2014: Extra Innings (0-3)

We would never have marched so far to be food… food… for an Oriole?

So the Detroit Tigers will finish their season 72% of who they were to begin with:

SP Scherzer
SP Verlander
SP Price
SP Porcello
RP Sanchez
RP Nathan
RP Chamberlain
RP Soria
RP Alburquerque
RP Coke
RP Lobstein
C Avila
C Holaday
1B-DH Cabrera
2B Kinsler
SS Suarez
3B Castellanos
IF Romine
IF Perez
IF-OF Kelly
LF J. Martinez
CF-LF Davis
RF Hunter
OF Carrera
DH-1B V. Martinez

Detroit goes into the ALDS with a couple dark clouds overhead. The old one is the ever-shaky bullpen. Being able to include starter Anibal Sanchez in it seems like a curse (his late-season injury) turned into a blessing. The new one is the health of Rajai Davis, who is far from 100% with a pelvic strain. The decision to stick with Davis on a day to day basis tips the balance in favor of 14 position players and Hernan Perez as 25th man rather than Tyler Collins or Steven Moya. Blaine Hardy’s late season struggles, along with Sanchez’s inclusion and Kyle Lobstein’s utility as both lefty and long man, make him the odd man out on the 11-man staff.

So Detroit heads to Baltimore and the madhouse of an Orioles Park filled with screaming throngs of orange…

 Lettuce

Game 1: Scherzer v. Tillman. ORIOLES 12, Tigers 3. Never ahead, down 9.
NICE PLAYS: CASTELLANOS-CABRERA, LF J. MARTINEZ-KINSLER, SS Hardy-1B Pearce, J. MARTINEZ-AVILA, ROMINE-CABRERA, CF DAVIS
MISPLAYS: ROMINE, CASTELLANOS, AVILA
BASERUNNING NEWS: The Orioles were certainly more dynamic, in part because they had more opportunities to be. Not much in the way of SB attempts for either side, but the Jones swipe of 2B in the 8th did play a part in changing the complexion of that inning. Aggressive at precisely the wrong moment, Detroit was badly burned in the 8th by KINSLER taking off on the 2-2 pitch to HUNTER that resulted in the lineout (to SS) double play. Next up, CABRERA hits a home run. Ay yi yi.
THE BIG HIT: Man on 3rd, 2 out, 0-0 in the first, Cruz 2-run HR off SCHERZER.
THE BIG OUT: Bases loaded, 2 out, Tigers down 3-2 in the 5th, Tillman retires HUNTER on a groundout to SS, force at 2B.
GOOD HITTING: Cruz, De Aza, Schoop
BAD HITTING: HUNTER
GOOD PITCHING: Miller
BAD PITCHING: CHAMBERLAIN, SORIA, COKE
OBVIOUSLY: You had the feeling they were going to pull it out, right up to that 8th inning sucker punch to the gut.
AND, BUT, ALSO: Although SCHERZER would strut some stuff later, he was not sharp early, while Tillman most assuredly was (5 K through 2). Back to back jacks by the MARTINEZ brothers took the crowd out of it, but only briefly, because SCHERZER was unable to shut the door at this opportune moment. The Tigers did make Tillman work and hasten his exit; KINSLER alone saw 30 pitches. Miller the ex-Tiger was instrumental in keeping the Tigers on ice. Detroit made almost every standout defensive play – CASTELLANOS-CABRERA made a brilliant play on a good bunt, and J. MARTINEZ-KINSLER killed a Pearce double – and yet the few misplays were devastating. It doesn’t exonerate the bullpen, but ROMINE’s bungling of a playable groundball and CASTELLANOS’s inability to handle a perfectly good throw from DAVIS (who was charged with the error, ridiculously) played a sizable part in the 8th inning nightmare. Still, more than anything, the Tigers pitching was not up to the task, and that includes SCHERZER and his gopher balls.

Max Scherzer:  “Just frustrated with how I pitched tonight. Walking off the mound, just felt like I didn’t quite do my job to the fullest. You’ve got to bring your ‘A’ game here in these situations every single time you step on the mound in a playoff game. Even though I was fully prepared to face their lineup, I just didn’t feel like I executed pitches at the highest level I could, and that’s the frustrating part.” *** Brad Ausmus: “It’s a team effort, and in baseball, team effort is if someone makes an error, you hope the pitcher picks ’em up. If a pitcher struggles, you hope the lineup picks him up. Tonight, we just didn’t get it done. It’s as simple as that.” *** The Nelson Cruz HR was his 7th career vs. Detroit in the postseason alone.

 WinningRun

Game 2: Verlander v. Chen. ORIOLES 7, Tigers 6. Up 3, down 1.
NICE PLAYS: P Chen, 3B Flaherty-2B Schoop-1B Pearce, CABRERA-SANCHEZ, ROMINE-CABRERA, CF Jones-Schoop-C Joseph, LF J. MARTINEZ-KINSLER-AVILA
MISPLAYS: CF CARRERA
BASERUNNING NEWS: It was nice to see CARRERA come in for DAVIS and steal 2B just as well, and it could have made a difference, but again Baltimore just does better on the bases, case in point being Hardy scoring the winning run from 1B while CABRERA was thrown out trying to do the same (and much less advisedly).
THE BIG HIT: Bases loaded, 1 out, Tigers up 6-4 in the 8th, Young 3-run triple off SORIA.
THE BIG OUT: Runners on 1st and 2nd, none out, Tigers up 5-3 in the 8th, V. MARTINEZ doubles off Gausman to score HUNTER, but CABRERA is thrown out at home (Jones-Schoop-Joseph) trying to score from 1B.
GOOD HITTING: Young, Markakis
BAD HITTING:
GOOD PITCHING: Gausman, SANCHEZ
BAD PITCHING: Chen, CHAMBERLAIN, SORIA
OBVIOUSLY: Unbelievable. This one was in the bag! Unbelievable.
AND, BUT, ALSO: Detroit starts to whale on Chen in the 4th, 4 batters, 4 runs, and once again back to back jacks, J. MARTINEZ and CASTELLANOS going oppo big-time. But in comes Gausman, and out go the lights – for a while. VERLANDER holds the line but can only last 5+. SANCHEZ comes in and allows nothing out of the infield (nor any hits) for 2 innings. The Tigers get to Gausman at last, but a bigger inning is stunted by CABRERA needlessly running into an out. (A fair measure of Gausman’s good pitching was *great* Baltimore defense behind him.) We are astonished to see SANCHEZ leave the game and then livid to see CHAMBERLAIN and SORIA replay yesterday’s bullpen meltdown. The come-from-behind hope for the Detroit 9th is represented by PEREZ-ROMINE-SUAREZ. There is no unexpected magic.

Ausmus on the whole 8th inning debacle: “I don’t know that I necessarily have an answer for that, but if we have a lead in the eighth inning on Sunday, we’re going to have to find somebody… When you have a three-run lead going into the last couple innings, you feel like you should get the job done. But we didn’t.” On removing Anibal Sanchez with a pitch count limit in mind: “It’s more about [Sanchez] not being stretched out. He was hurt — what was he out? six weeks? — and he threw one inning [plus] one simulated game.” *** Rajai Davis had to come out of the game in the 4th, having hit a double that he had to settle for a single on when his injury tightened up. *** For the second game in a row, another ex-Tiger (this time Delmon Young) plays a heroic role. *** Nelson Cruz: “They are a great team. They have a good lineup and pretty good starting pitchers. So, the main thing for us is to stay focused and hopefully in late innings like today we can do damage.” *** Joba Chamberlain: “This one’s on me. If I don’t put us in that situation, Soria doesn’t have to come into that situation. Obviously, this one’s on me and I’ll wear it.” *** The Tigers head into Game 3 facing 5 in 44 odds of a happy ending to this ALDS.

 OhNo

Game 3: Norris v. Price. Orioles 2, TIGERS 1. Never ahead, down 2.
NICE PLAYS: KINSLER, KELLY, KINSLER-ROMINE, HOLADAY, PRICE-CABRERA
MISPLAYS: CASTELLANOS, KINSLER, LF Lough, C Hundley, 2B Schoop, SS Hardy-Schoop
BASERUNNING NEWS: Some great small ball in the 2nd with AVILA tagging to take 3rd and ROMINE almost nearly almost squeezing him in with a bunt. The Schoop SB was another very, very close play – hard to ask for a better throw by HOLADAY, ROMINE maybe a tad slow with the tag. The strange play of the game was where KELLY got caught too far off 2B on the HUNTER grounder to SS Hardy. KELLY was clearly out and didn’t help by hitting the deck far off the bag… except that Schoop dropped the ball and then blatantly interfered (think football tackle) with KELLY while recovering the ball and tagging KELLY again. AUSMUS came out to discuss, but it was a non-reviewable judgment call where the umpires clearly failed. Did it make a difference in the scoring? Maybe. PRICE’s pickoff of Cruz in the 8th was some small measure of revenge.
THE BIG HIT: Man on 1st, 1 out, 0-0 in the 6th, Cruz 2-run HR off PRICE.
THE BIG OUTS: Men on 1st and 2nd, 1 out, Tigers down 2-1 in the 9th, Britton retires PEREZ on a 5-4-3 DP.
GOOD HITTING: Cruz
BAD HITTING: KINSLER
GOOD PITCHING: Norris, PRICE
BAD PITCHING:
OBVIOUSLY: The offense chooses this as their day off, and the season flies away on the wings of a home run that was barely more than a long foul ball.
AND, BUT, ALSO: Despite the strong outing from Norris, Detroit didn’t go down quite as quietly as it appears. While PRICE was cruising (no unfortunate pun intended), the Tigers were within an eyelash of a run in the 2nd and had Norris on the ropes in the 3rd. The 9th inning last chance was exciting, and much too much is made of PEREZ grounding into the double play (which is something HUNTER, CABRERA, and V. MARTINEZ have been known to do.) V. MARTINEZ was, in fact, both big out and big hit, popping out to strand men at 2nd and 3rd, then doubling and scoring the Tigers only run. Gutsy call by AUSMUS and great bunt by ROMINE on the suicide squeeze in the 2nd. ROMINE was out by a mere eyelash and it was well worth the challenge. KELLY had a fine game filling in for DAVIS in CF (he was 3 of 9 total Detroit baserunners), the only caveat being the baserunning mistake. NATHAN pitched the 9th like a closer, and for the second time in three games, the Tigers were the better defenders. Despite a 1-7 RISP, the loss ending the season was less crushing than the two preceding it.

Ausmus: “It’s disappointing. You feel like you let the fans down and you feel like you let the organization down. You feel like you let [ownership] down. So it’s disappointing, no question. But there is nothing we can do about it now…  Norris pitched outstanding. I don’t know if our right-handers got a hit off him. To me, that was it.” *** Torii Hunter: “I still don’t understand how [Cruz] hit that ball out.” *** Scherzer: “We got beat. No other way to say it. We got outplayed in this series in every facet. It’s frustrating. I know how talented this group is. I’m not trying to take anything away from what they did. They outplayed us. They’re a great ballclub.” *** Alex Avila suffers a concussion (a lot of that going on over the past month) from a foul tip to the mask and comes out in the 6th.


So there you have it.

The Tigers put on their 93-player* (48 players during the regular season, including 13 making their MLB debut), 192-game, 7+ month show, and it was a good show. Having experienced it twice, I can tell you that the only truly disappointing thing about it was how it ended. But that’s how it goes for 90% of the top 10 teams in baseball every year now, doesn’t it?

*I was amazed to discover how many players had made Spring Training appearances.

The 2014 Detroit Tigers were a very good team, at least as good as any of the Leyland teams. What kept them from greatness, besides the Baltimore Orioles and chance (a lot of that in baseball, a lot of overlap between lucky and good)? You decide. While the post-2014 departures and arrivals are already well underway, it remains a relevant question. 2014 is the starting point for all the speculation about 2015.

If you feel the Tigers let you down overall during 2014 and wanted some examples to point to, look no further than the season series against the Minnesota Twins, Toronto Blue Jays, and Seattle Mariners. 12-19 only hints at it. For whatever reason, everything wrong with Detroit seemed to come to the fore against these teams.

If, on the other hand, you (like me) have a more positive take on this past season, have another look at some of the great wins (I’ve highlighted the best for each inning, though in keeping with my true nature, i haven’t neglected to also highlight the most aggravating losses).

A tip of the cap to Jason Beck & Co. for reportage and writing that helped bring the season back to life for me. A tip of the cap to Kevin in Dallas for his considerable efforts in bringing the appearance and functionality of this blog into the second decade of the 21st century at long last. Further tips of the cap to both Coleman and Kevin for keeping the lights on at DTW for so long in the absence of that remarkable one-man Detroit Guy show who got this whole thing rolling.

Over and out.

RESEARCH MADE POSSIBLE BY: MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL and BASEBALL REFERENCE. PHOTO CREDIT: AUSMUS: Elizabeth Conley/Detroit News

Tigers D


	

2014: The 9th Inning (11-7)

All’s well that ends well.

So the Detroit Tigers are now:

SP Verlander
SP Scherzer
SP Lobstein
SP Porcello
SP Price
RP Nathan
RP Alburquerque
RP Chamberlain
RP Coke
RP Hardy
RP Johnson
RP Reed
RP Ray
RP McCoy
RP Farmer
RP Ryan
C Avila
C Holaday
C McCann
1B-DH Cabrera
2B Kinsler
SS-2B Romine
SS Suarez
3B Castellanos
IF-OF Kelly
IF Perez
RF Hunter
OF Carrera
LF-CF Davis
LF-RF J. Martinez
RF Moya
OF Collins
DH-1B V. Martinez


scrapL145

Game 145: Vargas v. Scherzer. TIGERS 4, Royals 2. Never behind, up 3.
NICE PLAYS: AVILA-ROMINE, P Vargas-SS Escobar, HUNTER, KINSLER-ROMINE, Escobar, NATHAN-KINSLER
MISPLAYS: 1B Hosmer, 3B Moustakas, CASTELLANOS, 2B Infante, CF DAVIS, Escobar
BASERUNNING NEWS: Long ball was how Detroit scored their runs, and aside from a steal by CARRERA, small ball wasn’t working. ROMINE put down a bad sac bunt, and DAVIS was picked off 1B. Defense against KC baserunners was the story off the day, with AVILA-ROMINE combining on a superb CS of Aoki, and a crucial pickoff of Dyson at 2B by NATHAN.
THE BIG HIT: Runner on 1st, 1 out, Tigers up 1-0 in the 2nd, DAVIS 2-run HR off Vargas.
THE BIG OUT: Runners on 1st and 2nd, 1 out, Tigers up 4-2 in the 9th, Dyson is picked off of 2B by NATHAN-KINSLER.
GOOD HITTING: Infante
BAD HITTING: Perez
GOOD PITCHING: SCHERZER, Crow
BAD PITCHING:
OBVIOUSLY: KC tried to chip away but got started too late.
AND, BUT, ALSO: The key to SCHERZER’s win was not yielding a single XBH and getting out of two jams nearly untouched. KC was 1-10 RISP.

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Game 146: Shields v. Porcello. Royals 3, TIGERS 0. Behind from the 4th on.
NICE PLAYS: P Shields, Shields-1B Hosmer, KINSLER-AVILA, 3B Moustakas-1B Hosmer, 1B V. MARTINEZ, KINSLER-V. MARTINEZ, SS Escobar, ALBURQUERQUE-CASTELLANOS
MISPLAYS: AVILA, LF J. MARTINEZ, 2B Infante
BASERUNNING NEWS: Detroit baserunning can be summed up as KINSLER – lead far too generous – getting picked off 1B by Shields in the 1st inning (and taking the tag in a sensitive area). Called safe but ruled out on the appeal from Ned Yost. For KC, Hosmer was brilliant, beating a throw from CASTELLANOS with a headfirst slide for an IF single, and later putting down a brilliant bunt to load the bases against ALBURQUERQUE. Cain’s extra effort to earn a triple paid off with a late insurance run.
THE BIG HIT: Men on 1st and 2nd, 1 out, 0-0 in the 4th, Perez RBI single off PORCELLO.
THE BIG OUTS: Men on 1st and 2nd, 1 out, Tigers down 2-0 in the 7th, Shields retires V. MARTINEZ (flyball to deep CF) and J. MARTINEZ (K).
GOOD HITTING: Cain
BAD HITTING:
GOOD PITCHING: Shields, PORCELLO, Davis, ALBURQUERQUE
BAD PITCHING:
OBVIOUSLY: A virtually complete silencing of the bats by Big Game James.
AND, BUT, ALSO: Tough loss for PORCELLO, who pitched well. Again no XBH allowed by the Detroit starter. Rain came down hard in the 4th and 5th innings, and this is when the game got away from the Tigers, but not because of sloppy play. Superb defensive efforts on both sides. A perfectly positioned KINSLER throwing out Escobar at the plate in the 2nd (close – Tigers might have gotten the benefit of the doubt there), Moustakas (throw) to Hosmer (tag) to nab HUNTER at 1B in pouring rain in the 4th, and ALBURQUERQUE-CASTELLANOS combining on a lineout double play in the 8th (bases loaded!) really stand out.

scrap146

Game 147: Carrasco v. Price. TIGERS 7, Indians 2. Down 1, up 6.
NICE PLAYS: SUAREZ, AVILA-KINSLER, 3B Chisenhall -1B Santana (2), AVILA, Chisenhall, RF Raburn
MISPLAYS: Raburn, P Carrasco-1B Santana, SS Ramirez
BASERUNNING NEWS: Beautiful caught stealing on Ramirez courtesy of AVILA-KINSLER. V. MARTINEZ scores from 1B and helps turn the J. MARTINEZ double into a triple. Not to be outdone, fellow burner Giambi scores from 1B later.
THE BIG HIT: Runner on 3rd, 1 out, 1-1 in the 4th, J. MARTINEZ 2-run HR off Carrasco.
THE BIG OUT: Runners on 2nd and 3rd, 2 out, 0-0 in the 3rd, PRICE retires Bourn (groundout SS).
GOOD HITTING: J. MARTINEZ
BAD HITTING:
GOOD PITCHING: PRICE
BAD PITCHING: Lee
OBVIOUSLY: Strong pitching and a nice burst in the 7th make this a comfortable win.
AND, BUT, ALSO: But not too comfortable, even though Cleveland managed only 1 RISP against PRICE. The Indians seemed poised to stay in the game when Lee struck out CABRERA in the 7th, but thereafter it unraveled for them.

scrap147

Game 148: Salazar v. Lobstein. TIGERS 5, Indians 4. Down 2, up 1.
NICE PLAYS: LOBSTEIN-CABRERA, CABRERA-ROMINE, CABRERA-LOBSTEIN, HUNTER (2), KINSLER-CABRERA, ROMINE-KINSLER-CABRERA, NATHAN-1B KELLY
MISPLAYS: RF Raburn (2)
BASERUNNING NEWS: KINLER falls asleep at 1B again and is picked off. It might have looked dumb considering the situation (Tigers down by 1) when CASTELLANOS held at 2B on what turned out to be a ROMINE single to LF, but it was really a smart and cautious read (especially with Brantley in LF). ROMINE failed at a sac bunt (isn’t that what we pay him for?). DAVIS was awesome challenging Brantley to tag and advance to 2B.  
THE BIG HIT: Man on 2nd, 2 out, Tigers down 4-3 in the 8th, AVILA 2-run HR off Shaw.
THE BIG OUTS: Men on 2nd and 3rd, 1 out, Tigers down 4-3 in the 5th, Salazar retires KINSLER (lineout SS) and HUNTER (flyout RF).
GOOD HITTING: AVILA, Aviles
BAD HITTING: Chisenhall
GOOD PITCHING: Salazar, TIGERS BULLPEN (4 scoreless), Atchison
BAD PITCHING: Shaw
OBVIOUSLY: Back and forth, the bats come though, the bullpen holds.
AND, BUT, ALSO: Your heroes: Team defense (HUNTER made a retrospectively game-saving catch in the 8th), the Detroit bullpen, and that catcher who can sure run into one when it’s needed. An challenge by AUSMUS that kept Shuck off the bases in the 8th was pretty big, too. 

scrap148

Game 149: Bauer v. Verlander. TIGERS 6, Indians 4. Down 2, up 3.
NICE PLAYS: 1B Santana (2), CF Bourn, CF DAVIS (2), 3B Chisenhall-Santana (2), SS ROMINE, SS SUAREZ, 3B KELLY-KINSLER-1B V. MARTINEZ
MISPLAYS: ROMINE, AVILA, CASTELLANOS, Santana, C Perez, P Lee
BASERUNNING NEWS: An exciting 7th, DAVIS beating out a groundball and stealing 2B, and then the great bunt for a hit by HUNTER (ingenious, not only bunting after a home run, but after the home run that gave the Tigers the lead). CABRERA on his way around the bases (comedy included) in the 6th is required watching for any fan (hint: not talking about a home run). This is why people pay to watch baseball. AVILA (among other troubles) got whacked in the face in the course of being picked of 1B (but it was Santana’s wrist/forearm, not ball in glove as it had first appeared). 
THE BIG HIT: Runner on 2nd, none out, Tigers down 3-2 in the 7th, KINSLER 2-run HR off Shaw.
THE BIG OUTS: Runners on 1st and 2nd, none out, Tigers up 6-4 in the 9th, NATHAN retires Gomes on a 5-4-3 DP.
GOOD HITTING: J. MARTINEZ, Brantley, KINSLER
BAD HITTING: V. MARTINEZ, Chisenhall
GOOD PITCHING: REED, Crockett, Atchison
BAD PITCHING: Shaw, Lee (part of his awful day was pitching behind SUAREZ, who was squared to bunt), HARDY (concentrated awful)
OBVIOUSLY: More late-inning offensive goodness saves the day. Plus, Cleveland kept shooting themselves in the foot.
AND, BUT, ALSO: This game was just TOO MUCH going on (which is maybe why it lasted almost four hours). The J. MARTINEZ HR off Shaw was Dead Central. VERLANDER was Houdini in the 4th inning (and pulling him in the 6th was smart, even if HARDY made it look dumb). AUSMUS challenged and won when a KINSLER “foul tip” was shown to be a HBP (hit him right on the batting gloves). NATHAN was bailed out of a typical 9th inning with the help of a DP CASTELLANOS would never have turned. Kudos to AUSMUS for the KELLY substitution.

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Game 150: Scherzer v. Swarzak. Tigers 8, TWINS 6. Never behind, up 6.
NICE PLAYS: SS Santana-2B Dozier-1B Mauer, Dozier-Santana-Mauer, RF Arcia, LF Parmelee-C Suzuki, CF DAVIS, HOLADAY-KINSLER, P Achter-Mauer
MISPLAYS: CF Schafer, LF Parmelee (3)
BASERUNNING NEWS: V. MARTINEZ is hereby stripped of bogus speed credentials by getting thrown out on a sac fly by LF Parmelee. HUNTER was brilliant going 1st to 3rd on an IF single to 2B. (The run would have been huge in the 7th, but CASTELLANOS struck out.)
THE BIG HIT: None on, none out, 6-6 in the 9th, HUNTER HR off Fien.
THE BIG OUT: Men on 1st and 2nd, 2 out, 6-6 in the 8th, RYAN retires Nunez on a 6-4-3 DP.
GOOD HITTING: J. MARTINEZ, ROMINE, Mauer, Santana
BAD HITTING: KINSLER, DAVIS
GOOD PITCHING: RYAN, SORIA
BAD PITCHING: Swarzak, Fien, CHAMBERLAIN, COKE
OBVIOUSLY: The one came way too close to being a bullpen blow. Late power!
AND, BUT, ALSO: Sweet! HUNTER and CABRERA go back to back (on 3 pitches between them) in the 9th to win it so dramatically. Ah, but ay SCHERZER and ay BULLPEN, because it had no business being that close. Tremendous defensive plays in this one, in particular the 3 double plays turned by the Twins. DAVIS and KINSLER failed to reach base even once in 9 PA. Is this Twins outfield crap or what?

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“I hate baseball.”

Game 151: Porcello v. Nolasco. TWINS 4, Tigers 3. Up 1, down 2. Walk-off loss.
NICE PLAYS: CF Santana-2B Dozier, PORCELLO, 3B KELLY-KINSLER-CABRERA, ROMINE-KINSLER, HOLADAY-KINSLER, LF J. MARTINEZ
MISPLAYS: CF DAVIS, CF CARRERA
BASERUNNING NEWS: Setting the tone early with aggressive running is good, even when it doesn’t work out, as with KINSLER getting greedy for 2B in the 1st. HOLADAY-KINSLER cutting down Schafer at 2B was textbook, picture perfect. HUNTER was brilliant in the 9th, taking advantage of the little pop fly into no man’s land and making it a double.
THE BIG HIT: Runners on 1st and 3rd, 2 out, Tigers down 2-0 in the 9th, J. MARTINEZ 3-run HR off Perkins.
THE BIG OUT: Runners on 1st and 3rd, 1 out, Tigers down 2-0 in the 9th, Perkins retires V. MARTINEZ (popout 2B).
GOOD HITTING: J. MARTINEZ, Vargas, Suzuki
BAD HITTING: KELLY
GOOD PITCHING: Nolasco, PORCELLO
BAD PITCHING: NATHAN, Perkins
OBVIOUSLY: With an 11th-hour comeback win at hand, NATHAN “wins” the closer save-blowing contest.
AND, BUT, ALSO: Tough loss. CARRERA gambled on a diving catch and lost, and ROMINE couldn’t quite make a miracle play, and thus NATHAN gets yet another “defensive asterisk.” As with all close games lost, however, “what might have been” is in multiple places.

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Game 152: Price v. Gibson. TWINS 8, Tigers 4. Up 2, down 4.
NICE PLAYS: P Gibson, CASTELLANOS, 2B Dozier, SS Nunez, Gibson-1B Mauer, LF J. MARTINEZ
MISPLAYS: Nunez (2), CF DAVIS
BASERUNNING NEWS: Not for the first time, the Twins made monkeys of the Tigers with their hustle (Dozier, Santana) and daring (Hicks, Mauer) on the bases. 3 stolen bases off HOLADAY, 2 of those runners scoring. Hicks got as great of a jump from 1B off a lefty (PRICE) as you’ll ever see. J. MARTINEZ was fantastic going 1st to 3rd to set up Detroit’s last gasp in the 8th. What should have been a run-scoring 7th inning, maybe even a big inning, was derailed by a baserunning clown show, take your pick of blaming CABRERA or HUNTER for that.
THE BIG HIT: Man on 2nd, 2 out, 4-4 in the 6th, Dozier RBI triple off ALBURQUERQUE.
THE BIG OUTS: Men on 2nd and 3rd, 1 out, Tigers down 6-4 in the 7th, Pressly gets V. MARTINEZ to ground out to 1B and CARRERA is throw out at home for a double play.
GOOD HITTING: CABRERA, Santana, Mauer
BAD HITTING:
GOOD PITCHING:
BAD PITCHING: PRICE
OBVIOUSLY: The pitching all fell apart in the 6th, and the subsequent threats failed miserably.
AND, BUT, ALSO: PRICE was as hittable as he gets from the start, and so the offense had its work cut out for it. DAVIS and KINSLER failed to reach base even once in 9 PA. Have I said this before? But hits weren’t the problem, just runs.

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Game 153: Verlander v. Vargas, Tigers 10, ROYALS 1. Never behind, up 10.
NICE PLAYS: SUAREZ-KINSLER-CABRERA, CASTELLANOS, CABRERA, CASTELLANOS-KINSLER-CABRERA, 2B Infante-1B Hosmer
MISPLAYS: LF Gordon, 2B Infante
BASERUNNING NEWS: It was nice to see CABRERA beat Perez at the plate with a great slide (and follow-up). A nice sequence was seeing McCANN steal 2B nicely (following his first MLB hit) and then score on the KINSLER double. It was odd to see Perez hold at 3B on a 2nd inning sac fly opportunity. Either it was the score (Royals down 4) or they really respect HUNTER’s arm (no disrespect, but I’m saying Perez could have scored).
THE BIG HIT: Runner on 2nd, 1 out, 0-0 in the 1st, CABRERA RBI double off Vargas,
THE BIG OUTS: Runners on 2nd and 3rd, 1 out, Tigers up 4-0 in the 2nd, VERLANDER retires Butler (flyout RF) and Infante (groundout 3B).
GOOD HITTING: KINSLER, J. MARTINEZ
BAD HITTING:
GOOD PITCHING: VERLANDER
BAD PITCHING: Vargas, C. Coleman
OBVIOUSLY: A rompin’, stompin’ blowout of Our Rival (after two debilitating losses and with first place directly at stake!).
AND, BUT, ALSO: The day off must have helped. Detroit was pounding Vargas right away, but he only gave up half of the 19 Tigers hits. VERLANDER was certainly up for the “pressure” of a huge lead. The KC crowd remained vocal throughout the game. Must be nice.

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

Game 154: Scherzer v. Shields. Tigers 3, ROYALS 2. Never behind, up 2.
NICE PLAYS: 2B Infante-1B Hosmer, SCHERZER-CABRERA, 3B Moustakas-Hosmer (3), KINSLER, HUNTER, CF Dyson
MISPLAYS: CABRERA, KINSLER-SUAREZ, C Perez, McCANN
BASERUNNING NEWS: Baserunning? It was all about the baserunning (and related defense). Wild pitches set up 2 Detroit runs and 1 for Kansas City. Another Royals run can be chalked up to speed and alertness by Dyson, scampering home from 2B on a poorly played grounder up the middle. But the biggest story was the run that didn’t score when S. Perez was called out by H. Perez (in the dugout) for failing to tag at 3rd (on a line-drive out to KINSLER) before running home on the frightful miscue by SUAREZ at 2nd. Inning over on what was undoubtedly the most crucial replay challenge of the season to date. Except that technically, it wasn’t a replay challenge at all. But they got it right, much to the Royals’ chagrin.
THE BIG HIT: Men on 2nd and 3rd, 2 out, 1-1 in the 7th, COLLINS RBI single off Shields.
THE BIG OUT: Men on 2nd and 3rd, 2 out, Tigers up 3-2 in the 9th, NATHAN retires Ibanez (groundout 1B).
GOOD HITTING: Escobar
BAD HITTING: Willingham, Infante
GOOD PITCHING: SCHERZER, Shields, Herrera
BAD PITCHING:
OBVIOUSLY: This was one gutsy win. Feels like a comeback but wasn’t. Like maybe the Royals should have won.
AND, BUT, ALSO: Ace vs. Ace for 6 innings, no doubt. The Boys of September (PEREZ from the bench, COLLINS off the bench) were worth their weight in gold. AUSMUS pinch-hitting COLLINS for HOLADAY, and COLLINS delivering (against Big Game James), was obviously huge. Imagine the Tigers with a corner infield combo like Moustakas-Hosmer. Golly.

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Game 155: Porcello v. Guthrie. ROYALS 5, Tigers 2. Never ahead, down 3.
NICE PLAYS: HOLADAY-KINSLER, SS ROMINE, LF Gordon (2), SS Escobar-2B Infante, P Guthrie, 3B Moustakas-Infante-1B Hosmer, Hosmer, SUAREZ, KINSLER, CASTELLANOS
MISPLAYS: Moustakas, 1B V. MARTINEZ, Escobar, HOLADAY, LF J. MARTINEZ
BASERUNNING NEWS: Aside from a nice CS of Escobar early from HOLADAY-KINSLER, Kansas City had the edge and got their legs into all of their runs. All Detroit had going on was a fine sequence from J. MARTINEZ, beating out an Escobar throw, going 1st to 3rd, and then cashing in alertly to score on a bizarre error from Moustakas (taking a throw from the outfield).
THE BIG HIT: Men on 1st and 2nd, 1 out, 2-2 in the 4th, Aoki 2-run triple off PORCELLO.
THE BIG OUT: Man on 3rd, 1 out, Tigers down 2-1 in the 3rd, PORCELLO retires Gordon (K) and Perez (popout 2B).
GOOD HITTING: Aoki
BAD HITTING: DAVIS
GOOD PITCHING: Herrera, Davis, Holland
BAD PITCHING: PORCELLO
OBVIOUSLY: Detroit let this one get away too easily.
AND, BUT, ALSO: Both teams were withstanding their starters getting slapped around for the first three innings. Where it turned bad for good was really the Aoki triple that a more nimble first baseman than V. MARTINEZ (and even CABRERA, perhaps) might have prevented (it certainly wasn’t scorched). After that… well, climbing back into a game against the KC bullpen is not recommended (Tigers go 1 for 12, and were 0-8 RISP for the game). But hey, the Detroit bullpen kept it close. Kind of.

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Game 156: Bassitt v. Lobstein. White Sox 2, TIGERS 0. Behind from the 2nd on.
NICE PLAYS: HUNTER, ROMINE, C Flowers-2B Sanchez, SS Ramirez-Sanchez-1B Abreu, RF Garcia, Sanchez-Abreu (2), CASTELLANOS, AVILA-KINSLER, 3B Semien, Sanchez, Flowers-Abreu, AVILA-ROMINE
MISPLAYS: Ramirez (2), CABRERA
BASERUNNING NEWS: AVILA back = opponent’s running (and even bunting) game shut down! Not that Detroit was doing anything themselves. The SORIA pickoff of Danks was a great move by him and a bit of hack job (slow tag) by CABRERA (which he got away with, apparently, because the hand the diving Danks put back on must have on CABRERA’s blocking shoe rather than the bag itself).
THE BIG HIT: Runner on 2nd, 2 out, 0-0 in the 2nd, Flowers 2-run HR off LOBSTEIN.
THE BIG OUTS: Runners on 1st and 2nd, 1 out, Tigers down 2-0 in the 4th, Bassitt retires AVILA (K) and ROMINE (groundout 2B).
GOOD HITTING: Flowers
BAD HITTING: J. MARTINEZ
GOOD PITCHING: Bassitt, LOBSTEIN, Petricka
BAD PITCHING:
OBVIOUSLY: Yes, you could call it an offensive failure. Let’s waste some fine pitching from our rookie starter and even the bullpen, shall we?
AND, BUT, ALSO: OK, so Detroit is now 0-14 RISP over its last two. Um. The defensively spectacular AVILA was mystified by Chicago rookie starter Bassitt, striking out 3 times. For all that, it wasn’t a flat game, but a good game. Lots of good stuff, particularly on defense, but a bit more of it accrued on the Chicago side. Poor LOBSTEIN was done in by one grooved pitch to Flowers.

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Game 157: Carroll v. Price. TIGERS 4, White Sox 3. Never behind, up 3. Walk-off win.
NICE PLAYS: CF DAVIS (2), LF Viciedo, LF J. MARTINEZ (2)
MISPLAYS: 1B Konerko, 3B Semien, CASTELLANOS, RF Garcia
BASERUNNING NEWS: DAVIS was brilliant in the 5th (a do-it-yourself run from a single) and again in the 7th (pushing the envelope twice and getting back to base, surviving to score again), and ROMINE came in late and did plenty himself (nice slide nets him a challenged/upheld steal of 2B). I don’t know what “ground rule” was invoked on the HUNTER double to LF, but it cost the Tigers another big leg run from KINSLER that would have spared us more drama later.
THE BIG HIT: Men on 1st and 3rd, 2 out, Tigers up 3-2 in the 9th, Semien RBI single off PRICE.
THE BIG OUT: Bases loaded, 2 out, 3-3 in the 9th, NATHAN retires SANCHEZ (flyball to deep CF).
GOOD HITTING: HUNTER
BAD HITTING:
GOOD PITCHING: PRICE, Carroll
BAD PITCHING: Belisario, Petricka
OBVIOUSLY: It didn’t need to be this dramatic, but they pulled it out.
AND, BUT, ALSO: PRICE was great but in too long, but with this bullpen… NATHAN walked one and drew the boos, but a suitable role for him may have been discovered: one-out closer. Detroit’s big guns had a chance to put this one in their pocket in the 7th and failed. A very strong Tigers outfield saved the day just as much as the game-winning knock from CABRERA did.

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Game 158: Verlander v. Sale. TIGERS 6, White Sox 1. Down 1, up 5.
NICE PLAYS: HUNTER, ROMINE-KINSLER, 2B Semien-SS Ramirez-1B Abreu, CABRERA-HOLADAY, CF Eaton, CABRERA
MISPLAYS: C Phegley, SS Ramirez, HOLADAY
BASERUNNING NEWS: DAVIS again set the base paths on fire en route to scoring two runs. A nice sac bunt by HOLADAY set up a beautiful squeeze bunt from ROMINE. Detroit simply demoralized Chicago with the small ball. Beautiful. Credit to Viciedo for some great hustle on a triple, taking what the Tigers outfield is all too often willing to give.
THE BIG HIT: Runner on 1st, 1 out, 1-1 in the 7th, KINSLER RBI double off Guerra scores DAVIS,
THE BIG OUT: Runners on 1st and 3rd, 1 out, 0-0 in the 5th, Eaton grounds to 1B off VERLANDER and CABRERA-HOLADAY combine to retire Danks at home.
GOOD HITTING: KINSLER, DAVIS
BAD HITTING: Garcia, CABRERA (golden sombrero!)
GOOD PITCHING: VERLANDER, Sale
BAD PITCHING: Lindstrom, Guerra
OBVIOUSLY: A tense one that got easier once Sale had left the game.
AND, BUT, ALSO: Sale (supposedly) goes cuckoo and drills V. MARTINEZ for (supposedly) having a spy with binoculars tipping Sale’s pitches. KINSLER later makes the famous “binoculars face” at 2B after hitting a double. Whatever the real reason was for the Sale-MARTINEZ incident that cleared benches and bullpens, Sale did himself and his team no favors with that little episode, which took him and his team right out of the game from that point forward. DAVIS and KINSLER combined to reach base 7 times in 9 PA. VERLANDER was fantastic and all fired up when he recorded his 24th and final out.

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Game 159: May v. Scherzer. TIGERS 4, Twins 2. Never behind, up 3.
NICE PLAYS: CABRERA, 3B Escobar, KINSLER-CABRERA, CF DAVIS (2), SUAREZ, CASTELLANOS, P Pressly-Escobar, NATHAN
MISPLAYS: LF J. MARTINEZ, Escobar
BASERUNNING NEWS: DAVIS put down an unplayable bunt and stole 2nd. He got a bit cocky later (who can blame him, after his last few games) trying to steal 3rd and was an easy out. KINSLER just narrowly averted getting picked off 1B for the 100th time this season.
THE BIG HIT: Men on 1st and 3rd, 2 out, Tigers up 3-0 in the 5th, Mauer 2-run double off SCHERZER.
THE BIG OUT: Men on 1st and 2nd, 2 out, Tigers up 3-2 in the 5th, SCHERZER retires Arcia (flyout RF).
GOOD HITTING: V. MARTINEZ, Mauer
BAD HITTING:
GOOD PITCHING: SCHERZER, May, SORIA
BAD PITCHING:
OBVIOUSLY: Close but held at arm’s length by Tigers power and bullpen.
AND, BUT, ALSO: Detroit was just on it this evening; very nice, sharp game all around. They look playoff-ready.

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Game 160: Swarzak v. Porcello. Twins 11, TIGERS 4. Never ahead, down 7.
NICE PLAYS: KINSLER-CABRERA (2), 3B Escobar-2B Dozier-1B Mauer, CABRERA-RYAN, Dozier-Mauer, RF Arcia (2), CABRERA-HARDY, CABRERA, HUNTER-CABRERA, Mauer-P Thompson
MISPLAYS: CASTELLANOS-CABRERA, CASTELLANOS, HUNTER, SANCHEZ
BASERUNNING NEWS:
THE BIG HIT: Runner on 1B, 1 out, Tigers down 1-0 in the 1st, Arcia 2-run HR off PORCELLO.
THE BIG OUTS: Runners on 1st and 2nd, 1 out, Tigers down 6-3 in the 5th, Achter retires V. MARTINEZ (flyout to RF, HUNTER to 3B) and J. MARTINEZ (flyout to deep CF).
GOOD HITTING: Dozier, Arcia, CABRERA
BAD HITTING:
GOOD PITCHING: Achter
BAD PITCHING: PORCELLO, RYAN
OBVIOUSLY: Despite the rough start, there was still the possibility of a contest until the 6th inning bullpen collapse.
AND, BUT, ALSO: Yes, there was some real excitement there in the middle, and also some fine defensive plays from both teams. I think Arcia (who had already broken PORCELLO’s back with a HR) just broke the Tigers’ back with his 5th inning catch in the RF corner on V. MARTINEZ (and he made a real circus catch later, this guy who we’d seen earlier in the season looking lost in RF). Not a proud day for Tigers pitching.

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Game 161: Nolasco v. Lobstein. Twins 12, TIGERS 3. Up 1, down 10.
NICE PLAYS: KINSLER, CF Hicks, ROMINE, KINSLER-CABRERA, CF CARRERA-CASTELLANOS, 2B Dozier-1B Mauer, ROMINE-KINSLER, Dozier-SS Santana, SS SUAREZ-2B PEREZ-1B KELLY
MISPLAYS: C Pinto, CASTELLANOS, CABRERA-LOBSTEIN
BASERUNNING NEWS: It seemed like Minnesota was running all over the place, but in fact they didn’t take any extra bases at all (with 23 runners!) aside from a stolen base that amounted to nothing. All they did was go 9-18 RISP. Hmmph.
THE BIG HIT: Bases loaded, 2 out, Tigers down 2-1 in the 5th, Fryer 2-run single off LOBSTEIN.
THE BIG OUT: Men on 2nd and 3rd, 2 out, Tigers up 1-0 in the 2nd, Nolasco retires DAVIS (groundout SS).
GOOD HITTING: Escobar, Herrmann
BAD HITTING:
GOOD PITCHING: Nolasco
BAD PITCHING: LOBSTEIN, COKE, HARDY, RAY
OBVIOUSLY: Close through 4 innings, this one blew up in our faces, and kept blowing up.
AND, BUT, ALSO: The pitching, my God, the pitching. The horror, the horror. Meanwhile, Nolasco owns Detroit all of a sudden. A couple poor infield plays set the stage for LOBSTEIN’s demise, while the Twins again pulled off some buzzkill plays. The Tigers didn’t look flat or disheartened at any point, and the home crowd remained into it, but the pitching just wasn’t there on a day that the offense wasn’t, either. DAVIS hurt himself in his first PA and came out of the game.

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Game 162: Gibson v. Price. TIGERS 3, Twins 0. Ahead from the 3rd on.
NICE PLAYS: P Gibson-1B Mauer, CF Hicks, Gibson, CF CARRERA, SS Santana, Hicks-Santana-Mauer
MISPLAYS:  C Pinto
BASERUNNING NEWS: J. MARTINEZ was feeling frisky but wasn’t frisky enough. Going halfway to 2B before stopping to reconsider was the mistake that took away his single, big mistake in a close game. ROMINE is nearly as exciting on the bases as DAVIS, as he races home to beat the throw and score a big run.
THE BIG HIT: None on, 2 out, 0-0 in the 3rd, KINSLER HR off Gibson.
THE BIG OUTS: Runners on 1st and 2nd, 1 out, Tigers up 1-0 in the 4th, PRICE retires Arcia (K) and Escobar (groundball to and force out at 2B).
GOOD HITTING: KINSLER
BAD HITTING:
GOOD PITCHING: PRICE, Gibson
BAD PITCHING:
OBVIOUSLY: Fair to call this one a pitcher’s duel. The Tigers scratched a couple runs in late to help us breathe.
AND, BUT, ALSO: PRICE made a real statement in a game the Tigers had to win (and the bullpen held). It was a masterpiece. He struck out 8, but it seemed like 16. Gibson was pretty good, too. The perfect ending to a tight, nerve-wracking game was getting ROMINE and CARRERA on base and scoring them both for some breathing room in the 8th, and then a no-nonsense 9th from NATHAN. KINSLER was an offense unto himself on a day when the 3-4-5 guys went 1-10. After the game, the Tigers took to the field to celebrate their 4th consecutive division title.

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

C AVILA XXOXXOXX +4
SS ROMINE XXXXXOXXXXXX +10
RF HUNTER XXXXXXXO +6
2B KINSLER XXXXXXXXXXXOXXXXXXXXXX +20
P NATHAN XXX +3
3B CASTELLANOS OXOXXXXOXOOXO +1
CF DAVIS OXXXOOXXXX +4
1B V. MARTINEZ XXXO +2
P ALBURQUERQUE X +1
LF J. MARTINEZ OXOXXO zero
SS SUAREZ XXXOXXX +5
P LOBSTEIN XXO +1
1B CABRERA XXXXXXXXOOXXXXXXXXXXOXO +15
1B KELLY XX +2
3B KELLY X +1
C HOLADAY XXOXO +1
CF CARRERA OXX +1
P SCHERZER X +1
C McCANN O -1
P RYAN X +1
P HARDY X +1
P SANCHEZ O -1
2B PEREZ X +1

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SUMMING UP THE SEASON DEFENSIVELY (nice plays – misplays)

C AVILA 55 38 *** PLUS 17 Brilliant
C HOLADAY 19 26 *** MINUS 7 Minor league
C V. MARTINEZ 1 5 *** MINUS 4 Never again
C McCANN 0 1 *** MINUS 1

1B V. MARTINEZ 36 12 *** PLUS 24 Comes with a cost
1B CABRERA 178 30 *** PLUS 148 Quite good
1B KELLY 23 2 *** PLUS 21
1B WORTH 0 1 *** MINUS 1
2B KINSLER 167 33 *** PLUS 134 Major winning factor, can’t be overstated
2B ROMINE 4 0 *** PLUS 4
2B PEREZ 1 0 *** PLUS 1
SS ROMINE 75 18 *** PLUS 57 Solid but rarely spectacular
SS GONZALEZ 3 6 *** MINUS 3
SS WORTH 14 3 *** PLUS 11
SS SUAREZ 95 32 *** PLUS 63 Flash offset by the gaffes
3B CASTELLANOS 92 51 *** PLUS 39 Unacceptable
3B KELLY 9 2 *** PLUS 7
3B CABRERA 4 1 *** PLUS 3

LF DAVIS 23 15 *** PLUS 8 Erratic, part-time brilliance
LF J. MARTINEZ 23 21 *** PLUS 2 A liability
LF KELLY 4 0 *** PLUS 4
LF COLLINS 2 0 *** PLUS 2
CF DAVIS 24 10 *** PLUS 14 Talent shines through better here
CF CARRERA 4 7 *** MINUS 3 A bust
CF KELLY 2 1 *** PLUS 1
CF JACKSON 16 16 *** ZERO Not a playmaker
RF HUNTER 45 21 *** PLUS 24 Better than you thought
RF KELLY 1 1 *** ZERO
RF COLLINS 1 0 *** PLUS 1
RF J. MARTINEZ 4 4 *** ZERO Nondescript

P VERLANDER 4 4 Needs practice
P ALBURQUERQUE 2 0
P SCHERZER 8 2
P CHAMBERLAIN 6 0
P KROL 2 2
P PORCELLO 12 4
P NATHAN 10 1 Gold Glove
P SMYLY 8 2 Gold Glove (“posthumously”)
P RAY 3 1
P SANCHEZ 8 4
P WORTH 1 0
P KNEBEL 1 0
P REED 2 0
P HARDY 6 2
P COKE 2 2
P McCOY 0 1
P SMITH 1 0
P JOHNSON 2 0
P PRICE 1 0
P LOBSTEIN 2 1
P RYAN 1 0

Innings played per misplay

C AVILA 26.8
C HOLADAY 15.2

1B-2B-3B-LF-CF-RF KELLY 68.3 Elite defensive player

2B KINSLER 42.8
SS ROMINE 36.2
1B CABRERA 36.1
1B V. MARTINEZ 23.7
3B CASTELLANOS 24.1
SS SUAREZ 19.4

RF J. MARTINEZ 60.5
CF JACKSON 54.3
RF HUNTER 53.0
LF DAVIS 45.6
CF DAVIS 37.4
LF J. MARTINEZ 32.8


 

GAME 145: Max Scherzer picks up his 16th win, Joe Nathan his 30th save, and J.D. Martinez his 20th HR. *** Andrew Romine on the brilliant Nathan pickoff of Jarrod Dyson: “This is exciting. I got goose bumps when we picked him off. I was pumped.” *** Torii Hunter was back in the lineup after the outfield collision with Don Kelly, sore neck but nothing worse. *** Joakim Soria will come off the DL for tomorrow’s game. Jim Johnson has been an absolute bust as any kind of stopgap, even considering Soria’s own underwhelming results.
GAME 146: The most grueling stretch of the season comes to an end. 24 games in 23 days, 14-10 record. *** Brad Ausmus: “They’re a pretty good team, and James Shields is a pretty good pitcher. Are we disappointed? You’re disappointed every time you lose. We didn’t give this game away. They beat us. They pitched better and they hit better. That happens. The big picture is we won two out of three, we gained a game since they were here. We’ve still got plenty of time.” *** Phil Coke left the game with a lower back injury after attempting to field a bunt. *** Romine makes his 4th consecutive start at SS, though Eugenio Suarez is healthy and able to play. “Glove consistency” is the word.
GAME 147: Detroit climbs back in to first place with the win. *** J.D. Martinez hits his 6th HR vs, the Indians this season: “That’s one thing I learned from watching great hitters hit. A lot of hitters, they’re ready to hit from pitch one. When I’m at my best, I’m ready to hit from pitch one. When I go up there and I’m passive, I’m not as successful. When I fall behind, my swing changes. I’m still trying to swing hard with two strikes, but I’m trying to get more contact with it. If I’m ready to hit early, if I get fooled, then whatever. I’ve still got two more strikes.” *** The Tigers announce their Minor League Players of the Year as OF Steven Moya and P Austin Kubitza.

Miguel Cabrera

GAME 148: Ausmus on Avila and the game-winning HR: “I know he’s hitting about .220, but he has the ability to hit a home run. Home runs can be game changers, as we saw tonight.” On Kyle Lobstein: “He was fine. He wasn’t as much down in the zone as he had been in his previous starts.” Detroit has won all 4 games Lobstein has started. *** Hunter: “I don’t care about the Royals, really. I only care about what the Tigers are doing right now. Sometimes you keep looking back and you trip over a rock.”
GAME 149: Ausmus on Verlander: “He didn’t have his best stuff today, but he gutted it out. He made pitches when he had to. He mixed up his pitches as much as I’ve seen him.” *** Nathan: “I’m kind of glad we’re done with the Indians for the season. It’s a team that has played us tough all season.” *** Avila comes out of the game late with light-headedness, having taken a foul tip off the mask and also gotten whacked in the face on a pickoff at 1B.
GAME 150: Ausmus: “Blaine [Hardy] has been scuffling a little bit throwing strikes lately. We needed another lefty … We thought Kyle could handle it.” Kyle Ryan: “Unbelievable. I was shaking like a leaf on the mound in the bullpen, and then out on the mound on the field, I was still shaking, just knowing I’m coming into a situation where I need to get two outs. I needed a double play, so I went out there and did what it took.” *** Avila was out of the lineup, situation day to day. *** Anibal Sanchez throws a 25-pitch mound session and feels fine. His return (not to be expected for at least another week) and role remain up in the air. *** Hunter, he of the game-winning HR: “It means something because it’s Septober. Septober is awesome. In Septober we’re trying to win games and keep fighting. You just never give up.”

VM3

GAME 151: Ausmus on the Ezequiel Carrera dive and miss: “We’ve already talked to Zeke about it. He was trying his tail off, which is good, but the smart play there is, if you’re not sure you’re going to catch it, you contain it and keep it at first and second… I’m sure for a split second he thought he could catch the ball. It just didn’t work out.” *** Nathan: “You can’t do much more than locate a fastball when [Hicks] was probably looking slider on the 3-2 pitch and get him to reach out and hit a ground ball, which is what we were looking for to get out of the inning. Unfortunately, he puts it in the perfect spot, so hats off to them — team speed and a couple balls that were inches from going our way.” *** J.D. Martinez on his game-winning HR that turned out not to be: “Everyone was excited. We know what’s going on. We’re all in it. To come through was huge, but [the loss] hurts at the same time. Right now it’s pointless.”
GAME 152: David Price (3-4, 4.09 with Detroit thus far): “Giving up two leads is not the way you want to go out there and pitch. I definitely didn’t command the ball the way I can. They spoiled some good pitches. They put some good swings on what I thought were some pretty good pitches in the first inning. But that’s just baseball. Sometimes you’ve got to tip your cap.” *** Hunter takes the blame for a Miguel Cabrera baserunning blunder: “I might have [taken] a jump, took a couple quick steps and got Miggy off a little too far and got him in no-man’s land, and he’s not moving too well, so it’s hard for him to get back. You have to make sure you’re safe at home — I didn’t want him to throw the ball and I’m out at home. That would have looked worse. But I accept that, full responsibility. I misled [Cabrera], and that’s my fault.”
GAME 153: Justin Verlander after a shutdown performance that ran his career record vs. the Royals to 19-7: “Guys do recognize the moment. I think that’s what makes this team so special. I think this entire team, especially the veterans, recognize the moment. This is one of those moments when you need to step up, and obviously I wasn’t the only one. We scored 10 runs.” On rookie catcher James McCann (who picked up his first MLB hits): “He did a great job. I can’t say enough about how he did back there. We were on the same page a lot tonight. What an incredible job he did for the first time he’s caught me in a game situation. He just did all the little things right.” *** Eric Hosmer of the Royals: “They came out swinging the bats tonight. We just flat-out got beat. They beat us in all aspects of the game and there’s nothing we can do about this one tonight.” *** Ausmus on what Avila (not officially on the DL) is calling a concussion: “Alex will each day come in and do some type of activity. And until he can go through that activity without any side effects, we probably won’t be able to play him.” *** At age 35, Victor Martinez becomes the third-oldest player in history to post his first 30-homer, 100-RBI season. 

Tampa Bay Rays v Detroit Tigers

GAME 154: Hernan Perez on the play that will live on in legend: “I was at the end of the dugout, so I could see the third baseman and second base. I was looking at the play at second and when I saw that Suarez missed the ball, I saw Perez, he didn’t go back to the base. When that happened, I ran to [first-base coach] Omar Vizquel and told him to appeal at third base.” Max Scherzer (now 17-5 after another brilliant start) on recognizing Perez’s contribution for the dugout: “Oh yeah, whatever he wants. In that situation, he can have dinner, lunch, breakfast, drinks, you name it.” *** Ausmus on pinch-hitting Tyler Collins: “I just think of all the left-handed hitters we have in terms of needing to produce a run, he’s probably the best suited for it.” *** Ausmus on Suarez: “I don’t know that he needed a rest. He wasn’t overworked by any stretch. Sometimes it’s more beneficial for a young player to watch a few games in September and get the pangs to be on the field.”
GAME 155: Rick Porcello: “I was up in the zone the whole day. I really just didn’t make a whole lot of good pitches, to be honest. It was one of those things where I kept battling to get the ball down and just really struggled to do so, and that resulted in a lot of hits… The Aoki at-bat, I think it was one of the better at-bats that I had pitched. I was throwing some pretty good fastballs on the inner half of the plate and he kept fouling them off, fouling them off. He finally turned on one and hit it down the line.” *** Bryan Holaday: “This is a really, really good team, and we came in and we won the series. We did what we had to do.” *** Sanchez throws a simulated game. *** The Tigers conclude the season series with Kansas City with a 13-5 W-L and are a game and a half up on the Royals.
GAME 156: Ausmus on Lobstein’s best start to date in a losing cause: “You never want to waste a good pitching performance, so yeah, you feel like you might have wasted a chance, an opportunity. But there’s nothing we can do about it now.” *** Ian Kinsler: “Miguel [Cabrera] is looking over there [the scoreboard] every other pitch, so he might get me to turn around and check it out. We control what we can do in here, and if we win the rest of the games, we’re in. So that’s all we’re worried about right now.” On facing Chicago rookie Chris Bassitt for the second time: “Throwing the same pitches, just locating the ball better, getting ahead of hitters and did a good job.” *** Sanchez will return from the DL tomorrow, but to the bullpen rather than the starting rotation (for the duration of the season, including any eventual postseason). *** Avila is back in the lineup after a week away.

MS71

GAME 157: Price: “I just want to go out there and pitch well. It’s not me wanting to be the guy. It’s going out there and throwing the ball to my capabilities. For the most part today, I did that … It happened for the most part, then the ninth came.” Ausmus on leaving Price in: “Really, I went out there thinking I was going to leave him in unless he told me he was running out of gas. It didn’t look like he was running out of gas.” *** Cabrera, he of the game-winning RBI single: “Every team wants to be in the playoffs. That’s our first goal. It’s been tough this year, but you don’t give up. You have to go out there and fight. You have to find a way to win games and, hopefully, we can do it tomorrow.” Cabrera joins Hank Greenberg and Magglio Ordonez as the only Tigers ever to have 20+ HR, 100+ RBI, and 50+ doubles in a season.
GAME 158: Verlander quietly picks up his 15th win, and Detroit clinches a playoff berth. *** Alternative explanations for the Chris Sale/Victor Martinez HBP dustup: Sale describing a fan and why he had pointed out to CF during a previous AB (strikeout) as well: “Talking trash, saying I was going to get lit up,” Sale said. “Victor was going to do all these different things to me. I figured I would have some fun with the fans, too.” Victor Martinez: “Now [Sale] did really hit me on purpose,” Martinez said. “But like I said before, I never had any issue with him, any problem with him.” White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers: “I just call the pitches. I don’t throw them. We went heater in. It hit him. He didn’t like it. Sale didn’t like him looking at him. Other than that, I don’t know much.” And yet Sale had made a binocular-imitating gesture from the dugout and said “your boy out there” to Martinez after the HBP. Who knows.
GAME 159: Scherzer, who left the mound after 6 innings to a standing ovation: “Obviously you want to pitch a little bit longer, but anytime you can get a win in this situation, this stage of the game, it means the world to everybody in this clubhouse, because everybody’s counting on everybody to do their job. When you can say, ‘I did my job tonight,’ it’s very gratifying.” Max finishes the season with 252 strikeouts, 6th most in Tigers history. “I feel like I’m executing pitches at a higher level than I was last year,” Scherzer said. “Last year I was very consistent, and that’s something that’s so hard to strive for. I had a few more ups and downs this year, but overall, I still did a heckuva job this year — in some ways, numberwise, pitched pretty much the same.”

Tigers D

GAME 160: Win #16 eludes Porcello for the 7th start in a row. Ausmus on Porcello crossing the 200 IP mark: “I don’t see a huge degradation in his stuff. His ball’s still sinking. His breaking ball’s still good. It’s just a matter of location. Like I said, I’m not blind to the fact that it could be related to innings, but we’re at a point in the season where we can’t not start Rick Porcello today. That’s kind of where we’re at.” *** Sanchez on his scoreless inning of relief: “Today was the first test for my arm. Both pitch, location, everything is fine.” *** Even as Cabrera’s HR binge has subsided, he’s slugging .607 during this period.
GAME 161: Ausmus: “It’s frustrating, for sure,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “Today was almost a carbon copy of yesterday. A couple of defensive mistakes, we didn’t pitch well and you’re in such a deep hole that it’s tough to climb out of. I wasn’t concerned at all going into the game today that something like that would happen again. I’m a little surprised by it, but again, we can’t do anything about it. We’ve got a game tomorrow that we’ve gotta win — and I mean, we’ve *gotta* win.” *** Lobstein: “I felt like I had the same stuff, same pitches. I kept making good pitches in the fifth inning, too. Unfortunately, they got some hits.” Ausmus on Lobstein: “He looked good up until that point, and then it all came unglued. Everything they hit seemed to find a place to land, and they kept pushing runners across the plate. It was just one of those nights for him. First four innings, he was clean. I don’t know what — I couldn’t tell you exactly what happened.” *** Rajai Davis leaves the game with a sprain of the pubic symphisis and will be day to day. Ausmus: “He’s actually moving pretty well. He said he actually feels pretty good. But that’s obviously not running. He’s just walking around the clubhouse.”
GAME 162: Still assured of nothing but *some* kind of playoff berth when the game began, Detroit takes first place in the AL Central with the win. *** Brian Dozier of the Twins on Price: “That’s the best I’ve ever seen him command every pitch in and out, but especially his cutter. It was sharp. It wasn’t just a little baby cutter. It was moving pretty good. When he commands that 93-94 [mph] with a backdoor cutter, he’s tough.” *** Kinsler on Twins starter Kyle Gibson: “I was lucky enough to get a hanger from him. He didn’t make a lot of mistakes today. To be able to capitalize was just big.” *** Victor Martinez: “I understand that the fans were frustrated, but there was nobody more frustrated than ourselves. We know what kind of talent we have here. We really were frustrated, and you know what, I’m really proud of this group today. We stayed together, and here we are.”

IK3

90-72, 1st in the Central, 3rd in the AL, ALDS-bound to face the Baltimore Orioles…

RESEARCH MADE POSSIBLE BY: MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL and BASEBALL REFERENCE.
PHOTO CREDITS: HUNTER: Ed Szczepanski/USA Today; MARTINEZ: Rick Osentoski/USA Today; SCHERZER: ? CABRERA: Carlos Osorio/AP; J-MART & CASTY: Mark Cunningham/Getty Images; KINSLER: Rick Osentoski/USA Today.

 

Detroit at Baltimore

2014: The 8th Inning (11-7)

I have to admit it’s getting better. A little better all the time.

So the Detroit Tigers are now:

SP Verlander
SP Scherzer
SP Lobstein
SP Farmer
SP Porcello
SP Price
RP Nathan
RP Alburquerque
RP Chamberlain
RP Coke
RP Hardy
RP McCoy
RP Johnson
C Avila
C Holaday
1B-DH Cabrera
2B Kinsler
SS-2B Romine
SS Suarez
3B Castellanos
IF-OF Kelly
RF Hunter
CF Carrera
CF-LF Davis
LF J. Martinez
DH-1B V. Martinez


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Game 127: Farmer v. Pino. TWINS 12, Tigers 4. Never ahead, down 8. (Game 1 of makeup doubleheader.)
NICE PLAYS: RF KELLY, ROMINE, CF Santana-SS Escobar-P Pino-3B Nunez
MISPLAYS: CASTELLANOS, Escobar (2), RF Parmelee, Nunez
BASERUNNING NEWS: CASTELLANOS was out by a mile trying to stretch a double into a triple; something definitely went wrong there. Two examples of typically soft Detroit defense: Dozier scoring from 1B on a single, and the Santana triple.
THE BIG HIT: Bases loaded, none out, 1-1 in the 2nd, Schafer 3-run triple off FARMER.
THE BIG OUTS: Man on 1st, 1 out, Tigers down 1-0 in the 1st, FARMER strikes out Vargas and Parmelee.
GOOD HITTING: Mauer, Vargas, Dozier
BAD HITTING: Parmelee (golden sombrero)
GOOD PITCHING: Pressly
BAD PITCHING: FARMER, McCOY
OBVIOUSLY: The all-minor league pitching gets spanked, what a surprise.
AND, BUT, ALSO: All the Twins had to do was hit, and they did. They moved it on the bases pretty well, too.

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Game 128: Verlander v. May. Tigers 8, TWINS 6. Down 2, up 2. (Game 2 of makeup doubleheader.)
NICE PLAYS: KINSLER-1B V. MARTINEZ, LF Schafer, KINSLER, RF Arcia, SS Escobar-2B Dozier-1B Mauer, 3B Plouffe-Mauer
MISPLAYS: CF DAVIS, V. MARTINEZ, LF J. MARTINEZ, Dozier
BASERUNNING NEWS: HUNTER going 1st to 3rd and the challenge that reversed the out call helped put a run on the board. Santana again challenges the Tigers OF and wins for a triple. Holding up V. MARTINEZ at 3B on the J. MARTINEZ double was smart and helped put two big (and decisive) runs on the board.
THE BIG HIT: Runners on 2nd and 3rd, 1 out, Tigers down 4-3 in the 6th, SUAREZ 2-run single (with advance to 2B on E8) off May.
THE BIG OUTS: Runners on 1st and 3rd, none out, Tigers down 4-2 in the 5th, May retires CABRERA on a 6-4-3 DP (run scores).
GOOD HITTING: HUNTER, J. MARTINEZ, Plouffe, Dozier
BAD HITTING: Arcia
GOOD PITCHING:
BAD PITCHING: May, Burton
OBVIOUSLY: It wasn’t easy, but they didn’t quit.
AND, BUT, ALSO: Key defensive plays helped keep it a close game for both scuffling starters. Another hitters game, with 32 baserunners. Detroit failed to draw a walk and had to settle for 17 hits. AUSMUS pulling VERLANDER in the 6th was a very good move.

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Game 129: Scherzer v. Gibson. Tigers 13, TWINS 4. Never behind, up 9.
NICE PLAYS: HUNTER, C Suzuki-2B Dozier, 1B KELLY (2), Dozier, CF DAVIS, SS Escobar
MISPLAYS: Dozier-Escobar, AVILA, LF Schafer, Suzuki, Escobar, RF Arcia, CASTELLANOS
BASERUNNING NEWS: J. MARTINEZ was an easy out trying to steal 2B.
THE BIG HIT: Men on 2nd and 3rd, 1 out, Tigers up 3-0 in the 3rd, Santana 2-run double off SCHERZER.
THE BIG OUTS: Men on 1st and 3rd, 1 out, Tigers up 5-3 in the 5th, SCHERZER retires Arcia (K) and Plouffe (flyball to deep CF).
GOOD HITTING: HUNTER, V. MARTINEZ
BAD HITTING: Arcia, Mauer
GOOD PITCHING: JOHNSON
BAD PITCHING: Gibson, Fien
OBVIOUSLY: Detroit had the offense to win and then piled on against Minnesota bullpen and poor defense.
AND, BUT, ALSO: A 42-pitch 3rd inning was part of the reason an inefficient SCHERZER had to settle for 5 innings. The Twins had a big opportunity to jump back in the game in the 6th vs. the Tigers pen and failed.

KL3

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

Game 130: McCarthy v. Porcello. TIGERS 5, Yankees 2. Never behind, up 4.
NICE PLAYS: KINSLER-SUAREZ-CABRERA (2), CABRERA-PORCELLO (2), 3B Headley-1B Teixeira, Headley, KINSLER-CABRERA, LF Suzuki, CABRERA-SUAREZ, SUAREZ, CABRERA-NATHAN
MISPLAYS: KINSLER
BASERUNNING NEWS: DAVIS was all in from the start on the 7th inning single-turned-double, beating a good throw by Suzuki, and he soon scored. That’s the way you do it.
THE BIG HIT: None on, 2 out, Tigers up 2-0 in the 5th, Ellsbury HR off PORCELLO.
THE BIG OUT: Bases loaded, 1 out, 0-0 in the 2nd, McCarthy retires KINSLER on a 5-3 DP.
GOOD HITTING: Ellsbury, J. MARTINEZ, DAVIS
BAD HITTING: KINSLER
GOOD PITCHING: PORCELLO
BAD PITCHING:
OBVIOUSLY: Good to see them adding on when the lead got slim.
AND, BUT, ALSO: Outstanding infield defense from the Tigers. Aside from Ellsbury’s 2 home runs, PORCELLO didn’t allow an extra base hit. NATHAN even had a 1-2-3 9th. What a win!

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Game 131: Greene v. Price. Yankees 8, TIGERS 4. Never ahead, down 8.
NICE PLAYS: KINSLER-SUAREZ-CABRERA, SS Jeter-1B Teixeira, LF J. MARTINEZ, CASTELLANOS-CABRERA, SUAREZ
MISPLAYS: CABRERA, 2B Prado, AVILA
BASERUNNING NEWS:
THE BIG HIT: Runner on 2nd, none out, 0-0 in the 3rd, Jeter RBI double off PRICE.
THE BIG OUTS: Runners on 1st and 3rd, 1 out, 0-0 in the 2nd, PRICE retires Cervelli on a 4-6-3 DP.
GOOD HITTING: Headley
BAD HITTING:
GOOD PITCHING: Greene, COKE, McCOY
BAD PITCHING: PRICE
OBVIOUSLY: The “What just happened here?” game with that 8-run Yankees 3rd inning.
AND, BUT, ALSO: PRICE’s Baseball Reference Game Score was 2 (that is an insanely low number). Strange as it seems, this was not the lost cause it appears to be. Detroit left 5 runs on the table with its 1-8 RISP. The Tigers bullpen committee was immaculate through 7 innings, the only runs (charged to PRICE) coming in on a couple sac flies.

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Game 132: Kuroda v. Lobstein. TIGERS 3, Yankees 2. Down 1, up 1. Walk-off win.
NICE PLAYS: CASTELLANOS, 1B Teixeira, CF DAVIS
MISPLAYS: CASTELLANOS, C McCann (2)
BASERUNNING NEWS: Hit and run with CASTELLANOS and KELLY pays off with an early and important run.
THE BIG HIT: Men on 1st and 2nd, 2 out, 2-2 in the 9th, AVILA RBI single off Kelley wins it.
THE BIG OUT: Men on 1st and 3rd, 2 out, 2-2 in the 9th, COKE strikes out McCann.
GOOD HITTING:
BAD HITTING:
GOOD PITCHING: Kuroda, LOBSTEIN, HARDY, CHAMBERLAIN
BAD PITCHING: Kelley
OBVIOUSLY: Well-pitched all around and down to the wire.
AND, BUT, ALSO: Yet another clutch hit (and 2 of 3 Detroit RBI) from the guy who can’t hit otherwise (we’ll take it). LOBSTEIN struck out 0 through 6 but was nonetheless efficient and impressive in his first MLB start.

BF3

Game 133: Verlander v. Carroll. Tigers 7, WHITE SOX 1. Down 1, up 6.
NICE PLAYS: HUNTER-KINSLER-CABRERA, SUAREZ, SUAREZ-KINSLER-CABRERA, KINSLER-SUAREZ (2), 3B Gillaspie-1B Abreu, KINSLER-SUAREZ-CABRERA, SS Ramirez-1B Viciedo
MISPLAYS: VERLANDER-CABRERA, HUNTER, LF De Aza, Abreu (2), CABRERA, CASTELLANOS (2)
BASERUNNING NEWS: De Aza getting thrown out trying for a triple in the 2nd was a game-changing play. KINSLER took 3rd on a double (ill-advised throw home) and then scored. SUAREZ and CARRERA pulled off a double steal. CARRERA got caught on the subsequent RBI groundout to SS, but it was hard to see what else he could have done.
THE BIG HIT: Runner on 1st, 1 out, Tigers down 1-0 in the 3rd, KINSLER RBI double off Carroll that scores CARRERA, with KINSLER advancing on the throw.
THE BIG OUT: Bases loaded, 2 out, Tigers down 1-0 in the 1st, VERLANDER strikes out Flowers.
GOOD HITTING: Eaton, HUNTER, J. MARTINEZ
BAD HITTING:
GOOD PITCHING: VERLANDER, Belisario
BAD PITCHING: Carroll
OBVIOUSLY: What looked like a trying game through 2 innings turned into a cakewalk.
AND, BUT, ALSO: HUNTER’s 8th inning ground-rule double with KINSLER on 1B was actually interfered with by a Chicago fan. KINSLER scored on the play, and it looked like he should have been called back to 3B, but the run stood for some reason (maybe it was ruled that he would have scored without the interference?).

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Game 134: Scherzer v. Sale. WHITE SOX 6, Tigers 3. Up 3, down 3. (Game 1 of makeup doubleheader.)
NICE PLAYS: SS Ramirez-2B Sanchez-1B Dunn, SUAREZ, HUNTER, CASTELLANOS, Sanchez-Ramirez-Dunn
MISPLAYS: CABRERA, KINSLER
BASERUNNING NEWS:
THE BIG HIT: Man on 1st, 1 out, 3-3 in the 3rd, DUNN 2-run HR off SCHERZER.
THE BIG OUT: Men on 2nd and 3rd, 2 out, Tigers up 3-1 in the 3rd, Sale strikes out CASTELLANOS.
GOOD HITTING: Dunn
BAD HITTING:
GOOD PITCHING: Sale
BAD PITCHING:
OBVIOUSLY: It started off so well. Losing the lead against Sale is not a good plan.
AND, BUT, ALSO: CABRERA and HUNTER each struck out thrice against Sale (although why HUNTER wasn’t awarded 1B when he was hit by a pitch still isn’t clear to me). Pin this one on SCHERZER. He was given a decent lead, and he blew it. 4 runs allowed in 18 pitches.

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Game 135: Ryan v. Bassitt. Tigers 8, WHITE SOX 4. Never behind, up 5. (Game 2 of makeup doubleheader.)
NICE PLAYS:KINSLER-ROMINE-1B KELLY, CF Eaton, AVILA, 1B Konerko, 2B Sanchez-Konerko (2), KELLY-CHAMBERLAIN, RF Garcia-Konerko-C Nieto, NATHAN
MISPLAYS: KINSLER, Sanchez (2), LF Viciedo, Nieto-Sanchez, CASTELLANOS, Nieto, ROMINE
BASERUNNING NEWS: Tons of speed and hustle from Detroit was the 4-run margin of victory, CARRERA, DAVIS, and KINSLER starring in that show. CARRERA made a single into a double, and DAVIS blazed home without hesitation on a shallow single to LF. The only fly in the ointment was AVILA getting thrown out trying to score from 1st, never really a good idea.
THE BIG HIT: Runners on 1st and 3rd, 1 out, Tigers up 5-1 in the 8th, Viciedo 3-run HR off CHAMBERLAIN.
THE BIG OUTS: Runners on 1st and 3rd, 1 out, Tigers up 2-0 in the 3rd, Bassitt strikes out J. MARTINEZ and AVILA.
GOOD HITTING: KINSLER, CARRERA, KELLY, Viciedo
BAD HITTING: ROMINE, J. MARTINEZ. Garcia
GOOD PITCHING: RYAN
BAD PITCHING: Cleto, Guerra, JOHNSON, CHAMBERLAIN
OBVIOUSLY: It got much tighter than it should have late in the game. The immediate answer was refreshing.
AND, BUT, ALSO: Very nice MLB debut from RYAN. The bullpen nearly managed to throw it away, allowing 4 runs in the span of 6 batters faced. The Tigers scored their 8 runs without a HR and with only 2 XBH altogether.

KR3

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Game 136: Porcello v. Quintana. WHITE SOX 6, Tigers 2. Never ahead, down 5.
NICE PLAYS: 1B KELLY (2), HOLADAY-SUAREZ, 3B Gillaspie (3), HUNTER, CF Eaton, 2B Sanchez
MISPLAYS: 1B Wilkins, LF J. MARTINEZ (2), HUNTER, SUAREZ (2), KELLY, CASTELLANOS, CF DAVIS, SS Garcia, HOLADAY
BASERUNNING NEWS: Chicago stole 3 bases and took every extra base possible on all of Detroit’s misplays and giveaways. HUNTER getting doubled off 2B on a pop fly to CF added a baserunning dimension to the overall clown show.
THE BIG HIT: Men on 1st and 3rd, 2 out, 0-0 in the 1st, Gillaspie RBI single off PORCELLO.
THE BIG OUT: Man on 2nd, none out, 0-0 in the 1st, PORCELLO retires Sanchez and Abreu (Eaton to 3B) to *almost* escape the inning.
GOOD HITTING: Garcia
BAD HITTING: J. MARTINEZ
GOOD PITCHING: Quintana, Putnam, Petricka
BAD PITCHING:
OBVIOUSLY: 5 Chicago runs had something to with a Detroit error. Ugh.
AND, BUT, ALSO: An absolutely awful defensive game from the Tigers, and not much to like about the offense, either. The White Sox were 2 for 17 RISP… and won.

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Game 137: Price v. Kluber, Tigers 12, INDIANS 1. Never behind, up 11.
NICE PLAYS: SS Ramirez-2B Kipnis-1B Santana, Kipnis-Ramirez-Santana, KINSLER-1B V. MARTINEZ, Ramirez-Santana, 3B Chisenhall
MISPLAYS: RF Aviles (2), CF CARRERA (2), Chisenhall-Santana, LF J. MARTINEZ, RF Walters
BASERUNNING NEWS: Good to see KINSLER hustling into 3B twice (triple, then advance on error), even when he only scored once and not in a small ball way. Exciting play!
THE BIG HIT: Runner on 1st, 2 out, Tigers up 2-1 in the 3rd, V. MARTINEZ 2-run HR off Kluber.
THE BIG OUT: Runners on 2nd and 3rd, 2 out, Tigers up 2-1 in the 2nd, PRICE retires Bourn (groundout 2B).
GOOD HITTING: V. MARTINEZ, CABRERA, COLLINS, AVILA, J. MARTINEZ
BAD HITTING: CARRERA, HUNTER
GOOD PITCHING: PRICE
BAD PITCHING: Kluber, Price, Adams
OBVIOUSLY: The win seemed secure early, but pouring it on late was good.
AND, BUT, ALSO: Power to spare (5 HR)! Blowouts don’t get any better: Detroit roughed up a good starter, PRICE pitched like he didn’t have a comfortable lead, and all the new positional September call-ups got in the game. MOYA got his first MLB hit, and COLLINS his first MLB home run (a 3-run blast to straightaway center). CABRERA (looking a bit limpy) hit 2 home runs, the first a scalding line shot to LF to spoil Kluber’s day. Aviles left the game after 3 innings due to “dizziness,” a.k.a. inability to play RF.

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Game 138: Lobstein v. Carrasco. Tigers 4, INDIANS 2. Down 2, up 2.
NICE PLAYS: 2B Kipnis-1B Santana, Kipnis-SS Ramirez-Santana, HARDY-1B V. MARTINEZ, C Gomes-Kipnis
MISPLAYS: AVILA
BASERUNNING NEWS: DAVIS was amazing beating Kipnis for an infield single, but not quite as amazing getting caught stealing (late break). KIPNIS stole two, off of AVILA, no less.
THE BIG HIT: Men on 1st and 2nd, 1 out, Tigers down 2-1 in the 9th, J. MARTINEZ 3-run HR off Allen.
THE BIG OUT: Men on 1st and 3rd, 1 out, Tigers down 2-1 in the 6th, Atchison retires HUNTER on a 4-6-3 DP.
GOOD HITTING: J. MARTINEZ, Santana
BAD HITTING: HUNTER, Bourn
GOOD PITCHING: LOBSTEIN, COKE, Shaw
BAD PITCHING: Allen
OBVIOUSLY: Thrilling 9th inning comeback for a well-deserved win.
AND, BUT, ALSO: This was nearly the story of many missed opportunities and a hard-luck loss for LOBSTEIN. Carrasco was great at dodging bullets (10 strikeouts helped). Innings 2-7, after scoring their first run, Detroit left 15 runners on base without scoring. A key play in the 7th was HARDY picking off Ramirez at 1B (challenged, upheld). Nice to see a Tigers pickoff play not bungled for a change.

SM3

Game 139: Verlander v. Salazar. INDIANS 7, Tigers 0. Behind from the 1st on.
NICE PLAYS: 3B Chisenhall-2B Kipnis-1B Santana, CF DAVIS, LF J. MARTINEZ, Kipnis-SS Ramirez-Santana, CASTELLANOS-1B V. MARTINEZ, VERLANDER, HUNTER-KINSLER, RF Walters (2), KINSLER-V. MARTINEZ
MISPLAYS: Walters, HOLADAY (2), V. MARTINEZ, 1B KELLY
BASERUNNING NEWS:
THE BIG HIT: Runner on 2nd, 2 out, 0-0 in the 1st, Santana 2-run HR off VERLANDER.
THE BIG OUT: Runners on 2nd and 3rd, 1 out, Tigers down 2-0 in the 4th, Salazar retires J. MARTINEZ (K) and CASTELLANOS (groundout SS).
GOOD HITTING: Ramirez, Chisenhall
BAD HITTING: J. MARTINEZ (golden sombrero)
GOOD PITCHING: Salazar
BAD PITCHING: VERLANDER
OBVIOUSLY: VERLANDER might have been in a batter too long, but Salazar was in 9 innings too long.
AND, BUT, ALSO: Salazar was just brilliant (ask yesterday’s hero). You wouldn’t know it from the score, but there was a lot of nice defense to enjoy. Not all nice. It might have seemed like a lack of effort on HUNTER’s part not to at least try to make a play on Ramirez scoring the 7th run, but considering what happened at home earlier (is there a catcher in the house?), it was just as well.

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Game 140: Scherzer v. Bauer. Tigers 11, INDIANS 4 (11). Never behind, up 7.
NICE PLAYS: LF Brantley, CF DAVIS, SS Ramirez-1B Santana, 1B V. MARTINEZ, CHAMBERLAIN, HOLADAY-ROMINE, LF DAVIS
MISPLAYS: C Gomes, SS Ramirez, KINSLER, LF DAVIS, HOLADAY
BASERUNNING NEWS: A lot happening at first base. 6th inning, DAVIS getting nipped by Ramirez – almost close enough for a challenge – changed what might have been a clinching inning for Detroit. 8th inning, CASTELLANOS hustled heroically down the line to beat the throw from 3B Chisenhall, but was ruled out on a challenge. 10th inning Bourn hit a ball to the perfect spot at 1B, forcing V. MARTINEZ’s hand and making it a footrace between Bourn and COKE (no contest). HOLADAY subsequently gunning down Bourn at 2B with a throw that couldn’t have been more perfect was a game-saver of a play.
THE BIG HIT: Man on 1st, 2 out, Tigers up 4-3 in the 7th, Brantley RBI double off HARDY.
THE BIG OUT: Men on 1st and 3rd, 1 out, 4-4 in the 10th, Atchison retires CASTELLANOS (K) and HOLADAY (groundball SS force at 2B).
GOOD HITTING: V. MARTINEZ, KINSLER, ROMINE
BAD HITTING:
GOOD PITCHING: SCHERZER, COKE
BAD PITCHING: Tomlin, Price
OBVIOUSLY: A slow-evaporating lead. An unreal 11th inning explosion.
AND, BUT, ALSO: Maybe it’s not a good idea to give SCHERZER (124 pitches through 6 IP) too much of a lead too early. Once HARDY had surrendered the lead, the bullpen was immaculate. The 1st and 11th inning were a lot alike. Seems like once the party started, the Tigers just couldn’t stop, runnin’ all over and hitting everything. SUAREZ, HOLADAY, and ROMINE combined to knock in 6 on 3 hits.

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“I hate baseball.

Game 141: Peavy v. Porcello. Giants 8, TIGERS 2. Never ahead, down 7.
NICE PLAYS: LF Blanco, KINSLER, HOLADAY-CABRERA, C Posey-1B Ishikawa, CASTELLANOS-HOLADAY, CASTELLANOS, 2B Panik-SS Crawford-Ishikawa, Panik-Ishikawa, Panik
MISPLAYS: CABRERA (2), CASTELLANOS, 3B Sandoval, Blanco
BASERUNNING NEWS: San Francisco made Detroit look old and tired without even stealing a base. One strange play was Panik being called out at 1B on what appeared to be an error by either KINSLER or CABRERA. The ball got away. Why wasn’t he safe? Next thing you know, Panik’s heading back to the bag in a panic, while HOLADAY gathers the loose ball and throws to CABRERA. Out. I dunno. There were two outs and a runner scored from 3rd. Might be related to that. Fine day for KINSLER, getting picked off 1B and also getting doubled up on a lineout.
THE BIG HIT: None on, none out, Tigers down 1-0 in the 2nd, Blanco triple off PORCELLO.
THE BIG OUT: Runner on 3rd, 2 out, Panik grounds to 2B off PORCELLO, and is thrown out at 2B by HOLADAY in the ensuing run-scoring but mercifully inning-ending play.
GOOD HITTING: Blanco, Crawford
BAD HITTING:
GOOD PITCHING: Peavy, Kontos
BAD PITCHING: PORCELLO
OBVIOUSLY: Pretty thoroughly outclassed.
AND, BUT, ALSO: What a pathetic and disheartening game. There was a long rain delay after 3 innings; Tigers fans could only hope the game would be rained out, but no such luck. The Giants certainly did their homework on PORCELLO. Detroit only got on the board at all as a result of a half inning of San Francisco clown show (LF Blanco’s 306-game errorless streak came to an end with a really bad-looking play). CABRERA was back at 1B, and is looking very limpy on the bases of late.

HP3

Game 142: Bumgarner v. Price. Giants 5, TIGERS 4. Never ahead, down 4.
NICE PLAYS: 3B Arias-2B Panik-1B Posey, CASTELLANOS, LF Blanco, Panik
MISPLAYS: SUAREZ
BASERUNNING NEWS: Looked like they had DAVIS caught, but that speed and a very clever slide made it so close. Called out, challenged, out. I thought he was safe.
THE BIG HIT: Men on 1st and 2nd, 2 out, Tigers down 1-0 in the 1st, Susac 2-run double off PRICE.
THE BIG OUTS: Men on 1st and 2nd, 1 out, Tigers down 4-2 in the 2nd, Bumgarner gets popups to 2B from both KINSLER and HUNTER.
GOOD HITTING: CABRERA, Posey
BAD HITTING:
GOOD PITCHING:
BAD PITCHING:
OBVIOUSLY: Detroit ran out of time trying to make up for that 1st inning.
AND, BUT, ALSO: Bumgarner struck out none and walked none and did nothing impressive but win. Losing this one just wasn’t fair. 2 home runs from CABRERA, and they really had Bumgarner on the ropes early. But the 5th inning Posey HR off PRICE was the nail in the coffin.

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Game 143: Hudson v. Lobstein. TIGERS 6, Giants 1. Never behind, up 5.
NICE PLAYS: 3B Arias, 2B Panik-SS Crawford-1B Duvall, 1B KELLY-JOHNSON, CF DAVIS, CASTELLANOS-KINSLER, KINSLER
MISPLAYS: C Posey (3), Crawford, KINSLER
BASERUNNING NEWS: ROMINE was the man with a plan, stealing twice and scoring twice – pretty big runs, too, in the scheme of things. Speaking of big plays, I think HARDY picked off Blanco at 1B in between his big outs, but the safe call withstood an AUSMUS challenge. CABRERA, clearly hobbled, still manages to score from 1B on a double.
THE BIG HIT: Runner on 1st, 2 out, Tigers up 1-0 in the 3rd, CABRERA 2-run HR off Hudson.
THE BIG OUTS: Runners on 1st and 3rd, 1 out, Tigers up 3-1 in the 7th, HARDY retires Pagan (flyout to RF) and Panik (foul popup to C).
GOOD HITTING: CABRERA, J. MARTINEZ
BAD HITTING: Pagan, AVILA
GOOD PITCHING: LOBSTEIN, HARDY
BAD PITCHING: Kontos
OBVIOUSLY: It all hinged on that 7th inning, Giants turned away, Tigers not.
AND, BUT, ALSO: It fell to Lobstein (first MLB win, with big help from CABRERA) to put San Francisco in their place.

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Game 144: Guthrie v. Verlander. TIGERS 9, Royals 5. Never behind, up 6.
NICE PLAYS: LF J. MARTINEZ (2), 3B Moustakas (2), SS Escobar, 1B Hosmer-P C. Coleman, CF KELLY, LF Gordon, Hosmer-Escobar-P Frasor
MISPLAYS: Hosmer (3), Moustakas, CASTELLANOS
BASERUNNING NEWS: J. MARTINEZ beating out the DP played a part in the big inning – big difference between 2 out, man on 3rd and 1 out, 1st and 3rd (ask Guthrie). KELLY was picked off 1B by Downs. Gak!
THE BIG HIT: Bases loaded, 2 out, 0-0 in the 2nd, a ROMINE groundball to 1B off Guthrie results in a two-error play that scores 2.
THE BIG OUTS: Man on 1st, 1 out, 2-2 in the 3rd, VERLANDER retires Infante on a 6-4-3 DP.
GOOD HITTING: HUNTER, Hosmer, ROMINE, AVILA
BAD HITTING: KINSLER
GOOD PITCHING: VERLANDER
BAD PITCHING: Guthrie
OBVIOUSLY: Big 3rd inning answer says “Royals go away.”
AND, BUT, ALSO: The outfield collision between KELLY and HUNTER that resulted in the inside-the-park HR by Cain actually wasn’t such a collision. It was how HUNTER fell (backwards and then on his head, hail Torii full of grace) that hurt him (but he stayed in, doubled and scored his next time up). This “collision” was actually foreshadowed by a near miss earlier in the game.

JM3


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

RF KELLY X +1
SS ROMINE XXOX +2
3B CASTELLANOS OOXXOOOXOOXXXOXXO -1
2B KINSLER XXXXOXXXXXXOXOXXXOXXXO +12
1B V. MARTINEZ XOXXXXOX +4
CF DAVIS OXOXXX +2
LF J. MARTINEZ OXOOOXXX zero
RF HUNTER XXOXXOX +3
1B KELLY XXXXXXOOX +5
C AVILA OOXX zero
SS SUAREZ XXXXXXXXXXXXXOOO +10
1B CABRERA XXXXXXXXXOXXXOOOXOO +7
P PORCELLO XX +2
P NATHAN XX +2
P VERLANDER OX zero
P CHAMBERLAIN XX +2
C HOLADAY XOOOXOXX zero
CF CARRERA OO -2
P HARDY X +1
LF DAVIS XO zero
P JOHNSON X +1
CF KELLY X +1

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GAME 127: Callups Kyle Lobstein and Pat McCoy got lost and were late to the game they ended up in. *** Brad Ausmus: “We have to sort it all out. The injuries we’ve had, with the doubleheaders, we’re a day at a time.” *** 32 runs allowed over the last two is the 4th-highest two-game total in franchise history.
GAME 128: Torii Hunter: “The first two games, we had some young guys on the mound. Of course, they’re going to get better and they’re going to learn from some of the mistakes they probably made. But I promise you, having Verlander on the mound, a guy that’s been around, that knows how to pitch, I think that he contained the situation and gave us a chance to win.” *** Ausmus on the Ian Krol mystery: “When he came back, there were times where the ball didn’t seem to be jumping out of his hand like it does when he’s right. We sent him down [before], and when he came back he looked good. I can’t really explain it. It hasn’t really been a pattern.”
GAME 129: After four games in 48 hours: Rajai Davis: “I think we were really fighting on at least tying this series. We were able to have a lot of good at-bats and hit the ball hard a lot. We hit some holes, caught some breaks really, and we took advantage.” *** Ausmus: “We had a nice recovery. The good thing, the four games here, the bats really picked up the pace.” 30 runs on 60 hits, unfortunately countered by 42 Twins runs. *** Victor Martinez matches a career high with his 25th home run.
GAME 130: Yankees manager Joe Girardi on Rick Porcello: “I actually thought we swung the bats pretty decent; we had nine hits off him. It’s hard to elevate the ball on him, so you’re going to see singles. You have to put a lot of singles together in the course of an inning to score runs. That’s what he’s so good at, being a sinkerballer.” *** The return of Anibal Sanchez from the DL is now indefinite, pain from scar tissue not allowing him to pitch at all. Team officials do not sound optimistic, if you read between the lines.
GAME 131: David Price becomes the first MLB pitcher in 25 years to allow 9 consecutive hits. “Didn’t get enough outs. Just didn’t have it.”
GAME 132: After an impressive starting debut, Lobstein is “procedurally optioned” to Toledo. Minor league starter Kyle Ryan will take his place for the next spot start. The Tigers also purchase the contract of Evan Reed from Toledo. Mud Hen Jose Ortega is DFA to make room for Reed.
GAME 133: Another stretch of four games in 48 hours begins. *** “We had a chance,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said, “and you don’t take advantage of it. He [Justin Verlander] usually gets stronger as he goes along. You see him in the middle there, all of the sudden he can get it up there at 95. He gets stronger as he goes along and you have to take advantage of it early and we just missed our shot.”
GAMES 134/135: Max Scherzer: “The margin of error between success and failure, right now, when you’re facing a team like this is razor thin. You have to be really be on top of your game to have success. Really, in my mind, I felt I had great stuff today. But it only takes a couple pitches to get beat.” *** Justin Miller, in spite of a terrific season at AAA, is DFA to make room for spot starter Ryan. *** Ausmus on Ryan, whose MLB debut was a good one: “He’s got kind of a funky delivery. He kind of hides the ball. He turns his back a little bit to the hitters. I think the hitters have a little bit of trouble picking it up. He’s got a little cutter, slider, fastball obviously, but I think the deception in his delivery creates issues for hitters.” *** Miguel Cabrera leaves game two of the doubleheader early, again bothered by his ankle. *** Detroit moves back into a tie for first place in the AL Central.
GAME 136: Don Kelly: “You can have the other team beat you. The thing that’s tough is when you beat yourselves. That’s the thing that eats at you, especially with a guy like Rick [Porcello], who works fast and gets ground balls, gives you a chance to make plays. We just didn’t make the plays.” *** Cabrera out of the lineup, day to day with ankle injury. *** The September additions to the expanded roster will be OF Steven Moya, C James McCann, IF Hernan Perez, OF Tyler Collins, and pitchers Robbie Ray, Buck Farmer, Lobstein, and Ryan. It’s pretty clear at this point that Luke Putkonen and Andy Dirks won’t be coming off the DL and rejoining the team, and if you even remember Joel Hanrahan, that won’t be happening, either.
GAME 137: Ausmus: “This was a day that Moya and McCann will never forget, and it was nice for Tyler to hit his first home run up here. You always enjoy a game like that. We were pitching good, hitting good. It was a lot of fun.” *** Back in the lineup already, Cabrera hit 2 home runs, including his first since August 2 (a month!).
GAME 138: J.D. Martinez on his 9th inning, game-winning home run: “It was one of those swings that feels perfect, like you couldn’t have done anything better. When I reached home, I was so pumped up, I wasn’t sure if I had touched all the bases. It’s September, this is win-or-go-home time. I’m so excited because I want to make the playoffs for the first time so bad.” *** Alex Avila was struck in the mask by a foul ball and had to leave the game, but said he’s fine. *** Ausmus on Cabrera’s ankle and the ongoing DH-1B concerns: “It’s going to be a balancing act from here on out because I can’t run Victor out there every day. That won’t be good for Victor, so it won’t be good for us. There is no one else on our team that I want following Miggy in the order than Victor, but it isn’t fair to make him our first baseman. This is just something else we’re going to have to work through.”
GAME 139: Bryan Holaday on Danny Salazar’s dominant performance: “Salazar was really tough and kept challenging us with his fastball all night. We just couldn’t hit him.” *** Victor Martinez’s monster August earns him AL Player of the Month honors. *** Hunter suffers a bone bruise on his foot from a fouled-off pitch.
GAME 140: Scherzer: “It was an absolute physical grind for me, but I battled as hard as I could and found a way to get through six. The way the game ended made it a great night with Suarez to be able to come up with that hit and Victor’s homer.” *** Victor Martinez has reached base in 23 consecutive games.
GAME 141: Porcello: “Really I think a lot of the bad pitches started to come in the third inning. First and second inning, I actually felt like I made some good pitches and they were just getting hits.” *** Avila misses his 3rd consecutive game, as the Tigers aren’t convinced he’s free of concussion-like symptoms as yet. *** The rain delay was about as long as the game itself. The Tigers’ head groundskeeper was injured getting the tarp onto the field.
GAME 142: Price on the 1st inning: “With the exception of Susac, I was OK with the pitches that I was throwing,. Posey did a great job, Pence, Sandoval. They just put bat on the ball.” *** Victor Martinez: “It was a tough, tough loss, trying to come back and just falling short by one run. I always say a loss is a loss, but this one was really tough… You know what, we have 20-some games left. Out of those, we have six more left against the team that’s ahead of us.” *** First MLB start for McCann: “They’re a very aggressive team. We started moving the ball in and out and keeping the ball down in the zone and letting them make quick outs.”
GAME 143: Avila (back in the lineup) on another good start from Lobstein: “There’s guys that throw 82 and get guys out in the big leagues. It’s just a matter of locating with movement, stuff like that. He’s got a good sinker, a good four-seamer that may be 90, but when you’re able to mix in all your other pitches, it looks 94.” *** Cabrera is on a September home run tear after a lengthy drought, and reaches 100 RBI for the 11th straight season. *** It appears that the last week of the season is the earliest that Anibal Sanchez might return.
GAME 144: Andrew Romine on the Royals: “We’ve gotta jump on them. Obviously, that team can swing and they can pitch. They’re a good team and they’re really hot right now, so for us to get ahead, perfect for us. That’s exactly what we needed to do today.” *** Verlander: “Most of us in the locker room have been here and experienced games in September that mean this much — high-intensity games in September. We did it a couple years ago when we were chasing the White Sox. That experience is extremely valuable when you get into these situations, and hopefully we can draw from that.” *** Cabrera has been diagnosed with bone spurs in his ankle, which puts a name to the problem but doesn’t change the day to day rest-DH-1B decision-making. *** Hunter gets the worst of an outfield collision with Kelly but appears to have escaped a concussion.

JJO3

79-65, 2nd in the Central, 6th in the AL, on pace for an 89-73 season…

RESEARCH MADE POSSIBLE BY: MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL and BASEBALL REFERENCE.
PHOTO CREDITS: DAVIS: Kirthmon F. Dozier/Detroit Free Press; LOBSTEIN: Associated Press; FARMER: Associated Press; RYAN: Ed Zurga/Getty Images; MOYA: Rick Osentoski/USA Today; PEREZ: Associated Press; McCANN: Associated Press; JOHNSON: Rick Osentoski/USA Today.

2014: The 7th Inning (7-11)

Win now! First stop: Second place.

So the Detroit Tigers are now:

SP Verlander
SP Scherzer
SP Sanchez
SP Porcello
SP Price
RP Nathan
RP Alburquerque
RP Chamberlain
RP Coke
RP Hardy
RP McCoy
RP Soria
C Avila
C Holaday
1B-DH Cabrera
2B Kinsler
SS-2B Romine
SS Suarez
3B Castellanos
IF-OF Kelly
RF Hunter
CF Carrera
CF-LF Davis
LF-RF J. Martinez
DH-1B V. Martinez


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Game 109: Scherzer v. McCarthy. YANKEES 2, Tigers 1. Never ahead, down 2.
NICE PLAYS: SUAREZ-KINSLER-CABRERA, 3B Prado-1B Headley, 2B Drew, HUNTER (2), CF CARRERA, KINSLER-CABRERA, HUNTER-CABRERA-SUAREZ, KINSLER-SS ROMINE-CABRERA, Headley-P Thornton, P Warren
MISPLAYS: Prado
BASERUNNING NEWS: SUAREZ got a great jump on his steal of 2B, and it set up the Tigers’ only run. However, a) he hurt himself sliding again, not sure how, looked fine to me, and b) maybe because of that, he made a clumsy step off the bag after standing up that could have cost him the base. ROMINE came in to pinch-run and scored, all good. Gold star to HUNTER-CABRERA-SUAREZ for turning a potential RBI single into a rundown of Gardner to end the Yankees 4th.
THE BIG HIT: Men on 1st and 3rd, 2 out, Tigers down 1-0 in the 3rd, McCann RBI single off SCHERZER.
THE BIG OUTS: Bases loaded, 1 out, 0-0 in the 2nd, McCarthy strikes out AVILA and SUAREZ.
GOOD HITTING:
BAD HITTING: AVILA
GOOD PITCHING: McCarthy
BAD PITCHING:
OBVIOUSLY: Was it close, or did it just look close?
AND, BUT, ALSO: It *was* close. Detroit played one heckuva game defensively. CARRERA’s catch on the Ellsbury sacrifice fly was *amazing*, and he and HUNTER played a key role in keeping the damage to a minimum in SCHERZER’s one troubled inning. COKE pitched a clean 9th inning. Unfortunately, the one big scoring opportunity came and went in the 2nd. You want this one back, but you can’t feel too badly about it.

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

Game 110: Price v. Kuroda. Tigers 4, YANKEES 3 (12). Down 2, up 1.
NICE PLAYS: C McCann-1B Teixeira, PRICE-CABRERA, CABRERA-KINSLER, SS Jeter, 2B Ryan, CF DAVIS, 3B Headley-Teixeira, RF Prado, LF Gardner, RF J. MARTINEZ
MISPLAYS: CF Ellsbury, KINSLER (2), CASTELLANOS, McCann
BASERUNNING NEWS: If Detroit’s first run was the winning one, credit DAVIS reading Ellsbury (bobble) and speeding to 3B from 1B. Strange play: PRICE and CABRERA have Ellsbury picked off, but KINSLER blows it by losing a race to 1B (why?) with Ellsbury, where he goes all Ty Cobb, stepping on Ellsbury’s hand and tagging him when the hand was removed from the bag (clever, but apparently time had been called). McCann’s passed ball was on a pitchout! V. MARTINEZ starts the tying rally by beating the shift with a left side IF single, and later (11th inning!), steals 2B *before* being lifted for a pinch runner (sweet).
THE BIG HIT: None on, 1 out, 3-3 in the 12th, AVILA HR off Daley.
THE BIG OUTS: Runner on 2nd, 1 out, 3-3 in the 9th, Kelley retires J. MARTINEZ and CASTELLANOS on consecutive groundouts to 3B.
GOOD HITTING: AVILA
BAD HITTING: J. MARTINEZ
GOOD PITCHING: PRICE, Kuroda, CHAMBERLAIN, Betances, NATHAN
BAD PITCHING:
OBVIOUSLY: The inexorable comeback, and how sweet it is.
AND, BUT, ALSO: Exhausting. Didn’t look good in the 5th. Prado had just homered. Kuroda had retired 14 straight. 3-1 looked big. Then PRICE struck out the side, and then ROMINE put one in the RF seats, and it was turning around ever so slowly. AVILA drove in both the tying and winning runs, 5 innings apart.

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Game 111: Verlander v. Capuano. YANKEES 5, Tigers 1. Up 1, down 4.
NICE PLAYS: RF Prado, C McCann-1B Teixeira, CF CARRERA, KINSLER-CABRERA, CF Ellsbury, HARDY, SS Jeter, CABRERA-ROMINE
MISPLAYS: Jeter, McCann, P Capuano, ROMINE, HOLADAY (2), 2B Drew, LF DAVIS, HARDY
BASERUNNING NEWS: Excellent bunt for a hit by CARRERA, got to 2B on the speed forces error bonus. ROMINE blazed to 3B standing up on the CARRERA single to RF in the 7th.
THE BIG HIT: None on, 1 out, 1-1 in the 7th, McCann HR off VERLANDER.
THE BIG OUT: Men on 1st and 3rd, 1 out, Tigers down 2-1 in the 8th, Warren retires J. MARTINEZ (strikeout) and CASTELLANOS (flyball to RF).
GOOD HITTING: McCann
BAD HITTING:
GOOD PITCHING: Capuano, VERLANDER, Warren
BAD PITCHING: HARDY
OBVIOUSLY: How to lose when you should have could have might have won … oh forget it. “How to lose worse” is more like it.
AND, BUT, ALSO: But honestly, the 4-error Yankees didn’t deserve this one, aside from Capuano (ROMINE and CARRERA had 4 of the Tigers 5 hits against him!). The Tigers had big chances in the 7th and 8th before HARDY settled things. The great catch at the wall by Ellsbury that took extra bases away from J. MARTINEZ in the 6th might have been a sign that a win was not to be, and HOLDAY missing the tag on Teixeira at the plate in the 8th took care of all that “Tigers played better” feeling. (It was an odd play that scored New York’s final two runs. It started off well with a great snag by CABRERA that should have led to a 3-6-1 inning ending DP, except that HARDY was “in the vicinity but not there” and completely whiffed on ROMINE’s throw. HARDY recovered well enough to recover the ball quickly and send a bullet to HOLADAY, who opted for tagging Teixeira’s chest in spite of the hand about to touch home plate.)

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Game 112: Porcello v. Greene. YANKEES 1, Tigers 0. Behind from the 4th on.
NICE PLAYS: KINSLER-ROMINE-1B KELLY (2), 2B Ryan-SS Drew-1B Headley, Ryan-Headley
MISPLAYS:
BASERUNNING NEWS:
THE BIG HIT: Runner on 1st, none out, Tigers down 1-0 in the 9th, V. MARTINEZ draws a walk from Robertson.
THE BIG OUTS: Runners on 1st and 2nd, none out, Tigers down 1-0 in the 9th, Robertson ends the game with a CABRERA double play (KINSLER to 3B) and a popout to SS from KELLY.
GOOD HITTING:
BAD HITTING:
GOOD PITCHING: Greene, PORCELLO, Robertson
BAD PITCHING:
OBVIOUSLY: Keeping it that close was the unsatisfying consolation prize.
AND, BUT, ALSO: Drew’s RBI double was just a little slice to LF barely fair. Easy to blame the “B team” lineup, but don’t. CABRERA was there to pinch-hit and failed. The post-strikeout whistles from the PA system at Yankee Stadium don’t take long to get on your nerves.

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Game 113: Sanchez v. Dickey. Tigers 5, BLUE JAYS 4. Down 4, up 1.
NICE PLAYS: SANCHEZ-CABRERA, CABRERA,  SS Reyes-1B Valencia, 3B Kawasaki-Valencia, CASTELLANOS, CF DAVIS, LF DAVIS
MISPLAYS: C Thole, LF J. MARTINEZ (3), SANCHEZ, CASTELLANOS (2)
BASERUNNING NEWS: Toronto bunted 5 times (2 hits, 2 sacrifices, 1 out, 1 RBI). The safety squeeze by Goins was particularly good, close at 1B but withstanding a challenge. J. MARTINEZ forced an error stealing 2B and got to 3B.
THE BIG HITS: Man on 2nd, 1 out, Tigers down 4-2 in the 9th, CASTELLANOS and SUAREZ hit back to back HR’s off Janssen.
THE BIG OUT: Bases loaded, 2 out, Tigers up 5-4 in the 9th, NATHAN retires Thole on a flyout to LF foul territory.
GOOD HITTING:
BAD HITTING: CABRERA, Thole
GOOD PITCHING: ALBURQUERQUE, HARDY
BAD PITCHING: Janssen, SANCHEZ
OBVIOUSLY: Gadzooks! A rally, and the Tigers steal one.
AND, BUT, ALSO: SANCHEZ came out in the 5th after injuring himself on a pickoff throw. A very sloppy game from the Tigers, who almost deserved to lose. The SUAREZ game-winning HR was to dead center.

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Game 114: Scherzer v. Stroman. BLUE JAYS 3, Tigers 2 (10). Up 2, down 1. Walk-off loss.
NICE PLAYS: P Stroman-2B Goins, 3B Kawasaki-Goins-1B Francisco, KINSLER-CABRERA, RF Bautista, CF DAVIS
MISPLAYS: CABRERA, HOLADAY
BASERUNNING NEWS: OK, DAVIS leads off with a hit to RF, takes the turn, throw comes in from Bautista to Francisco, DAVIS gets back to 1B. Am I seeing things, or did DAVIS actually leap and kick Francisco as he was taking the throw? Anyway, ball gets away, Francisco is charged with an error, and DAVIS gets to 2B. Then Stroman-Goins pick him off. Karma, I think. CABRERA scored from 1B on a double, which never ceases to impress me.
THE BIG HIT: Runner on 1st, none out, 2-2 in the 10th, Reimold RBI double off CHAMBERLAIN.
THE BIG OUTS: Bases loaded, 1 out, 2-2 in the 9th, SORIA retires Francisco (popout SS) and Kawasaki (groundout 1B).
GOOD HITTING:
BAD HITTING:
GOOD PITCHING: SCHERZER, Stroman, SORIA
BAD PITCHING: NATHAN, CHAMBERLAIN
OBVIOUSLY: An unfortunate waste of some brilliant pitching.
AND, BUT, ALSO: NATHAN and CHAMBERLAIN wasted little time throwing this one away. 7 batters faced, 6 reached base. The entrance of CHAMBERLAIN was set up by the exit of SORIA due to injury.

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Game 115: Price v. Beuhrle. BLUE JAYS 6, Tigers 5 (19). Up 5, down 1. Walk-off loss.
NICE PLAYS: CF DAVIS (2), C Navarro-3B Tolleson, AVILA-CASTELLANOS, CABRERA-ROMINE, 1B Bautista (3), LF Cabrera, P Jenkins-C Thole-Bautista, HUNTER (2), CF Rasmus (2)
MISPLAYS: SS Reyes, CASTELLANOS (2), 3B Francisco, PORCELLO-KINSLER
BASERUNNING NEWS: Smart and alert baserunning in the 3rd from CABRERA and J. MARTINEZ. CASTELLANOS attempting to steal 3B seemed ill-advised and lame even with a 5-run lead. Signals must have gotten crossed when DAVIS was off to the races from 1B and KINSLER swung at the first pitch for a popout double play. The challenge on the Gose steal of 2B in the 9th that reversed the out call was huge. In the 13th, ROMINE looked like he had brilliantly evaded the rundown between 1st and 2nd, but yet another challenge f0iled that and turned getting caught out into a major gaffe.
THE BIG HIT: Man on 2nd, 2 out, Tigers up 5-4 in the 9th, Reyes RBI single off CHAMBERLAIN.
THE BIG OUT: Bases loaded, 1 out, 5-5 in the 16th, Jenkins retires HUNTER on the rare 1-2-3 double play.
GOOD HITTING: Cabrera, J. MARTINEZ, Reyes
BAD HITTING: DAVIS (0 for 8 with a BB!), HUNTER, Francisco (Reimold was 0 for 7 with *platinum sombrero* plus 2 BB)
GOOD PITCHING: Jenkins, ALBURQUERQUE, HARDY, Redmond, Sanchez
BAD PITCHING: Buehrle, COKE, PORCELLO (in relief)
OBVIOUSLY: Do you complain about 15 consecutive scoreless innings from the offense, or console yourself with 9 consecutive shutout innings from the bullpen? No, you get angry that Detroit blew a 5-0 lead.
AND, BUT, ALSO: Only 1 home run between the teams was one of many strange things about this 6 and a half hour game. The Valencia double that went off PRICE’s leg into RF in the 6th was the exact point where the game started tipping Toronto’s way. PORCELLO’s throwing error on the Reyes bunt in the 19th was at least as much KINSLER’s error. Have you noticed when watching how difficult it is to see the baseball against the turf at Rogers Centre?

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Game 116: Verlander v. Locke. PIRATES 11, Tigers 6. Up 1, down 7.
NICE PLAYS: 3B Harrison-1B Davis, LF Snider-C Martin, LF J. MARTINEZ-AVILA, Harrison, RF Polanco-Martin
MISPLAYS: Martin, CF DAVIS, 1B V. MARTINEZ, AVILA (2), HUNTER, Harrison
BASERUNNING NEWS: Both AVILA and DAVIS were easy outs at home thanks to the arms of the Pirates’ outfield. The Tigers got one back, with J. MARTINEZ-AVILA nailing Harrison at the plate to help avert even more of a blowout early.
THE BIG HIT: Bases loaded, 1 out, Tigers down 1-0 in the 1st, Marte 3-run triple off VERLANDER.
THE BIG OUTS: Runners on 2nd and 3rd, 1 out, Tigers down 5-1 in the 2nd, Locke gets DAVIS to line out to LF, and AVILA is thrown out at home.
GOOD HITTING: Snider, Marte, HUNTER
BAD HITTING:
GOOD PITCHING: KROL, Hughes
BAD PITCHING: VERLANDER, Locker, WHELAN, MILLER, Sadler
OBVIOUSLY: This one got out of hand quickly. Hard to remember the Tigers scoring first.
AND, BUT, ALSO: VERLANDER pitched one lousy inning and then contributed a sac bunt before leaving the game with some kind of shoulder issue. Lousy defense from Detroit, but   it’s also pretty hard to defend against 4 home runs. One of Snider’s was a real blast into the upper reaches of the RF stands.

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Game 117: Ray v. Volquez. PIRATES 4, Tigers 2. Up 1, down 2.
NICE PLAYS: P Volquez-C Martin, SUAREZ-1B V. MARTINEZ, AVILA-KINSLER, V. MARTINEZ-ROMINE, 3B Harrison-1B Davis
MISPLAYS: 2B Nix, CF CARRERA-LF DAVIS, AVILA, COKE
BASERUNNING NEWS: Pittsburgh turned two SB into two runs, while the Tigers had nothing going on.
THE BIG HIT: Man on 1st, 1 out, Tigers up 1-0 in the 2nd, Sanchez RBI double off RAY.
THE BIG OUTS: Men on 1st and 2nd, 1 out, Tigers down 4-2 in the 9th, Melancon retires HUNTER (flyout RF) and DAVIS (groundout 3B).
GOOD HITTING:
BAD HITTING:
GOOD PITCHING: Volquez
BAD PITCHING:
OBVIOUSLY: Slipped away early and fell short late.
AND, BUT, ALSO: Detroit came out full of energy and plated a small ball run, but as soon as Volquez had made his brilliant snag of the comebacker and caught KINSLER between 3B and home, the wind seemed to have been taken out of their sails.

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Game 118: Worley v. Farmer. TIGERS 8, Pirates 4. Down 3, up 4.
NICE PLAYS: KINSLER-CABRERA, RF Polanco (2), 3B Harrison-1B Davis (2), CASTELLANOS-CABRERA (2), KINSLER-SUAREZ-CABRERA, Harrison-2B Nix-1B Davis, SS Mercer-Nix-Davis, LF KELLY
MISPLAYS: SUAREZ, CF Marte, HUNTER, C Martin (2), CF CARRERA, Kelly, Polanco (2), Nix-SS Mercer
BASERUNNING NEWS: Good to see Tigers (CASTELLANOS and CARRERA) galloping into 3B on triples at Comerica. The way it should be.
THE BIG HIT: None on, 1 out, 4-4 in the 6th, CASTELLANOS HR off Worley.
THE BIG OUT: Runner on 1st, 1 out, 4-4 in the 6th, HARDY retires Snider on a 4-6-3 DP.
GOOD HITTING: V. MARTINEZ, Mercer
BAD HITTING: KELLY
GOOD PITCHING: HARDY
BAD PITCHING: Worley, Pimentel
OBVIOUSLY: Ah, at last, pitching we can hit.
AND, BUT, ALSO: This did not look good early, not at all. The AVILA HR must have gotten into Worley’s head, because it all started to unravel for Pittsburgh at that point. There was three games worth of defensive action in this one, both good and bad, on both sides.

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Game 119: Liriano v. Scherzer. TIGERS 5, Pirates 2. Never behind, up 5.
NICE PLAYS: AVILA-SUAREZ, LF J. MARTINEZ, C Stewart-2B Martinez, 3B Harrison, Harrison-1B Davis, CASTELLANOS-CABRERA, Martinez, KINSLER-CABRERA (2), HUNTER
MISPLAYS: P Liriano, 2B Martinez (2), SS Mercer, Stewart
BASERUNNING NEWS: Nice headfirst slide by KINSLER nets him a steal of second in spite of a great play against him. SUAREZ got burned trying to take 2B from a throwing error to 1B well backed up by C Stewart, and it looked pretty costly at that point in the game. Smart CABRERA reads another error beautifully to score from 2B. Pinch-running KELLY for J. MARTINEZ in the 8th was one of those under the radar smart moves. Snider busting up the DP in the 9th tacked another run onto COKE’s ERA.
THE BIG HIT: None on, none out, 0-0 in the 5th, J. MARTINEZ HR off Liriano.
THE BIG OUTS: Bases loaded, 1 out, Tigers up 1-0 in the 6th, Liriano strikes out HUNTER and CASTELLANOS around a run-scoring walk (J. MARTINEZ) to escape with minimal damage.
GOOD HITTING: J. MARTINEZ, Sanchez
BAD HITTING: HUNTER
GOOD PITCHING: SCHERZER, Liriano
BAD PITCHING: Cumpton, COKE
OBVIOUSLY: SCHERZER so untouchable that 5 runs (on 6 hits) makes it a blowout.
AND, BUT, ALSO: Batters were swinging out of their shoes at both SCHERZER (14 K) and Liriano (9 K), but Pittsburgh had some clown show going and it cost them. J. MARTINEZ could do no wrong after striking out the first time up (HR, walked in a run, singled in a no-RBI run). A good game ends on a high note with fine defensive plays, including a diving catch from old man HUNTER.

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Game 120: Paxton v. Porcello. Mariners 7, TIGERS 2. Never ahead, down 5.
NICE PLAYS: 1B Morrison, SUAREZ-KINSLER-CABRERA, SS Taylor-Morrison, 3B Seager, HOLADAY-SUAREZ, CASTELLANOS-CABRERA (2)
MISPLAYS: KINSLER-PORCELLO, HOLADAY, Taylor, CF Jackson, SUAREZ-KINSLER, P Paxton, C Zunino, KROL
BASERUNNING NEWS: DAVIS blazed to 3B for a triple despite slipping round 1B. Later on, Miller would show how it’s done without the slip. HUNTER was called safe on a throw from Taylor that pulled Morrison off the bag and then kept going for 2B (did he think Morrison’s tag was a deke?) and got thrown out when Morrison came to and threw down to 2B. Well, actually, he was called safe, but it was close. But the call that got challenged was the one at 1st, and here it became clear that Morison *had* tagged HUNTER. Jackson lost his steal of 2B to an alert SUAREZ holding the tag on him as he briefly came off standing up. KROL, with runners at 1st and 3rd, took the bait on a designed play, went for the pickoff at 1B, allowed the run. Since that made it a 5-run lead, I’d call it getting burned.
THE BIG HIT: Men on 1st and 2nd, none out, 0-0 in the 2nd, Morrison RBI single off PORCELLO.
THE BIG OUT: Men on 1st and 3rd, 2 out, 0-0 in the 1st, Paxton retires HUNTER on a groundball (forceout at 2B).
GOOD HITTING: Taylor, Morrison
BAD HITTING: Jackson
GOOD PITCHING: Paxton
BAD PITCHING: PORCELLO
OBVIOUSLY: Losing in a very undramatic fashion.
AND, BUT, ALSO: It started poorly for Detroit and got worse. Not a defensive gem, this one, with some drunkenly bad plays on both sides. The bright spot was 2 scoreless innings from MERCEDES in his MLB debut.

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Game 121: Hernandez v. Price. TIGERS 4, Mariners 2. Never behind, up 3.
NICE PLAYS: RF Denorfia (2), 2B Cano, SUAREZ, CABRERA, CASTELLANOS-CABRERA, P Hernandez, 3B Seager, CABRERA-SUAREZ
MISPLAYS: SS Taylor, C Zunino, SUAREZ, Seager, NATHAN-CABRERA
BASERUNNING NEWS: J. MARTINEZ swipes 2B and it sets up a run. Cano caught the Tigers sleeping going 1st to 3rd on a grounder to NATHAN in the 9th.
THE BIG HIT: None on, none out, 1-1 in the 4th, CASTELLANOS HR off Hernandez.
THE BIG OUTS: Bases loaded, 1 out, Tigers up 4-1 in the 8th, PRICE retires Jackson (K) and Ackley (grounder to SS, force at 2B).
GOOD HITTING: CASTELLANOS
BAD HITTING: Ackley
GOOD PITCHING: PRICE
BAD PITCHING: Maurer
OBVIOUSLY: Detroit was better across the board.
AND, BUT, ALSO: PRICE got a huge round of applause for his performance. NATHAN didn’t get quite as much love for his 9th inning. The contrast was pretty stark. Little things that change ballgames: If 3B Seager had cut off the throw from LF Ackley and thrown home as he should have, Seattle could have nailed CABRERA at the plate and ended the 7th inning down only 2-1.

JJ3

“I hate baseball.”

Game 122: Young v Ray. Mariners 8, TIGERS 1. Never ahead, down 7.
NICE PLAYS: 1B V. MARTINEZ-RAY, V. MARTINEZ, JOHNSON, LF DAVIS, 2B Cano, ROMINE, 2B Miller-SS Taylor-1B Morrison
MISPLAYS: V. MARTINEZ (2), AVILA, 3B Seager, LF DAVIS, CF CARRERA, CASTELLANOS
BASERUNNING NEWS: DAVIS steals three bases and the Tigers can’t score him once, but CABRERA covers three bases to score on a double.
THE BIG HIT: Runners on 1st and 3rd, 1 out, 0-0 in the 1st, Morales RBI single off RAY.
THE BIG OUTS: Runner on 3rd, 1 out, Tigers down 3-0 in the 3rd, Young retires KINSLER (foul popup) and CARRERA (K).
GOOD HITTING: Morales, Cano
BAD HITTING: KINSLER
GOOD PITCHING: Young
BAD PITCHING: RAY
OBVIOUSLY: Detroit was worse across the board. Trounced. Just plain trounced.
AND, BUT, ALSO: It was really that 6th inning where things went from difficult (trying to hit Young) to embarrassing. M’s manager McClendon was tossed in the 9th (by the 3rd base ump) for who knows what following an AVILA walk and seemed as surprised as anyone by it.

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Cleveland Indians

Game 123: Scherzer v. Archer. Tigers 8, RAYS 6 (11). Down 4, up 3.
NICE PLAYS: LF Joyce, 1B Loney-SS Escobar, 3B Longoria-2B Zobrist-Loney, Escobar
MISPLAYS: CF DAVIS, Loney-Escobar, ROMINE, RF Kiermaier, C Molina
BASERUNNING NEWS: AVILA must have had gotten a huge break off 2B to score the tying run so easily, because even when he’s running like a track star (and he was) he’s just not that fast. The Tigers stole a couple bases but didn’t let it affect their scoring.
THE BIG HIT: None on, none out, 5-5 in the 11th, KINSLER triple off Balfour.
THE BIG OUT: Men on 1st and 3rd, 2 out, 5-5 in the 10th, McGee strikes out DAVIS.
GOOD HITTING: Loney, Zobrist, DAVIS, Longoria
BAD HITTING: Jennings
GOOD PITCHING: SCHERZER, McGee
BAD PITCHING: Balfour, Beliveau, CHAMERLAIN
OBVIOUSLY: They battled back and came through late in the clutch.
AND, BUT, ALSO: You could have been forgiven for turning this one off after 2 innings. It took SCHERZER a while to find his game. A couple key plays in the 5th turned the tide Detroit’s way: A Loney-Escobar IF mishap that loaded the bases, and the trap catch by CF Jennings that AUSMUS successfully challenged. After that, the Rays (their bullpen especially) seemed determined to give the game away. It just took the Tigers (2-15 RISP) a long time to get the message.

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Baltimore Orioles

Game 124: Porcello v. Odorizzi. Tigers 6, RAYS 0. Ahead from the 1st inning on.
NICE PLAYS: 3B Longoria (2), CABRERA-PORCELLO, KINSLER-PORCELLO, CF DAVIS, LF J. MARTINEZ, RF Kiermaier
MISPLAYS: 1B Loney (2), Longoria, C Casali
BASERUNNING NEWS: CABRERA was on base 4 times and did something good/smart 3 of those times (trotting home on the V. MARTINEZ HR was easier).
THE BIG HIT: Bases loaded, 2 out, Tigers up 2-0 in the 7th, V. MARTINEZ grand slam off Yates.
THE BIG OUT: Bases loaded, 2 out, Tigers up 1-0 in the 6th, Odorizzi retires CASTELLANOS (groundout 2B).
GOOD HITTING: V. MARTINEZ
BAD HITTING: (Golden sombrero for Mr. ROMINE.)
GOOD PITCHING: PORCELLO, Odorizzi
BAD PITCHING: Yates
OBVIOUSLY: The “duel with a one-inning decisive explosion” makes its triumphant return after a long absence.
AND, BUT, ALSO: Pseudo-duel, really, as there was no match for PORCELLO (3rd complete game shutout), who retired 20 in a row at one point. All 6 Tigers runs began with two out, no one on situations! It was still a nail-biter until the V. MARTINEZ slam (a true bomb to RF). DAVIS got the party started with his two-out double off Odorizzi.

DC3

Game 125: Price v. Cobb. RAYS 1, Tigers 0. Behind from the 1st inning on.
NICE PLAYS: SS Escobar-1B Loney, HUNTER, CF DAVIS, RF Kiermaier
MISPLAYS: SUAREZ
BASERUNNING NEWS:
THE BIG HIT: Runner on 1st, 1 out, 0-0 in the 1st, Guyer RBI triple off PRICE.
THE BIG OUTS: Runners on 2nd and 3rd, 2 out, Tigers down 1-0 in the 7th, Cobb retires J. MARTINEZ (K) and CASTELLANOS (flyball to deep CF).
GOOD HITTING:
BAD HITTING: DAVIS, J. MARTINEZ
GOOD PITCHING: Cobb, PRICE
BAD PITCHING:
OBVIOUSLY: Oh, they had their chances late.
AND, BUT, ALSO: One hit for the Rays. One hit. And they win. The runner that scored in the 1st inning was there by virtue of the throwing error by SUAREZ. Meanwhile, RF Kiermaier made the game-saving catch on the shallow DAVIS flyball in the 8th.

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Detroit Tigers

Game 126: Ray v. Milone. TWINS 20, Tigers 6. Up 1, down 14.
NICE PLAYS: P Milone-1B Mauer, LF J. MARTINEZ, LF Schafer, 1B Mauer, CF DAVIS, 2B Dozier-SS Escobar-Mauer, CF Santana
MISPLAYS: KINSLER (2), Escobar (3), Santana (2), C Suzuki, DAVIS, CASTELLANOS, 3B Plouffe-1B Parmelee, CF CARRERA
BASERUNNING NEWS: There’s a certain minimum of good pitching and defense required to make baserunning relevant. Not met.
THE BIG HIT: Man on 2nd, 1 out, Tigers down 2-1 in the 2nd, Escobar 2-run HR off RAY.
THE BIG OUTS: Men on 1st and 3rd, 1 out, Tigers down 6-5, Pressly retires V. MARTINEZ on a 4-6-3 DP.
GOOD HITTING: Plouffe, Santana, Mauer, Escobar, Arcia, Dozier, Schafer, KINSLER
BAD HITTING: Suzuki, DAVIS
GOOD PITCHING: COKE, Pressly
BAD PITCHING: RAY. Milone, KROL, JOHNSON, CHAMBERLAIN, ROMINE
OBVIOUSLY: Would you believe this horror story was only 6-5 Twins (with Detroit threatening) in the middle of the 6th inning? Even Minnesota played like a AAA team – what does that say about Detroit’s effort?
AND, BUT, ALSO: The game started with a blast from KINSLER, and RAY struck out two in the bottom half. Right away it looks like a Detroit win. Had you tuned back in for the top of the 6th, you would have said “Minnesota is going DOWN.” Then came the bottom of the 6th, a nearly unimaginable collapse of pitching and defense: 15 Twins batted against JOHNSON/KROL/ALBURQUERQUE. 7 batted with the bases loaded, 1 out recorded. Errors and misplays everywhere. Tigers pitch count for the game was 214. I want to blame AUSMUS for the spectacle of ROMINE pitching the 8th (how humiliating for Andrew himself), but the rest of the bullpen, particularly CHAMBERLAIN, really left him no choice. All that said, the whole game might have turned on Detroit’s failure to score in the 6th.


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DEFENSIVE SCORECARD (in terms of outstanding plays one way or the other)

1B CABRERA (+26, -2) +24
2B KINSLER (+14, -7) +7
CF DAVIS (+8, -3) +5
SS SUAREZ (+9, -4) +5
RF HUNTER (+7, -3) +4
SS ROMINE (+6, -2) +4
3B CASTELLANOS (+8, -7) +1
LF J. MARTINEZ (+4, -3) +1
1B V. MARTINEZ (+4, -3) +1
RF J. MARTINEZ (+1, 0) +1
LF KELLY (+1, 0) +1
1B KELLY (+1, 0) +1
P JOHNSON (+1, 0) +1
P RAY (+1, 0) +1
P PRICE (+1, 0) +1
C AVILA (+4, -4) 0
P PORCELLO (+2, -2) 0
P SANCHEZ (+1, -1) 0
P HARDY (+1, -1) 0
LF DAVIS (+2, -3) -1
P COKE (0, -1) -1
P KROL (0, -1) -1
P NATHAN (0, -1) -1
CF CARRERA (+2, -4) -2
C HOLADAY (+1, -4) -3

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GAME 109: The novelty of the Tigers having the last three AL Cy Young Award winners is played up for the Yankees series, where they will make consecutive starts. *** Eugenio Suarez injures himself (sprained knee), again with a slide into second base, and will likely miss a few games. *** Ezequiel Carrera draws raves for a catch in his first start in CF. Jacoby Ellsbury: “I haven’t seen a better play made all year. The time of the game. Bases loaded. Just a tremendous play. Shows his athleticism to get that ball. I think that’s three RBIs, and at least a triple. That kept them in the ballgame. If that ball lands, it might break open the game for us.”
GAME 110: Detroit signs RP Jim Johnson to a minor league deal, with the expectation that he will be ready for promotion after some tune-up in Toledo. *** Torii Hunter is day to day after leaving the game with a bruised hand (Dellin Betances HBP). *** Joba Chamberlain had to put up with some extra boos, in his first return to New York, after hitting Derek Jeter with a pitch (he felt bad). *** Brad Ausmus on Ian Kinsler: “I guess I was hoping for solid second base; he’s been outstanding second base. He’s a complete baseball player.” *** The Tigers debut of David Price is an unqualified success.
GAME 111: Ausmus: “Tonight was as bad as we’ve been offensively, I think, really all year. Again, Chris Capuano did an excellent job, but the first seven innings of the game, we didn’t seem to make many adjustments.”
GAME 112: Victor Martinez, after a four-game series in which the Tigers scored 6 runs: “They did everything they could to win ballgames,” he said of the pitching staff. “Offensively, we just didn’t do anything. It’s very — I’m having a hard time finding the right word to say it… Offensively, we just didn’t put anything together.”
GAME 113: Anibal Sanchez exits the game early with a right pectoral strain after a pickoff throw to first base. *** Rajai Davis, back in Toronto for the first time, on his game-ending catch in LF: “It actually seemed like it started off fair and then it kind of tailed off. But as soon as it was hit, I knew I had a shot at it. I just put my head down and ran as fast as I could to a spot where I thought it was going to be at. I looked up, took my slide and slid a little longer than I planned. It worked out for us.” *** A hamstring injury is the latest setback in the minor league rehab assignment of Andy Dirks.
GAME 114: Day game after night game includes a morning hotel fire alarm adventure for the team. *** Joakim Soria exited the game with some kind of left side injury. *** Max Scherzer on not coming back out for the 9th inning: “I was done. I mean, there’s nothing else to it. I was done. I’m not going to sit here and play second-guessing the manager. I was done.” *** Ausmus on defensive shifts: “Omar [Vizquel] and I, we’ve kind of felt that was the way to go. If you’re going to shift and you’re worried about a guy bunting, you bring the one [defensive] guy in and move him back with each strike.” *** Luke Putkonen begins throwing bullpen sessions, still an outside chance of a September return.
GAME 115: The marathon: “Nineteen innings, on turf,” said Torii Hunter, one of five Tigers position players who were on the field for all 19. “It wears your muscles out, not really your joints. This is more your muscles, your calves, your hamstrings, shoulders, everything.” *** Sanchez and Soria (left oblique strain) are placed on the 15-day DL. Robbie Ray will take Sanchez’s place in the rotation. *** Ausmus takes in the marathon game from the clubhouse, having been ejected in the 3rd inning for comments from the dugout about the strike zone Mark Buehrle was getting. *** Game duration of 6:37 is the second-longest since 1914 for Detroit. *** Melky Cabrera became the first player to reach base 8 times in a game since 1972.
GAME 116: The Tigers fall out of first place, and the flash flood of injuries to pitcher continues, as Justin Verlander exits after only one inning with right shoulder soreness and doesn’t think much of his stuff (“The worst of my career”). *** Ausmus: “We were a little sloppy in the field early, and had a couple of baserunning blunders as well. So it was a sloppy game all around. But we did swing the bats better, and that’s the one positive.” *** A flurry of roster moves in response to injuries and the marathon game: Relievers Ian Krol, Justin Miller, and Kevin Whelan come up from Toledo, relievers Blaine Hardy and Pat McCoy are optioned to Toledo (though maybe just on paper), and Mud Hen P Casey Crosby is released to clear room on the 40-man.
GAME 117: Hunter on the just-completed 2-7 road trip: “We’re not pointing fingers at any particular people here. We haven’t hit as a whole on this road trip. As a team, we haven’t scored runs. We’ve gotten hits at times. We haven’t scored runs. And we’ve got to find a way to drive runners in.” Ausmus: “It was a crappy trip. That’s how I would assess it.” *** Hardy never actually has to leave due to roster technicalities about replacing the DL’d Sanchez, while Miller’s stay was short to make room for starter Ray. Following all this? *** Trainer Kevin Rand on Verlander: “At this point right now, we’re looking at hopefully he’ll only miss one start and we’ll go from there.”
GAME 118: P Buck Farmer (only two starts above A-ball) is called up to make his MLB debut as the spot starter, so Whelan is sent back to Toledo and Erie C Ramon Cabrera is DFA to clear the roster space (and the Pirates immediately claimed him on waivers). *** The Pirates’ Travis Snider on Farmer’s debut: “Early on, he was effective. Later in the game, he made a couple mistakes. Overall, he gave his team a chance to win, so you’ve got to tip your cap on that one.” *** Pigeons have replaced gulls as the birds of distraction at Comerica, causing some distraction and amusement early in this game. *** This was the game of the famous Joe Nathan chin flicks to the crowd after closing out the win *after* struggles that drew some significant booing. Nathan explained and apologized soon thereafter.
GAME 119: Max Scherzer strikes out 14 and becomes the first AL starter with 14 wins. *** The first Scherzer out on a ball in play (8 K’s on first 10 batters) wasn’t until the 4th inning, on a fine run-saving play at the wall in LF appreciated by Max. J.D. Martinez: “He [Travis Snider] put a good swing on it. The wind was blowing out in that direction. I knew it was going to carry. I was just going, going, going, try to just get there, have a chance at it.” *** Farmer returns to the minors, Johnson wants another tune-up outing in Toledo, and so reliever Melvin Mercedes comes up to take Farmer’s spot.
GAME 120: Rick Porcello: “I was up in the zone the whole night, didn’t make the proper adjustments to get the ball down. Just didn’t pitch well at all,” he said. “This wasn’t a good performance on my part, put us out of the game early.” *** J.D. Martinez on coming out of a 13-72 post-break slump: “Me and [assistant hitting coach] Darnell Coles, we were working really hard on not crossing my front foot. It seemed like I’ve been crossing it a lot more and just hitting a lot of ground balls to the left side of the field, which when I’m going good I’m not doing.” *** Austin Jackson makes his first appearance in Detroit as a Mariner, going 0-5 with a GIDP that plated a run *** Mercedes has an impressive 2-inning MLB debut, but is sent back to Toledo after the game as Johnson is called up.
GAME 121: David Price, making his home debut as a Tiger before the biggest crowd since Opening Day, on Ausmus leaving him in to get out of his 8th-inning jam: “I’m pretty sure that’s the first time I ever had the manager come out and I’ve been able to stay in the game. That’s cool. I love that.” *** Ausmus on questions about one particular player’s recent offensive struggles: “As a group, we haven’t scored a bunch of runs lately. We have trouble scoring runs. We can’t string hits together. So I’m not going to single out one particular player and say that’s the reason we’re struggling. First of all, it’s not true, and it’s completely unfair to that player.”
GAME 122: Miguel Cabrera: “You want to get good at-bats. That’s what you want to get, get deep in the counts, like we do yesterday with Felix. I think we don’t do a very good job with this pitcher today. I think we have to battle better. We have to do a better job offensively.” *** Ausmus after a game of dismal defense: “It is baseball, but we need to play better. We’re a better team than this. Period.” *** Davis after his rather Detroit-historic day on the basepaths (3 SB, reaches 30 for the season): “I just try to get into scoring position. It’s easier to score from 90 feet closer than it is from 90 feet further away.” Davis bruises his thumb on one steal, leaves the game eventually, goes day to day.
GAME 123: Scherzer: “I was giving up some runs, and walking guys, and, you know, that’s frustrating. But I didn’t let it beat me down. They didn’t knock me out of the game. I didn’t let them get the best of me. I was able to settle down and get back on track. Just found a way to get it done. That’s all I can say.”
GAME 124: Porcello: “We had a couple of guys set up. The right-handers, we were pounding them in with sinkers. When you throw consecutive pitches on the inner half or in off [the plate] and you get them swinging at it, it makes the outer half of the plate look pretty far away.” *** Tampa Bay’s Kirby Yates on the Victor Martinez grand slam: “Those guys are geared up to hit those kinds of pitches, and bottom line is I didn’t execute. I knew it was gone as soon as it left my hand.”
GAME 125: The first time since at least 1914 that a pitcher – Price, in this case – has lost a complete-game, one-hit, no-walk start without allowing an earned run. Hunter: “I mean, you talk about almost a no-hitter. I just wish we would have scored some runs. At least one run. It’s really frustrating, you know? Of course it was a good game both ways, but — at least one run? Can’t we get one?”
GAME 126: Ausmus: “This was a bad game. It was an embarrassing game, really. There’s really not much to say about it. It is what it is.” On using Andrew Romine as a pitcher: “He took one for the team. He picked us up, really. Didn’t really matter how he pitched, we just were hoping that he could get through three outs without an injury or overextending himself.” *** Ray on suspecting he was tipping pitches: “They knew when it (an offspeed pitch] was coming,” *** Cabrera was at DH rather than 1B for some rest. Ausmus: “He re-aggravated an old ankle injury. It goes back a little ways. It’s not the first time it’s happened. It flares up from time to time, and a lot of times when he slides, it re-aggravates it for whatever reason.” *** Ray and Krol return to Toledo, replaced by Kyle Lobstein and McCoy, and Farmer is recalled for a spot start in the next game. ***  Verlander will miss only the one start he has already, and will be scheduled to follow Farmer in the imminent doubleheader.

EC3

68-58, 2nd in the Central, 6th in the AL, on pace for an 87-75 season…

RESEARCH MADE POSSIBLE BY: MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL and BASEBALL REFERENCE.
PHOTO CREDITS: PRICE: Kathy Willens/AP; JONES: Duane Burleson/Getty Images; LAMONT: David Richard/USA Today; JOYNER: Joy R. Absalon/USA Today; COLES: Mark Cunningham/Getty Images; MARTIN: Rick Osentoski/USA Today; CARRERA: Jeffrey Phelps/Getty Images.

DTW News and Notes 12-2-14

Throwing up a new thread to post notes ahead of the winter meetings.

In case you missed it, Torii Hunter back to the Twins. One year for $10.5M. The Tigers did not make him an offer. Bummer that he never won a ring.

There’s been some other news recently, let’s get it going in the comments.

Hope everyone’s holiday season is off to a great start.