The Tigers beat the Twins 4-3 tonight in Earl Weaver-endorsed style. The Hall of Fame manager's baseball philosophy was summed up in this paragraph from his book, "Pitching, Defense, and Three-Run Homers."
Weaver preached his prescription for winning: "pitching and three-run homers." He explained, "Pitching keeps you in the games. Home runs win the game." That formula developed with experience; in his first seasons with the Orioles he called for more sacrifice bunts than the average AL manager, but he came to believe that "your most precious possessions on offense are your 27 outs," and "if you play for one run, that’s all you’ll get."
Using Weaver-ball is exactly how the Tigers won tonight. To Hell with small ball. Give me home runs and excellent pitching every time.
Max Scherzer started slow, got better as the evening went on and ultimately tossed a quality start, unhittable in his last two innings. Scherzer would retire the final ten Twins he faced, the last four on strikeouts.
Drew Smyly and Joaquin Benoit were flawless, setting down all five Twins they faced. Forced back into a bullpen-by-committee for one night, it worked to perfection.
The Tigers could only muster seven hits, but made them count, as four went for extra-bases. In the end, all the offense was supplied via two swings; a solo home run from Andy Dirks in the third, and the game-winner in the sixth, a (Weaver-approved) three-run homer off the bat of Prince Fielder.
Mix great pitching with power bats and you get a hard-fought victory over a team which has historically given the Tigers fits.
Jim Leyland is definitely enjoying the Weaver-style baseball.
Leyland on recent streak of 3-run HRs: "Those are quick runs. Earl Weaver went to the Hall of Fame watching a lot of those." #Tigers— Matthew B. Mowery (@matthewbmowery) April 30, 2013
It's a very effective way to win games. I hope we see more of it.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:
The Tigers entered today's play with the two leading hitters in the American League. Miguel Cabrera and Torii Hunter were tied for the league lead in batting average at .375.
Not getting the start today was the 37-year-old Hunter, who was given a scheduled day off. Why the scheduled day off? He's 37 years old, that's why.
Having pitched in the last two games of the Braves series, Jose Valverde was unavailable out of the bullpen. Jim Leyland did not want to use his resurrected closer three games in a row. To quote the Skipper:
"He didn't have any spring training, and I'm not going to pitch him three days in a row just yet and do something stupid."
Joaquin Benoit would close in Papa Grande's stead, if needed. He would be.
After the Twins scratched across the second run of the game on a single, infield single, wild pitch and ground out, Rob and Melissa spoke for us all.
I really hate playing the Twins— Detroit4lyfe (@Detroit4lyfeRob) April 29, 2013
Twins baseball is the most frustrating kind of baseball.— Melissa Heyboer (@MelissaHeyboer) April 29, 2013
Max Scherzer had an elevated pitch count in the second inning, which set off Lynn Henning on a bit of a Twitter ran about bad defense.
Classic case of how defense can mar a pitcher: Scherzer 34 pitches in 2nd inning, 27 strikes. But now forced to get extra outs.— Lynn G. Henning (@Lynn_Henning) April 29, 2013
Despite Henning's misgivings, Scherzer managed to pitch into the eighth, tossing a season-high 114 pitches.
Austin Jackson looked to have been hit in the hand by a Mike Pelfrey pitch in the third, but it sounded as if the ball hit his bat. Replayed confirmed it. Home plate umpire Paul Schrieber wasn't buying Jackson's sell job, calling it a foul ball. Mario Impemba had a suggestion for Jackson:
"You have to do a little bit better a sell job. Fall down on the ground and roll around a couple of times. "Oooouch, it huuuurts!"
After the Twins manufactured another run thanks to the hated "Twins Hit," a former BYB contributor could not have put it better.
Playing the Twins is like playing your 4-year old nephew in Chess and realizing you let him checkmate you.— Matt Wallace (@MattinToledo) April 30, 2013
Brain has come up with a new term, the "Andy Dirks Hat Trick":
Just need Dirks to run into a wall to complete the #DirksHatTrick. HR, bunt base hit, wall collision.— Eric Wayne (@PhilCokesBrain) April 30, 2013
How hard-hit was Prince Fielder's three-run game-winner in the sixth?
I don't want to say that Prince hit that ball hard, but North Korea just claimed it as a ballistic-missile test.— Dave Hogg (@Stareagle) April 30, 2013
OK, this is something I've never seen the Tigers do mid-game.
Here is the home run ball that Prince Fielder hit in the sixth inning. Want to own it? Call (313) 471-2064 for info. twitter.com/tigers/status/…— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) April 30, 2013
Fielder went yard in the bottom of the sixth. The home run ball was on sale by the bottom of the seventh. Gotta pay those salaries somehow, right?
Why has it been so breezy in SE MI as of late? Lots and lots and lots of Braves and Twins strikeouts.
- Friday night: Tigers pitchers have 18 strikeouts, 17 by Anibal Sanchez.
- Saturday afternoon: Rick Porcello and the bullpen pen combine for 11 K.
- Sunday night: Doug Fister strikes out eight, Tigers' staff with 10 total.
- Monday night: Scherzer with 10 strikeouts.
Prince Fielder: Only 1-for-4, but the one was huge. Broke out of a slump with a clutch, game-winning home run.
Andy Dirks: The knee he injured in spring training had bothered Dirks well into the regular season. Taking the last few games off to rest the knee must have done Dirks wonders, as he bounced back with his best game of the season. Dirks reached base three times, hitting his first homer of 2013.
Max Scherzer: Struck out 10 without walking anyone. Scherzer got off to a slow start, the Twins scratching out three early runs. But once Scherzer found his groove, the Twins could do nothing with him.
Bullpen by committee: The Big Potato out of service for the night, Drew Smyly and Joaquin Benoit combined to get the final five outs.
Twins Hits: There's nothing on the planet more annoying than watching the Twins reach base in ridiculous ways.
GAME THREAD ROLL CALL:
TOP TEN COMMENTERS:
Miguel Cabrera edged Doug Fister by three votes to win PotG honors, 43% to 41%.