The Detroit Tigers (39-31, 1st place, 3.5 games ahead of Cleveland, losing streak at 2) continue their home stand with a 4-game set against the Clay Buchholz-less Boston Red Sox (44-30, 1st place AL East). The forecast says Detroit weather all good for the first couple games, fair chance of rain over the weekend that could affect play.
Thursday, June 20, 7:08 PM EDT: RHP John Lackey (4-5, 3.08) v LHP Jose Alvarez (1-0, 1,50)
Friday, June 21, 7:08 PM EDT: LHP Jon Lester (6-4, 4.37) v RHP Doug Fister (6-4, 3.21)
Saturday, June 22, 7:15 PM EDT*: RHP Allen Webster (0-1, 11.74) v RHP Max Scherzer (10-0, 3.08)
Sunday, June 23, 1:08 PM EDT: LHP Felix Doubront (4-3, 4.38) v RHP Justin Verlander (8-5, 3.72)
*National on Fox, meaning blacked out for us MLB.tv folks
MEET THE RED SOX*: HITTING: .268 AVG (Tigers .281), .345 OBP (.348), .443 SLG (.428), .788 OPS (.776), 371 R (343), 82 HR (72), 58 of 71 SB (21 of 27), GIDP 59 or 11% (61 or 11%), INFIELD HITS 68 or 10.3% (52 or 7.6%). STARTING PITCHING: 3.70 ERA (Tigers 3.38), .241 BAA (.237), 1.30 WHIP (1.13), 401/174 K/BB (465/107), 54 HR (31). BULLPEN: 213 IP (Tigers 191), 12-8 W-L (4-13), 3.89 ERA (3.76), .246 BAA (.234), 1.36 WHIP (1.27), 231/91 K/BB (200/77), 26 HR (17), IRS% 27% (30%) DEFENSE: .986 FPCT (Tigers .989), .692 DefEff (.686), 59 DP (52), 76% SBPCT (75%), OF ASSISTS 15 (9), UNEARNED RUNS 20 (13).
*Thru 69 games
You could have – would have – called this another “are they ready?” series before the one just concluded against Baltimore. (You may recall that the Tigers failed the first two such tests against the Rangers and the Pirates.) At this point, a split with Boston would be a pleasant surprise, though the Red Sox feature a bullpen that the Tigers could munch on if they were so inclined. But I’m guessing that they’re not so inclined.
A few tidbits on the best starting rotation in baseball:
INNING-OWNERS*: MASTERS OF THEIR DOMAIN (thru 67 games)
SCHERZER 52.2% (48 OF 92)
ALVAREZ 50.0% (3 OF 6)
PORCELLO 40.3% (29 OF 72)
SANCHEZ 36.1% (30 OF 83)
FISTER 35.8% (34 OF 95)
VERLANDER 26.1% (23 OF 88)
*Perfect but for any IBB or ROE
IMPERFECT INNINGS ERA (thru 67 games)
INTERESTING COUNT DATA (BAA/OPSA) thru 67 games
(The bold type and asterisks are for separation and readability only, nothing more. Haven’t quite worked out the table insertion thing…)
And now, the situation…
The Tigers are fresh off their most humiliating loss of the season, a 13-3 rout at home that went from bad to worse to what we hope will be the last pitch Jose Valverde throws as a Tiger. Tell me something. Why does Miguel Cabrera not charge the Flaherty grounder in the 4th, two outs, man on 2B, Orioles up 2-0? Mario Impemba on Cabrera waiting on the ball at the bag and attempting to tag Hardy out there: “Really Miggy’s only play.” I don’t think so. I think that was a horrendous error in judgment that sent the game on its way to the toilet. I’ll have nice things to say about Miggy later, but that play is one big black eye. HUGE black eye. Even if the tag at 3rd is the only play, it was still misplayed, at great cost. I will get to the oft-neglected subject of defense next series.
Oh, I get it. The Tigers are a good hitting team. Not a good scoring team. Thanks for clearing that up, Tigers hitters. Anibal is out. That hurts. Austin is back, and way back. That helps. Valverde has reached the point of no return. Avila is on the DL, which may end up saving him his job as the starting catcher. Verlander has become some guy who reminds you a bit of Verlander at times. Roster confusion abounds, with someone about to be sent down due to Alvarez coming up for a start or two for Sanchez (we hope it’s only a start or two, despite the promise shown by Alvarez) and one too many outfielders already here and a possible bullpen shakeup brewing… but it might all be sorted out by the time you read this. Tuiasosopo is still hitting, still hardly playing, still causing much consternation among those of us permanently afflicted with Marcus Thames Disorder. Cracks are showing in the 800-Run Offense and the rotation may be starting to buckle, while the bullpen remains as unsettled and perplexing as always. I’m telling yeh, it’s all building up to something… something that can only be redeemed… with FIRE.
Coleman made an astute observation related to The Late Inning Troubles and Mr. Cabrera, or Cabby, as we like to call him. I’ll paraphrase: Miggy is so clutch before the clutch that he often makes the clutch unnecessary. More about him and Tigers offensive performance overall – impact and efficiency – in the game posts to come.
All right – here goes nothing, eh? Good luck, Jose Alvarez (with the Spirit Of Sanchez to guide you, as per the above). All eyes are upon you, you skid-stopper, you.
POST-GAME: Tigers 4, Red Sox 3. Good game,
wrong result THEY DID IT! FIRST 2013 WALKOFF WIN!! Alvarez was as good as last time for 2 innings, then seemed to have a case of realizing where he was and who he was facing. John Lackey was quietly impressive in a Doug Fister “What just happened here?” way. On Jacoby Ellsbury’s 1st inning leadoff HR bid, Hunter made a good catch at the wall look “great” in a “Torii Hunter” kind of way. The suddenly wild Alvarez loaded the bases in the 3rd but wiggled out of it, with Leyland coming out to jaw about the HBP on Victorino that wasn’t really that debatable (see later). David Ortiz had been carved up by Alvarez in the 1st, but caught up to him in the 4th, sending a decent pitch outta here to RF. 1-0 Boston. In the bottom half, our so-called DH left Cabrera standing at 3B after more baserunning genius from Miggy (taking the base on a “WP” that barely got away, C Ryan Lavarnway just unable to find it). Hunter asked for more debate on his debatable defense in the 5th on the Jose Iglesias triple. It looked either lazy or way too safe as he allowed the ball to roll to the RCF wall and circled back around to get it, but in fact he had misread the ball speed on what might have been a long single and taken the wrong route in the first place. It might be a stretch to say this cost the run on the following Ellsbury single, though. 2-0 Red Sox. The Tigers cooked up a fine rally in the bottom half, rescued at the eleventh hour by the speedy Jackson loading the bases with a fine IF single 3B Will Middlebrooks didn’t have a chance to throw him out on, and Hunter delivering by muscling a flare into RF for 2 runs. Then Lackey struck Cabrera out (again). Tied at 2. Putkonen comes in for spent Alvarez to start the 6th, good move, side retired. The amazing run of good bullpen management (GBM) continues in the 7th with 2 outs from Putkonen and then Coke coming in to (stock phrase) carve up Ellsbury. In the Tigers 7th, a rare bad bunt by Infante wastes an out (popped), and the inning goes for naught (great takeout slide by Dirks to bust up a DP, though). GBM ends abruptly in the 8th with Coke coming back out (huh?) to hurl 9 straight balls and, eventually, allow an Ortiz single to make it 3-2 Boston. Smyly to the rescue, GBM restored. Smyly does a allow a “HBP” that isn’t even close to Lavarnway (and Leyland doesn’t argue this one), but gets three outs and leaves ’em loaded. That is what you call a save. Even when the team’s behind. Bottom 8th, Miggy strikes out for the 3rd time (Koji Uehera this time) and Prince breaks hearts with a deep fly to CF that doesn’t get out. Smyly’s 9th was marred only by the Victorino double. Tigers up, down one, last chance. Closer Andrew Bailey in for the Red Sox. Martinez, the guy I was so sick of earlier in the game… well, he can’t get around on a fastball any more, but he still has the eye, and he draws a walk. Kelly in to pinch-run. Peralta goes to two strikes quickly, which he apparently likes to do. Then he pulls off the improbable, the seemingly impossible. He puts it into the bullpen beyond LF. Game over. Win #40 in the books.
RULE 5 DRAFT PICK: Drew Smyly
DFA: Phil Coke