I have to tip my virtual hat to Joe Nathan tonight. I know he’s a turd but he looked pretty good. I wasn’t even planning to rag on him if he blew the save. He made good pitches to the first two Royals but ended up with runners on first and second and nobody out.
Nathan could have folded. I expected him to fold. He didn’t. He came back with two strikeouts and a pickoff.
Speaking of pickoffs. Thank you Jarrod Dyson! What in the sam hell were you doing? Whatever it was keep doing it.
It looks like some Royals fans are not happy with Ned Yost.
Congratulations, Ned Yost, you just managed the worst inning of the season.
The situation: The Kansas City Royals trailed the Cleveland Indians 4-3 entering the top of the ninth. The Indians summoned closer Chris Perez from the bullpen, a guy who has been awful of late. In his previous 13 appearances Perez had faced 60 batters and allowed 18 hits — including four home runs — and four walks. In September, he’d pitched four innings and allowed eight hits.
David Lough pinch-hit for Cain and sacrificed. Didn’t take a pitch. Didn’t make Perez throw at least one strike. He bunted the first pitch.
Look, it’s not just the sabermetric crowd who is anti-bunt. Managers have become anti-bunt, not sacrificing nearly as often as they used to. It’s a one-run strategy with minimal payoff in a world where more hitters than ever can drive the ball for extra bases or out of the park. A bunt may slightly increase your chance to score one run but it also decreases your chance for multiple runs. It’s a strategy from an era when singles were more common, but in this age of increasing strikeouts and declining batting averages, singles are less likely than ever to occur.
In this specific instance, though, why give an out to a pitcher who has been a train wreck of late? Why make him get only two outs in an inning instead of three?
After struggling mightily this season, especially on the last road trip, Andy Dirks started in left field tonight and batted lead-off, while Jim Leyland rested Austin Jackson. Dirksy paid dividends right away. He led off the bottom of the 1st with a single and ended up going 4-4 with 2 singles and 2 doubles.
I’ve been hard on Dirksy this year but I thought he had some good at bats Tuesday in Chicago and was on the verge of coming out of his funk. Today was a good start. Hopefully, he can keep rolling and the Tigers won’t have to worry about what to do in left field anymore.
Prince Fielder, almost on queue, hit a two run homer in the bottom of the first and that was more than enough for the Tigers pitching staff tonight.
After a very rough first inning, Anibal Sanchez, gave the Tigers 7 1/3, allowing only a first inning run. He struck out 5 and walked one. What makes this start more impressive is that Sanchez needed 30 pitches to get out of the 1st inning. It looked like it was going to be a short night, but he composed himself, and pitched into the 8th while throwing 115 pitches.
What’s even more interesting, in regard to Anibal’s start, was that Jim Leyland allowed him to throw 115 pitches, which is usually reserved for only Justin Verlander.
Bruce Rondon relieved Sanchez with one out in the 8th and continues to impress. He recorded the last two outs. I was hoping he’d come out for the 9th to preserve Benoit for the rest of the series. But it was not to be. Benoit came on in the 9th and recorded his 16th save.
Jarrod Dyson flashed some serious leather in the bottom of the 8th. Victor Martinez led off the inning by hitting a laser to right-center. Off of the bat, it looked like a sure double and perhaps even a triple, but Dyson kept gaining ground and made a beautiful running catch.
Here are a few random notes:
It was nice to see Prince hit a home run. I’m not sure exactly how long since his last one, but it seemed like a month or so.
I’m more than a little concerned at the way teams run at will on the Tigers. It seems to be a combination of the pitchers falling asleep and the catchers not throwing well. Right now, it hasn’t bitten them to much, but in close games it could be huge.
I’m also concerned about the way the Tigers run the bases. Dirks and Hunter both made blunders, on the same play, in the bottom of the third tonight. Dirksy led off with a double. Hunter followed with a ground ball back to the pitcher. Dirks got a little too anxious and got caught between second and third. To make matters worse, Hunter got caught between first and second. It was very strange double play. Right now the running game doesn’t look like a big deal, but it could really come back to haunt the Tigers in an important game.
Jose Iglesisas and Omar Infante turn double plays like they’ve been together for years. As long as Iglesias can hit just a little, his acquisition should turn out to be fantastic.
I hope Dirksy is on a roll and this isn’t just a one game reprieve.
Brayan Pena is raking. He had two more hits tonight and is batting .313. That’s a lot more than I expected.
After a rocky start to his big league career, Bruce Rondon looks fantastic. He has lowered his ERA to 3.68.
There were a few omens that proved prescient for the night Dirksy had. First, is this sign from a guy in a Tiger striped suit, right behind the Tiger dugout.
Second, as Dirks was stepping to the plate to lead off the game for the Tigers, my Dad said Dirksy is going to hit a bullet to right field. He was correct. Actually, the older I get, the smarter my Dad becomes. 🙂
The Tigers could use a “JV” performance tomorrow in game one. It would be nice to take the first two of this 5 game series with TBD slated for game two.