Tigers Win and Take Series From Red Sox

With the aid of a bad call on a fly ball by Avisail Garcia to Daniel Nava, the Tigers beat the Red Sox 7-5 and won the 4 game series 3-1.

With the score tied 4-4, Garcia led off the bottom of the 8th with a deep fly ball to right field.  Daniel Nava caught the ball but dropped it when transferring it to his throwing hand.  The umpire ruled it a dropped ball and Garcia was safe at second.  Bryan Holaday sacrificed Garcia to third and was safe on pitcher Andrew Miller’s throwing error.  Torii Hunter sacrificed Garcia in to break the tie.  The Tigers went on to score two more runs making it 7-4 heading to the top of the 9th.

Benoit gave up one run in the 9th but the Tigers were able to hold on for the 7-5 victory.

On a different note, Justin Verlander started the game. He went 5 innings and gave up 4 earned runs.  His ERA is up to 3.90 and frankly he has not looked like a number one pitcher for most of this season.  For the last two months JV has looked like a back of the rotation guy.

It doesn’t seem like Verlander can command any of this pitches, including the fast ball, but especially his curve.  His curve hasn’t been anywhere near the strike zone for the last few starts at least.  As a result, he’s not getting ahead of hitters.  When he does get ahead he can’t put them away and teams are constantly working his pitch count up.  Recently, the Tigers have been lucky to get 6 decent innings out of him.

Curt Schilling on ESPN thinks that JV has lost some of his “stuff”.  Schilling thinks that Verlander still has number one “stuff” but not what it once was.  I’m not an expert but this is hard for me to believe.  JV looked ok in April but seemed to collapse when the calendar turned to May.  He needs to figure it out or he is going to make the contract he signed in the off season look like a monumental mistake.  A case can arguably be made that JV is the fourth or fifth best pitcher in the Tiger rotation right now.

I’m not making excuses for JV but I didn’t think his defense helped him much, especially, in the top of the 3rd.  Although they weren’t charged with an error, I think the Tigers could have been charged with three.  First, Pedroia leads off the inning with a ground ball in the hole at short.  Peralta fields the ball but doesn’t make a strong throw to first and Victor Martinez didn’t help him out any.  As a result, Pedroia was on with a lead off, infield single.  Next, David Ortiz hit a sharp ground ball to first that went under the glove of Martinez.  It wasn’t scored an error but I think Martinez should have made the play.  This put runners at first and third with nobody out.   Next, Mike Napoli, hits a tailor made, double play, ground ball to Peralta.  Peralta feeds Infante and Infante throws the ball to the moon.  Again, no charged error but the defense definitely didn’t do JV any favors.

When JV was pitching well, he bailed his defense out plenty of times, especially last year.  Maybe some help from his D can get him going.

“God, I love baseball.” – Roy Hobbs | The Natural

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Tigers Dust Red Sox…

assure series split.

Well, after the top of the first I was wondering if it was going to be Max Scherzer’s turn to have a bad start.  Scherzer gave up a two run homer to David Ortiz and the Tigers were behind before they got to hit.

The offense, however, came back in the bottom half of the first, scoring 4, on a grand slam by Victor Martinez and Scherzer put up 6 consecutive zeroes to improve his record to 11-0.

Alburquerque pitched a scoreless eighth walking one and striking out one and Putkonen pitched the ninth allowing one earned.  The Tigers took game three of this four game set with the Red Sox 10-3.  With a win tomorrow they could win the series 3-1.

It was nice to see some power from Victor who has been slumping most of the season.  Also, Jackson, Hunter and Dirks had three hit apiece and Omar Infante hit his 5th homer run of the season, a two run shot, in the bottom of the seventh.

I’m anxious to see JV start tomorrow.  He is going up against the AL’s number one offense and he struggled his last time out.  Are we going to get the JV of the last couple years or the JV that we’ve seen for the last month and a half.

It would be nice to take this series and a good performance from JV can lead the way.

“God, I love baseball.” – Roy Hobbs | The Natural

Tigers designate Valverde for assignment

From MLB dot com:

http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20130621&content_id=51342078&vkey=news_mlb&c_id=mlb
From reading the article above, the Tigers think that Valverde has an issue with his arm slot.  They think that it is something he can work on and straighten out fairly quickly.

I’m very interested in see if Jose will take a Toledo assignment.  I hope he does.

“God, I love baseball.” – Roy Hobbs | The Natural

JHONNY PERALTA!

For a while it looked like the Tigers would lose their 3rd straight at home.  In fact, after Hunter, Cabrera and Fielder went in order in the bottom of the 8th, a third straight loss looked all but certain.  BUT, in the bottom of the 9th Victor Martinez lead off with a walk and up walked Jhonny Peralta.

With the count 1 and 2 Peralta sent an Andrew Bailey slider over the fence in left field giving the Tigers a 4-3 walk-off win, their first of the season.  In a post game interview Peralta said he was looking for the slider.  He got it.  He didn’t miss it.  The Tigers won.

Here are some thoughts:

Cabrera went 1 for 4 with 3 strikeouts.  It seems to me, that after being walked so much the last few weeks, Miggy has expanded his strike zone and perhaps trying just a little to hard.  He’s struggling just a bit; I guess as much as a .359 hitter can be “struggling”.

Torii Hunter had a much needed clutch hit to drive in two and tie the game in the bottom of the 5th.  The Tigers have needed a clutch hit recently, Hunter got it.

Jose Alvarez had another strong, spot start filling in for Sanchez.  He faced the American League’s best offense, went 5 innings, giving up two earned, striking out three and walking two.

The bullpen looked pretty good too, with the exception of Phil Coke.  Luke Putkonen pitched a strong, scoreless, inning and a third and Drew Smyly was brilliant again cleaning up Phil Coke’s mess.

Coke struck out Ellsbury to end the seventh but came out in the 8th and couldn’t find the strike zone.  He walked Victorino and Pedroia on eight pitches.  David Ortiz singled, driving in Victorino, giving the Red Sox a 3-2 lead.

Drew Smyly replaced Coke and was lights out. With no outs, Pedroia on second and Ortiz on first, Smyly struck out Napoli and got Gomes to pop out to third.  After hitting Lavarnway to load the bases, Smyly got Middlebrooks to fly out to Torii Hunter in right, ending the inning, limiting the damage to one run, and essentially setting up Peralta’s heroics in the bottom of the 9th.

The more I see of Smyly the more I agree with Nebraskaknows, Smyly could be the answer to the closer problem.

The Tigers have started this four game series with the Sox on the right track.  Let’s hope it ends better than the Baltimore series.

“God, I love baseball.” – Roy Hobbs | The Natural

NIGHTMARE!!!

What started out as a promising home stand, with a 5-2 win on Monday, quickly turned into a nightmare.  The Tigers were blown out this afternoon 13-3 losing another series to the Orioles.

There wasn’t much to be happy about today.  Rick Porcello gave up six runs in six innings, on the surface, a terrible outing.  However, when we look at the over all body of work, he only had one bad inning, and it was horrible, the 4th.  He gave up all six of the runs charged to him in the 4th.  He came out for the 5th and 6th and put up zeroes.

After giving up a two run and a three run homer, Porcello seemed to settle down.  After the 6th he had only thrown 93 pitches.  I was hoping he’d come out for the 7th but Downs came in instead.

The bullpen that looked so strong the previous two games was an abomination.  Downs pitched 1/3 of an inning and gave up two earned.  Valverde pitched the 9th and gave up 4 earned.

In between Downs and Valverde, Evan Reed pitched an inning and two thirds giving up one earned run and striking out 3.  If there was a bright spot in this disaster, I think Reed looked pretty good.

Besides the pitching, the offense and defense weren’t much better.  After scoring 5 runs in the first game on Monday, the Tigers scored a total of 5 in the last two games against a very mediocre Oriole starting staff.

Matt Tuiasosopo came up with a big pinch hit double scoring two in the bottom of the 6th, cutting the Oriole lead to 6-3, but effectively killed his own rally when he got thrown out trying to take third on a ground ball to shortstop off the bat of Infante.

The bullpen gave the runs back, and then some, in the top of the seventh with the help of the defense.  With runners on second and third and one out, Adam Jones hit a soft line drive to second baseman Omar Infante.  The runners left on contact.  Infante dropped the ball, the runner on third scored, and everybody else was safe as well.  What could have been a rally killing double play extended the inning and by the time the top of the 7th was over, the O’s were up 9-3.

To be fair, MLB dot com says that it was a ground ball off of the bat of Adam Jones, but from where I was sitting, lower box behind the Tiger dugout, it looked like a soft liner that Infante dropped.  In any event, the inning and game was a disaster!

On a side note, I’m pretty sure Valverde won’t be on the roster in the morning.

“God, I love baseball.” – Roy Hobbs | The Natural

Orioles Chase JV after 5

Justin Verlander lasted only five innings tonight and gave up five earned runs as the Orioles evened the series beating the Tigers 5-2.

The bullpen came in and shut down the Orioles and gave the Tigers a chance to come back, and they had their chances, but couldn’t come up with a clutch hit.

After starting the game 2 for 2 Cabrera came up with two on and two out in the bottom of the 5th and grounded out.

In the bottom of the 7th the Tigers got a break.  After three consecutive hits from Infante, Pena, and Jackson cut the O’s lead to 5-2, Torii Hunter hit a ground ball to third baseman Manny Machado.  Machado appeared to tag Pena then threw to second to double up Jackson.  However, the umpire called Pena safe at third, I’m not sure why, but that break brought Cabrera up with runners on first and third and only one out.  Cabrera then fouled out to first baseman Chris Davis and Fielder followed with a pop out to Machado.

The Tigers had another chance in the bottom of the 9th.  With one out, Jackson walked and Hunter singled.  Cabrera stepped to the plate and grounded into a game ending double play.

Today’s game was a reversal of a normal Tiger game.  JV had a terrible start, the offense got no clutch hits and had few good at bats but the bullpen was solid pitching 4 scoreless innings.

I’m not sure what is wrong with JV but he needs to make some adjustments and fast.  It doesn’t seem like anybody fears him anymore.  His ERA is up to 3.72 which isn’t bad for a normal pitcher but horrible for JV.

Victor Martinez continues to struggle at the plate.  He is something like 5 for his last 33.  His average is down to .228 and he’s hit with little power.

I was willing to give Martinez some time to get his stroke back but this is nearing the end of June.

From what I see, the Tigers might have more to worry about then their closer.  They need more production from Martinez and JV needs to get his act together.

“God, I love baseball.” – Roy Hobbs | The Natural

Tigers Start Homestand With Win Over the O’s

The Tigers downed the Orioles 5-1 tonight at Comerica Park.  Besides the win, there was a lot I liked about the game.

First, the Tigers scored early and added on runs but the thing I really liked the most was Jim Leyland’s use of the bullpen.  After 6 strong innings from Scherzer, Leyland brought in Smyly for the seventh.  Smyly got the O’s in order on 9 or 10 pitches.  I was elated when Leyland sent Smyly out for the 8th and speechless when he let him pitch the 9th.  I thought for sure Leyland was going to replace Smyly after the 7th.

Scherzer moved his record to 10-0, the first time since 1909 that a Tiger pitcher has started a season this well.

On a different note, I’m very concerned that the Tigers are going to trade Rick Porcello sometime this year for a closer.  I hope I’m wrong and here are my reasons:

1) I have to admit it, like Avila, I’ve liked Porcello since they brought him up

2) I really think that Rickey is going to turn into a top of the rotation pitcher and would like to see him reach that potential in a Tiger uniform

3) I hate giving up prospects and/or paying closers a lot of money.  This thinking is probably influenced by my reading of Money Ball.  Billy Beane says he can always find a closer and he has the track record to prove it.

I guess I don’t have an answer for the closer problem but I’d hate to see another trade like the John Smoltz for Doyle Alexander trade.  It is true Alexander was great down the stretch in 1987 but the Tigers didn’t win the World Series and Smoltz became a hall of famer.

“God, I love baseball.” – Roy Hobbs | The Natural