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Tag:Austin Jackson
Posted on: February 23, 2012 8:58 pm
Edited on: February 24, 2012 4:44 pm
 

Spring primer: Detroit Tigers



By Matt Snyder


The 2011 Detroit Tigers won the AL Central in a laugher, ending with a 15-game edge over the second-place Indians. The offseason was rather uneventful in Detroit for a while, but then the Tigers lost DH Victor Martinez to a torn ACL. And then they swooped in and landed slugger Prince Fielder with a 9-year, $214 deal. They'll enter 2012 as the heaviest divisional favorite in baseball and some will surely pick them to win it all.

Danny Knobler's Camp Report: Verlander's workload, expectations won't change | Likes, Dislikes

Major additions: 1B Prince Fielder, RHP Octavio Dotel, C Gerald Laird
Major departures: RF Magglio Ordonez, 3B Wilson Betemit, IF Carlos Guillen, SP Brad Penny

Probable lineup
1. Austin Jackson, CF
2. Brennan Boesch, RF
3. Miguel Cabrera, 3B
4. Prince Fielder, 1B
5. Delmon Young, DH
6. Alex Avila, C
7. Jhonny Peralta, SS
8. Andy Dirks, LF
9. Ryan Raburn, 2B

Probable rotation
1. Justin Verlander
2. Doug Fister
3. Max Scherzer
4. Rick Porcello
5. Jacob Turner

Back-end bullpen
Closer: Jose Valverde
Set-up: Joaquin Benoit, Octavio Dotel

Important bench players
C Gerald Laird, IF Brandon Inge, IF Ramon Santiago, IF/OF Don Kelly

Prospect to watch
It would have been Turner here regardless, but there's extra emphasis on him now that the Tigers were unable to sign Roy Oswalt or trade for someone like Gio Gonzalez or Matt Garza. Thus, the path is clear for Turner to join the rotation out of spring at age 20, much like Porcello did before him. Entering 2011, Turner had never even pitched above High-A ball. But last season he appeared in Double-A, Triple-A and the majors. In 20 minor-league appearances, Turner was 4-5 with a 3.44 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 110 strikeouts in 131 innings. He struggled mightily in his three major-league starts, but it's a new year.

Fantasy sleeper: Delmon Young
"Owners should look for improved power numbers from Young this year, and with him hitting behind Cabrera and Fielder, his RBI total should get a jolt as well." - Al Melchior [Full Tigers team fantasy preview]

Fantasy bust: Doug Fister
"Part of Fister's 2011 success was based upon holding batters to a .188 batting average on ground balls. The Tigers' infield defense overall should leave something to be desired, so Fister's WHIP will rise upward, even without a significant increase in walks. Owners may look to Fister as a No. 4 starter in mixed leagues, but in reality he may perform more like a low-end No. 5 SP or waiver wire option." - Al Melchior [Full Tigers team fantasy preview]

Optimistic outlook
Very simple: The Tigers win the World Series for the first time since 1984.

Pessimistic outlook
The infield defense is dreadful, which stunts the development of Porcello and Turner in addition to hampering Fister and Scherzer. With Jackson's strikeouts piling up, Boesch never really becoming what the Tigers desired and players like Avila and Peralta taking steps backward, the offense is basically a two-man show. With these issues, at least one AL Central team (Indians? Royals?) vaults past Detroit in a shocker.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.
Posted on: January 26, 2012 2:52 pm
Edited on: January 26, 2012 4:15 pm
 

Leyland says Fielder hitting 4th, Cabrera 3rd

Prince Fielder

By C. Trent Rosecrans


Sure it's not even February, but like the rest of us, Jim Leyland is having fun trying to figure out the Tigers' lineup with Prince Fielder.

At Thursday's press conference introducing Fielder, Leyland announced his early lineup, with Fielder batting cleanup behind Miguel Cabrera:

Prince to Tigers
Austin Jackson CF
Brennan Boesch RF
Miguel Cabrera 3B
Prince Fielder 1B
Delmon Young LF
Alex Avila C
Jhonny Peralta SS
Andy Dirks / Clete Thomas / Don Kelly DH
Ryan Raburn 2B

"Pretty hard to mess that one up," Leyland said.

Leyland also said he didn't expect to use a late-game defensive replacement for Cabrera at third base. He also said the team could still use Brandon Inge to play some at third base and DH, as well. However, the way the roster is looking, it's possible he could be released.

The team could also use Young as a DH with one of the trio of Dirks, Thomas and Kelly playing left field, as well.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.



Posted on: January 24, 2012 4:40 pm
Edited on: January 24, 2012 5:59 pm
 

Prince adds new look to Tigers' lineup



By C. Trent Rosecrans


Last week we all wondered how the Tigers would replace the injured Victor Martinez in the lineup -- today we got our answer.

Prince Fielder immediately restores some roar to the Tiger lineup and makes a nice 3-4 combo with Miguel Cabrera, forming perhaps the most feared duo in baseball. And in 2013 you have a 3-4-5 of Cabrera, Fielder and Martinez -- all for the low, low price of $346.5 million (or $69.3 million pizzas from Little Ceaser's) for all three over the course of their contracts.

So, if Fielder signing with the Tigers is the biggest surprise of the day, how about this for the second-biggest shock? The move means Miguel Cabrera is likely headed back to third base. Yep, the bad defensive first baseman will now be a horrendous defensive third baseman (much to the chagrin of Justin Verlander, Doug Fister and Co.).

That means the rumors of the Johnny Damon return to Detroit make a little more sense, with the Tigers no longer needing a slugging DH. For now, though, I'll make my lineup with Don Kelly as the DH, knowing that the Tigers could still add a stopgap DH type, like Damon.

Prince to Tigers
Here's a too-early, first-stab at the new Tiger lineup:
1. Austin Jackson CF
2. Brennan Boesch RF
3. Miguel Cabrera 3B
4. Prince Fielder 1B
5. Delmon Young LF
6. Don Kelly DH
7. Jhonny Peralta SS
8. Alex Avila C
9. Ryan Raburn 2B

This, of course, could change at a moment's notice, but it also keeps the door open for a seemless transition when Martinez returns from his knee injury. Or the Tigers could realize that Cabrera at third base is a terrible idea and then they'll be overloaded with first basemen and designated hitters. Whatever happens, Mike Illitch is going to be signing some big checks and Verlander should have more run support.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.
Posted on: November 23, 2011 11:59 am
Edited on: November 24, 2011 12:26 am
 

Homegrown Team: New York Yankees



By Matt Snyder


What if players were only permitted to stay with the team that originally made them a professional? No trades, no Rule-5 Draft, no waivers, no minor- or major-league free agency ... once you are a professional baseball player, you stay in that organization. This series shows how all 30 teams would look. We give you: Homegrown teams.

It's late November. The awards have all been handed out. The Winter Meetings are in a few weeks. Pitchers and catchers don't report for almost three months. So it's the perfect time to kick off a fun little series. So we're starting the Homegrown series right now. We have a landing page that will be filled out as we move forward with the feature -- on which you can see the exact date we'll be posting each individual team.

What I love most about this series is that it has the potential to either enlighten or vindicate rabid fans in heated arguments. Large-market, big-spending teams are often attacked by opposing fans as simply trying to "buy championships" without having to develop their own talent. The biggest target is the Yankees, so what better team to start the series with?

The news is pretty good for the haters. You have been vindicated. This team would be ... well, you'll see.

Lineup

1. Brett Gardner, LF
2. Derek Jeter, SS
3. Robinson Cano, 2B
4. Alfonso Soriano, DH
5. Jesus Montero, 1B
6. Melky Cabrera, RF
7. Austin Jackson, CF
8. Francisco Cervelli, C
9. Eduardo Nunez, 3B

Starting Rotation

1. Ian Kennedy
2. Ivan Nova
3. Phil Hughes
4. Chien-Ming Wang
5. Jeff Karstens

Bullpen

Closer - Mariano Rivera
Set up - John Axford, David Robertson, Tyler Clippard, Mark Melancon, Joba Chamberlain
Long - Phil Coke? Jose Contreras?

Notable Bench Players

Jorge Posada, Dioner Navarro, Juan Rivera, Jose Tabata ... and that's about it. Unless Marcus Thames and Shelley Duncan get you excited.

What's Good?

That bullpen is sick. It would easily be the best in baseball, with any lead past the fifth inning seemingly being safe in the hands of Clippard, Robertson, Axford and Rivera.

What's Not?

Anything else. Nothing is horrible, but the lineup, defense and rotation leave a lot to be desired. What's worse, there's really no depth in case of injuries. They'd have to turn to either Coke or a minor leaguer (Dellin Betances?) in the rotation -- or convince Andy Pettitte to come out of retirement -- and Ramiro Pena is the only backup infielder. There are plenty of backup outfielders, but Tabata's really the only one with upside.

Comparison to real 2011

Well, let's see. The 2011 Yankees won 97 games en route to a division title and the best record in the American League. This team is mediocre at best. The bullpen is awesome, but how many leads would there be to protect? 75? There is an MVP candidate in Cano, but having Soriano as protection isn't near as cushy as he's used to. Since this is the first team in our 30-team series, we won't reveal many other specifics, but I can tell you that this Yankees team would probably finish fourth in the AL East. Thus, it's much worse than reality. I have no way of measuring this, but I do think this team is better than many Yankee-hating fans would have guessed. Lots of those act like the Yankees have never developed anyone. This isn't an awful collection, it's just not good.

Now, it's absolutely worth noting the Yankees lost lots of draft picks as compensation for signing free agents, so that's why they don't have any depth. But let's just remember this is supposed to be a fun exercise for the offseason.

Up next: San Diego Padres

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 31, 2011 7:11 pm
Edited on: October 31, 2011 7:12 pm
 

Gold Glove finalists, Fielding Bible champs

Utley

By Evan Brunell


Fielding is taking center stage in baseball, as Rawlings released their Gold Glove finalists on Monday, while The Fielding Bible came out with their winners.

ESPN2 will air the winners of the Gold Glove balloting in the first-ever televised Gold Glove results, which used to be sent out as morning press releases. The show will begin at 10 p.m. ET and last for an hour. There are three finalists per position, and the most notable omission is Derek Jeter from shortstop, and rightfully so. Jeter has long won Gold Gloves based more on the merits of popularity and offense, but that's nothing new across all of Gold Glove voting, as Gold Glove award voting has been that way for some time. Jeter has won five awards, including taking each of the last two seasons.

Now, it will be either the Angels' Erick Aybar, J.J. Hardy of the Orioles, or the Indians' Asdrubal Cabrera who wins the AL Gold Glove. The full list of finalists can be found below, but first: The Fielding Bible.

“Quite simply,” said John Dewan, the founder of The Fielding Bible, “our intention is to stand up and say, ‘This is the best fielder at this position in the major leagues last season. Period.’”

Dewan uses a star-studded panel of voters that includes people such as Peter Gammons, former major-leaguer Doug Glanville and noted sabermetrician Bill James to determine the winners of each award, which more accurately reflect the best defenders in the league. The Bible differed from Gold Glove voting up until this season in that the Bible differentiated between left, center and right field while the Gold Glove used three generic "outfield" spots. That's changing this year, but another difference remains: if a player switches leagues during a season he is not considered for a Gold Glove. That's not the case for the Bible, which only makes one selection per position.

Below, you can find the winners of The Fielding Bible's defensive awards, plus Dewan's thoughts on each, as supplied in a news release. Only Albert Pujols, who won at first base, and Justin Upton in right field, were not finalists for a Gold Glove award.

C: Matt Wieters, Baltimore Orioles (first-time winner) -- also a Gold Glove finalist

“After Yadier Molina of the Cardinals won the previous four Fielding Bible Awards, Matt Wieters wins his first. And it wasn’t even close in the voting -- Wieters' 97 points to Molina's 74. When you look at the numbers, it wasn’t close there either. Prior to 2011, Molina has thrown out 42 percent of baserunners. On top of that, he has picked off an average of six baserunners per year. In 2011, Yadier dropped to 25 percent caught stealing and only picked two runners off. Wieters threw out 36 percent of basestealers in 2011. But it was the pitcher handling department where Wieters really excelled. Nine of his 14 runs saved are estimated for his pitcher handling, while Molina also had a down year in this area, costing the Cardinals six runs.”

1B: Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals (five-time winner)

“It was no fluke,” Dewan says about a play in the NLDS, when Pujols gunned Chase Utley down at third base (pictured). “Since Baseball Info Solutions started tracking good fielding plays (GFP) in 2004, Albert Pujols has 37 GFPs on throws. The next best first basemen are Todd Helton of the Rockies with 16 and three others with 15 -- Mark Teixeira of the Yankees, Prince Fielder of the Brewers, and Lyle Overbay of the [Diamondbacks].”

2B: Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox (first-time winner) -- also a Gold Glove finalist

"Dustin wins his first Fielding Bible Award with 97 of a possible 100 points. He took seven first-place votes (out of 10) and was voted second by the other three panelists. Pedroia has done well in voting in each of the last four years. He lost in a tie-breaker to Aaron Hill, then of the Blue Jays, in 2009 (each had 76 points), placed fourth in 2008, and seventh in 2010." Also, Pedroia had 44 GFP, best in baseball.

3B: Adrian Beltre, Texas Rangers (three-time winner) -- also a Gold Glove finalist

“Adrian Beltre received eight first place votes beating last year’s winner, Evan Longoria of the Rays, 98 to 90. It doesn’t matter where he plays: Los Angeles, Seattle, Boston, and now Texas. Beltre excels year after year. He has saved an estimated 156 runs defensively for his teams since 2003, an average of 17 runs prevented per year. That was his exact total for the Rangers in 2011, which translates into about two extra wins per year for his clubs, just on defense.”

SS: Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado Rockies (three-time winner) -- also a Gold Glove finalist

“Tulowitzki goes back-to-back, two Fielding Bible Awards in two years, and his third award of his five-year MLB career. Tulo is especially adept at making plays to his right. The Plus/Minus System credits him with 45 more plays in the shortstop hole compared to an average MLB shortstop over his five seasons. Tulowitzki also excels in another area. He had 67 GFP in 2011 compared to only 29 defensive misplays or errors. That +38 figure was tops in baseball.”

LF: Brett Gardner, New York Yankees (second-time winner) -- also a Gold Glove finalist

“Brett Gardner is the new Carl Crawford. Gardner repeats as the Fielding Bible Award winner in left field after Crawford won three of the four previous years. It was nearly unanimous as Gardner took nine first-place votes and one second. Gardner’s 22 defensive runs saved tied him with center field winner Austin Jackson of the Tigers for the most runs saved by an outfielder in 2011. That’s an extraordinary total for a left fielder. Normally the best center fielders save significantly more runs defensively than the best left fielders. For Gardner, having a center fielder’s range gives him a tremendous advantage, but he has an excellent throwing arm as well. He has saved the Yankees 13 runs (out of his 35 total) with his arm over the last two years.”

CF: Austin Jackson, Detroit Tigers (first-time winner) -- also a Gold Glove finalist

“He topped all center fielders with 21 runs saved in 2010, but Austin Jackson had to do it even better (with 22 Runs Saved) in 2011 to earn his first Fielding Bible award. Jackson has made 63 more plays than an average center fielder over the last two years. That’s an incredible total. It’s on the plays over his head that AJ really excels (43 of the 63). Making 43 more catches than an average center fielder on balls hit deep is where those lofty runs saved totals come in, as he is saving doubles and triples when he makes these catches.”
 
RF: Justin Upton, Arizona Diamondbacks (first-time winner)

“Justin Upton wins his first Fielding Bible award in 2011, unseating three-time winner Ichiro Suzuki of the Mariners. With Ichiro’s down year defensively (he finished 10th in the voting), panelists were divided in their balloting with seven different right fielders receiving first place votes. Upton received three first-place votes, Jason Heyward of the Braves two, with one apiece for Mike Stanton of the Marlins, Torii Hunter of the Angels, Andre Ethier of the Dodgers, Jay Bruce of the Reds, and Nate Schierholtz of the Giants. Like Austin Jackson of the Tigers in center field, Upton excels on deeply hit balls, where he fielded 18 more balls in 2011 than the average right fielder would have, based on the depth, angle and velocity of those hit to him.”

P: Mark Buehrle, Chicago White Sox (three-time winner) -- also a Gold Glove finalist

“It’s a third consecutive Fielding Bible Award for Mark Buehrle. It is remarkable how Buehrle puts up excellent defensive runs saved numbers year after year. He saved an estimated nine runs defensively for the White Sox in 2011, tops among all pitchers in baseball. He had eight saved runs in 2010, 11 in 2009, and has averaged about eight per year going back to 2004. His control of the running game is uncanny. Only three baserunners were successful stealing bases in 2011 with Buehrle on the mound, while nine of them were caught stealing or picked off by Buehrle. He covers his position as well, with 15 of his Runs Saved guarding the territory around the mound over the last three years.”

And now, your Gold Glove finalists:

Gold Glove Finalists
Pos. American League National League
C Matt Wieters, BAL
A.J. Pierzynski, CWS
Alex Avila, DET
Yadier Molina, STL
Brian McCann, ATL
Carlos Ruiz, PHI
1B Adrian Gonzalez, BOS
Casey Kotchman, TB
Mark Teixeira, NYY
Joey Votto, CIN
Gaby Sanchez, FLA
James Loney, LAD
2B Dustin Pedroia , BOS
Robinson Cano, NYY
Ian Kinsler, TEX
Brandon Phillips, CIN
Neil Walker, PIT
Omar Infante, FLA
SS Erick Aybar, LAA
J.J. Hardy, BAL
Asdrubal Cabrera, CLE
Troy Tulowitzki, COL
Ronny Cedeno, PIT
Alex Gonzalez, ATL
3B Adrian Beltre, TEX
Kevin Youkilis, BOS
Evan Longoria, TB
Placido Polanco, PHI
Daniel Descalso, STL
Pablo Sandoval, SF
LF Alex Gordon, KC
Brett Gardner, NYY
Sam Fuld, TB
Gerardo Parra, ARI
Ryan Braun, MIL
Matt Holliday, STL
CF Jacoby Ellsbury, BOS
Austin Jackson, DET
Peter Bourjos, LAA
Matt Kemp, LAD
Shane Victorino, PHI
Chris Young, ARI
RF Nick Markakis, BAL
Torii Hunter, LAA
Jeff Francoeur, KC
Andre Ethier, LAD
Carlos Beltran, NYM/SF
Jay Bruce, CIN
C Mark Buerhle, CHW
Dan Haren, LAA
Fausto Carmona, CLE
Clayton Kershaw, LAD
Hiroki Kuroda, LAD
Kyle Lohse, STL

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.


Posted on: October 16, 2011 12:09 am
Edited on: October 16, 2011 1:22 am
 

ALCS Series Grades: Cruz, bullpen hot for Rangers



By Evan Brunell


ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Rangers are headed to the World Series while the Tigers are headed back home now that the ALCS has concluded. Let's grade the series...

ANelson Cruz. A no-brainer.Cruz was a one-man wrecking machine the entire ALCS, and was voted the series MVP. Cruz became the first player in postseason history to hit two extra-inning home runs the same series. Both won games for the Rangers, with the first one making history as the only walkoff grand slam ever hit in October. His six home runs and 13 RBI both set LCS records. He already has 12 postseason home runs in his career over two seasons, which a franchise record and already in the top 15 all-time. Seriously, what more can you say about Cruz?

BThe Rangers bullpen. Seriously, how insane was the Rangers bullpen? Let's count the ways. The Rangers bullpen was responsible for all of the Rangers wins, allowing just four runs in 27 1/3 innings (1.32 ERA). The relievers -- headlined by Alexi Ogando (pictured) and Scott Feldman -- allowed just 21 baserunners while punching out 25 en route to becoming the fifth team with at least three wins in a LCS, the last being the 2003 Marlins. Only the 1997 Indians matched the Texas bullpen with four victories. And Ogando? He won his second game of the series in Game 6, the fifth reliever to win two games in an ALCS. He joins Sparky Lyle (1977), Tom Henke (1985), Gene Nelson (1988) and Francisco Rodriguez (2002).

CJustin Verlander. Look, Verlander had a regular season to remember and deserves to win the AL Cy Young, and it will probably be unanimous. But can anyone really look at Verlander's performance in the ALCS and say it was "good?" It wasn't bad, sure, but it certainly wasn't good. In Game 1, Verlander was far from top-notch before he was yanked thanks to weather problems. He lasted four innings and gave up three runs and two walks, striking out five. Then, in Game 5, Verlander tossed 133 pitches over 7 1/3 innings, giving up four runs including a two-run homer to Nelson Cruz, who would be his last hitter of the night. Verlander's pitches were still registering at 100 when he was done, true, and if he didn't come out for the eighth, he would have given up only two runs in seven innings. But that's not what happened. The fact is that he gave up four runs in 7 1/3 innings and that's not particularly great, especially given that it's often very difficult for a team to win in the postseason with their starter giving up four runs. Verlander did fine, but really no more than just fine. Hence this grade.

D
ALCS Coverage
Jim Leyland's managerial decisions. Leyland is a fantastic manager, but one has to wonder how this series would have looked if not for some curious decisions. In Game 4 alone, Leyland presided over two brutal baserunning decisions that, frankly, shouldn't have been made. In the 10th inning, Austin Jackson was on first base and chose to run on his own and was nabbed stealing. That was a colossal mistake, as it took the bat out of Miguel Cabrera's hands and took away a chance for Miggy to come through with a potential game-winning hit.

Speaking of Miggy, he was standing on third base in the 8th inning with a chance to cross the plate with the go-ahead run. But he was sent home on an outfield fly, with all the speed and agility of a freight train, and easily thrown out by Nelson Cruz. Leyland said if the throw was off-line, Cabrera still scores. Yes and no. If the throw was wildly off the mark, anyone could have scored ... but even a bounce, or a trajectory that took Napoli away from the plate still could have been good enough to nab Cabrera, who has zero speed. Yes, Cruz "sometimes" throws erratically. Yes, Alex Avila was up next. I don't care. Bad move.

Leyland also made some curious decisions with the lineup composition and didn't touch Wilson Betemit once the entire series, despite Betemit's bat being better than many who got playing time. And, frankly, he left Max Scherzer in the game far too long in Game 6. It was an elimination game. When something's not working, you move on fast.

FWeather. Rain was a constant presence during the ALCS, with two separate rain delays in Game 1 fouling up both Justin Verlander and C.J. Wilson's starts. Fortunately, however, the pitching rematch of Game 5 was able to be played without any delays. It was only the second game of the series that wasn't affected by rain, although the skies opened near the end of the game and became a deluge shortly after conclusion. Game 2 in Texas was postponed outright, while Game 4 in Detroit saw a pregame delay of just over two hours.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.


Posted on: October 15, 2011 11:41 pm
Edited on: October 16, 2011 2:06 am
 

Anatomy of a loss: How Detroit fell in ALCS

Cabrera, Napoli

AnatomyBy Evan Brunell


ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Tigers had a massive implosion by Max Scherzer ruin Game 6, and as a result, their season is over as the Rangers advance to the World Series.

Let's take a look at the anatomy of the Tigers' series loss...

1. HEAD: Throughout the series, Detroit talked about taking it one game at a time, battling back from adversity, doing what it could to win each and every contest and not worrying about the past. All that is great, but actions speak louder than words, and the Tigers were horribly demoralized after Game 4's shocking extra-inning loss. In fact, after every loss, malaise filled the Tigers' clubhouse, and how could it not? The team gave its all and every game save the last was close. Every Tiger loss outside of Game 6 came either by a single run, or in extra innings. It was the narrowest of margins ... but they were losses all the same. That wears on you, and even winning Game 5 couldn't wash away all the stink once the series shifted back to Texas.

2. ARM: The Tigers couldn't ride their starting pitching to the promised land, despite entering the series with arguably three aces. Of course, there's Verlander fronting the rotation, but he didn't pitch like an ace in the ALCS. His start in Game 1 was cut short by rain, but by his own admission, his mechanics weren't quite right to start the game, and he ended up giving up three runs in four innings. People like to follow the narrative of Verlander as a great pitcher, but he still coughed up four runs total in 7 1/3 innings in Game 5. As for the other starting pitchers, Max Scherzer was fantastic in Game 2, but gave up a run in the seventh to allow the Rangers to tie, and eventually win, the game... and then, of course, he completely fell apart in Game 6. Doug Fister pitched brilliantly in Game 3, Detroit's first victory. In Game 4, Rick Porcello also turned in an incredible effort, but imploded at the wrong time. Even the bullpen was lacking aside from the heroics of Joaquin Benoit and Jose Valverde, and Valverde got burned in Game 4.

3. OBLIQUE: The Tigers had two instances of obliques hurting the team. First, Delmon Young was left off the ALCS roster entirely due to suffering an injured oblique in ALDS Game 5 against the Yankees. However, the Tigers lucked into Young improving to the point he was able to replace Magglio Ordonez on the roster when Ordonez needed to be removed due to a fractured ankle. Young played in Games 2, 4 and 5, but racked up a 0-for-9 streak, the most at-bats of any player in the series without a hit. He snapped that distinction with two pivotal homers in Game 5, but it proved to be too late for Detroit to win out in the series.

In addition, Victor Martinez hammered a crucial home run in Game 3 to pace the Tigers to victory, but pulled his oblique in the process. The next at-bat, he didn't even offer at one pitch or take swings in the on-deck circle, so you knew he was hurting. He looked stiff and sore in Game 4, so the Tigers lost two of their most important offensive pieces thanks to the oblique injury, which has ravaged baseball all season.


ALCS Coverage
4. LEGS: At this point, I feel guilty for bringing this up for what is probably the billionth time, but I'm still incredulous at the decisions that the Tigers made in Game 4 with regard to baserunning. There are two particular situations that got me. The first was in the bottom eighth after the Rangers tied the game. Miguel Cabrera is on third base with one out. Delmon Young lofts a fly ball to right field, inhabited by Nelson Cruz who is a fine fielder with a rifle for an arm. Cabrera was sent home and was out by a mile. After the game, Jim Leyland said that if the throw was off-line, Cabrera scores. That's a cop-out -- that throw would have had to be incredibly off-line to the point where anyone could have scored. Even a five-hopper would have been enough to tag Cabrera out. It was a dumb move. Period.

In the bottom of the 10th, Austin Jackson stood on first base with one out. Improbably, he opted to steal second base and was gunned down by Mike Napoli. Leyland said he supported the decision -- which Jackson made on his own -- but he better just be covering for his player because that was another bone-headed move. With the throw out, the Tigers removed a man on base and the chance for Miguel Cabrera to hit that inning. Instead, Miggy watched as Ryan Raburn made the third out, then the Rangers put up a four-spot in the top of the 11th.

5. FOOT: Losing Magglio Ordonez was a brutal blow for Detroit, when he re-fractured his surgically-repaired foot in Game 1. Already hobbled due to Young's injury, losing Ordonez severely depleted the Tigers' offense to the point where it was, frankly, a non-entity aside from Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez in the 3-4 spots. There's no telling what Ordonez could have done after hitting .365 after Aug. 12 in the regular season and .455 in the ALDS.

Related video: Tigers manager Jim Leyland speaks on the crushing Game 6 loss:



For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Base photo: Wikipedia

Posted on: October 12, 2011 10:32 pm
Edited on: October 13, 2011 1:39 am
 

Blunders cost Tigers as Rangers blast way to win



By Evan Brunell


DETROIT -- The Rangers rode a four-run 11th inning to victory, taking a commanding 3-1 series lead in the ALCS against the Tigers.

Hero: The Napoli man can. Mike Napoli strode to the plate with runners on first and second in the 11th inning in a tie ballgame. For some reason, skipper Jim Leyland thought it would be a good idea to intentionally walk the 0-for-4 Adrian Beltre in front of Napoli to set up a force, after Josh Hamilton (pictured) doubled to begin the inning. After the game, Tigers manager Jim Leyland said, "You're just trying to set up a double play. I didn't want Beltre and Napoli both to hit against [reliever Jose Valverde]."

Problem: Napoli ripped a single into center field for his second hit of the game, scoring the go-ahead run. Look, Beltre is a dangerous hitter, but so is Napoli. In that situation, I take my risks with Beltre, who is more aggressive at the plate and may still have been hurting from fouling a ball off his knee in Game 3.

ALCS Coverage
Goat: The Tigers tried way too hard to make something happen in the 10th inning when Austin Jackson was gifted first base on a hit by pitch. The Rangers still had to get through Ryan Raburn and Miguel Cabrera to end the inning, and yet Austin Jackson took matters into his own hand and tried to steal second, a move Leyland said he agreed with. Jackson was thrown out at second, which was an idiotic move. You can't take the stick out of Cabrera's hands, especially in the bottom of the 10th inning. Sure, Raburn could have hit into a double-play, but give him that chance instead of risking Jackson being caught stealing. The Rangers wouldn't allow Detroit another chance to win.

Turning point: The Rangers finally broke through for three runs in the sixth to take the lead. The man responsible for the go-ahead run in Michael Young had been struggling all postseason long, but finally came through in a big spot by singling in Elvis Andrus. David Murphy opened the sixth with a single, then after a popout, Ian Kinsler doubled to deep left where Delmon Young misplayed the carom and allowed Murphy to score. Andrus followed by plating Kinsler, who was on third after stealing a base. A Hamilton flyout and Porcello pickoff error later, Andrus crossed the plate on Young's single to completely deflate the Detroit crowd.
It took a while for the next run to be scored, but extra innings don't happen without this inning.

It was over when... The Tigers kept making mistake after mistake in the late innings and were burned like crazy in the 11th when they intentionally walked Adrian Beltre only to see Mike Napoli deliver a RBI single. But the game wasn't over at that point -- after all, Texas only had a one-run edge. But then Nelson Cruz blasted a three-run homer that put the stamp on the game. Cruz is the only player to ever hit two extra-inning homers in a postseason series.

Next: Detroit will attempt to stave off elimination by sending Justin Verlander to the hill at 4:19 p.m. ET. The Rangers counter with their own ace, C.J. Wilson.

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