When the skies cleared and the grounds crew dutifully removed the tarpaulin from the field at Comerica Park -- for the second time in less than an hour -- what ensued was a case study in how to lose a baseball game. The Tigers had chances galore and squandered them. Manager Brad Ausmus made decisions that will be questioned into September, and the focus on a .111 hitter who has managed just 18 plate appearances this season seems, well, just sad.
Being that the game ended in the wee hours of the morning in Detroit, Catherine had the game recap up with lightning speed. The rest of the BYB staff picked up the discussion over some mourning coffee.
Patrick: The worst decisions by Tigers' management were...
1. Putting Hernan Perez on the roster in April. He is no better than the third option at any position and is never a good option to send up to the plate. I don’t know if that’s on Ausmus or Tigers president and general manager Dave Dombrowski, but it was a bad decision. Some of us said so at the time.
2. Taking the bat out of Ian Kinsler’s hands by having him bunt to bring up Perez, the worst possible guy you can send up there. A limping Alex Avila would have been better. Triple-A home run king Mike Hessman would have better. There is only one play Perez absolutely can not make. We saw this against Baltimore in last year's ALDS, on the play that ended the Tigers’ season. Have the Tigers learned nothing from their costly mistakes of last year? Apparently not.
3. Dave Dombrowski failing to fix the bullpen. Angel Nesbitt is the Tigers’ second-best relief pitcher, by default, but he has been in the major leagues for just over a month. He looked to be overthrowing the ball and it cost a run in the 10th inning. Still, there should be no fault on Ausmus for using him there. He was the best option other than Soria, who had already pitched.
To be fair, you have to evaluate the decision to have Davis run for Cabrera at the time it was made. Anyone can complain after the fact that it would have been better to have Miguel up with the bases loaded in the tenth inning. The problem I had with the move at the time is that Davis did not attempt to steal second base. If Davis isn't going to steal, what is the marginal benefit of having him on base vs. having Cabrera there? Weigh that against the likelihood that Cabrera's spot in the order will come up again. I don’t like it, not because of how it turned out, but because of the probabilities of helping the team at the time.
Kurt Mensching: My patience for Ausmus grows thinner.
Fielder’s Choice: You just... you don't pull Miguel Cabrera from a tie game. That's a thing you just don't do. If they were down one in the bottom of the 9th, it’s a different story. Yeah, pull out all the stops to get that run in, because if you don't the game's over. Then if you happen to tie it up and his spot in the batting order comes around again, oh well. At least you tied it up. But not when the game is tied. Never when the game is tied.
Kurt: Right. Never take your best bat out. I'm pretty sure Ausmus himself has said that and just totally forgot.
Cameron Kaiser: I might be a little whacky right now, but I'm still well aware that the display the Tigers put on in the ninth and tenth, hitters and manager, was unacceptable.
FC: Not that I saw the game, but it's hard for me to fault the players. They're facing a major league pitcher, after all. There's a lot of failure built into hitting. The manager is just facing logic. No excuse for failing that spectacularly. I mean, people want to jump all over Perez for hitting a groundball. He's Hernan freaking Perez. That's like getting mad at my dog for peeing on the lawn instead of using the toilet.
Kurt: I blame the hitters too.
Cameron: Hernan Perez doesn't really serve any purpose on the roster. Romine has shown nice value as a reserve, and Perez really doesn't do a whole lot. But the hitters, particularly Yo and JD, got themselves out by swinging at garbage.
Kurt: I blame Dombrowski for Perez. He stuck him on the dang bench and the kid clearly serves no purpose.
FC: Let's be real for a second. The difference in odds of Collins or Fields or whomever hitting into that double play is negligible. The odds were low to begin with, and those guys aren't exactly Giancarlo Stanton. The issue isn't that Hernan is on the team, it's that he was in the game instead of Miggy, which has nothing to with anyone but Ausmus.
Kurt: These are two separate issues that came together. You shouldn't pinch run for Miggy and you shouldn't have Perez near a major league roster.
Cameron: Collins and Fields can hit right handed pitching. Perez can't hit any pitching. Plus Collins and Fields actually have good plate discipline.
FC: Perez and Romine are certainly redundant. But Collins and Fields probably can't hit right-handed pitching. At least, not major-league right handed pitching.
Cameron: Regardless, Perez can't hit any pitching whatsoever. Romine has value -- very good defense, patient at bats. Perez is good at second but below average on the left side, and has a history for swinging at everything. Romine works the count. Regardless of the end result of the plate appearance, he makes the opposing pitcher work. Perez blindly swings at everything. He did it in Toledo too.
FC: Regardless of Romine's current stats, he's just as bad a hitter as Perez. I would agree that he's a better defender though. "Working the count" sounds nice, but in the real world, Romine sees 0.4 more pitches per PA. The only thing that matters is the end result.
Cameron: Well the end result is that Romine is currently hitting .360 and Perez is hitting a buck and a nickel. Regression be damned, Perez hasn't provided anything to the Tigers this year.
FC: Obviously. But you can't let a month of sporadic playing time skew your evaluation. Romine, Perez, Collins, Fields.... it's a horse apiece. They're the end of the bench. It doesn't make any difference (unless your manager grossly misuses them).
Patrick O'Kennedy: Well, if none of those players provides any significant value, then it's up to the GM to find one that does. The Tigers need one player on the bench who can do something meaningful against a right handed pitcher. Collins was the best of a mediocre bunch breaking camp. If he's not the answer, then find someone who is. It's not impossible to find.
FC: It's not that they don't provide any value, it's that they all provide roughly the same value, in the limited amount of playing time they'll get. No one has three Delmon Youngs and a Brendan Ryan on their bench.