September 2012

Scherzer throws again, bullpen session Monday

Max Scherzer threw again Sunday morning, this time a 10-minute session from about 100 feet and with all his pitches. He came out of it feeling pretty good about his readiness for this coming week.

“Everything went well,” he said. “I was able to go to 100 feet pain-free, threw all my pitches and had a feel on all of them.”

As long as Scherzer feels fine on Monday, with nothing more than normal soreness, he’ll throw a full bullpen session in Kansas City before Monday’s game. That’ll be the key to determine whether he’ll be ready for Wednesday (if needed), because the bullpen session is the point where Scherzer felt pain last week.

Scherzer said he’s “more optimistic” about Wednesday than he had been a couple days ago. That doesn’t mean he will pitch Wednesday, but he’s feeling better.

“I’m getting close to being able to pitch in a game again,” he said.

Manager Jim Leyland had already said that the only way Scherzer would pitch Wednesday’s regular-season finale in Kansas City would be if the division race was riding on it. Leyland put another condition on it Sunday morning, indicating he’s not going to push Scherzer to start if he isn’t throwing at full strength.

“We’re not going to pitch him if he doesn’t have his velocity,” Leyland said.

Scherzer said he’ll “let a few go” in his bullpen session to see how his arm feels doing so. But they’re not going to put a radar gun on him or anything like that.

If the Tigers have clinched a division title by then, Drew Smyly will start, allowing Scherzer to prepare for a Division Series start instead. He still might get some game action, though.

“I think we’re going to kick the tires on several ideas on how to get me to full strength for the playoffs,” Scherzer said. “But I do feel confident of being 100 percent for the playoffs.”

Sunday’s lineups: Tigers at Twins

Liam Hendriks allowed four home runs to the Yankees in his last start, and enters Sunday with a 6.23 ERA for September. He allowed four runs on six hits with four walks against the Tigers on July 2 at Comerica Park.

TIGERS

  1. Austin Jackson, cf
  2. Quintin Berry, lf
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 3b
  4. Prince Fielder, 1b
  5. Delmon Young, dh
  6. Andy Dirks, rf
  7. Jhonny Peralta, ss
  8. Alex Avila, c
  9. Omar Infante, 2b

P: Anibal Sanchez

TWINS

  1. Denard Span, cf
  2. Ben Revere, rf
  3. Joe Mauer, c
  4. Justin Morneau, dh
  5. Ryan Doumit, lf
  6. Chris Parmelee, 1b
  7. Trevor Plouffe, 3b
  8. Alexi Casilla, 2b
  9. Pedro Florimon, SS

P: Liam Hendriks

Saturday: Tigers at Twins

Since Kevin Love wasn’t available to play …

TIGERS

  1. Austin Jackson, cf
  2. Quintin Berry, lf
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 3b
  4. Prince Fielder, 1b
  5. Delmon Young, dh
  6. Andy Dirks, lf
  7. Jhonny Peralta, ss
  8. Alex Avila, c
  9. Omar Infante, 2b

P: Justin Verlander

TWINS

  1. Denard Span, cf
  2. Ben Revere, lf
  3. Joe Mauer, dh
  4. Justin Morneau, 1b
  5. Ryan Doumit, c
  6. Chris Parmelee, rf
  7. Trevor Plouffe, 3b
  8. Jamey Carroll, 2b
  9. Pedro Florimon, ss

P: P.J. Walters

Dotel’s biceps injury and Detroit’s bullpen

So how did the Tigers end up in the situation that proved their undoing, with young Brayan Villarreal pitching with the bases loaded on walks and nowhere to put Ryan Doumit? It was a series of events.

Some were obvious, like the Tigers’ struggles against Scott Diamond, who said after the Tigers loss that he adjusted his game once he noticed the Tigers adjusted theirs. Drew Smyly’s pitch limit, too, was obvious.

But fast forward to the seventh inning, when Octavio Dotel replaced Phil Coke after Doumit’s two-run home run, and you see where the bullpen order begins to fray.

Though Doumit is a switch-hitter, providing a right-handed bat against a left-handed reliever (Coke) who has struggled against righties on the year, Doumit has hit right-handed pitchers about 45 points higher for average (.290) than lefties (.245). In addition, 12 of his previous 16 home runs came off right-handed pitchers, resulting in a 150-point bump in OPS.

Once Doumit homered, in came Dotel. Once Dotel got through the inning, he was dealing with some sort of biceps problem.

“I feel a little bit of soreness,” Dotel said. “Hopefully I’ll be OK tomorrow.”

He doesn’t think it’ll it’s a big deal, and if it was an emergency, he might have been able to keep pitching. The worry was that if he made it worse, it would become a big enough issue to sideline him longer term, possibly taking out the postseason.

“I don’t want it worse,” Dotel said. “It’s better to wait a little bit.”

Meanwhile, Al Alburquerque on track to get a second day of rest after pitching 2 1/3 innings of relief in Wednesday. Thus, enter Villarreal, whose leadoff walk to Denard Span set things in motion in the eighth.

“He didn’t pitch good,” Leyland said. “He didn’t throw the ball over the plate and he didn’t pitch very good. That happens.”

Scherzer improving, not yet throwing

The good news for the Tigers on injured starter Max Scherzer was that he said his shoulder felt better on Friday than it did on Thursday.

“I do have more range than I did yesterday,” Scherzer said Friday afternoon from Target Field, “so it’s a step in the right direction.”

The bad news, or at least the non-news, for the Tigers is that it doesn’t make Scherzer’s return any clearer, either for the regular season or beyond. At this point, you could pretty much flip a coin on whether he’ll start Wednesday at Kansas City.

“If I had to handicap it, I’d say maybe 50-50 for Wednesday,” manager Jim Leyland said, “but I’m not counting on it.”

The deltoid soreness that scuttled any plans of starting him against the Twins Friday night, Scherzer said, “should subside fairly soon.” From there, however, there remains the process of getting his arm stretched out and pitching tested.

His final hurdle to pitching in a game will be a full bullpen session, in which he throws all of his pitches off a mound. Whether he can do that in the next three or four days is anything but clear.

“From a physical standpoint, I think I could be there,” Scherzer said, “but I have to be smart and not get caught up in that.”

Scherzer also said he can’t get caught up in the playoff race and try to push himself if he isn’t ready. Yet if the division title isn’t still in play, Scherzer probably isn’t going to be pitching Wednesday in Kansas City.

“If we’re in or out [of the postseason] by then, Scherzer will not pitch [Wednesday] under any circumstances,” Leyland said.

If Scherzer doesn’t start on Wednesday, Leyland said, Drew Smyly will get the assignment.

Friday’s lineup: Tigers at Twins

For what it’s worth, it’s the same lineup and batting order the Tigers used against Scott Diamond on Sunday.

TIGERS

  1. Austin Jackson, cf
  2. Omar Infante, 2b
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 3b
  4. Prince Fielder, 1b
  5. Delmon Young, dh
  6. Jhonny Peralta, ss
  7. Andy Dirks, lf
  8. Avisail Garcia, rf
  9. Gerald Laird, c

P: Drew Smyly

TWINS

  1. Denard Span, cf
  2. Ben Revere, rf
  3. Joe Mauer, c
  4. Justin Morneau, 1b
  5. Ryan Doumit, dh
  6. Trevor Plouffe, 3b
  7. Matt Carson, lf
  8. Eduardo Escobar, 2b
  9. Pedro Florimon, ss

P: Scott Diamond

Cabrera’s Triple Crown chase at a glance — Sept. 27

If Miguel Cabrera’s going to pull off the first batting Triple Crown in 45 years, he’s going to have to do it with a tear on the road. His home schedule has ended with a .332 average, 28 home runs, 75 RBIs and a 1.094 OPS at Comerica Park, the home run total setting a single-season record.

Sounds like a tough task. The consolation for Cabrera, at least for this weekend, is that he’s statistically a better hitter at Target Field than he is at Comerica Park.

Cabrera, who sent out the Metrodome with a home run in the Tigers’ AL Central tiebreaker loss in 2009, has ruled the Twins’ new ballpark since it opened in 2010. He’s a .411 (37-for-90) hitter there with 10 doubles, five home runs, 23 RBIs and a 1.179 OPS. Two of those home runs have come this year.

He’s not half-bad at Kauffman Stadium, either, but nothing like here in Minnesota.

Here’s the latest look at where Cabrera stands in the Triple Crown categories:

Batting average: .326 (1st)

Cabrera’s 1-for-4 performance Thursday afternoon dropped his season average by a mere point. The Twins were off, so Joe Mauer’s average stayed at .323, making him Cabrera’s closest competitor at this point. He’ll open the weekend series against Tigers left-hander Drew Smyly, who has held him hitless in five at-bats this season. Mike Trout is down to .320.

Home runs: 42 (tied for 2nd) — Hamilton leads with 43

All of the top sluggers stayed the same on Thursday, leaving Cabrera tied with Toronto’s Edwin Encarnacion and one ahead of Adam Dunn. Cabrera has homered twice in six games at Target Field this season.

Runs batted in: 133 (1st)

No change here. The Royals held Cabrera without an RBI for the four-game series, but Hamilton has driven in two runs over his last seven games. Nobody else in the American League has driven in more than 110.

Up next: Cabrera had an RBI double in four at-bats against Scott Diamond last Sunday at Comerica Park. They get a rematch Friday night at Target Field.

Thursday: Tigers vs. Royals

Almost forgot about this after the Scherzer announcement.

TIGERS

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

P: Doug Fister

ROYALS

  1. David Lough, CF
  2. Alcides Escobar, SS
  3. Alex Gordon, LF
  4. Billy Butler, DH
  5. Salvador Perez, C
  6. Mike Moustakas, 3B
  7. Jeff Francoeur, RF
  8. Eric Hosmer, 1B
  9. Johnny Giavotella, 2B

P: Luis Mendoza

Scherzer scratched, Smyly on Friday

The shoulder fatigue that knocked Max Scherzer out of a start last week and held down his fastball in his last start on Sunday has now put the rest of his season in question. Scherzer has been scratched from his scheduled start Friday in Minnesota with what is now described as a deltoid strain, and he won’t pick up a ball to throw again until his arm is better.

Scherzer said he aggravated the injury during a side session Tuesday. He threw enough to loosen up the arm to throw his side session, but felt it tighten up after that.

“My arm was still recovering from my start, and I was able to throw my pen,” Scherzer said. “But after that, I lost my range of motion that I had gained by loosening it up.”

Asked if he believed he would make another start before the end of the regular season, Scherzer said, “It’s just tough to say. I want to be able to, but at the same time, when you have a recurring injury like this, you can’t go back on the mound until you’re 100 percent.”

Scherzer said he won’t be able to pick up a ball until his arm feels fully healthy. He said he was pain-free when he started on Sunday despite having been knocked out after two innings last Tuesday.

Drew Smyly will start in Scherzer’s place on Friday in Minnesota. Presumably, if Scherzer can’t go, Smyly would start the regular-season finale Wednesday in Kansas City.

Wednesday’s lineups: Tigers vs. Royals

TIGERS
1. Austin Jackson, cf (2-for-16, 5 K’s against Guthrie)
2. Quintin Berry, lf
3. Miguel Cabrera, 3b (7-for-19, 2 HR off Guthrie)
4. Prince Fielder, 1b
5. Delmon Young, dh (3-for-21 off Guthrie)
6. Andy Dirks, rf
7. Jhonny Peralta, ss
8. Alex Avila, c
9. Omar Infante, 2b
P: Rick Porcello

ROYALS
1. David Lough, cf
2. Alcides Escobar, ss
3. Alex Gordon, lf (9-for-26, HR off Porcello)
4. Billy Butler, dh (12-for-38, 3 2B against Porcello)
5. Salvador Perez, c
6. Mike Moustakas, 3b
7. Jeff Francoeur, rf
8. Eric Hosmer, 1b (5-for-12, 2 HR off Porcello)
9. Irving Falu, 2b
P: Jeremy Guthrie

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