Game 2014.159: Twins at Tigers

“Hey man – the playoffs are that way.”

88-70, 1st place, magic number is 3. Playoffs clinched.

Whether Sale will admit it, plunking VMart yesterday ignited this offense, provided some emotion that this team can really build off of, and assured a playoff spot. That said, can we all agree that a wild card slot would be immensely disappointing for this team? It’s a little different now than 2006, because “Wild Card” only guarantees one more game.

So our Tigers end the season with four at home versus the Twins. Probables:

Tonight 7:08 PM: Trevor May v. Max Scherzer

Friday: 7:08 PM: Anthony Swarzak v. Rick Porcello

Saturday: 7:08 PM: Ricky Nolasco v. Kyle Lobstein

Sunday: 1:08 PM: Kyle Gibson v. David Price

There’s a chance the the Tigers could tie for the division with the Royals, then win a one-game division deciding game, and get to skip the one-game wild card play-in game. Or they could tie for the division, then lose the one-game division deciding game, and still get another chance at a one-game playoff. In that scenario, the Tigers would have to lose 5/6 or 6/6 to not be playing in a playoff series next week. Thus, unless the Tigers get swept by the Twins AND the Royals win at least three from the White Sox (in which case we’ll be playing the A’s in the one game wild-card game), the Tigers will either be playing the Royals at Comerica on Monday for the division title, or will win the Central outright. More scenarios from the Freep here. Winning the division means a 5 game set against Baltimore. Losing the division but advancing via the wild card (assuming we get past Oakland) means a 5 game set against the Angels, who seem to average about 10 runs per game against the Tigers.

Beyond the obvious playoff seeding implications, clinching the division also significantly affects personnel headed into the playoffs. It looks like Nathan will be the first, but not only, choice for 9th inning situations, but how will Ausmus use Sanchez and Lobstein in the playoffs? I think that Verlander has earned his way into the rotation (as if he were ever out of it; see Albom’s thoughts here), but we really have no idea where Sanchez is. Sanchez’s ERA rose from 2.33 to 3.46 over his last 10 starts, and in his last 5 he allowed 4, 5, 4, 0, and 3 ER. It would be great to see him get significant innings over the weekend, and feel good about him being a long man in the playoffs. I don’t know if two starts is enough to say that “JV is back!” but it’s better than nothing. If I can be optimistic for a minute here – JV as an ace completely shifts the landscape of the AL playoffs.


In other news…

– Phil Hughes set the all-time K/BB ratio – 11.63. He walked only 16 in 32 starts this year (209 2/3) innings. Bret Saberhagen posted a rate of 11.0 while with the Mets in 1994. Cliff Lee is third on the all-time list with a 10.28 ratio in 2010, and Jim Whitney holds the fourth and fifth spots, respectively, after historic seasons in 1884 (10.00) and ’83 (9.86). Man, those were the days. Strohs were only 2 pence!

Game preview here.

1. Ian Kinsler, 2B
2. Torii Hunter, RF
3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
4. Victor Martinez, DH
5. J.D. Martinez, LF
6. Nick Castellanos, 3B
7. Alex Avila, C
8. Eugenio Suarez, SS
9. Rajai Davis, CF


  1. Coleman

    September 25, 2014 at 7:06 pm

    Kevin’s caption, +1

    • Smoking Loon

      September 25, 2014 at 7:36 pm

      Yeah. Good article, too. Sets the scene nicely.

  2. Coleman

    September 25, 2014 at 7:48 pm

    Alex Avila makes me sad.

    • Coleman

      September 25, 2014 at 8:44 pm

      And more sad still.

      • Only Tiger Fan in Mississippi

        September 25, 2014 at 9:27 pm

        Here he comes Coleman.

      • Coleman

        September 25, 2014 at 9:28 pm

        Now I am smiling.

  3. Coleman

    September 25, 2014 at 9:42 pm

    Rajai is maybe a little over-excited out there. On the other hand, this is career game number 953, and he’s never been in a playoff game, so I think he’s enjoying this Septober thing.

  4. tbran

    September 25, 2014 at 9:46 pm

    I can’t be the only one relieved to see that Mr. Carrera has not been thrust in as a “defensive replacement?”

  5. tbran

    September 25, 2014 at 9:51 pm

    ok, whose it gonna be, Soria, Sanchez, or Big Joe? The suspense is gnawing at me but the answer could do even worse …

  6. StorminNorman$

    September 25, 2014 at 9:59 pm

    MIN batting 7-8-9 in the 9th (unless a pinch hit)…SJoe should be able to handle that right?

  7. StorminNorman$

    September 25, 2014 at 10:04 pm

    first 6 pitches all strikes from SJoe… very uncharacteristic for him

    • StorminNorman$

      September 25, 2014 at 10:04 pm

      make that 8 pitches all strikes… hmmm, maybe he’s on to something

  8. tbran

    September 25, 2014 at 10:04 pm

    Smokin Joe gets it done.

  9. tbran

    September 25, 2014 at 10:05 pm

    I can’t believe I’m gonna say this but: let’s go Sox!

  10. Kevin in Dallas

    September 25, 2014 at 10:11 pm

    Whose bullpen was that?

    • StorminNorman$

      September 25, 2014 at 10:15 pm

      I’d be content with another 14-15 DET games with boring endings like that

  11. StorminNorman$

    September 25, 2014 at 10:12 pm

    maybe its just me, but i’m thinking Joe’s approach to hitters tonight might work a little better for him than…say…walking the leadoff hitter… well, something for him to think about anyway.

  12. Only Tiger Fan in Mississippi

    September 25, 2014 at 10:18 pm

    Question: If Oakland wins the wild card playoff, wouldn’t they play the O’s instead of the Angels in the ALDS? Isn’t there a rule that says same division teams don’t play each other in the ALDS?

    • Smoking Loon

      September 25, 2014 at 10:22 pm

      I don’t think so, but I could be very wrong.

      • Smoking Loon

        September 25, 2014 at 10:25 pm

        No, it was Boston vs. Tampa Bay in one ALDS in 2013, to begin with, so… no. Unless they’ve made new rules.

      • Only Tiger Fan in Mississippi

        September 25, 2014 at 10:26 pm

        Found the answer….in 2012 when double WC was implemented, the winner of the WC game plays the team with the best record…aka the Rally Monkies.

  13. jud

    September 25, 2014 at 10:19 pm

    7-8-9 is supposed to go like that isn’t it!!!!!

  14. jud

    September 25, 2014 at 11:05 pm

    Congrats boys were playing next week!!!

  15. Kevin in Dallas

    September 25, 2014 at 11:10 pm

    Rangers won again.

  16. Jason

    September 25, 2014 at 11:51 pm

    9 up, 9 down from our bullpen is certainly nice to see.

  17. StorminNorman$

    September 26, 2014 at 8:01 am

    …this could be the guy who replaces Hunter for DET next yr – but the bidding (from other teams) may make him unaffordable for DET

    • Coleman

      September 26, 2014 at 12:12 pm

      Or will they sign this guy?

      • StorminNorman$

        September 26, 2014 at 12:42 pm

        the fact that Lynn Henning is recommending it, probably makes it unwise… but I must say, I’m really surprised how well this 39 yr old (TH) has closed out the season – he’s batting a little over .300 in Aug & Sept, and his fielding has improved dramatically from earlier in the year

        I suspect DET will choose between VMart or Hunter next year, but not both – and they may end up not get either (because of dollars/years)

  18. Only Tiger Fan in Mississippi

    September 26, 2014 at 11:38 am

    Looking at the stats, Little Ricky really hasn’t had a good Sep-tober. Let’s hope he turns it around tonight!

    • StorminNorman$

      September 26, 2014 at 12:47 pm

      I agree on both.

      Porcello in Sept: 0-3 (W/L), 5.57 (ERA), 21 (IN), 33 (hits), 5 (BB) in 4 starts – BA against = .367

  19. StorminNorman$

    September 26, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    Perspective/history: in 2009 DET was in this same position, 2 game lead with 3 games left (and they actually became the only team in MLB history to blow a 3-game lead with 4 games left)… and after some booze (and some boo’s), a game 163, etc – DET failed to make the playoffs

    …this yr, DET is definitely “in”, but winning the division is critical – so until they have a 3-game lead with 2 games left or a 2-game lead with 1 game left, I’m going to remain cautiously optimistic.

    • Only Tiger Fan in Mississippi

      September 26, 2014 at 2:01 pm

      Ahhh….remember it well. It only seems like yesterday but I am very glad it is today. While even losing, the Tigers v. Twins 163 playoff game was one of my most favorite game of all times. However, I am still not ready to go thru that wringer again. The Tigers bats must beat the Twins into submission. Also let’s add a little Davis speed into the formula too!

      • Coleman

        September 26, 2014 at 2:30 pm

        With today’s replay challenge rules, they would have ruled Inge was hit by that pitch, it would have forced in a run, and the Tiers would have won (probably).

        • Only Tiger Fan in Mississippi

          September 26, 2014 at 2:56 pm

          How true….Back in the 2009 season, I strongly remember game 148 in which the Tigers played the Twins in that beloved Twinkie Dome. Justin Verlander was rolling along into the 8th inning with a 2-1 lead off RBIs of Miguel Cabrera and Aubrey Huff. During the inning, Leyland put a young rookie named Don Kelly in left field for Carlos Guillen as a defensive replacement. With one out and the speedy Denard Span on first, Orlando Cabrera pops one up to Kelly WHO LOSES THE BALL AMONGST THE TWINKIE DOME PASTEL CEILING. Instead of two outs on one on first, you had runners at second and third for Joe Mauer. He is intentionally walked for Jason Kubel who scores two on a hit. Then Michael Cuddyer hits a three run homerun to send Verlander to the showers giving up 5 runs in the eight inning.

          If that ball wasn’t lost in the Twinkies Dome ceiling it would have been two outs with a runner on first and Verlander would have pitch differently to the Twins. To me this was a game the Tigers should have won and thus would have avoided a game 163 playoff. Should of, could of, didn’t!!!! Having games such as this is what scares me as we secure this year’s Central Division crown! I shudder when bullpen pitchers like Ryan, Hardy, and Johnson step to the mound.

          • Coleman

            September 26, 2014 at 3:08 pm

            Exactly…what a waste of Aubrey Huff’s only RBI as a Tiger!

            • Only Tiger Fan in Mississippi

              September 26, 2014 at 3:26 pm

              Yeah…you remember Huff too..his .189 batting as a Tiger before he went to the Giants and hit .290!

  20. Coleman

    September 26, 2014 at 4:47 pm

    La Russa and Dave Stewart just fired Kirk Gibson (and Trammell), Hmm, sounds like retributtion.

  21. StorminNorman$

    September 26, 2014 at 5:43 pm

    cool article – Tiger Stadium was awesome…a shrine. I remember my first game there, sitting behind home plate several seats back (above the netting) – Vida Blue pitching for the A’s (’71, the year he won MVP and edged out Lolich for CY Young). Watching Blue pitch live, was amazing – didn’t think it was possible to throw that hard. In about the 2nd inning Northrup (I think) fouled-back a Vida Blue fastball and the ball cleared the net and came straight back to my buddy Rich and me, the ball hit a couple rows up and bounced straight back, and my buddy Rich snatched it out of the air. Being my first game, I thought catching foul (or HR) balls was going to be a common thing – it wasn’t… out of probably 150+ MLB games, I’ve only got two balls total (and one of those was spring training).

    • StorminNorman$

      September 26, 2014 at 5:59 pm

      I just pulled up Lolich’s stats from ’71 – 25-14, 2.92 ERA, 376 IP (!!), 308 SO, 45 starts & 29 CG…oh how times have changed… I know the CG is a thing of the past, but the entire DET team has had a total of 36 complete games in the 8 seasons – with the outlier being in 2012 when they had 9 of those 36