Monday, 31 July 2017

Tigers 2017 Game 103: Iustinus tactu

We last saw our heroes in action with Justin Wilson (now a Cub) on the mound earning what would prove to be his last save in a Tigers' uniform.

On Sunday, two Justins helped make the Houston Astros heartily sick of hearing that name. (St Justin Martyr, by the way, was an important Christian apologist in the second century AD, in case you were wondering.) The new-style 'bend-don't-break' Justin Verlander 'twirled', as the old chaps would say, six decent innings. Justin Upton meanwhile scored two runs and drove in four more.

All this came as a surprise to me. In the third inning the failure to score off three hard-hit balls in the third inning -- courtesy Justin ('ITNA') Upton, Miguel Cabrera and Nick Castellanos -- put me in mind of the Kinsler catch on Saturday, as an omen. In this case, where the Kinsler catcher foretold ultimate success, the three clouts warned that all might not be well. Instead it perhaps foreshadowed Lance McCullers being sent to the disabled list.

In the end, despite some hard graft in the early innings to force across a couple of runs, the Tigers ran away with this one. So, next time people tell you 'The Tigers ought to rebuild' after that horrific showing against the Royals, just point out how close they came this weekend to sweeping the team with the best record in the American League.

QMAX rating, Justin Verlander, Success Square.
Batting win values: 
Machado       0.099
Iglesias      0.094
Cabrera       0.042
McCann        0.042
J-Upton       0.033
Avila         0
Adduci        0
Mahtook      -0.023
Romine       -0.032
Castellanos  -0.060
V-Mart       -0.126

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Tigers 2017 Game 102: ad subsidium jaculatorum exspectantes

Despite the win, Collin McHugh proved too much for the Tigers on Saturday. Tigers hitters had to wait for the Astros' relievers to begin their stints on the mound in order to make progress. Thankfully, another decent start from Matthew Boyd kept the team in the game long enough that the bats were able to put this one in the win column, as Joe Angel might say. Boyd, though, did not put in a great performance, in that he was pounded for eight hits (although one demanded a replay review in the first to get the safe call). The home run by Evan Gattis in the first in particular deserved the adjective 'shot'. I just lost the ball in the bright sunlight as the camera tried to track its course out of the ballpark.

The day began with the news that Alex Presley had been put on the disabled list (and would be receiving an MRI), leading to Jim Adduci being called up to play rightfield. That change might have hurt the Tigers, as my memory is that Adduci doesn't quite have the range of Presley. Jake Marisnick’s single in the top of the 2nd might have been run down by Presley. Adduci is a big man, and to my eye it doesn’t look like he moves as fast.

For me, the catch by Ian Kinsler in foul territory -- in the stands really -- in the eigth inning was the moment at which I knew the game was one the Tigers ought to win. That kind of concentration suggested the team's spirit has not been crushed by the loss the day before, nor by some other heartbreaking, soul-destroying moments in the past week.

Let's remember, whatever has happened since, that this club was on the verge of being four games out of first in mid-July, with plenty of games left. This is a team capable, on paper. of getting into the playoffs. But it does highlight how much falling a game short last season was a lost opportunity.

Random notes:

-- 6.10 pm Saturday starts are really bad for visibility. No more, please.

-- Kirk Gibson, during the television broadcast, noted that Richie Hebner suggested hitters look bad early in the count so that you could get that pitch later and punish it. I'm going to remember that one.

-- It could only occur to a film buff like me, but when I squinted I thought the Astros' Luke Gregerson looked like a young Jean Reno, French star of films like Leon: The Professional and Ronin.

QMAX rating: Matthew Boyd, Soldier of Fortune/Tommy  John
Batting win values:
Iglesias      0.192
V-Mart        0.164
Cabrera       0.034
Castellanos   0.016
Kinsler       0.007
Mahtook       0.007
Adduci       -0.012
J-Upton      -0.031
Avila        -0.221

Saturday, 29 July 2017

2017 Tigers Game 101: Boo-ruce!

Pity poor Jordan Zimmermann. He has been having a difficult time for two seasons, and yesterday he did all one can ask a starting pitcher to do, deliver a Quality Seven-Inning Start. A starting pitcher's job is to keep his team in the game, preferably with the lead. Job done, Jordan!

The Tigers' hitters could have done a little bit better, but through seven they were doing just enough. Even Miguel Cabrera broke out of his slump in one plate appearance, hitting a home run in the 5th.

Sadly, though, one has to issue a Goat of the Day Award, because Bruce Rondon couldn't get any of the first three batters out. Dink, dink, DONG! Cabrera managed to convert a foul pop by Yasiel Gurriel into an out, allowing Rondon to claim a third of an inning.

The fans at Comerica were annoyed enough to boo Bruce. But I'd rather lose like this than by umpty-teen runs, and a position player on the mound.

QMAX rating: Jordan  Zimmermann, Success Square
GotD Award: Bruce  Rondon, -.563 win value. 
Batters win values:
Machado        0.053
V-Mart         0.034
Mahtook        0.011
McCann        -0.018
Cabrera       -0.049
Romine        -0.065
J-Upton       -0.073
Castellanos   -0.094
Kinsler       -0.235

Friday, 28 July 2017

2017 Tigers Game 100: in tertia, campanam anulerunt

This blog had its origins in a season I spent following the 2009 Washington Nationals for a time. I was doing an MA in Ontario, and the sacking of Jim Bowden just as spring training began drew my attention to a train wreck about to happen. Despite the horror story that unfolded that spring and summer, I had a lot of fun playing around with the data.

So after 100 games, it feels as if the Tigers are worse than my memory of the 2009 Washington Nationals because of two recent blow-outs against Kansas City.

I decided to check.

On record alone, there's no contest.

2017 Tigers 45-55
2009 Nationals 32-68

It was at about this point that my engagement with the 2009 Nationals would end, as I was about to travel back to England to spend August with my wife and daughters. The 2009 Nationals would 'improve' in the sense that they would finish 27-35, or a .435 winning percentage against a .320 winning percentage after 100 games. The Tigers' current .450 winning percentage is better than either.

But, of course, the Tigers have been getting beaten in blow-outs you know, that's why this feels worse.

Let's see how that stacks up. The definition of a blow-out is a defeat by five runs or more.

Through 100 games in 2009, the Nationals had lost sixteen such games.

The 2017 Tigers have lost... sixteen such games. But, in fairness, that's a higher percentage of losses (29 per cent to the 2009 Nationals' 23.5 per cent). Some of that has to be down to the DH rule increasing run-scoring. How much? I dunno and I don't think I care. Someone could either deduct one from all the Tigers' losses or add one to the 2009 Nationals' losses to get a vague idea, I would think.

So, possibly it's the proximity of two such heavy defeats by the Royals in the past two weeks. And here I think I am going to be critical of the Tigers' management.

On 20th July, the Tigers played very badly in the first inning of a Michael Fulmer start. They then recovered some ground as Chad Bell pitched 2 1/3rd innings of solid long relief. However, in the third inning of his stint the Royals handled Bell's offerings quite roughly.

On 26th July, the Tigers kept the game within reach through six, in no small part due to 2 1/3rd innings of solid long relief from Chad Bell. Bell comes out for the third inning and BOOM, he gets cracked like his cousin Liberty Bell giving up four hits and a hit-by-pitch putting the game almost out of reach. (Warwick Saupould would come on after Bell had hit Alex Gordon and make sure of that.)

Letting the same thing happen within a week strikes me as some inattentive management, but I'm just some humble blogger. I am very supportive of Brad Ausmus as a manager, but in this case the fault is plainly his.

Of course, there are other issues, such as Mikie Mahtook getting doubled off first by Jorge Bonifacio or the aforementioned fielding disaster on 20th July in which I'm not sure I have enough fingers to point at the culprits.

But Wednesday night's bell-ringing could have been anticipated simply by remembering what happened last time.