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.

61 thoughts on “Game 2014.60: White Sox 6, Tigers 5”

  1. Good/interesting post Loon…complete w/a Zeppelin reference, which seems even more appropriate in light of DET bullpen’s recent ‘dazed and confused’ effectiveness (or lack thereof) in the 9th inning.

    In the age of specialization (as Vince referenced a week or so ago) of 8th inning guys and ‘closers’, which most managers subscribe to (and instill in their team mentality), a team/mgr can set themselves up for disappointment if their 8th or 9th inning guys are not reliable.

    The “closer” mentality is what Nathan and DET are primarily wrestling with recently. To me, its disingenuous for a Mgr or the collective MLB-mentality to hold ‘the closer’ is such high regard when he comes in with nobody on in the 9th and a 1-3 run lead and gets 3 outs without surrendering the lead; and then for that same Mgr to try and minimize it when his “closer” blows a save. “Closers” are paid extraordinarily well for minimal work, they should be held to the significance that comes with the significance and money they’re given.

  2. Tigers are a much better team than the Chisox – they can handle the Windy City.

    1. True, but such a statement tempts fate, which is why I avoided saying “Tigers are going to kill them” in so many words.

  3. The first comment yesterday, from Vince: “Ortiz may have won the battle, but Max kept him in the park…”

    You could see it coming like a train wreck. Max kept him in the park, Coke kept him in the park, Joba couldn’t…Failure. 5 out of 6 against the Red Sox this year, and we still somehow get left with a bitter ALCS deja-vu hangover.

  4. I know Avila isn’t very good these days, but that at bat where he vainly tried to bunt was almost like a parody of an at bat, even for him. I don’t think he was ready to be back in the lineup, and I’ll throw starting Alex over Holaday onto the Ausmus critique pile.

  5. BTW: the site looks great with the format tweaks!

    …next 14 games against AL Central teams, good time for DET to get their mind’s right.

    I’ll likely get the Chicago feed…so Hawk is almost tolerable when CWS is losing and he’s been humbled – so there’s double motivation for DET fans over the next 4 games

  6. Quick update on the site – as you can see, we’re getting closer to the final layout. Should be done by the end of the week. Once that is finished, we’ll work on updating the links at the top and around the edges.

    1. Kevin…are you planning to make the Rangers v. Tigers series the end of the month? Daughter recently moved from Denton (home of AJax) to Houston so I may make the Stroh’s series afterwards.

      1. Probably just the Fri night game. May try to make it my 3 year old’s first game where she’s cognizant of what’s going on around her.

    2. BTW, are you planning on moving the recent comments widget back to the upper right side? I always check it when I come to the site, and it being below all the posts is throwing me off.

  7. Rays have announced that Grant Balfour is no longer The Closer. He has had a 6.46 ERA with 2 blown saves. Hey wait, I’ll take that, says Joe Nathan.

    1. I don’t much care for the prevailing closer and bullpen role philosophy, but baseball is big on conformity and always has been, and closer is now a position on a par with SS. You don’t toss a SS on the scrap heap or move them to an unfamiliar position (an unfamiliar scrap heap?) over a few bad games. Yes, you can try out someone else there, and the tryouts are apt to go as last night’s did, based on mere probability.

      I don’t mean to defend Nathan so much as reason. Two-thirds of his season has been quite good, and no one was falling over themselves to marvel at the very settled closer role for that month and a half.

      The Tigers lost Plan B at closer once they lost Rondon. There’s not another candidate on the team or at Toledo, and Hanrahan, well, that is very speculative. Also, no one can possibly be advocating getting rid of Nathan altogether, so the question becomes: Where does he go? Put him in the 7th or 8th inning role? You can’t blow a game those innings?

      I don’t care who they bring out for what inning. I want the pitcher to get outs. He doesn’t, he’s the bad guy for a day. It doesn’t make me feel any better when the pitching fails to cite bullpen mismanagement. Every team’s fans has something critical to say about this. The reason? It’s the easiest thing in the game to second-guess. “That didn’t work, so clearly my idea would have *had* to.” That’s the reasoning I see.

      Why does Jeff Jones seem to be exempt from the criticism? I have a hunch that Ausmus leans more than a bit on Jones.

  8. Tonight the Tigers kick off 14 games with Central Division teams: White Sox, Twins, Royals, and Indians (oh my!). We may see what the Central, Tigers, and others are made of.

  9. Beside having the worst bullpen now in the entire MBL we also have the worst defensive outfield in the MBL…the outfield directly affects the pitching numbers..

  10. Rod..”the game plan is to make Noesi work tonight”…..2 innings 20 pitches..the Tigers don’t know the meaning of Rods statement, actually! Including JD who went after 3 pitches outside the strikezone..

  11. Hey research dept…just wondering is there a team in baseball that puts more leadoff batters each inning on base more than the Tigers..seems like we do it 5+ times a game

  12. Never expected Suarez to hit the ground running like this. If Smokey was managing, he’d get a day off and sit for Romine tomorrow. What will Smarty do?

  13. Tigers are first in AL Central OF errors.. and last in AL Central OF assists…we won’t even mention their horrible range!

  14. How come their guy with a 5.75 ERA and a 1.67 WHIP gets someone out…ours don’t…oh it was Avila….never mind!

  15. If we don’t lead the MLB in letting leadoff runners on we absolutely lead the MLB in lead off wallks or on by error….

  16. Smoking Loon – you’re going to have to educate me on Nathan’s been good for 2/3 of the season part. I’d say just over 1/2, at best.

    1. Kevin – see Nathan’s game logs April 12 – May 27 and the totals for these (consecutive) 16 of his 25 games. We have much shorter memories for the positive.

      1. Okay, I give in there. To try to make a point, I went and looked at this FIP. 4.95. xFIP is 4.29. You’ve won me over.

  17. It could be worse, we could be the Rangers. Cleveland is absolutely pounding them right now.

      1. Chisenhall! That’s a riot. But he was looking better last time out vs. DET also. He reminded me – in 2013 – of Kobernus, somehow. Couldn’t believe Indians were expecting a guy like that to hit in the majors. But apparently they were right. They must be professionals or something – I’m no match.


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