Were it not for that regrettable Twins series at Comerica (a sweep for the taking!), this is a 16-2 run.
So the Detroit Tigers are now:
OF J. Martinez
DH-1B V. Martinez
Game 19: Quintana v. Scherzer. TIGERS 7, White Sox 4. Down 1, up 3.
NICE PLAYS: 1B Abreu, LF DAVIS, SS Ramirez-Abreu, Ramirez-Abreu, CF Danks, 2B KINSLER
MISPLAYS: RF Viciedo, HUNTER, Ramirez, KINSLER, HOLADAY
BASERUNNING NEWS: Aggressive advance on a short WP leads to KINSLER scoring. 8th inning hit and run pays off, JACKSON on and CASTELLANOS at the plate. WORTH costs a run by getting run down on lame steal attempt just before the DAVIS HR.
THE BIG HIT: Bases loaded and 2 out, Tigers up 3-2 in the 7th, CABRERA singles in 2 off Webb.
THE BIG OUT: Runner on 3rd and 2 out, Tigers up 5-4 in the 8th, CHAMBERLAIN strikes out Flowers.
GOOD HITTING: DAVIS. CABRERA, Viciedo
BAD HITTING: Danks, Abreu, KINSLER
GOOD PITCHING: SCHERZER, ALBURQUERQUE
BAD PITCHING: Webb, CHAMBERLAIN
OBVIOUSLY: The winning advantage was Tigers offense vs. White Sox bullpen.
DON’T OVERLOOK: The DAVIS two-out HR off Quintana in the 5th (breathing room), or how costly the HOLADAY throwing error that scored a run in the 8th could have been.
HUH?: Game ends on a strange note, NATHAN striking out Abreu (2nd out), who stumbles over the plate and interferes (technically) with HOLADAY’’s (awful) throw to 2B with Semien stealing; Semien out, putout Holaday, game over. Another strange play was a great Ramirez-Abreu combo that got WORTH at 1B (though he was actually safe and it might have been challenged). Out call reversed when Abreu dropped the ball lifting his glove to show the ump, even though he obviously had possession and had kept if even when his glove had initially hit the ground. Something for everyone (safe but out, out but safe, finally out) as Worth then gets picked off.
Game 20: Porcello v. Correia. Tigers 10. TWINS 6. Never behind, up 9.
NICE PLAYS: CF Fuld-2B Dozier-C Suzuki, ROMINE, 3B Plouffe, Plouffe-Dozier-1B Mauer, Dozier, LF Kubel, KINSLER-ROMINE-CABRERA, CABRERA-NATHAN
MISPLAYS: RF Colabello, KINSLER
BASERUNNING NEWS: Trying to score AVILA from 1B on the ROMINE double ends badly.
THE BIG HIT: Runner on 2B, none out, 0-0 in the 2nd, CASTELLANOS hits a 2-run HR off Correia.
THE BIG OUT: Men on 1st and 2nd, 2 out, Tigers up 2-1 in the 2nd, PORCELLO strikes out Florimon.
GOOD HITTING: HUNTER, Kubel, CASTELLANOS
BAD HITTING: Florimon
GOOD PITCHING: Tonkin
BAD PITCHING: Correia, Swarzak, MILLER
OBVIOUSLY: The Tigers hitters simply unloaded on Correia and Swarzak and put this one away in 3 innings.
DON’T OVERLOOK: PORCELLO got away with a bit of a clunker, but the bullpen did actually let in 4 of the 6 Twins runs.
HUH?: DAVIS stealing 2B with Detroit up 10-5. Already, level of confidence in the bullpen is? CABRERA accounted for all 3 outs in Tigers’ 7-run 3rd.
Game 21: Sanchez v. Hughes. TWINS 5, Tigers 3. Up 2, down 3.
NICE PLAYS: HUNTER, CABRERA, 3B Plouffe
MISPLAYS: RF Fuld, ROMINE, HOLADAY (2), CASTELLANOS, Plouffe
BASERUNNING NEWS: CABRERA stretching a double to 3B is news, even with a bad throw; next batter, he huffs and puffs to score on a not especially deep sac fly from V. MARTINEZ. HUNTER puts down a bunt (2 on, 1 out) that Plouffe can’t handle to load the bases.
THE BIG HIT (that wasn’t): Runners on 1st and 2nd, none out, 2-0 Tigers in the 5th, Escobar, facing ORTEGA, puts down a sac bunt that HOLADAY throws away, scoring Fuld.
THE BIG OUT: Bases loaded, one out, Tigers down 4-2 in the 8th, Burton retires CABRERA on a groundball 5-3 DP.
GOOD HITTING: Plouffe, Mauer
BAD HITTING: Kubel
GOOD PITCHING: Hughes, Burton
BAD PITCHING: ORTEGA, COKE
OBVIOUSLY: Hughes got 16 consecutive outs after giving up 2 runs, and the Tigers bullpen caved.
DON’T OVERLOOK: Horrible defense from HOLADAY in the crucial 5th.
HUH?: A nasty blister on the right middle finger of SANCHEZ forces him out of the game after 2.2.
“It’s great to be alive and to be a Tigers fan.”
Game 22: Verlander v. Quintana. Tigers 4, WHITE SOX 3. Down 3, up 1.
NICE PLAYS: CF Eaton, HOLADAY-WORTH, HUNTER-KINSLER-CASTELLANOS
MISPLAYS: 3B Semien, HUNTER, RF Viciedo
BASERUNNING NEWS: The comeback to tie the game consists of consecutive challenges of the White Sox OF by CABRERA and V. MARTINEZ – both score from 2B!
THE BIG HIT: Man on 3rd, 2 out, tied 3-3 in the 9th, HOLADAY (facing Belisario) puts down a suicide squeeze bunt that scores JACKSON.
THE BIG OUT: Man on 3rd, 1 out, tied 3-3 in the 9th, Belisario strikes out CASTELLANOS, and HOLADAY comes to the plate.
GOOD HITTING: JACKSON
BAD HITTING: CASTELLANOS
GOOD PITCHING: CHAMBERLAIN, Belisario
OBVIOUSLY: A good comeback win after VERLANDER and Quintana pitch to a draw of quality starts.
DON’T OVERLOOK: How RF Viciedo’s blunder sets up HOLADAY’s heroics.
HUH?: DAVIS dons the golden sombrero. The game-winning bunt by HOLADAY is his choice, and would have been AUSMUS’s choice but for the fact that HOLADAY misses the signals!
Game 23: Scherzer v. Noesi. Tigers 5, WHITE SOX 1. Never behind, up 5.
NICE PLAYS: CF Eaton, JACKSON, 1B Abreu, ROMINE
MISPLAYS: KINSLER, 3B Semien, Abreu
BASERUNNING NEWS: HOLADAY would have been caught off 2B after his big double had the White Sox thought to cover 2B.
THE BIG HIT: Runners on 1st and 2nd, 2 out, Tigers up 2-0 in the 4th, HOLADAY hits a 2-run double off Noesi.
THE BIG OUT: Men on 1st and 3rd, 2 out, 0-0 in the 3rd, SCHERZER strikes out Dunn.
GOOD HITTING: HOLADAY
GOOD PITCHING: SCHERZER, ALBURQUERQUE, CHAMBERLAIN, Petricka
BAD PITCHING: Cleto
OBVIOUSLY: A strong start from SCHERZER backed by one big inning was all it took.
DON’T OVERLOOK: The Tigers were practically shut down by the Chicago bullpen the last 5 innings.
Game 24: Porcello v. Shields. Tigers 8, ROYALS 2. Down 1, up 6.
NICE PLAYS: HUNTER-KINSLER-3B KELLY, KINSLER, SS Escobar
MISPLAYS: 3B Moustakas-2B Infante
BASERUNNING NEWS: Subtle, and it came to naught as far as scoring, but an alert KELLY advance on a WP that didn’t get far helped set up some additional bases-loaded stress for Shields. HUNTER scores from 1B on a CABRERA double, beating LF Gordon (to be fair, the ball rolled to the wall and then just died there).
THE BIG HIT: Man on 2B, none out, Tigers up 2-1 in the 4th, AVILA hits a 2-run HR off Shields.
THE BIG OUT: Bases loaded, 2 out, Tigers down 1-0 in the 2nd, Shields retires ROMINE on a flyball to shallow CF.
GOOD HITTING: V. MARTINEZ, J. MARTINEZ
GOOD PITCHING: PORCELLO
BAD PITCHING: Shields
OBVIOUSLY: A solid beatdown in all aspects.
DON’T OVERLOOK: J. MARTINEZ took Herrera to RF for a 2-run double. PORCELLO-KROL-REED combined to retire the last 18 Royals batters in order.
Game 25: Smyly v. Duffy. Tigers 9, ROYALS 2. Never behind, up 9.
NICE PLAYS: 3B Moustakas (2), RF Aoki, HUNTER, JACKSON, WORTH, LF DAVIS-KINSLER, Hosmer
MISPLAYS: HOLADAY, SS Escobar
BASERUNNING NEWS: KINSLER chatted himself into being picked off 1B, and a later attempt to stretch a double into a triple didn’t make up for it. A perfect bunt by DAVIS was the centerpiece if not the big blow in the 9th.
THE BIG HIT: Runners on 2nd and 3rd, 2 out, Tigers up 1-0 in the 6th, CASTELLANOS hits a 2-run double off Herrera.
THE BIG OUT: Man on 3B, 1 out, Tigers up 1-0 in the 4th, SMYLY strikes out Butler.
GOOD HITTING: HUNTER, CABRERA, V. MARTINEZ
GOOD PITCHING: SMYLY
BAD PITCHING: Brooks
OBVIOUSLY: 7 shutout innings from SMYLY and 3 RBI from Castellanos made it happen; the 6-run 9th was against recent callup Brooks.
DON’T OVERLOOK: Fine defensive plays on both sides. The 6-run explosion against Brooks (with half the Tigers’ hits for the game) made the 9th inning feel like a second game much different than the first. HUNTER’s 3-run HR to LF off Brooks was a moon shot.
HUH?: CABRERA dekes another OF (LF Gordon – it was Mike Trout a while back), this time to score on a sac fly.
Game 26: Verlander v. Vargas. Tigers 9, ROYALS 4. Never behind, up 7.
NICE PLAYS: ROMINE, HUNTER, LF DAVIS, SS Escobar
MISPLAYS: LF DAVIS
BASERUNNING NEWS: The Tigers offense had legs, legs, legs, particularly those of DAVIS and ROMINE. It’s a 4-4 game without that. There was also a smart hold early, KINSLER putting the brakes on just ‘round 3B.
THE BIG HIT: Men on 1st and 3rd, 1 out, Tigers up 3-0 in the 4th, CABRERA hits a 2-run double off Vargas.
THE BIG OUT: Runners on 1st and 3rd, 1 out, Tigers up 1-0, Vargas retires V. MARTINEZ on a flyball to short CF.
GOOD HITTING: HUNTER, Aoki, DAVIS
BAD HITTING: Hosmer
GOOD PITCHING: VERLANDER, Collins
BAD PITCHING: Vargas, Mariot
OBVIOUSLY: No contest, a thorough win.
DON’T OVERLOOK: VERLANDER had a no-hitter through 5.2 (he walked 4 overall), and then came the 7th.
Game 27: Cosart v. Scherzer. TIGERS 2, Astros 0. Never behind, up 2.
NICE PLAYS: 1B Krauss-3B Dominguez, SS Villar, HUNTER, AVILA (2), AVILA-ROMINE, KINSLER, CASTELLANOS (2), Villar-2B Altuve-Krauss
MISPLAYS: Villar, ROMINE, Krauss
BASERUNNING NEWS: KINSLER gets caught inexplicably between 3B and home in a none out, 1st and 3rd, ground ball to 1B situation – double play (and a really smart play by Krauss, who would later play the goat). That’s a huge out even in a 1st inning. ROMINE sets up the winning run with an excellent sacrifice bunt, crucial considering the runners on (CASTELLANOS and AVILA).
THE BIG HIT: Men on 2nd and 3rd, 1 out, 0-0 in the 7th, DAVIS singles off Cosart to score CASTELLANOS.
THE BIG OUTS: Runners on 1st and 2nd, 1 out, Tigers up 1-0 in the 8th, SCHERZER strikes out Altuve (full count) and AVILA guns down Gonzalez attempting to steal 3B, double play.
BAD HITTING: CABRERA
GOOD PITCHING: SCHERZER, Cosart
OBVIOUSLY: A pitching duel throughout and a close game won.
DON’T OVERLOOK: How 1B Krauss’s error on a routine play opened the door for Detroit, or how AVILA’s strong defense closed the door on Houston – twice.
Game 28: Oberholtzer v. Ray. TIGERS 11, Astros 4. Never behind, up 10.
NICE PLAYS: 2B Altuve (2), 3B Dominguez, CASTELLANOS, KINSLER
MISPLAYS: RAY, CASTELLANOS, KINSLER, 1B WORTH
BASERUNNING NEWS: HUNTER gets erased pretty easily trying to steal 3B – right before the CABRERA HR. A HUNTER-KINSLER hit and run in the 7th sets up some runs. JACKSON swipes 3B (a rare treat) and soon scores.
THE BIG HIT: None on, 1 out, 0-0 in the 1st, CABRERA homers off Oberholtzer.
THE BIG OUTS: Men on 1st and 3rd, none out, 0-0 in the 1st, RAY retires the side (strikeout-strikeout-groundout).
GOOD HITTING: CABRERA, Springer, WORTH, KINSLER
BAD HITTING: Guzman
GOOD PITCHING: RAY, REED
BAD PITCHING: Fields
OBVIOUSLY: 4-hit, 4 RBI CABRERA support of a good MLB debut from RAY, lopsidedness courtesy of the Astros’ hapless bullpen.
DON’T OVERLOOK: A shoddy defensive effort and 5 runs off a pitcher throwing BP.
HUH?: KINSLER drops a routine pop fly in shallow RF, run scores, no error because he gets an out at 2B. But it wrecks RAY’s shutout. Moving SS WORTH to 1B for the 9th (score 11-1) – a kind of “what the heck” move by AUSMUS? – didn’t do MILLER any favors, either.
Game 29: Peacock v. Porcello. TIGERS 3, Astros 2. Never behind, up 2.
NICE PLAYS: RF Springer, 3B Dominguez, KINSLER-CABRERA, 2B Altuve-1B Krauss, HUNTER
MISPLAYS: AVILA, CASTELLANOS
BASERUNNING NEWS: Though the Tigers had it all over the Astros running, Villar getting to 2B (poor throw AVILA) and then 3B (CASTELLANOS failed to cover) was an easy two-out tying run in the 9th just waiting to happen.
THE BIG HIT: 1 on and 1 out, 0-0 in the 1st, CABRERA 2-run HR off Peacock.
THE BIG OUT: Man on 3B, 2 out, Tigers up 3-2 in the 9th, NATHAN strikes out Dominguez.
GOOD HITTING: Gonzalez
BAD HITTING: Altuve
GOOD PITCHING: PORCELLO, Peacock, CHAMBERLAIN
OBVIOUSLY: A close one that the PORCELLO and the Tigers were able to maintain control of with a key DP (6th inning) and a V. MARTINEZ insurance run (HR in the bottom 6th).
DON’T OVERLOOK: How RF Springer almost robbed CABRERA of his 2-run HR, or how a HUNTER charge and scoop and throw saved a big run (though it eventually scored anyway).
HUH?: Crazy play of the game: ROMINE steals second (as DAVIS swings and misses for strike one) and is called safe (he’s out), but DAVIS actually interfered (his bat) with C Castro, so DAVIS is out. Do over. KINSLER up, ROMINE tries again. This time he’s called out (he’s safe). AUSMUS challenges and it gets reversed. But nothing to show as KINSLER lines out to 3B Dominguez.
Game 30: Keuchel v. Smyly. Astros 6, TIGERS 2. Up 2, down 4.
NICE PLAYS: KINSLER, RF Springer, WORTH, 2B Altuve-1B Guzman, KINSLER-WORTH-1B V. MARTINEZ, WORTH-V. MARTINEZ
MISPLAYS: V. MARTINEZ
BASERUNNING NEWS: No small ball today, all extra base hits and double plays.
THE BIG HIT: Runners on 1st and 2nd, 2 out, Tigers up 2-1 in the 5th, Altuve hits a 2-run double off SMYLY.
THE BIG OUT: Men on 1st and 3rd, 1 out, Tigers down 3-2 in the 6th, REED retires Springer on a groundball 4-6-3 DP.
GOOD HITTING: V. MARTINEZ, Dominguez
GOOD PITCHING: Keuchel
OBVIOUSLY: Keuchel had the Tigers’ number, and one pitch to Altuve (in a 9-pitch battle) was SMYLY’s undoing.
DON’T OVERLOOK: How the game – somehow – just turned on a dime after the nice play by 2B Altuve (and challenge by Bo Porter) got JACKSON at 1B to end the Tigers 4th.
Game 31: Hughes v. Verlander. Twins 2, TIGERS 1. Never ahead, down 2.
NICE PLAYS: CASTELLANOS, 2B Dozier-1B Colabello, AVILA-ROMINE
MISPLAYS: ROMINE, CASTELLANOS, LF Kubel
BASERUNNING NEWS: DAVIS did his exciting best in the 3rd to make a run happen (that didn’t), hustling a double out of the box and tagging to go to 3B. JACKSON on the move 1-2 with CASTELLANOS up (singles to RF) gives the Tigers their best chance against Hughes in the 4th. Speed demon AVILA gets his legs into his 9th inning double (the rocket bungled by LF Kubel) off Perkins; should have been the tying run.
THE BIG HIT: Bases loaded, 2 out, 0-0 in the 7th, Suzuki singles in two off VERLANDER.
THE BIG OUTS: 1 out, pinch-runner WORTH at 2B, Tigers down 2-1 in the 9th, Perkins retires J. MARTINEZ and DAVIS in order.
GOOD HITTING: Suzuki
BAD HITTING: Hicks, Plouffe
GOOD PITCHING: Hughes, VERLANDER, Fien
OBVIOUSLY: The Tigers wasted 6 good innings from VERLANDER, but he punched his own ticket in the 7th.
DON’T OVERLOOK: Detroit 1 for 9 RISP. Twins not much better, but better enough.
HUH?: A fire alarm at Comerica Park briefly disrupts play in the 9th. Sort of like how the Tigers’ would-be rally briefly disrupted the loss.
Game 32: Gibson v. Scherzer. TIGERS 9, Twins 3. Never behind, up 6.
NICE PLAYS: 1B Colabello-SS Santana-P Gibson, AVILA-KINSLER, LF KELLY, 3B Escobar-C Suzuki, RF Parmelee, KINSLER, CABRERA-SCHERZER, CABRERA-ROMINE
MISPLAYS: Santana-2B Dozier, Dozier, CF Hicks, CASTELLANOS
BASERUNNING NEWS: JACKSON at 3rd makes a bad decision on a sharp ground ball to 3B, dead at home plate. Alert 3B coach CLARK gets CASTELLANOS over to 3B on Hicks muff and helps a big inning along. Suzuki made one of the lamer attempts to steal 2B you’ll see. How CASTELLANOS stretched his single to double off LF Nunez was… just barely. Bit of luck with throw and tag.
THE BIG HIT: Men on 1st and 2nd, 1 out, 0-0 in the 2nd, AVILA single off Gibson scores KELLY and gets CASTELLANOS to 3B with help from Hicks. The big inning is underway.
THE BIG OUT: Runners on 1st and 3rd, 1 out, 0-0 in the first, Gibson gets V. MARTINEZ to ground into a 3-6-1 DP.
GOOD HITTING: CABRERA, HUNTER
BAD HITTING: Colabello
GOOD PITCHING: Swarzak, ALBURQUERQUE, CHAMBERLAIN
BAD PITCHING: Gibson, Tonkin
OBVIOUSLY: Detroit had it all going on except for a scuffling SCHERZER, and the bottom fell out for the Twins with their clown show 2nd inning.
DON’T OVERLOOK: Two highlight reel plays (oh, they’re called “web gems” now, right?) from KELLY (robbing a HR from Suzuki) and CABRERA (3-6-3 DP), or how CABRERA and V. MARTINEZ countered big fails in their first PA’s with 3-run bombs later.
“I hate baseball.”
Game 33: Deduno v. Ray. Twins 4, TIGERS 3. Up 3, down 1.
NICE PLAYS: 2B Dozier-1B Colabello, RAY-ROMINE-CABRERA, ROMINE-KINSLER-CABRERA, KINSLER, P Fien-Colabello, AVILA-KINSLER
MISPLAYS: C Suzuki, ROMINE, LF DAVIS, Parmelee, Colabello
BASERUNNING NEWS: Fun time play in the 8th from CABRERA, alertly taking 2B on a single, after the big round and hesitate, on end-of-play bumbling by RF Parmelee. He gets to 3B with the tying run but no further. Nunez singles in the winning run and then (mercifully) ends the Twins 8th by assuming he’ll go to 2B on the throw home. Smart cutoff by KINSLER hangs him out to dry.
THE BIG HIT: Runners on 1st and 2nd, 2 out, Tigers up 3-1 in the 8th, Pinto single plus error by DAVIS scores 2 off CHAMBERLAIN.
THE BIG OUT: Man on 3B, 2 out, Tigers down 4-3 in the 8th, Perkins retires CASTELLANOS on a flyball to CF.
GOOD HITTING: Pinto, KINSLER
BAD HITTING: Plouffe
GOOD PITCHING: RAY, Perkins
BAD PITCHING: CHAMBERLAIN
OBVIOUSLY: The Tigers had this one in the bag, and a lot would have to go wrong for them to lose. A lot went wrong.
DON’T OVERLOOK: How much it stings to lose a game and a series this way. Also, the pink bats and sleeves are cool, but don’t get caught losing with them.
HUH?: Bases loaded, one out in the 4th, JACKSON is struck by the batted ball between 2nd and 3rd and is out. Twins pick up the ball and get the force at 2B as well, but it doesn’t count. Gardenhire comes out to argue for two outs, puts on his show, and gets tossed. This inspires DAVIS to ground out to end the inning. It’s huge later.
Game 34: Porcello v. Norris. Tigers 4, ORIOLES 1. Down 1, up 3.
NICE PLAYS: CASTELLANOS-CABRERA, CABRERA-PORCELLO, CABRERA-PORCELLO, P Norris, PORCELLO, C Clevenger-2B Schoop, SS Hardy, CASTELLANOS
MISPLAYS: LF DAVIS, ROMINE
BASERUNNING NEWS: KINSLER manufactures a run with a SB and a tag-up in the go-ahead 4th. CASTELLANOS awkwardly swings and misses in the 7th and then interferes with Clevenger trying to throw out JACKSON stealing 2B – inning-ending DP.
THE BIG HIT: Man on 1B, 2 out, Tigers up 2-1 in the 8th, KINSLER 2-run HR off Norris.
THE BIG OUTS: Tigers up 2-1 in the 7th, runner on 2B (and then 3B), KROL retires the side (flyout-groundout-flyout).
GOOD HITTING: Clevenger, KINSLER
GOOD PITCHING: PORCELLO, Norris, ALBURQUERQUE, Guillmet
OBVIOUSLY: Good to get 4 runs and a win with only 5 hits (and 8 baserunners total).
DON’T OVERLOOK: The Tigers outshining the O’s defensively, or a rare 7 consecutive outs from the bullpen.
HUH?: HUNTER has some words for Norris after getting drilled in the ribs, coincidentally enough right after the KINSLER home run. Tempers flare, Norris gets tossed, benches clear, etc.. PORCELLO is pulled after only 83 pitches (6 innings) with tightness in his side.
Game 35: Smyly v. Jimenez. Tigers 4, ORIOLES 1. Down 1, up 3.
NICE PLAYS: CASTELLANOS, JACKSON, C Joseph-3B Machado, 2B Schoop-SS Hardy-1B Davis, ROMINE CABRERA, KINSLER-ROMINE-CABRERA
MISPLAYS: LF J. MARTINEZ
BASERUNNING NEWS: V. MARTINEZ and CABRERA both DOA on SB attempts. Both strikeout-throwout double plays. In the same game, the same close game, the same Tigers down 1-0 game. Throw in HUNTER trying to beat a WP that didn’t go far and getting gunned down at 3B with 2 on and none out in the 7th, V. MARTINEZ at the plate. Ouch. The oven mitt of PR DAVIS redeems all in the 9th.
THE BIG HIT: Runners on 1st and 2nd, 2 out, Tigers down 1-0 in the 9th, CABRERA 3-run HR off Hunter.
THE BIG OUTS: Men on 1st and 2nd, none out, Tigers down 1-0 in the 7th, HUNTER is cut down at 3B by Joseph, and then Jimenez gets a 4-6-3 DP off the bat of V. MARTINEZ.
GOOD HITTING: CABRERA
BAD HITTING: Hardy
GOOD PITCHING: SMYLY, Jimenez, MILLER
BAD PITCHING: Hunter
OBVIOUSLY: Detroit struck like lightning in the 9th after 8 goose eggs and at least validated a strong outing from Smyly.
DON’T OVERLOOK: What a gem that 9th inning was, and how it hung by the thread of a little knocker down the 3B line (against the shift) by AVILA, the pinch-runner insertion of DAVIS (and the SB and the AUSMUS challenge that preserved it), and HUNTER drawing a walk in a 3-2 count.
Game 36: Verlander v. Gausman. Tigers 7, ORIOLES 5. Never behind, up 6.
NICE PLAYS: 2B Schoop, KINSLER, 3B Machado, WORTH, 3B KELLY
MISPLAYS: P Gonzalez
BASERUNNING NEWS: The Tigers’ 3-run 4th was an exercise in small ball, hustle, and taking advantage, featuring a double steal (JACKSON-KELLY), but the centerpiece was the unplayable squeeze bunt put down by WORTH to score KELLY. V. MARTINEZ steals 2B in the 7th, aided in large part by disbelieving hesitation on the part of C Clevenger.
THE BIG HIT: Men on 1st and 3rd, 2 out, Tigers up 6-2 in the 5th, Cruz hits a 3-run HR off VERLANDER.
THE BIG OUT: Bases loaded, 2 out, Tigers up 6-5 in the 8th, CHAMBERLAIN retires Markakis on a fly ball to CF.
GOOD HITTING: Cruz
BAD HITTING: Markakis
GOOD PITCHING: NATHAN
BAD PITCHING: Gausman
OBVIOUSLY: The offense built up enough of a pad to survive VERLANDER’s fall, and the bullpen held.
DON’T OVERLOOK: The bottom of the order – KELLY-HOLADAY-WORTH – reaches 6 times, scoring 4, driving in 3.
HUH?: Cruz had a dirty look and some self-adjustment for VERLANDER after being plunked in the 4th (retaliatory; see Norris-HUNTER). VERLANDER followed up on his gamesmanship by allowing 5 runs the next inning, including a 3-run jack from Cruz.
DEFENSIVE SCORECARD (in terms of outstanding plays one way or the other, X = good, O = not)
LF DAVIS XXXOOO zero
2B KINSLER XOXOXOXXXXXOXXXXXXXXXX +14
RF HUNTER OXXOXXXXX +5
C HOLADAY OOOXO -3
SS ROMINE XXOXXXOXOXXXOOXX +6
1B CABRERA XXXXXXXXXXXX +12
P NATHAN X +1
3B CASTELLANOS OXXXXOOXOOXXX +3
SS WORTH XXXXXX +6
CF JACKSON XXX +3
3B KELLY XX +2
C AVILA XXXOXXX +5
P RAY OX zero
1B WORTH O -1
1B V. MARTINEZ XXO +1
LF KELLY X +1
P SCHERZER X +1
P PORCELLO XX +2
LF J. MARTINEZ O -1
Alex Avila goes day to day with a left shin contusion, and Bryan Holaday gets some consecutive starts. *** The Tigers (among others in baseball) are pleased with MLB revision of the “transfer rule,” a factor in a strange call on Andrew Romine earlier in the season. *** Bullpen shuffle: Justin Miller down, Jose Ortega up. Oh, wait. Anibal Sanchez to the DL (blister), Miller’s back, 8-man bullpen for now. *** Avila now bothered by back spasms again, which fortuitously sets up Night Of The Living Bunt for Holaday. *** Detroit plays just 21 games in first 29 days of the season. *** Free agent reliever Joel Hanrahan, still on the rehab trail, is signed by the Tigers in hopes he might be ready by July, or mid-season, or something like that, and he begins his “spring training” at the Lakeland complex. *** No indications from Dave Dombrowski that the Tigers are shopping at SS or have any interest in the still-unsigned Stephen Drew. *** Drew Smyly: “To be honest, I’m kind of sick of the bullpen talk, that it’s where I should go. I’ve been a starter my whole life.” *** Nick Castellanos and Miguel Cabrera are tied for the team lead, after 25 games, with 17 RBI each. *** 7 straight starts with 7+ strikeouts from Max Scherzer to begin the season. *** Robbie Ray (fill-in for Sanchez in the rotation) is added to the 25-man roster, with Ortega returning to Toledo and room cleared on the 40-man roster by outrighting Toledo 1B Jordan Lennerton’s contract. *** Al Alburquerque is called out by Miggy as the worst dresser on the team. *** Brad Ausmus tosses early BP to Cabrera before Game 29. *** 8 HR (and fewer strikeouts) after 32 games for Victor Martinez. 5 starters in the lineup are batting .300+ and Cabrera has been picking it up as well after a slow start as far as average and power were concerned (the run production was there all along, and he now has 25 RBI after 32 games). *** The Detroit starting pitchers are rock stars: Scherzer has a 2.04 ERA, Justin Verlander 2.67, Smyly 2.70, and Rick Porcello 3.22. They’re 17-6 in W-L. *** Game 32 is Jim Leyland Day at Comerica, and the Tigers celebrate with a convincing win. *** OF Andy Dirks, recovering from back surgery, resumes light baseball activities with a June return in mind. *** Ausmus on Don Kelly after a comment on what a good NL guy he’d be: “I don’t want Donnie Kelly going anywhere. I want to keep him here.” Kelly is currently at .324 with an .820 OPS. *** Bullpen prospect Corey Knebel is on the fast track, making the jump from Erie to Toledo. *** Sparingly used OF J.D. Martinez is sporting a 219/257/313 slash with a heaping helping of strikeouts. *** Everyday Al (Alburquerque) pitches 4 games in a row. “It’s good. It’s early in the year,” Alburquerque said. *** Detroit has put together both an 8-game win streak and an 8-game road winning streak within this inning. *** Miller gets his good slider back, at least temporarily. *** Victor hits a HR in Baltimore’s Orioles Park that carries to Eutaw Street beyond the right field stands. *** Ausmus thinks that defensive shifting in baseball has “probably gone overboard.” *** Detroit’s run prevention, 131 allowed in 36 games, is second in the AL only to Oakland, no other teams even close. *** Luke Putkonen (DL) is said to be close to returning. *** Cabrera hits safely in 16 of 18 games, and the hits are BIG-BIG in at least 6 of those games. *** The bullpen during this stretch? Well, the two games it can be said to have blown required big help from poor defense to blow. Alburquerque has been good, and Joe Nathan in 8 games and 8 IP had 7 saves and a o.oo ERA. *** The Tigers NEVER TRAILED in 9 of these games, and a number of those were CONSECUTIVE. *** Detroit matches its 2013 stolen base total of 35 by Game 36 of 2014.
24-12, 1st in the Central, 1st in the AL, on pace for a 108-54 season…