Matthew Pouliot

Division Series - Detroit Tigers v Oakland Athletics - Game Two

Tigers put their faith in Justin Verlander for Game 5

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With the Tigers burning their likely Cy Young winner Max Scherzer in relief on Tuesday, Justin Verlander will get the nod on four days’ rest in Thursday’s Game 5 against the A’s.

That Verlander was so exceptional in Game 2 against the A’s surely played into Jim Leyland using Scherzer in the seventh and eighth innings today. Verlander struck out 11 in seven scoreless innings in that one, though the Tigers went on to lose 1-0 anyway. Dating back to the regular season, Verlander has pitched 20 scoreless innings with a 33/5 K/BB ratio in his last three starts.

Lifetime, Verlander is 3-0 with a 1.59 ERA in four postseason starts against the A’s. Four of the five runs he allowed came in the first of those starts back in 2006. Overall, Verlander is 6-3 with a 3.84 ERA in the postseason.

Verlander will be facing Bartolo Colon, who is 2-4 with a 3.70 ERA in 10 starts in the postseason. Colon took the loss to Scherzer in Game 1 after giving up three runs (all coming in the first) in his six innings of work.

A’s bullpen finally has an off night

Sean Doolittle
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Oakland’s bullpen entered Tuesday having gone nine straight games without allowing a run, dating back to Sept. 23. That streak snapped quickly in Game 4, with the bullpen surrendering five runs in two innings in the 8-6 loss.

Sean Doolittle allowed the first two runs, one coming on Victor Martinez’s disputed homer. He hadn’t allowed a run since Sept. 10. Ryan Cook and Brett Anderson combined to allow the other three in the eighth.

It was kind of a surprise to see Anderson in there in the eighth. Jerry Blevins pitched 7 2/3 scoreless innings in September to finish the season with a 3.15 ERA, but he hasn’t made an appearance in the ALDS. Anderson, working in more of a long role, gave up seven runs in 12 2/3 innings in September.

The A’s will almost certainly need a bounce-back performance in Thursday’s Game 5. Bartolo Colon did pitch three shutouts in the season, but including his Game 1 loss to the TIgers, he’s pitched more than six innings just once in his last 11 starts.

A bust for two years, Juan Uribe plays the hero now

Atlanta Braves v Los Angeles Dodgers - Game Four
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There was a great case for the Dodgers releasing Juan Uribe last winter.

Fresh off a 24-homer campaign for the world champion Giants, Uribe was given a three-year, $21 million deal as a free agent after the 2010 season. It was a move widely panned at the time, and it worked out even worse than anyone could have imagined, with Uribe hitting .204-4-28 in 270 at-bats in 2011 and .191-2-17 in 162 at-bats in 2012.

Things got so bad last year that Uribe appeared in one game and had one plate appearance over the final five weeks of the season. He was healthy and on the active roster the whole time, but the Dodgers refused to use him. His received one start after July 23, that coming on Aug. 14. All signs pointed to him being released over the winter. The Dodgers had Hanley Ramirez starting at shortstop and Luis Cruz penciled in at third, with Jerry Hairston Jr., Skip Schumaker and Nick Punto also on guaranteed deals as utilitymen. Of course, Uribe was making more than any of them except Ramirez, but that still didn’t figure to save him.

But, oddly, the DFA or release never came, and while the Dodgers would have been more than happy to trade him, he was back in spring training with the team. Ramirez’s injury opened up an infield spot, allowing all of the veteran backups to make the squad. Uribe still didn’t play a lot — he made three starts in the first two weeks and totaled 32 at-bats in April — but he contributed in his limited action and overtook Cruz, eventually settling in as the Dodgers’ primary third baseman and still keeping that role after Michael Young was acquired. After a strong finish that saw him collect five of his 12 homers in September, Uribe started all four games in the ALDS against the Braves. He homered Sunday in the Game 3 victory and then, after failing to get a sac bunt down, delivered the big blast on Monday, a two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth that gave the Dodgers a 4-3 lead they’d make stand up.

It’s a pretty amazing turnaround and still not his first. When he originally signed with the Giants, he was forced to take a minor league deal after hitting just seven homers for the White Sox the year before. Consistency obviously isn’t a strength. His four career-high OPSs came in 2001, 2004, 2009 and this year, for four different teams (he started off with the Rockies). The only one of those teams that never gave up on him was the Giants, unless you want to count the Dodgers, too. After all, here he is. Next stop: the NLCS.