Game 20: Two ways to attack a Moose

Jim Leyland took a chance on Wednesday when he brought in right-handed setup man Joaquin Benoit to face Mike Moustakas with the tying run on base, opting against left-hander Phil Coke. It went against the lefty-lefty matchup Leyland usually prefers, but the combination of Moustakas’ success against Coke (3-for-7 lifetime) and Benoit’s ability to retire left-handers (including Moustakas, who’s 1-for-7 against him) convinced him to do it.

The other problem Leyland cited was that the matchups became difficult if Coke couldn’t retire him, with right-handed hitter Jeff Francoeur following him. He would need different pitchers to get out of the inning. On Thursday, that difficulty became evident following a different decision and a walk that changed the complexion of the 10th and final inning.

This time, with Lorenzo Cain on second and one out, Leyland kept Phil Coke in the game to face Moustakas. It was a slightly different situation Thursday in that the go-ahead run was on base with less than two outs, and it was a speedster in Cain. Considering the Angels just stole three bases in as many tries off Benoit and Brayan Pena in the 10th inning on Sunday, running on Benoit and Alex Avila and producing a sacrifice fly, as they did off Bruce Rondon in the eighth inning to tie the game, could’ve been a bigger threat than hitting off Benoit.

Instead, Cain came around on Coke’s struggles. Five pitches later, Moustakas was on first with a walk. A first-pitch ball in the dirt to Francoeur for a wild pitch moved both runners up, and made Leyland’s decision simple to walk him and load the bases, trying to set up a force play at the plate or a double play to end the inning.

It wasn’t necessarily that Moustakas had beaten Coke. He didn’t get a chance. As Leyland put it afterwards, Coke lost the strike zone. He didn’t find it in the favorable matchup that followed, a bases-loaded showdown with left-handed hitting backup catcher George Kottaras that ended in a walk, driving in the go-ahead run.

Up came Alex Gordon, whose grand slam off Darin Downs’ 2-0 pitch put it away.

“We lost command of the strike one there late in the game,” Leyland said. “We had some left-handed hitters there and the conditions were a little rough and rain. Not making excuses, obviously, but we just didn’t throw the ball over the plate, and it killed us.”

Play of the game: Though the game turned on Detroit’s bullpen, the Tigers had a chance to break it open in the fifth after Torii Hunter had singled in Omar Infante to make it a 3-2 game. Cabrera had runners on first and second with one out and hit a sharp liner. Moustakas snared it, leaving Austin Jackson in no-man’s land between second and third for an easy inning-ending double play. Detroit didn’t get another hit the rest of the afternoon.

Line of the day: Coke was charged with four runs on one hit over 1 1/3 innings thanks to four walks, two of which were intentional.

Stats of the day: 37 — Walks allowed by Tigers relievers in 66 2/3 innings this season. That leads all Major League bullpens, as do the 80 strikeouts from Tigers relievers this season. All of that comes over 66 2/3 innings of relief, 13th among Major League clubs.


Not getting a single hit after the 5th……..

How about blowing the 3-2 lead in the 8th inning? Did I miss Leyland talking about that?

That would be on the web site in the game recap, sir.

Im sorry to say this and i know he didnt give up the slam but im so sick of watching phil coke blow leads for us. Its time to accept that hes nothing more than a lefty specialist. If that. Hes already 0 and 3 in 20 games. I mean cmon. now i know im no expert at bullpen management but leyland should of got him outta there alot sooner. I guess im just sick of watching our bullpen blow late leads. Hopefully they can figure it out cuz its really dissapointing to watch. I will always love the tigers but its getting old. Heres to hoping papa grande has a great year and gets our bullpen back in order. Go tigers!

My son called and said we need a change.

We’re talking bullpens when the offense looks like the toddler they showed today trying the tee ball game under the stands (he kept hitting the tee). If you score 2 or 3 runs, you would require a perfect bullpen, and that doesn’t exist.
All this supposed offensive firepower and nobody but Miggy can drive in a run. It’s Miggy and eight table setters. This happens every year. Frustrating.

On most nights, I would agree. But against James Shields, I think you have to expect a low-scoring game. They hit him in St. Pete last summer, but he kept it close and low scoring here last April, which is exactly what he did today. No baserunners after the fifth is frustrating, no doubt, but I can’t look at Shields and think the Tigers should expect add-on runs. Gotta strike when you have the chance, and the double play thwarted the breakout inning.

Exactly. And we can live with getting held down by a James Shields and actually enjoy the challenge, IF we’re doing any kind of hitting against other pitchers. And these Atlanta pitchers are no picnic either.

Exactly. Thats why were talking bullpens. The bottom line is we had a 3 to 2 lead in the 8th and we blew it. You cant always expect to score alot when ur facing some of these real good pitchers. Thats the difference between good and great. U gotta be able to count on your bullpen in those tight low scoring games when your facing a great pitcher. We had it and our bullpen blew it. I know the bullpen has started to show signs of life but these are the games you gotta grind out and win. And it just didnt happen. We should be sitting pretty atop the division right now instead were stuck at .500.

Other than that, I liked Brookens decisions today, but sending Victor yesterday was like a bad dream. Don’t ever do that again, Brookie. Today with Prince at third on that short fly, I thought it was imperative to send him. We wouldn’t have scored otherwise, and I think we all knew that.
I’m still kind of ticked about the Duane Below thing and the reason given, and I’m not happy with the way the closer business was handled.

Wagner tweeted:”Jordan Lennerton, @MudHens 1B, hits 2 HRs at Durham … then replaced defensively B7th. No word why … Lennerton too good defensively.” He is a 1B. that could DH. Upgrading the bench?

Rich, what reason was given about Below?? No FSD down here in KY!!!

Not sure a reason was given why….not that. I heard anyway. But I think the expected he would sneak through. But maybe someone else has better info.

Supposedly, he has been surpassed in the depth chart by Smyly and Crosby. Smyly for sure but Crosby sole advantage is age

Here on the blog (scroll down a few). They seemed to think Below could clear waivers and they’d get to keep him. 27. Lefthanded starter. Some big league experience. Some big league success. No team would want him?
Mind you I’m not a 40-man roster expert by any means.

Yes, we thought we could sneak him by everybody is what they tell us. Like you I defer on the wild and crazy world of the 40 man. But the truth is Smyly could still handle that surprise start if needed. The best LH reliever candidate at Toledo is Kenny Faulk with 14 Ks in 7innings. Crosby just tossed 7 shutout innings. Because Below is 27 and did so much for us last year and was off to a great start this year, the team gave him an opportunity to catch on with another MLB organization. The good news for Below was they did not trade him to a team in Korea!!!!!!!! Wilk has left us. Schlereth, too. Likewise, Oliver and Below and we still have six LH pitchers at Toledo!! We have kept adding one to the roster as fast as we remove one.

Well DOK, if you are saying everyone is replaceable, I agree. Isn’t that what happens with ex-souses and in presidential elections? But, sometimes a certain someone means more than the next one.

Yeah, I know I left the “p” out of spouse but you were not married to my ex.

Off the mark, but MLB is talking about Stanton to the Mariners for up to 5 prospects, including Walker. As much as I like Stanton, any deal like they are talking that includes Walker is a must. I have seen Walker and he is a top of the rotation guy. Add in players like Seagar (14 game hit streak with the varsity) and any 3 of the other potentials listed and it is a done deal for me.

This could be a blockbuster deal. Think Cabrera magnitude.

The Tigers the past two seasons have been very streaky for whatever reason. It’s why I enjoyed the ill-fated 2009 club so much. They were steady. Two postseason appearances later, and that Game 163 is still like a dagger.

Two best closing stretches I have covered: Cabrera last year, and Magglio in 2009. Ordonez never got enough credit for that comeback because the Tigers lost.

For sure. When it came to enjoying the way a hitter takes an AB, Maggs is up there in Cabrera territory. It’s fun to watch anybody do any job that well.

What about Cabrera and V-Mart in 2011?? V-Mart was after that batting title, too.

Yes, it is like a dagger and I stiil feel it to this day. Which was worse: laying down like dogs in the World Series or game 163?

Everyone knew the Tigers had a weak bullpen coming into the season. Managment keeps believing that the offense will make up for any other of the teams deficiencies…and it’s not. Once the starters are out, and it’s a close game, rarely has this offense stepped up and put the game away. Instead the game stays close, and the bullpen falters.

MLB commented about the Mariners and the SS position. Ryan is in jeopardy for a minor league replacement given his awful offense, no matter his defense. I think he would make a good bench guy for defensive purposes for the right team.

Are the Tigers a potential match?

No. Is there a Japanese team with the nickname Tigers??? Maybe they could use him!! If we have a DL stint in the middle infield, my guess is Hernan Perez will get a call to come on up.

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Yes, a good glove SS would help Fister , Colke and Porcello and would allow the rest to keep the ball down.

It’s that time…send Dirks down for a couple of weeks before he ruins him like he did Boesch, letting him go 0 for three months…send down Tuosloppy with him and bring up Castellani? and Berry.

neither NC or berry have been hitting – since i last checked a few days ago. Besides, Andy is a) getting unlucky and b) hasn’t hit with power. but we don’t need him to hit with power and he’s been walking more than he usually does. I say be patient – you might get your wish(es) in a week or two.

Bruce Rondon didn’t get two calls that BrooksBaseball say were both a) the first pitch in the AB and b) boarderline as heck – real beauties. Other than that – he probably should have thrown 2-3 sliders when he threw a fastball. Isn’t the former in part the umpires fault and the later alex’s fault?
Rondon performance #1: C+

I noticed that Bill Welke didn’t give Rondon the same generous zone as he had Shields and Verlander. Welke was bad yesterday. Greg Maddox would have loved him, and thrown a no-hitter.

Phil coke is a different story – he was mixing up his pitches well. The problem was that his splitter was low (1 out of 10 was thrown for a strike). Was that a weather issue? I don’t know I never threw a splitter before.

I didn’t know Phil Coke threw a splitter.

yea it has more H and less V axis movement. Let me also add phil threw 7 out of 8 for strikes the 1st inning. 7 for 18 in the second inning. HE IS A LOOGY – so don’t put him out there for more than 3-4 batters.

Evan, interesting how so many commenters now use the term LOOGY. I guess Coke has been an inspiration in that regard. Thanx to FanGraphs(?), we know how to succintly describe what it is we are seeing.

It’s not that I don’t want coke to a 1-2 inning guy. It’s that he falls apart after a number of pitches. I think it has to do with his intensity going out there. His number vs. righties last year were crazy bad but at the end he fixed them. this year it’s back: .133 (no power) vs .333 (mild power). Jim if you’re out there: it is what it is quit putting a square peg in a round hole yesterday you were lucky to get phil through the 9th.
he is textbook loogy until he proves otherwise – yesterday was not the day to test whether he was more than a loogy yet.

good bullpen managers know when to yank’em and when to test ’em. JL doesn’t have that knack.

I think Jim was a little low on relievers yesterday, what with Alburquerque’s hip and Valverde having pitched so much preceding his call up. One could make a case for using Benoit, I suppose. Let’s see how it plays out going forward. The pen did shut the Royals down Wednesday night. There is hope there.
The hitting, I’m not so sure. There’s no way to manage a team into doubles and homers.

i’m willing to hear cases against downs (1?), smyly(5?), benoit(1?)…. just saying pal. gosh i wish we had a double header or something today. i’m bored.

Downs allows 68% of his inherited base runners to score…..of course his own runners don’t score. His real numbers are masked. He’s not good.

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