Game 2014.60: White Sox 6, Tigers 5

Detroit (33-26, 1st Central, 3rd AL) visits Chicago (31-33, 4th Central, 11th AL) for a four-game set, all night games, getting things started with Rick Porcello facing Hector Noesi.

Despite one that slipped away in an all too familiar fashion last night, the Tigers won a series – how about that – and have perhaps turned a corner. Despite a 2-4 homestand and a home W-L that has to be considered rather insulting. Despite. Word of the day. Well, it beats words like “chronic” and “futility.”

Some good things happening lately (last couple weeks). Castellanos has been swinging a hot stick (1.124 OPS) – or has he? Well, yes, but get this: 1 RBI. Romine has more (and Kinsler has 6 “despite” a .581 OPS). The real hot stick for run production has belonged to Cabrera (left early last night with tight hamstring – we’ve seen this before and will again, though hopefully only once in a while). Eugenio “South Bound” Suarez is off to an eventful start. Leaving aside last night’s blowup, Chamberlain-Alburquerque-Krol had put up 13 IP with 1 ER, and Sanchez’s WHIP over his last 3 starts might be described as unreal (a word that would also describe the offensive support he’s received).

On the downside, there are numbers from Nathan’s last 6 games that lend support to the movement to run him out of town. Numbers so obscene as to be unprintable, though I’m not on the Fire Joe bandwagon as yet. Smyly, Scherzer, and Reed not sitting too pretty, either. Kinsler is in a mighty slump, Avila has regressed, and in back of Jackson’s .252 BA overall is a .477 OPS over his last 13 games. Essentially there is Miggy and Victor and not much else consistent or very productive. The OF defense has been drawing some outrage recently, also, and yes, the Tigers rank poorly there. Surprising and disappointing.

Victor Martinez, first 25 games of 2013: .542 OPS, -8.88 RE24, -0.967 WPA.
Joe Nathan, first 25 games of 2014: 1.565 WHIP, 7.04 ERA, -6.92 RE24, -0.647 WPA

VMart contributed more to losing. Believe it. And it went on well beyond 25 games.

Nathan’s stats from April 12 to May 27: 16 G, 16 IP, 17 K, 4 BB, .135 BA, 1.69 ERA.

I was wondering, oh, about a week ago, how long it would take the Tigers to get back to their high water mark of 15 games over. Right now it’s looking like Game 89 (52-37) would be an optimistic target. But you never know when it’s all going to start clicking for a while – those 6- and 8-game winning streaks were as much of a surprise as the Big Funk (behind us now, we hope, now that the the Curse of the Curse of the Zubaz has been lifted).

Chicago has troubles of their own that Detroit now has a chance to add to. Lately it’s their offense that has been fading. The Tigers have taken 4 of 6 from the White Sox so far, including the last 3. Chicago has been flirting with .500 and then falling back all season. It would be good to put them more firmly in their place and get the Central Division back into the shape we’ve become accustomed to. I say Detroit’s offense comes alive big time and the Tigers take at least three. At least.

Speaking of three consecutive three-hit games (Nick’s notable recent accomplishment), going back to 1984 there really isn’t such a streak to compare to Victor’s May 9-11 of 2011. 12 AB, 9 H, 2 HR, 10 RBI, 4 doubles, 3 walks. And, as you may have guessed, no strikeouts.

POSTGAME: Great, dramatic game. I was going to say that Porcello lost this one all by himself. In the end, that’s how it turned out. Aside from Porcello’s costly error, the MartMart Clown Show didn’t factor in too much, and couldn’t hold a candle to the White Sox corner outfielders in the 9th. Besides, J.D.’s bad day in LF ended with a very good play. A day of mixed reviews for him, with a couple hits but also a big choke (along with Castellanos) in the 8th. How big was Adam Eaton’s robbery of Victor? Not nearly as big as Kinsler’s sensational play to start an inning- and threat-ending DP. Exciting Tigers power on display from Cabrera, Suarez (again!), and especially VMart – and Avila came mighty close with his RBI double. Bad call on Kinsler in the 9th? Well, it wasn’t the first one of the game, and some of them went the Tigers’ way. Nonetheless, that was big. Even so… Porcello lost this one. All by himself.