Your fingers may freeze, worse things happen at sea; there’s good times to be had. Nothing’s easy.
So the Detroit Tigers are now:
LF-RF J. Martinez
DH-1B V. Martinez
Game 55: Dickey v. Porcello. Blue Jays 8, TIGERS 2. Up 1, down 6.
NICE PLAYS: KINSLER, LF DAVIS, RF Bautista (2), KINSLER-ROMINE-CABRERA, P Dickey-1B Encarnacion, Dickey, CABRERA-KNEBEL, P Jenkins
MISPLAYS: C Thole, SUAREZ, CABRERA, DAVIS, CASTELLANOS, 3B Lawrie, Encarnacion
BASERUNNING NEWS: CASTELLANOS swipes 2B thanks to a bad throw.
THE BIG HIT: Men on 1st and 2nd, 2 out, Tigers up 2-1 in the 6th, Lind 2-run double off PORCELLO.
THE BIG OUTS: Bases loaded, 1 out, Tigers down 3-2 in the 6th, Loup retires both DAVIS and KINSLER on foul popups.
GOOD HITTING: Bautista, Lind
BAD HITTING: DAVIS
GOOD PITCHING: PORCELLO, Loup
BAD PITCHING: REED, KNEBEL
OBVIOUSLY: Porcello pitched a winner, but the 1-8 RISP offense had other ideas.
DON’T OVERLOOK: Weak defense played a major part in the late inning unraveling.
AND, BUT, ALSO: The bottom of the order was 4 for 8 and on base 7 times, nary a run scored.
Game 56: Happ v. Verlander. Blue Jays 7, TIGERS 3. Up 2, down 4.
NICE PLAYS: 3B Francisco-2B Lawrie-1B Lind, ROMINE-KINSLER-CABRERA, RF Bautista (3), C Kratz-Lawrie, ROMINE, SS Reyes-Lawrie-Lind, P Jenkins-Reyes-Lind, 3B Lawrie
MISPLAYS: LF Cabrera, HUNTER, 2B Lawrie
BASERUNNING NEWS: Toronto was movin’ it. Detroit, not so much, though the run scored in the 3rd by KINSLER was all hustle. J. MARTINEZ is caught stealing 2B, though it was kind of close. ROMINE bunt sets up the (briefly) tying run.
THE BIG HIT: Runner on 1st, none out, 3-3 in the 6th, Francisco 2-run HR off VERLANDER.
THE BIG OUT: Runners on 1st and 2nd, 1 out, Tigers down 6-3 in the 7th, Jenkins retires ROMINE on a 1-6-3 DP.
GOOD HITTING: Bautista
BAD HITTING: Gose, J. MARTINEZ
GOOD PITCHING: Jenkins
BAD PITCHING: VERLANDER
OBVIOUSLY: Back to back jacks off VERLANDER in the 6th sucked all the life out of this one, and the last chance died on the ROMINE GIDP.
DON’T OVERLOOK: Detroit did claw their way back as late as the 5th.
AND, BUT, ALSO: HUNTER’s silly error in the 4th doesn’t quite let VERLANDER off the hook. 6 double plays between the two teams today.
“It’s great to be alive and to be a Tigers fan.”
Game 57: De La Rosa v. Smyly. TIGERS 6, Red Sox 2. Down 1, up 4.
NICE PLAYS: CASTELLANOS, CASTELLANOS-KINSLER-CABRERA, SMYLY-CABRERA-ROMINE, 2B Pedroia, SS Herrera-Pedroia-1B Holt, CF Bradley (2), KINSLER, CABRERA, Pedroia-Holt, JACKSON, NATHAN, P Badenhop-Herrera-Holt, ROMINE
MISPLAYS: CASTELLANOS, C Pierzynski, ROMINE
BASERUNNING NEWS: SMYLY hung Herrera out to dry on a would-be stolen base attempt. CASTELLANOS scoring from 2B on a ball that just got through the infield was a thing of beauty. ROMINE did a swell job of busting up a DP. Holaday split the gap in two and motored to 3B with ease.
THE BIG HIT: None on, 2 out, Tigers up 2-1 in the 5th, KINSLER solo HR off De La Rosa.
THE BIG OUT: Men on 1st and 3rd, none out, 1-1 in the 4th, V. MARTINEZ facing De La Rosa lines out to CF, scoring Hunter, but the throw in from Bradley goes 8-6-3 to nail CABRERA trying to get back to 1B.
GOOD HITTING: HUNTER
GOOD PITCHING: SMYLY, CHAMBERLAIN
BAD PITCHING: De La Rosa, Capuano
OBVIOUSLY: Firing on all cylinders. The kind of win you savor.
DON’T OVERLOOK: Well-played game on both sides, impressive defensively.
AND, BUT, ALSO: HUNTER wore a Zubaz outfit before the game to prove a point about “The Curse of the Zubaz,” and proved it.
Game 58: Lester v. Scherzer. TIGERS 8, Red Sox 6. Never behind, up 4.
NICE PLAYS: 2B Pedroia, 1B Holt, JACKSON (2), KINSLER-SUAREZ-CABRERA, SUAREZ, C Ross-Pedroia.
MISPLAYS: RF Sizemore, CASTELLANOS
BASERUNNING NEWS: It was a race to the bag between Holt and HOLADAY on the bunt single. Looked to me like Holt applied the tag, but it must’ve been one heck of a brilliant evasion by HOLADAY (no challenge). Likewise, JACKSON stealing 2B in the 3rd was too close to call, but call it they did (out).
THE BIG HIT: Runner on 2nd, 2 out, 0-0 in the 1st, V. MARTINEZ RBI double off Lester.
THE BIG OUT: Runners on 1st and 2nd, 2 out, Tigers up 8-6 in the 9th, NATHAN retires Drew on a deep flyball to CF.
GOOD HITTING: CASTELLANOS, JACKSON
BAD PITCHING: Lester, Tazawa, NATHAN
OBVIOUSLY: The Tigers offense took this one by themselves in what should have been a blowout.
DON’T OVERLOOK: SCHERZER struggled to get the third out in the 5th and 6th but was left in to face Ortiz in the 7th.
AND, BUT, ALSO: Just plain dumb: Man on 2B in the 9th, CASTELLANOS trots over to RF for the shift on Ortiz, leaving not a soul on the left side of the infield. Bogaerts breaks for 3B, leaving NATHAN with nothing but a footrace (and it was close). Run scores on a groundout next play. 7 batters come to the plate in the 9th against Nathan. Zero K’s for Lester.
Game 59: Lackey v. Sanchez. Red Sox 5, TIGERS 3. Up 1, down 2.
NICE PLAYS: 3B Bogaerts-1B Napoli, LF Holt, SUAREZ-KINSLER-CABRERA, CASTELLANOS-1B KELLY, 2B Pedroia-Napoli, KINSLER-SUAREZ-KELLY, Bogaerts-Napoli, Bogaerts
MISPLAYS: CASTELLANOS (2), Bogaerts
BASERUNNING NEWS: It wasn’t the speed of DAVIS that got him the stolen base, but the great slide and somehow managing to glue his foot to 2B afterward.
THE BIG HIT: Men on 1st and 2nd, 1 out, Tigers up 3-2 in the 9th, Ortiz 3-run HR off CHAMBERLAIN.
THE BIG OUT: Men on 1st and 3rd, 2 out, Tigers up 3-2 in the 8th, COKE strikes out Bradley.
GOOD HITTING: SUAREZ, Napoli, Holt
BAD HITTING: DAVIS, HUNTER
GOOD PITCHING: Lackey, SANCHEZ, COKE
BAD PITCHING: CHAMBERLAIN
OBVIOUSLY: Almost a hard-fought win, which makes blowing it in the 9th even worse.
DON’T OVERLOOK: Playoff baseball. Strangely reminiscent of 2013 ALCS.
AND, BUT, ALSO: CABRERA exited in the 6th after limping down to 1B. Tight left hamstring. Trouble seemed to begin earlier in the game after he slid into 2B.
Game 60: Porcello v. Noesi. WHITE SOX 6, Tigers 5. Never ahead, down 3.
NICE PLAYS: 1B V. MARTINEZ-SUAREZ, CF Eaton, SS Ramirez-1B Abreu, AVILA, KINSLER, SUAREZ-V. MARTINEZ, RF Viciedo, 3B Gillaspie, Gillaspie-Abreu, KINSLER-SUAREZ-V. MARTINEZ, V. MARTINEZ-KROL, LF J. MARTINEZ
MISPLAYS: V. MARTINEZ, J. MARTINEZ (3), RF KELLY, PORCELLO, CASTELLANOS, RF Sierra, LF De Aza
THE BIG HIT: Runner on 2nd, none out, Tigers down 6-4 in the 9th, Avila RBI double off Belisario.
THE BIG OUTS: Runner on 3rd, 1 out, Tigers down 6-5 in the 9th, Belisario retires KINSLER (K) and HUNTER (groundout 3B) to end the game.
GOOD HITTING: V. MARTINEZ
GOOD PITCHING: Putnam, REED
BAD PITCHING: PORCELLO
OBVIOUSLY: Didn’t play so well, and yet you still felt cheated by the loss. They kept climbing back in it only to fall short.
DON’T OVERLOOK: PORCELLO made a very poor decision attempting any kind of a throw on De Aza’s perfect bunt in the 6th. That error turned into the 6th run.
AND, BUT, ALSO: 6 of the 11 runs scored had something to do with an error or misplay. The rest was home runs.
Game 61: Verlander v. Danks. WHITE SOX 8, Tigers 2. Never ahead, down 7.
NICE PLAYS: 1B V. MARTINEZ-VERLANDER, KINSLER, RF Viceiedo, CASTELLANOS-KINSLER-V. MARTINEZ, LF De Aza, CASTELLANOS-AVILA, KINSLER-SUAREZ-V. MARTINEZ, SUAREZ- KINSLER, 1B Abreu-3B Gillaspie-2B Beckham, Abreu, Abreu-P Guerra, Beckham, CASTELLANOS
MISPLAYS: De Aza-SS Ramirez, VERLANDER-V. MARTINEZ, CASTELLANOS, SUAREZ
BASERUNNING NEWS: Add 1 base to any extra base hit for Eaton at Comerica. CABRERA manufactures a run (hamstring must be better), advancing on tag-up and scoring on grounder. A nice bunt by SUAREZ set up Detroit’s best chance while there was a chance, and he later scored from 1B on a double. It’s fun to watch DAVIS beat out a grounder and then take 3B on a single, even when the Tigers are down 6.
THE BIG HIT: None on, none out, 0-0 in the 2nd, Abreu solo HR off VERLANDER.
THE BIG OUTS: Men on 2nd and 3rd, 1 out, 1-1 in the 5th, Danks retires DAVIS (infield popup) and KINSLER (lineout to LF).
GOOD HITTING: Dunn
BAD HITTING: KINSLER
GOOD PITCHING: Danks
BAD PITCHING: VERLANDER, KROL
OBVIOUSLY: Close until the 6th, it all fell apart along with VERLANDER.
DON’T OVERLOOK: VERLANDER fell behind 7 straight batters in the 6th (and the 8th hit his first pitch for the killing blow). Outstanding play from CASTELLANOS-AVILA in the 5th had cut down Eaton at the plate and kept the score tied at 1. Wouldn’t you know it: Plenty of good defense in a lopsided game.
AND, BUT, ALSO: A weird play was SS Ramirez dropping the pop fly in short LF (thanks to the apparently blind and deaf De Aza) but throwing to 2B for the force on SUAREZ. This put DAVIS on 1B, who promptly stole 2B (out challenged and overturned). But nothing became of the whole affair.
Game 62: Scherzer v. Sale. Tigers 4, WHITE SOX 0. Ahead from the 5th on.
NICE PLAYS: SS Ramirez-1B Abreu, 2B Beckham-Abreu, KINSLER, P Sale-Abreu-Ramirez, LF J. MARTINEZ, SUAREZ, RF Viciedo, SCHERZER, HUNTER, CF Eaton
MISPLAYS: SUAREZ, CABRERA, Sale, Beckham, C Flowers
BASERUNNING NEWS: DAVIS gets figured out in a 1-3-6 caught stealing.
THE BIG HIT: Runners on 2nd and 3rd, 2 out, Tigers up 1-0 in the 8th, CABRERA hits a single (to 2B? – it’s actually a ball up the middle that Beckham attempts to barehand and drops) off Petricka that scores HOLADAY and SUAREZ.
THE BIG OUT: Runners on 2nd and 3rd, 1 out, Tigers up 1-0 in the 8th, Petricka strikes out KINSLER.
GOOD HITTING: CABRERA, HOLADAY
BAD HITTING: KINSLER, Viciedo
GOOD PITCHING: SCHERZER, Sale
BAD PITCHING: Petricka
OBVIOUSLY: SCHERZER 1, Sale 0, thanks to a V. MARTINEZ home run.
DON’T OVERLOOK: That V. MARTINEZ home run in the 5th, just barely outta the park in the LF corner, one of only 5 hits off Sale (10 K, 0 BB).
AND, BUT, ALSO: First career complete game is a shutout for SCHERZER. Only 113 pitches.
“I hate baseball.”
Game 63: Gibson v. Smyly. Twins 2, TIGERS 0. Behind from the 3rd on.
NICE PLAYS: AVILA, LF KELLY (2), 3B Plouufe-2B Escobar-1B Mauer, KINSLER-ROMINE-CABRERA, RF Arcia
MISPLAYS: CASTELLANOS, SS Nunez, 3B Plouffe, SUAREZ
BASERUNNING NEWS: A nice bunt from ROMINE followed by more of a straight sacrifice from DAVIS help set up the potential big inning for Detroit. AVILA’s throw should have nailed Santana at 3B; not a very skilled tag from CASTELLANOS there.
THE BIG HIT: None on, none out, 0-0 in the 3rd, Escobar solo HR off SMYLY.
THE BIG OUT: Bases loaded, 1 out, Tigers down 1-0 in the 5th, Gibson retires CABRERA on a 5-4-3 DP.
GOOD HITTING: Escobar
BAD HITTING: CABRERA, Arcia
GOOD PITCHING: Gibson, SMYLY, COKE
BAD PITCHING: NATHAN
OBVIOUSLY: Gibson’s sinker was just too good, and the Tigers couldn’t cash in on their one big chance.
DON’T OVERLOOK: The kind of 9th inning we’ve become accustomed to, featuring at least one error/misplay plus NATHAN, who had to be relieved by COKE this time. SMYLY got big outs nearly as big as Gibson’s, getting out of a bases-loaded jam in the 3rd and keeping Detroit in the game.
AND, BUT, ALSO: SUAREZ in for ROMINE late in a close game might not be such a good idea.
Game 64: Deduno v. Sanchez. TIGERS 12, Twins 9. Down 1, up 10.
NICE PLAYS: 3B Plouffe-1B Mauer, HUNTER, CASTELLANOS, Plouffe, SUAREZ, 2B Escobar-Mauer, SUAREZ-CABRERA, SS Santana-Mauer, KINSLER-CABRERA (2), CABRERA, CF Fuld (2), CASTELLANOS-CABRERA
MISPLAYS: P Deduno, AVILA (2), JACKSON, HUNTER, SUAREZ, CABRERA, SS Santana
BASERUNNING NEWS: Extra base hits abounded, no small ball today. J. MARTINEZ demonstrates triples legs to go with Comerica gap power.
THE BIG HIT: None on, none out, Tigers down 1-0 in the 3rd, SUAREZ solo HR off Deduno.
THE BIG OUT: Men on 1st and 3rd, none out, 0-0 in the 2nd, SANCHEZ strikes out Arcia.
GOOD HITTING: Dozier, Fryer, Nunez, Santana, SUAREZ, KINSLER, V. MARTINEZ
BAD HITTING: Mauer, Arcia (sombrero time)
GOOD PITCHING: SANCHEZ
BAD PITCHING: Deduno, Swarzak, REED, ALBURQUERQUE
OBVIOUSLY: A hammering blowout courtesy of the offense (big inning helped by some fortunate bounces) obscures the fine start from SANCHEZ.
DON’T OVERLOOK: With a 9-run lead, the bullpen let in 7 runs in 2.2 IP, again with “help” from shoddy defense, some of it just plain inexcusable.
AND, BUT, ALSO: KINSLER had the tag on Santana between 1st and 2nd for a spectacular DP but didn’t get the call. With the score at 10-1, it wasn’t challenged. A very eventful game defensively, where the Twins often looked clownish but where the Tigers actually were the sloppier team.
Game 65: Nolasco v. Porcello. TIGERS 4, Twins 3. Never behind, up 2. Walk-off win.
NICE PLAYS: 3B Escobar-1B Mauer, RF Arcia, KINSLER-CABRERA (2), SS Santana (2), SUAREZ, LF J. MARTINEZ, CABRERA, CABRERA-PORCELLO, CABRERA-CHAMBERLAIN, HUNTER
MISPLAYS: Arcia (2), LF Willingham, Escobar, AVILA (2), CF Fuld
BASERUNNING NEWS: Not even a pitchout (more or less) can stop DAVIS with a good jump. A great read on the ball bouncing around in the left field corner by JACKSON, CLARK, or both, got the Tigers a triple and an easy 2nd run. KINSLER’s headfirst slide into 1B worked, Dozier’s didn’t (but man was the latter close).
THE BIG HIT: Runners on 1st and 2nd, 1 out, Tigers down 3-2 in the 6th, CASTELLANOS RBI double off Nolasco.
THE BIG OUTS: Bases loaded, 1 out, 3-3 in the 6th, Burton retires SUAREZ (popout) and KINSLER (flyout).
GOOD HITTING: V. MARTINEZ
BAD HITTING: Dozier
GOOD PITCHING: PORCELLO, CHAMBERLAIN, Guerrier
OBVIOUSLY: The Tigers needed a few breaks to win this one, and Arcia and the Twins defense obliged.
DON’T OVERLOOK: Two well-timed manager moves: Gardenhire going to his bullpen, and AUSMUS not (yet) going to his bullpen. PORCELLO had the win in his pocket and it fell out; Detroit’s offense had a chance to break it open and failed. Thus the need for luck.
AND, BUT, ALSO: Gardenhire had no luck with the calls (fan interference on JACKSON triple, Dozier at 1B, HUNTER tagging early on the game-winning sacrifice fly.) Arcia’s first misplay was a sun ball in RF.
Game 66: Vargas v. Verlander. Royals 11, TIGERS 8. Up 2, down 9.
NICE PLAYS: JACKSON, SS Escobar, 3B Moustakas-2B Infante-1B Hosmer, SUAREZ-KINSLER-CABRERA, RF Aoki, LF DAVIS-AVILA, CASTELLANOS-AVILA-KINSLER, CF Cain (2), Moustakas-Hosmer, Cain-Moustakas-Escobar, REED, CABRERA-HARDY, 2B ROMINE
MISPLAYS: SUAREZ (3), RF J. MARTINEZ, AVILA, CASTELLANOS, Moustakas
BASERUNNING NEWS: Being hung out on attempted pickoff is apparently not even enough to catch DAVIS with a good jump from stealing 2B. SUAREZ can sac bunt, too, we see, and it sets up the first run of the game. Moustakas put down just about the ugliest sac bunt ever, but it worked. The Tigers nailed two runners trying to score from 3B and had a chance at THREE! Plus, JACKSON doubled up Butler at 2B after a nice catch. (Think what the score might have been otherwise.) V. MARTINEZ was making a bold 1st-to-3rd attempt, but his mad scramble back to 2B (safe) was even more impressive. He scored from 2B on the next play, but may have been a mere pawn in Cain’s clever ruse that caught J. MARTINEZ (pinch-running for HUNTER) way past 2B, the mad scramble back unsuccessful this time after the relay from Moustakas to Escobar. This put a dent in what could have been a bigger 4th inning.
THE BIG HIT: Bases loaded, 1 out, Tigers up 2-1 in the 5th, Butler bases-clearing double off VERLANDER.
THE BIG OUT: Men on 1st and 3rd, 1 out, Tigers down 1-0 in the 3rd, Vargas retires CABRERA on a 5-4-3 DP.
GOOD HITTING: J. MARTINEZ, DAVIS, Infante, Butler
GOOD PITCHING: Vargas, HARDY
BAD PITCHING: VERLANDER, Joseph, REED
OBVIOUSLY: Stranger even than the score would indicate. A hotly contested game in spite of the scuffling starter, right up until the Infante 3-run HR off VERLANDER in the 6th. After Cain’s magnificent catch in the bottom half, the baseball gods had spoken, although the 8th inning clown show seemed like an unnecessary reiteration of the speech. The mop-up crew turned 11-2 into something respectable.
DON’T OVERLOOK: Well, 6 runs in the 9th inning is something, even against a (deja vu) Royals minor leaguer. More late-inning heroics from J. MARTINEZ (grand slam). An example of why some fans always stay until the end.
AND, BUT, ALSO: HUNTER left the game early with hamstring cramps and was very upset with himself. VERLANDER nearly beaned Perez.
Game 67: Ventura v. Scherzer. Royals 11, TIGERS 4. Never ahead, down 8.
NICE PLAYS: 2B Infante-SS Escobar-1B Hosmer, RF Cain, Hosmer, SUAREZ-CASTELLANOS, SUAREZ, KINSLER-CABRERA, CABRERA-REED, Hosmer-Escobar, 2B ROMINE-1B KELLY
MISPLAYS: RF J. MARTINEZ, Escobar (2), 3B Moustakas
BASERUNNING NEWS: The DAVIS surprise bunt (down 10-2?) might have been intended as a surprise squeeze (1st and 3rd), but it’s good enough to load the bases and lead to a run. The Tigers manage to stay alert and catch a sleeping Gordon off 3B on a groundball heads-up SUAREZ-CASTELLANOS play.
THE BIG HIT: Runner on 2nd, none out, 0-0 in the 2nd, Gordon 2-run HR off SCHERZER.
THE BIG OUT: Runners on 1st and 2nd, 1 out, Tigers down 7-2 in the 2nd, SUAREZ grounds into a 4-6-3 DP off Ventura.
GOOD HITTING: Infante, Gordon, Cain
BAD HITTING: Hosmer, SUAREZ
BAD PITCHING: SCHERZER
OBVIOUSLY: This can’t be happening. 10 ER in 4+ from SCHERZER?
DON’T OVERLOOK: The Tigers kept playing like they didn’t know the score. Kansas City turned 4 double plays.
AND, BUT, ALSO: Freaky ending to what could have been a big 5th inning for Detroit. Bases loaded, V. MARTINEZ at the plate, Ventura’s pitch sails way over C Perez but bounces right back to him off the backstop, and advancing runner SUAREZ is dead between home and 3B.
Game 68: Guthrie v. Smyly. Royals 2, TIGERS 1. Never ahead, down 2.
NICE PLAYS: KINSLER-1B V. MARTINEZ, LF Gordon, SMYLY-V. MARTINEZ-SUAREZ
MISPLAYS: V. MARTINEZ-SUAREZ, 1B Hosmer
THE BIG HIT: None on, 2 out, Tigers down 1-0 in the 5th, Infante solo HR off SMYLY.
THE BIG OUTS: Man on 1st, none out, Tigers down 2-1 in the 9th, Holland retires MARTINEZ-MARTINEZ-AVILA to end the game.
GOOD PITCHING: Guthrie, SMYLY, Davis
OBVIOUSLY: Call it the bad luck game, where the winning run was scored in the 1st on an easy out that hit the 2B bag and turned into an RBI single. Or call it a day off for the offense, which couldn’t buy a baserunner.
DON’T OVERLOOK: Good bullpen kept it close.
AND, BUT, ALSO: Detroit struck out 13 times, 9 against Guthrie.
Game 69: Duffy v. Sanchez. TIGERS 2, Royals 1. Down 1, up 1.
NICE PLAYS: HOLADAY-CABRERA, LF Dyson, 1B Hosmer, RF Aoki-SS Escobar, CABRERA-SANCHEZ, CASTELLANOS, JACKSON, RF J. MARTINEZ, CABRERA, Aoki
MISPLAYS: LF DAVIS, 3B Moustakas
BASERUNNING NEWS: A dramatic race to the 1B bag between Hosmer and DAVIS, with both sliding into it, results in a narrow victory for Hosmer. Oh man, did CABRERA get burned by Aoki and Escobar, standing casually just off the 2B bag as the throw came in from RF. Cost the Tigers a run, which could have been costly indeed. HOLADAY’s bunting skill pressures Moustakas into an error and gets HOLADAY all the way to 2B. Next, SUAREZ’s sac bunt is so bad that it’s good, confusing the KC defense into allowing HOLADAY to reach 3rd. This little burst of small ball should have resulted in an 8th inning insurance run, but it didn’t.
THE BIG HIT: Runner on 1st, none out, Tigers down 1-0 in the 4th, CABRERA double off Duffy scores JACKSON.
THE BIG OUTS: Runner on 1st, none out, Tigers up 2-1 in the 8th, CHAMBERLAIN retires Infante (lineout SS) and Hosmer (4-6-3 DP).
GOOD HITTING: CABRERA
BAD HITTING: V. MARTINEZ
GOOD PITCHING: Duffy, SANCHEZ, NATHAN
OBVIOUSLY: A sigh of relief at managing 2 runs on 4 hits and at this being enough.
DON’T OVERLOOK: NATHAN struck out the side on 15 pitches in the 9th, protecting a 1-run lead.
AND, BUT, ALSO: A command performance from Sanchez, 7 innings of 1 run ball with – no strikeouts?
Game 70: Porcello v. Kluber. Tigers 6, INDIANS 4. Never behind, up 5.
NICE PLAYS: KINSLER-SUAREZ-CABRERA, RF Murphy (2), C Gomes-3B Chisenhall, SUAREZ, Chisenhall, CABRERA-SUAREZ, SS Cabrera-2B Kipnis-1B Santana
BASERUNNING NEWS: Both KELLY and especially HOLADAY were easy outs trying to steal. HOLADAY muffed a sac bunt (popout).
THE BIG HIT: Man on 1st, none out, 0-0 in the 4th, V. MARTINEZ 2-run HR off Kluber.
THE BIG OUT: Man on 1st, none out, Tigers up 2-0 in the 6th, PORCELLO retires Cabrera on a 3-6-3 DP.
GOOD HITTING: J. MARTINEZ, V. MARTINEZ
GOOD PITCHING: PORCELLO, Kluber
BAD PITCHING: KROL, Axford
OBVIOUSLY: A matter-of-fact win briefly interrupted by frightening bullpen.
DON’T OVERLOOK: 7 innings of shutout by PORCELLO and ALBURQUERQUE. The Indians paid the price for walking one MARTINEZ to get to the other. KINSLER recovered from 3 bad strikeouts to double in the 9th inning insurance.
AND, BUT, ALSO: 9 of 10 runs scored were on home runs. Different ballpark, but another passed ball bounces right back to the catcher, keeping the Tigers baserunner from advancing.
Game 71: Verlander v. Bauer. Tigers 5, INDIANS 4 (10). Down 1, up 2.
NICE PLAYS: CF Bourn, KINSLER, RF Murphy, CABRERA, 1B Santana, CASTELLANOS, CABRERA-NATHAN, SS Cabrera-2B Kipnis-Santana
MISPLAYS: KINSLER, CASTELLANOS (2)
BASERUNNING NEWS: Cabrera (the other one) laid down about the most perfect 3B-line bunt you’ll ever see, inspiring a bit of comedy from VERLANDER. DAVIS was way out (unusual) trying to steal 2B in the 5th.
THE BIG HIT: Runners on 1st and 3rd, 2 out, Tigers up 4-3 in the 9th, Bourn RBI single off NATHAN.
THE BIG OUTS: Runner on 2nd (and then 3rd), none out, Tigers up 4-3 in the 8th, HARDY gets three harmless grounders from Brantley-Kipnis-Santana.
GOOD HITTING: V. MARTINEZ
BAD HITTING: Kipnis
GOOD PITCHING: VERLANDER, HARDY, COKE, Atchison
BAD PITCHING: NATHAN, ALBURQUERQUE
OBVIOUSLY: 40,000+ at Progressive Field (can you believe it?) saw one heck of a show. Back and forth.
DON’T OVERLOOK: HARDY and COKE bail out ALBURQUERQUE and NATHAN in what should have been a win for VERLANDER.
AND, BUT, ALSO: Some real blasts off the Tigers’ bats, not only the home runs (V. MARTINEZ, DAVIS, KINSLER) but also an out (AVILA to CF) and the game-winning RBI double from CABRERA in the 10th.
Game 72: Scherzer v. Tomlin. Tigers 10, INDIANS 4. Never behind, up 9.
NICE PLAYS: 2B Kipnis, ROMINE-KINSLER-CABRERA, LF DAVIS, SCHERZER-CABRERA, CABRERA-HARDY, 1B KELLY, SS Cabrera-Kipnis-1B Santana, JACKSON
MISPLAYS: Cabrera, C Gomes, CF Bourn, 3B Chisenhall (2)
BASERUNNING NEWS: CASTELLANOS gets a good read and moves with alacrity to take 3B on a WP that wasn’t so wild. KINSLER’s jump on his steal of 2B was too good for a throw.
THE BIG HIT: None on, 2 out, 0-0 in the 1st, CABERA solo HR off Tomlin.
THE BIG OUTS: Men on 1st and 2nd, none out, Tigers up 2-0 in the 3rd, SCHERZER retires Cabrera-Brantley-Kipnis in order.
GOOD HITTING: Brantley. CABRERA, KINSLER, J. MARTINEZ, CASTELLANOS
BAD HITTING: Kipnis
GOOD PITCHING: SCHERZER, Carrasco
BAD PITCHING: Tomlin, SMITH
OBVIOUSLY: Detroit’s offense would have been hard to deny anyway, but Cleveland buried themselves with a multitude of defensive lapses in the 5th.
DON’T OVERLOOK: A good game from SCHERZER somewhat obscured by the score and the inefficiency (114 pitches in 6 innings of work). The Indians were 1 for 8 RISP (4 strikeouts!) against him.
AND, BUT, ALSO: Bit of a rough debut for SMITH mopping up in the 9th, but a nice moment with smiles and congrats from AVILA when he’d gotten the third out.
DEFENSIVE SCORECARD (in terms of outstanding plays one way or the other, X = good, O = not)
2B KINSLER XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXOX +26
LF DAVIS XOXOX +1
SS ROMINE XXXXXOXX +6
1B CABRERA XXOXXXXXXOXXXXXXOXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX +30
P KNEBEL X +1
SS SUAREZ OXXXXXXXXXOXOOXXOXXOOOXXXOXXXO +10
3B CASTELLANOS OXXOOXOOOXXXOOXXXOXXXOO +1
RF HUNTER OXXOX +1
P SMYLY XX +2
CF JACKSON XXXOXXX +5
P NATHAN XX +2
1B KELLY XXXX +4
1B V. MARTINEZ XXXXOXXXOXXO +6
C AVILA XXXOOOOXXO zero
P KROL X +1
LF J. MARTINEZ XOOOXX zero
RF KELLY O -1
P PORCELLO OX zero
P VERLANDER XO zero
P SCHERZER XX +2
LF KELLY XX +2
P CHAMBERLAIN X +1
P REED XX +2
P HARDY XX +2
2B ROMINE XX +2
RF J. MARTINEZ OOX -1
C HOLADAY X +1
P SANCHEZ X +1
Eugenio Suarez makes the jump from AAA sooner than anyone expected. Andrew Romine has perked up a bit at the plate, but only to the tune of a .523 OPS. The countermove to Suarez is the DFA of Danny Worth (soon outrighted to Toledo). *** The MLB debut of Suarez isn’t entirely auspicious. As a defensive replacement he makes a caught-sleeping read on a playable hit, and later hurts his knee with an awkward slide that will delay his first starting opportunity. *** The Blue Jays sweep the Tigers in Detroit for the first time in 11 years, and the losing streak (highlighted by losing offense) reaches 5 games. *** Mechanical adjustments reported, Justin Verlander’s fastball tops out at 97-98 MPH over two outings, but the ERA continues to climb as well (4.19). *** Alex Avila sustains a mild concussion from being clipped on the mask with a David Ortiz backswing. *** Yes, strange defensive things do often happen with Joe Nathan on the mound, but that can’t entirely explain his 7.04 ERA. There’s an 80% contact rate on swings, and just 13% of strikes called are swinging strikes. After Game 57: “We’re going to need Joe Nathan,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “Wanted to get him out there and throw some pitches, and kind of work through this.” *** Anibal Sanchez finally yields his first HR of 2014 (Mike Napoli) after 10 starts and 55.1 IP. *** Suarez is causing a stir early as a SS who can hit, with clutch hits and home runs, even (2 in his first 4 games). *** Rookie 3B Nick Castellanos is in the midst of a quietly productive 18-game stretch that will see him hit .353 with only 10 K in 70 PA. *** After a surprisingly strong start at the plate, Don Kelly is on a slide that will see him go 54 PA with 1 XBH (and 1 RBI) along with a .167 average during that span. *** Aha, Luke Putkonen (DL) does need surgery after all (bone spur, right elbow), and will be out for at least another two months. *** Al Alburquerque pitches sparingly during this period, 7 games and 3.2 IP, little of note good or bad aside from a 33% IRS. “I’ve certainly been aware of how much we’ve used Alburquerque over the first two months,” Ausmus said. “I’ve tried to be a little more careful on how we use Alburquerque, because we’re going to need him for August and September.” *** After the game against the Twins in which he almost hit three out and one of them counted for #17, Victor Martinez is on a 44 HR pace, and Miguel Cabrera is on pace for 30 HR, 138 RBI (!), and 58 2B (!!). *** With a few weeks in the bigs under his belt, top prospect Corey Knebel returns to Toledo, and Blaine Hardy (who nearly made the team out of camp as a non-roster invitee) gets the call. *** With Alburquerque and Joba Chamberlain the only semi-reliable arms (that Ausmus has become leery of overtaxing), and Ian Krol and Evan Reed in serious decline, the bullpen situation inches toward Code Red. How so? Because a bullpen that blows every third game (not true) and a bullpen that would blow every third game, given the opportunity (very true – do the math), amount to the same thing. Krol, the New Old Phil Coke early on, since May 23: WHIP ~2.40, BAA .379, IRS 38%. Reed, the one power arm left, since May 18: WHIP 2.30, BAA .354, 43% LD rate. *** Detroit comes to terms with a number of their top draft picks, including their first choice, OF Derek Hill. *** On June 17, knocked out by the red-hot Royals, the Tigers get their first look at 2nd place in the AL Central. *** In response to a question about how he deals with the frustration of a 9-20 stretch for the team, Ausmus jokes that he beats his wife, which causes quite the stir in PC Nation and quite a bit of histrionic angst from Ausmus himself afterward. Fortunately, his comments on the new home plate collision rules (“totally gay”) are kept off the record. *** With Torii Hunter out for a spell (hamstring), J.D. Martinez gets his first real string of starting opportunities and has an eye-popping offensive series against the Royals. *** Rock stars no more: Only the stellar Sanchez (at a 2.33 ERA, sub-1.00 WHIP after 12 starts) has escaped the considerable scuffing and/or roughing up suffered by the other starters over the past 4-5 weeks. *** Although his defense is no more than sometimes brilliant, sometimes baffling, robust offense (.849 OPS) has kept Suarez in the lineup and made him the de facto starting SS faster than you can say all five syllables of his first name. *** Reed is DFA (and will land in Toledo), and fast-rising pitching prospect Chad Smith (starter in AA and AAA this season) is called upon for bullpen help. *** Bryan Holaday has been disappointing defensively as backup catcher, but – aided by his considerable skill at bunting – is somewhat of a pleasant surprise with the bat (.303 average, albeit with a .677 OPS). *** Much is made of the Detroit bullpen’s “heavy workload,” but this seems to be based on appearances rather than actual innings pitched. *** Krol hits the DL with shoulder inflammation, a.k.a. bad pitching. Pat McCoy is called up from Toledo’s bullpen to take his place. *** Ausmus is 12 for 21 in successful replay challenges, one of the better scores among managers. *** Hunter is getting a bit more rest for his hamstring than anticipated, as the other Martinez catches fire and looks comfortable in the #5 spot. Over 15 games this period, J.D. is hitting .357 with 5 HR, 16 RBI, and a 55% XBH rate. *** It seems too good to be true. Hardy, lefty reliever with a plus curveball, has faced 18 batters through 5 IP in 4 games. 1 hit, 2 walks, 0 runs, 0 IRS. *** Home run #19 for Victor (in Cleveland, off Trevor Bauer) is about as no-doubt as it gets, nearly to the second deck in RF on a line. *** Detroit’s stay in 2nd place is a short one, as they finish this inning with 4 straight wins. Moral of the story: Cursed by Zubaz? Beat your wife. (Or let her beat you. Versions of the story vary.)
40-32, 1st in the Central, 2nd in the AL, on pace for a 90-72 season…