October 18th, 2012

ALCS Game 4 lineup (again): Tigers vs. Yankees

Same lineup as was scheduled yesterday. No truth to the rumor that Pudge asked to play today out of a force of habit. He’s in town to throw out the ceremonial first pitch.

Still no Granderson or A-Rod in Yankees lineup.

TIGERS

  1. Austin Jackson, CF (6-for-24, HR, 12 K’s against Sabathia)
  2. Omar Infante, 2B (6-for-29, HR, 10 K’s off Sabathia)
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 3B (10-for-28, 2 HR, 12 RBIs, 8 BB off Sabathia)
  4. Prince Fielder, 1B
  5. Delmon Young, DH (8-for-34, HR, 9 K’s off Sabathia)
  6. Jhonny Peralta, SS (2-for-20 off Sabathia)
  7. Andy Dirks, LF
  8. Avisail Garcia, RF
  9. Gerald Laird, C (10-for-24 off Sabathia)

P: Max Scherzer

YANKEES

  1. Ichiro Suzuki, LF
  2. Nick Swisher, RF (2-for-10, 5 K’s off Scherzer)
  3. Robinson Cano, 2B (3-for-13, HR, 4 K’s off Scherzer)
  4. Mark Teixeira, 1B (3-for-17, HR, 4 K’s off Scherzer)
  5. Raul Ibanez, DH
  6. Eric Chavez, 3B
  7. Russell Martin, C (3-for-17, 3 K’s off Scherzer)
  8. Brett Gardner, CF (0-for-9, 4 K’s off Scherzer)
  9. Eduardo Nunez, SS

P: CC Sabathia

As expected, Phil Coke available out of bullpen

Wednesday’s rainout was enough of an off-day for Phil Coke that the left-hander is now available out of the bullpen again. Jim Leyland said Wednesday afternoon he was going to rest him, which Mother Nature allowed him to do.

What that means for the closer’s situation is more of the same.

“Everybody’s available today,” Leyland said this morning, “and we’ll play it by ear.”

Phil Coke in the interview room yesterday

In case you missed it yesterday, here’s the footage of Phil Coke’s stint in the interview room Wednesday afternoon. The clip starts off with him answering a question about the young core of the team and whether that makes this success they’re having more sustainable.

And yes, this is pretty much the Phil Coke we deal with on a daily basis.

 

When (if at all) do you go back to Big Potato?

Got home from the rainout last night in time in tune in MLB Network for Cards-Giants highlights, but also caught an interesting take from Larry Bowa, who said he would use Jose Valverde in the ninth inning of Game 4 if the Tigers had a two-run lead or more. If it was a one-run game, he would still with Phil Coke.

It brings up an interesting point: IF you’re going to try to ease Jose Valverde back into the closer’s role, do you try to do it with the chance at an ALCS sweep? Do you give him a save situation at all for his first game back?

Keep in mind, it’s a different question now than it was last night, because Coke should now be available for Game 4. For that matter, Joaquin Benoit and every Tigers reliever other than Coke haven’t thrown in three days.

Why Game 4 was rained out before the rain

The skies were dry over Comerica Park as first pitch approached for Game 4 of the American League Championship Series. The tarp was nowhere near the infield. But it became obvious something was up was there were no players on the field, either, 20 minutes before game time, when they’re usually warming up. Nobody could be seen in the dugouts, and neither starting pitcher was playing catch, let alone warming in the bullpen.

Moments later, the delay was announced. Little more than an hour later, with just a few drops of rain having fallen, the game was called.

What gives?

If you remember Game 2 of last year’s ALCS, the rainout in Texas (where it actually didn’t rain at the ballpark until late that night), you know that MLB is using an abundance of caution in the postseason nowadays to try to ensure that a nine-inning game gets in. If you remember Game 1 of last year’s AL Division Series in New York, where the game was suspended after an inning and a half of a highly-anticipated pitching duel between Justin Verlander and CC Sabathia, leaving both teams to cover innings with their bullpens the next day, you know why.

If it was a regular-season game, there’s a far better chance that game starts. But MLB doesn’t want postseason series decided by teams forced by rain into long relief if they can at all help it. And they’re not going to call a clinching game in the sixth inning on account of rain. That’s not a Yankee thing, because it also happened in the Phillies-Rays series of 2008, when commissioner Bud Selig used the “best interests of the game” clause to suspend Game 5 in the sixth inning with the Phillies ahead.

The storm system coming up from Ohio was big, judging from radar images, and it was strong enough to cast serious doubts on playing through it. So initially, they made the decision to try to wait it out in hopes that it would pass through. Once it became clear it wasn’t going to move through fast enough, they decided to call it. Eventually, around 10pm, the rain picked up enough to make it look like they couldn’t play through.

Bottom line: If you know you’re not going to be able to finish a nine-inning game until tomorrow, you’re better off waiting to start it until then. There was definitely some frustration over it, including in the clubhouse, but to get a nine-inning game in without burning through the bullpen, it’s what they have.

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