Game 2014.123: Tigers at Rays

Baseball Reference Game Preview

Max Scherzer vs. Chris Archer

Things aren’t going well for the Detroit Tigers these days. Not only are they not playing well as a team, but in addition to the DL-injured Anibal Sanchez and Joakim Soria, and the non-DL injured Justin Verlander, now speed demon and dropper of fly balls Rajai Davis is day to day with a bruised thumb. Sunday’s 8-1 loss to the Mariners was another notable low point in a season with too many already. It was a drag to watch that literally put me to sleep. Yes, there have been both ups and downs, to wit:


… and we currently find ourselves in a down. What’s next? Up, maybe?

Melvin Mercedes and Jim Johnson are the latest efforts to shore up the bullpen. We’ll see, eh? The Tigers are up to 26 pitchers used this season, and not a lot of that can be chalked up to injuries.

There was a bit of initial buzz about the opportunity for Ezequiel Carrera, and I kept an open mind myself. He is quite a good defender, and on top of that, well… um…  he really is quite a good defender.

No one’s on fire*, and no one is going down in flames. We can blame whoever – it’s really quite the team effort at failure when they fail these days, isn’t it? And is 66-56 so surprising? When you consider how little has changed over the course of the season? Bullpen the same, offense the same, defense the same, starting pitching about the same (a bit challenged by injuries lately, but not such a big factor in the post-break funk). Maybe Detroit’s streaky way of getting to such a pedestrian record is the surprising thing. I suppose it will take some kind of magic to again rise above. Not a question of “going out and getting someone” anymore (such as Nathan? Soria? Price? Johnson?). No. Team magic.

In the meantime, I like Vince’s idea of pondering the rebuilding – or the retooling, or whatever you see fit – ahead for 2015. I think it would make a good off day discussion in advance of Tuesday’s game. Let’s fire ’em and unload ’em in the offseason now and get all that out of our system in advance of the new 2014 season that begins August 19.

*Well, OK, you could say that Max has been on fire – in a good way – and David Price ain’t been too shabby himself. Victor keeps rolling. The rest of  ’em need to pick it up in a big way.


  1. Coleman

    August 18, 2014 at 10:55 am

    Dirks may be off the table this season. He injured his hamstring again in his re-re-hab. They guy can’t even manage to make it through a few games at a time.

    • Vince in MN

      August 18, 2014 at 3:08 pm


      • Smoking Loon

        August 18, 2014 at 7:45 pm


  2. Coleman

    August 18, 2014 at 11:30 am

    I know a lot of Tiger fans don’t like Ausmus’s calm, too calm, everything is fine demeanor. Maybe for 2015 we can get this guy:

    • Vince in MN

      August 18, 2014 at 3:20 pm

      I don’t care how calm (or not) the manager is ON the field. It’s what he does in the clubhouse that matters. That’s beyond our view obviously, but one gets the impression that it’s not much. Ausmus is even less demonstrative on the field than Leyland, but the same “go along get along” philosophy in the clubhouse has apparently been adopted as well. Maybe that’s just the way it is in this day and age when most of the players make multiple times what the manager gets paid. Anyway, “butt kicking” doesn’t appear to be on the menu. Not that that would do any good anyway, just sayin’.

      • Smoking Loon

        August 18, 2014 at 7:44 pm

        I rather like Ausmus’s cool in the public eye. What goes on in the clubhouse we can’t know. I can’t imagine any butt-kicking, but I suspect he’s taken quite seriously. I’m OK with Ausmus, and I’m OK with the team as presently constructed, and quite content with rolling the dice with what they’ve got. Not desperate to throw anyone off the team, not even Ian Krol. I wouldn’t bring ’em all back, regardless of what happens over the next couple months… but I would bring Ausmus back. It’s his first year – ever. Give the guy a chance.

  3. Smoking Loon

    August 18, 2014 at 9:11 pm

    Let’s get the votes in now for the 2015 reboot before the stretch and/or playoffs sway us:


    J.D. Martinez
    Soria (re-sign)




    V. Martinez
    Ray and the whole slew of Toledo pitchers, most of whom probably belong in FOLD

    CHOICE: Price or Scherzer? Trying to have both would seem to involve letting Porcello get away and hoping for Sanchez’s contract to look more tradable than it does right now.

    CHOICE: Victor Martinez is an amazing hitter and might remain one until he’s 40. He’s also a dinosaur who can’t play a position, and we (nearly) already have one of those. Just the thought of breaking up the dynamic duo is controversial, but…

    I wouldn’t be that upset if not a single guy from the bullpen was back in 2015. Some will be, but I hope the 4 spots that might be open won’t get filled this time by any expensive “The Answer” guys. You can’t help but notice, comparing opponents to the Tigers, that Detroit hasn’t had the keenest eye for sleeper talent in pitchers any time recently.

    The possible return of Iglesias is interesting, but it might be a long road back if the Tigers hold onto him at all, and he could spend much of 2015 in Toledo.

    Is Castellano really a third baseman? It’s not the feet or the glove – it’s the arm. He’d be bored in the outfield and possibly awful. What about 1B? Maybe 3B would inspire Cabrera to get in shape. It always worked before. Not.

    Don’t have a hankering to fill the C, OF, SS positions with big stars for big bucks and long years. How about some solid players and a couple younger guys to round it out? I’m ready to take a break from the would-be slugging teams where the offense always seems more vaunted on paper. Maybe the Tigers could be one of those boring pitching and defense teams that win. With so much invested in pitching already and maybe more to come, doesn’t it almost have to be that way? I wouldn’t mind.

    • Vince in MN

      August 18, 2014 at 10:44 pm

      That closely matches my list. I’d be inclined to stick with Chamerlain and AlAl. I can’t imagine being able to replace 4+ bullpen arms (need backup at Toledo). I’d love to have V-Mart back (he’s our MVP this year), but maybe he’ll decide he wants to play for a real contender next year and he’ll go elsewhere. I’m not counting on Iglesias’ return, so maybe hang onto Suarez. I could see hanging onto Avila (his D is good) if we get another decent C and Avila plays much less than he has – I just don’t think he has the stamina to play more than half the time – he should be the bottom half of a platoon. The rest of the “offense” on the Fold and TBD lists can disappear, but likely we will have to keep a couple as Toledo reserves. However the Tigers do it, between now and next April they need a CF, a corner OF, a catcher, a SS (could be Iggy), and 2 decent bench players. And not only do they need to run and hit, but play catch and throw too! That’s an awful tall order and I doubt all of it can get accomplished, but the long season has exposed this team as having more holes than swiss cheese. I think Scherzer is gone, which is probably the big reason Price was picked up, but even without him the rotation is very strong. Maybe pick up a FA innings eater for No. 5 slot (or a do over on the Fister trade) – I don’t have a lot of faith in the comers on the farm to make a contribution by next spring, and with injury potential, we’ll need some rotation backup anyway. Yeah, stick with Ausmus, if we truly rebuild it will be good experience for him too. Even more so if Illitch sends DD and his crowd packing. I think it is time to accept the fact that the DD model is a failed one (buy a handful of elite players and fill out the rest of the roster with whatever) and a more balanced approach needs to be tried. I’m not sure what that means exactly, but what he have is (or seems to me anyway) an agglomeration of 25 individuals rather than a team. And that is no sure way to success. Other clubs accomplish a lot more with much less and a big reason for their success is that they are built to work together as a unit. This is an aspect missing from DD’s philosophy I think. I don’t want to rag on the guy too much because this approach got us out of our 100-game losing ways, but it can only take you so far. Time for a change.

  4. jud

    August 18, 2014 at 10:05 pm

    I would move Krol and Johnson and Dirks to TBD
    I would move Chamberlin to Hold

    Other than that I think you are pretty righ on.
    DD will find a way to keep Price and Scherzer

    • Smoking Loon

      August 19, 2014 at 8:07 pm

      Thanks, Vince and Jud. Good to know that if I’m too far out to lunch, I’ve got company.

      I like Chamberlain. For that matter, I like Avila. I’m just trying to push sentiment out of the picture.

  5. jud

    August 18, 2014 at 10:07 pm

    I WOULD PUT Asmus under TBD..if this team finishes .500 which is the way they are headed it would be just as bad as the 0-16 Lions and Asmus would have to go!!!

  6. Kevin in Dallas

    August 19, 2014 at 12:39 am

    Isn’t Price signed through the end of 2015?

    Royals on a 21-5 streak.

    • Coleman

      August 19, 2014 at 3:00 am

      He’s an Arbitration guy for 2015 I believe. And DD doesn’t like to go to arbitration, so I would imagine they will be negotiating with him soon after the season if they aren’t already.

      • Smoking Loon

        August 19, 2014 at 7:56 pm

        My thinking on choice between Price and Scherzer is that even though Price “belongs” to the Tigers through 2015, the plan on Scherzer influences whether they want to or even can afford what Price is due for, for even one year. It seems like they would have to trade Price to keep Scherzer, but there are possibilities beyond my simple mind.

  7. Jim EggersUSMC

    August 19, 2014 at 7:28 pm

    You know I think the world of you guys but to be talking who should be here next season or not seems very premature to me. There is some baseball still to be played, and some of these other “wild card” teams will lose more than they win. I am going to remain optimistic until we get to magic number time. It is a free country ( except for Ferguson MO) so I will follow along with the speculations and ruminations.

    • Smoking Loon

      August 19, 2014 at 7:58 pm

      I know it’s early, Jim, but that’s the point. My motivation isn’t disappointment with the team. Just a bit of restless speculation before what happens down the stretch overshadows the first 120 games.


    August 19, 2014 at 7:35 pm

    I just got home and turned on the game and what a disappointment!
    It is not premature to talk about next year seeing what is happening to this team.


    August 19, 2014 at 7:59 pm

    When the going gets tough, the tough get going ….. this team of wimps is folding like a cheap suit!

  10. Only Tiger Fan in Mississippi

    August 19, 2014 at 8:50 pm


  11. T Smith

    August 19, 2014 at 10:18 pm

    Blowpen….just… can’t… get… the final outs…

  12. T Smith

    August 19, 2014 at 11:03 pm

    Putting Johnson in for the bottom of the 10th is just plain asinine.

  13. joe z

    August 19, 2014 at 11:14 pm

    lol i felt like jim johnson coming in is like phil coke coming in, the tigers conceding.

    lol at jose molina fouling off all those pitches and then just taking a straight up middle of the plate breaking ball

  14. Kevin in Dallas

    August 19, 2014 at 11:18 pm

    Royals winning again. It’s hard not to root for them. Except Rex Hudler is on their radio team. I’d rather watch Gary Busey get interviewed then listen to Hudler.

  15. Kevin in Dallas

    August 19, 2014 at 11:19 pm

    Remember several years ago when Cabrera? was walked in three straight games to load the bases for Boesch and Boesch failed to drive home a run in any of the at bats?

  16. joe z

    August 19, 2014 at 11:25 pm

    loooooooooool grant balfour. amazing

  17. Vince in MN

    August 19, 2014 at 11:25 pm

    Ballfour living up to his name fortunately.

    • Kevin at another wedding

      August 19, 2014 at 11:54 pm

      Speaking of, I highly recommend Jim Bouton’s Ball Four if you haven’t read it yet.

      • Vince in MN

        August 20, 2014 at 12:15 am

        Read it years ago, when it came out!

        Speaking of which, a “Best Baseball Books Of All Time” would make for a fun topic. Maybe wait til winter when the baseball activity is slow though.

      • Jim EggersUSMC

        August 20, 2014 at 12:16 am

        Love that book Kevin ( another wedding???) I have an autographed copy, Bouton was in the PCL for awhile in ’68 and got a chance to meet him then. I can and have quoted major portions of the book to friends and family. My first MLB live game was Tommy Harper night, met him when he and Tim Johnson were coaching for the BoSox. Yeah, that Tim Johnson. Johnson and Charlie Hough got a weekend off of Marine Reserve duty for ” recruiting” me.

      • Smoking Loon

        August 20, 2014 at 12:17 am

        Another wedding? Wait, I’ve got it – you’re a wedding photographer. Minister? Polygamist? Fond of rice and exceedingly thrifty?

        • Coleman

          August 20, 2014 at 2:31 am

          There’s a TV series in this somewhere.

          • Coleman

            August 20, 2014 at 2:41 am

            The weddings are where he makes the exchanges. No one would ever expect. Nor would they expect that he uses a baseball blog to covertly leave instructions to his cohorts.

            • Coleman

              August 20, 2014 at 2:42 am

              He refreshed the screen and there it was: ” A lot of baseball left.” K.I.D. didn’t leave much room for error this time; with the wedding only two days away, Jud knew he had to work fast. “Sorry honey, I’ve got to go run an errand, I’ll be right back.” He went over the protocol in his head and walked briskly to his car…

              • Coleman

                August 20, 2014 at 3:00 am

                “Vince, wake up!” Detective Loon smacked his partner on the arm, without taking his eyes off of Jud. After countless bleary-eyed nights of ham sandwiches and snoring, their target was finally making a move. He gently turned the ignition, careful not to tap the brakes and light up the dark roadside nest in which the conspicuously un-marked vehicle was nestled.

                Conspicuous, though, was the plume of exhaust vapor from the car. Coleman put down his binoculars and shifted uncomfortably beneath his poncho. He wasn’t ready for what he was about to do, not yet. He’d better alert the Egg Man…

                (Yeah, that’s all you get. It’s just a trailer).

              • Smoking Loon

                August 20, 2014 at 7:06 pm

                OK, I’ll make you an offer for the movie rights. Don’t even need to see the manuscript. I fly by the seat of my gut – it’s what made me the Hollywood mogul I am – and I’ve got a guy feeling about this one.

              • Coleman

                August 20, 2014 at 8:34 pm

                Coleman dropped his golden poncho into the basket of the moped, a barely perceptible smile flicking across his face from the gentle thud of the malleable metal. Damnit, something about it just reminded him of the warm aural glow of old tube amps, he couldn’t quite put his finger on it. Every time he puttered past one of the countless We Buy Gold signs on the antiquated bits of Route 66 he frequented, he though now, now is the time to cash this baby in. Lord knows times were tough. But he could never quite pull the trigger…his reverie was cut short by the insistent non-vibration of his phone. Something was not right; the Egg Man was responsive 24/7, as much as he was anything. Detective Loon’s old Pontiac Catalina began to inch forward, and a decision had to be made…

              • Smoking Loon

                August 20, 2014 at 10:01 pm

                This is too suspenseful. Frankly, I don’t think today’s audiences are ready for it. This has future cult favorite written all over it. I’m brainstorming with my people on how to best cash in. The Loon brand – franchise, if you will – that I’ve made famous does give me some leverage…

              • Smoking Loon

                August 20, 2014 at 10:06 pm

                I demand a cameo by Austin Jackson wearing the sombrero. Maybe in the opening scene, so that most people won’t catch it the first time they see it. Non-speaking role, just an extra that the camera might linger just a moment too long on…

  18. Kevin in Dallas

    August 19, 2014 at 11:33 pm

    Tigers are 8-47 RISP over their last 5 games. Or .170.

  19. joe z

    August 19, 2014 at 11:35 pm


  20. Vince in MN

    August 19, 2014 at 11:39 pm

    Thanks Toronto blowpen, couldn’t have scored without you.

  21. Coleman

    August 19, 2014 at 11:51 pm

    Blow Nathan Warning

  22. Coleman

    August 19, 2014 at 11:52 pm

    Phew! Much-needed win.

    • Vince in MN

      August 19, 2014 at 11:54 pm

      Sometimes you get lucky.

  23. Vince in MN

    August 19, 2014 at 11:53 pm

    Nice recovery Blow, I mean Joe.

  24. KW

    August 19, 2014 at 11:55 pm

    It’s never easy with Joe, is it?

    • T Smith

      August 19, 2014 at 11:56 pm

      Saving a 3 run game shouldn’t be so stressful.

  25. Kevin in Dallas

    August 19, 2014 at 11:57 pm

    Good job by the hitters tonight, other than RISP.

    Bullpen was terrible. We can’t win consistently with this bullpen. Let’s hope that Soria can be the closer we need.

  26. Smoking Loon

    August 20, 2014 at 12:08 am

    No complaints about the win, except for the missed scoring opportunities early. They battled back from 4-0 – not bad at all. My favorite parts were the challenge on the eventual Cabrera RBI (I didn’t see how it could be challenged at first) and the Holaday sac fly – now THAT was hitting with purpose and coming through.

    • Coleman

      August 20, 2014 at 2:28 am

      Holaday always seems to come through with the runner on 3rd, Avila never (I said “seems,” that’s without checking the stats)…I think they could very well end up with the same batting average by the end of the season, but I’ll still be left with the picture of Holaday with the sac fly/bunt, Avila with the called 3rd strike.

      • Smoking Loon

        August 20, 2014 at 7:07 pm


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