The season’s last lineup: Tigers at White Sox

Miguel Cabrera off. Victor Martinez off. J.D. Martinez is designated to hit in his final shot at 40 home runs (he needs two). Tyler Collins starts in left field, batting cleanup.

On the pitching side, look for 80-85 pitches out of Daniel Norris today. His pitch count was adjusted down a tick after he went 71 pitches on Tuesday. Brad Ausmus said he might get Randy Wolf an appearance out of the bullpen, possibly his last in a 16-year Major League career.


  1. Anthony Gose, CF
  2. Dixon Machado, SS
  3. J.D. Martinez, DH
  4. Tyler Collins, LF
  5. Nick Castellanos, 3B
  6. Steven Moya, RF
  7. Jefry Marte, 1B
  8. Bryan Holaday, C
  9. Josh Wilson, 2B

P: Daniel Norris

whitesoxsockWHITE SOX

  1. Tyler Saladino, SS
  2. J.B. Shuck, LF
  3. Trayce Thompson, CF
  4. Avisail Garcia, RF
  5. Alexei Ramirez, DH
  6. Mike Olt, 1B
  7. Rob Brantly, C
  8. Gordon Beckham, 3B
  9. Carlos Sanchez, 2B

P: Frankie Montas

Saturday’s lineups: Tigers at White Sox

Miguel Cabrera gets the start at first base today against Erik Johnson in what will most likely be Cabrera’s final at-bats of the season. In fact, it’s a fairly regular lineup, except for Victor Martinez out and James McCann getting a break for Alex Avila, who will be catching Justin Verlander for the 116th (and possibly final) time.

tigerpitcherlogoTIGERS (numbers vs. Erik Johnson)

  1. Anthony Gose, CF
  2. Ian Kinsler, 2B (0-for-2, K)
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B (1-for-6, 2 K’s)
  4. J.D. Martinez, DH (0-for-3, K)
  5. Tyler Collins, LF (0-for-3, K)
  6. Nick Castellanos, 3B (3-for-6, double, 2 K’s)
  7. Steven Moya, RF
  8. Dixon Machado, SS
  9. Alex Avila, C (5-for-5, double, HR, 2 walks)

P: Justin Verlander

whitesox1959logoWHITE SOX (career numbers off Verlander)

  1. Adam Eaton, CF (5-for-18, 2 doubles, triple, walk, 4 K’s)
  2. Jose Abreu, 1B (8-for-18, double, 2 HR, 2 walks, 6 K’s)
  3. Melky Cabrera, DH (6-for-29, triple, HR, 2 walks, 4 K’s)
  4. Trayce Thompson, LF (0-for-2, walk)
  5. Alexei Ramirez, SS (20-for-78, 2 doubles, HR, 2 walks, 9 K’s)
  6. Rob Brantly, C
  7. Avisail Garcia, RF (2-for-9, double, K)
  8. Mike Olt, 3B (1-for-2, K)
  9. Carlos Sanchez, 2B (0-for-6, 3 K’s)

P: Erik Johnson

Friday’s lineups: Tigers at White Sox

It’s a windy day in Chicago, which could lead to some chaos on fly balls. The Tigers outfield, though, is pretty regular. It’s the infield where the final-series impact is evident. Andrew Romine starts at first base in place of Miguel Cabrera, who will start Saturday, according to manager Brad Ausmus. Josh Wilson starts at second base in Ian Kinsler’s spot. Victor Martinez, meanwhile, still has left quad soreness keeping him out of the lineup. He’s day-to-day, even with two days left in the season, but Ausmus hasn’t ruled him out from playing.

tigers1901logoTIGERS (career numbers against Chris Sale)

  1. Rajai Davis, LF (8-for-18, 3 doubles, triple, walk)
  2. Andrew Romine, 1B (0-for-2)
  3. J.D. Martinez, RF (6-for-20, 2 doubles, HR, 2 walks, 10 K’s)
  4. Nick Castellanos, 3B (1-for-13, walk, 9 K’s)
  5. Jefry Marte, DH
  6. James McCann, C (2-for-5, K)
  7. Dixon Machado, SS
  8. Josh Wilson, 2B
  9. Anthony Gose, CF

P: Alfredo Simon

whitelogo1939logoWHITE SOX (career numbers off Simon)

  1. Adam Eaton, CF (5-for-9, double, triple, HR, walk, 2 K’s)
  2. Alexei Ramirez, SS (1-for-8, K)
  3. Melky Cabrera, DH (2-for-12, double, walk)
  4. Trayce Thompson, LF
  5. J.B. Shuck, RF
  6. Adam LaRoche, 1B (3-for-15, 2 doubles, 3 walks, 4 K’s)
  7. Tyler Flowers, C (1-for-5)
  8. Carlos Sanchez, 2B (0-for-5, walk, 2 K’s)
  9. Tyler Saladino, 3B

P: Chris Sale

Wednesday’s lineups: Tigers at Rangers

Miguel Cabrera is getting his day off as scheduled, and Victor Martinez remains out, so it’s an interesting lineup for the Tigers in their series finale at Texas. Detroit does get Nick Castellanos back after he left last night’s game with a bruised finger and sore wrist.

tigers1927logoTIGERS (career numbers off Yovani Gallardo)

  1. Anthony Gose, CF (0-for-2, K)
  2. Rajai Davis, LF (1-for-4, K)
  3. Ian Kinsler, 2B (1-for-3, double)
  4. J.D. Martinez, DH (2-for-12, 2 K’s)
  5. Tyler Collins, RF (0-for-3, K)
  6. Nick Castellanos, 3B (2-for-3, triple, K)
  7. Alex Avila, 1B
  8. James McCann, C (0-for-2, walk)
  9. Andrew Romine, SS

P: Matt Boyd

trlogoRANGERS (numbers against Boyd)

  1. Delino DeShields, CF (0-for-3, K)
  2. Shin-Soo Choo, RF (0-for-5, walk, 2 K’s)
  3. Adrian Beltre, 3B (1-for-5, 2 K’s)
  4. Prince Fielder, DH (2-for-3)
  5. Mike Napoli, LF (1-for-3, walk)
  6. Mitch Moreland, 1B (2-for-6, double, HR)
  7. Elvis Andrus, SS (2-for-4)
  8. Rougned Odor, 2B (2-for-5, double, HR)
  9. Robinson Chirinos, C (1-for-3, HR)

P: Yovani Gallardo

How Daniel Norris ended up with a 54-pitch inning

Daniel Norris took the mound Tuesday night with a pitch count around 80-85 in his third start back from the disabled list, having missed nearly a month with an oblique strain. It wasn’t simply a limit; it was a goal to get him there.

By the time he stepped back in the dugout, he had used up 54 pitches.

“It’s tough,” manager Brad Ausmus said, “because we wanted to get his pitch count up so his next start he can throw more pitches [Sunday against the White Sox in his final start], but we also don’t want him to expend himself in one inning.”

He came very close.

“[Chris] Gimenez would’ve been the last guy had he not retired him,” Ausmus said.

Gimenez was the ninth batter in the Rangers lineup. Two of the previous eight had reached on errors — Delino DeShields on a ground ball that Ian Kinsler couldn’t handle, Mike Napoli on a fly ball that first baseman Jefry Marte didn’t get under and dropped, capping a 10-pitch at-bat without an out. Norris immediately asked for the ball, looking to pick up his defense.

“As far as errors go, that’s part of the game,” Norris said. “It’s gonna happen. I’ve always got their back. They’ve got mine.”

Norris still didn’t have an out at that point, having crossed the 30-pitch mark. He finally got one on an Mitch Moreland groundout. Even that was arguably misplayed, as third baseman Nick Castellanos took the safe out at first base rather than try to force out Prince Fielder at third base beforehand.

Norris, too, had his share of miscues. Shin-Soo Choo followed Ian Kinsler by jumping a first-pitch fastball for a two-run homer.

“I left that pitch up,” Norris said. “If I make my pitch, it’s a double play maybe. … The fact of the matter is, if I make my pitches, I get out of there with less than 54 pitches.”

That said, he was still out there well into his 40s. Rougned Odor used seven pitches out of him before hitting an RBI triple to score Napoli, leaving Norris at 46 pitches with Gimenez due up. Norris’ velocity was still strong, his adrenaline carrying him, but the count itself was a worry. Buck Farmer had been warming in the bullpen for a few batters.

Ausmus has let pitchers work their way out of the opening inning through 50 pitches or more this season. David Price used 51 pitches in the first inning against the Yankees back in April. Randy Wolf used 50 pitches in the first at Cleveland a couple weeks ago in the second game of a doubleheader. Neither made it past the third.

Both Price and Wolf are veteran pitchers. Norris is just 22. He has experience with high pitch counts early — 78 pitches over three innings for the Blue Jays on April 30, 83 pitches over 3 1/3 innings in his second start as a Tiger Aug. 7.

“I’ve been here before,” Norris said. “All in all, I felt pretty good throwing the ball. It’s just one of those days.”

Said Ausmus: “I think the first inning probably taxed him a little bit, but like I said, we also wanted to get his pitch count up enough so that his next start he could stick around. It was a very blurred line [on a limit].”

Norris and Gimenez battled for eight pitches before Norris got the out.

“I don’t know if I would’ve let him take me out,” Norris said. “I wanted to stay out there. Obviously it’s his decision, but I’m glad he let me in. Regardless of what other people think, that shows the confidence he has in me to let me go back out for the second inning. I appreciate that, for sure.”

He wasn’t out there for long. After a DeShields double, Choo groundout and Adrian Beltre single, Norris retired Prince Fielder and got the hook there. He was at 71 pitches.

“We wanted him to go 80-85 today,” Ausmus said, “but after he retired Fielder, I just felt like with the 50-pich inning, just over 70 pitches [total], his velocity started to dip down from 94-95 to 90-91. At that point, right-hander coming up, Farmer coming up, just get him out of there. He should be able to throw 80, 85, 90 next time out.”

According to STATS, Norris’ 54-pitch first inning was the longest inning of any kind by a Major League pitcher since former Pirates starter Paul Maholm threw a 54-pitch third inning against the Cardinals on May 9, 2010. It was the longest opening inning since then-Astros starter Wandy Rodriguez threw 55 pitches at Atlanta on Aug. 1, 2007.

Tuesday’s lineups: Tigers at Rangers

Victor Martinez is out of the lineup after leaving last night’s game with a sore left quad. Miguel Cabrera gets a start at DH. Cabrera is likely to get Wednesday’s series finale off, then play one or two games this weekend against the White Sox. But with an 8-for-11 history off Cole Hamels, including 2-for-3 in August, he’ll take the opportunity to try to add to his AL batting lead.

Gameday | TV: FS Detroit, MLB.TV | Radio: 97.1 FM, AM 1270, Gameday Audio

tigerroarlogoTIGERS (career numbers vs. Hamels)

  1. Rajai Davis, LF (0-for-4, K)
  2. Ian Kinsler, 2B (3-for-6)
  3. Miguel Cabrera, DH (8-for-11, 2 doubles, triple, 4 walks)
  4. J.D. Martinez, RF (2-for-6, double, K)
  5. Nick Castellanos, 3B (0-for-2, walk, K)
  6. Jefry Marte, 1B
  7. Dixon Machado, SS
  8. Bryan Holaday, C
  9. Anthony Gose, CF

P: Daniel Norris


  1. Delino DeShields, CF
  2. Shin-Soo Choo, RF
  3. Adrian Beltre, 3B
  4. Prince Fielder, DH
  5. Mike Napoli, LF
  6. Mitch Moreland, 1B
  7. Elvis Andrus, SS
  8. Rougned Odor, 2B
  9. Chris Gimenez, C

P: Cole Hamels

Monday’s lineups: Tigers at Rangers

Day off for Ian Kinsler at his old home park. Andrew Romine, who was out over the weekend with groin tightness, returns to start at second base.

tigerpitcherlogoTIGERS (career numbers against Colby Lewis)

  1. Anthony Gose, CF (1-for-3, K)
  2. Tyler Collins, LF (0-for-3)
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B (9-for-26, 5 doubles, 3 walks, 2 K’s)
  4. Victor Martinez, DH (10-for-21, 3 doubles, HR, 2 walks)
  5. J.D. Martinez, RF (3-for-6, double, HR)
  6. Nick Castellanos, 3B (1-for-7, 2 walks)
  7. James McCann, C
  8. Andrew Romine, 2B (2-for-6, K)
  9. Dixon Machado, SS

P: Justin Verlander

oldrangerslogoRANGERS (career numbers off Verlander)

  1. Delino DeShields Jr., CF (1-for-3, 2 K’s)
  2. Shin-Soo Choo, RF (13-for-55, double, 2 HR, 8 walks, 23 K’s)
  3. Prince Fielder, DH (0-for-8, 2 K’s)
  4. Adrian Beltre, 3B (14-for-51, 2 doubles, HR, 2 walks, 9 K’s)
  5. Mitch Moreland, 1B (6-for-22, 4 doubles, 3 walks, 8 K’s)
  6. Josh Hamilton, LF (6-for-22, 2 walks, 10 K’s)
  7. Elvis Andrus, SS (8-for-33, 2 doubles, 2 walks, 4 K’s)
  8. Rougned Odor, 2B (0-for-5)
  9. Chris Gimenez, C

P: Colby Lewis

Home finale lineups: Tigers vs. Twins

Alex Avila gets behind the plate in what could be his final home start as a Tiger. Same goes for Rajai Davis, who gets the start in center field as Anthony Gose gets the day off. Josh Wilson, meanwhile, makes his second start at shortstop this season.

tigerslogoTIGERS (career numbers vs. Ervin Santana)

  1. Rajai Davis, CF (4-for-20, double, walk, 7 K’s)
  2. Ian Kinsler, 2B (20-for-62, 6 doubles, triple, HR, 5 walks, 5 K’s)
  3. Miguel Cabrera, DH (5-for-21, HR, 3 walks, 5 K’s)
  4. Victor Martinez, 1B (10-for-28, 2 HR, walk, 3 K’s)
  5. J.D. Martinez, RF (2-for-9, HR, 3 K’s)
  6. Nick Castellanos, 3B (2-for-2, double)
  7. Tyler Collins, LF (1-for-3, double, K)
  8. Alex Avila, C (1-for-12, HR, 3 walks, 3 K’s)
  9. Josh Wilson, SS (8-for-21, double, triple, HR, K)

P: Randy Wolf

twinslogoTWINS (career numbers against Wolf)

  1. Brian Dozier, 2B
  2. Aaron Hicks, LF
  3. Joe Mauer, 1B (0-for-3)
  4. Miguel Sano, DH
  5. Torii Hunter, RF (2-for-5, HR, walk)
  6. Eduardo Nunez, 3B (0-for-3)
  7. Eduardo Escobar, SS
  8. Kurt Suzuki, C (1-for-3, double)
  9. Byron Buxton, CF

P: Ervin Santana

Notes and quotes from Avila’s announcement keeping Ausmus

Tigers general manager Al Avila’s announcement keeping Brad Ausmus as manager for next season touched on a handful of key points for why he came to the decision. Among them:

The improvement from young players as the season has gone on. While Avila mentioned key players who have improved under Ausmus’ watch, Ausmus and Avila talked about the fact that the teaching process doesn’t stop when a player reaches the big leagues.

“Brad physically has gotten involved with each player — McCann, Gose,” Avila said. “I mean, he goes out there and he works with these players, hand-in-hand in trying to get them better. So it’s not that he’s teaching from a distance, he’s actually in there with them. … The staff, for me, has done a great job. Look at the young pitchers we’ve acquired. If you look at the young pitchers we’ve acquired, since they’ve been here, they’ve actually improved.”

In addition, Avila said: “You have to understand one thing: It starts from the minor leagues to the big leagues where you teach baserunning, you teach base stealing, you teach other aspects of the game. That has not stopped. In our meeting, we’ve addressed it where we acknowledge in today’s world, today’s baseball, there are young players being pushed to the big leagues probably a lot sooner than they should be here. We’re a perfect example of that. We’ve got Triple-A pitchers that have not had good seasons in Toledo pitching at the big league level. I can acknowledge that right now. We’ve had players come up from Toledo that have not had good seasons in Toledo come up and play. So we’re force-feeding here. As much teaching as you can possibly do, some of these guys are going to make some mistakes. It’s on the player, really. You go through that process of teaching and practicing, and at the end of the day the player has to perform. You have to acknowledge that sometimes, players are pushed too fast and it just takes time.”

Avila also talked about getting support from key veteran players, as did Ausmus.

“Baseball is a sport of individuals. At some level, they’re all playing for themselves,” Ausmus said. “But they have to understand that the bigger goal is winning and we have the vast majority of players on this team understand that, especially the veteran players.”

Avila noted the preparation level he has seen from Ausmus and his coaching staff.

“I can tell you he really works hard at preparing before each game,” Avila said. “What people don’t understand is, when we hired Brad, he and I had talked one on one quite a bit about what we felt, what I felt, what some people felt, we needed [from] the leadership role on this club. And one of [the factors] was that he himself had to personally get involved in the teaching of these young players. And he has. And that’s one of the things that I’m proud of him, because I know what he does. I know what he does in that office with his staff preparing for each game. I know how he comes out and works individually with each player. In that batting cage, he takes a personal approach to each guy. Those are things that I look at. The average person out there watching on TV or in the stadium, maybe they don’t understand that, which is fine, because they don’t need to understand that. But it’s my job to know that.”

The preparation and effort level stayed consistent, Avila noted, during tough times down the stretch, especially when Ausmus’ future faced greater scrutiny.

“It’s easy when things are going good and some of the things that should happen that don’t, maybe you ignore it or whatever,” Avila said. “But the most important time is, when things are going bad and the [crap] hits the fan, let’s just say, ‘OK, now let’s see what these guys are made of.’ That’s when the real inner person comes out. And he has shown me that he is calm, cool and collected and has continued the course, continued working through all kinds of stupid [stuff] that’s been going out there. And that’s what has impressed me.”

Lastly, there was an acknowledgement that the team Ausmus managed wasn’t the team he was expected to have going on, both through injuries early on and through trades in July.

“This has been a flawed team coming out of spring training because of all the injuries,” Avila said. “All you have to do is just write down every injury we’ve had from Day 1 without our club — Joe Nathan was supposed to be our closer, [Bruce] Rondon was supposed to be a major part of the back end of our bullpen. Victor Martinez gets hurt right off the bat,  Justin Verlander gets hurt, right off the bat. Right off the bat, we faced adversity, and it didn’t get any better. It got worse.”

Avila makes the call on Ausmus

The first huge decision of the new Tigers regime established this: Al Avila makes the calls.

That appeared to be in serious question two weeks ago after reports about Brad Ausmus’ impending dismissal and the mixed messages that followed. Avila answered both Saturday: Ausmus is the manager for 2016. And Avila is making the baseball decisions.

For the Tigers to move forward with a realistic goal to contend next season, and for Avila to establish himself as a general manager, the latter was just as important — if not moreso — than the former. Both had to be answered.

Both had been clouded in some level of mystery since Avila replaced Dombrowski a month and a half ago. Ausmus was Dombrowski’s hire, though Avila played an active role in the process. Avila was Mike Ilitch’s immediate pick once the owner decided to dismiss Dombrowski. Avila got a five-year contract, one year longer than Dombrowski’s last deal, but he didn’t get all of Dombrowski’s old titles.

There currently is no Tigers president or chief executive officer. Avila is the senior vice president of baseball operations, and the press release announcing his hire noted that he reports directly to Mike Ilitch.

Like any GM, Avila earned the right to pick his own manager, and the right to evaluate the people who were officially hired by his predecessor, even if Avila was part of the hiring process. When reports emerged about Ausmus on his way out at season’s end, that evaluation process had a bad look, like it had been circumvented.

Whatever the sources of the reports, they didn’t come out of baseball operations, according to Avila. He hadn’t made any decision.

“When the report came out I was being fired, after talking to Al, I felt like it didn’t come from the baseball operations side,” Ausmus said. “Al was very open and honest with me the next morning we spoke, and we’ve spoken a number of times since then. Our relationship has always been good, so I knew whatever the decision was, that Al would be honest with me.”

Avila couldn’t speak for other departments, and while he confirmed with Ilitch that the evaluation process was still ongoing, the appearance of at least an opinion from somewhere in the organization lingered with a report and no resolution. And that put Avila in an admittedly awkward position.

It looked awkward for ownership, too. What made the Tigers structure work for a decade under Dombrowski was the appearance of trust. Ilitch was willing to put money into his general manager’s ideas to field a quality ballclub without overly interfering in how the GM goes about it, with the occasional exception such as a Johnny Damon.

“When Mr. Ilitch put me in this position as general manager, he basically let me make the decision,” Avila said. “I said, ‘Well, let me take these two months to make this decision. I will evaluate this.’ He allowed me to make the decision. This is my decision.

“I talked to [Ilitch on Friday]. I was getting closer to thinking this way. You had to weigh out a lot of things, the positives, the negatives. So there’s a lot of things to think about, up and down the system. I even thought about things in the minor leagues, and how they would be approached at the Major League level.”

Avila made an evaluation of the entire player development system, and he had his assistants take various looks at the club on the road. He talked with his assistants, more than one of whom went to bat for Ausmus. He talked with players about the atmosphere on the team and the push for more wins.

Then came the reports, and then everything came into question. Avila had enough trust in ownership to make a statement at the time. Ausmus had enough trust in Avila to let the evaluation process play out and not ask for an immediate decision.

And by today’s indications, Ilitch had enough trust in Avila to let him take care of it.

“Mr. Ilitch left it up to me, and I made the decision,” Avila said. “I called him. I said, ‘Mr. Ilitch, I’m going to keep Brad Ausmus.’ He said, ‘God bless you, move forward.’”

The Tigers are ready to move forward. It’s easier now that this is done.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 30,342 other followers