Tag: Nick Castellanos

Henry Urrutia

And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights


Orioles 5, Mets 4: Henry Urrutia with the walkoff bomb to cap a night in which the O’s rallied from 3-1 and 4-3 deficits. It was Urrutia’s first big league homer. A Mets fan caught it and gave it back to him, after which Urrutia said “That’s the best gift for me tonight. Now I can give that baseball to my son.” If this was a bad 1980s action movie the terrorist with whom Urrutia served in special forces back in the day would now kidnap the son, causing Urrutia to go on a rampage after him. In the final battle, Urrutia and the terrorist would exchange some one-liners, the terrorist would say something like “we’re not so different, you and I” and then Urrutia would kill the terrorist with the actual baseball from that homer, and the credits would roll as he hugged his son. Man, they don’t make good movies anymore.

Rangers 7, Mariners 2: Derek Holland came back from four months on the disabled list and allowed two runs while pitching into the seventh inning. Mitch Moreland, Mike Napoli and Elvis Andrus all went deep as the Rangers keep pace with the Angels and Astros in the west and the Angels and Orioles in the wild card race. Still not quite believing the Rangers are in the thick of things, but they are.

Brewers 8, Marlins 7: Remember when I said a week ago or so that the only time I notice Khris Davis is when he hits two homers in a game? It happened again. A two-run shot and a three-run shot for a man with the most specific and odd super power of all the comic book heroes. Not as useless as Aquaman or anything, but still very esoteric as far as these things go.

Yankees 4, Twins 3: Pa pa pa pa, pa pa pa pa, pa pa pa pa, pa pa pa pa Pa pa pa pa, pa pa pa pa, pa pa pa pa Papa, ooma mow mow Papa, ooma mow mow:


Athletics 5, Dodgers 2: Paragraph from the AP game story:

After the low-budget A’s won 5-4 in 10 innings Tuesday night, they beat baseball’s biggest spender again to win consecutive games following a seven-game skid on a recent road trip through Toronto and Baltimore.

Fun fact: there is basically no correlation between payroll and playoff contention this year, with just as many low budget teams in playoff position as high budget and just as many big spenders near the bottom of league standings as poor sisters. It’s always fun for baseball writers to talk about payrolls, but it’s fair to say that the A’s disappointing season is just as much a function of their bad decisions as their payroll this year. As such, it’d be just as insightful to say the “green-wearing team beat the blue-wearing team” in the above passage.

Padres 3, Braves 2: The Padres complete the three-game sweep of the Braves, for whom San Diego has become a personal hell in recent years. But at least the opposition beating up on my boys looked sharp as hell yesterday:


Phillies 7, Blue Jays 4: Aaron Altherr, which sounds like a name some underaged kid makes up on the spot when questioned by campus security about where he got that beer, homered, doubled and drove in three runs. The real story here, however, is that this was the first Phillies game in nearly a decade and a half in which Chase Utley was not a member of the team. Which is causing some feelings among Phillies fans, you should know:

Pirates 4, Diamondbacks 1: J.A. Happ pitched six shutout innings. Not gonna say there was a lot going on at the trade deadline, but I completely missed that Happ was traded to the Pirates. Hi, I’m Craig Calcaterra, baseball news man.

Red Sox 6, Indians 4: David Ortiz, Travis Shaw, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Ryan Hanigan all homered. It was Dave Dombrowski’s first game as team president following his, I dunno, inauguration, or whatever it was that happened yesterday. As Bradley hit that homer, I assume he was fondly remembering all of the times he flipped peaking outfielders for way better value in trades when he ran the Tigers. I almost feel bad for Dave Stewart, because the odds of him getting fleeced out of a great player when Dombrowski calls him this winter have been taken off the Vegas boards.

Royals 4, Reds 3: Ben Zobrist had four hits. And, for the first time in my baseball-watching life, some dude tried to score from third after the infield fly rule was called. Jason Bourgeois of the Reds, specifically. He was tagged out. What in the heck? Bourgeois was also picked off first base early in the game. Not the best day on the basepaths for him.

Cardinals 4, Giants 3: Yadier Molina hit his 100th career homer to put the Cards over the Giants. He also had an RBI single in the game. I suppose this will cause Cards fans to renew that whole “Molina is better than Posey” argument that always makes me smile. Posey has 99 homers in his career, for what it’s worth. In five fewer seasons.

Tigers 15, Cubs 8: Tigers starter Daniel Norris homered but he also suffered an oblique injury, so a decidedly mixed bag for him last night. A worse bag for Jon Lester, who got pounded by Tigers hitters to the tune of three homers and seven runs in two and two-thirds innings. Nick Castellanos homered twice and drove in five.

Astros 3, Rays 2: Carlos Correa homered and hit a walkoff single in the 13th inning. It’s so cool to watch a star being born. Two straight walkoffs in extra innings for the Astros over the Rays. An .895 OPS and a 20-homer pace for Correa, who will end the season playing in around half of his team’s games. This kid is going to be incredible.

Nationals 4, Rockies 1: As I’ve been watching Nationals fans melt down over the past few weeks, two of their favorite targets have been Stephen Strasburg and Jayson Werth. Here Strasburg pitched seven strong innings and Werth hit a tiebreaking triple in the eighth, so I guess they get a day off of abuse.

Angels 1, White Sox 0: A sixth inning homer from Carlos Perez was all that happened with the bats here. Jered Weaver pitched shutout ball into the seventh. That homer was all that Jeff Samardzija let happen. In light of that, how this game went nearly three hours is a mystery to me, but I guess not everyone is Mark Buehrle.

Tempers flared in the Tigers’ dugout between Jose Iglesias and James McCann

Jose Iglesias

Update (10:18 PM EST): Here’s video of the altercation, via MLB.com.

TV cameras caught a disagreement between Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias and catcher James McCann, among others. McCann, it seems, was upset that Iglesias appeared to give up on a Rusney Castillo single with two outs in the sixth inning. The Red Sox scored two runs on the next play, a double by Xander Bogaerts, which increased the Tigers’ deficit to 7-2.

Iglesias and McCann were seen yelling at each other, and Iglesias shoved McCann. The two were separated by teammates Nick Castellanos and Ian Kinsler. Anthony Gose had some words with Iglesias in the dugout later.

It’ll be interesting to see what comes of this after the game.

Tigers in Transition: The two weeks which changed everything

Photo by Craig Calcaterra
Photo by Craig Calcaterra

DETROIT — I came to Comerica Park with the idea that I’d write a story about how a team which has won consistently for several years maintains its momentum. I’d talk to some veterans and some coaches and some front office people and ask them the difference between winning when everyone is young and enthusiastic and winning when everyone is older and has been there and done that and now needs to find ways to stay fresh. Teams rise, win, then lose, then fall, and you hear an awful lot about the rise and the fall. You don’t tend to hear, however, all that much about that time in the middle when they’re simply keeping the momentum going. It seemed like something worth writing about.

And, at the time, heading into the July 4th weekend series against the Blue Jays, it was something the Tigers were more than eager to talk about. Particularly about how they have always been good at integrating new players into their core of established veterans and keeping their winning ways going. It’s a team that always shoots for first place and, if anything, makes some little tweaks over the course of the season. Consistency and continuity is the name of the game. Since 2011 they have won four straight AL Central titles, one AL pennant and have made three appearances in the ALCS.

“We know we have a good ballclub but we’re uniquely kind of relaxed. Happy. Good clubhouse, good atmosphere. You don’t let all of the outside noise creep in and let its way into what we have going on here,” starting pitcher Justin Verlander said.  “The main thing since we’ve been on this run is the mix of veterans and young guys. We don’t have anyone on this team that’s a prima donna or who won’t say ‘hi’ or won’t talk to the young guys,” Verlander told me. “Everyone is kind of easy to approach or will take someone under their wing or whatever. It’s pretty easy for guys to slide in and quickly figure it out.”

Bench coach Gene Lamont echoed that sentiment, saying that “Dave [Dombrowski] has always brought guys in,” and that there has never been a problem keeping a good winning clubhouse chemistry going. “It’s easy when everyone wants to win and we’ve always had players who want to win,” Lamont said.

Tigers Legend Al Kaline, a special assistant to Dave Dombrowski but present in the Tigers clubhouse far more than your typical special assistant usually is, agrees that the current Tigers are particularly good at seamlessly integrating new pieces to the machine and keeping things running.

“When I was playing, young players weren’t particularly welcomed by the older players. Today the veteran players take these kids under their wing, take ’em out to dinner, buy ’em clothes. Spend time with ’em. Back when I played they pretty much ignored you and figured you didn’t belong here if you were young. Until you won your stripes. It’s harder to play right now but it’s easier to be here.” He singled out Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez as two guys who have helped keep the clubhouse happy and cohesive and who makes sure everyone keeps their head screwed on straight.

But happy is not enough. Winning is the bottom line. Of that Kaline said  “We’re a good team. We’re gonna be competitive all year long. I think we can still contend in the Central.”


In late June and the first few days of July it was hard to disagree with Kaline’s sentiment. No, the Tigers were not in first place, but they hovered between four and six games back of the Royals. We’ve seen this sort of thing from them before. In 2014 they were three games back in late August. They were six games back in June of 2012 and still trailed by four and a half as late as July 7, but again won the division. They’ve rarely been a perfect team, but they have the best hitter in baseball and you can never go more than a couple of days without having to face one of their former Cy Young winners. The Tigers have always had another gear.

On the Friday night of my first weekend trip, however, Miguel Cabrera was on first base and then broke for second base on an attempted hit-and-run. He pulled up lame and was eventually diagnosed with a Grade 3 calf strain. He’d be placed on the disabled list the next day and is not expected back until late August at the earliest.

Cabrera’s prognosis was announced on the morning of July 4, before a daytime tilt with the Blue Jays. And, that morning, everyone seemed pretty relaxed. Despite losing Cabrera, the Tigers won the game the night before.

Manager Brad Ausmus was certainly not pleased to lose the man he called “the best hitter on the planet,” but he was pretty zen about it all, saying “We still have a very good offense, with names like Cespedes, and [J.D.] Martinez and [Victor] Martinez. And we’re going to need some contributions from other places as well. It doesn’t have to be one person that steps up. It can be a number of people that step up over the course of this timeframe.”

Justin Verlander has more time in with this club than Ausmus does and he, for one, was not panicking.

“You can either look at it negatively or positively. And I think this is a positive clubhouse,” Verlander said. It’s time for everyone to step up . . . If the veterans aren’t panicking the young guys aren’t.”

Catcher Alex Avila said “I don’t think anyone is going to feel sorry for us . . . I’m not giving up in here, and if there’s anyone else giving up in here you can pack your bags and leave. With him going down, it hurts us, but there’s still a lot of good players on this team. We’ve got to keep it there for when he gets back and make a run at this.”




Those sentiments were expected. But wouldn’t the Cabrera injury be an awful lot to overcome? Wouldn’t this team, with its porous bullpen and depleted starting rotation be well-served to use the Cabrera injury as a pretext for a restructuring? Maybe not a wholesale rebuild, but might it be worth punting 2015, trading the players who were likely to leave via free agency after the season, and going back at the Central with a healthy Cabrera in 2016?

At the time I asked several Tigers officials, all of whom wished to remain anonymous, about that possibility. One said “Dombrowski is a buyer. He’s never been a seller.” Two made mention of the fact that owner Mike Illitch is 85-years-old (he turned 86 yesterday) and that given his age and the amount of money he has poured into the team, the notion of tearing things down was just not a thing anyone discusses. When I asked them to tell me what they’d do as the GM right now, especially given that the Tiger’s farm system is mostly barren of desirable, projectable talent, I was given variations on NBA-style trades in which good players were acquired via the acquisition of bad contracts. One suggested getting Jonathan Papelbon. Another thought that the Reds may be willing to trade Aroldis Chapman if the Tigers took on Jay Bruce.

Since that morning the Tigers are 6-7. The division-leading Royals are 10-4. The second place Twins are 8-4. Even the Indians and White Sox have gained ground on the Tigers, who now find themselves nine and a half games out of first place. The mood among the fan base has changed as has the front office’s idea of how to proceed for the rest of the season.

“Blow it up. We gotta blow it up and start over,” said one Tigers fan I spoke to when I returned to Comerica this past weekend. “We’re old. We’re hurt. Verlander is lost. The pen sucks. We’re not going to sign David Price. We need to trade everyone and start all over.” This came after Friday night’s 7-3 win over the Orioles. As the weekend wore on, the sentiment of fans and team officials I spoke to, and even that of some players, turned even more sharply negative.

On Saturday night the Tigers got a strong performance from David Price. Chris Tillman, however combined to toss a one-hitter. The crowd was never into it and, by the time Price was gone and the pen had given up two runs, there were scattered boos throughout Comerica Park. One of those pro-buying team officials I had spoken to previously — who is not in baseball operations, it should be noted — was now all about a fire sale. “Price has one foot out the door. Soria too. Maybe you let them walk and get draft picks, but you could get real talent for them now. Cespedes too.”




Sunday was worse. Justin Verlander took the hill and didn’t survive the fourth inning, surrendering seven runs on eight hard hit balls. Getting shelled is something he’s been doing a lot lately — more on him tomorrow — and Tigers fans are all but resigned to it. Ian Kinsler was ejected by the home plate umpire for throwing his bat in frustration. Third baseman Nick Castellanos took a grounder to the face that, somehow, also injured his finger. It was an ugly, ugly game and those scattered boos from Saturday night turned into widespread boos on Sunday. “I don’t think booing is the way to help,” Verlander said after the game. “I think cheering would be more beneficial than booing, but we’re frustrated, too. We don’t want to be in this position.”

Late in the game I looked up from where I was sitting and saw this:


It was a car fire in a nearby parking lot. I tweeted the picture out and was met with dozens of replies from Tigers fans, all of whom rushed to joke about how it was really a picture of the dumpster fire that was the Tigers bullpen. Or the tire fire that was Verlander’s approach to hitters with his diminished velocity. Or a symbol of what the Tigers’ 2015 season has become.

The man in charge, Dave Dombrowski said nothing at all that weekend. I requested a chance to speak with him or someone else in baseball operations on Sunday, but was politely, and perhaps understandably, invited to interview him or an assistant by phone sometime later this week. Seems they’re quite busy at the moment, with a report out now that he is planning on punting on 2015 and trading multiple veterans, including David Price and Yoenis Cespedes. You have to figure Soria is on the block as well. Officially Dombrowski said that plans have not yet been finalized, but he didn’t deny the report either. In the past two weeks the conversation has turned away from integrating new pieces into the core of veterans and keeping the Tigers mini-dynasty alive and, instead, breaking things up and, if not rebuilding, certainly retrenching.

The question I had in my mind as I drove up to Detroit two weeks ago was “how do you keep a dynasty alive?” The answer, it seems, is “you don’t.”

And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

Maikel Franco

Phillies 11, Yankees 6: Maikel Franco had five RBI for the second straight night and homered once again. This either has Yankees fans hating his guts or, as is their habit and primary defense mechansim, telling people exactly how long it is until Franco is a free agent and photoshopping him into Yankees gear.

Orioles 6, Red Sox 4: Adam Jones is out, David Lough is in center field in his place. No worries, as Lough hit a three-run homer. John Farrell got ejected after arguing balls and strikes. His comment: “I said a thing probably one too many times.”

Jerry Remy:  I’ve never seen John so angry. And frankly, sports fans, he used a word that’s a no-no with umpires.
Millie: [turns TV off] John must’ve called the guy a ______.
Mrs. Farrell: Mmmmm. How romantic.

Tigers 7, Indians 3: Who says no one likes going to Cleveland? Detroit is 20-5 there since the beginning of the 2013. They were likely inspired by this:


David Price allowed one run while pitching into the seventh. Yoenis Cespedes and Nick Castellanos each drove in two. Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez and Andrew Romine each notched two hits.

White Sox 6, Twins 2: Jeff Samardzija allowed two and struck out seven over seven innings. Jose Abreu notched four of the White Sox’ 15 hits. This paragraph appears in the box score:

The White Sox had eight of their 15 hits with two outs for four RBI. They had two-plus hits with runners in scoring position for the first time in 19 games, going 5 for 16.

At some point we need to have a national conversation about how hitting with two outs and hitting with runners in scoring position is not a skill and is not necessarily even significant in any way despite the fact that it’s satisfying for certain people. This paragraph appears because someone asked Robin Ventura about it, as if it were something requiring his insight as opposed to just being a thing that happened. Most stuff is baseball are just things that happen.

Rays 4, Blue Jays 3: Chris Archer was solid again, allowing one earned run and striking out seven in eight innings. Three of his nine wins have come against the Blue Jays this season. He’s 6-1 against them lifetime. Two of the Rays four runs were made possible by a wild pitch and a passed ball from R.A. Dickey. Live by the knuckler, die by the knuckler.

Brewers 3, Mets 2: Michael Cuddyer misplayed a double off the wall allowing Carlos Gomez to come around to score the go-ahead run. That’s six straight losses for the Mets, who currently have Travis d’Arnaud David Wright and Daniel Murphy on the disabled list. That they’re only two and a half back of Washington is something of a miracle. Imagine if they, you know, had a lineup.

Nationals 3, Braves 1: Stephen Strasburg came back from the DL and pitched five shutout innings, striking out six. He was backed by four hits from Anthony Rendon. The Braves threatened in the ninth, but it amounted to nothing. Storms delayed the start of this one by two hours, giving Braves fans extra time to dwell on how bad their lineup looks without Freddie Freeman in it.

Pirates 7, Reds 6: Down 4-0, the Pirates hung seven runs in the fourth inning and then hung on themselves as the Reds came close but not close enough. A two-run homer for Andrew McCutchen and a three-run shot for Francisco Cervelli. After McCutchen hit his homer he was almost the victim of a beaning when a breaking ball thrown his direction failed to break. So he did pushups.

Cardinals 4, Marlins 3: Giancarlo Stanton hit a homer approximately 8,000 feet, but he’s just one man. Carlos Martinez started poorly and got hit on the shoulder when squaring to bunt, but he settled down and struck out nine in seven innings.

Athletics 8, Rangers 6: Josh Phegley homered and had a two-run double. Oakland dug themselves too deep a hole in April and May but they’re 12-8 in June.

Cubs 1, Dodgers 0: Four in a row for the Cubs as they walk off on a Chris Denorfia sac fly. Strong pitching performances from Zack Greinke (6 IP, 3 H, 0 ER) and Jason Hammel (7.2 IP, 2 H, 0 ER) both went unrewarded with a decision. Los Angeles has dropped six of eight.

Rockies 10, Diamondbacks 5: Nolan Arenado hit two homers. He now has 19 on the year. Wilin Rosario, D.J. LeMahieu and Brandon Barnes all homered as well. The Dbacks hit three of their own to make it eight overall in the game. Which was in Colorado, by the way. In case you did not know that.

Astros 13, Angels 3: Luis Valbuena hit two homers. Carlos Correa hit a three-run homer to give the Astros a 4-0 lead early and they never looked back. Correa is at .308/.338/.569 with four bombs in 15 games. He had three hits in all. The Astros lead baseball with 107 homers. Which is a lot of homers.

Mariners 7, Royals 0: Rookie Mike Montgomery tossed a four-hit shutout with 10 strikeouts. He was a first round pick of the Royals back in 2008 and they traded him away. It was in the famous James Shields/Wade Davis trade, however, so I figure Kansas City is cool with that even if this one smarted a bit.

Padres 3, Giants 2: Madison Bumgarner was cruising until the eighth — by the time that inning had started he had been shutting out San Diego and had struck out 13 on his way to 14Ks in all — but then he gave up two runs which eventually forced extra innings. Alexi Amarista singled in the go-ahead and, ultimately, the winning run in the 11th.