Tigers Can't Get Big Hits, Lose Again

Chicago 4, Detroit 1 (box)

It was a homecoming of sorts last night at Comerica Park. Former Tiger Edwin Jackson made his first start with his latest team, the White Sox, and returned to Detroit as a visitor for the second time since being traded away in the offseason.

Tigers third baseman Brandon Inge also came home, returning to the Tigers after a two week stay on the disabled list, and Jhonny Peralta returned to his original position and played shortstop for Detroit.

There were warm, fuzzy feelings all over the stadium. At least until the game started.

Armando Galarraga didn’t pitch poorly, he just didn’t pitch particularly well, either. The Sox jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first, but that could have (and probably should’ve) been worse if not for Alex Rios running in the face of left fielder Don Kelly on a single to left. Kelly got his man at third for the second out of the inning and the Sox were held to one run. (more after the jump)

In the bottom of the first the Tigers looked like they were going to answer. Austin Jackson started the game with a single, followed two batters later by another from Johnny Damon. The Tigers could get on the board with the heart of the lineup coming to the plate, but Jackson got Miguel Cabrera to fly out before fanning Brennan Boesch to end the threat.

And that was the theme of the night. The Tigers threaten but fail to score.

After stranding two runners in the first, they duplicated the feat in the second. Then they left runners on in the third, fourth, and fifth as well. All the while, Chicago brought out the big bats. Carlos Quentin, who might just be my least favorite player in baseball right now, homered to give the Sox a 3-0 lead, and Paul Konerko added a solo shot in the sixth.

The Tigers trailed 4-0 entering the eighth, but back-to-back walks started the inning for the Tigers. After a fly out by Peralta, Inge came through with his third hit of the game and plated the first Tiger run. Inge and Boeach both advanced when Andruw Jones‘ throw hit Cabrera as he was crossing the plate and once again the Tigers were one big hit away from getting right back into the game.

Once again, they failed to come through. Chicago’s Matt Thornton entered the contest and quickly retired the two batters he faced to escape the jam and effectively end the game.

On the bright side, Inge did collect three hits and an RBI in his first game off the DL. Peralta made a couple of good defensive plays at short, though there was a groundball up the middle that he didn’t get to (I wonder if Santiago would have gotten there, I assume he would have). Kelly and AJax each had two hits as well.

The other side shows yet another Tigers loss. They’ve dropped two of the first three against the first place White Sox, a series they absolutely had to win. Now all they can do is hope to split. That’s not good enough at home. Speaking of, Detroit, who came in with baseball’s best home record, has now lost six of their last 10 home games.

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Tags: Armando Galarraga Brandon Inge Chicago White Sox Detroit Tigers Edwin Jackson

  • Ross Z

    My biggest baseball pet peeve is when you can’t score with less than 2 outs and RISP, and the Tiger’s inability to do what should be routine is frustrating (to put it mildly). I’m not sure what the problem is, but I feel like we should be practicing sac flies in spring training next year the same way we were practicing pitcher fielding after the debacle in the 2006 world series.

  • http://motorcitybengals.com John Parent

    can’t say as I disagree Ross. That is probably the single most frustrating aspect of this team. It’s almost a surprise when they DO bring those runs home. It seems like every time there’s a runner at third and one out, the batter gets too excited (or something) an swings wildly at pitches no where near the zone. Three pitches later, he’s back to the dugout and the runner still at third. It’s brutal.

  • Ross Z

    I’m not sure who to blame here. Is this Leeyland’s fault for bad play calling? Is this McClendon’s fault for not teaching patience under pressure? This feels more like a coaching and management issue than a talent or experience issue (even the veterans find a way to make fools of themselves when we’ve got guys on the corners with 1 out).

    • http://www.motorcitybengals.com Matt Snyder

      I don’t think it’s a Leyland or McClendon issue, unless they’re telling the guys to pop-up or strike out (and they’re not).

  • Joe A.

    They should pinch hit Ross; with Ross Z. it’s a guarantee!

  • Chris

    There’s just no such thing as a bad clutch hitter or a good clutch hitter. Even guys like Cabrera have slumps, bad at-bats and bad luck. The best way to ensure that the Tigers will get big hits with runners on is to ensure that the man at the plate is not Will Rhymes et al.

    • http://sidelionreport.com/ Zac Snyder

      I believe THE BOOK states that there are good clutch hitters and bad clutch hitters but we can’t label players on an individual basis due to limited sample size.

      • Chris

        I don’t buy it. Sample size for guys with long careers isn’t small anyway, it’s like arguing that sample size is too small to tell whether or not Barry Bonds was really a power hitter. Will Rhymes has a .182 average with RISP because Will Rhymes can’t hit, not because he chokes. Don Kelly has a .152 aveage with RISP because Don Kelly also cannot hit. I do believe, on the other hand, that there are good clutch pitchers. Verlander is one.

        • http://www.motorcitybengals.com Matt Snyder

          Sample size for guys in clutch situations is still small. But “clutch” situations are usually more than just situations with RISP, it’s any situation that has a potentially large WPA impact.

  • Chris

    If you want ‘High Leverage’ situations to define the clutch, A-Rod still has 1840 PAs in that situation over his career. His high leverage OPS is 10 points over his low leverage OPS. In 2008 high leverage PAs, Omar Vizquel tops his low-L OPS by 63 points. Omar Vizquel would appear to be the better clutch hitter… but who would you rather face with 2 outs in the ninth? Over his career, Don Kelly has hit better when it counts, but his high-L OPS is still only .595. If you want better clutch hitting, get better hitters.

    • http://www.motorcitybengals.com Matt Snyder

      Right. Being a good “clutch” hitter doesn’t necessarily make you a better hitter in clutch situations than another hitter. It only compares yourself in clutch situations to yourself in normal situations.

      • Chris

        And if yourself is terrible in normal situations, the range of plausible ‘clutch’ skills cannot possibly make you a good clutch hitter.

        • http://www.motorcitybengals.com Matt Snyder

          Right. If Don Kelly was ‘clutch’ and Cabby wasn’t (not true, but for an example), that doesn’t mean you should pinch hit Kelly for Cabrera. Even when considering their respective ‘clutchness,’ Miguel would far and away be the better hitter.

          Players with good clutch skills can elevate their abilities by around .008 in wOBA. So, if you pretty much ignore it you won’t miss much (but it does exist).