Tigers 4 White Sox 3

The Tigers have held onto first place for another day.

The offense is still MIA. Although they scored four runs, the White Sox tried to give them a big inning in the 7th, but the Tigers refused to take it. That being said, they had a 3-0 lead going into the top of the 9th.

I have to give a partial hat tip to Brad Ausmus. He left David Price pitch in the 9th until the game was tied. I would have done the same thing. Did he have a choice? During BA’s first trip to the mound I thought Price looked winded but a winded David Price is better than ANY option out of the pen.

I only gave BA a partial hat tip because of his unnatural love affair with Joe Nathan. Was Nathan his only option? What in the sam hell did the Tigers acquire Soria for? I rarely see him warm up. This would have been the perfect opportunity to see what Soria is. It wasn’t a save situation so he could have explained away his decision not to bring in his “closer”.

I don’t get it.

I feel bad for Price in that he lost his shutout and win. He was smokin balls all game and in the 9th he just got unlucky.

In the end, despite the lack of relief pitching, suspect defense and inconsistent offense, the Tigers still have Miguel Cabrera. And he might be getting healthy.

On another note, Avisail Garcia continues to the hurt the Tigers. Last year, his off the field shenanigans got Miggy hurt for the stretch, today he drives in two runs in the top of the 9th in a game the Tigers had to have. As far as the Tigers are concerned, Garcia is a low-grade infection that keeps flaring up.

They had to have this game and they got it.

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

Tigers Avoid Sweep – Beat Sox 6-4

The Mighty Miggy and Joaquin Benoit bailed the Tigers out and helped to avoid a three game sweep to end the 10 game road trip.

This game looked ugly, early.  Rick Porcello required 37 pitches to get out of the first inning and when he did, the Tigers were down 3-0.

Ricky settled down after the first.  He put up zeroes for the next 5 innings and was able to go 6 complete.  He allowed 3 earned runs, walked 1 and struck out 4.  What is kind of troubling however, is that he surrendered 11 hits and didn’t have a 1-2-3 inning.  In fact, no Tiger pitcher recorded a 1-2-3 inning today.

With the Tigers trailing 3-0 in the 3rd, The Mighty Miggy got the Tigers even with a 3 run bomb with Austin Jackson and Bryan Holaday scoring in front of him.

The Tigers got 3 more runs in the 6th to take a 6-3 lead.  With one out, Victor singled then went to 3rd on a Matt Tuiasosopo single.  This was a very encouraging sign because it actually looked like Victor was running well.  Victor scored when Omar Infante singled breaking the tie and giving the Tigers a 4-3 lead.  I was hoping for a big clutch hit from someone else in the lineup, to break the game open, but it never came.  The next two runs were scored on a Conor Gillaspie throwing error on a ground ball off the bat of Austin Jacskon.  I’m not going to look a gift horse in the mouth, but a clutch hit would have been better than a throwing error.  However, with the way things have been going lately, I’ll take it.

In the bottom of the 7th, it looked like Jose Iggy Iglesias chose the wrong time to make his first fielding error as a Tiger.  With two out, Jeff Keppinger, hit a routine ground ball to short that Iggy booted.  Drew Smyly then walked Conor Gillaspie.  When Dayan Viciedo was announced as a pinch hitter for Tyler Flowers.  Jim Leyland countered by bringing in the Amazing Al and I thought the flood gates were about to open.  But, to my and the Tigers’ delight, Alburquerque got Viciedo to fly out and end the threat.

Jose Veras is beginning to scare me.  He came out to pitch the 9th and with one out gave up a run on two walks and a single.  This basically forced Leyland into bringing in Benoit for a 5 out save.  Benoit got Dunn and Garcia on strikes to end the inning and the threat and eventually got the save.

This win wasn’t pretty but it was needed.  It would have been a real downer to end the road trip at 5-5, especially with a sweep at the hands of the White Sox.

The Tigers are back home tomorrow for a 5 game series with the Royals.

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

Tigers Lose 3 In a Row – Fall to White Sox 4-3 In 11 Innings

The Tigers lost their 3rd consecutive game and 4th of their last 5 by falling in extra innings to the White Sox.

Max Scherzer started, went 6 complete, allowed 3 runs, 2 earned, struck out 6 and walked 3.  Much like Fister yesterday, Scherzer was cruising through the first 3 innings but needed 36 pitches to get out of the 4th.  The White Sox scored 3 runs in the 4th with the damage coming on a 2 RBI triple from ex-Tiger Avisail Garcia.  Garcia then scored on an Infante throwing error.  The Sox led 3-1 after the 4th.

The Tigers had plenty of chances to score but just couldn’t get the hit to break the game open. On the bright side, they did battle back from a 3-1 deficit with single runs in the 6th and 8th to send the game into extra innings.

Miggy was 0-5 today but hit 3 rockets, one to short and 2 right back up the middle, but had nothing to show for it.  Also, Andy Dirks came into the game to replace Tui.  Readers of this blog know that I’ve been hard on Dirksy and while he was 0-3, I thought he had 3 good at bats.

In Dirks’ first at bat he hit the ball hard but it was right at the left fielder.  His next at bat, he got himself into a 3-1 count and looked like he just missed a fastball.  His final at bat, I thought was his most impressive.  He fell behind 0-2 but worked the count full before flying out to Garcia in right.  He had no hits but sometimes when a player is struggling and puts together good at bats, it is a sign that he is coming out of his funk.  Let’s hope so.

Another encouraging sign is that it looks like Jose Iglesias and Omar Infante are a very good double play combination.  Strong defense up the middle is always a recipe for success.

Basically, this series in Chicago has been a disaster.  Let’s hope they can salvage one with Ricky on the hill tomorrow afternoon.

FYI:  The Royals lost tonight but the Indians won.

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

UGLY! Tigers Fall To Sale, White Sox 6-2.

What started out looking pretty good turned really ugly, really fast.

The Tigers got on the board in the first with a Miggy solo shot.  Brayan Pena put the Tigers up 2-0 after two with an RBI double, but the Tigers would score no more tonight.

Chris Sale pitched a complete game.  He allowed two earned, walked 0 and struck out 6 on 109 pitches.

Doug Fister started out well but seemed to fall apart in the 4th inning.  With 1 out Gordon Beckham singled.  Fister got Alexei Ramirez to pop out but then walked Adam Dunn and the wheels began to fall off. A wild pitch moved the runners up to second and third.  A walk to Konerko loaded the bases and another wild pitch scored Beckham and the White Sox were on the board.  Fister got ex-Tiger Avisail Garcia to end the inning but Fister could never really recover.

Fister came out for the 5th, gave up three more runs, and the Sox never looked back,  In Fister’s defense, he ran in to some bad luck.  With one out and runners on first and second, Gordon Beckham hit a ground ball back to Fister, which at first was looking like an inning ending double play, but the ball went off of Fister’s leg past Infante and into right field and the Sox were rolling.

The Tigers had chances to score, they touched Sale for 9 hits but couldn’t get the big knock when they needed it.  A big part of the Tigers’ offensive struggles were that Jacskon and Hunter were a combined 0-8, which meant Miggy was always hitting with nobody on base.

The Tigers left 16 men on base tonight, Omar Infante, back in the lineup, for the first time in over a month was 0-4 with 6 LOB.

I’m starting to worry a little bit.  Since the streak ended, the Tigers have lost 3 of 4 to bad teams, the Yankees and the White Sox.  Everything that seemed to be going so well suddenly isn’t.  Fister was not good tonight.  He wasn’t horrible but he had trouble with the strike zone and didn’t put in a quality start.  Even more concerning is Al Alburquerque out of the pen.  The Amazing Al has been more of an abomination lately.  Tonight, for example, he pitched one inning, gave up 5 hits and 2 earned runs.  I don’t think he’s an option out of the pen anymore, he’s a nightmare.  And, where is the clutch hitting?  We could have used a big hit from Infante, but I’ll cut him some slack, since this was his first game back.

On the bright side, Iggy is really flashing leather.  He made an unbelievable play in the 6th. Josh Phegley hit a chopper that got over Fister’s head and looked like a sure infield hit.  But on came Iggy, who dove, barehanded the ball, and threw to first with both feet off of the ground to get Phegley at first.  Iggy also chipped in offensively with an infield single.

Bruce Rondon looked pretty good.  He came on in the 8th to clean up the Amazing Al’s mess.  With runners at second and third and nobody out Rondon surrendered a Texas Leaguer that got over the drawn in infield and a sacrifice fly but got Gordon Beckham to ground into an inning ending double play.  This was not a bad outing for Rondon considering what he inherited.

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

Tigers Lose 7-4. Dirks Embarrassing!

JV wasn’t great but he deserved better than what happened to him this afternoon.

The story of this game was written in the 4th inning. The Tigers scored 2 in the top of the 4th to tie the game at 2, but the White Sox came back in the bottom with 4 runs, thanks largely to the efforts of Tiger left fielder Andy Dirks. Dirks’ play in left field, makes ex-Cleveland left fielder Albert Joey Belle, look like a gold glover.

With one out and two on, White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers hit a 92 mph JV change up hard to left field that Andy Dirks completely misplayed. In fact, it looked like the ball went off of his glove, but miraculously, the official scorer gave Flowers a double and an RBI.

If Dirks makes the catch off of the bat of Flowers, Verlander and the Tigers probably get out of the inning still tied at two.

The Andy Dirks love affair has to come to an end.  He’s in a platoon role right now and I think that is too much playing time for him.  He’s not hitting much to speak of, he was 0-4 today with 2 strike outs, and his fielding is atrocious. I won’t even mention his pathetic attempt at a catch in the bottom of the second off of the bat of Conor Gillaspie.  All I can say is WTF?

IMHO, give Tui the left field job and let him play until he plays himself out of it. If/when that happens, bring Avisail Garcia back up and repeat the process. Let him play until he proves he can’t. Last time I checked, Avi was hitting over .400 in Toledo.

Next, when Infante comes back, Santiago has to go. He is an automatic out and adds no value. Let Perez back up Infante. On top of not hitting, Santiago can’t even move runners over with a productive out. He is absolutely on my last nerve now.

I understand that everyone is trying their best and nobody wants to suck but Dirks and Santiago have become embarrassing. The least Leyland and the Tigers can do is show some consideration for the fans by not running these shit birds out there on a regular basis.

This afternoon’s game was a shitty way to end this Chicago series.

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

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