Huge Win!

This might be the best win, by far, of the season!

After falling Behind 4-1, Rajai Davis, hit a walk off grand slam in the bottom of the 9th.

This is big for a few reasons. First, the Tigers haven’t played well at home. Second, they got to a closer who has been lights out this year. Third, it was against the A’s, probably the best team in the AL this year. Fourth, Rajai has kind of sucked recently. Fifth, BIG WIN!

On another note, Eugenio Suarez better go on a Miggy like tear for the rest of the season because he plays short like Tommy Brookens coached third.

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

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Tigers Sweep Tribe 10-4

I’m not going to get too excited about the sweep and the four game winning streak.

I’m not really sure what to make of this team.  This is the same team that was 9-20 in their last 29 games before winning the last four.

The difference, I guess, is the starting pitching.  They’ve been getting quality starts, scoring enough runs, and winning in spite of their bullpen.

I think one of things I’ve noticed in the last few games, is that Miggy has starting coming up big again with both his glove and his bat.  Although, he was never one the Tigers really had to worry about, when he would strike out, ground into a double play, or hit a rocket right at someone, it was magnified because the team was running so bad.

I’m not so sure the bad run is behind the Tigers but Miggy has been flashin leather and getting big hits.

On another note, I’m a little surprised that Alex Avila got two starts in a row.  Perhaps it was wishful thinking but I kind of got the impression that Avila was going to be the defacto backup while Ausmus rode Holiday while he was going well. I can see giving Holiday a day off, but two starts in a row for A Squared Money?  He is hitting .218.

Anyway, needless to say, I’m glad to be talking about a four game winning streak, than the nightmare run we endured for the month prior.

On another note, did you know that the Tigers own Freeway Ricky Porcello’s maternal, grandfather, Sam Dente played in the 1954 World Series for the Cleveland Indians? H/T – My Sister

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

They found a way…

to win.  That is the best way I can describe the Tigers 6-5 victory over Sonny Gray and the Oakland A’s tonight.

Max wasn’t great but neither was Oakland ace Sonny Gray.

The Tigers got step-up performances from the following:

  • Miggy, with his bat and glove.  His play in the 9th inning to record the second out might have been as big as his homer.
  • Torii Hunter, hit a solo shot with two out to tie the game at five.
  • A Squared Money, with his bat and glove.
  • Ian Kinsler.  Although he took an ofer, He made a great running catch for the first out in the ninth.
  • Joba and Joe Nathan came through and pitched clean innings to close out the game.
  • Don Kelly made two nice defensive plays at third.

I’m not sure what’s wrong with the starters, but we are in the middle of two turns of the rotation, where the starting pitching looks more like an Asses Carnival than a professional pitching staff.

After Scherzer balked home the third run I heard Rod Allen mention that this was something the Tigers worked on in spring training.  What exactly were they working on, how to allow runners to score from third without throwing a pitch?  I’d say they’ve mastered that move.  WTF?

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

Behind Feeway Rick, Tigers take series 2-1

This was a big win.  Not only did the Tigers win the game but they won the series with the Angels, 2-1.  Prior to yesterday’s game, the Tigers had dropped 10 in a row to the Angels.

The Tigers got seven strong innings from Ricky then turned it over to the pen.  Ian Krol, the Amazing Al, and Joe Nathan finished out the game and series.

The Good:

  • Freeway Rick
  • The Bullpen
  • Alex Avila threw out Howie Kendrick at second in the fourth inning.

The Bad:

  • The offense was horrible.  They managed only five hits and two runs and were aided by four Angels errors.

The Ugly:

  • Alex Avila was 0-3 with two backwards Ks.
  • Miggy was 0-3 with two backwards Ks
  • The Tigers as a team left 18 runners on base.

Chisox come to town tomorrow.

God I love baseball.” -Roy Hobbs | The Natural

Tigers fall to Tribe 3-2

The Tigers managed only two runs on nine hits and lost to Cleveland 3-2.

Anibal Sanchez lasted only five innings, walking 4 and striking out 8.  He allowed only two earned runs but needed 104 pitches to get through five complete.

The Good:

  • The bullpen – Evan Reed, Ian Krol, The Amazing Al, and Joba pitched four combined scoreless innings to pick up a relatively short outing for Anibal.
  • Kinsler, VMart, AJax, and A Squared Money each had two hits.

The Bad:

  • The offense could only score two runs
  • Miggy’s error in the second led to an unearned run that was ultimately the difference in the game.

The Ugly:

  • The Tigers blew chances in the eighth and ninth to tie or go ahead.
  • The ninth was especially ugly.  A Squared Money was at third with one out but DK struck out and Rajai Davis grounded out to end the game leaving the tying run at third.

This ship needs be righted.  They’ve lost four of their last six.  I know it’s early but they need a big home stand.  Have I mentioned the 30 year World Series Championship drought?

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

Should the Tigers Dump Alex Avila aka A Squared Money?

Paul Swydan at ESPN Insider thinks so.

When Alex Avila suffered an injury in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series, there was a lot of worry that he wouldn’t be able to play in Game 6 either. In reality, though, the Tigers would have been fine without him and should be looking to replace him heading into next season.

That’s certainly a touchy subject, considering that his father is the team’s assistant general manager, but the simple fact is that Avila didn’t cut it this season. His 0.6 WAR (per FanGraphs) ranked just 37th overall among catchers, and 26th among 32 catchers who had at least 300 plate appearances.

Swydan makes some good points but getting rid of Alex doesn’t seem likely.

Hat Tip Nebraska for pointing out this article.

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

 

Tigers 6 Mariners 2

After three typically, pathetic innings, the Tigers offense woke up and scored single runs in the 4th, 6th, and 7th, then blew the game open with three in the bottom of the 8th to give the Tigers their 6th win in 7 games.

Sanchez was good tonight and the bullpen was even better.  Anibal threw 125 pitches.  He lasted 6 and 1/3, allowed 2 earned runs, walked two and struck out 10.

The Amazing Al did an excellent job of clutch pitching.  Alburquerque relieved Sanchez with one out in the 7th, runners at second and third, and the game tied at 2.  He got Abraham Almonte to pop out to Jose Iglesias at short, who flashed some leather making a nice running catch in shallow left.  The Amazing Al then struck out Franklin Gutierrez to end the inning and keep the game tied.

In the top of the 8th it was Jose Alvarez’s turn to come up big.  Phil Coke started the 8th and got Kyle Seagar to ground out to first base.  Prince Fielder showed he can flash leather as he made a nice diving stop on the bullet hit off of Seagar’s bat.  Coke then got into some trouble.  He walked Raul Ibanez and got Justin Smoak to hit what looked like an inning ending double play ball to the left of second base.  Unfortunately, the sure handed Jose Iglesias couldn’t handle the ball and everyone was safe.  The last batter Coke would face was Michael Saunders who he walked to load the bases on five pitches.  So in comes Alvarez to relieve Coke.  Alvarez battled Mike Zunino in an 11 pitch at bat but finally got the Mariner catcher to ground into a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning.

Phil Coke was booed as he left the field.  I hate to see anybody get booed but tonight I felt it was really unwarranted.  I can’t defend him for the walks he gave up.  Walks are enough to drive anybody mad but his defense really let him down.  If Iglesias makes the play on the ball hit by Justin Smoak, like I’m sure he’ll do 99 out of 100 times, Coke gets out of the inning having only faced three batters.  But I guess that’s just how this season has gone for Phil.  Very little has seemed to work for him this year.

Let’s talk about Alex A Squared Money Avila.  It looks like he is getting healthy and his game is starting to show it.  His batting average is up to .225, not bad considering it was down to about .168 as late as June.  What really impressed me today was his triple.  He hit a line drive to right leading off the 7th inning that made it all the way to the wall and left Avila standing on third.  He’s never been a speed demon but he was running about as well as I’ve ever seen him.  Alex also had two walks in this game.  His second base on balls came in the bottom of the 8th.  After falling behind Seattle reliever Carter Capps 0-2, he was able to work a walk and load the bases.  For the last few weeks, Alex has been looking like the Alex we saw in the 2011 regular season.  Let’s hope he stays healthy and continues playing this way.

JV is on the mound tomorrow.

Update: I forgot to include this in the original post, perhaps I was subconsciously blocking it out.  In what can only be described as the most bizarre move I’ve seen in baseball, Jim Leyland, pinch hit Andy Dirks for Jose Iglesias with the bases loaded in the 8th inning.  This move is insane on so many levels I’m not sure where to begin.  I guess lets start with Dirks Blows!  He’s having a terrible season.  Iglesias is hitting .315.  Dirks is hitting .257. Iglesias is the best defensive player on the team, something I thought was important to Leyland, especially in the late innings.  Andy Dirks plays left field like Charlie Marcuse, the now deposed singing, hot dog, vendor.  The only logical explanation for this asinine move is Dirksburger Syndrome.  After lying dormant in the bowels of the Tigers manager for a few weeks, it was bound to flair up again and did.

Oh, yea, true to form, Good Ole Dirksy struck out.

Hat Tip to Sark for reminding me of this abomination.

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

Tigers 3 Royals 2

The Tigers took the rubber game of this series courtesy of Max Scherzer and Alex Avila.

Max pitched more than well enough to get his 20th win this season but his offense, once again, hung him out to dry.  Max pitched seven strong innings.  He allowed only one run on a solo shot from Alex Gordon.  He struck out 12 and walked only one.

Max left the game leading 2-1 but lost his 20th win when Drew Smyly surrendered the tying run in the top of the 8th.  However, Smyly surrendering the tying run isn’t the story of this game.  The story of this game, and the season, is that the Tigers’ offense BLOWS!

Let me be clear, I don’t care what the statistics say, this offense is pathetic.  As a team the Tigers left 10 runners on base.  Individually, Martinez left 4 on base and Dirks and Infante left 5.  I can’t wait for Peralta to get back to see what he can do in left field.  It is hard for me to believe that he’ll be worse than Dirks.

Max Scherzer picked Emilio Bonifacio off of first base in the first inning continuing the Tigers’ recent success of shutting down the opposing running game.  In fact, this is the third game in a row that Tigers pitchers have picked off a base runner.

What can I say about Alex A Squared Money Avila?  He’s hit .313 since the All-Star break and accounted for all three Tigers runs today.  He hit a two run homer in the bottom of the second to give the Tigers an early 2-0 lead and a solo shot in the bottom of the 8th to break the 2-2 tie and give the Tigers a much needed series win.

I wonder if Jim Leyland is second guessing his decision to have Nick Castellanos pinch hit for Avila in the 7th inning last night?  Although I forgot to mention it in the post, that was one of the worst moves I’ve seen JL make.

The Mariners come to town tomorrow.

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

Tigers Lose Finale 4-0

I feel about as good after this lose as a Tiger fan could.  I would have loved to have swept the Tribe but the Tigers have beaten up on them pretty good this season.  It doesn’t hurt that bad to drop this one.

Why do I feel good?

First, JV looked good.  After a 35 pitch first inning when it looked like deja vu all over again, Justin regained some of his lost form.  JV allowed only 4 hits, no runs, walked 2, struck out 6, and threw 116 pitches. If we subtract the first inning, JV averaged just 13.5 pitches per inning over the final six he pitched.   Very encouraging.

Second, Alex A Squared Money Avila went three for three and raised hit average to .207.  This is huge considering he’s been below the Mendoza line for the majority of the season.  In fact, going into July, I believe he was hitting around .165.  Perhaps, Alex is getting healthy and his offense is showing it.  Whatever the case, I’ve always like Alex and I’m glad to see him above .200.

Third, Andy Dirks had two more hits and has raised his average to .257.  It looks like Dirksy might be getting a little bit of a stroke back which will bode well for the playoffs should the Tigers make it.

On the flip side of the coin, the Tigers did have 11 hits but failed to score a run.  This just highlights the way the team is built.  The Tigers have virtually no speed so unless they hit for extra base power they have a hard time scoring.

I’ve come up with a hypothesis.  I believe that a team should be able to score a run for every two hits they get.  So at the end of a game if a team puts up 10 hits they should have  5 runs.  Here’s my reasoning:

  • The lead off man singles.
  • The next batter singles.
  • The runner on first goes to third on the second hit.
  • The runner on third can now score on a ground out or a sac fly.
  • This is not an exact science but I feel like it is mostly accurate.

The problem with the Tigers is that they cannot go from first to third on a hit, they’re terrible at taking an extra base.  As a result, they have to play station to station.  That’s why we see games like today when they have 11 hits and no runs and other games when the have 4 hits and 6 runs.  The Tigers have to win using Earl Weaver’s formula, pitching, defense and three run homers.  They didn’t get the three run homers today so they lost.  But I’ll take 2 out of 3 against Cleveland any day.

Off to Boston.

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

Tigers Problems…

Nebraskaknows pointed out a Lynn Henning article at DetNews dot com that I think is worth a read.  Henning takes a look at issues the Tigers are facing and possible solutions.

First-place Tigers still facing problems down the stretch: You can read the article in full here.

In the space below I use the problem Henning points out and add my two cents.

Problem: Miguel Cabrera can’t run.

FlashinLeather Solution: It’s hard for me to believe that sitting won’t allow Miggy to heal faster.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not, how could anybody, complain about his production. I’m just afraid that if they don’t let him heal now, he’ll end up battered like Alex Avila was in the 2011 playoffs.  I think a trip to the 15 day DL would be a good idea.

Problem: Left-field offense is killing the Tigers.

Flashin Leather Solution: I don’t think Castellanos is the answer.  Bring him up on 8/31, similar to what the Tigers did with Avisail Garcia last year, and see what he can do, but don’t hold your breath.  Castellanos his only hitting in the .270s in Toledo.  I’m not sure why he would be expected to hit better, or even the same, in the big leagues.

This is going to shock to readers of this blog but I have not given up on Dirks just yet.  He had some good at bats a few night ago and might be ready to break out of his slump.  That being said, I’m still not convinced that his fielding is what everybody else says it is.  I’ve watched almost every game this year, home games in person, and I think he’s closer to Albert Belle than he is Gary Pettis.

Bring Castellanos up and see what he can do but I’m betting Dirksy will be there in the end.

Problem: Alex Avila’s absence hurts the Tigers in multiple ways.

Flashin Leather Solution: I agree with Henning, all the Tigers can do is hope A Squared Money is healthy enough to return soon.

Problem: Phil Coke and Al Alburquerque are coin-flips in late-game situations.

Flashin Leather Solution: I agree with Henning.  The Amazing Al needs to be on the next bus down to Toledo and send Evan Reed back up.  I thought Reed pitched pretty well for the Tigers.  He just needs to learn how to throw to first base.

I think Phil Coke is going to be ok.  The last few hits he’s given up, while important, were flares over a drawn in infield.

Problem: Prince Fielder has one home run in his last 28 games.

Flashin Leather Solution: I think personal problems, read here, can have a devastating and lingering effect on a player in all facets of the game and his life.  I think Prince has hit the ball fairly well, but I would not be surprised if his struggles continue through the end of the season.  That being said, he has driven in 81 runs so far and is on pace for 110.  There is no solution.  They have to ride Prince and take what he can give them.

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