September 2011

Rain delay at Yankee Stadium, starters in limbo

The much-anticipated pitching duel between Justin Verlander and CC Sabathia could end up being a victory for the weather after heavy rain put Friday’s AL Division Series opener between the Tigers and Yankees into a second-inning delay.

While both starters gave up a first-inning run, light rain began falling into the bottom of the first inning. By the top of the second, it was a downpour, forming some ponding around the infield dirt as the Tigers went down in order.

Once Sabathia struck out Ryan Raburn for the third out, the Yankee Stadium grounds crew began to jog out of the dugout to begin some clean-up work on the infield in the middle of the inning. They stopped when crew chief Gerry Davis and the rest of the umpires gathered on the pitching mound with Yankees head groundskeeper Dan Cunningham.

Davis stopped the game at 9:07 p.m. ET, as Verlander stood at the top of the visiting dugout steps. From there, the countdown began to see how long the rain will persist, and how long the starting pitchers can keep their arms fresh and come back out if play resumes.

It was no coincidence that both managers put a starter in the bullpen on their postseason rosters. Tigers manager Jim Leyland specifically cited the risk of a rain delay as one reason why he placed Brad Penny in his bullpen, even though Penny hasn’t made a relief appearance since 2008.

The Yankees, who are going with a three-man rotation for the series, put A.J. Burnett in their bullpen. Burnett and Penny were teammates on the 2003 World Champion Marlins. If the rain delay lasts too long, they could become opposing pitchers Friday.

The Yankees had 22 games delayed by rain in the regular season, including a Major League best nine postponements.

Couple thoughts on the postseason roster

A few delayed thoughts on the 25-man roster the Tigers filed for the Division Series, and what it means for manager Jim Leyland’s decisions:

  • Leyland said last week one decision they had to make was whether to go with two or three lefty relievers, depending on the opponent. He also had an option in David Pauley, who held lefty hitters to a .194 average The fact that they went with two shows a ton of confidence in Daniel Schlereth as a lefty specialist. Take away some tail-end struggles, and he has earned it.
  • That said, don’t be surprised if Leyland turns to Al Alburquerque against a tough lefty at some point this series. His health makes him an equalizer in this bullpen.
  •  Victor Martinez catching was never going to happen, not even in a pinch. The Tigers had to have Omir Santos as a backup option. The fact that they had an extra spot to play with made it a no-brainer.
  • With both Andy Dirks and Don Kelly on the roster, it’ll be interesting to see what Leyland does in right field for Games 2 against right-hander Ivan Nova. He could stick with Magglio, knowing his postseason experience will give him a steady presence in the two spot, or he could play the matchups and go lefty against righty. But then, Nova has been stingier against left-handed hitters (.240 average, .681 OPS) than right-handed ones (.275, .730). Ordonez hits Freddy Garcia well, so I don’t think that will be a question.

ALDS Game 1: Tigers at Yankees

This is the lineup you would expect against a left-handed starter. No surprises needed. It does include Brandon Inge, who is batting .190 (11-for-58) off Sabathia but whose seven walks give him an on-base percentage of .299.

TIGERS

  1. Austin Jackson, CF (4-for-14, double, triple, HR off Sabathia)
  2. Magglio Ordonez, RF (19-for-71, 5 doubles, 3 HRs)
  3. Delmon Young, LF (3-for-24, seven K’s)
  4. Miguel Cabrera, 1B (9-for-16, 2 HR, 11 RBIs)
  5. Victor Martinez, DH (6-for-25, 2 HR, 3 RBIs)
  6. Alex Avila, C (1-for-7, 3 K’s)
  7. Ryan Raburn, 2B (4-for-23, 2 doubles, 3 RBIs, 8 K’s)
  8. Jhonny Peralta, SS (1-for-17, 3 walks, 5 K’s)
  9. Brandon Inge, 3B (11-for-58, 1 HR, 3 RBIs, 15 K’s)

P: Justin Verlander

YANKEES

  1. Derek Jeter, SS (10-for-28 off Verlander)
  2. Curtis Granderson, CF (1-for-6, HR)
  3. Robinson Cano, 2B (4-for-23)
  4. Alex Rodriguez, 3B (4-for-21, HR, 4 RBIs)
  5. Mark Teixeira, 1B (3-for-22, HR, 3 RBIs, 7 K’s)
  6. Nick Swisher, RF (8-for-48)
  7. Jorge Posada, DH (7-for-21, 5 RBIs)
  8. Russell Martin, C (2-for-5)
  9. Brett Gardner, LF (3-for-8)

P: CC Sabathia

Postseason roster is out

The Tigers have released their roster for the Division Series and, as it looks a lot like what the clubhouse layout suggested yesterday. But it also leaves the Game 4 starter up in the air for a little while longer.

Both Rick Porcello and Brad Penny are on the roster. One of them is expected to start Game 4 if necessary. The other will work out of the bullpen.

Phil Coke and Daniel Schlereth are the two left-handers in the bullpen, which will prompt manager Jim Leyland to pick and choose his spots for them. If there was another reliever spot to determine in the bullpen, it went to Ryan Perry over David Pauley and Duane Below.

Omir Santos is on as the backup catcher, along with Andy Dirks and Don Kelly as reserves.

Looking at Tigers’ postseason clubhouse, er, roster

Looks like this has always been a topic of discussion after the tweets from earlier today, but I wanted to blog on this before calling it a night and before the Tigers make their Division Series roster official Friday morning.

Originally, we were expecting a roster announcement today, but that was premature. They’ll take the extra day they’re allotted before making the announcement.

Most of the decisions became clearer today before the Tigers workout, because the clubhouse was open. Whether or not all the players were there, the lockers were set up, including nameplates for 27 players. One of them was Brennan Boesch, who will not be playing this postseason after undergoing season-ending thumb surgery earlier this month. That leaves 26 nameplates for a 25-man roster.

All five members of the starting rotation from the regular season — Justin Verlander, Doug Fister, Max Scherzer, Rick Porcello and Brad Penny — were around. So were seven relievers: Jose Valverde, Joaquin Benoit, Phil Coke, Al Alburquerque, Daniel Schlereth, Ryan Perry and David Pauley. The Tigers will carry 11 pitchers — four starters and seven relievers. So either one of the starters will work out of the bullpen, costing a spot for one reliever, or one starter is here as an insurance option and won’t be on the roster.

On the position side, there were 14 players with lockers. The obvious ones were around, notably Austin Jackson, Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, Alex Avila, Jhonny Peralta, Magglio Ordonez, Delmon Young, Ramon Santiago, Ryan Raburn, Wilson Betemit, Brandon Inge. Don Kelly, Andy Dirks and Omir Santos were also in attendance.

Danny Worth was not. He tweeted today that he flew down to Florida to work out and stay fresh in case the Tigers need him for later rounds or for an injury replacement. Will Rhymes was not spotted and did not appear to have a locker.

Again, this is far from an official count. But every indication suggests that the Tigers will keep Santos as an extra catcher rather than rely on another position player as an emergency option or risk using Victor Martinez, which never really seemed like an option in the first place.

Wednesday: Tigers vs. Indians

As Jim Leyland put it, “We’re trying to win games. We’re going to try to win the game tonight.”

Leyland is also trying to do what he can to get Miguel Cabrera his batting crown.

“If I have anything to do with it, he will win the batting title,” Leyland said. “But we want to win this game tonight.”

Wilson Betemit is batting second tonight, but for the reason as last night. Leyland wants to get him an extra at-bat if he possibly can.”

TIGERS

  1. Austin Jackson, CF
  2. Wilson Betemit, 3B
  3. Delmon Young, LF
  4. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
  5. Victor Martinez, DH
  6. Alex Avila, C
  7. Jhonny Peralta, SS
  8. Don Kelly, RF
  9. Ramon Santiago, 2B

P: Rick Porcello

INDIANS

  1. Kosuke Fukudome, RF
  2. Jason Kipnis, 2B
  3. Asdrubal Cabrera, SS
  4. Travis Hafner, DH
  5. Carlos Santana, C
  6. Shelley Duncan, LF
  7. Jack Hannahan, 3B
  8. Matt LaPorta, 1B
  9. Ezequiel Carrera, CF

P: Zach McAllister

Rick Knapp now Royals pitching instructor

Rick Knapp made his resume as the minor league pitching coordinator for the Twins, reinforcing the philosophies of Minnesota pitching coach Rick Anderson and management, before the Tigers hired him as their pitching coach after the 2008 season. Once the Tigers dismissed Knapp as pitching coach this summer, that seemed like the natural role for him to return.

He found his spot with the Royals, who face a challenge developing the pitching to complement their gifted young hitters. Kansas City announced Knapp as its new pitching coordinator on Wednesday.

It’ll be a little more of a transition for Knapp, who lives in Florida and was able to stay at home during the offseason while going back and forth to Lakeland. The Royals train in Surprise, Arizona.

Reasoning behind Weaver, Santana scratched

As you no doubt already heard, the Angels scrapped their scheduled final starts for Ervin Santana last night and Jered Weaver on Wednesday. The Weaver move essentially clinches the AL pitching triple crown for Justin Verlander, to Tigers fans’ delight. But it also gives the Rangers a much better chance of pulling out the win Wednesday and clinching home-field for the Division Series against the AL Wild Card, which would leave the Tigers heading to New York tonight for a first-round matchup with the Yankees.

Angels manager Mike Scioscia cited the innings both Santana and Weaver had racked up as the reason for the move.

“It comes to a point where we would be stretching them for diminishing returns right now,” Scioscia told reporters. “If we had 10 games left, you would see these guys out there, but they are really on fumes and need to just take a back seat.”

Weaver is fifth in the Majors in innings at 235 2/3. Santana is 10th at 228 2/3. In terms of pitches thrown, Weaver is third behind Justin Verlander and Dan Haren.

Weaver was asked about the ERA title, which he’ll miss by 1 1/3 scoreless innings.

“Oops,” Weaver joked. “Should have thrown a couple more zeros up there.”

Game times for Division Series opener set

The Tigers still don’t know where they’ll open the playoffs, or who they’ll be playing. But they now have a good idea of when.

Major League Baseball just released game times for Friday’s games, which open the AL Division Series. The AL Wild Card winner will open at either Texas or Detroit at 5:o7pm ET. The other series, the one beginning at Yankee Stadium, will begin at 8:37pm ET.

All Division Series games are on TBS.

Tuesday: Tigers vs. Indians

Not only is Wilson Betemit back in the lineup for the first time since Sept. 16, he’s batting second. Don’t read anything into that, though. Jim Leyland said that’s meant to get Betemit an extra at-bat if possible to help get his timing back. Other than that, no surprises, except maybe Ryan Raburn and Magglio Ordonez starting against right-hander Jeanmar Gomez, who allows a .315 average to left-handed hitters.

TIGERS

  1. Austin Jackson, CF
  2. Wilson Betemit, 3B
  3. Delmon Young, LF
  4. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
  5. Victor Martinez, DH
  6. Alex Avila, C
  7. Magglio Ordonez, RF
  8. Jhonny Peralta, SS
  9. Ryan Raburn, 2B

P: Max Scherzer

INDIANS

  1. Kosuke Fukudome, RF
  2. Jason Kipnis, 2B
  3. Carlos Santana, 1B
  4. Jim Thome, DH
  5. Shelley Duncan, LF
  6. Lonnie Chisenhall, 3B
  7. Jason Donald, SS
  8. Ezequiel Carrera, CF
  9. Lou Marson, C

P: Jeanmar Gomez

 

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