Tigers 5 Tribe 4

They call him “A Squared Money”, well at least I do, and he came up big. He hit a two run, game winning homer, in the bottom of the eight that preserved the Tigers half game lead in the central.

I have been hard on Avila, especially in the middle of the season, but he’s had a knack for big hits this year. Hats off to Alex Avila.

Kyle Lobstein was ok considering this was only his 4th big league start. So far, he seems to be an adequate 5th starter.

The bullpen, Soria, Chamberlain, and Nathan got the job done, although I wanted to scream when the turd walked the leadoff man in the ninth.

The Royals dusted the Red Sox tonight.

Completing the sweep would be nice.

“We shall see.”

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Freeway Ricky Porcello…

lead the Tigers to their 7th consecutive victory and series sweep of the Texas Rangers.

Freeway Ricky, pitched his second career complete game. This time it was a shutout. Ricky is 10-4 on the year with a 3.41 ERA.

The Tigers are running well right now. I know they can’t win out the rest of the season but I’d like to avoid another .333, 30 game run.

It’s off to Houston for three with the Astros.

On another note, if you’ve been reading the comments, you might have noticed trade rumors. In fact, the one most mentioned is with San Diego for Huston Street and Joaquin Benoit. I would like to go on record right now as opposed to this moved. Benoit was already here and Street is too old. Well, I guess I’m wrong on that, Street is only 30 but I’m still against it. Unless the Tigers can Street only for a humpty dumpty. Dirks perhaps? 🙂

“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

Red Sox 6 Tigers 5

DISASTER!

That’s only thing I can say about this game.

After the offense finally put up some runs and built a 5-0, Max throwing a gem, the bull pen and defense blew it.

Max threw 108 pitches through 7 innings.  He struck out 13, allowed 2 hits, and 1 run.

I was hoping he’d come out for the 8th but when I saw Veras warming up I began to worry.

Veras, Smyly, Alburquerque, and Benoit couldn’t protect a 4 run lead and the Boston Red Sox evened the series with 4 in the 8th and 1 in the 9th.

Porcello came in to start the 9th and the wheels began to immediately fall off.  He got Gomes to hit a ball between 3rd and short.  Iggy fielded the ball and made a wide throw to first.  The throw took a glove high hop but Fielder couldn’t knock it down.  The hit and error sent the winning run to second with nobody out.  Porcello got Saltalamacchia to foul down the first base line.  Prince went to the stands but couldn’t make the catch.  The ball hit off the heel of his glove giving Saltalamacchia new life.

Porcello then threw a wild pitch sending Gomes to third and Saltalamacchia singled through a drawn in infield to end the game.

I don’t have the words to describe this one.  What an awful way to lose.

I hope it is not a back breaker.

Torii Hunter almost robbed David Ortiz of a game tying grand slam but seemed to over run the ball.  It would have been a great catch but it looked like he might have made it if he didn’t over run it.

The Tigers may have stolen a game yesterday but they gave this one away.

Austin Jackson and Torii Hunter were both 0-5.  If there is any good news coming out of the 1 and 2 slots in the order it is that Jackson only struck out once tonight.

I’m stunned and sick to my stomach.

This one hurts!

Let’s hope JV can give the Tigers 9 on Tuesday.  Despite yesterday’s success, the pen worries me.

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

Tigers 3 A’s 0

The Tigers are moving on to the ALCS starting in Boston on Saturday night.

The game five win over the A’s was delivered by Justin Verlander who was the JV vintage 2011/2012.

He was, to steal another line, this time from The Game, By Neil Strauss, “smokin balls!”.  He was almost un-hittable.  He pitched 8 complete, threw 111 pitches, struck out 10 and walked one.  In fact, he had a perfect game before walking Reddick in the 6th, and a no hitter that was broken up by a Cespedes single in the 7th.

Miggy provided most of the offense with a two run shot in fourth.

At first I was livid that Jim Leyland didn’t send JV out for the 9th.  But in a post game interview Verlander said that he told Leyland he was running on fumes.

In came Benoit for the 9th.  After getting the first two hitters, Joaquin put the tying runners on base, but got Seth Smith to hit a fly ball to Hunter to end the game.

Benoit seems to be continuing the tradition set by previous Tigers’ closers, Todd Jones and Jose Valverde, he makes it interesting but gets the job done most of the time.  Joaquin scares me but I hope he can get it done.

I could bitch about the offense like I always do but there’s nothing more to say.  They had plenty of chances to blow this game wide open but couldn’t get the big hit.  Not much new here.

That being said, Victor Martinez and Jhonny Peralta deserve credit for their offense.  Martinez hit .450 and Peralta .417.  Nobody else in the lineup is close to .300.

Austin Jacskon has become a problem at the worst time.  He has been HORRIBLE to put it mildly.  He struck out 3 more times today.  I think that makes 12 times this series.  It’s hard to generate offense when your lead hitter isn’t even making contact.  But at this point, I’m not sure if there is anything to do except hope.

I’m hoping for the best in Boston but I’m done with predictions.  I’m just enjoying (sort of) the ride.  I hope it ends with a World Series Championship!

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

Tigers 8 A’s 6

Finally, the bats came to life and bailed out the pitching staff which, for the second straight game, was less than stellar.

Doug Fister put in a quality start but I thought it was going to take something spectacular to win this game.

The offense continued its ineptitude through four innings.  However, in the bottom of the 5th and trailing 3-0, the Tigers bats showed signs of life and tied it up on a three run homer from Jhonny Peralta.

After the 5th, the Tigers bats did something they haven’t done in a long time, score in another inning.  In fact the Tigers continued to score with two in the 7tth and three more in the 8th,.  And they needed them.

Max Scherzer relieved Fister in the 7th and got the win.  Max has to get a lot of credit for pitching out of a bases loaded, no out, jam in the 8th to preserve a one run Tiger lead but the jam was his own making.  He walked the lead-off man in the 8th, a no-no in any situation, but even a bigger problem late in an elimination game.

Peralta and Martinez each had big home runs but the biggest hits came from Austin Jackson and Omar Infante.

Jackson, who is in one of the worst funks I’ve ever seen big league hitter in, came through with a single in the 7th to drive in a run and give the Tigers a 5-4 lead.  Prior to his single, Jackson had struck out three more times making it 9 Ks in his last 10 at bats.  Jackson didn’t hit a rocket but it was a much needed hit both personally and for the Tigers as a team.

The Tigers scored their 6th run on a wild pitch in the 8th then Omar delivered a two run double extending the Tigers lead to 8-4.

Joaquin Benoit came in to pitch the 9th and didn’t have his A game.  He made it interesting.  He allowed two runs and stranded the tying runs on base.

I’m a little worried about Joaquin.

I know Miggy is hurt but I’m disappointed in his at bat to lead off the bottom of the 8th.  Miggy swung at a 3-0 pitch and grounded out to third.  I know he can’t run but I was hoping he’d take a pitch or two to see if he could get a free pass.  With the way the Tigers offense has been struggling they can use all of the base runners they can get.

There were a few substitutions that worried me.  In the bottom of the 7th Peralta doubled but was pinch run for by Andy Dirks.  In bottom of the 8th Victor singled and went to second when Andy Dirks walked.  Hernan Perez then pinch ran for Victor.  At this point the Tigers were only up 5-4 and with the substitutions, their two hottest hitters would not bat again if the game went to extra innings.

The moves ended up working out OK.  Perez scored the 6th run on a wild pitch and it is doubtful if Victor would have scored in that situation.

In any case, everything worked out today and game five is Thursday with JV on the mound.  I’m done with predictions, I’ll just have to wait and see.

It’s still “F*** or walk”.

I’m hoping for the best.

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

Tigers 3 A’s 2

Whew!

Behind excellent pitching and just enough offense the Tigers took the first game of the series in Oakland.

The Tigers scored three runs in the first but couldn’t add on the rest of the way.  This was not really a surprise.  This is the same thing we’ve seen all year.

Scherzer, Smyly and Benoit were outstanding and combined to strike out 16 Oakland batters.

Readers of this blog know I’ve been hard on Dirks this year and I’m going to continue.  The Tigers are still not getting anything substantial out of his bat and his fielding is terrible at best. I know, there is supposed to be some metric that tells us Dirksy is a wonderful fielder but the numbers don’t correspond to the visual.

In the bottom of the second Yoenis Cespedes hit a hard shot to left field that ended up as a one out triple.  I understand the ball was hard hit but it looked like Dirksy didn’t take a very good route to the ball.  It would have been a nice play.  It is a play I would expect a good left fielder to make.

There was another play in the 5th or 6th inning where Dirks ran for a ball in foul territory.  The ball looked like it hit the palm of his glove and he ended up dropping it.

Luckily, Max was able to pitch around these two plays and the pen was able to hold on for the win but I think Leyland and the Tigers really need to evaluate what they are getting from left field both offensively and defensively.  I’m not even saying put Peralta in but perhaps it’s time to put DK in left.  Let him play solid defense and take what you can from his bat.  What are you really losing playing DK over Dirksy?

In the 6th the Tigers had a chance to add on.  With one out, Martinez on second and Avila on first, Omar Infante singled sharply to right field.  Tom “The Windmill” Brookens sent Victor home and he was nailed at the plate for the second out of the inning.  At first, I was screaming about another horrible send from The Windmill, but on further review, I think it was the right thing to do.  The Tigers had just gotten three hits and Dirks was up next.  At this point, you can’t expect anything from Good Ole Dirksy.

I’ve been screaming all year about the offense but nothing is going to change.  The formula the Tigers used tonight to win will have to be the recipe going forward.  But at least if they could tighten up the left field defense, it might increase their chances.

JV goes tomorrow.  Your guess is a good as mine regarding what to expect.

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