July 10th, 2014

Thursday’s lineups: Tigers at Royals

I’m not in Kansas City, since I’ll be in Minnesota for early All-Star activities. Still, lineups are lineups, especially when there’s still serious question whether Victor Martinez will play again before the break. For tonight’s series opener, at least, he’s still out. Torii Hunter’s at DH, with J.D. Martinez in left field and Don Kelly in right as an extra left-handed bat.

On the Royals side, the batting order is looking a little different with Alex Gordon out with a bad wrist. Old man Raul Ibanez is starting in left field, Omar Infante is batting fifth, and Danny Valencia is the cleanup hitter. Considering Gordon is just 2-for-17 off Drew Smyly, this might work to KC’s advantage, at least at the plate.

If you assumed that Billy Butler hits Drew Smyly well, you’re right. He’s 6-for-11.

TIGERS (career numbers off Jeremy Guthrie)

  1. Austin Jackson, CF (5-for-27, double, HR, 2 walks, 8 K’s)
  2. Ian Kinsler, 2B (12-for-34, 2 doubles, triple, 3 walks, 5 K’s)
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B (14-for-43, 3 HR, 5 walks, 8 K’s)
  4. J.D. Martinez, LF (4-for-12, double, 2 HR)
  5. Torii Hunter, DH (12-for-40, 3 doubles, 3 K’s)
  6. Nick Castellanos, 3B (1-for-3, double)
  7. Alex Avila, C (7-for-26, 2 doubles, 3 HR, 4 walks, 8 K’s)
  8. Eugenio Suarez, SS (0-for-2, K)
  9. Don Kelly, RF (4-for-18, 5 K’s)

P: Drew Smyly

ROYALS (career numbers off Smyly)

  1. Lorenzo Cain, RF (2-for-4, K)
  2. Eric Hosmer, 1B (3-for-15, double, walk, 4 K’s)
  3. Salvador Perez, C (1-for-4, HR)
  4. Danny Valencia, 3B (1-for-5, K)
  5. Omar Infante, 2B (1-for-6, HR)
  6. Billy Butler, DH (6-for-11, double, walk, 2 K’s)
  7. Raul Ibanez, LF (1-for-2, double)
  8. Alcides Escobar, SS (3-for-14, double, 4 K’s)
  9. Jarrod Dyson, CF (1-for-4, 3 K’s)

P: Jeremy Guthrie

Max Scherzer, All-Star starter (again)? Probably not

A week ago at this point, most of us were wondering whether Max Scherzer might be snubbed out of the All-Star Game altogether. Now, after his latest gem, it’s worth wondering if he could start the Midsummer Classic again.

Between the makeup of the AL pitching staff and the recent results, it’s not that crazy, though it’s unlikely.

Scherzer’s win over the Dodgers Wednesday tied him with Rick Porcello for second in the American League with 11 wins. The one American Leaguer with more, 12-game winner Masuhiro Tanaka, is out after going on the disabled list with elbow soreness.

That opens the door for a lot of candidates. Felix Hernandez would seem to have the strongest resume, boasting a 10-2 record to go with a 2.11 ERA for the resurgent Mariners. Mark Buehrle has 10 wins and a 2.60 ERA, though he also has six losses to go with that. Scott Kazmir is 10-3 with a 2.53 ERA.

None of them are on track to start Sunday, so they’re not going to be ruled out.

Scherzer has the advantage on wins (11-3 record) as well as strikeouts, but heads into the break with a 3.35 ERA. Hernandez tops him on strikeout-to-walk ratio, hits per nine innings, innings pitched, home runs allowed and Wins Above Replacement.

In short, it looks like a long shot. The fact that Scherzer could even be considered in this conversation, though, is a testament to his performance over the last month.

Steven Moya starts triple play for Double-A Erie

Steven Moya heads into Sunday’s All-Star Futures Game with some very good numbers, among them an Eastern-League leading 22 home runs and 185 total bases along with 24 doubles and 72 RBIs. Now, he can count one triple play.

Thanks to MILB.com for the video from Wednesday’s game at Altoona, which shows what happened better than I can explain it:


Ashley Marshall had a cool writeup on the setup for the play.

“Everybody was pretty excited,” said first baseman Corey Jones. “A few guys said it was their first one and our trainer, T.J. Saunders, said he had never seen one before. It was a huge momentum builder for us and a killer for them.

“They say a double play is an inning killer, but a triple play is as good as it gets. I ran right up to [Parrish] and said, ‘You told us you wanted a triple play, so you got one.’ The only other people who knew what I was talking about were the pitcher, the catcher and the other infielders who were there during the mound visit. It was pretty funny.”

Teammates picked it up from there:

Moya had his usual impact at the plate, too, hitting a triple with two RBIs and a pair of walks — his 13th and 14th walks on the season to temper that strikeout-to-walk ratio a little bit. His OPS stands at .841 with a .263 batting average and .293 on-base percentage.

Moya will be part of the World Team for Sunday’s Futures Game at Target Field in Minneapolis, airing live at 5pm ET on MLB Network. It’s probably my favorite part of the All-Star festivities.

Porcello to make donation for Final Vote tweets

Considering Rick Porcello offered up his old jersey number to Torii Hunter for a donation to Superstorm Sandy relief a couple years ago, it shouldn’t be a surprise that he’s trying to turn his Final Vote candidacy into an off-field impact. He needs a lot of help from fans to do it, though.

As part of the All-Star Final Vote last-day push, votes are being counted on twitter until 4pm ET using hashtags. For every tweet using the #PickRick hashtag, Porcello will make a donation of 21 cents to the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, up to a total donation of $21,000. That covers 100,000 tweets.

It might not get him an All-Star roster spot, but it should get a positive impact. It’s also a way to show his gratitude for the support he has received, not just from the Tigers but nationwide.

“I’m not used to that kind of attention. I’m definitely flattered by it for sure,” Porcello said Wednesday. “It’s pretty cool to see people that are supporting you. On a completely personal level, that’s definitely very nice. I’m very thankful.

“It’s been a new experience for me in my career, and it’s been something whether I win it or not that I’ll never forget. It’s been a pretty cool couple of days.”

The Twitter vote campaign is in its third year. Until 4pm, any tweet that includes a designated player hashtag will be tabulated as part of the official vote total used to determine the winners.

Fans can also cast votes on the mobile web at MLB.com/vote or via text message. To receive the Final Vote ballot, text the word “VOTE” to 89269. To vote for a specific player, fans can text their choice to 89269. For example: Text “A3” to vote for AL Player 3 or “N3” to vote for NL Player 3. Standard message and data rates may apply. Text “STOP” to end and “HELP” for information. Mobile voting in Canada also is available and fans should text their choices to 101010.