The Game 5 Non Sequiturs

Here we are, a couple of hours from the most nerve-wracking Tigers game since Game 163 and the club’s first winner-take-all game since the 1972 ALCS, as Lee Panas pointed out after Game 4. Let’s see what happens. (Not unlike to my approach to this post.)

Jim Leyland this afternoon explained why we’ll see Max Scherzer and not Justin Verlander should the Tigers need a long-man:

“I don’t think it’s a wise decision. Like I said, those innings he pitched the other night, all the innings he’s piled up this year, all the strikeouts, all the adrenaline, and the fact that he’s throwing 100 miles an hour in the eighth inning [on Monday night], if he comes in this game tonight, there’s no telling what he would be throwing with the way this crowd is going to be and everything. I just don’t think it makes sense.”

Tonight’s game marks the seventh time in the Tigers post-season history they’ve had a series go the maximum number of games. Detroit has compiled a 2-4 record in the previous six series.

  • Wins: Game 7 of the 1945 and 1968 World Series
  • Losses: Game 7 of the 1909, 1934 and 1940 World Series; Game 5 of the 1972 ALCS

Jerry Crasnick focuses on Doug Fister and Delmon Young in this ESPN.com story. Here’s one scout’s view on Fister:

“The gun doesn’t tell the story on him,” the scout said. “He’s a movement guy with good location, and velocity doesn’t matter that much. He’s so tall [6-foot-8] and he’s straight over the top, so he gets great ‘down’ plane. When he’s down in the zone, it’s like hitting a bowling ball.”

By the by, Fister surrendered five home runs over his final 19 outings of the season dating back to June 14, a stretch of 129 innings pitched. He allowed 0.46 home runs per nine innings this season, lowest in the American League.

On this date in 1945, a goat and its owner make an appearance at Wrigley Field for Game 4 of the World Series between the Tigers and Cubs. The pair is told to leave before the game ends, angering the owner (and presumably the goat). The Cubs lost to the Tigers, 4-1. The Tigers go on to win the Series in seven and the Cubs won’t win another National League championship for the rest of the 20th century. And thus was born the Curse of the Billy Goat.

Young’s two home runs during this ALDS matches a Tigers record. Both Curtis Granderson and Craig Monroe hit two home runs for Detroit during the ALDS in 2006.

That’s all I’ve got. Except for this: Tigers 5 Yankees 2.

Enjoy the game.

ALDS Game 0.95: Tonight’s Matchups

Doug Fister against the Yankees:

Liftetime

1-2, 6.00 ERA, 3 G, 3 GS, 18.0 IP, 24 H, 12 R, 12 ER, 3 BB, 10 K

In 2011

0-1, 3.86 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 7.0 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 5 K

Last Start/Loss: July 26, 2011 at New York, 4-1

Last win: Aug. 16, 2009 at Seattle, 10-3

Yankees head-to-head against Doug Fister

  • Robinson Cano .333 6-2-0
  • Eric Chavez .250 8-2-0
  • Brett Gardner .250 4-1-0
  • Curtis Granderson .333 3-1-1
  • Derek Jeter .400 10-4-0
  • Andruw Jones .200 5-1-0
  • Jorge Posada .333 6-2-0
  • Alex Rodriguez .200 5-1-0
  • Nick Swisher .286 7-2-1
  • Mark Teixeira .333 9-3-1.

    Tigers head-to-head against Ivan Nova

  • Wilson Betemit .500 2-1-0
  • Miguel Cabrera .000 1-0-0
  • Brandon Inge .000 1-0-0
  • Austin Jackson .000 1-0-0
  • Don Kelly .000 1-0-0
  • Victor Martinez .000 1-0-0
  • Magglio Ordonez 1.000 1-1-0
  • Delmon Young .333 3-1-0.
  • Tuesday Tananas: Tiger Stadium’s Finale, Fister’s Dominance, and Meat Loaf’s Birthday

    Things keep looking up for the Tigers. The ALDS is fast approaching, Wilson Betemit is playing tonight and Ozzie Guillen is leaving the American League. Good times.

    [callout title=The Tuesday Rundown]

    The Tigers are in first place, 13 games ahead of the Indians.

    Today’s Game: Tigers vs. Indians – Max Scherzer (14-9, 4.37 ERA) vs. RHP Jeanmar Gomez (5-2, 3.52 ERA) | 7:05 p.m. – FSD/1270 AM and 97.1 FM

    This season against the Indians, Scherzer is 2-0 with a 3.72 ERA. Lifetime he’s 3-3, 4.79 ERA.

    Did you know that Scherzer has never thrown a complete game or a shutout in his major-league career?

    [/callout]

    Leading Off: The Tigers crushed the Indians and Ubaldo Jimenez Monday night 14-0. Doug Fister was his usual phenomenal self: eight innings, three hits, no walks, nine strikouts. And, 74 percent of his 109 pitches were strikes.

    ALDS Start Time (Maybe): Matt Dery (@deryNBA) posted this on Twitter: “According to reports, Tigers would either host Bos or TB at 5 pm Friday for Game 1 or play at NYY at 8:30 fri night.” If it’s a 5 o’clock game, looks like I’m leaving work early.

    The Tigers enter tonight’s game versus Cleveland having won 28 of their last 37 games dating back to Aug. 19, a .757 winning percentage — tops in the majors.

    On this date in 1999, the Tigers played their final game at Tiger Stadium — an 8-2 win over the Royals. Homers by Karim Garcia, Luis Polonia and Robert Fick power the Tigers behind Brian Moehler.

    We knew Doug Fister was good, but this is ridculous. From Elias Sports Bureau:

    Remember at the trading deadline when the biggest-name pitcher moved was Ubaldo Jimenez? On Monday he was outpitched by a player whose trade received considerably less attention, Doug Fister. Fister improved to 8-1 since joining Detroit, making him only the fourth pitcher in the post-WWII Era to have at least eight wins with no more than one loss for a team after pitching for another major-league team earlier that season. The three others: Randy Johnson (10-1 for the 1998 Astros, after starting with the Mariners); Doyle Alexander (9-0 for the 1987 Tigers after starting with the Braves); and Rick Sutcliffe (16-1 for the 1984 Cubs after starting with the Indians.) Fister will end the season with a seven-game winning streak and Justin Verlander has won his last 12 decisions. They’re the first teammates to end a season with each on a winning streak of seven or more games, mainly or exclusively as a starting pitcher, since 1993, when Jason Bere and Wilson Alvarez of the White Sox each won their final seven decisions. The pair preceding Bere and Alvarez was Doyle Alexander (9) and Walt Terrell (8) for the 1987 Tigers.

    I was talking to a friend of mine today about possible successors to Ozzie Guillen and we did a quick review of higher-profile bench coaches around the majors. One name he brought up was Kirk Gibson’s bench coach, Alan Trammell. While I fully support Tram getting another shot at managing, I can’t abide by him taking over the White Sox. Oh, and did you see where former Tigers manager Buddy Bell is in the mix for the Sox’ gig? Oy vey.

    Happy 67th Birthday to Gary Sutherland. He hit .251 with a .295 on-base percentage with the Tigers from 1974-76 and played primarily at second base.

    Checking in on trade pieces: In 31 games with the Mariners since the July 29 trade, Casper Wells is hitting .216 with seven home runs, 15 RBI and a .742 OPS. Meanwhile Charlie Furbush is 3-7 with a 6.62 ERA in 10 starts, and Chance Ruffin is 1-0 with a 4.50 ERA in 12 appearances.

    Why should you keep watching baseball this week?, asks Rob Neyer. One reason he offers is to see if Jose Valverde can keep up his perfect-save routine:

    Valverde’s been phenomenal this season, and is only seven saves from tying Tom Gordon’s American League for consecutive saves (over different seasons). And the best part is that Valverde’s doing all this with lower strikeout and higher walk rates than his career norms.

    Wanna bet he blows one in October? I don’t know. I predicted Lidge would blow a postseason save after his perfect 2008, but he didn’t and the Phillies won the World Series.

    On this date in 1986, Jack Morris shut out the Yankees 1-0 in 10 innings, raising his record to 20-8 and snapped Don Mattingly’s hitting streak at 24 consecutive games.

    I’ve had seller’s remorse on Omar Infante for a couple of years now — and especially since Placido Polanco was set free after the ’09 season. Infante just signed a two-year, $8 million extension with the Marlins. He enters tonight’s game batting .279 with seven home runs, 49 RBIs and only eight errors in 146 games. He’d look pretty good playing second for the Tigers these days, no?

    Finally, Happy 64th Birthday to Meat Loaf.

    The Monday Report

    Welcome to the final week-like segment of the 2011 regular season. Remember, oh, four weeks ago when the final three games of the year against Indians looked meaningful?

    Leading Off: The Tigers earned a split against the mosquito-ish Orioles by brute force: homers by Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, Don Kelly and Jhonny Peralta. Brad Penny was just … decent enough to earn the win and even his season record at 11-11.

    ALDS Maneuverings: The Rangers swept the feedble Mariners and have a one-game lead over the Tigers in the race for the second-best record in the American League. Texas heads to Anaheim to face Dan Haren, Jered Weaver and Ervin Santana. Perhaps it’s time to bury the hatchet with Weaver, however temporarily.

    [callout title=The Monday Rundown]

    The Tigers are in first place, 12 games ahead of the Indians.

    Today’s game: Tigers vs. Indians – Doug Fister (10-13) vs. Ubaldo Jimenez (10-12) | 7:05 p.m. FSD/1270 & 97.1

    Fister’s 7-1 with a 2.02 ERA since coming over from Seattle on July 30, and 5-0 with a 0.81 mark in his last six starts.

    Jimenez is 4-3 with a 4.62 ERA since his trade to the Indians. He’s 1-2 with a 5.40 ERA in three starts against the Tigers with Cleveland.

    [/callout]

    On this date in 1926, in his final day in a Tigers uniform, Ty Cobb watched his replacement in centerfield get six hits in a doubleheader against the Red Sox to become the new batting champion as Heinie Manush edging Babe Ruth .378 to .372.

    The Diamondbacks Friday-night clincher came before a less-than-capacity crowd at Chase Field, so it will be interesting to see how the club draws in the NLDS. I’m liking my chances to secure a walk-up ticket whenever the D-backs’ series opens. There’s a nice piece on Kirk Gibson in Sunday’s Arizona Republic – but the really interesting story is this one. When he retired, Gibby coached a youth hockey team in Grosse Pointe and got advice from Steve Yzerman.

    “My philosophy on it was you want the puck, but I’d always watch them fight for it, get it and then dump it into the zone and fight for it again,” Gibson said. “It didn’t make much sense to me. I’d like to keep the puck.”

    With the season ending on Wednesday, the Tigers won’t have an opportunity to even their record on Thursdays and Saturdays. These will end up being the only two days of the week they didn’t at least finish .500 (Thursdays, 9-10; Saturdays. 12-13).

    Finally, on this date in 1969 the album “Abbey Road” by the Beatles was released. Have a great week.

    The Monday Report: Power Rankings, Masao Kida and Johnny Cash

    The Tigers embark on their final roadtrip of the season and Detroit fans can gleefully bid adieu to Ozzie Guillen and his band of jolly outlaws.

    Leading Off: The Tigers beat the Twins 2-1 yesterday for the club’s ninth straight win — their first of that length since May 1984. Doug Fister shutout the Twins over seven innings for the win, while Jose Valverde posted his club-record 43rd save of the season. Delmon Young led the Tigers with two hits and an RBI.

    [callout title=The Monday Rundown]

    The Tigers are in first place, 10.5 games ahead of the White Sox.

    The magic number is 7.

    Today’s Game: Rick Porcello (13-8, 4.87) vs. John Danks (6-11, 4.09 ERA) | 8:10 p.m. – FSD/1270 AM and 97.1 FM

    Notes on Porcello

    With a win tonight, Porcello would match his career high established during his rookie season with the Tigers in 2009.

    He’s compiled a 2-0 record and 2.75 ERA over his last three starts. And, he’s issued two-or-fewer walks in 23 of his 27 outings for the Tigers this season.

    Notes on Danks

    In his last start, last Tuesday in Minnesota, Danks suffered the third loss in his last 13 starts.allowing five runs (four earned) on six hits over six innings.

    He became just the third pitcher since 1961 to go 0-8 before June 1. The 0-8 start was the first by a pitcher who won 15 games or more the previous season since Montreal’s Dale Murray in 1976 (also 0-8).

    [/callout]

    ESPN’s Steve Berthiaume says that if there were a catchers draft, Alex Avila should be the easy number-one selection:

    Avila has been the best catcher in baseball this season. Among the game’s everyday catchers — let’s say those who have started more than 100 games behind the plate — Avila leads the majors with a .300 batting average, .391 on-base percentage, .522 slugging percentage and .913 OPS. He’s No. 1 across the board. Remember, this hypothetical applies to catching actual games, not your fantasy league team, so forget about Victor Martinez or Mike Napoli — the guy you draft has to actually crouch down and catch for you every day. Avila has done exactly that for the Tigers.

    Austin Jackson enters tonight’s game having hit safely in each of his last 15 games against the White Sox. He is hitting .403 with four doubles, three triples, three home runs and nine RBI during the 15-game stretch.

    Looking for some autographed Tigers memorabilia? You’re in luck. MGOAuction.com, an auction site of primarily University of Michigan sports memorabilia, has several Tigers items up for bid. The items include autographed baseballs signed by Justin Verlander, Jose Valverde, Victor Martinez, Andy Dirks, Brandon Inge and other items signed by Alex Avila, Al Kaline and Todd Jones. Proceeds benefit a series of undergraduate scholarships at UM including the Bernard “Pat” Maloy Cancer Scholarship, the Shelly Kovacs Scholarship. Check out MGoAuction.com.

    The Tigers have finally leap-frogged the Diamondbacks in ESPN.com’s Power Rankings this week and earned a spot a number four. (Though they couldn’t crack John Kruk’s rankings.) And, the Tigers are this week’s U.S. Army Team of the Week.

    Eighty years ago today at Fenway Park, Eddie Durham and the Tigers Arthur “Red” Herring faced off in a 13-inning pitching duel. Durham won, 1-0.

    The funny thing about this nine-game winning streak and 10-1/2-game lead? The anti-Jim Leyland crowd sure has been quiet.

    Birthdays! Happy 71st to Mickey Lolich, Happy 55th to Mark Thurmond, Happy 52nd to Scotti Madison, and Happy 43rd to Masao Kida.

    Finally, music legend Johnny Cash died on this date in 2003 at the age of 71. Let’s remember him with one of his classic songs, “A Boy Named Sue.”

    Labor Day Leftovers, SweetSpot Style

    In case you missed it, ESPN.com’s SweetSpot blog has featured a nice collection of Tigers-focused posts over the past few days:

    • Dave Schoenfield lists his unsung heroes, among them is Jhonny Peralta:

      I’ve sung Peralta’s praises on several occasions, but everyone just keeps talking about this Verlander guy. All Peralta has done is hit over .300 with power and played surprisingly well on defense. He’s been the best shortstop in the AL.

    • In case you missed it on Thursday, ESPN ran “What’s important in September” list for each American League team. Here was my contribution about the Tigers:

      The pressing issue for the Tigers in September is finding a consistent rotation behind Justin Verlander. At times, Detroit’s starting five — or at least four of five (sorry, Brad Penny) — has looked sturdy enough to be a scary proposition for a Division Series opponent. At others, Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello have looked dreadful and scare only Tigers fans. If trade-deadline prize Doug Fister can continue the trend of his past three starts (21.2 IP, 2 ER, 15 hits, 1 walk and 18 strikeouts), the Tigers will feel considerably better about October.

    • Joe Janish from the Mets Today blog examined the Tigers/Diamondbacks/Yankees trade from 2009 and sees all three teams as winners:

      Though none of the players the Tigers received are having an MVP-caliber year, it’s fair to say the deal worked out well for them as well. After all, they are currently leading the AL Central by 6.5 games, with roughly one-sixth of the team’s 25-man roster filled by players obtained in that deal — including their starting center fielder and their No. 2 starting pitcher.

    • Ben Jedlovec writes Austin Jackson was the best on defense in August.

      Austin Jackson led baseball with 11 Defensive Runs Saved in the month of August, and his 17 Defensive Runs Saved this season is tied for third among all center fielders. Robinson Cano tied for the infield lead with 7 Runs Saved on the month.

    That is all.

    The Labor Day Breakfast

    Happy Labor Day and a warm salute to the working men and women of the U.S. A special hat-tip to my Dad who helped build so many structures around Detroit — including the Ren Cen.

    Leading Off: The Tigers completed a deliciously emphatic sweep of the White Sox last night, 18-2. Alex Avila collected four hits, Miguel Cabrera teed off big-time with a double, homer and four runs driven in, and Max Scherzer was terrific in his seven innings of work: five hits, six strikeout and no walks. Andy Dirks also drove in four (but who didn’t?) with a homer and a single.

    [callout title=The Labor Day Rundown]

    The Tigers are in first place, 6.5 games ahead of the Indians.

    Today’s Game: Tigers @ Indians – Doug Fister (6-13, 3.26 ERA) vs. Ubaldo Jimenez (2-1, 5.56 ERA) | 1:05 p.m. – FSD/1270 AM and 97.1 FM

    Notes on Fister

    Fister is 3-1 with a 2.97 ERA – including a victory over the Indians on Aug. 20 – since joining the Tigers. He’s 1-1 with a 2.35 ERA in four outings versus Cleveland this season.

    Notes on Jimenez

    Jimenez has given up four runs over 13 innings in his two most recent starts after being smoked for 21 runs in 21 innings through his first four appearances with the Indians.

    [/callout]

    Around the Central: The Indians beat the Royals 9-6 and the Angels beat the Twins, 4-1. Today the Twins and White Sox play a day-night doubleheader, and the Royals visit the A’s.

    Sports Illustrated’s Joe Lemire looks at what it takes for a big-league pitcher to lose 20 games — a mark which the Orioles’ Jeremy Guthrie is close to reaching; yesterday he lost his 17th. Naturally, the article looks at Brian Kingman and Mike Maroth, the last two pitchers to lose 20.

    Losing 20 games is not for the faint of heart. And it’s not for the game’s worst pitchers. For a pitcher to lose 20, there must be a delicate balance of conditions: He can’t be so good that he’s winning games on his own, while he can’t be so bad that he loses the faith of the manager and front office, plus the offense can’t provide meaningful run support. A 20-game loser must be good enough that the team wants to continue giving him the ball. Kingman and Maroth were both in their first full major-league seasons, yet weren’t returned to the minors for more seasoning.

    Leftovers from 20: The Postgame’s Eric Adelson wrote about Justin Verlander’s chances for reaching 300 wins, and why JV doesn’t much care for the conventional wisdom:

    He doesn’t care for the statistician’s math. And he doesn’t care for history’s math. He knows 20-game winners are rare these days and, therefore, winning 300 in a career is a milestone most people view as unlikely.

    (snip)

    And still, to those who say it can’t be done, he says, pssshh.

    “I disagree with that,” Verlander says, his eyes wide. “It doesn’t make any sense.”

    Happy 46th Birthday to Rob Richie.

    Forty years ago today the Tigers tied a major-league record by using six pinch hitters in an inning (the seventh), but lose 6-5 to the Yankees.

    On this date in 1984, Cal Ripken made a first-inning error to let in the game’s lone run as the Tigers beat Orioles, 1-0. Juan Berenguer gets the win and Willie Hernandez picked up his 28th save. Mike Flanagan goes the distance in the loss. Detroit’s magic number is 15.

    Finally, Happy 82nd Birthday to Bob Newhart, one of my all-time favorites.