Tigers 2, White Sox 1
For most of the day, the Tigers were putting runners on base and failing to cash them in, but a solo bomb from Yoenis Cespedes bailed out David Price (3 GS, 22.1 IP, 0.40 ERA, 2.45 FIP) and the home run he allowed to Avi Garcia. Aside from the homers, the pitchers dueled for eight innings, with Price racking up nine punchouts and six base runners as he got stronger as the game went on. Castellanos ripped one to right to start the 9th and when Garcia bobbled the ball he went for two. Castellanos was tagged at second, but the ump called him safe and Ventura failed to challenge, giving Avila a chance to bunt the pinch runner to third. Iglesias stepped in and slapped a single to right center to plate the winning run and pushed the Tigers to 9-1. Anibal Sanchez (2 GS, 13 IP, 3.46 ERA, 4.14 FIP) takes on Chris Sale on Saturday.
The Moment: Iglesias punches one through to collect the walk off win.
Tigers 1, Pirates 0
Looking to take their third straight series, the Tigers turned to Alfredo Simon (2 GS, 13.1 IP, 2.03 ERA, 2.89 FIP) to get them off on the right foot and he did not disappoint. The new Tiger allowed just two hits and no walks over 8 innings and held the Pirates to zero runs. In those situations, you don’t need much offense and the Tigers didn’t waste any energy, scoring a single run on a Rajai Davis solo homer in the 6th. If you were worried about the game being a little too ordinary, in the 9th inning, somehow the Jerry Lane caught a ball in the mask, knocking him out of the game while no one really knew if Cabrera fouled off a pitch or walk. They said he walked, but we’ll never really know what happened. Joakim Soria got the 9th and handled it as if it were his job. They’ll take the day of Thursday before welcoming the Sox on Friday behind David Price (2 GS, 14.1 IP, 0.00 ERA, 2.06 FIP).
The Moment: Davis launches one over the left field fence.
Tigers 2, Pirates 0
The first night game of the season was a treat if you’re a fan of efficient pitching and tight defense. Shane Greene (2 GS, 16 IP, 0.00 ERA, 2.17 FIP) dueled AJ Burnett and was never in trouble, finishing with 8 innings of 3 hit, 0 walk baseball and tons of easy ground outs. He only needed 81 pitches to carve up the Pirates through 8 before being lifted for a pinch hitter. The Tigers got the go-ahead run in the 7th, courtesy of a pair of walks from Avila and Iglesias and then a single from Rajai Davis. They put a little pressure on in the 9th and pushed across another thanks to Iglesias, Davis, and Kinsler. It ultimately came down to Soria protecting a one run lead. He was able to record the final three outs, protecting Greene’s gem and a Tigers victory. They’ll go for their third series win behind Alfredo Simon (1 GS, 5.1 IP, 5.06 ERA, 2.98 FIP) on Wednesday night.
The Moment: Jose Iglesias covers all sorts of ground.
Small samples are always going to be small samples, but we’ve now had a week to observe the 2015 iteration of the Detroit Tigers and it’s worth revisiting some of our preseason questions. Now, of course, nothing is definitive so early in the season and this is only a conversation starter. Did anything that happened this week move the needle for you and how much did that needle move?
Victor Might Need More Time To Recover Than Cabrera
Both of the Tigers’ key offensive cogs had offseason surgery and the team’s success this year is going to be largely dependent on their two anchors. After a week of the season, Cabrera looks plenty healthy. That doesn’t mean he won’t break down again, but until it happens, his ability to drive the ball appears to be Cabreraian. As for Victor, the strikeouts are up and he has zero extra base hits. Now this could easily be a normal one-week stretch, or it could be a sign that he’s not quite up to speed. He’s not making nearly as much contact as he has in the past, so it’s not like this is just a 30 PA randonmess in results thing. It wasn’t his best week, and that might have to do with his abbreviated spring.
Anthony Gose Might Be Useful
I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that Gose’s .615 BABIP isn’t sustainable and that his 200 wRC+ will come down once we have an actual sample of PA, but he has made better contact that I anticipated so far. He hasn’t walked and has a massive strikeout rate, which are obviously important considerations, but it’s possible he might put together a .120 ISO instead of a .100 ISO regardless. If that’s the case, you might have something that resembles a starting caliber OF rather than a quality defensive replacement. We’ll have to keep an eye on it, but while the first week doesn’t really matter, the signs were more positive than negative.
The Defense Doesn’t Suck
The team has managed 5 defensive runs saved over the first week, and while that’s not a stat that matters a whole lot in such a small sample, it matches the expectations and what we’re observing visually. The Tigers have two above average outfielders and a great middle infield tandem. Avila is a good defender. A healthy Cabrera should be solid enough at first. So that just leaves JD Martinez, who isn’t special in the outfield, but he’s also not a massive liability either. And of course, Nick Castellanos.
He’s made a couple of nifty plays over the last few days, and while I’d caution you not to extrapolate those plays well out into the future, they are a sign to me that he’s capable of improving. I’ve said all along he has the tools to be better than a -15 defender at third, but that it would require a lot of effort. By all accounts, he’s put in the effort and has looked improved so far. Again, it’s not a sign he’s good now, but it was a welcome sight.
Shane Greene Is Probably A Real Thing
It was the Twins, so no one is talking about the stat line, but Greene’s stuff looked a lot like an arsenal that can get out major league hitters. He did it late last year and we all liked the acquisition, but getting a chance to see it up close in a Tigers uniform cemented my belief.
Whatever, it’s early so the stats don’t mean anything. Joe Nathan is hurt, which means Brad Ausmus can’t use him, but it also highlights how little depth there is on this roster given that Ian Krol and Joba Chamberlain are the primary 8th inning tandem. Ian Krol. No one’s been a disaster, but you are pretty much always afraid of a game being close when the starter gets tired and that hasn’t changed.
A near miss.
Pirates 5, Tigers 4
It took until the second Monday of the regular season for us to publish a HWTG with the Tigers listed second, and hey, it’s hard to complain about that. Anibal Sanchez (2 GS, 13 IP, 3.46 ERA, 4.16 FIP) got touched up for three home runs, which isn’t good, but he struck out 9 and walked none if you’re looking for some positives. The bats were slow to get going but they threatened and got a run in the 7th and then came hard for the Pirates in the 9th with two doubles from Kinsler and Cabrera and then a big blast from JD Martinez to close the gap to one. Unfortunately a double play and a strikeout killed the rally and gave the club their first loss. We’ll get a 7pm game on Tuesday with Shane Greene (1 GS, 8 IP, 0.00 ERA, 2.13 FIP) getting the ball.
The Moment: JD Martinez unloads in the 9th.
Tigers 8, Indians 5
It didn’t take long for the Tigers to jump on T.J. House. In fact, they had three runs before he faced the fourth batter and he didn’t survive the second inning. Miguel Cabrera led the way with a walk, a single, a double, and two home runs, but Davis, Kinsler, and JD Martinez were all on base three teams in the club’s eight run effort. Kyle Lobstein (1 GS, 5 IP, 5.40 ERA, 2.90 FIP) wasn’t a world beater but he hung around and gave up three runs in in five innings of work, which isn’t bad for a number six starter facing a good offense. Angel Nesbitt had a pair of solid innings, giving way to a rough one from Blaine Hardy, who passed the game off to Joakim Soria who protected a three run lead. The win pushes the club to 6-0 on the young season and they’ll head to Pittsburgh Monday behind Anibal Sanchez (1 GS, 6.2 IP, 0.00 ERA, 2.00 FIP, 0.3 fWAR).
The Moment: A baseball needs Tylenol after a run-in with Cabrera.
The team, in a nutshell.
Tigers 9, Indians 6
This one promised to be a duel of starters, but wound up being a clash of offenses and the bullpens they punished. The Tigers tagged Kluber for two early runs, one coming on a Gose HR and the other, a team effort. The aces held serve until David Price’s (2 GS, 14.1 IP, 0.00 ERA, 1.96 FIP) final inning where two walks, his own error, and a Jerry Sands double broke it open for a three run frame. The Tigers got three runs back in the 7th to bail out their ace, and then of course, their bullpen gave them back in the 8th inning to make this a pretty normal Tigers-Indians game. With the score tired 5-5, the Tigers offense struck back in the 9th with two walks by Romine and Davis setting up the middle of the order for a big four run inning, sending the game to Soria and a victory. Tigers will look to sweep and stay perfect on Sunday with Kyle Lobstein (2015 Debut) on the bump.
The Moment: Gose leads off the game by taking Kluber deep.
Tigers 8, Indians 4
The Tigers are getting a great jump on the AL Central race, winning their first four divisional games including one today against their main competition, the Cleveland Indians. The Tigers pushed across a run in the 2nd, two in the 4th, and then Castellanos laced one over the wall to make it 5-0 after 5. Alfredo Simon (1 GS, 5.1 IP, 5.06 ERA, 2.73 FIP) didn’t have trouble early, but the lineup turned over the third time and those steady Tribe bats started to get to him, grabbing three runs on him in the 6th before chasing him for Alburquerque who quelled the rally. Hardy got two innings of work, allowing a run, and Joba got the 9th inning and allowed a couple of runners so it was Soria’s game to finish. They’ll go for the series win tomorrow with David Price (1 GS, 8.2 IP, 0.00 ERA, 1.57 FIP) on the hill against Corey Kluber.
The Moment: Nick Castellanos goes the other way for his first homer of the year.
Tigers 7, Twins 1
You never want to put too much stock in the first three games of the season because it’s only three games, but that being said, you couldn’t have asked for a better opening series. You can’t put too much stock in it, but there was nothing but good things this week in Detroit. The offense got rolling early and often again in this one, scoring two in the 1st, one in the second, three in the 4th, and another in the 5th. JD Martinez and Anthony Gose led the offense and Shane Greene (1 GS, 8 IP, 0.00 ERA, 1.95 FIP) dazzled in his debut. The Twins didn’t do a lot to challenge him, but he cruised through 8 innings in 85 pitches and allowed his only run due to a defensive blunder up the left field gap. The rain delay didn’t bother the Tigers and they’ll leave town with three wins in hand. We’ll see what Alfredo Simon (2015 Debut) can do with the Indians on Friday.
The Moment: JD Martinez crushes one to deep right field.
Tigers 11, Twins 0
So, hey. Maybe we can play the Twins another 160 times? There wasn’t much happening through two innings, and then the lineup turned over and the Tigers unloaded a lot of their unresolved anger issues. They got three in the 3rd, four in the 4th, two in the 5th, and one each in the 7th and 8th. Gose, Kinsler, Cabrera, Avila, and Iglesias had huge days and Anibal Sanchez (1 GS, 6.2 IP, 0.00 ERA, 1.97 FIP) carved up the Twins until he started to tire in the 7th. The bullpen came in and managed to avoid any sort of “bullpen-ness.” The club will look to sweep tomorrow with newcomer Shane Greene (2015 Debut) on the bump.
The Moment: Gose triples to break it wide open in the 4th.