The Tigers were twice in good position to break a scoreless tie against Jon Lester and the Red Sox in the fifth inning of Game 1 of the ALCS, but poor base running decisions left them with nothing at the end of the inning. Jhonny Peralta led off with a double to left-center. Omar Infante followed up with a sharp grounder to Mike Napoli at first base, who fired to second base as Peralta had initially broken towards third base. Shortstop Stephen Drew applied the tag on Peralta just before his foot got back to the bag, leaving the Tigers with a runner on first base and one out.
They continued to threaten, however, as Alex Aliva lined a single to right field. Infante was able to advance to third base when Shane Victorino hilariously kicked the ball in front of himself. With runners on the corners and one out, the Tigers score in a number of ways — any kind of hit, a fly ball of moderate depth, and most non-double play ground balls. Jose Iglesias hit a slow curve on the ground to third baseman Will Middlebrooks, who fired home to catcher David Ross, nailing Infante with plenty of room to spare. Austin Jackson meekly flied out to right field to end the frame, the Tigers still scoreless.
The Tigers were, by far, baseball’s worst base running team during the regular season, according to Baseball Prospectus.
Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez is pitching extremely well, having racked up ten strikeouts in five innings of work. He has yet to allow a hit, though he has walked three batters. For the Tigers, it is imperative they provide him a modicum of run support, but to Lester’s credit, he has looked quite strong on the mound as well, blanking the Tigers on five hits and no walks while striking out five.
If he wasn’t 44 years-old we’d just call it a slump, but the way Bartolo Colon is pitching right now makes you wonder if the end is nigh.
Colon was shelled this afternoon, giving up seven runs on ten hits and walking three in five innings of work to take the loss against the Pirates. That brings his ERA up to 6.96 on the year. He’s allowed five or more runs in five of his ten starts and opposing batters are hitting .320 against him. One of the big reasons he had been so effective into his 40s had been his low walk rate — he led the NL in this category for the past two seasons — but he’s walking more guys this year than last.
The Braves picked up Colon for the reasons a lot of rebuilding teams pick up veteran starters: to provide innings and stability until the younger arms of the future can mature. Colon, however, has been the weakest link of the Braves rotation.
At some point, every baseball player reaches the end. Almost all of them do it before the age of 44. One hopes, given his history and popularity that Colon is just experiencing a rough patch and that, by mid season, he’ll be reliably pumping strikes into the zone the way he has the past few seasons. But with each bad start he registers this year, that’s seeming like more and more of a stretch.
Last night Braves reliever Josh Collmenter surrendered three homers and seven runs in the 10th inning of a loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates. He came into the game when it was tied 5-5 so, yeah, ouch. Today Collmenter is on his way to no longer being a Braves reliever as he has been designated for assignment.
Collmenter made 11 appearances for the Braves, going 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA in 17 innings. If he doesn’t latch on someplace else he can take heart that his final act in the big leagues was striking out former MVP Andrew McCutchen. If only he hadn’t surrendered consecutive homers to David Freese, Jose Osuna and Jordy Mercer just before that. Oh well. Take the good with the bad.
Right-hander Matt Wisler, who has been no great shakes in the bigs himself, was called up from Triple-A Gwinnett before today’s series finale against the Pirates. He’s currently throwing mopup duty for Bartolo Colon, who got shelled for seven runs in four innings.
Given how Colon is going, maybe the Braves will be thinking about some more transactions soon.