2014: The 2nd Inning (14-4)

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:

SP Verlander
SP Scherzer
SP Sanchez
SP Porcello
SP Smyly
RP Nathan
RP Alburquerque
RP Chamberlain
RP Coke
RP Miller
RP Reed
RP Krol
C Avila
C Holaday
1B-DH Cabrera
2B Kinsler
SS Romine
IF Worth
3B Castellanos
IF-OF Kelly
RF Hunter
CF Jackson
LF Davis
OF J. Martinez
DH-1B V. Martinez


 

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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.

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RAINED OUT!

“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
BAD PITCHING:
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
BAD HITTING:
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
BAD HITTING:
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.

MLB: Chicago White Sox at Detroit Tigers

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
BAD HITTING:
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.
GOOD HITTING:
BAD HITTING: CABRERA
GOOD PITCHING: SCHERZER, Cosart
BAD PITCHING:
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.

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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
BAD PITCHING:
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
BAD HITTING:
GOOD PITCHING: Keuchel
BAD PITCHING:
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.

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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
BAD PITCHING:
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.

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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
BAD HITTING:
GOOD PITCHING: PORCELLO, Norris, ALBURQUERQUE, Guillmet
BAD PITCHING:
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.


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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

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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.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim v Detroit Tigers

24-12, 1st in the Central, 1st in the AL, on pace for a 108-54 season…

RESEARCH MADE POSSIBLE BY: MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL and BASEBALL REFERENCE . 
PHOTO CREDITS: CABRERA: Associated Press; HOLADAY: Rick Osentoski/USA Today; WORTH: Steve Mitchell/USA Today; NATHAN: Leon Halip/Getty Images.

2014: The 1st Inning (10-8)

While this is partly inspired by the old Sam Hoff season-as-innings feature, I’m not going to do too much summing up of the innings or go deeply into composite team stats (there will be a concise summary of team pitching and batting – you can zoom in to make it readable – and also a novel attempt at tracking defensive performance). No, I’m going to recap the games, because the games are what happened. (You might be surprised at how clearly you remember some of them.) Note that this isn’t so much a review of the season as it is a retelling, a retelling from within, as it were. The narration isn’t that of an all-knowing future observer; I strive to keep my game reviews and reactions, as well as little summaries of newsworthy items and quotes from the contemporaneous news, in the context of the time. 

The story of 2014 begins with the 2013/2014 offseason, of course. Nothing unusual there, except that this was no ordinary offseason for changes. Check it out: Manager Jim Leyland stepping down after 8 years at the helm. The surprise hiring of rookie manager Brad Ausmus and a partial changing of the guard in the coaching staff. The shocking Prince Fielder for Ian Kinsler trade. The puzzling trade of Doug Fister. The can’t-miss acquisition of closer Joe Nathan. A number of good players left to go on to greener pastures (Benoit, Peralta, Infante, Veras, etc.). Interesting but speculative acquisitions such as Rajai Davis and Joba Chamberlain.

Spring training came along, and some best-laid plans began to gang a-gley. The news about Jose Iglesias’s shins went from bad to worst, and after a flurry of odd SS moves, the team was left with Alex Gonzalez/Andrew Romine. Back surgery for Andy Dirks nixed the Dirks/Rajai Davis LF platoon idea. High hopes for Bruce Rondon’s arrival as setup man ran into season-ending Tommy John surgery. Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera seemed OK after offseason surgeries, but Anibal Sanchez ran into sore shoulder problems that shortened his spring.

The media had the Detroit Tigers as quite probable to win the AL pennant, based largely on brand name star power. The fans were more skeptical. The team had lost a lot of offense, and one famous closer does not a bullpen make. On the other hand, the Tigers still had one of the best starting rotations in baseball, still had Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez, and maybe this Ausmus fellow would bring a more modern, effective, and perhaps daring approach to managing than we’d seen in a while. There was cautious optimism that team defense and team speed/baserunning had been improved. (How could it be any worse?) Maybe just enough of all the elements was finally in place?

The 2014 edition began the season as:

SP Verlander
SP Scherzer
SP Sanchez
SP Porcello
SP Smyly
RP Nathan
RP Alburquerque
RP Chamberlain
RP Coke
RP Putkonen
RP Reed
RP Krol
C Avila
C Holaday
1B Cabrera
2B Kinsler
SS Gonzalez
IF Romine
3B Castellanos
IF-OF Kelly
RF Hunter
CF Jackson
LF Davis
OF Collins
DH-1B-C V. Martinez


 

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Game 1: Shields v. Verlander. TIGERS 4, Royals 3. Down 2, up 1. Walk-off win.
NICE PLAYS: 3B Moustakas, VERLANDER, 1B Hosmer, KINSLER, GONZALEZ, CF Cain
MISPLAYS: JACKSON, HUNTER, GONZALEZ
BASERUNNING NEWS: CASTELLANOS gunned down by LF Gordon on ill-advised attempt to stretch a single.
THE BIG HIT: Man on 2nd, 2 out, Tigers down 3-2 in the 7th, GONZALEZ triples off Crow to score AVILA.
THE BIG OUT: Runner on 2nd, 2 out, 3-3 in the 8th, ALBURQUERQUE retires Cain.
GOOD HITTING: Perez, GONZALEZ
BAD HITTING: Gordon
GOOD PITCHING: Shields, TIGERS bullpen
BAD PITCHING: Crow
OBVIOUSLY: The comeback win at home on Opening Day is sweet, especially against the chief division rival.
DON’T OVERLOOK:  The JACKSON triple off Shields that set up run #2, or AUSMUS pinch-running COLLINS for AVILA in the 9th.
HUH?: HUNTER drops a routine flyball, and VERLANDER walks in a run.

Game 2: Vargas v. Scherzer. TIGERS 2, Royals 1 (10). Never behind, up 1. Walk-off win.
NICE PLAYS: LF COLLINS, CASTELLANOS (2), CABRERA, SS Escobar-1B Hosmer, LF Gordon, KINSLER, ALBURQUERQUE
MISPLAYS:
BASERUNNING NEWS: AVILA caught stealing 2B, GONZALEZ runs on contact into an out at home.
THE BIG HIT: Runners on 1st and 2nd, 2 out, 1-1 in the 10th, KINSLER hit to left center off Collins scores JACKSON to win it.
THE BIG OUT: Men on 2nd and 3rd, 2 out, 1-1 in the 9th, NATHAN retires Hayes (4-3 groundout).
GOOD HITTING: KINSLER (= Tigers offense)
BAD HITTING: Butler, Cabrera
GOOD PITCHING: SCHERZER, Vargas, ALBURQUERQUE
BAD PITCHING: Collins, NATHAN
OBVIOUSLY: A nail-biter and a great duel that SCHERZER should have won.
DON’T OVERLOOK: How NATHAN blew the win for SCHERZER, or the ALBURQUERQUE play and AUSMUS challenge that erased Aoki from 1B in the 10th, ending the threat and the inning.

RAINED OUT!

Game 3: Gonzalez v. Sanchez. TIGERS 10, Orioles 4. Down 2, up 8.
NICE PLAYS: CASTELLANOS, LF Lough, 2B Lombardozzi, ROMINE (2), CABRERA
MISPLAYS: Lough, SS Flaherty, LF DAVIS, HUNTER, ROMINE, JACKSON
BASERUNNING NEWS: Aggression doesn’t pay off for JACKSON (stretching a single v. Lough) or CASTELLANOS (overrunning 3B). V. MARTINEZ steals 2B.
THE BIG HIT: Men on 1st and 2nd, none out, Tigers down 2-0 in the 2nd, CASTELLANOS 2-run double off Gonzalez.
THE BIG OUTS: Runners on 1st and 2nd, none out, Tigers up 3-2 in the 4th, SANCHEZ retires the side (groundout-popout-strikeout).
GOOD HITTING: DAVIS, CABRERA, CASTELLANOS, HUNTER, Davis
BAD HITTING: V. MARTINEZ, Flaherty
GOOD PITCHING: SMYLY
BAD PITCHING: Gonzalez, Webb, CHAMBERLAIN
OBVIOUSLY: Early offense and strong middle relief made it a cakewalk.
DON’T OVERLOOK: The importance of SMYLY’s shutdown innings with SANCHEZ going only 4, and how the rain delay played to the Tigers’ advantage.
THE BAD CALL: Would-be DP where ROMINE had the force and then dropped the ball was ruled safe all around. Challenged to no avail.

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Game 4: Norris v. Porcello. TIGERS 7, Orioles 6. Down 1, up 6.
NICE PLAYS: LF DAVIS (2), SS Hardy, 2B Lombardozzi
MISPLAYS: KINSLER, HUNTER (2), 3B Schoop, GONZALEZ (2)
BASERUNNING NEWS: KELLY beats CF Jones to score on a shallow sac fly from DAVIS.
THE BIG HIT: Bases loaded, 1 out, Tigers down 1-0 in the 3rd, HUNTER clears the bases with a double off Norris.
THE BIG OUTS: Runners on 1st and 2nd, 1 out, Tigers up 7-6 in the 9th, NATHAN retires Cruz (strikeout) and Davis (with big help from LF DAVIS) to end the game not a moment too soon, formerly big lead almost evaporated.
GOOD HITTING: HUNTER, KELLY, PH Clevenger
BAD HITTING: Cruz
GOOD PITCHING: PORCELLO, REED
BAD PITCHING: Norris, COKE, Matusz, NATHAN
OBVIOUSLY: Detroit made it look easy for 8 innings.
DON’T OVERLOOK: How defense helped the Tigers bullpen crumble, or how the HUNTER-PORCELLO two-man show (less HUNTER’s defense, mind you) kept that from being fatal.

Game 5: Tillman v. Verlander. Orioles 3, TIGERS 1. Up 1, down 2.
NICE PLAYS: 2B Lombardozzi, ROMINE, SS Flaherty (2), JACKSON, LF Lough, RF Markakis, LF COLLINS
MISPLAYS: JACKSON
BASERUNNING NEWS: Markakis stretching the double to RF into a triple is huge.
THE BIG HIT: None on, 1 out, 1-1 in the 8th, Markakis triples off VERLANDER.
THE BIG OUTS: Man on 2nd, 1 out, Tigers down 3-1 in the 9th, Hunter retires JACKSON (strikeout) and COLLINS (groundout) to end the game.
GOOD HITTING:
BAD HITTING: Lough, JACKSON
GOOD PITCHING: Tillman, VERLANDER, Hunter
BAD PITCHING:
OBVIOUSLY:  The Tigers just ran into “better” beating “good.”
DON’T OVERLOOK: How strong Orioles defense supported strong pitching from Tillman.

Game 6: Scherzer v. Haren. DODGERS 3, Tigers 2 (10). Never ahead, down 1. Walk-off loss.
NICE PLAYS: AVILA (2), ROMINE (2), 1B V. MARTINEZ, RF KELLY-KINSLER-AVILA
MISPLAYS: JACKSON-SCHERZER, CF Kemp, LF DAVIS
BASERUNNING NEWS: KINSLER legging out a double was impressive. V. MARTINEZ caught stealing 2B in the 9th was deadly.
THE BIG HIT: Runner on 1st, 1 out, 2-2 in the 10th, Crawford double to LF off COKE past the not quite capable DAVIS scores Figgins from 1B to win it.
THE BIG OUTS: Man on 2B, none out, Tigers down 2-1 in the 9th, Jansen retires KELLY (groundout 3B) and CABRERA (strikeout) before V. MARTINEZ knocks in the tying run and then commits suicide on base.
GOOD HITTING:
BAD HITTING:
GOOD PITCHING: Haren, SCHERZER, Dodgers bullpen
BAD PITCHING: COKE
OBVIOUSLY: Just a close one that got away after Detroit came back to tie it.
DON’T OVERLOOK: CABRERA 0 for 4, RISP twice.
HUH?: Dee Gordon hits a HR off SCHERZER.
OUCH: HUNTER damages his knee sliding into the RF wall (foul territory) and leaves the game.

clark-collins

Game 7: Sanchez v. Beckett. Tigers 7, DODGERS 6 (10). Down 1, up 3.
NICE PLAYS: C V. MARTINEZ, P Beckett, GONZALEZ-CABRERA, CASTELLANOS (2), 2B Gordon, SS Ramirez-Gordon-1B Gonzalez, Ramirez, RF COLLINS, CHAMBERLAIN
MISPLAYS: V. MARTINEZ (2), V. MARTINEZ-GONZALEZ, GONZALEZ, Gordon, Ramirez-Gonzalez, Ramirez
BASERUNNING NEWS: KINSLER put on a show, manufacturing himself from 1B into a run not once but twice. Detroit was burned by a squeeze play, Beckett bunting with 2 strikes to put the Dodgers ahead (briefly).
THE BIG HIT: Runners on 1st and 3rd, 2 out, Tigers up 6-5 in the 9th, Gordon RBI single off NATHAN.
THE BIG OUT: Bases loaded, none out, Tigers up 6-4 in the 9th, NATHAN strikes out Puig.
GOOD HITTING: CASTELLANOS, V. MARTINEZ, Uribe
BAD HITTING: GONZALEZ
GOOD PITCHING: SMYLY, KROL
BAD PITCHING: NATHAN, Beckett, Jansen
OBVIOUSLY: NATHAN blew up, and V. MARTINEZ took the game back with his 10th inning HR. Phew.
DON’T OVERLOOK: How awful V. MARTINEZ was catching, or how much better RF has been the last couple without HUNTER.
HUH?: SANCHEZ hits an RBI double Miggy woulda been proud of.

Game 8: Porcello v. Cashner. PADRES 6, Tigers 0. Behind all the way.
NICE PLAYS: ROMINE (2), KINSLER (2), 1B Alonso, JACKSON, AVILA-ROMINE-1B V. MARTINEZ, Cashner, 3B CABRERA, V. MARTINEZ
MISPLAYS: Headley (2), RF KELLY, V. MARTINEZ
BASERUNNING NEWS: Hey, DAVIS swiped a couple bases in the one inning the Tigers had any chance against Cashner.
THE BIG HIT: Man on 3rd, 2 out, 0-0 in the 1st, Gyorko RBI triple off PORCELLO.
THE BIG OUT: Runners on 1st and 3rd, 1 out, Tigers down 2-0 in the 6th, CABRERA grounds into a 5-4-3 DP off Cashner, killing Detroit’s second and last rally shortly after their first and only hit.
GOOD HITTING: Headley
BAD HITTING: CABRERA
GOOD PITCHING: Cashner
BAD PITCHING: PORCELLO, PUTKONEN
OBVIOUSLY: Way outpitched and outhit, the Tigers did manage some good defense.
DON’T OVERLOOK: How much good baseball there actually was in a hopeless game.
HUH?: Four RF wall collisions in three games for Tigers right fielders. KELLY’s OK after his second.

Game 9: Verlander v. Kennedy. Tigers 6, PADRES 2. Never behind, up 4.
NICE PLAYS: CF Venable, RF Denorfia, KINSLER, CASTELLANOS, 1B Alonso, LF Smith, 3B Headley, C Grandal
MISPLAYS: AVILA, Headley, JACKSON
BASERUNNING NEWS: CASTELLANOS, in between his own double and the AVILA single that follows, gets picked off 2B by C Grandal.
THE BIG HIT: Men on 2nd and 3rd, 2 out, Tigers up 2-1 in the 4th, HUNTER 2-run single off Kennedy.
THE BIG OUT: Runners on 1st and 3rd, 2 out, Tigers up 4-2 in the 5th, VERLANDER strikes out Headley.
GOOD HITTING: KINSLER, JACKSON
BAD HITTING:
GOOD PITCHING: VERLANDER
BAD PITCHING: Stauffer
OBVIOUSLY: The kind of win you expect from VERLANDER and the Tigers offense.
DON’T OVERLOOK: 3 runs scored by DAVIS, one from each base, without stealing a base.
HUH?: VERLANDER picks up his first 2 MLB hits and scores a run, but is almost thrown out by RF Denorfia on the second single.

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Game 10: Scherzer vs. Ross. PADRES 5, Tigers 1. Never ahead, down 4.
NICE PLAYS: LF DAVIS, 2B Gyorko, SS Cabrera-1B Alonso, LF Smith
MISPLAYS: C V. MARTINEZ (2), GONZALEZ, 3B Headley
BASERUNNING NEWS:
THE BIG HIT: Runners on 1st and 2nd, none out, 1-1 in the 4th, Venable 2-run double to RF off SCHERZER. Alonso scoring from 1B without much of a play underscores the flatness of the whole Tigers effort.
THE BIG OUT: Men on 1st and 3rd, 2 out, Tigers down 1-0 in the 3rd, Ross retires KINSLER on a groundout to 2B.
GOOD HITTING: Venable
BAD HITTING:
GOOD PITCHING: Ross
BAD PITCHING:
OBVIOUSLY: The kind of loss you don’t expect from SCHERZER and the Tigers offense.
DON’T OVERLOOK: 104 pitches through 5 made SCHERZER’s 10 K’s and the lack of run support something of a moot point.

RAINED OUT!

Game 11: McAllister v. Sanchez. Indians 3, TIGERS 2. Never ahead, down 2.
NICE PLAYS: CASTELLANOS, RF Murphy (2), C Gomes, CF Bourn, HUNTER, AVILA, LF DAVIS, KINSLER-CABRERA, 1B Swisher-SS Cabrera
MISPLAYS: CABRERA, AVILA, 2B Kipnis, Bourn
BASERUNNING NEWS: Good read, good call, good hustle as AVILA steams into 3B as the tying run late after a Bourn bobble. KINSLER rundown ruse between 1st and 2nd with DAVIS on the loose from 2B is a nice try but stymied by the Indians. Running on contact works as CABRERA’s grounder to SS scores KINSLER from 3B.
THE BIG HIT: None on, 1 out, Tigers down 3-2 in the 9th, AVILA doubles off Axford in the 9th and advances to 3B on E8.
THE BIG OUT: Man on 3rd, 1 out, Tigers down 3-2 in the 9th, Axford retires KELLY (strikeout) and DAVIS (groundout to SS) to end the game.
GOOD HITTING: Gomes
BAD HITTING: HUNTER, Santana
GOOD PITCHING: McAllister, Axford, REED and the TIGERS bullpen
BAD PITCHING:
OBVIOUSLY: You have to be disappointed in the offense’s failure to take this one.
DON’T OVERLOOK: What a big factor defense was on both sides, mostly for good.
HUH?: The Indians swung at only 1 of SANCHEZ’s first 19 pitches (he walked the bases loaded). He recovered to strike out 8 through 5. Both teams combined for a 2-22 RISP.

Game 12: Salazar v. Verlander. TIGERS 7, Indians 5. Down 2, up 3.
NICE PLAYS: GONZALEZ, CF Bourn, AVILA-KINSLER
MISPLAYS: VERLANDER, AVILA, SS Cabrera, P Lee, KROL, C Gomes, CASTELLANOS
BASERUNNING NEWS: CABRERA going 1st to 3rd on a hit and run, DAVIS turning a pickoff into standing at 3B, a HUNTER infield single, and ROMINE going 1st to 3rd on SB + E – a Detroit baserunning show to go with 2 sac flies from JACKSON!
THE BIG HIT: Men on 1st and 2nd, 1 out, Tigers down 3-1 in the 5th, KINSLER go-ahead 3-run HR off Salazar.
THE BIG OUT: Bases loaded, 2 out, 0-0 in the 3rd, VERLANDER strikes out Kipnis.
GOOD HITTING: Brantley, KINSLER
BAD HITTING: Kipnis
GOOD PITCHING: CHAMBERLAIN
BAD PITCHING: Salazar, KROL
OBVIOUSLY: The Tigers offense answered the call when pitching and defense sagged.
DON’T OVERLOOK: How a capitalizing offense with legs made it happen, or the importance of AVILA cutting down Bourn stealing 2B in the 8th.
HUH?: Jason Kipnis strikes out swinging against VERLANDER and then gets himself ejected… by arguing a previous called strike.

Avila19

Game 13: Weaver v. Smyly. Angels 11, TIGERS 6. Never ahead, down 10.
NICE PLAYS: KINSLER (2), 2B McDonald
MISPLAYS:
BASERUNNING NEWS: V. MARTINEZ trifecta in the 9th! A) Hit double to RF, get to 1B. B) Only get as far as 2B on a single to RF. C) Get deked and then hung up between 2nd and 3rd for the last out of the game.
THE BIG HIT: Runner on 1st, 2 out, Tigers down 1-0 in the 2nd, Stewart RBI triple off PORCELLO.
THE BIG OUTS: Man on 3rd, 1 out, 0-0 in the 1st, SMYLY retires Pujols (strikeout) and Kendrick (groundout to SS).
GOOD HITTING: Trout, Kendrick, Pujols, Stewart
BAD HITTING:
GOOD PITCHING: Weaver
BAD PITCHING: SMYLY, PUTKONEN, Wall
OBVIOUSLY: Blown out by a team that has kicked their butts 10 straight now.
DON’T OVERLOOK: One glorious inning where the Tigers sent 10 to the plate.
HUH?: SMYLY’s first start of the season, PUTKONEN’s second appearance.

“It’s great to be alive and to be a Tigers fan.”

Game 14: Wilson v. Scherzer. TIGERS 5, Angels 2. Down 1, up 4.
NICE PLAYS: C Conger-2B Kendrick, CABRERA-ROMINE, CF Trout, SS Aybar, CASTELLANOS, P Wilson, KINSLER (2), LF Shuck
MISPLAYS: RF Boesch
BASERUNNING NEWS: CABRERA tags and advances to 3B, beating a good throw from Trout (and it took a good throw, because he’d been deked by CABRERA into throwing late). ROMINE dares Shuck in stretching a single and loses. HOLADAY puts down a beauty of a bunt for an IF single, later scores.
THE BIG HIT: Man on 1st, 1 out, Tigers down 1-0 in the 2nd, CASTELLANOS 2-run HR off Wilson.
THE BIG OUT: Runners on 2nd and 3rd, 2 out, Tigers up 3-1 in the 5th, SCHERZER strikes out.
GOOD HITTING: V. MARTINEZ
BAD HITTING: HUNTER
GOOD PITCHING: SCHERZER, Herrera, Chamberlain
BAD PITCHING: Wilson
OBVIOUSLY: A satisfying win, taking over the lead early and holding onto it with ease.
DON’T OVERLOOK: The importance of the AUSMUS challenge on the CABRERA-to-3B play, how Detroit capitalized, and how the Angels didn’t under similar circumstances the very next inning.
HUH?: Golden sombrero for Trout.

Game 15: Santiago v. Porcello. TIGERS 2, Angels 1. Down 1, up 1.
NICE PLAYS: AVILA (2), 1B V. MARTINEZ-PORCELLO, 2B Kendrick (2)
MISPLAYS: HUNTER-V. MARTINEZ, P Santiago-C Conger, Conger (2), Kendrick
BASERUNNING NEWS: KINSLER scores from 1B on a remarkable 3-error play, with hustle and some luck. ROMINE gets beat twice and still manages to get the two SB in with deft slides. Tigers push and run the Angels ragged.
THE BIG HIT: Runner on 2nd, 2 out, 1-1 in the 6th, CASTELLANOS RBI single off Jepsen.
THE BIG OUT: Man on 1st, none out, 1-1 in the 6th, PORCELLO retires Pujols (6-4-3 DP).
GOOD HITTING: ROMINE
BAD HITTING: DAVIS
GOOD PITCHING: PORCELLO, Santiago, NATHAN, KROL, ALBURQUERQUE
BAD PITCHING:
OBVIOUSLY: Well-pitched and saved by one clutch hit.
DON’T OVERLOOK: How Detroit’s aggressive baserunning paid off, challenging the L.A. defense and winning (both runs unearned). Good thing, because the bats were 1-11 RISP.

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Game 16: Danks v. Sanchez. White Sox 3, TIGERS 1. Up 1, down 2.
NICE PLAYS: CASTELLANOS, KINSLER-CABRERA, 2B Semien (2), SS Ramirez, CABRERA (2)
MISPLAYS: JACKSON, 3B Gilaspie, CASTELLANOS, LF DAVIS, RF Viciedo, CF Danks
BASERUNNING NEWS: Viciedo’s evasive slide to the plate beats AVILA and scores an injurious insurance run.
THE BIG HIT: Man on 2nd, 2 out, Tigers up 1-0 in the 7th, Abreu RBI double off SANCHEZ.
THE BIG OUT: Runners on 1st and 3rd, 1 out, Tigers down 3-1 in the 7th, Belisario retires KINSLER (inning-ending 5-4-3 DP).
GOOD HITTING:
BAD HITTING: KINSLER, Dunn
GOOD PITCHING: Danks, REED
BAD PITCHING:
OBVIOUSLY: A pitchers duel of sorts, more offensive frustration (0-10 RISP), and certainly one that got away.
DON’T OVERLOOK: Where it all unraveled for SANCHEZ after dominating, the Abreu double falling just on the RF chalk when HUNTER had so very far to go and slid a bit early. Bad break. But Detroit had their chances, before and after.

Game 17: Leesman v. Verlander. TIGERS 8, White Sox 6. Down 1, up 7.
NICE PLAYS: AVILA, ROMINE (2), SS Ramirez-1B Konerko, ROMINE-KINSLER, 3B Semien-C Nieto, LF J. MARTINEZ
MISPLAYS: RF Viciedo, Ramirez, C Flowers-2B Garcia, Garcia, J. MARTINEZ, Semien
BASERUNNING NEWS: Tigers are running hard and well all over the place, even the less speedy guys, and it translates to runs. Notable exceptions being AVILA caught stealing 2B easily, and CABRERA just standing at the plate on a tapper where KINSLER made it 2B to 3B (beating C Flowers’s throw) and he could have reached. V. MARTINEZ legs out a double, tags and advances twice to score!
THE BIG HIT: Runners on 1st and 3rd, 1 out, 1-1 in the 3rd, KINSLER 2 -run double off Leesman scores ROMINE and DAVIS (these three on the basepaths at the same time is like some kind of harmonic convergence).
THE BIG OUT: Men on 1st and 2nd, 1 out, 1-1 in the 2nd, VERLANDER retires Flowers (inning-ending 6-4-3 DP).
GOOD HITTING: CABRERA, KINSLER, Viciedo, Dunn
BAD HITTING: Flowers, HUNTER
GOOD PITCHING: VERLANDER, Putnam
BAD PITCHING: Leesman, COKE
OBVIOUSLY: A solid win that the bullpen declined to help with.
DON’T OVERLOOK: Detroit had their hitting shoes on but may have caught a break in dodging a Chris Sale start (DL).
HUH?: COKE strikes out 2 and then blows up.

“I hate baseball.”

Game 18: Rienzo v. Smyly. White Sox 6, TIGERS 4. Up 2, down 2.
NICE PLAYS: SMYLY, CF Danks (2), AVILA-CASTELLANOS, SS Ramirez, SMYLY-CASTELLANOS, 2B Garcia, CABRERA (2), ROMINE, Abreu
MISPLAYS:
BASERUNNING NEWS: White Sox baserunners got hung out to dry a couple times by the alert Tigers.
THE BIG HIT: Bases loaded (by REED), 2 out, Tigers up 4-2 in the 7th, Semien grand slam off KROL.
THE BIG OUT: Men on 2nd and 3rd, 2 out, Tigers down 6-4 in the 9th, Lindstrom retires AVILA (line out to 1B on a 3-0 pitch!).
GOOD HITTING: Semien, JACKSON
BAD HITTING: De Aza
GOOD PITCHING: SMYLY, Belisario
BAD PITCHING: KROL, REED
OBVIOUSLY: The double whammy of losing a 2-run lead on one pitch and then leaving the tying runs on base to end the game.
DON’T OVERLOOK: How the pitch count limit on SMYLY opened the door to bullpen disaster, one bad pitch from KROL proving to be the difference in a well-played game.


scrap5

DEFENSIVE SCORECARD (in terms of outstanding plays one way or the other, X = good, O = not)

P VERLANDER XO zero
2B KINSLER XXOXXXXXXXXXXXOX +12
SS GONZALEZ XOOOXOOOX -3
CF JACKSON OOXOOXOO -4
RF HUNTER OOOOXO -4
LF COLLINS XX +2
3B CASTELLANOS XXXXXXXOXXXX +10
1B CABRERA XXXXOXXXXXX +9
P ALBURQUERQUE X +1
SS ROMINE XXOXXXXXXXXXXX +12
LF DAVIS OXXOXXO +1
C AVILA XXXXOXOXOXXXX +7
1B V. MARTINEZ XXXOXO +2
RF KELLY XO zero
P SCHERZER O -1
C V. MARTINEZ XOOOOO -4
RF COLLINS X +1
P CHAMBERLAIN X +1
3B CABRERA X +1
P KROL O -1
P PORCELLO X +1
LF J. MARTINEZ XO zero
P SMYLY XX +2

scrap6

Postponements (home game rainouts) add to an unusual amount of April down time. *** Miguel Cabrera gets his 2,000th career hit.*** Torii Hunter goes day to day with a bruised knee. *** Evan Reed’s in trouble with the law. *** Joe Nathan reports a dead arm. *** Miggy not liking his swing: “My swing, he wants to pull the ball right now.” *** Alex Avila is off to a 3 for 23, 14 K start, and the “need to get him going” theme is revisited. *** Justin Miller is up from Toledo to refresh a “taxed bullpen,”  and OF Tyler Collins (.143 in limited action) sent down to Toledo. *** Austin Jackson is thriving in the #6 spot. *** The Alex Gonzalez experiment ends after only 3 weeks with his release, and the ever-buoyant Danny Worth rises up from Toledo again. *** Some guy named J.D. Martinez has hit 10 HR in 17 games with the Mud Hens and gets the call as a bench bat when little-used Luke Putkonen is placed on the DL with elbow inflammation. *** Max Scherzer and 1B Cabrera work on fielding communication drills before a game. *** Robbie Ray gets off to a good start in AAA. *** Brad Ausmus on Phil Coke: “There’s got to be spots where he can pitch.” *** Cabrera’s OPS sits at .698. *** Justin Verlander is 3-1, 2.18 though 4 starts, and Scherzer is also off to nice start at 1-1, 2.33.

jmiller1

10-8, 1st in the Central, 4th in the AL, on pace for a 90-72 season…

RESEARCH MADE POSSIBLE BY: MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL and BASEBALL REFERENCE .
PHOTO CREDITS: GONZALEZ: Associated Press; COLLINS: Mike Mulholland/MLive; AVILA: Hanna Foslien/Getty Images; MILLER: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images.

2014 Playoffs Thread

The Royals’ run is too incredible not to discuss it. We’ll let this thread serve as your learned DTW discussion thread for the next two weeks.

2014 Playoffs: Coda

It’s with a great deal of angst and frustration that I write this.

Admittedly, I’ve browsed a few articles here and there, and forced myself to stay with sporadic MLB highlights before changing the channel to something less kick me in the gut, but the sting of the 2014 playoffs still remains.

I know you feel it.

As Tigers fanatics, we have entered into that dangerous limbo of good but not great, where expectations crescendo into a World Series or else mentality, and anything less is, well, unacceptable.

I remember seeing empty seats at Braves home playoff games in the 90s, and more recently in Tampa Bay, and thinking what spoiled, thankless punks those fans are.

Now our Tigers fans have not fallen to the same level of apathy; but I can see how that would be easier than the disappointment we are experiencing now.

For a while, early on, this team had it. The 27-12 start was a mix of offense, clutch hitting, and shutdown pitching, from both the starters and relievers. But for some reason, in early May, we lost it, and we spent the rest of the 2014 season looking for it. The talent on this team was so overwhelmingly good, that the Tigers were still able to win the division (I get that the AL Central is weak, but we can only play the schedule as given) even though the club played .500 ball for the final 3/4 of the season. This team lacked leadership and decisiveness at the top, and the lack of those intangibles manifested themselves into a shell of a playoff baseball team over four days in October. That “playoff team” was, unfortunately, exactly what we had come to expect.

And so we’re left to yearn for what could have been, or even worse, to try to ignore the yearning. It wrenches my sports heart, and clouds my ability to enjoy some entertaining baseball being played right now.

But eventually, the pain and disappointment will wear away. I know this from experience.

Somehow, some way, in the not too distant future, the pain will be replaced by hope, excitement, and even blind faith, though those feelings will be just a little bit weaker than this year’s. And so the pattern will continue until we are no longer contenders, or win on the final day of the baseball season.

So says a fan.

 

 

2014 ALDS: Game 3

The Tiger looks about ready to settle down for a long winter’s nap.

Still, there is a game today, and for the sellout crowd who shelled out for tickets, I hope the Tigers don’t go quietly into that nap. Hey, look, there are fans of 22 teams out there who only wish they could watch their teams play today. And the Tigers are actually in a better position, if you can imagine, than the two teams who most experts picked to meet in the World Series, the Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Angels, who were both swept in two games at home. Only a late-inning Dodger home run has kept the 2014 ALDS round from having the look of a sweepapalooza.

It’s pointless to give a Game 2 re-crap now, since we’ve all been through it too many times–though that hasn’t stopped Captain Obvious and all his lieutenants in the national media from providing expert opinions which could be summarized as: the Tigers have bullpen problems. Who knew? Although to be fair, the numbers for the consecutive 8th-inning blowups are literally amazing.

Perhaps the most frustrating part of the game, while it was happening, was listening to the TBS announcers more or less call everything in advance. You’ve got to bring Sanchez back out, you can’t go back to what you did yesterday (here comes Chamberlain). The Orioles have 3 outfielders with strong arms, you have to be careful about trying to run on them (there goes Cabrera). Be careful here, you know Delmon Young is going to be going after the first pitch (here comes hanging slider up over the middle of the plate). The Tigers have a very weak bench (Carrera goes stumbling around center; the Tigers end the game with nobody better to send to the plate than Perez-Romine-Suarez).Perhaps must frustrating of all was the repeated line “the Tigers need to play this like it’s an elimination game.”  Brad Ausmus managed the game like it was a mid-season game against the White Sox, “saving” his pitchers when their pitch counts got high, using his “8th-inning guys” because, well, it was the 8th inning, etc.

I think a lot of us, perhaps unfairly, looked forward to the change to the Ausmus regime, thinking we’d get some different approaches, some creativity, some life outside the standard operating procedures. No such luck. I said “perhaps unfairly” because it’s only his first year on the job, at any level. Also–and I think this point is overlooked–he inherited half the coaching staff from the Leyland regime, pitching coach Jeff Jones and bench coach Gene Lamont. If Ausmus is back next season (I would be surprised if he isn’t), I would feel much better if he said OK this is MY staff now and replaced Lamont and Jones, and figured out what the Brad Ausmus way of managing really is.

I know some of us frustrated fans have said we might as well lose today and get it over with. I get the frustration, and there is nothing more wearying than waiting for the inevitable bullpen collapse: you can’t even enjoy being in the lead by 3 runs. Not me though, I’ll be rooting all the way. I think the best chance we have would be for David “Complete Game” Price to show up. And for the bats to not go into hiding like some overly-shy clan of wooden leprechauns.  But if we do have to lose this afternoon, the rascal in me would prefer it goes down like this: Price takes a lead into the 8th, Ausmus pulls him out,  Chamberlain comes in…. Might as well make some heads explode on our way out.

Today’s Donkey-Time Lineup:

  1. Kinsler, 2B
  2. Hunter, RF
  3. Cabrera, 1B
  4. V Martinez, DH
  5. JD Martinez, LF
  6. Avila, C
  7. Castellanos, 3B
  8. Romine, SS
  9. Kelly, CF

Price, P

Forgotten Man: Holaday

 

2014 ALDS: Game 2

Quick (and unusual) turn around for game 2. Which is exactly what we need.

Win this game and we’re going home, tied 1-1, with David Freaking Price pitching game 3. That’s right, DAVID PRICE.

To get us there, Verlander will have to be Playoff Justin, and not 2014 Regular Season Justin. By “Playoff Justin” I mean the guy with a 30-inning scoreless streak in the division series. The guy who still haunts the Oakland A’s. The guy who, time and time again, has put this team on his shoulders and delivered a win when we needed it most. Verlander hasn’t walked a batter over his past two starts, and I think he’s just as sharp today, if not even better.

Rajai Davis still CF. Good for the lineup, not sure if this is good for the defense.

Lots of stats in the Baseball-Reference game preview here.

My pick for player of the game is Kinsler. He’s been a complete player as of late, and I think he sparks the offense today.

Today’s #DoItForTheRotation lineup (with stats v. Wei-Yin Chen). Chen is pretty good, our hitters are better.

1. Ian Kinsler, 2B (3 for 10)
2. Torii Hunter, RF (1 for 4)
3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B (1 for 4)
4. Victor Martinez, DH
5. J.D. Martinez, LF
6. Nick Castellanos, 3B
7. Alex Avila, C
8. Andrew Romine, SS
9. Rajai Davis, CF (1 for 3)

 

2014 ALDS: Game 1 Wrap-Up

I’d love to pretend that I can forget last night’s game, and the complete exposure of every weakness this team has. I’d like to act as if I can brush off the concerns that T Smith nailed in his comment last night, as easily I would sweep aside the fall twigs and leaves on my doorstep.

But that’s not going to happen.

Let’s be candid. Last night sucked.

The Tigers played from behind last night all game, Scherzer failed to pitch to the level of an ace, Hunter couldn’t come up with a big hit, and the bullpen got de—-stroyed.

By any interpretation, this was absolutely the worst possible start to a series we could have hoped for.

But it’s just one game.

Remember when we had the best start to a series we could have possibly hoped for? Up 4 runs in the 8th inning with a 1-0 series lead, on the road? I mean, could we have felt any better then?

This is why winning the division was so important. We can stretch the series out. We get at least one game at home.

More coming soon.

2014 ALDS: Game 1

I had been wondering who, or what, to use for the Game Post picture for today, and then Miguel made it easy. Miguel threw down the gauntlet.

In case you haven’t seen the story yet, when Max Scherzer was going around collecting signatures to receive playoff share money on Wednesday, Cabrera wasn’t interested: “I just want the ring.”

And with those 5 words, the tone for Detoit’s 2014 ALDS has been set. No excuses, no distractions (not even money), nothing will do but the ring.

(Does anyone else find it odd that you actually have to sign up for playoff money? One would think they team would distribute it automatically. I suppose it’s one of those quaint remnants, like golfers having to keep their own scores).

I had just read this article about Cabrera as team leader, with a strange disparity between the headline (“Cabrera Speaks Loudly”) and the content (he is a quiet leader), but Cabrera’s response to the playoff share signup was simultaneously quiet and very, very loud (it’s the top trending topic on Facebook).

*****

The Detroit ALDS Roster has finally been released (the team had been waiting as long as possible to gauge Rajai’s ability to play–they submitted the roster 15 minutes before the 10 am deadline):

PITCHERS (11)

RHP Al Alburquerque
RHP Joba Chamberlain
LHP Phil Coke
LHP Kyle Lobstein
RHP Joe Nathan
RHP Rick Porcello
LHP David Price
RHP Anibal Sanchez
RHP Max Scherzer
RHP Joakim Soria
RHP Justin Verlander

CATCHERS (2)
Alex Avila
Bryan Holaday

INFIELDERS (6) 
1B Miguel Cabrera
3B  Nick Castellanos
2B Ian Kinsler
INF Hernan Perez
INF Andrew Romine
INF Eugenio Suarez

OUTFIELDERS (5)
OF Ezequiel Carrera
OF Rajai Davis
OF Torii Hunter
INF/OF Don Kelly
OF J.D. Martinez

DESIGNATED HITTER (1)
Victor Martinez

There aren’t really any surprises, unless you count leaving out Blaine Hardy, who had a good season, until his last two appearances, in which he was awful. Hernan Perez on the roster means that the team doesn’t foresee any issues with Rajai Davis, which would have resulted in an extra outfielder. Speaking of which, I don’t really trust Carrera as a defensive replacement, but there he is. I was holding out a faint hope for Tyler Collins. (Edit: Ausmus said that Hernan was going to be on the roster regardless; if Rajai wasn’t good to go they would have added Collins and gone 1 short in the bullpen).

Today’s Show-Me-The-Ring Lineup:

  1. Kinsler, 2B
  2. Hunter, RF
  3. Cabrera, 1B
  4. V Martinez, DH
  5. JD Martinez, LF
  6. Avila, C
  7. Castellanos, 3B
  8. Romine, SS
  9. Davis, CF

Scherzer, P

Baseball Reference Game Preview. Baltimore’s Chris Tillman has had a pretty good career against current Tiger hitters: .238 BA against, .671 OPS against. One notable exception has been Miguel Cabrera, who has hit Tillman at .385 with an OPS of 1.159.

The good news is that Max’s numbers have been almost exactly the same against the Orioles: .238 BA against, .663 OPS against. But hold your breath when Nelson Cruz comes to the plate: Cruz hits Scherzer for .381 (.952 OPS), and absolutely bombed him in his one postseason game facing him (2 doubles, a HR, 5 RBI).

Season Series: Detroit 5, Baltimore 1, including a 3-game sweep in Baltimore. (Tillman had only Baltimore win).