Still Perfect But…

not pretty.

The weakness preventing the Tigers from winning a World Series in the last five years has been the bullpen.  After last season, I didn’t think the pen could get any worse, and with Joe Nathan’s early absence I was optimistic. I was wrong.

My biggest issue with David Price last year was that he rarely, if ever, but together two consecutive solid starts.  It was generally one superb outing followed by garbage.  I’m reserving judgement because today’s start was skewed by his own throwing error that allowed three unearned runs. Seriously, what is the issue with Tigers pitchers throwing to bases? That being said, Price only lasted five and two thirds.  That’s a problem because, I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before, the pen is a Carnival of Asses and the Soria experiment might need to be over.  I know we are only five games in but his leash is as short as Nathan’s.  At least Shit Bird Nathan had the decency to go on the DL.

The offense is SMOKIN BALLS!  Getting two runs off of Kluber was impressive but continuing to come back after losing the lead or having the lead shortened was even more so.  In fact, even though they struck out 10 times against him they were able chase Kluber after 6.2. Hey, I just thought of something, the Indians pen is worse than the Tigers.

One more thing, I’ve had it with Ausmus’s stupid late game substitutions.  This is an asinine habit he picked up from Jim Leyland or Gene Lamont or both.  Look we know you went to Dartmouth but you are making things more complicated than they need to be, and you don’t have Ryan Rayburn and Clete Thomas, defensive specialists, sitting on the bench. Remember Occam’s Razor.  More to the point, knock off the college boy antics jackass.

I’ll take 5-0.

Brad Ausmus is New Tigers Manager

CBS Sports dot com is reporting that Brad Ausmus will replace Jim Leyland as the Tigers manager.

The Tigers will name former big league catcher Brad Ausmus their new manager, reports Adam Spolane of SportsRadio 610. He will travel to Detroit on Sunday to finalize a contract.

Ausmus, 44, has never managed or coached at the big league level. He served as the manager for Team Israel in the qualifying rounds of the World Baseball Classic this spring. Ausmus has worked in the Padres’ front office as a special assistant since 2010.

Despite the lack of managerial experience, Ausmus is widely regarded for his baseball acumen and leadership skills. He has been considered a future manager since his playing days and recently interviewed for the Cubs’ vacant managerial seat.

Ausmus played 18 years in the majors, including three with the Tigers (1996, 1999-2000). He was a defense-first catcher who won three Gold Gloves (2001-02, 2006) and made one All-Star Team (1999).

I was hoping the Tigers would hire former Phillies manager Charlie Manuel.  But it doesn’t seem like he was even being considered.  That being said, based on who the Tigers were interviewing, I’m glad they chose Ausmus.

Catchers seem to make good managers.

Let’s hope Ausmus can help end the 30 year World Series drought.

“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

Offensive inconsistency nagging at Leyland

Perhaps I’m not the only one bothered by this offense?

“We have to score runs, fellas. It’s as simple as that,” he interjected. “We keep talking about the pitching and the bullpen and everything, but we’re not scoring runs. We have to score runs. We’ve had some blowouts once in a while when our numbers go up. We need to score runs, plain and simple. I’ll make it that simple for you. We need to get on the board with some runs.”

Entering play Tuesday, the Tigers led the Majors with a .285 batting average, 2,442 total bases and 163 go-ahead RBIs. They trailed only the Red Sox with 788 runs scored, 759 RBIs and a .787 OPS. However, Detroit also led baseball with 1,120 runners left on base, 45 more than the Red Sox, and 1,239 double plays grounded into.

Realistically, though, the Tigers’ offensive questions are better seen in the game-to-game numbers. Detroit and Boston are the only teams in baseball averaging five runs a game. The Tigers have scored double-digit runs in 18 of their 91 wins entering Tuesday, though just twice in September. However, they’ve also been shut out 11 times, three times in September. They’ve been held to one run in nine other games, three of those in September; one of them was a 1-0 win over the White Sox in Chicago.

keep reading here from MLB dot com.

“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

Sark’s Comment from June 30th, 2013

When Sark wrote this comment on June 30th, I was hoping it wouldn’t play out.

I’m having second thoughts.

Here’s what he said:

I agree they have become as unwatchable as ever. The 2003 team was more interesting simply because they were terrible, but we knew that going in. This team is supposed to be the best since 27 Yankees, or so we’ve been sold. There are so many holes in this team its hard to figure which to fill first. They simply can’t perform in the clutch. I would love to see a statistic that evaluates how many runners reach first base and then touch home plate. Can’t be a very good ratio on this team.

I can see them out of first place at the all-star break, though that will be the case much sooner on this road trip. Hate to say it but they’re going to need a change of manager to put a spark into this team. Things are getting too stale and the players are becoming a reflection of the manager. You know – ‘it’s a long season and the talent will win out’. Dangerous attitude to have when there are hungry teams in the chase.

Here‘s a link to the original post, “Just About Unwatchable”.

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

Tigers Dust Indians 10-5

The Tigers starting pitching today was better than it has been all week.  Anibal Sanchez lasted 6 and 2/3 surrendering only 3 runs.

Omar Infante had a day, he hit two homers and drove in 5 runs.  He hit a three run shot in the second and a two run shot in the 6th.

The impressive inning for Sanchez was the fifth.  With the Tigers up 4-1, the Indians put runners at the corners with nobody out.  Sanchez was able to get Lonnie Chisenhall to pop out.  He struck out Ian Gomes, gave up an RBI single to Michael Bourne, then struck Nick Swisher out to end the inning.  Sanchez was able to avoid a big inning and keep the Tigers in the lead surrendering only 1 run.

I wasn’t at the game, so I couldn’t see, but was Dirks or Hunter hustling to backup Ajax when he ran into the wall and hurt himself in the top of the 8th?  It looked like it took Dirks a long time to get the ball.

It was also in was nice to see the Tigers come back and put runs on the board in the bottom of the 8th after the Indians cut the Tigers lead to 6-5.

Lead by Austin Jackson’s 2 run triple, the Tigers put up four more runs in the bottom of the 8th to extend the lead to 10-5.

Iggy continues to impress, this time with his offense.  In the bottom of the 8th after Jacskon’s two run triple, Jim Leyland put the squeeze play on with Iggy at the plate.  The first pitch Iggy saw was a fast ball over his head but he found a way to get the bunt down allowing Jackson to score on the play.

Also, kind of under the radar, Brayan Pena has had a really nice season at the plate.  He was 2-4 tonight and his hitting .313 on the season.  This is huge considering the Tigers have gotten relatively little in the way of offense from the often injured Alex Avila.

Jose Veras didn’t look good.  He gave up three hits, two earned runs, and several hard hit balls in his one inning of work.

Verlander gets the call tomorrow as the Tigers go for the sweep.  I don’t know what to expect but I’ll hope for the best.  I’ll take 7 innings with 3 earned runs or less.

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

Tigers lose game and series to Twins

This was a disgusting loss.  The Tigers fell to the Twins 7-6 this afternoon at Comerica Park and dropped the series 2-1.  Since the their 12 game win streak ended , the Tigers have lost series to the Yankees, White Sox and Twins.

I wrote yesterday how shutting down the running game and using the running game on offense were issues for the Tigers.  But I can’t fall back on that today. The Tigers didn’t pitch well enough to win today.

Starting pitcher, Justin Verlander, lasted 7 innings but was just short of terrible. He allowed 10 hits and six earned runs while walking 3 and striking out 6.  I don’t have the words for JV.  In one start he looks like he’s the JV of old, in the next he looks like he’s not going to get anybody out.  Today was the latter.

The Tigers were down 6-2 heading to the bottom of the 6th.  Bryan Holaday, for the second night in a row, sparked a Tigers rally.  With two out, Infate on third and Igelsias on 2nd, Holaday drove in Infante and turned the lineup over for Austin Jackson who tied the score with a 3 run shot.

The scored stayed tied at 6 into the top of the 8th when Bruce Rondon gave up the winning run on a walk and a Chris Hermann double.  It looked like Austin Jackson misjudged the ball off of Hermann’s bat but regardless, when you give up 6 runs, you can’t expect to win many games.

In the bottom of the 8th and the Tigers trailing 7-6, Jim Leyland pinch hit Brayan Pena for Matt Holaday.  Normally, I wouldn’t have a problem with this move, but Holaday was having a nice game.  He was 2-2 with a walk, 2 RBIs, and his first MLB home run.  I think he should have played the hot hand and let Holaday bat.

Off to NYC for a weekend series with the Mets.

“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

GOOD OLE DIRKSY!

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. I hope Dirksy is on a roll and this isn’t just a one game reprieve.
  6. Brayan Pena is raking.  He had two more hits tonight and is batting .313.  That’s a lot more than I expected.
  7. 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.

Andy Dirks The Andy Man
The Andy Man Can

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.

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