The boys are back in town. And the name of the place is “I Like It Like That.”
So the Detroit Tigers are now:
OF-DH J. Martinez
DH-1B V. Martinez
Game 73: Smyly v. Lewis. Tigers 8, RANGERS 2. Never behind, up 7.
NICE PLAYS: SMYLY-CABRERA-KINSLER-SUAREZ, SMYLY, CABRERA-SUAREZ, C Chirinos-3B Beltre, Chrinos-SS Andrus, SUAREZ, COKE, CASTELLANOS-1B KELLY
MISPLAYS: SUAREZ, SMYLY, KINSLER-CABRERA
BASERUNNING NEWS: V. MARTINEZ really had no business trying to score from 1B on a double, running into the 3rd out. Odd line with both JACKSON and DAVIS going 1-2 in SB. Andrus held the tag on an over-sliding DAVIS. JACKSON took him to school on technique with a brilliant feet-first slide to steal 2B. SMYLY is at it again with a steal attempt pickoff, and Andrus plays football in the rundown in a comical attempt at drawing an interference call.
THE BIG HIT: Man on 2nd, none out, 1-1 in the 7th, J. MARTINEZ 2-run HR off Lewis.
THE BIG OUT: Man on 1st, none out, 1-1 in the 6th, DAVIS caught stealing 2B by Chirinos-Odor (Lewis pitching).
GOOD HITTING: Beltre, KINSLER, V. MARTINEZ
BAD HITTING: Pena
GOOD PITCHING: SMYLY
BAD PITCHING: Poreda, Rowen
OBVIOUSLY: Close until the Tigers exploded late.
DON’T OVERLOOK: The lone run off SMYLY was truly was unearned.
AND, BUT, ALSO: As though scripted: First time back in Texas, KINSLER homers in his first AB and gives a sly little wave to the Rangers dugout.
Game 74: Sanchez v. Saunders. Tigers 8, RANGERS 6. Never behind, up 5.
NICE PLAYS: CF Martin, LF Choice, C Chirinos-2B Odor, Odor, SANCHEZ-CABRERA, CF DAVIS, RF HUNTER, KINSLER-CABRERA, SUAREZ-CABRERA
MISPLAYS: Odor, SS Andrus, CABRERA, HOLADAY (2), CASTELLANOS, LF J. MARTINEZ (2), HOLADAY-CABRERA, 3B KELLY
BASERUNNING NEWS: SUAREZ was an easy out stealing 2B, as was HOLADAY “at” home trying to score from 1B on a double. The Rangers 7th was some fine small ball with a model hit and run.
THE BIG HIT: Runner on 1st, 1 out, Tigers up 1-0 in the first, V. MARTINEZ double off Saunders scores KINSLER from 1B.
THE BIG OUTS: Runners on 1st and 2nd, 1 out, Tigers up 5-3 in the 4th, SANCHEZ retires Odor (flyout CF) and Martin (groundout P).
GOOD HITTING: Beltre, J MARTINEZ, KINSLER, Chirinos
GOOD PITCHING: HARDY, Frasor
BAD PITCHING: Saunders
OBVIOUSLY: Built a good lead and held on.
DON’T OVERLOOK: Good thing they brought the bats. Bad defense undermined everything; felt more like a loss than a win.
AND, BUT, ALSO: 6 HR in 9 games for J. MARTINEZ.
Game 75: Porcello v. Martinez. Tigers 6, RANGERS 0. Ahead from the 2nd on.
NICE PLAYS: CABRERA, SS Andrus-2B Sardinas-1B Pena, KINSLER-SUAREZ-CABRERA (3), SS Andrus, Pena-Andrus-P Baker, CASTELLANOS
MISPLAYS: HUNTER, LF Choo (2), Pena, 3B Beltre, Sardinas
BASERUNNING NEWS: A nice hit and run with CABRERA on and V. MARTINEZ up pays off with a sacrifice fly run. And the 5th run *always* matters.
THE BIG HIT: Men on 2nd and 3rd, 1 out, Tigers up 1-0 in the 3rd, JACKSON 2-run single off Martinez.
THE BIG OUT: Bases loaded, 2 out, 0-0 in the 2nd, Martinez retires CABRERA (flyball deep CF).
GOOD HITTING: KINSLER
BAD HITTING: Andrus
GOOD PITCHING: PORCELLO, Baker
BAD PITCHING: Martinez
OBVIOUSLY: Brilliant start and a no doubt about it win.
DON’T OVERLOOK: Sharp defense from Detroit. 6 Texas baserunners, 3 double plays.
AND, BUT, ALSO: The Rangers’ PA guy announces V. MARTINEZ as “DH Edgar Martinez.” As we saw earlier in the season, the Rangers have some issues with outfield communication.
Game 76: Verlander v. Peacock. ASTROS 4, Tigers 3 (11). Up 1, down 1. Walk-off loss.
NICE PLAYS: 3B Dominguez-1B Singleton, SS Villar-2B Altuve-Singleton, CASTELLANOS, CASTELLANOS-KINSLER-CABRERA, CABRERA-SUAREZ
MISPLAYS: AVILA (2), C Castro, Dominguez, CABRERA, AVILA-CABRERA, Villar-Singleton
BASERUNNING NEWS: Aggression was trouble for Detroit, with AVILA and J. MARTINEZ no challenge at all trying to stretch singles on the Houston OF. 3B coach CLARK and SUAREZ were caught sleeping on an opportunity to take 3B on a Springer bobble. Altuve was also trouble.
THE BIG HIT: None on, 1 out, 3-3 in the 11th, Castro game-winning HR off HARDY.
THE BIG OUTS: Altuve on 1st, none out, 3-3 in the 10th, HARDY retires Springer (K) and Singleton (groundball DP).
GOOD HITTING: Altuve
BAD HITTING: HUNTER, Singleton
GOOD PITCHING: Peacock, VERLANDER, Buchanan
OBVIOUSLY: A close one, a comeback, but ultimately a heartbreak.
DON’T OVERLOOK: In a game where defense had big impact both ways for both sides, you could say the winning run scored early, possibly when CABRERA had his back turned to tag after the ill-advised pickoff attempt by AVILA.
AND, BUT, ALSO: The Tigers managed 1 hit in their last 7 innings.
Game 77: Scherzer v. Oberholtzer. Tigers 4, ASTROS 3. Down 1, up 1.
NICE PLAYS: SUAREZ, RF Springer, LF Hoes, SS Gonzalez, P Williams-1B Singleton
MISPLAYS: SUAREZ (2), CF DAVIS (2), HOLADAY
BASERUNNING NEWS: HOLADAY laid down a beauty of a bunt hit that could have set up winning earlier, and even managed throw out a baserunner (but not two-SB Altuve).
THE BIG HIT: Men on 2nd and 3rd, 2 out, Tigers down 2-1 in the 9th, KINSLER 3-run HR off Williams.
THE BIG OUTS: Bases loaded, 1 out, Tigers down 2-1 in the 7th, Zeid retires DAVIS (groundball 3B, forceout at home) and KINSLER (flyball LF).
GOOD HITTING: SUAREZ, Presley, KINSLER
BAD HITTING: DAVIS, Castro
GOOD PITCHING: SCHERZER, Oberholtzer, Zeid
BAD PITCHING: Williams
OBVIOUSLY: Close all the way, big 9th-inning rally wins it.
DON’T OVERLOOK: SCHERZER provided his own defense because he had to – 13 strikeouts in a masterpiece. KINSLER heroics spared SCHERZER the hard-luck loss that the spectacular catch by LF Hoes had nearly handed him.
AND, BUT, ALSO: Weak middle in the Tigers D.
Game 78: Smyly v. Feldman. ASTROS 6, Tigers 4. Never ahead, down 3.
NICE PLAYS: HUNTER, 3B Dominguez-2B Altuve, CABRERA-SUAREZ, Dominguez (2), LF MARTINEZ, SUAREZ-AVILA-CASTELLANOS, Altuve-1B Singleton, SS Villar-Altuve-Singleton, CASTELLANOS, RF Springer, Dominguez-Singleton, HARDY-2B ROMINE
MISPLAYS: SUAREZ, AVILA (2), C Corporan, Villar
BASERUNNING NEWS: AVILA couldn’t find the ball right under him, leading quickly to Houston’s 3rd run on a sac fly. V. MARTINEZ beats the shift with a dribbler on the left side. Good read and great hustle (never slowed down) by CASTELLANOS on his LF (!) triple – Villar made assumptions on the relay and got burned. HUNTER catches ‘em off guard with a steal of 3B with CABRERA up.
THE BIG HIT: Runners on 1st and 2nd, 2 out, Tigers down 5-2 in the 8th, CASTELLANOS 2-run triple off Veras.
THE BIG OUTS: Runners on 1st and 2nd, none out, Tigers down 4-1 in the 5th, Feldman retires JACKSON (groundball 6-4-3 DP).
GOOD HITTING: Springer, Corporan, CASTELLANOS, AVILA
BAD HITTING: Presley, JACKSON (golden sombrero)
GOOD PITCHING: SMITH, Sipp
BAD PITCHING: SMYLY, Veras
OBVIOUSLY: Behind early, kept chasing, fell short.
DON’T OVERLOOK: Pinch-hitter (!) KINSLER stuck out on 3 pitches with the tying run at 3B in the 8th.
AND, BUT, ALSO: Old and listless through almost 3 compared to the dynamic Astros, somehow Detroit came to life instantaneously with SMYLY’s exit.
“It’s great to be alive and to be a Tigers fan.”
Game 79: Kazmir v. Sanchez. TIGERS 5, Athletics 4. Down 3, up 1. Walk-off win.
NICE PLAYS: SUAREZ, CF Crisp, LF DAVIS (2), RF Moss, JACKSON, SUAREZ-CABRERA, 1B Vogt, CASTELLANOS-KINSLER-CABRERA, 3B Callaspo-2B Sogard-Vogt, Callaspo
MISPLAYS: CABRERA, SANCHEZ, Vogt (2), SUAREZ, P Kazmir
BASERUNNING NEWS: Aggression was good, with CABRERA motoring for a double, CASTELLANOS getting a SB and going 1st to 3rd at a most opportune time, a daring tag and advance from 1B by J. MARTINEZ, and KINSLER beating a pickoff for a steal of 2B. Luck was also there, as 1B Vogt dropped the ball on a would-be pickoff of DAVIS stealing 2B.
THE BIG HIT: Bases loaded, 1 out, Tigers down 4-1 in the 9th, DAVIS game-winning grand slam off Doolittle.
THE BIG OUTS: Man on 2nd, 1 out, Tigers down 1-0 in the 6th, Otero retires CASTELLANOS (groundout P) and AVILA (groundout 3B).
GOOD HITTING: DAVIS, Lowrie
BAD HITTING: Callaspo, SUAREZ
GOOD PITCHING: Kazmir, COKE, Otero
BAD PITCHING: Doolittle, CHAMBERLAIN
OBVIOUSLY: 7 innings of duel, comes undone, and then it’s miracle rally time.
DON’T OVERLOOK: How the bottom of the order (with help from the opponent’s C playing 1B) set the table for the rally.
AND, BUT, ALSO: What a way to cap off the Monday night ceremony commemorating the 1984 World Series champions. Also, JACKSON made a diving catch in CF, albeit awkwardly.
Game 80: Mills v. Porcello. TIGERS 3, Athletics 0. Ahead from the 4th on.
NICE PLAYS: JACKSON, HUNTER, C Vogt-2B Punto, CF Crisp, 3B Donaldson-Punto, SS Lowrie-Punto, Lowrie-Punto-1B Callaspo
MISPLAYS: Lowrie, LF Gentry
BASERUNNING NEWS: CABRERA making the serious 1st to 3rd effort is part of the reason the J. MARTINEZ double in the 4th – to LF – *was* a double, and he comes home on a groundout. This guy can run.
THE BIG HIT: Man on 1st, 1 out, Tigers up 1-0 in the 6th, J. MARTINEZ 2-run HR off Mills.
THE BIG OUTS: Men on 2nd and 3rd, 2 out, Tigers up 1-0 in the 4th, Mills strikes out HOLADAY.
GOOD HITTING: J. MARTINEZ
GOOD PITCHING: PORCELLO
OBVIOUSLY: No chance for the A’s against PORCELLO.
DON’T OVERLOOK: Not much noise from the Tigers’ bats, either.
AND, BUT, ALSO: 17 of PORCELLO’s 27 outs were on groundballs. First MLB shutout with neither strikeout nor walk in 25 years.
Game 81: Chavez v. Verlander. TIGERS 9, Athletics 3. Down 2, up 7.
NICE PLAYS: C Norris-2B Punto, AVILA-ROMINE, 1B Freiman, ROMINE-CABRERA, 3B Callaspo-Punto-Freiman
MISPLAYS: KINSLER, LF Vogt, Callaspo, Norris, AVILA
BASERUNNING NEWS: KINSLER goes 1st to 3rd on a LF single and soon scores. Norris and AVILA traded perfect throws to nail good runners (second time in 2 games DAVIS has been gunned down despite all).
THE BIG HIT: Runner on 2nd, 2 out, 2-2 in the 4th, JACKSON singles in ROMINE off Chavez.
THE BIG OUTS: Bases loaded, 2 out, Tigers up 3-2 in the 6th, VERLANDER retires Punto (flyball RF).
GOOD HITTING: Moss, HUNTER, CABRERA, JACKSON
BAD HITTING: Lowrie
BAD PITCHING: Chavez, Johnson
OBVIOUSLY: Detroit breaks it open with a 6-run 6th and puts it away.
DON’T OVERLOOK: What a struggle it was outside of that charmed 6th inning. VERLANDER was in and out of bases-loaded jams twice.
AND, BUT, ALSO: There was no shrugging off or holding in; VERLANDER was visibly upset with himself over the two 1st-inning home runs allowed.
Game 82: Bedard v. Scherzer. TIGERS 8, Rays 1. Down 1, up 7.
NICE PLAYS: SCHERZER, SS Zobrist-2B Figueroa-1B Loney, SUAREZ, 3B Longoria-Figueroa-Loney
MISPLAYS: CF Jennings, RF Kiermaier
BASERUNNING NEWS: CABRERA was the running man, taking 3 “extras,” scoring 4 times, and scoring all the Tigers’ runs after the 1st.
THE BIG HIT: Man on 1st, none out, Tigers down 1-0 in the 1st, KINSLER 2-run HR off Bedard.
THE BIG OUTS: Man on 2nd, 2 out, Tigers down 1-0 in the 1st, SCHERZER retires Loney (groundout 1B).
GOOD HITTING: V. MARTINEZ, HUNTER, CABRERA
GOOD PITCHING: SCHERZER, Yates
BAD PITCHING: Bedard
OBVIOUSLY: Big 1st inning and a major shutdown from SCHERZER. So easy it was almost boring.
DON’T OVERLOOK: SCHERZER retired 23 of the last 24 batters he faced.
AND, BUT, ALSO: SMITH had a 1-2-3 inning.
Game 83: Cobb v. Smyly. Rays 6, TIGERS 3. Never ahead, down 3.
NICE PLAYS: 3B Longoria-2B Forsythe-1B Loney, SUAREZ, Forsythe, KINSLER
MISPLAYS: SUAREZ, Loney, AVILA
BASERUNNING NEWS: How could Loney miss the good pickoff throw from Cobb so completely, and why didn’t KINSLER go all the way to 3B? There’s a story here.
THE BIG HIT: Runners on 1st and 2nd, 1 out, Tigers down 3-1 in the 5th, Rodriguez 2-run triple off SMYLY.
THE BIG OUTS: Bases loaded, none out, Tigers down 5-2 in the 6th, Boxberger retires HUNTER on a 6-4-3 DP (run scores) and strikes out KELLY.
GOOD HITTING: Longoria, Rodriguez, Zobrist, J. MARTINEZ
BAD HITTING: Loney
GOOD PITCHING: Boxberger
BAD PITCHING: SMYLY
OBVIOUSLY: The 6th inning was like a coin toss for the game. Rodriguez wins, HUNTER loses.
DON’T OVERLOOK: Despite only 6 hits, plenty of chances to win one they should have. The pitch that did SMYLY in wasn’t so bad.
AND, BUT, ALSO: The combined 3 for 22 RISP makes you wonder how *any* runs scored. There was a little spate of hit batters (who knows). Joe Maddon took exception to his pitcher drawing the warning and got himself ejected.
“I hate baseball.”
Game 84: Archer v. Sanchez. Rays 7, TIGERS 2. Never ahead, down 7.
NICE PLAYS: SS Zobrist-2B Forsythe-1B Loney, RF J. MARTINEZ, Forsythe-Loney, ROMINE-KINSLER-CABRERA (2), P Archer
MISPLAYS: J. MARTINEZ, KINSLER, AVILA, COKE, McCOY, HARDY
BASERUNNING NEWS: The Rays’ 17 baserunners were certainly stepping livelier than the other side’s, though the Tigers did turn 3 double plays. Forsythe’s run-scoring bunt single in the 6th couldn’t have been located any better; CABRERA and SANCHEZ looked silly but couldn’t help it.
THE BIG HIT: Runner on 1st, 1 out, Tigers down 1-0 in the 5th, Kiermaier RBI triple off SANCHEZ.
THE BIG OUTS: Runners on 1st and 2nd, 1 out, Tigers down 3-0 in the 5th, Archer retires ROMINE (K) and DAVIS (groundout 1b).
GOOD HITTING: Kiermaier, Forsythe, AVILA
GOOD PITCHING: Archer
BAD PITCHING: SANCHEZ, COKE
OBVIOUSLY: Fell apart in the middle, but a quick hook for aces requires bullpen.
DON’T OVERLOOK: Archer was unbeatable, yes, but again it seemed like the whole team – not just SANCHEZ – played half a game and then quit. The complexion of the game changed completely with one walk to a weak hitter and a terrible play in RF.
AND, BUT, ALSO: Tigers pitchers put on a bad fielding clinic. Tigers offense put together a special version of 0-6 RISP, with 3 different pairs of failure.
Game 85: Price v. Porcello. Ray 7, TIGERS 3. Never ahead, down 6.
NICE PLAYS: SUAREZ, RF Kiermaier (2), CASTELLANOS, C Molina-1B Loney, CABRERA-PORCELLO, SS Zobrist, CABRERA-SUAREZ, LF DAVIS, CF Jennings (2), HUNTER-HOLADAY, LF Joce-Zobrist-Molina
MISPLAYS: CASTELLANOS, HOLADAY
BASERUNNING NEWS: SUAREZ fell down between 3rd and home, costing Detroit a respectability run.
THE BIG HIT: Man on 1st, none out, Tigers down 1-0 in the first, Joyce 2-run HR off PORCELLO.
THE BIG OUTS: Men on 1st and 2nd, 1 out, Tigers down 4-1 in the 5th, PORCELLO retires Loney on a 3-6-1 DP.
GOOD HITTING: Jennings, Joyce, Zobrist
BAD HITTING: Forsythe
GOOD PITCHING: Price
BAD PITCHING: PORCELLO
OBVIOUSLY: Thoroughly outclassed at home for the nth time this season.
DON’T OVERLOOK: So that’s what outfield defense looks like. Tigers had some, too. Good game for the defenses overall. 4 Tigers relievers yielded 8 hits (but no runs).
AND, BUT, ALSO: If the rain was trying to help, it showed up a bit late (bottom of the 9th).
Game 86: Ryu v. Verlander. TIGERS 14, Dodgers 5. Down 5, up 9.
NICE PLAYS: SUAREZ, RF Puig (3), SS Rojas, LF Kemp (2), Rojas-1B Gonzalez, CASTELLANOS, LF DAVIS, 2B Gordon-Rojas-Gonzalez, SMITH-SUAREZ-1B KELLY
MISPLAYS: AVILA, C Ellis
BASERUNNING NEWS: Too much. HUNTER challenges Puig and wins when the chips are down, steals 2B later when it’s a blowout. A good hold on DAVIS rounding 3rd makes him fall down, but preserves an inning and more runs, and a later swinging bunt works for an IF single. Good sacrifice bunt by SUAREZ sets up 2 runs. Both J. MARTINEZ and CABRERA leg out triples, all hustle.
THE BIG HIT: Runners on 1st and 2nd, 1 out, 0-0 in the first, Gonzalez 2-run double off VERLANDER.
THE BIG OUTS: Bases loaded, 1 out, 5-5 in the 2nd, Ryu retires HUNTER on a 6-3 DP.
GOOD HITTING: CABRERA, AVILA, CASTELLANOS, AVILA, DAVIS, Uribe
GOOD PITCHING: Detroit bullpen
BAD PITCHING: Ryu, Wright, Maholm
OBVIOUSLY: A disastrous 1st followed by a quick and incredible turnaround.
DON’T OVERLOOK: The importance of HUNTER challenging Puig or AUSMUS challenging the out call. They didn’t just come back – they blew the door off the hinges, and VERLANDER recovered to set down 13 straight. You’ll not see a better offensive game from Detroit.
AND, BUT, ALSO: Some blowouts are sloppy. This was the total action game with no clown show to be found on either side. 14 unanswered runs without a HR, too.
Game 87: Greinke v. Scherzer, TIGERS 4, Dodgers 1. Never behind, up 3.
NICE PLAYS: JACKSON-KINSLER-CASTELLANOS, SUAREZ-CASTELLANOS, LF DAVIS, CASTELLANOS-1B KELLY, LF Kemp-C Ellis, 1B Gonzalez-SS Rojas-P Greinke
MISPLAYS: Ellis, Gonzalez-3B Uribe
BASERUNNING NEWS: Puig gets erased from 3B on alertness from SUAREZ-CASTELLANOS. JACKSON turns some Dodgers OF lack of effort into a triple and scores. J. MARTINEZ a beats good throw home to score from 2B. DAVIS steals 3B but is stranded.
THE BIG HIT: Man on 2nd, 2 out, Tigers up 1-0 n the 1st, KELLY RBI single off Greinke.
THE BIG OUTS: Men on 1st and 2nd, 1 out, Tigers up 2-0 in the 3rd, SCHERZER retires Puig on a 5-3 DP.
GOOD HITTING: KELLY
BAD HITTING: AVILA
GOOD PITCHING: SCHERZER, Greinke, CHAMBERLAIN, NATHAN
OBVIOUSLY: Close but under control from the start. A Tigers pitching show to match the offensive show in the last game.
DON’T OVERLOOK: Strong defense from Detroit. The 1st inning alone was a game-changer.
AND, BUT, ALSO: No CABRERA, no V. MARTINEZ, but KELLY and JACKSON step up with key hits against a tough pitcher.
Game 88: Smyly v. Guthrie. Tigers 16, ROYALS 4. Never behind, up 13.
NICE PLAYS: JACKSON, 3B Valencia-2B Infante-1B Hosmer, SUAREZ, 3B Valencia, RF Cain, KINSLER (2), AVILA, 2B Valencia, 1B KELLY, COKE-KELLY
MISPLAYS: Valencia, LF Ibanez, CF Dyson, KINSLER
BASERUNNING NEWS: Classic hit and run AB from KINSLER with JACKSON on sets up a small ball 3-run 1st. The Royals were getting uncharacteristically good jumps off SMYLY early.
THE BIG HIT: Runners on 1st and 2nd, 2 out, Tigers up 4-1 in the 4th, CABRERA 2-run double off Guthrie.
THE BIG OUTS: Runners on 1st and 2nd, none out, Tigers up 3-1 in the 3rd, Guthrie retired HUNTER on 5-4-3 DP (CABRERA to 3B) and strikes out CASTELLANOS.
GOOD HITTING: J. MARTINEZ, CABRERA, HUNTER, Hosmer, SUAREZ
BAD PITCHING: Guthrie, Coleman, Downs
OBVIOUSLY: A satisfying thrashing, even if 16-2 would’ve been more like it.
DON’T OVERLOOK: Tigers offense goes berserk (with only 1 HR, a solo shot) and won’t quit!
AND, BUT, ALSO: 26 baserunners for Detroit, with 23 getting into scoring position and 13 scoring. Wow.
Game 89: Sanchez v. Duffy. Tigers 2, ROYALS 1. Never behind, up 1.
NICE PLAYS: CASTELLANOS (2), RF J. MARTINEZ, RF Cain, 2B Infante, 1B Hosmer, 3B Moustakas-C Perez, SUAREZ (2), JACKSON, Moustakas-Hosmer
MISPLAYS: P Duffy, Perez, KINSLER, CASTELLANOS, Infante
BASERUNNING NEWS: SANCHEZ catches Perez sleeping at 1B with a pickoff, challenged but upheld. Infante was caught way too far off 2B by CASTELLANOS for a DP on the play after the CASTELLANOS error that had put him there. Running on contact from 3B on the bouncer to 3B was the wrong choice for CASTELLANOS, easy out that wasted a threat and another fine sacrifice bunt from HOLADAY to set it up.
THE BIG HIT: None on, none out, Tigers up 2-1 in the 7th, Moustakas double off SANCHEZ.
THE BIG OUTS: Men on 1st and 2nd, 1 out, Tigers up 2-1 in the 9th, NATHAN retires Escobar (K) and Aoki (groundout 1B).
GOOD PITCHING: SANCHEZ, Duffy, Crow
OBVIOUSLY: Very tight, very clutch, very frustrating for the Royals.
DON’T OVERLOOK: Defense was everything. Duffy misses ball up the middle – run. KINSLER passes on cutoff throw: run. Infante can’t glove pickoff throw: run. Slick and alert play by SUAREZ: no run.
AND, BUT, ALSO: The interference call on Cain in the 8th – the right call – was huge. 5 hits, no walks and a win for Detroit. Royals 1-11 RISP.
Game 90: Porcello v. Shields. Tigers 5, ROYALS 1. Never behind, up 4.
NICE PLAYS: C Perez-2B Infante (2), RF Cain, ROMINE-KINSLER-CABRERA, SS Escobar, Infante-Escobar-1B Hosmer, 3B Moustakas-Hosmer
MISPLAYS: Perez, CF Dyson-Moustakas, Moustakas
BASERUNNING NEWS: HUNTER turns it on for a triple, aided to some degree by a clumsy tag from Moustakas. There’s your winning run. Detroit was only 1-3 in SB, while Kansas City couldn’t get their main speed guys on base at all.
THE BIG HIT: Runner on 2nd, 2 out, 0-0 in the 3rd, KINSLER RBI single off Shields.
THE BIG OUTS: Runners on 1st and 3rd, 1 out, 0-0 in the 2nd, PORCELLO retires Escobar on a 6-4-3 DP.
GOOD HITTING: AVILA, J. MARTINEZ, Butler
BAD HITTING: Escobar, Cain
GOOD PITCHING: Shields, PORCELLO, CHAMBERLAIN
BAD PITCHING: Crow
OBVIOUSLY: 8 innings of duel, put out of reach by Tigers’ 9th-inning rally. Somewhat outplayed, Detroit wins anyway.
DON’T OVERLOOK: Shields was never in trouble, while PORCELLO had some jams to pitch out of (and did).
AND, BUT, ALSO: An odd-looking DP when DAVIS on 1st breaks for 2nd on a bluff and is left standing awkwardly near 1B on the ensuing grounder to 3B from JACKSON. The AVILA HR gets a bonus from the AUSMUS challenge on the previous CASTELLANOS IF single (out call overturned, looked out to me); Moustakas had turned a bad play into a good one with one missile of a throw.
DEFENSIVE SCORECARD (in terms of outstanding plays one way or the other, X = good, O = not)
P SMYLY XXO +1
1B CABRERA XXOXXXOOXXXXXXOOXXXOXXXXXX +14
2B KINSLER XOXXXXXXOXXXOXXXOOX +9
SS SUAREZ XXXOXXXXXXOOXXOXXOXXOXXXXXXXX +17
P COKE XOX +1
3B CASTELLANOS XOXXXXXXXOXXXXXXO +11
1B KELLY XXXXX +5
P SANCHEZ XO zero
CF DAVIS XOO -1
RF HUNTER XOXXX +3
C HOLADAY OOOOXO -4
LF J. MARTINEZ OOX -1
3B KELLY O -1
C AVILA OOOXOOXOOOOX -6
P HARDY XO zero
2B ROMINE X +1
LF DAVIS XXXXX +5
CF JACKSON XXXXX +5
SS ROMINE XXXXX +5
P SCHERZER X +1
RF J. MARTINEZ XOX +1
P MCCOY O -1
P PORCELLO X +1
P SMITH X +1
To date, the conundrum only deepens, as Alex Avila’s netherwordly hitting (70 K, 15 RBI in 207 PA) is offset by otherworldly defense (outstandingly few PB & WP, +35% CS) without peer in the AL. And yet Detroit is 10-4 when he doesn’t play. *** Tigers prospects OF Steven Moya and P Jake Thompson earn spots for the upcoming MLB All-Star Futures Game. *** Torii Hunter takes his place in RF again, after some extended hamstring recovery time courtesy of the hot hand of J.D. Martinez (which hasn’t cooled). *** “We may need a little bit of help in the bullpen,” said Dave Dombrowski, “maybe middle as we go forward, or someone that can help pitch later in the game. But we’re not looking for that closer and that gives you a very comfortable feeling.” *** Detroit puts together an impressive streak reminiscent of their earlier one, with 7 straight wins and 6 on the road. All made possible though Joba Chamberlain bringing out the lineup card before the games, it appears. *** There’s All-Star talk surrounding Rick Porcello, who reaches 10 wins (first Tiger) with a complete game shutout. *** Victor Martinez has admiring words for Rangers 3B Adrian Beltre: “I had a chance to play with him, and I’ll tell you what, I have a big amount of respect for him,” Martinez said. “He shows up every day ready to play baseball, ready to beat everybody. The way he goes about his business, he’s a role model for everybody, a great player all around.” *** On the 9-20 funk that the team appears to have emerged from: “I always felt like the team was too good to continue to play like that,” Brad Ausmus said, “and that it would turn around – not can turn around, would. When you’re going through that, it can never turn around quick enough, but I always felt like it would turn around. I think everyone did. I think that’s why when you walked through the clubhouse, guys were still enjoying coming to the park, having fun, because I think they knew it would turn around.” Porcello: “I think it’s a long season and you’re going to go through peaks and valleys. I think everybody in this clubhouse understood it, and nobody panicked when we weren’t playing well. Obviously we were all unhappy that we weren’t winning, but you understand that those things are going to happen and the important part is regrouping and coming out of that and playing well. We’ve been fortunate enough to get back to playing good baseball.” *** After a big game against the Astros, Ian Kinsler becomes the first Tigers player to have seven consecutive multi-hit games in one season since Frank Bolling in 1960. *** Austin Jackson goes 0-5 with 4 K in his first crack back at leadoff, part of both an Ausmus attempt at “getting him going” and some lineup shuffling unrelated to that. But yet another golden sombrero is in store for AJax as the #1 hitter. *** Houston’s Jose Altuve gets a boost to historic (4 consecutive multi-SB games) at the Tigers’ expense with 6 SB in three games. *** Anibal Sanchez hits 1,000 strikeouts for his career. *** June has come and gone, and now there is (another) setback in Andy Dirks’s rehab. Who? Some outfielder on the DL, I guess. *** Victor misses his first 3 games of the season as of the Oakland series, soreness in his side. *** Two straight CG shutouts from Porcello, including one with neither a walk or strikeout, are part of 25 consecutive innings he pitches unsecured upon. *** Ausmus on having Jim Leyland available for consultation: “When you manage as long as he has, he brings a lot of levity to situations,” Ausmus said. “I don’t think I’m overly emotional… but it’s good to have an experienced voice with levity remind you to stay the course.” *** Between Toledo and Detroit, J.D. Martinez has averaged one HR per 10.5 AB. *** Max Scherzer credits a new approach for the roll he’s been on: “I’ve really tried to be more aggressive towards the plate with all my pitches, actually all four of them,” Scherzer said after eight innings of one-run ball to beat the Rays, “not trying to get around them and make them come out of the zone laterally. I’m trying to come right at the zone, at the knees or down at the plate, down below the zone, and attacking that area.” *** The right side soreness of V-Mart ends up costing him 11 games in all, including 10 (and the last 7) during this period. Out of action July 5-17 including the AS break, no DL stint. Torii Hunter and J.D. Martinez fill in at DH most admirably, with 11 RBI in their 10 games. *** Ian Krol returns from DL a bit earlier than expected when Pat McCoy (pitching decently through 5 games of mostly mop-up duty) trades places with him by pulling a hamstring running to cover 1B. *** 4 Tigers are selected for the AL All-Star squad: Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez (who won’t play), Kinsler, and Scherzer. Porcello is close, getting Final Vote consideration. *** Sanchez now has a 1.07 ERA in 7 career starts vs. the Kansas City Royals. *** Ausmus had to leave the dugout for the visiting clubhouse early in Game 89, taken out of action by a stomach illness. *** With one game left before the break, the Tigers have run up their lead over 2nd place KC to 7.5 games. *** Detroit has gone relatively unscathed by injuries during the season thus far, the only significant ones being the blister that forced Sanchez to the 15-day DL (he was missed) and the extended day-to-day status (11 games missed) of V-Mart (who wasn’t missed, surprisingly enough) due to side/back soreness. *** Ian Kinsler is having a career season offensively: .307, .815, on pace for 21 HR, 93 RBI, and 117 R(!). He’s also been a revelation defensively. *** Rather historic team-wise, the Tigers will hit the break with 4 hitters at 50+ RBI. *** The team has gone 13-5 in Scherzer starts thus far. The “pretty good” 3.47 ERA, 1.19 WHIP is actually a composite of a lot of great set off by one rough stretch, but “Mr. 10.5 K/9” is back on his game. *** Andrew Romine is the Forgotten Man, appearing in only 6 games during this period and only 3 at SS. Not coincidentally, Eugenio Suarez has started to make a difference defensively. *** The Martinez Brothers are getting the headlines, but Cabrera remains the offensive engine. During a stretch where he hits .250 with 1 HR, he still figures into 23% of the Tigers’ runs (25 of 107). *** .331 OBP and 24 SB for Rajai Davis, not to mention the biggest wWPA hit of the season to date in the walk-off against Oakland. Can you say “windfall”? *** Don Kelly has scorched the opposition just lately to the tune of a .955 OPS (5 singles and a couple walks, one intentional). *** Joe Nathan is 4-4 in saves over his last 6 appearances, but 4 of these outings have still been what you would call adventures. *** No surprise if you’ve been following, but Detroit is a .500 team at Comerica. The mystery is why.
53-37, 1st in the Central, 3rd in the AL, on pace for a 95-67 season…