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


 

scrap1

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.

scrap2

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.

scrap3

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.

scrap4

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.

14 Comments

  1. Only Tiger Fan in Mississippi

    October 20, 2014 at 7:24 am

    Well done Loon! Let me dig out my 2014 scorebook and dig thru it for some associated comments.

    • Smoking Loon

      October 25, 2014 at 11:43 pm

      OTFiM: Definitely, share your observations, you and everyone, over the course of this series of articles. And thank you.

      • Only Tiger Fan in Mississippi

        October 27, 2014 at 7:17 am

        Will do Loon….just been busy get the yard ready for winter/spring training!

  2. Kevin in Dallas

    October 21, 2014 at 5:41 pm

    This is fantastic work, and really makes me question my level of commitment during the season.

    Jamey Newberg has made a second-career in DFW out of publishing work like this. http://www.newbergreport.com/

    • Coleman

      October 21, 2014 at 8:41 pm

      Yes, I don’t even know how I’m going to go on now. But I’m glad it isn’t me, because…8 more of these?

      • Smoking Loon

        October 25, 2014 at 11:40 pm

        Thanks, guys. As you can tell, it’s keeping me busy. Don’t be alarmed if replies are taking 2 weeks or so.

        Yeah, 8 more, 9 actually, 10 total with “extra innings.” It’s daunting. But the research is illuminating and fun when not amazingly tedious.

  3. Coleman

    October 24, 2014 at 1:27 pm

    It turns out Cabrera has a stress fracture. It isn’t clear if he will miss any time next season or not.

    http://beck.mlblogs.com/2014/1.....-in-ankle/

    • StorminNorman$

      October 24, 2014 at 1:49 pm

      w/9 years ($261M) remaining on Cabrera’s contract…the annual injury thing has to be a concern

  4. StorminNorman$

    October 24, 2014 at 1:33 pm

    http://www.freep.com/story/spo...../17837115/

    First Gardenhire, now Maddon (who opted out of his contract w/TAM) available to manage next season

    • Coleman

      October 24, 2014 at 1:34 pm

      Didn’t see that coming.

  5. StorminNorman$

    October 25, 2014 at 9:47 am

    http://www.freep.com/story/spo...../17850599/

    decisions…decisions

    if my vote counts, I say bring him back for 3 or 4 yrs (4yrs $68M) – for everything he brings to the team over an above his approach to hitting – and yes, I know he’ll function primarily as a DH – but then again Ortiz has been very productive at that role for a few years (past his prime)

    • Coleman

      October 25, 2014 at 11:05 am

      The only problem is have with that is not with Victor, it’s with Cabrera. They are already saying they might start him at DH next season because of his foot/ankle. What happens if we end up with two DHs for the next 4 years?

      • StorminNorman$

        October 25, 2014 at 5:29 pm

        having more than one DH on the roster is something DET has been dealing with for the past few years

        …for the record, a healthy Cabrera is an average first baseman…and better fielder than VMart… but a 70/30 platoon at 1B between the two makes sense

        • Smoking Loon

          October 26, 2014 at 12:07 am

          I think the Tigers have to let Victor Martinez go.