Anibal Sanchez was lights out, but the Detroit Tigers' bullpen struggled mightily, walking seven in a 2-1 loss to the Miami Marlins in extra innings. The Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton drove in the game winning run with a base loaded single in the bottom of the tenth.
Sanchez reached a pair of milestones while shutting out the Marlins on two hits over six innings. He locked up the AL ERA title, finishing his season at 2.57. Sanchez also struck out eight, giving him 202 on the season, tying his career high.
Those strikeouts also helped break a record and tie another. The Tigers had 11 strikeouts on the night, giving them 1415 on the season, to set a new MLB record. Sanchez crossing the 200 strikeout mark also gave the Tigers' three pitchers with 200, only the third team in baseball history to accomplish the feat.
Unfortunately for Sanchez, he would earn a no-decision. Joaquin Benoit gave up a run in the bottom of the ninth, blowing his second save in his last four opportunities. Losing pitcher Evan Reed (0-1) surrendered a run in the tenth, retiring just one of the five batters he faced.
The Marlins were held to five hits, but seven walks issued by Tigers' relievers played a big part in their late game comeback. Along with Stanton's heroics, Christian Yelich added a pair of hits. The Tigers had nine hits, but their only run of the game came on Alex Avila's a fifth inning sacrifice fly. Miguel Cabrera, Jhonny Peralta and Omar Infante each had two hits.
Before anyone gets upset, this game meant less than nothing. All you want to see out of the final series in Miami is the Tigers remaining healthy. A few egos may have gotten bruised over the past couple of games, but those should heal quickly.
Even though the offense has been scuffling of late, Tigers have actually played pretty darn well over the past couple of weeks. They're 11-6 over their past 17 games. And not one of them meant much of anything.
The opening inning gives us the first TTBDNS portion of the recap.
Austin Jackson led off against Marlins' starter Nathan Eovaldi, starting the game with a single. Miguel Cabrera lined a single to right with one out. Prince Fielder hit the ball on the nose ... but on a line to third baseman Ed Lucas. All Fielder could do was stand at the plate with a look of utter resignation on his face (Pretty much the same look I had all last night trying to watch Friday's snooze-fest).
Resigned to their fate of stranding a pair of base runners, Jhonny Peralta ended the first with a chopper to third.
Anibal Sanchez came out firing, striking out two in a 1-2-3 bottom half of the first. When Sanchez whiffed Chris Coghlan to start the inning, the Tigers broke the MLB record for strikeouts by a team in a season. It was the 1405th strikeout by a Tigers' pitcher, topping the former record holders, 2003 Cubs.
This game being played in a National League park, it was extremely necessary for the Tigers to lay down a bunt in the second inning. Why? Because National League.
One out, Omar Infante singled. He was moved to second when .306 hitting Jose Iglesias laid down a bunt, moving Infante into scoring position for ... the .000 hitting Sanchez. Though no one could say for sure if Iglesias was trying to bunt for a hit, the official scorer ruled it a sacrifice.
The inning ended as you would have expected, Sanchez striking out.
Sanchez may not be much of a hitter, but he's one Hell of a pitcher. He had set down nine straight Marlins through three innings, striking out five and allowing just one ball out of the infield. Sanchez's third inning was a thing of beauty, needing just seven pitches to set the side down in order.
The Tigers got on the scoreboard first, helped by the bat of one Jhonny Peralta. Eovaldi issued a lead off walk to Fielder. Peralta followed by lining a single to left center, Fielder rumbling to third. Alex Avila would drive in the game's first run, his sacrifice fly to left giving Tigers a 1-0 lead.
Sanchez allowed both his first base runner and base hit in the fourth, Chris Coghlan bouncing a single through the right side. Knowing the Tigers have more success doing pretty much anything else on a baseball field other than throwing out base runners, Coghlan took off for second. He got such a huge jump, Avila didn't even bother coming out of his crouch.
One down, Yelich hit a bouncer up the middle, beating Iglesias' throw for an infield single. But for some bizarre reason, Coghlan dived back to the second base bag instead of advancing to third (in the game thread, texastigerfan fittingly termed the play SASLAN, Safe at Second Like a Nincompoop). In the end, SASLAN didn't make any difference. Giancarlo Stanton bounced into a beautifully turned 4-6-3 double play, ending the threat.
Top of five, Sanchez won his head-to-head battle with Eovaldi, working a lead off walk. Fortunately, Sanchez wasn't forced to run the bases, eliminated on Jackson's double play ball. Torii hunter and Cabrera would extend the inning on back-to-back singles.
At that point, Eovaldi had his life flash before his eyes ... and likely crapped his pants.
Fielder absolutely smoked a line drive back up the middle, an unprepared Eovaldi catching it by accident. All a frustrated Fielder could do was flip his bat and smile as Eovaldi didn't quite realize what just went down.
Bottom half of the fifth, Sanchez was back in beast mode. He struck out the side, giving him eight on the night. His second victim of the inning, Logan Morrison, was Sanchez's 200th strikeout of 2013. That strikeout also allowed the Tigers to become just the third team in MLB history with three 200 strikeout pitchers in one season.
Sanchez having recorded his 200th K and locking up the AL ERA title at 2.57, he received the "Handshake of Doom" from Jim Leyland after five full innings. As Sanchez was receiving congratulations in the dugout, the bullpen parade began in earnest.
Bottom of six, Darin Downs took the mound. He walked the lead off man, former Tigers' farmhand Rob Brantly, on four pitches. After downs retired pinch-hitter Justin Ruggiano and Coghlan, Leyland made the call for Al Alburquerque out of the bullpen.
The height of NL strategy (or so we're told), the double switch was in order. Along with Alburquerque, Andy Dirks entered the game in left/ Peralta moved to short, taking over for Iglesias. Alburquerque did his job, striking out Donovan Solano to strand Brantley at second.
The Tigers and Marlins traded doing little of anything at the plate in the seventh. Alburquerque remained in the game, pitching a scoreless the bottom of the seventh. The game rolled into the eighth, the Tigers' still holding their 1-0 lead.
Top of the eighth and facing lefty Mike Dunn, the Tigers' two out scoring threat came up short. Peralta reached base for the second time, singling to left. Avila walked, giving Infante an RBI opportunity. No dice. Infante sent a can of corn to right, ending the inning.
Drew Smyly got the ball for the bottom of the eighth. Mass position changes took place, including Don Kelly taking over in right for Hunter, Cabrera pulled from third base and replaced by Ramon Santiago at third and Matt Tuiasosopo playing first in place of Fielder.
Smyly committed a pitching Cardinal Sin, walking the lead off man, Adeiny Hechavarria. But ... free out! Brantly tried to lay down a sacrifice, popping up for the first out instead. The Tigers' lefty fireman would retire the next two Marlins without incident, sending the a meaningless game into the ninth inning.
Bottom of the ninth and the Tigers clinging to a 1-0 lead, Joaquin Benoit entered the game looking for his 25th save. but it wouldn't be easy. Yelich singled with one out. Out of nowhere, Benoit fought what would be a losing battle with his command, walking Stanton, moving Yelich into scoring position.
Morrison put a jolt into a 2-0 pitch, but just got under it. Kelly made the catch in front of the warning track in right center for the second out. But Benoit couldn't get retire Lucas, who lined an RBI single to center, knotting the game at 1-all. Benoit had also coughed up what would have been Sanchez's 15 win of the season.
A struggling Benoit went to a full count on Hechavarria before issuing his second walk of the inning, loading the bases. Benoit would finally pitch out of trouble, Brantly bouncing into a 4-6 fielder's choice, sending the game into extra innings.
This was the Tigers' worst case scenario. The only thing worse than extra innings is playing extra innings in a game which means absolutely jack. And this game meant jack.
Marlins' closer Steve Cishek pitched a scoreless top of the tenth. The Tigers would roll with little used (until thus series) Evan Reed in the bottom half of the inning.
Redd got off to a rip-roaring start (if rip-roaring = lousy), walking the lead off man, Justin Ruggiano. Juan Pierre moved him to second with a sacrifice bunt. Reed's lack of command came back to bite the Tigers, and worse, Solano. In a very scary moment, Reed drilled Solano in the helmet with a 95 MPH fastball.
The Marlins' second baseman was woozy, but able to leave the field under his own power. He was replaced by Placido Polanco.
The bases loaded, Reed wrapped the game in a neat little bow for the Marlins. Stanton ended the game with a single to center, Ruggiano crossing the plate to give the Marlins a 2-1 victory.
Your final score is Marlins 2, Tigers 1.
Meh. Moving on...
The Tigers fall to 93-68 (.578) on the season, locked in as a three seed in the post season. They will start the ALDS in Oakland on Friday.
A long regular season comes to an end in Miami, Justin Verlander (13-12, 3.56 ERA) taking on right-hander Henderson Alvarez (4-6, 3.94 ERA). Alvarez came over to the Marlins part of the big off-season trade (aka salary dump) with the Blue Jays. He spent the first half of the 2013 season on the DL with shoulder inflammation, joining the rotation in July. In his last five starts, Alvarez has been decent, a 2-3 record with a 4.03 ERA. He lost his last two appearances, but has a 3.75 ERA in 12 innings.
Verlander's last start against the Twins resulted in a no-decision thanks to the bullpen coughing up a lead. But he had wicked stuff, striking out 12 in six shutout innings. Velrander said he curve ball was the best it had been all season. In five September starts, the Tigers' ace is only 1-2, but has an excellent 2.67 ERA.
First pitch for Sunday's season finale at Marlins Park is set for 1:10 PM.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:
I just want to say thank you to Phil Coke's Brain for giving me an extra day off by taking over Friday night's recap! He's welcome to do so anytime, though I'm not sure PCB will want to anytime soon.
@BigAlBYB I'm exhausted. HOW DO YOU DO THIS EVERY GAME?— PCB (@PhilCokesBrain) September 28, 2013
We don't know who will be in the AL Wild Card game yet, but we do know the start time:
MLB announces AL wild card game will start at 8:07 p.m. Wednesday.— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) September 29, 2013
FSD gave us a clip of a much chubbier Anibal Sanchez when he tossed a no-hitter in his rookie season wioth the Marlins.
Of course, Rod Allen had to chime in:
"He was THICK then."
Thick being a nice was of saying Sanchez was, well, big boned. He must have been into the Cheesy Poofs back in the day.
With nothing to play for, there were dugout hijinks. Jose Iglesias made sure to point point out an older, thicker and not amused Miguel Cabrera whille holding up a pic of him with the Marlins.
Gotta love Rod Allen...
Rod: "Good baserunning by Peralta." (Replay shows Jhonny fall down rounding first.)— Scott Rogowski (@DNR_Rogo) September 29, 2013
FSD stat of the game: The opposition is 20-for-20 in stolen bases when the Tigers' battery is Sanchez and Alex Avila.
In the fifth inning the Tigers became the third team in MLB history to have three pitchers with 200 strikeouts in one season.
2013 Detroit Tigers:
Max Scherzer- 240
Justn Verlander - 207
Anibal Sanchez - 202
1969 Houston Astros
Larry Dierker - 232
Don Wilson - 235
Tom Griffin - 200
1967 Minnesota Twins
Dean Chance - 220
Jim Kaat - 211
Dave Boswell - 204
Meanwhile, on the Tigers' Facebook page...
[THERE ARE PEOPLE ON THE FACEBOOK PAGE SAYING THE INDIANS CAN TIE IF THEY KEEP WINNING. GET OUT.]— Shit Tigers Fans Say (@dumbtigersshit) September 29, 2013
"If they don't change their attitude Cleveland will get their revenge. Oakland and Boston in the World Series."— Shit Tigers Fans Say (@dumbtigersshit) September 29, 2013
[/blinks at computer screen /rubs eyes /blinks some more]— Shit Tigers Fans Say (@dumbtigersshit) September 29, 2013
Ben Verlander has a prediction!
Justin. Will. Get. His. First. Hit. Tomorrow— Ben Verlander (@Verly32) September 29, 2013
I. Hope. So.
Anibal Sanchez: Another brilliant performance from Sanchez, tossing five shutout innings, striking out eight. In locking up the AL ERA title, he should get some Cy Young support.
Jhonny Peralta: Two more hits tonight, giving him three on the series. Peralta is swinging the bat surprisingly well after missing 50 games.
Alex Avila: Driving in the only run should get you a roar.
Games which don't matter: This series with the Marlins has been a long, slow, meaningless slog.
Extra innings in meaningless games: If they were going to lose, I would have preferred the Tigers had lost in the ninth, to be honest.
The bullpen: In 4 1/3 innings, five relievers combined to walk seven, giving up a pair of runs. For comparison's sake, Sanchez didn't walk a batter in five shutout innings.
|Commenter list||Alex Baker, BadCompany22, C5wynn, Cabbylander, DJ Screw, Designated for Assignment, Emil Sitka, J_the_Man, Jacob30, MotorCityCat, NCDee, Nonsuch Ned, SanDiegoMick, Singledigit, SpartanBoiler, SpartanHT, Starsailor, Tigerdog1, TomduhB, Verlanderful, XFizzle, chuck.lindgren.5, dishnet34, josejose50, knucklescarbone, stevenyc, swish330, texastigerfan|
TOP TEN COMMENTERS:
|1||BadCompany22||FSD also called a victory for Dewey in '48|
|1||NCDee||And will require a change of underwear.|
|1||SpartanHT||Speaking of the strikeout record, and the playoffs coming up, it's time to bust out this lovely picture.|
GAME 160 PLAYER OF THE GAME:
Deservedly, there was no poll for (as put by Phil Coke's Brain), "History's most boring baseball game." But if there was a PotG, it would have to be Luke Putkonen. Why? Because the mighty right-hander mowed down his adversaries with an unmitigated, frowning wrath, lording over the pitiful Marlins with his potent glum disdain. Putlonen also overwhelmed the Marlins with the power of a 1,000 frowning suns. That's a PotG if there ever was one!