June 2013

Sunday’s lineups: Tigers at Rays

Days off for Brayan Pena and Jhonny Peralta on the getaway day. Considering the Tigers will be flying to Toronto tonight for a day game tomorrow, the rest makes sense. Considering Peralta is 1-for-8 with four strikeouts against Rays starter Jeremy Hellickson, it makes a little more sense.

Again, I’m not covering the team this weekend, so I don’t know what’s going to happen today after the rhetoric from last night.

I thought long and hard about my Beat the Streak pick today, both because of Austin Jackson’s success in day games this year, his numbers off Hellickson and the ability of the Rays to get Miguel Cabrera out of his game in that last at-bat. But it’s tough to go against Cabrera when he’s motivated. Thus, the 14-game streak is on the line.

Gameday | TV: FS Detroit, MLB.TVRadio: 97.1 FM, AM 1270, Gameday Audio

TIGERS (career numbers off Hellickson)

  1. Austin Jackson, CF (4-for-11, HR, 3 K’s)
  2. Torii Hunter, RF (1-for-7, 3 K’s)
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 3B (3-for-8, 2 K’s)
  4. Prince Fielder, 1B (0-for-2, 3 walks)
  5. Victor Martinez, DH (1-for-4, 2 walks, K)
  6. Andy Dirks, LF (1-for-3, HR)
  7. Omar Infante, 2B (3-for-3)
  8. Ramon Santiago, SS (0-for-4, K)
  9. Bryan Holaday, C

P: Rick Porcello

RAYS (career numbers off Porcello)

  1. Matt Joyce, LF (1-for-5, walk, K)
  2. Desmond Jennings, CF (3-for-7, 3 K’s)
  3. Ben Zobrist, 2B (1-for-6)
  4. James Loney, 1B (1-for-4, walk)
  5. Wil Myers, RF
  6. Luke Scott, DH (0-for-4, walk)
  7. Kelly Johnson, 3B (1-for-5, walk, 2 K’s)
  8. Jose Lobaton, C (0-for-3)
  9. Yunel Escobar, SS (1-for-3)

P: Jeremy Hellickson

Saturday’s lineups: Tigers at Rays


(Again, I’m not covering the series this weekend. I just threw in a photo from Clearwater Beach from Spring Training to have a photo here.)

Subtract Torii Hunter, add Don Kelly, and you pretty much have the same lineup as Friday night for the Tigers to put up against Chris Archer, who will be facing the Tigers for the first time in his young career.

As expected, the Rays don’t have Evan Longoria, who sounds unlikely to play in Sunday’s series finale as well. With Longoria out, everybody else moves up, which means James Loney batting cleanup and Wil Myers hitting fifth.

Some decent numbers from the top third of the Rays order against Justin Verlander. Even Ben Zobrist, despite the low average, has some good results off of him.

Only twice since the start of last season has Miguel Cabrera followed a four-hit game by going hitless. Those are good enough odds for me to stick with him on Beat the Streak with a 13-game streak on the line.

Reminder: Today’s game is part of the FOX Saturday night package, so it’s on the regular FOX network, not Fox Sports Detroit. Like the last few Tigers games on FOX, it’s one of five regional broadcasts, so if you don’t live in Michigan or Northwest Ohio, there’s a decent chance you might not get it. If that’s the case, you might have to listen on the radio or online, or feel free to follow along on Gameday.

Gameday | TV: FOX (Channel 2 in Detroit) | Radio: 97.1 FM, AM 1270, Gameday Audio


  1. Austin Jackson, CF
  2. Andy Dirks, LF
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 3B
  4. Prince Fielder, 1B
  5. Victor Martinez, DH
  6. Jhonny Peralta, SS
  7. Don Kelly, RF
  8. Omar Infante, 2B
  9. Brayan Pena, C (0-for-1, walk, K against Archer)

P: Justin Verlander

RAYS (career numbers off Verlander)

  1. Matt Joyce, LF (6-for-14, 2 HR, walk, 6 K’s)
  2. Desmond Jennings, CF (3-for-7, 2 HR, K)
  3. Ben Zobrist, 2B (5-for-28, HR, 2 walks, 7 K’s)
  4. James Loney, 1B
  5. Wil Myers, RF
  6. Luke Scott, DH (4-for-17, HR, walk, 4 K’s)
  7. Yunel Escobar, SS (2-for-12, 2 walks)
  8. Jose Molina, C (1-for-7, 3 K’s)
  9. Kelly Johnson, 3B (0-for-11, 6 K’s)

P: Chris Archer

Friday’s lineups: Tigers at Rays

I’m not with the team in Tampa Bay this weekend, but I’m posting the lineups, including this one that reportedly has a day off for Andy Dirks. Don Kelly gets the start in left field over a slumping Avisail Garcia.

No history for Tigers hitters against Alex Colome, so the rule of thumb for Beat the Streak applies: When in doubt, pick Cabrera. In this case, I’m putting my MLB beat writer best 12-game streak (I finally passed up Steve Gilbert) on the line with him.

Gameday | TV: FS Detroit, MLB.TV | Radio: 97.1 FM, AM 1270, Gameday Audio


  1. Austin Jackson, CF
  2. Torii Hunter, RF
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 3B
  4. Prince Fielder, 1B
  5. Victor Martinez, DH
  6. Jhonny Peralta, SS
  7. Don Kelly, LF
  8. Omar Infante, 2B
  9. Brayan Pena, C

P: Max Scherzer

RAYS (career numbers off Scherzer)

  1. Matt Joyce, LF (2-for-13, HR, walk, 3 K’s)
  2. Desmond Jennings, CF (1-for-9, 4 K’s)
  3. Ben Zobrist, 2B (1-for-12, 2 walks, K)
  4. Evan Longoria, 3B (2-f0r-11, HR, walk, 5 K’s)
  5. James Loney, 1B (5-for-17, HR, walk, K)
  6. Wil Myers, RF
  7. Luke Scott, DH (2-for-9, walk, K)
  8. Jose Lobaton, C (0-for-5, 3 K’s)
  9. Yunel Escobar, SS (11-for-28, HR, 3 walks, 7 K’s)

P: Alex Colome


Rondon recalled from Triple-A Toledo

The last time the Tigers were in Florida, they were heading north from Spring Training without Bruce Rondon, the closer they hoped would win the job going into camp. Just in time for their return to the Sunshine State, Rondon is back in the fold.

The Tigers announced early Friday afternoon that they’re recalling Rondon from Triple-A Toledo. They’ll announce a corresponding move to make room for him on the 25-man roster later today. Presumably, we’ll get an idea what his role will be in this bullpen as well. To make room on the 25-man roster, Evan Reed has been optioned back to Toledo.

Rondon’s success with the Mud Hens has been well-chronicled. He allowed just 14 hits over 29 2/3 innings as the Hens closer, walking 13 and striking out 40. His relatively low save total of 14 is more a product of a lack of late-inning leads.

He doesn’t have to close in Detroit to have value right now for the Tigers, and Thursday’s extra-inning loss demonstrated that. When Jim Leyland went with Phil Coke against the top of the Angels order, including right-handed hitters Mike Trout and Albert Pujols, it showed again how shallow the Tigers are in late-inning arms, especially from the right side. It was the second time in the series that Leyland left Luke Putkonen warming up during a key at-bat.

When the Tigers designated Jose Valverde’s contract for assignment a week ago, team president/GM Dave Dombrowski said they weren’t calling up Rondon at that point because they didn’t think they could ensure him the regular work he needs to develop. That was when Tigers starters were consistently giving deep quality starts. That’s no longer the case.

“Some people [in the organization] think he’s ready to come here and pitch right now and do a good job for us,” Dombrowski said at the time.

Even if the starters were pitching deep into games (and they will again), the Tigers’ needs for middle and late relief are glaring enough now that it’s worth calling up Rondon and getting him a role. If he can provide some seventh- and eighth-inning outs, whether he’s a designated setup man or not, it would make a huge difference for this team right now.

Valverde accepts assignment to Toledo

For some of you, that headline will hit you as a sign of your worst baseball fears all over again. Some of you, on the other hand, were expecting this news any day now. Either way, the Tigers made it official on Thursday, announcing after the game that Valverde accepted the outright.

“I’m glad he’s going to stay in the organization and just see if he can possibly go down there and get it straightened out,” manager Jim Leyland said Thursday.

The assignment comes with no guarantee he’ll make it back. The fact that the Tigers don’t have a set closer to replace Valverde, and the fact that no other team claimed him on waivers, made this likely the best opportunity he was going to find.

“We’ll take a look at his velocity and the movement on his pitches, command on his pitches and his ability to throw a split-finger, which when we first brought him back we thought was very important for him. He really has struggled with that,” team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski said last week. “Again, I think a lot of it is mechanically related. When [Tigers pitching coach] Jeff Jones talks about it, his arm angle is a little bit lower than we would like. That’s what we would look for.”

Valverde was expected to make a stop in Toledo on his way back to the big leagues in April after he signed a minor-league contract, but the Tigers promoted him straight from Class A Lakeland. The 35-year-old hasn’t pitched at the Triple-A level since 2006 in the Diamondbacks organization. The outright does not void his contract; if he’s brought back to Detroit at some point, his salary and incentives will pick up where they left off.

It’s not yet clear whether Valverde will be closing for the Mud Hens, who have had Bruce Rondon thriving in the ninth inning for most of the season. Team president/GM Dave Dombrowski said in an email to MLB.com on Thursday that they have not determined his role down there yet, having just received notification today that he’d be accepting the assignment.

Wednesday’s lineups: Tigers vs. Angels

Surprisingly, the bullpen is pretty fresh tonight in case Jose Alvarez doesn’t work into the late innings. Darin Downs is the only reliever Jim Leyland listed as unavailable, and Drew Smyly’s return essentially fills his spot. That said, Downs threw just 16 pitches, and he hadn’t thrown in a few days, while Evan Reed topped the 50-pitch mark before he left last night.

I switched things up and took a shot with Torii Hunter against his old team for Beat the Streak tonight. He’s 12-for-29 for the homestand and went 3-for-4 last night, though he doesn’t have a 10-game hitting streak going like Cabrera. He is not an ex-teammate of Hanson, who joined the Angels over the winter.

Gameday | TV: FS Detroit, MLB.TV | Radio: 97.1 FM, AM 1270, Gameday Audio

TIGERS (career numbers off Tommy Hanson)

  1. Austin Jackson, CF (2-for-5, walk, K)
  2. Torii Hunter, RF (3-for-6, K)
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 3B (1-for-3, 2 walks, K)
  4. Prince Fielder, 1B (5-for-18, HR, 2 walks, 4 K’s)
  5. Victor Martinez, DH (1-for-2, walk, K)
  6. Jhonny Peralta, SS (0-for-3)
  7. Andy Dirks, LF (1-for-3)
  8. Omar Infante, 2B (1-for-9, K)
  9. Brayan Pena, C

P: Jose Alvarez


  1. J.B. Shuck, LF
  2. Mike Trout, CF
  3. Albert Pujols, DH
  4. Mark Trumbo, 1B
  5. Josh Hamilton, RF
  6. Alberto Callaspo, 3B
  7. Chris Iannetta, C
  8. Erick Aybar, SS
  9. Brendan Harris, 2B

P: Tommy Hanson


Game 75: Breaking down the Tigers’ breakdown

That was ugly.

“We got beat down today,” Torii Hunter said. “They looked good. We had six errors. They had like 17 hits, 16 hits. All around, they beat us in every facet of the game.”

This is one of those games when Jim Leyland says to turn the page.

“I just think that this one’s just one that’s in the book and you put it in the book and you forget about it,” Leyland said, “because there’s nothing you can do about it. It was just an ugly night for us. Obviously they hit the ball all over the place and we didn’t make some plays. Those things happen. There’s no sense getting all excited about something like that.”

The story might be better told in the statistics:

  • 14: Runs allowed by Tigers pitching, their highest total since they gave up 15 to the Giants on July 2, 2011. That game capped a stretch in which they allowed 14+ runs three times in a five-day stretch, and ended up bringing in Don Kelly to pitch with two outs in the ninth inning on June 29.
  • 6: Errors by the Tigers, their highest total in a game since Sept. 11, 1982, in a 13-3 loss to the Red Sox. It’s also the highest error total by a Major League team since the Pirates committed seven errors against the Cubs last Sept. 7.
  • 2: Errors committed by Miguel Cabrera, just his second two-error game since returning to third base last season. The other came last Aug. 31 against the White Sox.
  • 2: Errors from reliever Evan Reed. Surprisingly, he’s the fourth Tigers reliever since 2010 with a two-error game. Brayan Villarreal was the last, having done so on May 25, 2012 against the Twins.
  • 4:03: Time of game, second longest for a nine-inning game in the Majors this season.
  • 36: Runs scored by the Angels in four games against the Tigers this season, tripling Detroit’s scoring.

Thanks to baseball-reference and STATS for the info.

Tuesday’s lineups: Tigers vs. Angels

A LOT of struggles in the past from Detroit’s right-handed hitters against Angels lefty C.J. Wilson. Torii Hunter and Miguel Cabrera are exceptions, but Detroit’s middle infielders are a combined 6-for-49 against him. Oddly enough, Prince Fielder is 5-for-9 off him.

I stuck with Cabrera tonight for Beat the Streak as I try to reach double digits for the first time. You can check out the rest of MLB.com’s beat writers’ picks, including leader Steve Gilbert, here.

One thing to watch for Rick Porcello tonight, other than the defense making plays on ground balls behind him, is how he uses the curveball. He didn’t have it going in Anaheim back in April, hung one to Mike Trout and paid dearly for it. If there’s one significant difference in how Porcello could approach the Halos this time, it’s that.

For those of you who live out of town, tonight’s game is the Free Game of the Day on MLB.TV.

Gameday | TV: FS Detroit, MLB.TV | Radio: 97.1 FM, AM 1270, Gameday Audio

TIGERS (career numbers off Wilson)

  1. Austin Jackson, CF (3-for-19, 7 K’s)
  2. Torii Hunter, RF (8-for-30, 2 HR, 10 walks, 5 K’s)
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 3B (5-for-15, 5 walks, 3 K’s)
  4. Prince Fielder, 1B (5-for-9, HR, 2 walks, 3 K’s)
  5. Victor Martinez, DH (4-for-25, 4 walks, 6 K’s)
  6. Jhonny Peralta, SS (2-for-24, 4 walks, 11 K’s)
  7. Omar Infante, 2B (3-for-19, 7 K’s)
  8. Avisail Garcia, LF (0-for-3)
  9. Bryan Holaday, C

P: Rick Porcello

ANGELS (career numbers off Porcello)

  1. J.B. Shuck, LF
  2. Mike Trout, CF (3-for-7, HR, walk, K)
  3. Albert Pujols, DH (2-for-4)
  4. Mark Trumbo, 1B (3-for-10, 2 K’s)
  5. Howie Kendrick, 2B (4-for-19, 7 K’s)
  6. Josh Hamilton, RF (3-for-14, 2 HR, 3 walks, K)
  7. Alberto Callaspo, 3B (3-for-17, HR, K)
  8. Hank Conger, C
  9. Erick Aybar, SS (3-for-17, walk, 2 K’s)

P: C.J. Wilson

Sunday’s lineups: Tigers vs. Red Sox

Jim Leyland must be getting better at convincing Prince Fielder to take a day at DH. He’s got him there again for the second consecutive Sunday. Victor Martinez gets first base again. Bryan Holaday gives Brayan Pena a spell behind the plate.

TIGERS (career numbers off Doubront)

  1. Austin Jackson, CF
  2. Torii Hunter, RF (1-for-1)
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 3B (0-for-3, 2 K’s)
  4. Prince Fielder, DH (0-for-3)
  5. Victor Martinez, 1B
  6. Jhonny Peralta, SS (0-for-1, walk, K)
  7. Omar Infante, 2B (2-for-6, K)
  8. Avisail Garcia, LF
  9. Bryan Holaday, C

P: Justin Verlander

RED SOX (career numbers off Verlander)

  1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF (4-for-20, 2 walks, K)
  2. Shane Victorino, RF (0-for-3, 2 K’s)
  3. Dustin Pedroia, 2B (0-for-16, 3 K’s)
  4. David Ortiz, DH (8-for-24, 2 HR, 3 walks, 7 K’s)
  5. Mike Napoli, 1B (6-for-20, HR, 5 walks, 5 K’s)
  6. Jonny Gomes, LF (0-for-6, 3 walks, 2 K’s)
  7. Stephen Drew, SS (2-for-13, 9 K’s)
  8. Ryan Lavarnway, C
  9. Jose Iglesias, 3B

P: Felix Doubront


Saturday’s lineups: Tigers vs. Red Sox

Austin Jackson is back in the Tigers lineup, much to Jim Leyland’s relief no doubt. The hope is that this isn’t an issue they have to watch over the next few weeks.

On the BoSox side, David Ortiz remains the main man for Max Scherzer to beware, as the numbers show.

No numbers for Tigers hitters against Allen Webster — not in the big leagues, anyway. So I’m falling back on my rule of thumb for Beat the Streak: When in doubt, pick Cabrera. There’s a seven-game streak on the line. Here’s who other MLB.com writers picked.

Quick reminder that tonight’s game is on FOX, not FS Detroit, which means no MLB.TV. If you’re in a region getting another game (five regional games tonight, including Twins-Indians), you’re kinda stuck. You can follow along online with Gameday, or listen to the broadcast here, or follow along on twitter.


  1. Austin Jackson, CF
  2. Torii Hunter, RF
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 3B
  4. Prince Fielder, 1B
  5. Victor Martinez, DH
  6. Jhonny Peralta, SS
  7. Andy Dirks, LF
  8. Omar Infante, 2B
  9. Brayan Pena, C

P: Max Scherzer

RED SOX (career numbers off Max Scherzer)

  1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF (3-for-6, HR, 3 walks, K)
  2. Shane Victorino, RF (1-for-3)
  3. Dustin Pedroia, 2B (3-for-10, 2 HR, K)
  4. David Ortiz, DH (6-for-10, 2 HR, 2 walks, K)
  5. Mike Carp, 1B (1-for-2, walk, K)
  6. Daniel Nava, LF (1-for-3, K)
  7. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C (5-for-9, HR, 3 K’s)
  8. Stephen Drew, SS (1-for-7, 3 K’s)
  9. Jose Iglesias, 3B

P: Allen Webster