A fun duel until the end.
Indians 4, Tigers 0
Justin Verlander (29 GS, 185.2 IP, 3.59 ERA, 3.48 FIP, 4.0 WAR) flipped the script on the Indians today after a lengthy and laborious first inning and started to look like the Verlander we used to know as the game wore on. It wasn’t the best he’s been this year, but he was solid, tossing 7 shutout innings while allowing 4 hits, 2 walks, and getting 6 strikeouts include a very nice dissection of Kubel in his penultimate batter. The bats were quiet, however, today and Verlander left the game in a 0-0 tie that would only be broken by an Aviles grand slam off Benoit in the 9th. The Tigers failed to rally and sent the Indians packing only trailing the Tigers by 7.5. Despite the loss, the Tigers faithful still got a chance to see Nick Castellanos make his MLB debut, in which he flew out to right. They’ll hop a plane to Boston and send Doug Fister (27 GS, 172.2 IP, 3.81 ERA, 3.22 FIP, 3.9 WAR) to the mound against the Sox on Monday afternoon.
The Moment: Castellanos gets called on to pinch hit and flies out in his MLB debut.
The night they made October plans.
Tigers 10, Indians 5
Anibal Sanchez (24 GS, 151.1 IP, 2.68 ERA, 2.50 FIP, 5.0 WAR) put a messy first inning behind him nicely and despite allowing 3 runs over 6.2 innings, was quite good and rarely in any sort of trouble while striking out five and walking one. The Tigers got their runs in bunches, mostly thanks to two big homeruns from Infante who delivered a 3 run shot in the 2nd and a 2 run bomb in the 6th. Things got close and dangerous in the 8th when Carlos Santana launched a fly ball to deep center that Jackson nearly caught, but couldn’t as he crashed into the wall. Santana would wind up scoring on the play as Jackson was hurt – though thankfully stayed in the game and broke it back open in the bottom half with a 2 run triple as part of a 4 run inning. The win is the Tigers 80th as they push their division lead to a near ironclad 8.5 games entering the season’s final month. The ball will go to Justin Verlander (28 GS, 178.2 IP, 3.73 ERA, 3.54 FIP, 3.7 WAR) on Sunday who will look to give the Tigers a 16-3 record against the Indians in 2013. Also of note, will be the arrival of top prospect Nick Castellanos.
The Moment: Infante homers…twice.
Two steps forward.
Tigers 7, Indians 2 (7 innings)
With the final three games of the season against the Indians taking place this weekend, the Tigers turned to Rick Porcello (25 GS, 148 IP, 4.44 ERA, 3.51 FIP, 2.6 WAR) to get off on the right foot and the 24 year old hurler did just that, tossing 5.2 innings of 2 run baseball as his team staked him to an early lead. The Tigers grabbed one in the second and four in the third in part due to a hilarious Michael Bourn misplay in centerfield. Porcello got ground ball after ground ball and the bullpen backed him up to send the Tigers to 7.5 games up in the division with just 27 games to play. One more win this weekend should finalize the team’s October plans and Anibal Sanchez (27 GS, 144.2 IP, 2.61 ERA, 2.43 FIP, 4.8 WAR) will try to set the team up to do just that on Saturday.
The Moment: Iglesias starts a ridiculous double play. (Video)
Everything you could ever want, and then some.
Tigers 10, Indians 3
So I’m going to get right to it. Yes Max Scherzer (23 GS, 158.1 IP, 2.84 ERA, 2.69 FIP, 4.8 WAR) was excellent and yes the Tigers scored 10 runs, but the story of this game came in the waning moments when Ryan Raburn came trotting in from the Indians’ bullpen. Ryan Raburn pitched in an MLB game which is the confluence of just about everything I love about baseball. I love Raburn because he’s the most dynamic player I’ve ever seen. He could hit a game winning homerun or he could trip down the stairs and injure the starting pitcher. The range of outcomes is so wide and so amazing. He’s a utility man, which I love. And he’s a player who fans didn’t like, which made me love him more. And then of course the simple fact that he was a position player called on to pitch, which is just about my favorite thing in the world anyway. Against his former team. A 1-2-3 inning. With a strikeout. On this day, the Tigers ran over the Indians for their 12 straight win, 16th in their last 17, and pushed their lead over the Indians to a seemingly insurmountable 7 games. It was their fourth straight sweep. It’s all going right these days, and we got to see Raburn pitch. Baseball, you guys. Baseball. The Tigers will hop a plain to the Big Apple and will give the ball to Rick Porcello (20 GS, 120 IP, 4.28 ERA, 3.56 FIP, 2.1 WAR) in game one on Friday.
The Moment: Ryan Raburn pitched.
A giant mess, but with a great ending.
Tigers 6, Indians 5 (14 innings)
Doug Fister (23 GS, 149 IP, 3.50 IP, 3.29 FIP, 3.2 WAR) didn’t match the brilliance of his previous two outings, but he gave the Tigers 6 innings of 7 hit, 2 run, 2 walk (1 HBP) and 8 strikeout baseball. He made a few mistake pitches but holding the Indians to 2 runs in 6 innings is nothing at which to sneeze. Unfortunately, Danny Salazar was the story on the other side. Iglesias singled in a run early and Jackson hit a solo homerun but the rookie overpowered the Tigers for most of the evening. That is, of course, until he was allowed to face Miguel Cabrera with a man on base in the 8th inning down a run. That didn’t end well for Salazar or the Indians as Cabrera effortlessly swatted a go-ahead bomb to right center field. Unfortunately, the Tigers gave one back in the bottom half and left us with the score tied entering the 9th. Extra innings were a blur of failed strategy and excellent pitching. I must have dozed off because I recall Jeremy Bonderman pitching and pitching effectively. It all came crashing down on the Indians in the 14th on a two run double from Fielder that scored Jackson and Perez. The win is the Tigers 11th straight, 15th of 16, and 24th in their last 31. They are 22 over .500 and now lead the Central by 6 games with just 4 left against Cleveland the rest of the way. They’ll go for the 4-game knockout sweep on Thursday with Max Scherzer (22 GS, 151.1 IP, 2.85 ERA, 2.71 FIP, 4.5 WAR) on the mound.
The Moment: Cabrera drives a game-winning homer to right center or…. Fielder doubles in the winning runs?
Filled with everything you could ever want.
Tigers 5, Indians 1
So let’s recap what happened tonight. Justin Verlander (24 GS, 151.2 IP, 3.74 ERA, 3.32 FIP, 3.5 WAR) had one of his best starts since April with excellent velocity (96.9 MPH average FB, up to 100.8 MPH), terrific command, and a full helping of breaking pitches that allowed him to spin 8 innings of 4 hit, 1 run, 0 walk, 1 HBP, and 7 strikeout ball. Also, the Tigers extended their winning streak to 10 games and pushed their lead in the Central to 5 games. There was also the matter of Don Kelly being amazing with a 3-4 night that included the stomach punch homerun against Masterson. At the risk of being called for using a double negative, there simply wasn’t anything not to like. Verlander was great, Don Kelly led the way, and the Tigers won. That’s the whole story and it’s all you need. The Tigers will call upon Doug Fister (22 GS, 143 IP, 3.52 ERA, 3.26 FIP, 3.1 WAR) to clinch a series victory on Wednesday.
The Moment: Don Kelly turns on one in the 5th, sending it into the seats.
A sign that all good things don’t have to come to an end.
Tigers 4, Indians 2
You can’t win them all, but the Tigers just might. They got an excellent outing from Anibal Sanchez (19 GS, 118.2 IP, 2.58 ERA, 2.36 FIP , 4.1 WAR) who went 7.2 innings, allowing 4 hits, 2 runs, 2 walks, and 11 strikeouts. The bats weren’t able to back Sanchez’s gem and two key baserunning mistakes, one by Hunter in the first and one by Jackson in the eighth, kept the Tigers from cashing in on their opportunities until they unloaded in the 9th. Fielder doubled, Martinez singled, Dirks walked, and then Alex Avila stepped in and sent Chris Perez to the showers with a homerun to eruption from the Tigers bench and faithful in Cleveland. This win probability graph from FanGraphs tells the entire story:
The win is the Tigers’ 9th in a row, 13th in their last 14, and pushes them to 20 games over .500 and 4 up on the Indians in the Central. They’ll celebrate this one and get ready for Tuesday’s game that features Justin Verlander (23 GS, 143.2 IP, 3.88 ERA, 3.41 FIP, 3.1 WAR) facing the Indian’s Justin, this one called Masterson.
The Moment: Avila puts the Tigers ahead in the 9th with a 3 run HR.
From Last Night:
- Holland brilliant in Rangers win over the A’s
- Burnett goes the distance as the Pirates top the Rockies
- The Cardinals punish the Reds, 15-2
- Blue Jays get two late to beat the Angels
- Doubront out guns McCarthy in the latter’s return
- KC and Cleveland keeping winning, gain no ground
What I’m Watching Today:
- Finally, an end to BioGenesis?
- Minor duels Strasburg as the Nats try to get back in it (7p Eastern)
- Greinke and Wainwright clash (7p Eastern)
The Big Question:
- Is Mike Trout really going to do this again?
The answer is already yes. After leading MLB with 10.0 WAR last season, he’s already put up 7.1 WAR this year. He’s having a better offensive season than last year and is adding more overall value even though his defensive numbers have taken a bit of a slide. He remains one of the best baserunners in the game and is doing all of this from a premium position on the field. In the last 365 days, Mike Trout leads baseball with 10.2 WAR, meaning he has essentially been consistently playing at a 10 WAR clip for almost two years. Only Met Ott has more WAR through age 21. This is getting scary.
From Last Night:
- Jose Fernandez strikes out 14 Indians to end the Tribe’s streak
- Cards crush the Reds, 13-3
- Bumgarner shines as the Giants beat the Rays
- The Rockies and Chacin slow the Bucs
What I’m Watching Today:
- Garza and Parker go in Oakland (4p Eastern)
- Liriano tries to stop the Pirates mini-skid (7p Eastern)
- Corbin goes against Peavy in Boston (7p Eastern)
- Lincecum takes on Price (7p Eastern)
The Big Question:
- Who do you like for the second wild card in the AL?
It’s not a lock that the Rays or Red Sox will occupy the division title and first wild card, but it looks like it based on how they are playing. But right now the Orioles, Indians, and Rangers are all essentially tied for the final spot. I think the Rangers are the best team and they’re likely to healthier on the mound. Should be a fun race, even if it’s only for the right to go to the play-in game in order to make the real playoffs.
From Last Night:
- Felix goes 7 innings, allowed 1 run and leaves with a 7-1 lead. The Mariners gave up 1 in the 8th and 6 in the 9th to fall to the Red Sox.
- Darvish strikes out 14 batters, walks none, in 7 shutout innings
- The Cardinals pummel the Pirates to salvage one of five in Pittsburgh
- Hamels throws 8 shutout innings, Papelbon blows it
- Norris is solid against his old club
- Indians and Royals keep their winning streaks going as Raburn hits 2 HR
- 11 K for Teheran as the Braves beat the Rockies
What I’m Watching Today:
- Jose Fernandez looks to slow the Tribe (7p Eastern)
- Bumgarner faces Archer (7p Eastern)
- Shelby Miller leads the Cards into Cinci (7p Eastern)
- Zimmermann tries to get back on track against the Crew (8p Eastern)
The Big Question:
- Who do you like in the NL Central?
The Pirates, Cardinals, and Reds are all 60+ win teams and have clear paths to the playoffs. The Cardinals have the lowest floor, the Pirates are playing well, and the Reds are probably the most talented. But Cards don’t have Yadi, the Pirates are playing above their heads, and the Reds have Dusty holding them back. They’re all good teams and will likely all make it at least until the play-in game. My money is on the Cardinals, but it’s going to be fun.