily outweigh the rest of his career.

          • Smoking Loon

            June 5, 2014 at 7:06 pm

            Very good points, KW.

  13. jud

    June 5, 2014 at 3:11 pm

    Kevin I question all their resolve…tell me one player you see out their today that is busting his butt to get out of this….maybe Kinsler maybe…

  14. jud

    June 5, 2014 at 3:26 pm

    JV has thrown so many pitches against everyone that everyone has seen everything he can do .Hitters have adjusted. He doesn’t exactly attack hitters. IE: he only throws 95+ when he has too, never early in a game. Hitters also know which of his pitches he hardly ever throws for a strike.and they no longer swing at everything he throws…..I just think the league has caught up with him and agree with you Vince he is a 3-4 starter now….

    • Vince in MN

      June 5, 2014 at 3:50 pm

      Absolutely. Hitters wait him out now. We’ve seen this over the past two seasons and it is a big reason his pitch counts are usually so high so early in the game. So many at bats become marathon battles. Clearly JV isn’t the same pitcher he was a few years ago (for whatever reasons) and hitters have adjusted to that. JV hasn’t adjusted to the need for a changed pitching approach and it doesn’t appear he has taken how hitters approach him into consideration. When you are an overpowering power pitcher, not too many adjustments need to be made, but for an “average” hard thrower, it’s another story. Maybe this is where JV’s mental issues are.

  15. Coleman

    June 5, 2014 at 3:29 pm

    Ok, enough Romine, time to pull the string and give Suarez a spin.

  16. jud

    June 5, 2014 at 3:35 pm

    And we let. .203 Romine bat in that situation, Brad, for what reason!!!!

  17. jud

    June 5, 2014 at 3:49 pm

    This team quit the moment Hunter dropped that fly bal…..they are officially dead…hey Brad…everything ain’t gonna be ok for a long while…..wheres the leadership. !!!

    • Vince in MN

      June 5, 2014 at 4:02 pm

      They’ve been dead for a while. The stench is becoming unbearable. Blown away three consecutive games (one 2-run lead that lasted until Jays next at bat). Lousy in all aspects – pitching, hitting, defense, managing. Have they hit bottom yet?

  18. Kevin in Dallas

    June 5, 2014 at 3:51 pm

    Guys, I’m ready to say it. This is a HUGE F’N PROBLEM. The entire team is. That Phil Coke is still on this roster says quite a bit about the state of the major league ball club.

    • Coleman

      June 5, 2014 at 4:01 pm

      Even worse, we keep ending up in situations where we might as well bring in Coke.

    • StorminNorman$

      June 5, 2014 at 4:24 pm

      clearly DET is floundering big time (4 W’s in the last 17 games!), and you all can call me the Pollyanna fan boy, but I still believe that as long as DET doesn’t suffer any key injuries, they’ll be fine… “you know, strikes and gutters, ups and downs”–Dude.

      …though with BOS coming in tomorrow looking for some payback, we may not see much light at the end of the tunnel until DET arrives in CHI for the first of 4 straight series with AL Central opponents

      • Vince in MN

        June 5, 2014 at 4:51 pm

        Maybe not even when they play CHI. Cy Sale pitching well and Abreu is back.

        BOS has been playing better too, although they have lost 3 in a row (as I write). This could prove to be anything between a when the going gets tough, the tough get going to a clown show weekend.

  19. jud

    June 5, 2014 at 4:00 pm

    The fact that Phil Coke is on the team shows me the Tigers don’t have the balls to do what you have to do to right this ship. And it starts with mr Goody two shoes, the manager…

    • Vince in MN

      June 5, 2014 at 4:11 pm

      Expect some major PR action to mollify the pitchfork bearing peasants. Firing the ball boy, groundskeeper or bullpen coach are all good candidate moves. Smokey Jr. will begin by accepting all responsibility for poor team performance and then blah, blah, blah…

  20. T Smith

    June 5, 2014 at 4:07 pm

    Let’s look on the bright side. At least Joe Nathan’s ego has been in tact for the last couple games.

  21. Doug of Troy

    June 5, 2014 at 4:08 pm

    When you continue to use Coke in futile situations, you’re creating an environment
    of futility. It’s now acceptable. Their record is
    not an aberration. It’s where they are mentally.

  22. KW

    June 5, 2014 at 4:13 pm

    So, let’s say this skid continues and the Tigers are sub-.500 at the all-star break. Does DD blow up the team? Does Ausmus last all season? What’s the answer to righting the ship before then and staying in first?

    Just curious, how many of you think this has to do with Ausmus and his staff? And those of you that do, what are your reasons? Give me some specifics.

    • Vince in MN

      June 5, 2014 at 4:42 pm

      I don’t think the Tigers are really as bad as they have shown over the last couple of weeks, nor do I think they were as good as they showed the couple of weeks before that. All the WS talk (beginning in ST!) was/is just happy bs hype, but the psychological component of getting people’s hopes up (including the players) may have played a part in overestimating their chances early on. I expect things to even out and they should still win the division, but after that who knows. They have had multiple weaknesses from the get go (bench, bullpen for two) that keep them from the elite category IMO (sorry, they are not as good as the ’84 team which was much more balanced). Frankly, I am not overly impressed with Ausmus in-game approach so far. In some ways it is refreshing (e.g. the running game), but in others it is same-old same-old. I’ll give him a C+ with a note strongly stressing his need to do his homework and improve his grade. Hopefully he is learning from his many mistakes. Part of the problem is that only half the team performs at above replacement value and that isn’t entirely his fault. I think he stays, although for PR reasons a sacrificial lamb from the staff may have to be offered at some point.

    • StorminNorman$

      June 5, 2014 at 4:48 pm

      .500 at the AS break might be good enough for 1st in the AL Central, so I don’t foresee DET dismantling or engaging in any salary dumps over the next few months.

      If the ’14 team (which minus Fielder is pretty much the same core of players as previous years) didn’t experience similar phases under JL, I’d be heaping a fair amount of blame on Ausmus & staff…but with the exception of running (SB’s) more, Ausmus runs this team (& bullpen) pretty close to the way JL did.

      Look around the league, there are a LOT of teams that were EXPECTED to contend that are floundering, for example: TAM 14 game below .500, BOS 5 games below .500, mega-payroll/stars LAD just 1 game above .500, NYY only 1 game above .500, TEX 1 game below .500, STL just 2 games above .500, PIT 3 games below .500, CIN 4 games below .500 — and I’m sure each of those teams’ fan bases are freaking out by their poor showing thus far…except for TAM, who I’m told doesn’t really have a fan base.

      To borrow the over-used cliché, there’s a lot of baseball left folks – 106 games to be exact for DET. If DET goes 60-46 (only 56.6%) they finish with 91 wins…likely enough to win the AL Central.

    • jud

      June 5, 2014 at 5:16 pm

      If you keep doing the same things how can you expect change to occur. How about pulling your starting piitcher when he starts to get bombed , instead of after he gives up 6-8. Asmus has not done this once. How bout pinch hitting for Romine when the game was still on the line 6-3 two runners about trying Holaday for an extended period of time for Avia who can’t hit his weight,…how about playing Davis in center while Jackson goes 0 for May….How about a defensive replacement fot Hunter who is rated the worst outfielder in all of baseball. Why does Davis, who is contributing, sit every 3-4 games but Jackson doesn’t?..hie error comoletely changed the game today..How about getting rid of Coke who demoralizes
      the team just by the fact that you only can use him in a blow out….
      Asmus is scared of his own shadow. He talks a Ivy League game and tells you what you want to hear Winning is about taking risks and forcing your game on the other team….Oakland, Seattle, and Toronto didn’t just beat us the dominated us. Our response…Asmus” we are in a funk and everything will be alright”. Ya I am sure the playoffs will be much easier than this!……………AMEN!!!

  23. Kevin in Dallas

    June 5, 2014 at 5:28 pm

    Yeah, we’ll win the Central, mostly b/c it’s so bad. But we already have several of those.

    Winning the Central is not the goal.

    Again, winning the Central is not the goal.


    June 5, 2014 at 5:59 pm

    Pathetic ….. sinking faster than the Titanic!

  25. Jim EggersUSMC

    June 5, 2014 at 6:16 pm

    Time for the veteran players to call a players only meeting and air out each other, some times it helps. Not sure how it will work with this bunch, but not happy with the effort or execution since I walked out of Safeco last friday.

  26. stephen

    June 5, 2014 at 6:48 pm

    Fire Leyland! Release Inge!

    • Coleman

      June 5, 2014 at 7:40 pm

      He lives! Long live stephen!

  27. jud

    June 5, 2014 at 6:57 pm

    Fite Millen!.

    ..hey Stephen that meeting might have to be Monday, the millionaires get paid tomorrow…they will really show some enthusiasm while fighting in that check line!

  28. jud

    June 5, 2014 at 6:59 pm

    Hey Jim lets you and I call the meeting , if a couple of old war vets can’t straighten things out…it won’t get straightened out!!!!….hoo ya!!!

  29. Angus

    June 5, 2014 at 7:18 pm

    I remember in 2006 when Leyland went on a tear after the game and the Tigers took off and went all the way to the series. I think Ivy League needs to light a fire underneath these boys with some benching and some butt chewing.

  30. Smoking Loon

    June 5, 2014 at 8:32 pm

    The Tigers went from 13-9 to 27-12, and the reaction to that was considerably more restrained. 14-3, then 4-13. .529 overall combined. Relax.

    Not buying anything about Ausmus being to blame, or about the need for tirades or other extracurricular “strong leadership” from him (these are grown men; in their position I’d be insulted at the suggestion that I needed my butt kicked), or lack of desire to win, or the need for symbolic dismissals or other “send a message” changes.

    Still a good, well-managed team that can play better and will.

    On the other hand, I didn’t get to see the last game and think I’ll pass on watching it tonight.

    • Kevin in Dallas

      June 5, 2014 at 10:00 pm

      There are ups and downs, no doubt. Losing 3 in a row is no big deal. But I’d love to see the last time a team had a stretch this bad and still won a WS. I fear greatly that this team does not have the mental fortitude or resolve necessary to win in the playoffs (the bullpen will be completely different by then). I realize how early it is to say that, but I can’t shrug off 4-13, especially with so many of those games at home.

      Hopefully I’m wrong here.

      • Kevin in Dallas

        June 5, 2014 at 10:02 pm

        I hate it when people point out problems with no solutions. Unfortunately, I don’t have an answer here.

        Obviously, they need to start with a win. We’ll go from there.

        • Smoking Loon

          June 5, 2014 at 10:23 pm

          One question would be who would you replace and expect immediate good results? Suarez in for Worth might provide a spark, OK. Replacing the #7 guy in the bullpen might give us some grim satisfaction, but really, how much difference is that going to make? Can’t think of anything else. Not a roster problem going on here.

          I’m not trying to be optimistic. I’m just not feeling the pessimism. I’ve been known to, for sure, but somehow I don’t this time.

          • Kevin in Dallas

            June 6, 2014 at 12:00 am

            That’s the thing, I don’t know. Roster is fine (other than the back of the bullpen).

            I’m disappointed that one of our superstars hasn’t put us on his back for a few nights.

            • Smoking Loon

              June 6, 2014 at 12:35 am

              I’m with you there.

              Regarding an earlier point: The 2006 St. Louis Cardinals had not just one but TWO 4-13 stretches, and both times the slides started when the club was exactly 16 games over .500. Both stretches included 8-game losing streaks as well, with a sweep from the Tigers part of one of them.

              • Smoking Loon

                June 6, 2014 at 1:16 am

                The 2013 NL champion St. Louis Cardinals went 4-13.
                The 2012 AL champion Detroit Tigers went 4-13.
                The 2011 World Series champion St; Louis Cardinals went 4-13.
                The 2009 NL champion Philadelphia Phillies went 4-13.
                The 2005 NL champion Houston Astros went 4-13.
                The 2000 World Series champion New York Yankees went 3-14 over the last 17 games of the season.

                The 1984 World Series Champion Detroit Tigers had a 6-12 spell…

        • Only Tiger Fan in Mississippi

          June 6, 2014 at 7:35 am

          So true Kevin, so as an exercise to our current problems, I have been thinking that if the Tiger’s make the 2014 playoffs, what realistically should be their starting lineup? Certainly, any opinion on what that lineup should be is going to be different from their 2013 playoffs starters. Currently my starters should be (which is different from what the manager’s would be) is:

          A. Sanchez
          B. Scherzer
          C. Porcello
          D. Verlander

  31. Smoking Loon

    June 5, 2014 at 9:25 pm

    Tigers select OF Derek Hill with their first draft pick.

  32. 80HD

    June 6, 2014 at 8:46 am

    Mr. EggersUSMC is right. It’s veteran leadership, not an ass-chewing from the manager that will lead the way out of this mess. Manager histrionics are overrated and have to be used with care because once you’ve done that, it’s done – you can’t go back to it.

    It would be nice to see a member of the millionaires club put this team on his back and just carry it for a while. Where the hell are Al Kaline and Willie Horton (or maybe Kirk Gibson) when you need ’em? It’s time to step up.