Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Thoughts: Tigers play ugliest game of year
By David Schoenfield
Quick thoughts on Tuesday's games ...
- It can happen to the best of teams, that one game where everything goes wrong. Mariners fans still get depressed over a 2001 loss to Cleveland in which Seattle blew a 12-0 lead, a loss that would cost the Mariners sole possession of the all-time wins record. The Tigers had one of those games Tuesday night in a 14-8 loss to the Angels. They gave up 16 hits, six walks and committed six errors for the first time since 1982; the home fans deserve a refund for that effort. Rick Porcello started and right when it appeared he'd turned a corner he's now allowed 19 hits and 13 runs his past two starts. In fact, that vaunted Tigers rotations has a few concerns. It still leads the AL with a 3.68 ERA (the Royals are second at 3.77), but Porcello remains inconsistent, Anibal Sanchez is on the DL, Doug Fister has a 4.35 ERA over his past 10 starts and Justin Verlander has a 6.04 ERA over his past nine starts. And Prince Fielder has a mediocre (for him) .754 OPS since May 1. Don't give them the division title just yet.
- I wrote last week how Boston third baseman Jose Iglesias' hitting streak was a mirage -- he'd had a lot of infield singles, bloops and groundballs with eyes -- but he's still hitting, going 3-for-5 in a 11-4 rout of the Rockies to raise his average to .434 in 126 PAs. According to ESPN Stats & Info, he's the fifth player in the past 80 years to maintain and average of at least .415 or higher through his first 32 games, joining Paul O'Neill (1994), Chris Chambliss (1986), Lee Lacy (1980) and Hank Aaron (1959). His hot bat led the Red Sox to send Will Middlebooks back to Triple-A, a move that had to be made with Middlebrooks hitting .192 and on-basing .228 (60 strikeouts, nine walks). Middlebrooks needs to learn the strike zone; I compared him to Jim Presley, the one-time Mariner third baseman who quickly faded from All-Star to out of the league in a few seasons due to his inability to control the strike zone. Middlebrooks may not even get to that All-Star level.
- Crazy ending to the Zack Wheeler-Chris Sale battle in Chicago. Wheeler again flashed that dynamite arm, averaging 95.7 mph on his fastball and touching 98. But he also walked three guys, hit a batter and struck out just one in 5.1 innings. Sale, meanwhile, fanned 13, the second time he's done that this year (he averaged a season-high 96.1 mph on his fastball). He's very, very good, a legit Cy Young contender stuck with a terrible offensive team. The White Sox led 4-3 with two outs in the ninth when this amazing play happened. White Sox announcer Hawk Harrelson nearly jumped out of the booth on that one. But the White Sox scored in the bottom of the inning to win 5-4 and hand the Mets their seventh walk-off loss, second-most in the majors.
- Ichiro Suzuki did this to give the Yankees a 4-3 win over the Rangers -- all four runs coming on solo home runs. The Yankees' first three home runs came off Yu Darvish, all on offspeed pitches; he'd allowed two home runs on offspeed pitches before Tuesday. For Ichiro, it was second career walk-off home run, and led to this great quote: "I was trying to end the game." Gotta love, Ichiro. His first career walk-off homer came off Mariano Rivera, back in 2009. Here it is. That was even more dramatic since it came with two outs and the Mariners down 2-1.
- Alex Gordon was facing Craig Kimbrel with the winning runs on base and two outs when he got attacked by a huge moth. As if facing Kimbrel isn't tough enough. The Braves ended up intentionally walking Gordon to load the bases and Kimbrel got Alcides Escobar to fly to right to seal the 4-3 win.
- The Season of Chris continued as he belted his 28th home run as the Orioles rallied from a 3-1 deficit with five runs in the seventh to beat the Indians 6-3. I was watching that game at the time and Justin Masterson had been cruising through six when he suddenly lost it. He hit Adam Jones, Davis homered to right, Matt Wieters walked, and after J.J. Hardy lined out and Chris Dickerson reached on an infield single, Alexi Casilla smacked a three-run homer. Just like that. He's the fifth player since 2001 with at least 28 home runs by the end of June (Albert Pujols 2009 Alex Rodriguez 2007, Barry Bonds 2001, Luis Gonzalez 2001). He also made two excellent defensive plays at first base.
- Wilin Rosario is strong.