June 4th, 2014

Wednesday’s lineups: Tigers vs. Blue Jays

Eugenio Suarez, called up from Triple-A Toledo this afternoon, is expected to arrive in time for the game, but won’t get the start. His audition will start on Thursday. It’ll be interesting to see how Andrew Romine, who seemed to be beating himself up over his at-bats Tuesday night, handles what amounts to a lame-duck start tonight against knuckleballer R.A. Dickey.

This could be a feast-or-famine performance for the Tigers offense. With cool, damp weather tnhis evening, it could be a little more to send the knuckleball out. Meanwhile, a lot of Blue Jays have very good track records against Rick Porcello, but haven’t seen him in his changeover to a better pitcher than a pure sinkerballer.

TIGERS (career numbers vs. R.A. Dickey)

  1. Rajai Davis, LF (2-for-2, walk)
  2. Ian Kinsler, 2B (1-for-7, HR, walk)
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B (5-for-18, double, HR, 2 walks, K)
  4. Victor Martinez, DH (3-for-9, double, walk, 3 K’s)
  5. Torii Hunter, RF (6-for-15, 4 doubles, triple, 4 K’s)
  6. Austin Jackson, CF (3-for-7, double, HR, walk, K)
  7. Alex Avila, C (2-for-7, double, K)
  8. Nick Castellanos, 3B
  9. Andrew Romine, SS (0-for-2)

P: Rick Porcello

BLUE JAYS (career numbers off Porcello)

  1. Jose Reyes, SS (3-for-6, triple, K)
  2. Melky Cabrera, LF (8-for-17, 2 doubles, K)
  3. Jose Bautista, RF (6-for-13, walk)
  4. Adam Lind, DH (2-for-12, HR, 2 walks)
  5. Edwin Encarnacion, 1B (5-for-12, 4 doubles)
  6. Juan Francisco, 3B (1-for-1, walk)
  7. Brett Lawrie, 2B (0-for-3)
  8. Josh Thole, C (2-for-2, HR)
  9. Anthony Gose, CF (1-for-2)

P: R.A. Dickey

Nathan: This isn’t the first time I’ve gone through a funk

Joe Nathan hadn’t said much of anything since his two shaky outings in Oakland, primarily because he hadn’t pitched since then. He was being rested when Joba Chamberlain saved the Tigers’ lone win in Seattle Friday night, and the Tigers didn’t lead Saturday or Sunday.

With the game tied in the ninth, Nathan pitched Tuesday night (sorry, but both Brad Ausmus and Joba Chamberlain said there was never a discussion about him staying in for the ninth). Nathan ended up yielding four of Toronto’s five runs.

Unlike Thursday, Nathan didn’t tell reporters to write what they want. He ended up talking for nearly 10 minutes.

“If you guys got anything for me, bring it on,” he said, “because today was one of those ones where I was definitely at a loss for words.”

Actually, he had quite a few words.

“The results didn’t match the way I threw the baseball,” he said. “I felt like I had a pretty sharp slider. I think a lot of things didn’t go my way that inning. No excuses. I gotta be better. But a lot of bad luck out there, too. But again, I got a loss for this team — that’s the biggest disappointment.”

There was no big home run this time, or even a line drive. In this case, his unraveling came about from two walks and two ground-ball singles. And the leadoff walk to Anthony Gose came after an 0-2 count. Nathan broke down that process”

“The 0-2 pitch was a slider in the dirt. Didn’t go after it, so you work off of that. I think I tried to go with a fastball up after that. It went way up, but it also set up the 2-2.

“I missed with the 2-2. That was the one I really wanted. But again, when it becomes 3-2, I know I can throw a strike pat] 3-2. I’m not worried about a 3-2 count. A lot of guys talk about hitters getting into two-strike counts, and feeling comfortable — kind of like Victor. He’s not afraid to hit with two strikes. I’m not afraid to throw a ball with two strikes, because I know I can throw a strike.

“The 3-2 pitch, everybody’s going to have an opinion on whether it was a ball or a strike. I thought it was a pretty decent pitch. I didn’t get the call, end up walking the guy. Obviously not what you want to do in a tie game, late.”

After that was where Nathan understandably chose his words carefully. When he talked the other day about the line drive to Nick Castellanos in Oakland, it ended up creating a serious stir. He wasn’t going there about his middle infielders in Jose Bautista’s ground ball up the middle with Gose on third base and Jose Reyes on first.

After getting his first out when Melky Cabrera inexplicably swung at the first pitch and popped it up, He got a ground ball. He did not get a double play.

“It’s a tough play,” he said. “It’s one of those plays where, did I make a pitch? Absolutely. Did I get the result I wanted to, a ground ball? Absolutely. But unfortunately, it was put into position where, right into a spot where both fielders were kind of going after it, and I think it got into a spot where it was confusing which one would get it.”

More from Nathan …

  • On struggles getting into his head: “Fortunately, I think I’m past that, to be honest with you. I’m at a point in my career — there are things that can surprise you in this game. I’ve seen a lot. I’m going through a bad stretch right now, but fortunately — I’ve seen a lot of stuff, put up with a lot of things, and have dealt with a lot of stuff, and I know that the important thing is, right now, the most important thing in my mind, and why I came to this baseball club is to be in first place. I can care less if I go out there with an 18 ERA, as long as at the end of the day, we go to the playoffs, and we got a chance to go to the World Series. That’s why I came here.”
  • On getting out of such a skid: “This isn’t the first time I’ve gone through a funk and come out the other end. I’ve dealt with two injuries. I’ve pitched much worse than this, trust me. I’ve pitched much worse than this in Triple-A, got sent down to Double-A, got my butt back to the big leagues. I think having dealt with that, having — not the confidence, but at least the experience of knowing I can come back through this stuff definitely helps.”
  • On whether he seeks out advice: “It’s always nice to have, especially a guy that’s been around like Jeff Jones to come up and say, ‘Listen, I’m seeing exactly what you’re seeing. You’re fine.’ He came up today and said ‘I’ve seen some bad luck, then I’ve seen what’s happened in the past week with you. I wish I had some words of wisdom, some things to change to change what’s going on, but sometimes you just have to keep your head up, keep plugging along.'”
  • On getting booed on his way out: “Trust me, I don’t give a [care] about that. Pardon my French. They can boo me all they want. I am my biggest critic. No one will put myself down more than I do. So as much as they feel like they’re being tough on me, I’m way tougher on myself.”