Autopsy Report: Detroit Tigers

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I prefer to think of this as an autopsy and not a eulogy, because an autopsy deals specifically with the cause of death. A eulogy, in contrast, takes in the deceased’s whole life and tries to draw some lessons from it. I don’t think anyone can draw any intelligent conclusions about the Tigers’ entire 2012 season based on these past four games, no matter how important they were. Four games is pure randomness and the Tigers performance in them is no more relevant to their legacy than a random fall off a cliff during a vacation to the Grand Canyon is to the life of a Nobel Prize winner.

So, what happened to the Tigers?  In a nutshell: everything:

  • The Giants were the better team: Before anyone casts this World Series as a Detroit failure, they had better first note that it was a Giants triumph. While they flew under the radar for so much of the year, the Giants won six more games than the Tigers in a tougher division. The Giants were and remained a well-balanced team throughout 2012, and history shows us that well-balanced teams do awfully well in the postseason where runs are harder to come by and defense matters more. They didn’t have a pitcher as good as Justin Verlander or a hitter as good as Miguel Cabrera, but there were few if any holes on the roster, and when a couple of potential weak links — like Barry Zito — came up big in the playoffs, it transformed a good team into a team that was great at the right time.  But, the Giants aside …
  • No one hit. Omar Infante and Delmon Young each got five hits, and each reached base via a walk or a HBT (Infante’s HBP, sadly, broke his hand). The rest of the lineup was deadsville. Prince Fielder was 1 for 14 with four strikeouts. Jhonny Peralta was 1 for 15. Miguel Cabrera hit a homer last night, but was 3 for 13 overall. Austin Jackson had three hits in four games. Quintin Berry had none. It was a top-heavy, all-or-nothing offense in 2012 for Detroit, and they picked a bad week for the nothing.
  • The layoff:  While the Tigers worked out every day in between the end of the ALCS and the beginning of the World Series, several Tigers said that not playing any real games during that time was disruptive to their rhythm and their mojo. It’s impossible to measure such things, but it’s not a stretch to say that layoffs lead to cold bats.
  • Verlander was mortal: It was only one game, but the only time the Tigers were blown away in this series was in Game 1 when Justin Verlander came out with poor command of has his fastball and Pablo Sandoval feasted on him for a couple of home runs. It’s harder to measure mood and momentum than in it is to measure rust, but it was probably somewhat dispiriting for the Tigers when their ace was popped in the nose right out of the gate.
  • The cookie just crumbled: luck should not have a major place in a serious empirical analysis, but a four-game series sort of defies serious, empirical analysis. The Giants got the bounces. Literally, at times: off the third base bag in Game 1 to set up a big inning, off Doug Fister’s head in Game 2 to give Gregor Blanco a single. Multiple hard-hit balls by the Tigers throughout the series that just always seemed to be right at a Giants defender.

A whole year can disappear pretty quickly in the postseason. The Reds and Cardinals were good teams that saw their good seasons end only one game away from advancing. The Braves and Rangers were good teams that had good seasons erased after just one game total. The Tigers, like the Yankees before them, saw a good season erased in four short games.  That’s how playoff baseball goes.

So, if you’re wondering what should be listed as the cause of death on the autopsy report, how about this: October.

And That Happened: Wednesday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Braves 5, Marlins 2: Braves win, that’s great, but obviously the takeaway from this game was Jose Urena‘s completely classless and idiotic intentional drilling of Ronald Acuña on the game’s first pitch. Bill said just about everything that needs to be said about it last night, but please indulge me as a I express my feelings on the matter.

Baseball needs to make a major example of Urena and the Marlins for this. Not just for basic, perfectly sufficient “it is wrong to throw a ball nearly 100 m.p.h. at someone with the intention of hitting them” reasons. Also for “it is an awful look for the game in general when a pitcher for a losing team that has made a mockery of the notion of entertaining and competitive baseball via its complete disinterest in putting a real roster together because it places more value on debt service and cash flow than it does wining to intentionally injure one of the game’s most exciting young talents and, potentially, alter the course of a pennant race, simply because that exciting young talent is playing very good baseball lately.”

And it’s not just Urena and the Marlins. It’s the entire establishment of baseball which has decided, via its moronic devotion to a mindless chivalric code developed by the same jackasses who, once upon a time, decided that racially segregating the game was right and proper, that sure, there are some times when you must do violence for reasons they can’t even begin to explain because, with all due respect to the talents of baseball players, managers and executives, a great lot of them are frankly stupid and a great many more of them are moral and ethical simpletons. Even the ones we have all decided are lovable for some stupid reason.

Apologies for the run-on sentences and apologies if my feelings on this matter are less than clear.

Cubs 8, Brewers 4: Anthony Rizzo homered, drove in three runs and stole two bases, Jason Heyward had three hits and two RBI and David Bote had two hits, scored twice and flashed nice leather at third as the Cubs bounced back from their ugly shutout loss on Tuesday and extended their division lead back to three games over Milwaukee. Sorry for even more run-on sentences. I’m still rather worked up over the Urena-Acuã thing. I have my annual physical at 8:30 this morning. My doctor is probably gonna hospitalize me when he takes my blood pressure.

Cardinals 4, Nationals 2: Austin Gomber shut Washington out for six innings and Daniel Poncedeleon did it for two more innings before running out of gas while trying to get a three-inning save. Didn’t matter, though, as Bud Norris came in and closed it out before things got out of hand, giving the Cardinals their eighth straight win. Marcell Ozuna homered, Harrison Bader singled in one run and scored another on a wild pitch and Yadier Molina knocked in one as well. The Cardinals are tied in the loss column with the Brewers now for the second Wild Card. Meanwhile, the Nats have been trailing by a lot of games for many weeks but this is the week we’ll look back on and say “Yep, that’s when they broke. That’s when they gave up on the 2018 season.

Mariners 2, Athletics 0: This game was scoreless after nine very, very quick innings thanks to efficient and effective work from Mike Leake (8 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6K) and Brett Anderson (7.2 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2K). You just don’t see a ton of games like that anymore, but I can certainly say it brightened my afternoon to watch such good work. On to extras it went where it remained scoreless for two more innings. In the top of the 12th, Yusmeiro Petit walked Mike Zunino immediately after which Dee Gordon deposited a two-run homer over the right field fence which held up to give Seattle a much-needed win and to avoid the sweep by the A’s. Oakland falls back to two games back of the Astros. The Mariners climb back to two and a half behind Oakland.

Astros 12, Rockies 1: Houston stops the five games of bleeding thanks to Gerrit Cole‘s one run, 12-strikeout performance and thanks to two homers from Evan Gattis, two homers from Tyler White and a dinger from Yuli Gurriel too. The 12 runs were more than Houston had scored in its last four games combined.

Mets 16, Orioles 5Kevin Plawecki hit a grand slam, Brandon Nimmo went 5-for-5 with three RBI and Todd Frazier singled, doubled homered and drove in four. The Mets had a nine-run sixth inning. I have tickets to see the Indians-Orioles game in Cleveland tomorrow. I’m struggling to think why I should be compelled to play full price if I’m only seeing one major league team.

Phillies 7, Red Sox 4: Welcome to the Phillies, Wilson Ramos! The recently-acquired and just-activated catcher went 3-for-4 with two doubles and a triple, drove in three runs and nailed a would-be base-stealer at second as Philly beats the mighty Red Sox. It was only Ramos’ second triple ever and it was, to be completely honest, a fluke thanks to an odd bounce off the wall. Even then, Jackie Bradley Jr. has a cannon for an arm, so once he got to the ball it was still fairly close at third. Fun play all around:

The Phillies used eight pitchers in this one. They should’ve let Ramos be one of them too. He probably would’ve struck out the side.

White Sox 6, Tigers 5: Matt Davidson and Jose Abreu each hit two-run homers in the middle of the game, turing a 3-2 deficit into a 6-3 lead and later held on as the Tigers plated a couple more. Carlos Rodon worked eight innings here, and those initial three runs would be all he’d allow.

Twins 6, Pirates 4: The Twins’ bullpen tossed 5.1 shutout innings and Logan Forsythe knocked in three runs. Chris Archer allowed four runs in five innings and the Pirates stranded a ton of runners and in dropping their third straight game.

Rays 6, Yankees 1Mallex Smith hit a two-run homer and Kevin Kiermaier had two hits, scored a run and drove in one. The Rays have taken seven of nine from the Yankees.

Indians 4, Reds 3:The Reds jumped out to a 3-0 lead in this one but after plating two to pull close, Melky Cabrera hit a two-run homer in the sixth to put Cleveland up for good. The Indians sweep the Reds in Cincinnati, outscoring them 22-7 in the three-game set and, in the process, taking the Ohio Series 4-2. The Reds, I heard, bet the Indians a year’s supply of Cincinnati chili on the outcome of the Series but the Indians awkwardly declined collecting their winnings. Weird that.

Blue Jays 6, Royals 5: Curtis Granderson hit a grand slam in the Jays’ five-run fourth and Kevin Pillar knocked in the other two Toronto runs via a couple of RBI singles. Granderson has two grand slams this year. Both came against the Royals. He has ten for his career. All ten have come against the Ro– haha, just kidding. That would be silly. But I bet if I wrote it deadpan at least some of you would believe or, at the very least, go check. The power I possess is so great that sometimes even I reel at its possibilities.

Angels 3, Padres 2: Rene Rivera hit a solo homer to break a 2-2 tie in the top of the ninth, giving the Halos the win. He, like Wilson Ramos, was just activated before this game after a stint on the disabled list. Big day for fresh catchers.

Dodgers 4, Giants 3: It looked like another bullpen disaster in the making for the Dodgers as they blew a 3-0 lead in the eighth thanks to an Andrew McCutchen three-run homer, but Dodgers relievers then somehow pulled four scoreless innings out of their butts and Brian Dozier‘s sac fly in the bottom of the 12th gave them a much needed walkoff win. Another bright spot: Hyun-Jin Ryu throwing six scoreless innings in his first start in more than three months.