Tigers 4 Twins 2

Whew!  Fister and the pen got it done reducing the Tigers’ magic number to 1.

The Tigers always seem to make it interesting.

Despite scoring 4 runs the offense was pathetic again.  They scored all their runs in the 4th inning but missed several chances to blow this game wide open and take some pressure off the pitching staff.  The biggest blown opportunity was in the second inning when the Tigers loaded the bases with nobody out and couldn’t push across a single run.

Cabrera left 4 runners on base and took an 0-4.  Fielder was 1-4 and left 3 on base.  Matt Tuiasosopo and Alex Avila each took ohfers and stranded 3 runners a piece.  The bright spot on offense was Austin Jackson.  AJax has been struggling but went 3-5 and drove in the winning runs with a two run big-bingo to put the Tigers up 4-1.

Fister was good, the bullpen was better.  Fistet pitched 6.1, allowed 8 hits, one run, struck out 7 and walked one.

Smyly and The Amazing Al got the final two outs in the 7th stranding Twins at first and second.

Conspicuously, Bruce Rondon was called upon to pitch the 8th and was very impressive striking out the side.  Hmmm does anybody else find it interesting that Veras was brought in to pitch the 8th?  Maybe the Puppet Master isn’t getting the warm and fuzzies from Veras either.

The Tigers are getting nothing offensively from left field.  If they can clinch tomorrow perhaps they should start Jhonny Peralta all three game is left in Miami and see what they’ve got.  Offensively, it is hard to imagine doing any worse than the platoon of Dirks, Tui, and DK.  (Hat Tip Rossie for this suggestion).

I’ll say this one more time, WTF is up with this offense?

Scherzer goes for number 21 and the division tomorrow.

Get it done!

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

Royals 1 Tigers 0

This was a tough loss to take but no that surprising.  Both Fister and Santana pitched like aces but the “top rated” Tigers offense could not produce a single run.

I understand that Santana has had a good season and pitched well tonight but with the money the Tigers have invested in their offense it is not unreasonable to expect better.

This game has it’s share of leather flashin.  Royals’ short stop Alcides Escobar made several nice plays.  Torii Hunter threw a seed from right field to gun down Chris Getz trying to take third on a fly ball in the top of the 8th.  Miguel Cabrera and Alex Avila teamed up to cut down Eric Hosmer trying to score from third and a ground ball in the first.  And the play of the game was a relay from Alex Gordon to Alcides Escobar to Salvador Perez to cut down Prince Fielder at the plate to end the game.

Objectively speaking this was a really well played game.  The only problem is that the Tigers offense couldn’t come up with a single run.  This seems to be the story of the last two seasons, no consistency on offense.  They score a lot of runs one game then go into hibernation for a week. It is very frustrating and sometimes painful to watch.

There are two plays in particular I’d like to address.

  1. In the bottom of the sixth Iggy led off with a bunt single.  At this point it was obvious runs were going to be at a premium.  I was hoping the Tigers would give Iggy the green light to try to swipe second.  I’m not big on bunting a guy over from first to second but I am a fan of the stolen base.  Instead, Jackson followed with a fielders choice then Hunter and Cabrera flew out to end the inning.  If Iggy could have stolen second he could have gone to third on Jackson’s ground ball and scored on Hunters fly out.  Instead the Tigers settled for nothing.  I understand speed is not the Tigers game but Iggy does bring this dimension to the team.  This would have been the perfect time to try something new instead of just going to the plate and taking your hacks against a pitcher that’s been dominating you.  I could have lived with Iggy getting thrown out at second.  But I can’t live with doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
  2. In the bottom of the 8th Miggy came to the plate following a Hunter double.  This put Hunter a second with two out.  Cabrera then ended the inning with a ground out to second base on the first pitch.  I know it is hard to complain about Miggy but he has been horrible the last few weeks and I’m not sure it is all injury related.

On the bright side Fister did pick off Emilio Bonifacio at first base in the top of the third inning.  With pick offs and runners thrown out at second the Tigers seem to be making strides at slowing down the opposing team’s running game.  Now if they could manufacture a run or two of their own they might have something.  Still with this lineup they really have no excuse for being shut out ever, let alone, 11 times this season.

Let’s see if Max can get is 20th win of the season in the rubber game tomorrow.

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

Royals 5 Tigers 2

After scoring 16 runs the first game of the series the Tigers scored just five the final two games.  As a result, they lost the weekend series and the season series to the Royals.

As we have noted here several times, the Tigers cannot manufacture runs.  When they are not pounding the ball it is difficult for them to score.  It is difficult for them to win.  Couple that with sub-par pitching 3 of the last 4 games and we have a recipe for disaster.

I know, statistically, the Tigers have the best offense in baseball.  However, these numbers are skewed.  The Tigers put up huge numbers in a game or two and then do relatively little for the next week.  If we take this series with the Royals, the Tigers scored 21 runs in 3 games for an average of 7 runs per game.  But like Mark Twain said, “there are lies, damn lies and statistics.”  Upon closer examination we see the real picture.  16 runs the first game, 3 runs the second and 2 runs in the third.  If we take just the last two games, the Tigers only scored 2.5 runs per, hardly enough to win.

The Tigers have gotten away with streaky offense most of this season but that was due in large part to the pitching.  But now the pitching needs to be picked up and the offense can’t find a way to score with consistency.

The Tigers have positioned themselves to win with a specific formula, pitching, defense, and homers.  When any of these three elements are lacking the Tigers struggle to win.

In the first game of this series Tigers announcer Rod Allen marveled at how the Tigers continued to grind out at bats with the score well in hand.  Over the last two games, we didn’t see a lot of grinding, unless you count grinding to a halt.

Alex Avila threw out Lorenzo Cain, the second consecutive base runner the Tigers have thrown out, in the second inning.  Iggy hit a homer in the 3rd to give the Tigers the lead but that was about all there was to cheer about for Tigers fans today.

Much like JV, I’m not sure what to make of this team, but my hope of the 29 year drought coming to an end this season is fading, and fast.

Let’s see what they can do in Chicago.

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

Royals 4 Tigers 3

It would have been nice to save some hits and runs from yesterday to use today but I guess that’s not the way it works.  After a 16 run, 26 hit attack last night the Tigers could manage only 3 runs on 5 hits tonight.  I know, you can’t expect 26 hits every game but I was hoping the Tigers’ offense would go on a roll similar to roll the Red Sox have been on since tagging the Tigers with 20 runs on Wednesday.

The Tigers had chances but couldn’t get a big hit from someone not named Miguel Cabrera.  With two out in the 5th and the bases loaded Miggy walked to drive in the tying run.  This brought Prince to the plate with a chance to do major two out damage but popped out to third to end the inning.

JV was disappointing again tonight.  Whatever his issues are I have lost all hope of getting them solved this season.  It has gotten hard to watch him pitch.  Even in games where his final line doesn’t look too bad it seems like every inning is a struggle.  His final line tonight was 7 innings, 8 hits, 4 earned, 7 strikeouts, 1 walk and 114 pitches thrown.  The 114 gives him an average of 16.3 pitches per inning.  Of his seven innings pitched he got the Royals 1-2-3 only twice, in the 2nd and 7th.  Maybe I’ve just gotten spoiled with Verlander’s last few seasons but something looks off with him.

One good takeaway from tonight’s game is that the Tigers finally threw out a base runner.  In the bottom of the first Brayan Pena threw out Emilio Bonifacio trying to steal second.  I believe this is the first base runner the Tigers have thrown out in the last 26 attempts not counting last night’s pick off.

The Tigers have Fister on the mound tomorrow against Tigers’ nemesis Bruce Chen.  The Tigers need a win tomorrow to win this three game series and tie the season series with the Royals.

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

A’s Dust Tigers – The Misery Continues

tonight’s game marked the first time in 56 games that the Tigers have had three consecutive starts of less than 6 innings.  It’s was a good run but now it’s just plain ugly!

It was Doug Fister’s turn to take a dump tonight.  He lasted only 5 innings and looked like he was throwing batting practice to the A’s.

If Fister was bad, the pen was worse.  It didn’t matter who Leyland threw out there, they got shelled.  Check out these lines:

Fister, 5 innings, 13 hits, 7 earned, 0 walks, 2 strike outs.

Alvarez, 2 and 1/3 innings, 5 hits, 5 earned, 0 walks, 1 strike out.  Alvarez is trying to get Phil Coke called up.  He’s been brutal since his call up.

Smyly, didn’t get anybody out.  He pitched 0 innings, 2 hits, 2 earned, 0 Walks.

Finally, Bonderman came on pitched an inning and 2/3, allowed 1 hit, no runs, and struck out 2.

Bonderman and Avila are my players of the game.  Bonderman was the only pitcher that could get anybody out and Alex Avila went 2 for 4 with 2 RBIs.  As I go to sleep tonight he has his batting average at .201, just over the Mendoza line.

Don’t look now but at the start of play tonight the Tigers lead over the Tribe was only 3 games.  And the Indians and Braves are tied at 2.  What this means is that all of the equity the Tigers gained from their 12 game win streak has been wiped out.  The Indians will come in town this weekend with a chance to tie the Tigers for the division lead.

Is this 2009?

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

Tigers 6 Mets 1

The Tigers beat the Mets tonight, 6-1, a Citifield.

With the game tied 1-1, the Tigers exploded for four runs in the second for a 5-1 lead.  As usual, Doug Fister, put up zeroes and shut the Mets out, with help from his friends in the pen.

The big blast in the second inning, came off the bat of the Mighty Miggy.  With two on and two out Miggy took the first pitch from Daisuke Matsuzaka and sent it over the left field wall for his 41st of the season.  Torii Hunter hit a solo shot in the first to get the Tigers started and AJax, Austin Jackson, capped off the scoring with a solo home run in the 7th.

This was the first start for Daisuke Matsuzaka in the big leagues in over a year and other than the second inning, I thought he pitched pretty well.  He gave the Mets 5 innings, allowed 5 earned runs on 6 hits.  He struck out 4 and walked 1.  If he could have avoided the long ball, his line would look a lot better.  If I were a Mets fan, I would be fairly happy with what Daisuke gave them.

For the Tigers, Fister, was aces.  But I think the important thing today was the pitching of Drew Smyly.  Smyly relieved Fister with one out in the 7th and inherited runners on 1st and 2nd.  Smyly got Eric Young Jr. on strikes and got Daniel Murphy to fly out to right to end the threat.  This was big because I thought Smyly struggled, just a bit, in his last few outings but looked impressive today.

Victor Martinez started at catcher tonight for the first time in two years or so and looked pretty good.  I’m not sure what I was expecting but Victor didn’t look broken down at all.  He actually looks like he’s feeling pretty well.  In fact, in the first inning, on the play that the Mets scored their only run, Victor made a nice play at the plate.  Don Kelly made a great throw from left field, and Victor received the ball well and did a good job of blocking the plate.  Although, the runner was safe, it was a solid play on both ends by DK and Victor and not one I would expect from an ailing catcher.

The Tigers got some bad news regarding Alex Avila today.  Apparently, he’s been playing in Toledo and has complained of headaches.  Concussions are tricky things and I hope this doesn’t linger.  That being said, I think Alex has looked broken down and beaten up since the end of the 2011 season and I think his declining offensive production is directly related to his ailing body.  While I hope his concussion problems get solved I think an extended period of rest would the be best for his career in the long term.  I think Alex is so beaten up that it will take more than a few months for him to recover.  If Victor feels ok, perhaps the Tigers should consider making Pena the starter, let Martinez spell him once a week or so, and just let Alex rest.  While I like Alex and wish nothing but the best for him, I think a six months to a year off would do the trick for him.  He needs to get healthy not only for the Tigers long term, but for himself.

Scherzer v Harvey tomorrow afternoon.

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

Mighty Miggy!

The Mighty Miggy hit his 39th home run, a solo shot, in the bottom of the 9th to give the Tigers a 6-5 win and even this 5 game series with the Royals.

Despite leaving 9 men on base, the Tigers offense was able to bail the pitching staff out tonight.  The pitching wasn’t horrible but it is not what Tigers fans have come to expect.

Doug Fister lasted 6 and 1/3.  He surrendered 3 earned.  Fister walked 2, struck out 6 and gave up 10 hits.

The top of the 4th inning featured one of the strangest plays I’ve ever seen. With Chris Getz on first base and nobody out, Fister threw a pitch that Alcides Escobar foul tipped behind home plate.  Home plate umpire Mike Muchlinski ruled it a wild pitch.  While Brayan Pena was waiting for the umpire to hand him a new ball, Chris Getz ran all the way to 3rd base.  If it wasn’t for Doug Fister, realizing what had happened, and retrieving the ball, Getz would have scored.  As it turned out, Getz ended up scoring when Escobar doubled to tie the game at three.

Jim Leyland and Brayan Pena, furious at the call, were both thrown out of the game.  Replays showed that the call was blown.  It was clearly a foul tipped ball.

Withe score tied at 4 in the bottom of the 7th, Prince Fielder homered to give the Tigers the lead back 5-4 but the bull pen couldn’t hold it.  Jose Veras allowed the tying run in the top of the 8th and the stage was set for Miggy’s heroics.

Royals reliever Aaron Crow came in to pitch the 9th with Miggy leading off.  Crow fell behind Miggy 3-1 and I was sure he was just going to put him on.  And in fact, he may have been trying to.  The 3-1 pitch looked to be about 6 inches off of the plate away, but Miggy expanded the strike zone and did what he does.  He hit a bullet over the right field fence giving the Tigers a much needed win.

The running game is becoming a big problem for the Tigers.  They can’t stop anybody from running and this deficiency is compounded when the pitching staff gives up walks.  They need to find a way to address this but I’m not sure they have the tools to do so.  Neither Pena, Holaday nor Avila have been very effective at throwing this year.  I hope this doesn’t come back to bite the Tigers in a crucial situation, like a playoff or World Series game.

On the flip side of the coin, the Tigers did a bit of running themselves tonight.  They scored their third run in the bottom of the second on a suicide squeeze.  With Infante on 3rd and one out, Iggy, laid down a bunt that not only scored Infante but gave Iglesias another infield hit.

With a win tomorrow, the Tigers can win the five game series 3-2.

Update, Cleveland Indian’s second baseman, Jason Kipnis, tweeted this today, “Dear Miggy… You’re making the rest of us look bad.. Knock it off! – MLB Hitters”.  Hat Tip to Sark for showing me the Kipnis tweet. I have retweeted the Kipnis tweet and it can be seen on the right side of this page.

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