Tag: Ian Kinsler

Albert Pujols

And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights


Angels 11, Red Sox 1; Angels 7, Red Sox 3: The Angels pick up their fourth and fifth wins in a row with lots of bombs helping the effort. Kole Calhoun, Albert Pujols and David Freese went long in game 1. In game 2 Pujols struck two more times, one of which pushed him past Mike Schmidt for 15th place all-time with his 549th career homer. He also took over the league lead from teammate Mike Trout who hit a measly one homer in the twin bill. Really, Trout, what’s wrong with you man? The Red Sox scored four runs in the four-game series, all coming in yesterday’s two games.

Nationals 7, Mets 2: The Nats didn’t have much trouble with Matt Harvey, who gave up five runs — four earned — on five hits in seven innings. The Mets left ten men on base and were 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position, which continued the pattern from Sunday’s 18-inning win. I suppose this will become a new hot button issue in the Mets’ press because the press LOVES to talk about teams who have trouble with runners in scoring position. The larger issue, however, is that hitters who aren’t very good don’t hit well with runners in OR out of scoring position.

Rockies 8, Rangers 7: A walkoff single for Rockies’ first baseman Ben Paulsen. In supplying a walkoff RBI single, a member of the Rockies who is otherwise anonymous to all but Colorado fans has a name. His name is Ben Paulsen. His name is Ben Paulsen. HIS NAME IS BEN PAULSEN. HIS NAME IS BEN PAULSEN.

Pirates 10, Royals 7: Travis Ishikawa has stunk on ice since the Pirates picked him up on waivers, but here he hit two doubles and a homer and drove in four runs. After the game he chalked it up to luck, saying that sometimes the pitcher makes a perfect pitch that still gets hit, sometimes the batter knocks the heck out of the ball but it still gets caught. He concluded by saying “tonight was just my night when the balls began to fall.” In other news, “When the Balls Began to Fall” sounds like, say, a second album from some moderately obscure alt-country guy who is a darling in the press but who can’t really connect with a larger audience. Hipsters like to say how much they like him even though “generally, [they] don’t care for country music. Except for Johnny Cash, of course.”

Phillies 5, Rays 3: David Buchanan won the game, allowing three runs on six hits in six and a third and then he was promptly sent down to Lehigh Valley because that’s the life of a fifth starter sometimes. Cesar Hernandez doubled, tripled and drove in two and Maikel Franco had a couple of hits and an RBI for the Phillies who have won four straight.

Tigers 5, Mariners 4: Ian Kinsler homered twice, the second of which was a go-ahead two-run shot in the eighth inning. The Tigers pulled back to .500. Though it may not matter. Come back to HBT later today as I’ll have the first of a three-part series about my recent visits to Detroit and a look at the Tigers as a team in transition.

Braves 7, Dodgers 5: Nick Markakis hit his first of the season. On July 20 which, well, OK. The Braves notched four runs and five hits in four innings off of their old friend Brandon Beachy, who was making his second post-Tommy John surgery start for L.A. Eury Perez threw out Adrian Gonzalez at the plate on a play that still counts as a nice one, even if Adrain Gonzalez is slower than your grandma:


Reds 5, Cubs 4: Three homers were hit by Reds batters — Todd Frazier, Jay Bruce and Marlon Byrd — with Frazier’s being his first that was not a part of a home run derby since last month. Not that it was all homers. Because this happened. Which, mercy:


Diamondbacks 3, Marlins 1: The Diamondbacks  snapped a six-game losing streak and gave the Marlins their fourth straight loss. So a lot of good stuff going on here. Shortstop Nick Ahmed had ten assists, some of them slicker than grease, and hit a triple as well. David Peralta drove in two.

Padres 4, Giants 2: Matt Kemp hit a two-run homer. Kemp 15-for-39 with 4 HR in his last 10 games. Guess he’s coming back to life, though it’s likely too little, too late.

Looking ahead to the second half: The Tigers are in deep, deep trouble

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The Tigers have made the playoffs in each of the last four years. They came into 2015 as a somewhat diminished team, but many nonetheless expected them to once again win the AL Central or, at the very least, remain relevant in that conversation.

As of now, however, they are a full nine games behind the Kansas City Royals in the division. They are only three and a half back in the Wild Card race, but there are three teams ahead of them, another team tied with them and another four teams within two games of them on the backside. And the worst part about it, Detroit looks to be in worse shape than any of them heading into the second half.

The biggest reason for that is obvious: Miguel Cabrera, perhaps the best hitter in the game, is on the shelf with a Grade 3 strain of his calf muscle. That will keep him out of action until at least mid-August, and likely a bit later than that. Losing a guy hitting .350/.456/.578 for weeks on end is going to hurt anyone, but there is perhaps no other team who relies on one guy as much as the Tigers rely on Cabrera.

The rotation is also kind of a mess, as only All-Star David Price has posted a better-than-league average ERA on the year. The back end of the rotation has been horrific lately, with Alfredo Simon posting a 11.12 ERA in his last five starts, Shane Greene has posted a 12.57 over that time and Justin Verlander, finally back from the DL, has been getting beaten around on the regular.

Because there may be children reading this we will not speak of the bullpen, as they need not be exposed to such obscenity.

So what can the Tigers do? And, more importantly, what will they do?

If you were looking at this objectively, you’d probably think that it’s time to rebuild or, at the very least, re-jigger with the hope of competing anew next year or the year after. How to do that? Think hard about shopping David Price, Yoenis Cespedes, Joakim Soria, Alex Avila, and Alfredo Simon, all of whom are in their walk years. Price may be nice to keep around but he’s going to be super expensive on the market this winter. The rest could all bring in some much needed young talent to place around Cabrera, Jose Iglesias, J.D. Martinez, Ian Kinsler young catcher James McCann and an aging yet still effective Victor Martinez. It’s not ideal — questionable trades and free agent decisions have decimated a once-dominant rotation — but getting something for these guys rather than nothing seems to make a heck of a lot of sense given where the Tigers are right now.

Except that scenario is highly unlikely given what we’ve seen from the Tigers front office in the past and given what they’ve been saying publicly. Owner Mike Illitch is 85-years-old and has plowed money into this team. Nothing about his approach or what people close to the Tigers say about his expectations suggests that he’s interested in a rebuild. GM Dave Dombrowski is likewise an historical buyer, not a seller, and nothing he or people close to him have said anything to suggest he’s approaching this trade deadline any differently.

But what is available for him to buy? And what does he, with his nearly barren farm system, have to sell? Not much, frankly, so if he is buying, it would likely involve taking on some bad contracts and accepting second-tier trade fodder. That doesn’t seem like a difference-making proposition in a longshot battle for the division title and a chaotic Wild Card race.

What it does seem like, however, is a futile gesture. The Tigers are old, they’re hurt and they’re expensive. If nothing changes in the second half, they’ll also be on the outside looking in come playoff time for the first time in years. And, perhaps, they’ll be facing a future like that of the Cincinnati Reds or — perish the thought — the Philadelphia Phillies. Teams which didn’t rebuild aggressively when it became clear they were about to fall short. And which now face a long time in the wilderness.

And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

Zack Greinke

Dodgers 6, Phillies 0: The Phillies were shut out for the second straight night, this time by Zack Greinke over eight one-hit innings. He only threw 94 pitches and probably could’ve gone the distance, but Don Mattingly likely pitied the Phillies and allowed them to take a shot at a reliever. They couldn’t do anything against Joel Peralta either, so I guess it didn’t matter. Greinke didn’t walk anyone. And he reduced his ERA to a crazy 1.39.

Yankees 6, Athletics 2: Masahiro Tanaka allowed only one earned run, two total, in seven and two-thirds innings, Jacoby Ellsbury drove in two and newly-named All-Star Brett Gardner went 3-for-5. You should really read the game story, though, which focuses on Cole Figueroa’s debut for the Yankees. The key takeaway: after his Wednesday night game for Scranton, on the road in Syracuse, he was called up and took a car service from Syracuse down to a hotel in Manhattan, getting there at 3AM. That may sound fancy, but I have had the privilege of using a car service before and I can tell you that there is nothing more awkward in the world than either (a) talking to the car service guy; or (b) NOT talking to the car service guy. It’s like that awkward small-talk-with-the-hair-stylist thing, but way longer — it’s almost four hours between Syracuse and Manhattan — with an added sheen of class stuff on top because, really, who gets driven around like that? So props to Figueroa for his 2015 debut, his sleep deprivation AND surviving a four hour ride with a total stranger.

White Sox 2, Blue Jays 0: Jeff Samardzija with a four-hit shutout. If the White Sox are considering trading him it was a nice showcase, especially given that Toronto has the best offense in the game. The Sox have won seven of nine.

Royals 8, Rays 3: Yordano Ventura came back from the DL and pitched five innings. Not fantastic innings, but healthy ones, and that’s more important right now. The Royals scored three runs in the first inning, all coming on the first five pitches. The sweep the Rays. They’re gonna miss Alex Gordon, but they’re gonna be fine.

Cardinals 4, Pirates 1: Carlos Martinez shuts out the Pirates over seven and a third innings, striking out eight. The Cards had a 4.5 game lead over Pittsburgh coming into this series and extend it to 5.5. There’s a lot of baseball to be played, but if the Cards can bury the Pirates in this series, on the road, heading into the break, it would go a long way toward ending the NL Central race before it even becomes a race.

Indians 3, Astros 1: Cody Anderson pitched three-hit ball into the seventh inning in his fourth big league start. He has a 0.89 ERA since being called up from Columbus. People always seem to do better after leaving Columbus.

Marlins 2, Reds 0: Jose Fernandez wasn’t fantastic in his first start back from Tommy John surgery. He was amazing in his second, however, striking out nine batters over seven scoreless innings. He didn’t walk anyone and threw 72 out of 94 pitches for strikes. And he sure loves Miami: he’s undefeated through the first 22 home starts of his career.

Tigers 4, Twins 2: There sure were a lot of good pitching performances last night. Another: David Price’s, who allowed two unearned runs in eight innings. Ian Kinsler was 2-for-4 and drove in three. The Tigers are 8-2 against the Twins this year. They’re also amazingly dominant against the Indians. Against everyone else they rather suck. Ain’t no one loves the unbalanced schedule more than Detroit.

Rockies 5, Braves 3: Troy Tulowitzki extended his hitting streak to 21 games and Carlos Gonzalez hit three doubles. Nolan Arenado had three hits too. How a team can have a core like those three and do nothing is beyond me. It was a soggy night, with a two-hour rain delay just after the dang game started, which ended up burning both starters, seemingly needlessly. I guess they don’t have the Weather Channel in Denver.

Mariners 7, Angels 2: Felix Hernandez threw seven shutout innings and won his 11th game of the year. That ties him with Dallas Keuchel for most wins in the American League while Gerrit Cole has 12. He’s on perfect rest to start the All-Star Game on Tuesday. If I’m Ned Yost, that’s the call I make.

Ian Kinsler gets a bit snippy with the fans

Ian Kinsler

Last month Ian Kinsler made a point of telling people that he planned on being the unofficial spokesman for the Tigers:

Kinsler believes it’s important to have a veteran everyday player who is willing to speak after every Tigers game — win or lose — because that is the best way for players to convey how the team is feeling to fans watching interviews on television or reading stories on the Internet or in the newspaper . . . .”The most important thing is the fans,” Kinsler said of his new role. “The second most important thing is my teammates, that they don’t have to worry about it. They don’t have to have people hovering over their shoulders if they’re not comfortable with talking.”

He spoke to the fans yesterday and seemed to say “if you don’t like us, well, find a different team to root for.” From the Detroit Free Press:

When told that fans can’t figure out the team’s uneven performance, he said: “They’re entitled to their opinion. If they want to root for someone else they think is more consistent, that is fine. You know we need as many as we can get.”

Not exactly the sort of thing one might expect from a self-proclaimed clubhouse spokesman. But definitely conveys the mood of a team that is struggling lately.

Prince Fielder and Ryan Howard are back

Prince Fielder

Rangers DH Prince Fielder hit two home runs in Friday night’s win against the Yankees and he homered again in a blowout win on Saturday. The slugger, who missed most of the 2014 season after undergoing neck surgery, now has eight home runs on the year with 30 RBI and a .351/.407/.544 triple-slash line.

Meanwhile, Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard homered again in a rout of the Nationals on Saturday, giving him three in his last four games and 10 on the season along with 23 RBI and a .270/.316/.554 triple-slash line. Howard suffered a torn Achilles at the end of the 2011 NLDS and tore his meniscus in 2013. He hasn’t shown power at this level since 2009, when he hit 45 home runs.

Fielder and Howard represent two of baseball’s worst contracts, so their respective teams are happy they’re seeing at least some positive return on their investments. Fielder was signed as a free agent to a nine-year, $214 million deal by the Tigers in January 2012. He joined the Rangers along with $30 million in a swap for Ian Kinsler. $144 million over six years remains, including his 2015 salary. Howard signed a five-year, $125 million contract extension with the Phillies in April 2010, two years before he was eligible for free agency. $60 million over two years ($25 million annually in ’15 and ’16 plus a $10 million buyout for ’17) remains on Howard’s deal.