The Tigers’ backs are up against the wall. They fell to the A’s 6-3 this afternoon, and now find themselves in a 2-1 hole in their best of five series vs. Oakland.
A team with a reputation for bashing the ball had to scratch and claw for runs the past two games and, with the exception of a three-run fourth inning, could never get on track again today. Those runs were their first in 20 innings, but that’s all they could get off Jarrod Parker and Detroit followed up that moderate outburst with five more goose eggs.
Meanwhile, the A.L. ERA leader, Anibal Sanchez, was touched for six runs — five earned — while allowing three home runs in four and a third. Brandon Moss, Seth Smith and Josh Reddick went deep for the A’s. Additional runs came on a Miguel Cabrera error in the third and a Coco Crisp sac fly in the fourth.
There will likely be some nervous Tigers fans suggesting that Max Scherzer get the call on short rest for tomorrow’s Game Four. But that seems like a pipe dream. Scherzer is not that kind of horse — he’s never even pitched a complete game — so it’ll be up to Doug Fister to save the Tigers season tomorrow.
Major League Baseball just released the umpire assignments for the Wild Card Game and the Division Series. As always, the basis for these assignments is a proprietary, scientific calculation undertaken by Major League Baseball, mixing in (a) skill; (b) seniority; and (c) trolling of baseball bloggers who, unlike 99% of the rest of the world actually know the names and track records of various umpires and who are easily riled.
Which is to say that, while we have no Joe West in the early playoff rounds this year — too obvious, perhaps? — we do get an Angel Hernandez.
Here are the assignments. The asterisks represent the crew chief of each unit. Guys with little up arrows next to their names are regular season crew chiefs in their own right. Print this out and keep it near your television so you know who to yell about before the broadcasters tell you who to yell at:
I was curious about which MLB teams changed their fortunes the most this season compared to last year, so I crunched the numbers.
First, here are the biggest win total improvements from 2014 to 2015:
+10 Blue Jays
The top five teams on the biggest-improvement list all had managers in their first season on the job, led by Joe Maddon joining the Cubs after tons of success with the Rays. Also worth noting: Of the nine teams with the biggest win total improvement, seven made the playoffs. Only the Twins and Diamondbacks improved to double-digit games and still failed to make the playoffs.
Now, here are the biggest win total declines from 2014 to 2015:
Not surprisingly, a whole lot of those teams have changed managers, general managers, or both. And a couple more may still do so before the offseason gets underway. Oakland retained manager Bob Melvin despite an MLB-high 20-win dropoff and just promoted Billy Beane from general manager to vice president of baseball operations.