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

The Streak Ends At 12…

as the Tigers fell to the Yankees tonight, 4-3, in 10 innings.

Rick Porcello started the game and only lasted 5 innings allowing 3 runs on 6 hits.  He struck out six and walked 2.  Ricky didn’t pitch poorly but I knew he was in trouble from the very first batter.  The umpire, Will Little, was not calling the inside pitch to left handers a strike.  Brett Gardner led off the game with a walk and the replay showed that Ricky had struck him out twice but couldn’t get the inside strike called.  In fact, the Yankees first 5 hits were all from left handers and all to left or left center.  The only hard hit ball was Robinson Cano’s double that drove in 2 runs in the third.

In fact, this was one of the worst umpired games I’ve seen in a long time at home plate.  I couldn’t tell what was a strike and neither could anybody else.  Most of the time replays show that umpires get the calls right but not tonight.  I’m not sure what Little was looking at.

That being said, the Tigers had plenty of chances to score but the offense basically consisted of Autsin Jackson and Miguel Cabrera.  Jackson was 4-6 and Miggy was 2-5 and drove in all three Tigers runs.  The big hit was Miggy’s two run bomb in the 9th inning off of Mariano Rivera to send the game into extra innings.  It looked like the Tigers might go ahead in the 9th.  After Miggy’s homer, Fielder followed with a double.  The Yankees then walked Martinez putting runners at first and second with 2 out.  Andy Dirks stepped to the plate and completed his 0-5 night by grounding out to 2nd base.  Between Torii Hunter and Andy Dirks, they left 15 men on base.  Hunter stranded 8 while Dirksies chipped in with 7.

Ichiro Suzuki, Torii Hunter and Jose Iglesias all flashed leather tonight.  Ichiro was first when he made a nice running grab in right field, crashing into the wall and robbing Miggy of extra bases in the 3rd.  Torii Hunter made a fine sliding catch in foul territory on a ball hit by Alfonso Soriano to end the 7th and Jose Iglesias, smooth as silk, started a 6-4-3 double play in the bottom of the 8th to bail Bruce Rondon out of a jam and keep the Tigers within striking distance.

With the run the Tigers have been on it is hard to complain.  Hopefully, they can regroup and start another streak tomorrow afternoon.

Looking at the big picture, the most important thing is that Jimmy Leyland got Andy Dirks a start and kept him in for the whole game.

Here’s a thought, Don Kelly was brought in to pinch hit for Jose Iglesias to lead off the 9th.  I know there’s no way of knowing Miggy would tie the score but perhaps it would have been a good idea to keep your best defensive player in the game in a tight game on the road.  It might have been a better idea to have Kelly pinch hit for Dirksy to lead off the top of the 8th.  Kelly could then have played left field instead of shortstop.  But, I guess at that point, Dirksy was only 0-3 with only 5 left on base.  But, what do I know.

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

12 IN A ROW! TIGERS SWEEP TRIBE 10-3!

Max Scherzer improved his record to 17-1 as the Tigers pounded the Indians and swept the 4 games series.  Max pitched 7 innings, allowed 2 earned runs, struck out 5 and walked on to earn his 17th win of the season.

The Tigers offense exploded in the 3rd when Indians starter Zach McAllister couldn’t throw strikes.  They scored six runs, 4 on back to back doubles by Fielder and Martinez.  They added 2 runs in the both the 4th and 5th innings and cruised to their 12 consecutive victory.

After 5 innings, the Tigers led 10-1.  I was expecting Miguel Cabrera, and possibly Prince Fielder, to come out of the game for some rest with the game well in hand but that didn’t happen.  Both Fielder and Cabrera played the entire game.

I’m a little confused.  Last night in a one run game, Jim Leyland pull Miggy out of the game for a defensive replacement and to rest his ailing hip.  Tonight, with a 9 run lead, he’s left in to play the whole game.  Perhaps, the thinking was that a defensive replacement in yesterday’s game might help preserve the lead and avoid extra innings?  I’m not sure.  But as it turned out, the Indians tied the game and Miggy missed at least 2 more at bats.  If that is the thinking, I can understand not pulling Miggy for defensive purposes, but how about to rest his injury.  Nothing seems to make sense but it’s hard to complain with the role the Tigers are on.

I guess the Important thing is that Andy Dirks started and played the whole game.  I’m not sure if the Tigers could have survived if Dirksy didn’t play.  He did have two hits and an RBI but they came when the game was well in hand.  In the third inning, with no score, Dirksy came up with the bases loaded and nobody out and promptly struck out on three pitches, all fast balls, up in the zone.

I think I’ve diagnosed a new illness.  It is very rare and only known to affect one person to date,  The illness is Dirksburger syndrome.  Similar to Assburger syndrome when the sufferer sees everybody’s behind as a cheeseburger, Dirksburger syndrome is more concentrated.  Those inflicted have this nagging neuroses that requires them to insert Andy Dirks into the lineup of a baseball game no matter what the circumstances are.  It is rare, never fatal, but could prevent the Tigers from ending their 29 year World Series drought.

In the 9th inning, Indians manager, Terry Francona, brought our old friend Ryan Rayburn in to pitch, and he looked pretty good, actually.  He retired the Tigers 1-2-3 and got Tui for a swinging K.

On to New York City, the city so nice they named it twice.  Hopefully Ricky can keep the wagon rolling.

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

Tigers Top Tribe 6-5. Extend Win Streak to 11.

Courtesy of a clutch two run double from Prince Fielder in the 14th inning, the Tigers were able to overcome some questionable substitutions, and extend their winning streak to 11 games.

Tigers’ manager, Jim Leyland, seems to have what can only be called an asinine obsession with Andy Dirks.  No matter what, come hell or high water, Leyland has to figure out a way to get Dirks into the game.  Why?  Am I missing something?  Is Dirks some kind of defensive wizard or offensive juggernaut? Tonight, with the Tigers down 3-2, Leyland brought in Dirks to pinch hit for, arguably the best defensive player on the team, Jose Iglesias to lead off the 8th inning.  I understand that Iglesias hadn’t done much against Indians pitcher Danny Salazar but not too many other Tigers had either.  In fact, at that point, Salazar had struck out the best player in the game, Miguel Cabrera, 3 times.

If bringing Dirks in wasn’t strange enough, Leyland wasn’t done tinkering.  Unbelievably, after Cabrera hit a two-run shot to give the Tigers the lead 4-3 in the 8th, Leyland pulled Miggy out of the game for a defensive replacement.  Should Miguel Cabrera ever be taken out of a close game unless he’s injured?  As a result, Dirks went to left field, Don Kelly went to third, Santiago went to short and Hernan Perez, now hitting in Cabrera’s spot, went to second.  If the Tribe tied the game, Miguel Cabrera would not bat again.

The Tribe came back to tie the game in the bottom of the 8th.  Cabrera didn’t bat again.

Luckily the Tigers were able to pull this game out in extra innings, but WOW!  You’re in extra innings, against your closest division rival, and Miguel Cabrera was out of the game.

On the bright side, Bruce Rondon and Jeremy Bonderman were very impressive.  Rondon bailed out the usually lights out Drew Smyly, in the bottom of the 8th.  He inherited runners at 2nd and 3rd with nobody out.  He blew Ryan Raburn away with a 103 MPH fastball,  He got Yan Gomes to ground out to shortstop, who for some reason was playing back.  The Tigers got the out at first but the tying run scored.  Rondon then got Mike Avilies to pop out to short to end the inning.  He would stay in and pitch a 1-2-3 9th.  This was a big pick-me-up for the usually solid Smyly.

Jeremy Bonderman was equally impressive in his first appearance as a Tiger since 2010.  Bonderman pitched three scoreless innings, allowing only 1 hit while striking out 3.  Bonderman looked like he did when he was the ace of the Tigers staff back in 2006.

In the top of the 10th, I saw two of the most horrible swings I’ve ever seen in 35 years of watching baseball.  Hernan Perez struck out on a pitch that was three feet outside.  The pitch was so bad it got by Indians’ catcher Yan Gomes and Perez was able to make it to first without a throw.  Next, Prince Fielder, struck out on a pitch that HIT HIM.  That’s right, he swung at the pitch, he missed it, and the ball hit him in the left thigh.

This was a very strange game.  I’m just glad the Tigers came out on top.

Update: I just heard Leyland in a post game interview.  He said the took Miggy out for defensive reasons.  He said Miggy wasn’t moving too well at 3rd so he moved Kelly to 3rd to solidify the defense.  So, remind me again, why you took Iglesias out?

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

White Sox Thrash Tigers 11-4

This was a very strange game.  The offense looked sluggish, which was not all that surprising, considering it was the first home game after a long road trip.

I thought JV looked good for 7 innings.  The odd thing about this start was that Verlander kept getting the first two outs in the inning but then surrendered hits to extend the innings.  I don’t think he had a 1-2-3 inning but through 7 had allowed only 1 run on 100 pitches with 3 strike outs.

With the score tied at 1, I was a little surprised to see JV come out for the 8th.  Especially, with Rios and Dunn coming up.  Dunn hadn’t done much but Rios had a single and a triple off of Verlander.  As the 8th started, Coke was warming up in the bullpen.  I figured Leyland would let JV pitch to Rios and then bring Coke in to face the leftie Dunn.  But that wasn’t the case.

Rios led off with a single.  I looked to the dugout, no Leyland.  Rios stole second.  No Leyland.  Dunn homered to right.  No Leyland.  JV was left in for two more hitters.  He left the game not having recorded an out in the 8th, having surrendered 3 runs, and responsible for the runners at first and third.

Alburquerque steps to the hill to relieve JV and continued his Toledo Mud Hens audition, that began in earnest a few days ago in Cleveland, and promptly served up a three run homer to Dayan Viciedo.

By the time the top of the 8th was over, the Sox had scored 7 runs, blowing the game wide open.

JV’s final line looks horrible.  He pitched 7 plus and gave up 5 earned raising his era to 3.71.

I just don’t get it.  I’m usually the first one to scream about letting pitchers go out for another inning, but his was insane.  Perhaps the bullpen was depleted and JV was just a sacrificial lamb?  I think this was a horrible thing to do, not only to JV, but to any pitcher.  I feel like Leyland hung JV out to dry.  Perhaps the Tigers still would have lost but JV deserved a better fate.

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