The Tigers bullpen blows it again: Orioles take a 2-0 lead in the ALDS

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Albert Einstein said that the definition of insanity was doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Brad Ausmus didn’t get the memo.

For the second straight game he went to Joba Chamberlain and Joakim Soria in the eighth inning. For the second straight game they blew up. The Orioles took advantage of the the Tigers relievers to come from behind to win the game 7-6. Baltimore now possesses a 2-0 lead in the best of five ALDS.

In many ways this was worse than last night’s game, because Ausmus had every reason to avoid Chamberlain and Soria but didn’t. For starters, he saw them pitch the night before and should’ve been worried about what he’d get from them. More importantly, however, Ausmus had just seen Anibal Sanchez pitch the sixth and seventh innings in relief of Justin Verlander. He was fantastic, tossing only 30 pitches, striking out two and allowing no hits or runs. Unless there was something physically wrong with Sanchez, there was no reason to think he couldn’t go at least one more inning, possibly two. He’s a starting pitcher for crying out loud.

But no, Ausmus went with Chamberlain to start the eighth in a 6-3 game. Chamberlain faced four hitters, retiring only one of them, allowing one to score to make it 6-4. Then Ausmus went to Soria, who walked the first man he faced and then allowed pinch-hitter Delmon Young to hit a bases-clearing double on the first pitch he saw. And a good Yom Kippur to you, Mr. Young.

So I guess that didn’t work. Oh well, too bad no one thought that would be a disaster before it unfolded.

Thing is: it probably should’ve been tied 7-7 after all of that, as the Tigers ran themselves out of a potential rally in the top of the eighth when Miguel Cabrera attempted to score all the way from first base on a Victor Martinez double. His third base coach, Dave Clark, didn’t put up the stop sign, causing Cabrera to make the first out of the inning at home plate. The next two batters flied out, either of which would’ve scored Cabrera on a sacrifice.

But I suppose that’s a mere detail here. The real problem was the Tigers bullpen. Again. It’s been a problem all year and even after 164 games Brad Ausmus has not, apparently, figured that out. He has pushed the buttons exactly the way the book says you should, even though his particular book spontaneously combusted some time in May. And even when he had a horse in Anibal Sanchez practically begging him to sit on his hands and let this game play out.

Yasmani Grandal signs a four-year, $73 million deal with the White Sox

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The first truly big free agent signing of the offseason has gone down: the Chicago White Sox just announced that they have signed catcher Yasmani Grandal to a four-year, $73 million deal.

Grandal, 31, was the best catcher available in free agency. He is coming off a fine year with the Milwaukee Brewers, with whom he had to settle for a one-year pact in 2019. He hit .246/.380/.468 with 28 homers and 77 driven in. It was his fourth straight season with 20+ homers. While his catching has been criticized due to some high-profile mistakes in the postseason, the two-time All-Star once again proved himself to be one of the best pitch-framers in the game if not the best. Between the bat and the glove he has a claim to being one of the best all-around catchers in baseball.

The signing leaves open the question of what happens to James McCann, who was himself an All-Star this year. It’s not that hard a question, of course, as Grandal is a far superior catcher to McCann in every respect. The Sox could make McCann a backup. Alternatively, they could try to trade him to fill other holes on the roster.

The White Sox finished 72-89 in 2019 but are showing signs of coming out of rebuilding mode and into contention mode. This signing pushes them a big step into that direction.