Max Scherzer smelled the line of questioning as soon as he was asked whether Brad Ausmus had talked with him before telling him he was done after eight innings.

“I was done,” he said. “I mean, there’s nothing else to it. I was done. I’m not going to sit here and play second-guessing the manager. I was done.”

He had done his job to carry the game to the ninth inning with the Tigers ahead. From there, it was on to the bullpen. Every pitcher, he indicated, has their role, an answer that sounded Leyland-like. That’s how a pitching staff works.

“Whoever pitches needs to go out there and do their job,” Scherzer said when asked about what the bullpen faces if Joakim Soria is injured. “We prepare hard, we work hard. Whoever’s number is called needs to come in there and do their job. Whoever’s number is called, that’s your opportunity, and you have to go out there and do your job. Doesn’t matter who it is.”

No pitcher’s job, not even lefty Phil Coke’s job, has received as much scrutiny this year as Joe Nathan’s job, something he has pointed out from time to time this summer. He went from early-season struggles to a period of security to midseason panic to a month of relatively stability to two shaky days here.

“This isn’t a job where you’re going to be perfect all the time,” Nathan said. “I think sometimes look at it like we better be perfect. That’s not always realistic. I came out of the gate slower than I wanted to, so you want to go out and take care of business as much as you can, especially when we’re in August. But I also have to be true to myself and know that I’m throwing the ball well right now just keep the groove going.”

At the same time, he acknowledged, he can’t let a leadoff batter like Jose Reyes get on base in the ninth and run himself into position to score without a hit.

“I got myself in a position where you’ve got to be fine,” he said. “You’re looking for a ground ball.”

He has been a lot of things over the course of the season. He has not frequently been fine.

Nathan gave up the tying run, two hits and two walks before giving way to Joakim Soria with one out and the potential winning run at third base. Yet it might have been the out that doomed him. 

Melky Cabrera’s fly ball to right was the most solidly-hit ball off Nathan, whose two singles were both ground balls. Cabrera’s fly out was deep, so much so that right fielder Torii Hunter didn’t even deke like he had a play at keeping Reyes from taking third base. He was from first to third without a base hit thanks to a stolen base and the fly out, and he left Nathan having to protect against the sac fly as the middle of the Blue Jays order.

Instead of needing a base hit to score Reyes, all Jose Bautista needed to do was loft the ball with a semblance of authority. So Ausmus opted to walk Bautista and try to set up the double play for Dioner Navarro, slow-footed but batting .285 off right-handed pitching. 

Nathan needed a ground-ball double play. He got a ground ball. He did not get the ground ball.

“It’s the right play,” Nathan said of the walk. “You set up the double play, you’ve got the catcher coming up, so if you can get a ground ball to somebody you’ve got a good chance of turning it. Unfortunately it was about three or four feet too far to the hole and it got through there.”

It was Nathan’s first blown save since June 21, and his first run charged to him since July 19. However, he faced the kind of jam that might have yielded both Friday night if not for Rajai Davis’ game-ending, sliding catch. He has yielded multiple baserunners in three of four outings this month, including seven baserunners the past two nights. His first batters in an outing are 10-for-43 with two walks and 10 strikeouts against him, neither stingy nor disastrous.

“I felt good, very confident going out there,” Nathan said. “I’ve been able to kind of take myself out of situations, not so much worry about the score and just go out and pitch. I felt like I did that today. I was in a tight spot with very good hitters, but again, I pitched my game.”

Asked about Nathan’s status, Ausmus said, “Joe’s the closer. Recently he’s done very well closing games for us.”

If Soria is out for any length of time, the question is moot. Even if he isn’t, a closer change probably isn’t going to happen. Whether Ausmus stretches his starters further might be another question, though he had no question about his decision on that Saturday.

“Max is very aware of what his pitch count is and how he feels and what he has left,” Ausmus said. “He’s very honest with me and with Jeff Jones with how he’s doing physically. We’ve seen him pitch. We have a couple guys on our staff you can tell when they really kind of empty the tank, and the way they pitch speaks more than what they actually say.”

18 Comments

Nathan continues to be a Tiger “killer” but he’s not the opposing pitcher anymore.
Letting the 1st batter get on base is never a good start!

If the last two days is you being confident and throwing your game….dude you are dillusional.
.
Headed to Toronto right now..go Tiger’s

He threw Miguel under the bus:
Nathan said: “I just put myself in a tough spot where Miggy has to play … he’s covering the runner at first … if he doesn’t have to cover first, I get a ground ball right to him and we got a chance.”

And Ausmus?:
“[W]e end up walking Bautista and so I’m in a spot where you have to be a little more fine, can’t just ‘let’s just throw strikes,’ not that easy.”

http://www.blessyouboys.com/2014/8/9/5986829/joe-nathan-irritated-fans-prince-fielder-postgame-comments

I do agree with him about the IBB. That was the winning run,you dont walk on the GWR. And I said that while he was throwing the intent balls.. If he is really your closer , you die or live against Bautista

“I think, sometimes, people look at it like we better be perfect. And that’s not always realistic.”
Valverde was perfect for a while, 51 consecutive saves. 24 consecutive scoreless inning (.until that 50 pitches game)
Rodney saved 37 in 38. It did not look like that but at the end of the day, he had the saved the game

Avila vs Buehrle 4 for 13. They have an excuse to play him against a LHP
Davis: 6 for 17
Hunter :242 /.239 /.418/ .657 17 SO in 91 AB!

Definition of second guess: “criticize after event: to criticize, assess, or correct somebody or something after an event is over and the outcome is known.”
.
So what do you call it when fans are screaming to keep Scherzer in the game at the time the 8th inning ended?
It was an ugly day.

Lineup at TOR: Davis 8, Kinsler 4, Cabrera 3, V. Martinez DH, Hunter 9, J. Martinez 7, Castellanos 5, Avila 2, Romine 6. Price starting.

“Soria, Sanchez both to DL. Sanchez likely out 3-4 weeks with pectoral muscle strain, according to Dombrowski.”

When it rains, it pours

VerHagen remains in DL

Ray had one good game after 4 very bad games

They could call Krol but better option seems to be Miller

Tigers PR :LHP Robbie Ray is scheduled to start Wednesday’s game versus Pittsburgh. #tigers

Thank goodness that game was in Toronto. Can you the outrage if it happened at Comerica?

imagine.

I wonder what Mike Illitch would say in honest interview.
Disappointed in the way Brad is handling things. I know it is a tough job and all, coming into D, following JL, just being a young rookie manager with no experience etc, but he has not been the breath of fresh air we thought we’d be breathing.
Add some poor managing to A team that can’t hit, doesn’t field particularly well, won’t run and can’t prevent them in the later innings is not going to make it.
These last two injuries are in two departments they can ill-afford.
Not enough leadership on this team to get them through the challenges they face.

When Miggy starts hitting again everything will be good. It was the problem in the beginning of the season and it is now. Team wins when he is hitting.

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