Archive for the ‘Detroit Tigers’ Category

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Tonight’s Game Five between the Oakland A’s and Detroit Tigers seemed awfully familiar. It was eeirly similar to Game Five between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Pirates, contested just 24 hours earlier. Dominant and well-decorated ace mows down opposing lineup. Rookie starter makes one crucial mistake which ends in seats. Scene. Fin.

Justin Verlander pitched about as well as he, or anybody, can pitch. Verlander had all three of his offerings working, throwing them seemingly at random. First pitch curve for you, changeups for you, upper nineties heat for you – don’t push, there are plenty of good seats available in the home dugout. Nobody knew what to expect, other than a frustrating and brief at bat. The A’s went hitless for six innings before finally taking advantage of Johnny Peralta’s fall down range for their first hit.

This game was also very much like the Game Five played before these same two teams in this same stadium just one year ago. In a deciding Game 5 played 364 days ago, Verlander went nine innings, striking out 11, walking just one and allowing four hits. Sixteen swinging strikes. Domination.

Though he didn’t go the distance tonight, he was just as good. Eight innings pitched, 10 strikeouts, one walk and two hits. 24 swinging strikes. Last year’s game score? 89. Tonight? 87. Total domination in equal measure.

The A’s, well, what is left to say about the Oakland Athletics at this point? Billy Beane‘s transcribed Moneyball quote will follow him to the end of days.

The Tigers are a really good, if top-heavy, baseball team. Like the Cardinals last night, they flat beat their competition. The Tigers won because Justin Verlander put his foot on the throat of the Athletics and did an entire kettle bell workout. Not until he left and Joaquin Benoit took over did the A’s even appear to have a chance. Verlander was too good, just as Max Scherzer was too good in relief in Game Four.
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The attrition might not catch up to the A’s, because they still have the AL’s ERA leader to start Game One against Boston. Add in a flickering hope that Miguel Cabrera might still be worth a damn and you have a scary team with World Series aspirations.

So the deepest/best rotation in baseball and the best hitter, too? That seems like a decent start when facing a potential Red Sox juggernaut. Not a good League Championship series for fans of the underdog but a great LCS for fans of “two storied franchises with history and excellent players.” Sounds boring. Count me OUT.

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Detroit Tigers

As I have noted in past installments of these ratings, this season has been one of the more static in terms of which players are on top and bottom of these ratings, at least the way I remember it. It may be that my memory is getting faulty, or maybe just selective. I dunno. But in this (likely) final rating of the season, there is still some interesting stuff to discuss beyond simply the ratings, leaders, and trailers.

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MLB: Detroit Tigers at New York Yankees

How did Jose Iglesias just drop into the Tigers’ laps? Shortstop has proven to be one of the least replaceable positions — probably the single least replaceable position — over recent baseball history. This year, about 75 percent of the way through the season, eight teams have failed to get replacement level production at shortstop according to FanGraphs.

As Movie Character Ron Washington would say, it’s incredibly hard.

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God bless the Houston Astros. If you’re going to run out a terrible roster with another top draft pick in mind, you don’t half-ass it. You go out and clear the decks of ANYTHING of value as soon as you can. The Astros traded their best pitcher and, possibly, only valid reliever this morning, shipping Jose Veras to the Tigers in exchange for teenage low-A outfielder Danry Vasquez and a player to be named later.

A few scant hours later, the Angels shipped out dependable lefty Scott Downs to Atlanta, netting rookie Cory Rasmus in return. Two nice acquisitions for two playoff-bound teams at very reasonable prices.

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The Detroit Tigers infield defense is something of a joke among baseball fans. And for good reason, between Miguel Cabrera at third, Jhonny Peralta at short and Prince Fielder at first, there isn’t a lot of “range” represented by their infield full of sluggers.

As a result, pitchers like Doug Fister have to work a little harder in their starts. Usually that means throwing more pitches and registering more strikeouts to keep the plodding infielders neutralized. Last night, it meant storming off the mound like a 6’8 dynamo and making a terrific little toss to retire a speedy runner in Starling Marte.

Whatever works. By the way, Fister also pitched a brilliant game, striking out 12 over seven shutout innings.

Victor Martinez wants you to remind of something: it’s a long season. The season is long and the toll taken on your body is considerable. When you’re an older player, like Marinez, the time required for recovery is even longer. Every collision, every slide, every bruise takes a little more out of you.

Veteran players learns to cut corners as they gain experience. They learn ways to preserve their stength, their legs, their concentration to grind out a 162 game schedule. Sometimes you limit your cage swings, sometimes you coast to first on a hard hit ball to an infielder, sometimes you just don’t bother sliding when the ball beats you to the plate by 20 feet.

Sometimes, when you know you’re DOA and you know the opposing catcher is a guy his recent opponents call The Beast you reconsider trucking into the very large opponent because, really, what’s the point? Why try running him over when my own injury is all but assured? Why slide when I can tear up my knee?

Given all that information, Victor Martinez just opts to take the gentleman’s way out of this Jeff Francoeur outfield assist. You get to the plate, you tip your cap and you run back to the dugout. Jam done, nothing to see here. On to the next one, Victor. We salute you honesty and integrity.

> on February 19, 2013 in Lakeland, Florida.

Bruce Rondon was supposed to be the Tigers closer to start the season. After Spring Training in which he walked, well, everybody (nine walks in 12.1 spring innings); the regular season began with Bruce Rondon cooling his heels at Triple-A Toledo.

Bruce Rondon might have some control troubles to work out but make no mistake: he will strike you out. In those aforementioned 12.1 Grapefruit League innings, the flame-throwing righty (who Baseball Prospectus ranked as the third best Tigers prospect) racked up 19 strikeouts. That’s good, spring training or otherwise.

The Tigers have a need in their bullpen as veteran Octavio Dotel was placed on the DL with right elbow inflamation today and Rondon got the call from AAA, where he pitched 7.2 shutout innings, striking out nine against just two walks. The big leagues aren’t Triple-A but it remains unlikely the Tigers will slot the big (ahem) righty into the closer’s role right away. The man who lights up triple digits on the radar gun will earn his keep before given the job so crucial, they handed it to Phil damn Coke during the playoffs.