Tigers 8 Indians 6

At the time,  I thought J.D. Martinez’s 5th inning at-bat was the the decision point of the game.  He came up with a big two out hit that drove in two runs extending the Tigers lead to 5-2 after Miggy had struck out.

I thought Miggy’s subsequent sixth inning, two-run homer further extending the Tigers lead to 7-2 was insignificant, window dressing.  For a brief, delusional, moment, I forgot what was lurking in the Tigers bullpen.  They would need the additional runs.

Kyle Lobstein started and gave the Tigers a quality start plus.  He gave up three runs in seven innings. Nesbitt came in for the the eighth and gave up two runs in one third of an inning but was bailed out by Blaine Hardy. Soria came in to close the ninth and was shaky.  He gave up a run and was bailed out on a spectacular, back to the infield, basket catch, in shallow left field by Jose “Iggy” Iglesias.  Iggy’s catch salvaged the game and the series.  The Indians were coming and there was nobody to put out the fire.

I’ll take it.

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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 1 Red Sox 0

Nebraskaknows hit it right on the head when he said he “feels like a thief in the night” after the Tigers 1-0 win in game 1 of the 2013 American League Championship Series.

The Tigers pitching staff was fabulous again tonight.  As a staff they allowed only one hit and no runs.  It would be hard to ask much more from a pitching staff.

The Tigers offense strove for an unprecedented level of ineptitude.  The Boston pitchers were good but the Tigers offense was an abomination.  They managed only 1 run on 9 hits.

Without an extra base hit it takes the Tigers 4 hits in an inning to score a single run. The likely hood of that scenario playing out is not very good and this pathetic excuse for an offense is living proof.

Miguel Cabrera hit a ball in the corner tonight.  It bounced around, the outfielder bobbled it and still Cabrera could only get to first base.

Austin Jackson is on the verge of becoming un-playable.  He is doing absolutely nothing.  He did have a single tonight but struck out 2 more times.  In six postseason games this year he is hitting .200 with 15 strikeouts.  The Tigers may not have another center fielder but Austin needs to be moved out of the lead off spot. No matter how much I like him he has become an embarrassment at the plate.

In the top of the 9th he had a chance to make up for some of his struggles by doing something useful at the plate.  Iggy lead off with a single.  The Tigers needed Jackson to move him over.  AJax tried twice to bunt him over but couldn’t get the job done.  He ended up striking out.  What made matters worse was the Torii Hunter followed Jackson with a double to left field moving Iggy to third.

At this point all the Tigers needed was a fly ball to push across a second run and give Benoit some breathing room.  Unfortunately, as a result of substitutions, Don Kelly was now hitting in Cabrera’s spot.  DK struck out on 3 pitches.

I thought Leyland managed masterfully in the last game against Oakland.  But today’s moves leave me almost in shock.  With a one run lead Leyland had Cabrera and Peralta on the bench for the remainder of the game.  He got away with it today but for me these types of moves are asking for trouble.

Back at it tomorrow.

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

A’s 1 Tigers 0

The A’s tied the series tonight courtesy of a 1-0 win handing the Tigers their 13th shutout of the season.

There was nothing new to see here.  The Tigers got tremendous pitching and no offense.

I was listening to the post game show on the radio and Dan Dickerson said that the Tigers have scored in only 5 of their last 54 innings going back to the last week of the season.

Miguel Cabrera has carried this team for years.  Now he’s hurt and there is nobody there to pick him up.

Austin Jackson was embarrassing. He went 0-4 with 4 strikeouts.  He took fast balls down the middle and then swung at every other piece of garbage Sonny Gray threw to him.

Torii Hunter was 0-4 with 2 Ks.

Prince Fielder was 0-4.

In fact, the Tigers only managed 4 hits.  Cabrera had one, DK had 2 and Iggy had the other one.

Speaking of DK, he got the start in left tonight.  I wonder if Puppet Master, Jim Leyland, read last night’s game post. 🙂

The pitching left nothing to complain about.  The only thing I might have done differently would have been to bring Ricky in after the lead off hit by Cespedes in the 9th.  But really, how can I complain about a game where the pitching staff surrendered 1 run and lost.  Everything can be second guessed.

Monday is a 1:00 pm start at Comerica Park.  The Tigers will need a big start from Sanchez.  What’s new?

“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

THRASHED!

The Red Sox put a beating on the Tigers tonight the likes of which I haven’t seen in a long time.

Rick Porcello was absolutely awful.  He gave up three home runs, walked four, allowed 9 runs, 8 earned in only 5 innings of work.

Not be outdone were the Amazing Al and Jeremy Bonderman.  These two looked like they were a) throwing batting practice b) auditioning to pitch in next year’s home run derby or c) auditioning for the independent league.  My guess is that it was a combination of the three.

It took the Amazing Al two pitches to wipe Ricky’s slate clean and start one of his own. After “relieving” Porcello in the 6th with the bases loaded, Will Middlebrooks took Amazing Al’s second pitch and hit a grand slam over the Green Monster.

Jeremy Bonderman “relieved” the Amazing Al and tried to make us forget how horrible Alburquerqe was.  It didn’t work.

I don’t have the words to describe this abomination.

I guess the only good thing to come out of this game is that Jim Leyland has a pretty good idea who won’t be coming out of the bullpen should the Tigers make the post season.

Did I mention, Iggy got hurt and left the game with bilateral shin splints?

Unfortunately, when Miggy grounded out to short last night with the bases loaded the opportunity for the Tigers to win their first series in Boston since August of 2006 went out the window.  The pitching absolutely imploded.

The only thing we can do is try to forget this one and look at trying to win a series this weekend in Kansas City.

It won’t be easy.

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

Tigers, Fister Shutout Red Sox in Fenway

First things first.  Add Mike Napoli to the Tigers’ hit list.  He has to answer for his karate kick on Iggy in the bottom of the second inning.  Maybe there wasn’t a good time for it today, but sometime in the next two games, his ribs need to be lit up.  Bruce Rondon perhaps?

The pitching was impressive.  Doug Fister and his pals in the pen shut out a good hitting ball club in a good hitter’s park.  This wasn’t shutting out the Astros at Comerica.  This was shutting out the Red Sox in Fenway.  This is very encouraging considering the beating the entire staff took at the hands of the A’s last week.

Fister threw 7 complete, allowed 4 hits, struck out 4 and walked 4.  The walks were high, especially for Fister, but I’m chalking that up to the horrendous job umpire Eric Cooper did behind the plate today.  To say Cooper was horrible is being kind.  He blew.  He had no idea what he was calling and neither did anybody else.

It has been a relatively small sample, but if there is a better shortstop in baseball than Iggy, I haven’t seen him.  Everyday, Jose Iglesias does something jaw dropping.  Today he helped turn 3 double plays.  The one that really stuck out was in the bottom of the 6th.  With Shane Victorino on first, the Sox put on the hit and run.  Dustin Pedroia hit a ground ball to the right side of second base.  Iggy scooped up the ball, tagged Victorino and threw to first to complete the double play.  Fister and Porcello are going to love having Iggy behind them. Watch for both of their numbers to improve.

Oh yea, Iggy can hit a piece as well.  He was 1-3 today and hitting .319 on the season.

Kudos to Andy Dirks.  The Tigers had chances to score but couldn’t get the big hit.  That changed in the 7th when Dirksy tripled home Victor Martinez to break the scoreless tie in the top of the 7th.

Nice win.  The Tigers need another one tomorrow.  Napoli must answer for Iggy.

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