April 8th, 2012
Sure, it’s safe to say Sunday’s Tigers win over the Red Sox was a rarity, from the 13-12 final to Alex Avila’s walkoff homer to even Duane Below’s second relief win in as many days. But how rare? Here’s a partial list, courtesy of research on baseball-reference.com unless otherwise noted:
- According to Elias Sports Bureau, the Tigers overcame multi-run deficits in both the ninth inning and extra innings to win for just the second time in team history. They pulled out an 11-10 win over the White Sox that way on Sept. 18, 1929 at Navin Field. (first reported by ESPN)
- The Tigers gave up 12 earned runs in a game and won for just the third time since 1939 and the eighth time since 1918.
- The Tigers’ three-game winning streak to open the season is their longest since 2006, the last year they went to the World Series.
- Avila’s shot was the first time in Comerica Park history that a Tiger hit a walkoff home run in extra innings that powered the Tigers ahead from a deficit. Damion Easley was the last to do it on Sept. 19, 1998, hitting a two-run, 10th-inning homer to left field at Tiger Stadium off Twins closer Rick Aguilera, sending Detroit to an 8-7 victory. Avila’s shot is just the seventh such homer for the Tigers since 1950. Credit ESPN for first finding it to be the first since ’98.
- When’s the last time a Tiger did all that with two outs in the inning? According to baseball-reference.com, it was April 17, 1968, when Willie Horton hit a two-run homer off Cleveland’s Eddie Fisher to score Al Kaline and pull out a 4-3 win.
- Miguel Cabrera’s game-tying three-run homer in the ninth inning is the third for the Tigers in the last four seasons. Ryan Raburn hit one off then-White Sox reliever Bobby Jenks on Aug. 5, 2010. Aubrey Huff did it Sept. 24, 2009 with a three-run shot off then-Blue Jay Jason Frasor.
- Duane Below became the first Tigers reliever since Paul Gibson in 1991, and just the third since at least 1918, to pick up relief wins in two of the Tigers’ first three games in a season. Tom Morgan was the third, doing so in 1960.
The question of who will fill in for Doug Fister in the Tigers rotation was just as murky Sunday morning as the question of how long Fister will be out with his left side strain.
“I have no clue who’s gonna start, absolutely none,” Leyland said Sunday morning. “Villarreal has joined the team and we will have a starter at the appropriate time. Who it is, I have no clue. None.”
While Duane Below would appear to be the logical candidate, the Tigers are leaving it open. Below hasn’t been told he’s starting, and the Tigers will spend the next two days watching starters at Triple-A Toledo. Somebody from the club watched Andy Oliver pitch for the Mud Hens Sunday night (he gave up five runs, two earned, on three hits with five walks over 3 2/3 innings) and Leyland said he might spend the off-day Monday in Toledo to watch Casey Crosby start.
By all indications, the trade option remains open as well. John Lannan has reportedly requested a trade out of the Nationals organization after Washington optioned him to Triple-A, but there’s no sign yet out of Washington reports that the Nats will give him away simply to finalize the divorce.
The longer Fister is out, the more viable the trade option would appear to be. Even if he’s going to be out a few weeks, it might not make sense to give up a prospect or take on more salary just to fill that time.
What about Roy Oswalt, you ask? If he needs 60 days to get ready for game action until June, as Ken Rosenthal reported, then it kind of defeats the purpose for the Tigers. It would take a long-term injury to Fister for that to make sense, and they would still have to fill his spot in the meantime.
One thing to keep in mind for this week: With Monday’s off-day, the Tigers have the option of moving up Max Scherzer to start in Fister’s place Friday instead of Saturday. Given that Friday is the White Sox home opener, and we know how White Sox crowds can be, having Scherzer pitch that day might make some sense. The downside is that if they do that, they won’t have Scherzer for the four-game series against Texas at Comerica Park April 19-22.
As for a timetable on Fister, head athletic trainer Kevin Rand said, “Not right now. We’ve just got to get him pain free. Once we get him pain free, then we can move forward.”
Fister echoed that after Sunday’s game, saying the main focus is to get the tightness and soreness out of his side.
“There’s no timetable,” he said. “It’s a day-to-day thing.”
The only change on the Tigers’ end from Saturday’s lineup is that Andy Dirks is in left field and Delmon Young is the DH.
The Red Sox, on the other hand, have some switching going on, from Nick Punto batting leadoff at third base to Jacoby Ellsbury batting second and moving everyone else down a spot to Darnell McDonald getting the start in left in place of Cody Ross.
- Austin Jackson, CF
- Brennan Boesch, RF
- Miguel Cabrera, 3B
- Prince Fielder, 1B
- Delmon Young, DH
- Alex Avila, C
- Jhonny Peralta, SS
- Andy Dirks, LF
- Ryan Raburn, 2B
P: Max Scherzer
- Nick Punto, 3B
- Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
- Dustin Pedroia, 2B
- Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
- David Ortiz, DH
- Darnell McDonald, LF
- Ryan Sweeney, RF
- Mike Aviles, SS
- Kelly Shoppach, C
P: Clay Buchholz
Technically, the term for Doug Fister’s injury is a left costochondrial strain, which is around the left ribs. But the bottom line is that it means the Tigers are going to need another starter for at least the next two turns through the rotation, and possibly longer if it sidelines him for longer than the 15 days.
When head athletic trainer Kevin Rand went out to the mound to check on Fister in the fourth inning, the first thought was whether the sore right middle finger that sidelined him for more than a week in Spring Training had flared up again. This injury was different, and possibly more serious.
The move will become official on Sunday, though the Tigers announced it Saturday night after the game. They’ll call up right-handed reliever Brayan Villarreal, whom many people thought might have gotten the call when Luis Marte went on the DL on Wednesday, just before the season began.
Duane Below got the call to join the Opening Day roster instead, and when Fister couldn’t continue pitching, Below’s 2 1/3 innings of scoreless ball earned him his first Major League victory. Right now, unless the Tigers make another roster move later this week ahead of Fister’s next scheduled start Friday at Chicago, Below would be the logical candidate to slot into that spot.