Thank You Victor!

Victor hit a solo shot in the 10th to bail out Tigers closer, Joe Nathan, and give the Tigers a split of the two game series with the Dodgers, 7-6.

After blowing his second save in a Tigers uniform, Tigers closer Joe Nathan, picked up a bat and headed to the on deck circle in the top of the 10th.  As he was heading up the stairs of the dugout he had a short conversation with Tigers skipper Brad Ausmus.

Ausmus: What are you doing?
Nathan: Getting ready to hit.
Ausmus: Sit down.  You’ve done enough.

Early on, I was afraid Ausmus was going to let Anibal go too long so he could qualify for the win. I thought he should have come out after Crawford’s double with two out in the 5th. But, Sanchez was able to get out of it.  He was shaky at first, throwing 63 pitches in the first two innings, but settled down to retire nine in a row before Crawford’s aforementioned double.

Ausmus probably wanted to save Smyly, who was warming up, for the Dodgers left handers coming up.  Whatever the case, it worked out, although Sanchez didn’t get the win.

Thanks Joe!

Despite Nathan’s heroics, there was a lot to like in this game, not the least of which was Victor’s game winning solo shot in the 10th.

The Good:

  • The Tigers manufactured a run with steals in the first.
  • Sanchez had a nice, unexpected double in the second.
  • Dee Gordon’s costly error to extended the second inning.
  • The Dodgers squeeze play in 2nd with a 3-2 count on Beckett, while not good for for the Tigers, was still a pretty sweet play.
  • Nick Castellanos hit a three run shot in the third, his first MLB homer.
  • The Tigers stole three bases.
  • Ajax had a big sac fly in the 7th to increase the Tigers lead to 6-3.
  • Tyler Collins got is first MLB hit in the 8th and added his second in the 10th.
  • Drew Smyly and Ian Krol were smokin’ balls out of the pen. Smyly pitched three complete, allowing only one hit in relief of Sanchez.   Krol came on to relieve Joba in the 10th and struck out Adrian Gonzalez and Andre Eithier.
  • The Amazing Al came into relieve Krol and got the final out.

The Bad:

  • Anibal Sanchez was shaky in the first two innings throwing 63 pitches.
  • The Tigers bounced into three double plays.
  • Joe Nathan.
  • Joe Nathan got the win.

The Ugly:

  • Joe Nathan blew another save by giving up three runs in the 9th.  I don’t have the words.  He was horrible.

Quietly, Ian Kinsler seems to be a nice addition to the Tigers.  Whether it is hitting, fielding or running, he seems to do something good to help the Tigers win.  However, the best part about the Kinsler acquisition is that Prince in not in a Tigers uniform anymore.

Trivia: The Dodgers have now played longer in LA than they did in Brooklyn. (H/T Shannon Hogan)

Tigers 10 Orioles 4

It was nice to see the Tigers offense explode for 10 runs.  I just hope this isn’t the continuation of a familiar pattern, 10 runs one game, then nothing for the next few.

The Good:

  • The Tigers moved to 3-0.
  • The Mighty Miggy went 4-5 including his 2,000th hit, a two run bomb in the 8th.
  • Drew Smyly came in to relieve Anibal Sanichez after the rain delay.  He pitched 3 innings, struck out 3, walked 1 and didn’t allow a run.
  • Nice defensive play by Andrew Romine in the 6th.

The Bad:

  • Joba Chamberlain.  WTF?

The Ugly:

  • The weather was horrible.  I hate cold, rainy, days.
  • Romine got charged with an error in the 5th.  From all the angels I saw, it looked like he recorded the out at second and dropped the ball on the transfer.  What made this ugly is that the umpires reviewed the play and upheld the call on the field.  My only response is WTF?

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

 

 

 

TIgers 7 Red Sox 3

The Puppet Master pulled the right strings tonight.  In an unconventional, but much needed move, Jim Leyland shook up the lineup in hopes of waking up this pathetic offense.

It worked.  At least for today.

Leyland moved the first 7 batters up a spot and put the struggling Austin Jackson in the 8th slot.  The revamped lineup scored 7 runs.

Importantly, Austin Jackson seemed comfortable hitting down in the lineup.  He was on base 4 times with 2 hits and 2 walks.

The only Tiger not to reach base tonight was Prince Fielder.

Victor Martinez continues to rake with two more hits tonight and Alex Avila, although he didn’t get a hit, walked twice and got hit by a pitch.

It was nice to see Iggy chip in today with a hit, an RBI, and flashin serious leather.

Fister pitched well.  He went 6 complete, allowed 1 run on 8 hits, struck out 7 and walked only 1.  He turned it over to the pen, they got the job done, and the Tigers evened the 2013 ALCS at 2 games apiece.

Even with a 7 run lead, after Sunday’s disaster, the bull pen makes me nervous.

The one move I have to take exception with is bringing Benoit in for the 9th.  Smyly retired the last two outs in 7th and got the Red Sox 1-2-3 in the 8th.  He was, in a phrase, ‘”smokin balls”.  I was hoping he’d come out for the 9th.  But Jim Leyland didn’t agree with me.

Apparently, Jimmy was trying to give Benoit a chance to regain his confidence by bringing him in with a 5 run lead.  In my humble opinion, this is not the time to worry about a player’s confidence, it’s time to win ball games.  That being said, it worked out and the series is even.  Kudos in Tigers manager Jim Leyland.

I’d like to extend a Happy Flashin Leather birthday to regular reader Al, who shares a Birthday with former Tiger Juan Gonzalez and FOX broadcaster, Tim McCarver.

Sanchez against Lester tomorrow.

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

Tigers 3 A’s 2

Whew!

Behind excellent pitching and just enough offense the Tigers took the first game of the series in Oakland.

The Tigers scored three runs in the first but couldn’t add on the rest of the way.  This was not really a surprise.  This is the same thing we’ve seen all year.

Scherzer, Smyly and Benoit were outstanding and combined to strike out 16 Oakland batters.

Readers of this blog know I’ve been hard on Dirks this year and I’m going to continue.  The Tigers are still not getting anything substantial out of his bat and his fielding is terrible at best. I know, there is supposed to be some metric that tells us Dirksy is a wonderful fielder but the numbers don’t correspond to the visual.

In the bottom of the second Yoenis Cespedes hit a hard shot to left field that ended up as a one out triple.  I understand the ball was hard hit but it looked like Dirksy didn’t take a very good route to the ball.  It would have been a nice play.  It is a play I would expect a good left fielder to make.

There was another play in the 5th or 6th inning where Dirks ran for a ball in foul territory.  The ball looked like it hit the palm of his glove and he ended up dropping it.

Luckily, Max was able to pitch around these two plays and the pen was able to hold on for the win but I think Leyland and the Tigers really need to evaluate what they are getting from left field both offensively and defensively.  I’m not even saying put Peralta in but perhaps it’s time to put DK in left.  Let him play solid defense and take what you can from his bat.  What are you really losing playing DK over Dirksy?

In the 6th the Tigers had a chance to add on.  With one out, Martinez on second and Avila on first, Omar Infante singled sharply to right field.  Tom “The Windmill” Brookens sent Victor home and he was nailed at the plate for the second out of the inning.  At first, I was screaming about another horrible send from The Windmill, but on further review, I think it was the right thing to do.  The Tigers had just gotten three hits and Dirks was up next.  At this point, you can’t expect anything from Good Ole Dirksy.

I’ve been screaming all year about the offense but nothing is going to change.  The formula the Tigers used tonight to win will have to be the recipe going forward.  But at least if they could tighten up the left field defense, it might increase their chances.

JV goes tomorrow.  Your guess is a good as mine regarding what to expect.

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

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

Twins 4 Tigers 3

If you haven’t been worried about Jose Veras now might be a good time to begin.

With the Tigers leading 3-0 going to the bottom of the 8th Veras took over for the Amazing Al.  Jose lasted 1/3 of an inning and surrendered two runs on two hits and a walk.  This forced The Puppet Master to ask Joaquin Benoit to get 5 outs and save the game.

Benoit got two outs to end the 8th but gave up a solo home run to Brian Dozier leading off the 9th.  This was Benoit’s first blown save of the season but a lot of the blame has to fall on Veras.

That being said, it is a sad state of affairs for the offense that only managed 1 run against Twins starter, Mike Pelfrey, who had an ERA over 5.50 entering the game.

I’m very worried about Veras, and he has to take a lot of credit for this loss, but this game shouldn’t have been this close to begin with.  I think the biggest problem is Austin Jackson.  He managed 1 hit today but is 1 for his last 18.

JV was very good today.  The only problem was his pitch count which forced him to exit after pitching 6 scoreless innings, during which he walked 3, and struke out 12.  Verlander had only thrown 107 pitches after 6 so I was surprised he didn’t come out for the 7th.  Instead, Smyly and Alburquerque came in to pitch the 7th.

Besides striking out 12 hitters JV was able to pitch out of a few jams without allowing any runs.  The most impressive was the bottom of the 5th when Verlander allowed a lead off double to Alex Presley but managed to get out of the inning without allowing him to get any further.  This type of pitching reminded me of the JV vintage 2011 and 2012.  This was a very good sign.

The Amazing Al pitched very well tonight again.  After Smyly started the 7th and allowed two singles, AA, was able to get Dozier, Willingham, and Pinto to end the inning and preserve the three run lead.

The magic number remains at 2 and I don’t think it’s a lock by any means.  The Tigers have two more with the Twins but right now the season series is only Tigers 9 Twins 8.  After Minnesota, the Tigers head to Miami where the team isn’t that great but they do have some starting pitching that could give a slumping offense problems.

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 1 White Sox 0

Anibal Sanchez continues to make his case for this year’s AL Cy Young award.  He improved his record to 14-7 and lowered his league leading ERA to 2.50.  Anibal was masterful tonight in spite of an asinine strike zone from home plate umpire Larry Hanover.

Even with a strike zone that nobody could figure out, Sanchez managed to pitch 7 and 1/3 without allowing any runs.  He gave up only 5 hits, walked 4 and struck out 10.

A few weeks ago I thought Max Scherzer had the Cy Young locked up but Anibal is right on his heels along with Yu Darvish of the Rangers and Chris Sale of the White Sox.

The offense was pathetic tonight which is pretty much what I expected.  After scoring 9 runs last night. the Tigers managed only 1 run on 10 hits.  They were 1 for 11 with men in scoring position.

I’m not sure what the issue is but Miguel Cabrera doesn’t not look good at all.  I’m not sure if he just needs to get his timing back or if his injuries are plaguing him much more than we are lead to believe.  However, if continues hitting the way he did on this road trip, the Tigers are in trouble.

Veras, Smyly and Benoit were aces coming out of the bull pen to preserve the 1-0 win for Sanchez.

Nick Castellanos was 1-4 tonight.  I thought his most impressive at bat came in the first inning.  After falling behind 1-2 he worked the count back to even.  He then fouled off three pitches then took ball three to move the count to full.  He ended up striking out but he did make Jose Quintana throw him 9 pitches.

The Tigers lead in the central is back up to 6.5 games courtesy of the Indians loss to the Royals earlier in the day.

This was a nice win.  After losing the opening game, and third in a row, they managed to win the final two and take the series.

The Royals come to Comerica Park this weekend.  Friday’s game features Justin Verlander against Bruce Chen.  Let’s hope it goes better than the last time these two faced each other.

“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