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


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

A Note on Jim Leyland…

I think it’s time for a change.  But I don’t blame Jim Leyland for the Tigers’ woes.  I think JL is a good manager and is doing the best he can with what he has.  But the Tigers need a spark and I don’t see it coming from elsewhere.

For me, it is World Series, or bust.  After 29 years, nothing but a championship will satisfy me.  I guess I’m hoping the Tigers can “catch lightning in a bottle”, similar to the way the 2003 Florida Marlins did.  After being in last place after 38 games, the Marlins fired manager Jeff Torborg and replaced him with 72 year-old Jack McKeon.  The Marlins went on to win the World Series.

I do take exception with the way Leyland is reluctant to sit “proven” players, the way he keeps putting Martinez in the 5th spot everyday despite hitting .232 with little power, for example.  But the Tigers are not struggling because of JL.  They are struggling because the bullpen is borderline horrible and the offense only plays 6 innings.

Sometimes I feel like after the offense starts out well, everybody thinks, ‘I did my job this game, let someone else do it now’.  Even Cabrera and Fielder don’t seem to have good at bats late in games.

I guess for all of my complaining a 5 game winning streak will probably get me back on the bandwagon.

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

Why Victor Must Go…

or at the very least, moved way down in the order.

Victor Martinez’s struggles this year are well documented.  After missing the entire 2012 season I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.  I was will to give him 40 to 50 games to get back in a groove.  Well, 80 games into the 2013 campaign, he is showing no signs of getting into a productive groove.

He’s hitting .232 with 6 homers and 40 RBIs.  Actually, the 40 RBIs aren’t bad, that puts him 3rd on the team behind Fielder and Cabrera, and on pace for 80 this season.  But his lack of power and speed make him a severe liability.

Consider this scenario:

Victor, comes to bat with the bases empty and gets to first on a walk or a single.  Obviously, he’s no threat to steal and only a horrible wild pitch or passed ball is getting him to second so let’s leave him on first for now and using today’s lineup Dirks steps to the plate and hits a single.

Victor is not going first to third so the Dirks single puts Victor on second.

Up steps Peralta who delivers another single.  Assuming Victor is not running on the pitch, he’s probably not scoring, so now he’s at third.  The Tigers are basically playing station to station baseball with him and as a result, another hit is going to be required to score Martinez.  Add it all up and including Victor’s single, four hits are going to be required to score him. (Also, how many times have the Tigers had four hits in one inning this season?  I haven’t researched it, but I’m sure it isn’t many.)

Granted this scenario is assuming all singles, with no extra base hits from any of the participants, but this is the deck the Tigers are playing with and unless Victor starts showing signs of extra base power, I just don’t see how Lelyand can leave him in the 5 slot.  At the current pace, I’m not sure Leyland can make an argument for playing him every day.

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

Tigers Start Homestand With Win Over the O’s

The Tigers downed the Orioles 5-1 tonight at Comerica Park.  Besides the win, there was a lot I liked about the game.

First, the Tigers scored early and added on runs but the thing I really liked the most was Jim Leyland’s use of the bullpen.  After 6 strong innings from Scherzer, Leyland brought in Smyly for the seventh.  Smyly got the O’s in order on 9 or 10 pitches.  I was elated when Leyland sent Smyly out for the 8th and speechless when he let him pitch the 9th.  I thought for sure Leyland was going to replace Smyly after the 7th.

Scherzer moved his record to 10-0, the first time since 1909 that a Tiger pitcher has started a season this well.

On a different note, I’m very concerned that the Tigers are going to trade Rick Porcello sometime this year for a closer.  I hope I’m wrong and here are my reasons:

1) I have to admit it, like Avila, I’ve liked Porcello since they brought him up

2) I really think that Rickey is going to turn into a top of the rotation pitcher and would like to see him reach that potential in a Tiger uniform

3) I hate giving up prospects and/or paying closers a lot of money.  This thinking is probably influenced by my reading of Money Ball.  Billy Beane says he can always find a closer and he has the track record to prove it.

I guess I don’t have an answer for the closer problem but I’d hate to see another trade like the John Smoltz for Doyle Alexander trade.  It is true Alexander was great down the stretch in 1987 but the Tigers didn’t win the World Series and Smoltz became a hall of famer.

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