Wild week and a half for Miner

Eight days ago, Zach Miner walked into the visiting clubhouse at Fenway Park and found out he was the Tigers’ emergency starter. Eighty-two pitches on day’s rest followed.

Two days ago, Miner was flying back home to Florida to be with his wife for the birth of their second son, Jackson. Mother and baby are doing fine, by the way.

Yesterday, Miner was sitting in the airport at West Palm Beach for five hours while a maintenance crew drove down a spare landing tire from Orlando to put on the plane that would eventually fly him back home. He was worried he’d get in trouble for not getting back to the team in time for Wednesday’s game.

“I was actually more stressed sitting in the airport yesterday,” Miner said. “That was as stressful as anything.”

Today, Miner was quietly a hero in the Tigers’ comeback victory. His two hitless innings after the Mariners scored six runs off Jarrod Washburn gave Detroit a chance to eventually erase the deficit, not to mention, get back to the plate quickly.

Manager Jim Leyland, for one, appreciated it. He has been flustered by Miner at various times, but this wasn’t one of them.

“I wish Zach Miner would realize what a valuable piece he is,” Leyland said, “and I wish he understood how valuable we think he is. He’s a big part, an important part, as is [Fu-Te] Ni. I can’t pitch Perry and Lyon and Seay every day. Today, he was tremendous.”

For his first game outing since that spot start last Wednesday, he was remarkably solid.

Miner arrived at the park in time for extra innings if they happened, but it ended up a moot point. With Justin Verlander on the mound, the Tigers were fine without heavy bullpen use. But just to get his arm fresh, Miner played catch after the game.

Once a 58-minute rain delay Thursday ensured Washburn would’ve last past the sixth inning, those throws came up big for Miner, who hit the strike zone with 17 of his 26 pitches and reached just one three-ball count.

“I felt pretty sharp throwing in the bullpen,” Miner said. “I think throwing last night helped me out a lot.”

As for Leyland’s comments, Miner appreciated them. He hasn’t been shy about his desire to be a Major League starter, and the roller coaster he went on in Spring Training and into April was a rough one for that. Now that he’s in the bullpen, he has far from a defined role, everywhere from mopup to occasional setup to, in Thursday’s case, protecting a one-run deficit.

In his case, it’s nice to be valued.

“I think sometimes you overlook it,” Miner said, “because you sometimes think some people have more important roles than you.”

43 Comments

Great article Jason – love this type of report on what is happening behind the scenes with a player and cover issues that fans have been past blogging. Wish Zach and family all the best.
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I have felt our bullpen as a unit has been first rate this year and would not be surprised if collectively they are close to to league best in ERA.
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Rodney just keeps me amused – OK stressed out!! His monthly ERA’s in order are 5.63 for April; 1.38; 6.75; 0.82 and 4.00 for August. He has a 5.00 ERA for Late Innings of Close Games, just what you don’t want in a closer yet is 25 for 26 in saves. He is 5.21 ERA when ahead in the count and 1.38 when behind in the count. Talk about a statistical anomaly!!

I second the great article comment. As much as Miner gets on my nerves, he was lights out today when it counted most. Very happy to hear of the birth of his son and that everyone is healthy and doing well. I watched the game this evening, also. Amazing game and how everyone contributed to a great win!

Well I like Zach prefer him to be a starter (last wee against the Red Soxs aside) I was at the game yesterday (by the way my fourth walk off win of the year and I had the walk off walk with Clete as well). Anyway the way the ball was flying out of there it was nice to have someone you knew if his sinker was working could keep the ball on the ground. At least two of the six homers were totally wind aided. I don’t know what is up with Washburn, I think his ERA has gone up nearly a point since he has gotten here. I don’t think he is comfortable (or is it sabatoge?? Just kidding). It was nice to see the guys all pitch in to comeback, no one person did it.
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I could not believe those two plays that Guitierez made and the Wilson one on Polanco. (I still think that Thames was safe). But the thing about the two Guitierez’s catches is that they didn’t even look hard, it looked like a routine play out there. He is a great center fielder.
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GK
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Oh ya congratulations to Zach and his wife.

Congrats to Zach on the addition to his family. How odd though, a few days after your kid is born you are back to work, but back to work that is out of town! I can’t even imagine my husband being totally gone within a week of our kid being born – it would be a different life being married to a professional athlete.

Great pitching Zach, you did your job. And great effort by the offense to get back in the game (their defense sure made it tough, I saw replays of those late inning heroics and we sure could have won sooner!). Hats off to Carlos (excuse me while I continue my love fest of him). As a pinch hitter he drew the walk, and even though he is injury prone, went all out at that catcher – whether he caused the ball to pop out or it was already out, it was a gutysy play and one of the things I love to see in a player.

And good for Clete – he takes a lot of ribbing for his lack of consistency, but he has been king of the walk offs!

GK – how fun for you to see so many walk off games – good reward for being a loyal fan that stays til the end. I gotta get myself to a game yet this year, it just isn’t easy sometimes even though I am only an hour away

Walk off wins are always a great feeling. Good to see Clete with another walkoff. Rayburn is on another of his hot streaks. Avila continues to produce. Inge gets another homer and more great defense.
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Nate and Bondo both pitched well yesterday in their rehab stints.
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I wonder if a roster move will be made before Sept. 1st. The bullpen has not been taxed at all since the Huff move. Without the extra position player, I doubt JL would of pinch hit for Laird as early as the 6th and Avila would not of hit for Everett. So as long as the starters can keep eating the innings and the bullpen is not over used, I like the extra position player.
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Now is the time to get out of the road funk. A sweep of Oakland would be nice, since the Angels are always tough.
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Mark

Congrats to Zach and family, but bad baby planning. Now Zach is probably going to miss birthdays. Then there’s the Josh Anderson story. He was supposed to report to the Royals but their first child was due. The baby boy was born at 8:11 AM on August 4, Josh spent the day with them and slept in the hospital that night, then left at 4 AM for his flight to Kansas City. But that’s not the worst of it. He then had to go on a 10-day road trip, so he didn’t get to be with his first born, a son no less, for the first ten days. I can’t even imagine that. I had to report overseas after my son was born, but I at least was able to spend the first two months with him. By the time I saw him again, he was a big chubby guy. :-) The moral of the story is that ballplayers should do their babymaking in February, and that you should never join the military. Well, I’m joking about that second one.
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Hey GK, you’re being repaid for those horrible losses you had to suffer through. Those catches by Gutierrez must have been stunning in person. Fortunately FSN showed wide shot replays so we could see the amount of ground he covered to make those plays. And the Branyan bomb must have been a sight. He put that up in Homerun Derby territory.
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–Rich

I’m glad to see Leyland give Miner some praise- he deserves it. I can’t help but point out that he had to throw Ni’s name in there, too. It’s as if he couldn’t just say good things about Zach. No offense- Ni has been a nice addition- but Zach has certainly survived the ride a lot longer.
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I was at the game yesterday, had so much fun, I watched it again last night with my kids. The tried to guess in the 9th how the walk-off was going to happen. :)

-Tracey

Just saw that 2 of our DL pitchers, Nater and Bondo both had good outings yesterday against Columbus (last place AAA). No walks for Nater with 4 KO’s and 17 strikes out of 18 pitches for Bondo. Don Kelly is batting .325 while Hessman is at .215. Can we find any takers for Thames?
He is inconsistent at the plate this year. Find us a trade for a 3B down in Triple A ready to come up to the Bigs next year. Inge may be relegated to DH status next year with his knees or at the least LF/3B/DH platoon. Hope we see some run support for EJax tonight!!

Jim

“I wish Zack Miner would realize what a valuable piece he is, and I wish he understood how valuable we think he is. He’s a big part, an important part, as is Ni. I can’t pitch Perry , Lyon, and Seay every day.”

I don’t know. It would have been nice if JL might have substituted pitcher or player for “piece”, and maybe left out the part about “I can’t pitch Perry, Lyon, and Seay every day.” Might have been a smidge more sincere JL. Oh well, being a middle reliever, I guess you take whatever compliments you can get.

Congratulations Zack. You’ll just have to ask for August 18th ( assuming the date) every year for as long as you pitch professionally:) Or maybe join a team in Austrailia where you can have summers off. (course they’d be winters though……it gets confusing) . Forget that. I don’t guess they play much baseball down there.

Anyway, Rich, what the heck do we know about “baby planning”? :)

Great win yesterday! GK, glad you’re getting to see so many walk off wins and come from behind wins this year. After last year you’ve earned it. Shades of 2006? Hmmm

Let’s start off with a win tonight. Go Tigers.

Thames: C’mon what’s the point? Raburn is an exclamation point to that statement. Marcus is becoming a player with no statistical relevance and one with no player value. It’s a shame and we all know he can produce but in a pennant run on this team with a couple of big guys like Ordonez, Guillen and Granderson not producing as much as they have historically, we can’t afford to carry him. I would suspect he will have to produce very very soon or he will be torpedoed.

Wow! Anyone planning on questioning JL’s hitting Ryan 3rd need not.

I love Marcus, but he sure goes thru streaks. He’s been cold as ice lately.

Just as I was about to say Ryan already negated his HR he hits another one. Looked like Everett could have had that ball but he wasn’t in position to call it. Raburn got a slow jump on it and then Everett probably distracted him. Not good. Well Tigers are back in the lead.

Clutch hit by Clete. A break there as it looked like he should have been called out on the previous pitch.

Cabrera was safe, just barely. And then Grandy comes up with a hit.

He was safe pup. Not really that close even. Brandon Lyon is like the invisible man. He quietly gets it done.

Rodzilla shuts ‘em down. Another nailbiter, but a good win.

Lest I forget and in light of previous discussions, I want to commend the little guy behind the plate tonight, umpire Adrian Johnson. He gave the pitchers calls on the corners and even beyond the corners, but he stayed consistent with it all night. And a good call on Laird’s tag on that guy’s helmet. Good job of umpiring.
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We sure are seeing some fine defensive plays by the opposition lately. Another over the shoulder grab by the shortstop and Huff got robbed by their rightfielder on what would have been huge hit.
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Raburn ended up 2-1 on runs created and runs allowed, and Jackson pitched his way out of a 2nd run that would have been charged to Ryan. I don’t remember him having this much trouble in the outfield before.
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Clete got a big hit again, and off a lefty.
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Cabrera was safe in the 8th on that one off the wall.
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Ordonez made a good play on a hit down the line that could have scored a tying run if he hadn’t read the carom correctly.
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We need to make it a priority to sign Brandon Lyon to at least a 2-year deal this winter. I don’t know what will happen with Rodney, but you don’t want to lose Lyon and his new and very effective cutter. You see that 96 mph fastball he used to dust off that one guy?
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Good to pick up that game on Chicago, and good to start the road trip with a win.
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Finally, I thought Leyland managed an excellent game. Sure, a lot of the situations were “no brainers” but he made all the correct calls, IMO.
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–Rich

I’ll defer pup. It was a pretty close play with Cabrera at second.
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Placido with the quick grab, Fernando with the K, and another hard fought win. The team is focused.

Stayed up for the whole thing, but I was way too tired to write and I have to work this morning. My common sense doesn’t allow me just to go to bed, I have to stay up.??? Anyway, wasn’t thrilled with how we hit again really. But what is going on there have been some great defensive plays the last two games. Of course we have talked about the plays of the last games with Seattle, but the play made on Huff’s, and Polanco’s ball to right. There was similar play made at short as there was on Thursday. I swear poor Placido can’t buy a hit, that guys has been robbed for two days.
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Like to see the Red Soxs get murdered last night even if it was by the Yankees.

Good start to the road trip with a “W”. Wow Ryan and Clete
are making it hard on JL when he decides to bring up another reliever. Marcus gets closer every day to waivers
but he’s another of JL’s favorites. For tonight if GMan only goes 5-6 innings, they have Miner, Ni and Perry. Let’s hope they score some runs and make the b-pen a moot point.
I like what the extra bats off the bench are providing.

Jim

Meant to add, this is it, the stretch run, the remaining 25% of the schedule, what you get paid for boys, time to earn your pay & produce!

I’ve been monitoring this for several weeks and, with last night’s win, we have finally reached the .500 mark post-ASG, 17-17. We’ve been close several times but have finally gotten there. It might not sound like much of an achievement but I take it as meaning there has been no second half collapse, at least as of this time. The fear of that second half slump is what had been making me cranky a few weeks ago when it looked as though it was happening.
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Good job of turning it around.
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–Rich

Sure like the fact we have some dangerous LHB in this lineup against the Righites. Huff is due to produce. Actually hit in some tough luck so far as a Tiger. Guillen should be ready to go and obviously Granderson. Like Santiago back in there and Avila. When you can replace Everett and Laird with guys like that you have to be pretty happy about it.
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Raburn is really helping the team with his bat, Marcus is making himself redundant and when Guillen ever starts hitting RH again I would think Marcus is the one to go.
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Be good to see Inge do something today-he’s getting back into that no-hit mode again–wonder if they will have the nerve to play Huff there?
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Lyon continues to impress-super confident on the mound and the hit that Davis got off him yesterday was a bit lucky.
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Another road win tonight would be good tonic.

Here are the A’s with a team chock full of .270+ hitters and us a team of .250 hitters. Somehow doesn’t seem right?

Oh, brother, Armando not off to a good start.

We’ve come close to getting 10 games over 500. Gman’s going to make it hard today.

These ground ball hits are frustrating. Sure chewing up the pitches. Can’t see GMan going past 5 IP today and will likely force JL to make a decision on sending someone down – shame Thames has to be kept or released.
Josh almost did us a huge favour against the twinkies but lined out with runners on and down 7-6 at KC.

Tigers need to get something going.

Polly and Cabs deliver against all pitching. Sure hope Sizemore can play other than 2nd and Polly is here next year.
If Gman can go most of the 6th, it will be huge.

Clete rarely misses twice for RISP.

We missed payday again but least we got some change to square it up.

JL played the cards right extending Gman till the first sign of trouble.
Perry is a different pitcher this time back. Great composure after the stolen base to get the strike outs with RISP.

Real surprised JL left Ryan to face the three lefties in a row but he came out huge!!

Well, are we going to be able to pull this one out? White Sox and Twins won today.

Miner=single + sacrifice+single= GAME OVER.

Six hits. You’re lucky to win one game in ten with six hits. Granted, we hit a few liners right at them, but many of the approaches our hitters take are very poor, and some are downright brainless. That gets you six hits. Same approach, no matter the pitcher, no matter the situation. I guess nobody learns situational hitting anymore. That gets you six hits. Leyland now has a roster where he can mix and match in any situation and bring up a supposedly experienced big league hitter, but we get six hits. You can’t even manufacture runs with six hits.
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Good performance by Galarraga and Perry. This is a game we shouldn’t lose.
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–Rich

What ever happened to Miner being there for early, long relief situations – like tomorrow afternoon following Porcello. I suppose only throwing 8 pitches tonight keeps him fresh enough.
Sorry again for the sarcasm but just scratching my head trying to work the logic.

No, we shouldn’t have lost this game. Leland needs to sit Clete for a day or two. Terrible at bats by almost everyone.

We only have six pitchers in the pen and three of them worked last night. The way we were hitting, I guess we settle in for multiple extra innings. I don’t know who else you bring in there in the 9th. You have Ni and, other than that, you’re going back to Seay, Lyon and Rodney with no idea how many innings they’d have to pitch.
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I suppose Raburn should have stayed on his feet and made a throw to the plate, but he’s not a very good leftfielder and I guess everyone knows that. In the end, it came down to a lack of hitting. I don’t want to start naming names but some of those ABs were just plain stupid. If you watched the game, you know who I mean.
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–Rich

Everyone in the bullpen was available – even Seay being used the past two days but only throwing 9 and 15 pitches.
Lyon had only thrown 20 and Rodney 15 pitches Friday and both had not thrown Thursday.
I bet Miner was real surprised to get called in that situation.
Ni has not been used since the 16 August despite having a .96 ERA for August from 9.1 IP and the A’s having 4 lefties and the switch hitting Pennington who can’t hit lefties.

Yeah, you’re probably right, Dave.
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–Rich

Ugh, 0 for 15 from the bottom of the order with 6 KO’s, now that’s pathetic. Clete with 3KO’s needs to sit for a couple of games and it may be down in Toledo. Miner in the 9th made no sense at all. Ni could have got us an inning or two, then go to the closers. Every game is important now and giving a game away to the A’s is unacceptable.

Jim

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