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…


Game 1: Scherzer v. Tillman. ORIOLES 12, Tigers 3. Never ahead, down 9.
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
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.


Game 2: Verlander v. Chen. ORIOLES 7, Tigers 6. Up 3, down 1.
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
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.


Game 3: Norris v. Price. Orioles 2, TIGERS 1. Never ahead, down 2.
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.
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.


Tigers D



  1. Jim EggersUSMC

    December 20, 2014 at 7:39 pm

    Took a break from the Xmas prep stuff and read this last piece, reminded me how one sided that DS was. We will do better next season, one hopes. Mr. Smarty was right, it was disappointing to say the least! Kudos to you sir, for all the work that went into this. Hope you all have a great Holiday season, and remember always better to give than to receive, unless you are a catcher.

  2. Smoking Loon

    December 20, 2014 at 8:06 pm

    Likewise and thank you, Jim.

  3. Berdj Rassam

    December 27, 2014 at 1:10 am

    There are many things that the Tigers need to do to improve their team for 2015, and when you were #2 in batting but #24 in pitching in the prior year, the needed changes are obvious.

    • Smoking Loon

      December 27, 2014 at 2:56 am

      Tell us about the obviously needed changes more specifically, please.

  4. StorminNorman$

    January 6, 2015 at 1:48 pm


    …minor moves, which could mean DET fans may not ever have to learn the correct pronunciation of Luke’s last name

    • Vince

      January 6, 2015 at 8:32 pm

      The flashing red lights and sirens always go off for me when DD says “We’ve liked this guy for a long time” – remember David (?) Purcey a few years back? So let’s see what happens – we my not have to learn how to pronounce Gorzelanny’s name either. And Putz might be back.

  5. Coleman

    January 16, 2015 at 4:40 pm


    I think this means Max is out.

    • Smoking Loon

      January 16, 2015 at 8:20 pm

      I should think so. In the name of common sense. But it’s Illitch’s money. I’d have a hard time complaining about Price and Scherzer BOTH in the rotation. What do I care about payroll? There’s just a bit of concern about the prospect of high-priced failure and how long it would take the organization to recover from it. But the last 4 seasons have been high-priced success, albeit without the ultimate success.

      I have to admit that I do hold it against Scherzer, his turning down the contract offered last year. For that reason I’m less than keen on Detroit bending over backwards to accommodate signing him.

      • StorminNorman$

        January 17, 2015 at 9:22 pm

        Agree on all points Loon, especially some animosity towards Max taking a pass on DET’s 6yr $144M offer. Sure some team will give him 7 yrs & $175M (possibly more), but i don’t see where that type of committment (yrs & $’s) makes any economic sense at all for DET …w/its current $’s tied to Cabrera, JV, etc – especially for a SP.

        It’s also been reported that DET contacted Shields agent…could just be posturing – but i don’t see how DET signs either Max or Shields w/o first finding a trade partner for Price – which i don’t see any team offering much in return for Price since he will be FA at the end of ’15

        i think DET’s starting 5 is currently on the roster and that likely won’t change through spring training and Opening Day… unless an injury or something crazy occurs

        • Smoking Loon

          January 17, 2015 at 10:51 pm

          Regarding your last paragraph, Stormin, I’m hoping this is so, at least vis a vis Scherzer, Price, and Shields. Price out and Shields in makes no sense to me, especially. Not only is a good starting 5 already in place, there’s Lobstein in the wings. He was pretty gosh darn good.

          From my perspective, the heat is on Cespedes, Greene, and Simon to make me NOT miss Hunter, Porcello, and Suarez. It’s not that I think the trades were bad, just that a lot could ride on them amounting to more than “meh” or “blah” in retrospect. I mention that by way of getting to this: I don’t put a similar “pressure” on Price for the expected loss of Scherzer. Scherzer himself brought in Price, you might say,

          Yeah, injury is certainly a wild card. Sanchez would seem to be the prime candidate, but it can happen to anyone. There is Lobstein, and also Ryan.

  6. StorminNorman$

    January 18, 2015 at 6:40 pm


    apparently its almost ‘official’… thanks for your services over the past few years, but its time to say good-bye & good luck Mr Scherzer

    • Coleman

      January 18, 2015 at 11:20 pm

      Imagine a rotation with both Scherzer and Fister! Oh wait…

      • Smoking Loon

        January 19, 2015 at 12:11 am

        He he. Imagine further a team with Scherzer, Fister, Justin Verlander, Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, and Prince Fielder. A team like that would be a LOCK to win the World Series. A team like that would be a DYNASTY ruling the AL for years to come.

  7. Coleman

    January 19, 2015 at 3:00 am

    I guess it’s official, Scherzer to the Nationals, 7 years 180 million plus. Wait, how much? No thanks.

  8. Coleman

    January 19, 2015 at 3:01 am

    And it gets worse: Don Kelly signed with the Marlins. Et tu, Donkey?

    • StorminNorman$

      January 19, 2015 at 9:46 am

      let me guess, the Fish didn’t give the Donke(ll)y a Scherzer-like contract

      …i could be wrong, but i don’t see DK being a South Beach kinda guy

      • Jim EggersUSMC

        January 19, 2015 at 4:10 pm

        NOOOO! We must not let Don Kelly go! He is the MVP of all time!

        • Smoking Loon

          January 21, 2015 at 8:45 pm

          If only there were 26 roster spots…

  9. Kevin in Dallas

    January 19, 2015 at 8:54 am

    I agree. Simply too much for Scherzer. He earned it no doubt, so best of luck. And former Tigers’ pitchers have had a good run out there as of late.

    Props to Boras for getting his client $5.7M more and an extra year over what was offered last year. BTW – if Price has any kind of a season this year, be looking for the same ask.

    Unless we start developing some young pitching talent that we control, 2015 could be our last shot for a few years.


  10. StorminNorman$

    January 19, 2015 at 9:54 am

    soon all the ‘experts’ and sportswriters will hang the moniker (curse?) on the Nats; that being ‘the clear favorite to win the WS’…and then we’ll watch as something else plays out in 10/15

    Nat may also be a “2015 or bust-kinda team”… seeing as with the addition of Scherzer, their 5 starting pitchers will make about $70M next yr – and Fister and Zimmerman will be FA’s after the ’15 season – and Strasberg will be ARB eligible after ’15

    • StorminNorman$

      January 19, 2015 at 10:10 am

      for the record, DET’s SP’s will make about $70M in ’15 also – that’s if its JV, Sanchez, Price, Greene & Simon – which i anticipate it will be

      • Smoking Loon

        January 19, 2015 at 9:37 pm

        I’m relieved that this matter has been put to bed. Onward. I don’t recall any recent teams with starting rotations loaded with gigantic big name megastars winning the World Series. It takes a team. No worries.

        So this Tanner Roark guy…

  11. Only Tiger Fan in Mississippi

    January 20, 2015 at 5:26 pm

    Ok…a new topic, via Ken Rosenthal, Coke Zero uses Diet Coke to drop 15 lbs


    He is still looking for work.

    • StorminNorman$

      January 20, 2015 at 11:39 pm

      being a lefty, some team will take a chance on him – though i doubt it will be DET (even w/the uncertainty in their pen)

      • Smoking Loon

        January 21, 2015 at 8:44 pm

        I doubt it as well. I’ll miss everything but the pitching.

  12. StorminNorman$

    January 21, 2015 at 4:20 pm


    boy was i ever wrong, i had thought Scherzer had about 210 million reasons to sign w/the Nats, instead it was only ‘one’: “winning” 😉

    just once, i’d like to see some pro sports athlete/free agent say, “its always nice to win, and i hope my new team does, but my decision to sign was primarily based on the dollars”

    • Smoking Loon

      January 21, 2015 at 8:43 pm

      “Winning.” Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Yup, no sense hanging around on a floundering team of no-names like the Tigers. Scherzer probably didn’t want more than $150M from the Nationals, but they drove a hard bargain and made him take more.

  13. Smoking Loon

    January 24, 2015 at 1:36 am

    At last! My series on the 2014 Detroit Tigers is really, really, really *done.* Amended, expanded, revised, tweaked, and proofread to the nth (-1) degree. Have another look, peoples. If you spot any typos or misinformation, or anything stupid or otherwise disagreeable, let me know.

    Guaranteed to get you pumped for 2015, or your money back.

    • Coleman

      January 24, 2015 at 11:59 am

      Now all that’s left is to have it printed and bound, to sell at Spring Training.

      • Smoking Loon

        January 25, 2015 at 1:11 am

        Too many copyright issues. Plus, I don’t think they’d let me sell it at Joker Marchant unless – well, actually, it would be a strange situation. Think of all the offhand critiques and putdowns we offer here. It’s kind of embarrassing to imagine the players actually reading it, let alone being in their presence when they could be reading it or might have read it.

        That’s it. I disavow authorship. It was Coleman! He made me put my name to it. I love all the Tigers. They can do no wrong.

  14. Only Tiger Fan in Mississippi

    February 2, 2015 at 4:52 pm

    A sad day as Dave Bergman has left us. Wasn’t he the Tigers’ firstbase coach just a few years ago?


    • Only Tiger Fan in Mississippi

      February 3, 2015 at 8:58 am

      Apologies as I was thinking of Tom Brookens.

      • Smoking Loon

        February 4, 2015 at 9:51 pm

        Detroit’s last World Champion first baseman. I remember that guy.

  15. StorminNorman$

    February 4, 2015 at 9:00 am


    I disagree the contention that Kelly was a “polarizing figure” on par with Inge or Rugburn. I thought the DET – Kelly marriage worked well for both parties while it lasted… by the same token i was happy to see Kelly sign with the Marlins… because that also works well for both DET & the Donkey. Hope he does well for them/himself… good guy.

    • Only Tiger Fan in Mississippi

      February 4, 2015 at 4:59 pm

      Agree….DonKel played a good role as a ute man quitely going about his job.

      • Smoking Loon

        February 4, 2015 at 9:49 pm

        A great defender everywhere he played. A joy to watch.

  16. Coleman

    February 5, 2015 at 5:27 pm

    Uh oh.


    Does this mean we’re getting Prince Fielder?

    • Smoking Loon

      February 7, 2015 at 1:03 am

      And (forget Fielder) getting to the World Series? (Remember?)

  17. StorminNorman$

    February 5, 2015 at 6:42 pm


    …not a good way to begin the ’15 season… the silver-lining: Cabrera can DH and some young or other guy(s) will get a chance

    • Smoking Loon

      February 7, 2015 at 1:12 am

      Yeah. Silver lining. I like it. Not the injury to VMart itself. But yeah. Too early for gloom and doom.