August 2012

Tuesday’s lineups: Tigers vs. Blue Jays

Ricky Romero is 0-9 with a 7.62 ERA in his last 10 starts, with opponents hitting .307 off him in that stretch. Left-handed hitters are actually batting for a higher average (.293) against him this year than righties (.245). If there’s a lefty the Tigers should be able to rough up, he’s the guy. The Tigers will use their righty-loaded lineup against him and bat Andy Dirks eighth.

TIGERS

  1. Austin Jackson, CF
  2. Omar Infante, 2B
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 3B
  4. Prince Fielder, 1B
  5. Jhonny Peralta, SS
  6. Delmon Young, DH
  7. Jeff Baker, RF
  8. Andy Dirks, LF
  9. Gerald Laird, C

P: Max Scherzer

BLUE JAYS

  1. Rajai Davis, LF
  2. Colby Rasumus, CF
  3. Edwin Encarnacion, DH
  4. David Cooper, 1B
  5. Yunel Escobar, SS
  6. Kelly Johnson, 2B
  7. Omar Vizquel, 3B
  8. Jeff Mathis, C
  9. Anthony Gose, RF

P: Ricky Romero

Raburn heading for rehab assignment with Toledo

For those who thought you might have seen the last of Ryan Raburn when he went on the disabled list August 1, it might be time to think again. The Tigers announced they are sending him out on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Toledo, beginning Wednesday. He went on the DL with a sprained right thumb.

Jim Leyland said later Tuesday he sent word to Toledo to have Raburn playing primarily in left field, with a game at second and first base now and then.

By rule, Raburn can stay on rehab for as long as 20 days, but the Mud Hens season ends on Labor Day in less than two weeks. Two days before that, Major League rosters expand for September call-ups, giving the Tigers an option to activate him from the DL without having to send down anyone. At this point, as long as he’s healthy, it would be a surprise if he isn’t on the roster in September, either at the start of the month or after Labor Day.

Leyland hinted at the possibility when he continued talking about the plan on Raburn. On the positional work, he said, “That’s all irrelevant as far as I’m concerned. The fact of the matter is he has to swing the bat.”

Whether he would get any starts as an extra right-handed hitting outfielder is questionable. The way the Tigers roster looks right now, they have to start at least one left-handed hitter in the outfield unless they put Delmon Young in left and start an infielder at DH. That’s not going to happen, with Young pretty much entrenched at DH for the stretch run. Andy Dirks is 8-for-35 with two home runs against left-handers this year, but those numbers are better than what Raburn was doing off lefties (14-for-85, eight doubles, no homers, 17 strikeouts).

Sunday’s lineups: Tigers vs. Orioles

Another left-handed opposing starter, another righty-loaded lineup for Tigers. The only difference today is that Gerald Laird starts in place of Alex Avila behind the plate, and Quintin Berry spells Andy Dirks in left.

On the Orioles side, Taylor Teagarden (you remember him) gives Matt Wieters his usual Sunday off.

TIGERS

  1. Austin Jackson, CF
  2. Omar Infante, 2B
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 3B
  4. Prince Fielder, 1B
  5. Jhonny Peralta, SS
  6. Delmon Young, DH
  7. Jeff Baker, RF
  8. Gerald Laird, C
  9. Quintin Berry, LF

P: Doug Fister

ORIOLES

  1. Nick Markakis, RF
  2. J.J. Hardy, SS
  3. Nate McLouth, LF
  4. Adam Jones, CF
  5. Chris Davis, DH
  6. Mark Reynolds, 1B
  7. Manny Machado, 3B
  8. Omar Quintanilla, 2B
  9. Taylor Teagarden, C

P: Wei-Yin Chen

Leyland: Don’t try for 2nd just to disrupt throw home

Jhonny Peralta had the Tigers’ lone hit with runners in scoring position Saturday, and it resulted in Detroit’s two runs. But in the process, he also might have run the Tigers out of a bigger rally.

With his eighth-inning flare to right field, he not only drove in the first runs off Pedro Strop since July 3, he turned what had been a 3-0 shutout bid into a one-run game. When he kept on going to second as right fielder Nick Markakis threw home, however, he became an easy target for first baseman Mark Reynolds, who cut off the throw and started Peralta in a rundown.

It wasn’t anything orchestrated on the Tigers’ part to try to make sure the second run scored.

“Really, the general rule thumb there is if the ball is low, you can’t go, because it’s a ball that can be cut,” manager Jim Leyland said. “If the guy air-mails it and throws it high, then you go on to second. It was probably just a mistake in judgment on Jhonny’s part, to be honest with you.”

Asked about the philosophy of taking the extra base and sacrificing the out to get the run home, Leyland said:

“I think that’s one of the most — not in this particular case, i’m just talking in general — one of the most misunderstood plays in baseball. When there’s a confusion there whether they’re going to throw the guy out at home or not, years ago they thought: If you think they’re going to throw him out at home, keep going. I don’t believe in that. You can’t do that. You’ve gotta go by the way the ball’s thrown.”

That’s an area where Leyland seemingly goes against some of the traditional thinking.

Can’t find specific stats on rundowns on the basepaths with a runner going home. Bigger-picture, however, STATS Inc. keeps a category known as unforced errors on the basepaths. According to STATS, the Tigers have made 38 outs trying to take an extra base, third-highest among AL teams behind the Angels and Rays.

Alburquerque cleared to resume rehab assignment

The Tigers have been hoping for the sight of Al Alburquerque around Comerica Park at some point this summer. These weren’t the circumstances they were looking for, though.

The good news for the Tigers is that team doctors don’t believe the tenderness Alburquerque felt in his surgically repaired right elbow to be anything serious. He was cleared to resume his minor-league rehab assignment, and he’ll rejoin the Mud Hens in Lehigh Valley on Sunday with plans to make his next appearance on the mound Monday.

Whether he’ll have enough time to get back on the mound after that before the Tigers have to make a decision is in serious question. Alburquerque, who went out on rehab July 24, can be on assignment for no more than 30 days, or up to this coming Wednesday.

After that, the Tigers have to make a decision to activate him, send him to the minors or keep him on the disabled list without pitching.

Alburquerque has spent the past two and a half weeks with Triple-A Toledo. He has pitched only once in the past week, however, tossing 2 2/3 scoreless innings on three hits with five strikeouts Wednesday at Syracuse. Alburquerque threw 44 pitches in the outing, but the Tigers have had relievers on rehab stretch out their arm on longer outings to see how the arm responds.

Alburquerque said he felt tenderness in his elbow after that. In accordance with what the team medical staff told him before he went on rehab, he reported it and flew to Detroit to have it checked out.

Saturday’s lineups: Tigers vs. Orioles

Left-hander Zach Britton is starting for Baltimore tonight, so Omar Infante moves into the second spot, with Jhonny Peralta batting fifth. Andy Dirks is again the left-handed hitting outfielder who gets the start.

TIGERS

  1. Austin Jackson, CF
  2. Omar Infante, 2B
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 3B
  4. Prince Fielder, 1B
  5. Jhonny Peralta, SS
  6. Delmon Young, DH
  7. Alex Avila, C
  8. Jeff Baker, RF
  9. Andy Dirks, LF

P: Rick Porcello

ORIOLES

  1. Nick Markakis, RF
  2. J.J. Hardy, SS
  3. Nate McLouth, LF
  4. Adam Jones, CF
  5. Matt Wieters, C
  6. Chris Davis, DH
  7. Mark Reynolds, 1B
  8. Manny Machado, 3B
  9. Robert Andino, 2B

P: Zach Britton

Notes and quotes on Fielder’s home runs

Sometime this season, after Miguel Cabrera kept hitting home runs to the upper reaches of the center field shrubs that challenged the depths of the Comerica Park charts, the Tigers shifted measurements on home runs to ESPN Stats and Information, whose sites include the Home Run Tracker. So some of the distances that show up on home run this year are going to sound different than those of the past. Even so, they’re not different enough to dispute the fact that this has been an incredible summer for tape-measure home runs in Detroit.

The Tigers had four home runs estimated at 450 feet or further over the previous two seasons. Prince Fielder’s sixth-inning drive Friday night was the sixth such home run so far this year, all but one of them from Cabrera or Fielder, and all but one of them since June 1. Fielder’s the second longest, trailing only Miguel Cabrera’s shot to straightaway center off Hiroki Kuroda back in June.

Technically, the velocity on Fielder’s home run Friday trailed only another one he hit earlier in the year. Still, the angle on the home run made it seem hit that much harder.

“I don’t know that I’ve ever seen any ball in my entire life hit any harder than the first one Prince hit,” manager Jim Leyland said. “I’m not talking about distance, but I’m talking about, just, pow. … I’ve seen that hit far, but that was as hard as you can hit a ball. You can’t hit a ball any better than that.”

Fielder wasn’t about to estimate how hard he hit it.

“You obviously know you hit it good,” he said, “but you don’t really feel it too much. You don’t really feel any ball you hit on the barrel. You have a good idea.”

As impressive as that was, his second home run might have actually been more of a rarity. Just four of his home runs this season had been hit off lefties until he got a J.C. Romero fastball on a 1-2 count and hit it to the sky down the right-field line.

Fielder is a very good hitter against lefties, as we’ve documented before, but moreso for simple base hits than home runs. He was 0-for-4 previously off Romero, which made him quite glad to get him.

“This is my first hit ever off of J.C.,” he said. “I mean, he’s broke my fingers a lot of times with his sinkers. Finally got a hit.”

This time, he laid off the sinker, only to guess right when Romero gave him a fastball.

“He’s snuck it by me a lot,” Fielder said. “He broke my bat every time.”

They count the same as a home run just over the fence, of course. Yet Joaquin Benoit, who earned Friday’s win with a perfect eighth inning, might have put it into perspective when asked for his reaction after the game.

“When they hit in BP you see balls hit that well, but today as soon as he hit it we all know,” Benoit said. “He’s got a lot of power, and [with] Miguel, those two guys are the keys to our success right now. The bottom of the lineup, if they start hitting, we’re going to be set for sure.”

Tigers issue traffic tips for Saturday

The Lions are playing in Baltimore tonight, but Ford Field is going to be hopping this weekend for Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw, who will be performing in concert in an event that begins at 4:30pm ET and is expected to run for most of the evening.

Put that traffic up with the Tigers game at 7:05 across the street, and you get the idea. The Tigers are estimating 85,000 people will be in attendance at two events separated by a two-lane street, so they issued a traffic advisory on Friday so fans could plan ahead.

If you’re driving downtown, the Olympia Development-owned parking lots east of Woodward Avenue will be reserved for fans attending the Tigers game. Fans will have to show a ticket or a parking pass, or they’ll need to have tickets waiting at will call. Tailgating in the lots will be prohibited in an effort to fit in as many fans as possible.

The Olympia Development-owned lots west of Woodward, on the other hand, are fair game for baseball fans and concert goers alike. Spots there will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Tigers pull plug on V-Mart comeback for 2012

You might remember Tigers head athletic trainer Kevin Rand saying a few days ago that Victor Martinez was “basically running out of time” to complete his rehab in time for a chance at coming back this season. That clock has officially run out.

Rand told reporters Friday at Comerica Park that the Tigers are now gearing Martinez’s comeback for next spring. His running progression, which was supposed to be the next hurdle if and when he got enough strength in his left leg, has been pushed to November, giving him enough time that the team medical staff expects him to be ready for the start of Spring Training next February.

“I’m anticipating [Martinez] being ready to go from Day 1,” Rand said.

It wasn’t for lack of effort, Rand emphasized. Essentially, he has been doing some sort of rehab since the end of January, when he had his microfracture surgery. But they couldn’t get his left leg strong enough to start a running progression, which he needed to do before he could begin baseball activities.

The final decision came on a Wednesday conference call with therapists handling Martinez’s rehab work.

“It got to a point where we looked at it and he doesn’t have enough time to do a running progression and start doing baseball activities,” Rand said.

It wasn’t an easy decision, and Rand said Martinez was “disappointed.” However, the move provides some clarity on what the Tigers will have for the postseason. More important for Martinez, it allows him to focus his effort on next season and not worry about putting his long-term health at risk for a quick comeback.

“We were not going to do anything to jeopardize [2013 and 2014],” Rand said.

Friday’s lineup: Tigers vs. Orioles

TIGERS

  1. Austin Jackson, CF
  2. Andy Dirks, LF
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 3B (1-for-6 off Tommy Hunter)
  4. Prince Fielder, 1B
  5. Alex Avila, C
  6. Delmon Young, DH (1-for-6 off Hunter)
  7. Brennan Boesch, RF
  8. Jhonny Peralta, SS (1-for-6 off Hunter)
  9. Omar Infante, 2B

P: Justin Verlander

ORIOLES

  1. Nick Markakis, RF
  2. J.J. Hardy, SS
  3. Nate McLouth, LF
  4. Adam Jones, CF
  5. Matt Wieters, C
  6. Chris Davis, DH
  7. Mark Reynolds, 1B
  8. Manny Machado, 3B
  9. Omar Quintanilla, 2B

P: Tommy Hunter

 

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