There wasn’t a lot to complain about in this evening’s game: Justin Verlander gave up some unlucky hits, and the Tigers failed to convert an awful lot of opportunities, but the playing field was so heavily tilted towards Detroit that it never felt like they were in danger. The Royals put a left-handed starter on the mound – a rookie for that matter – and spotted the Tigers two. The Tigers continually threatened to extend the lead (usually coming up short) and while the Royals ate into the lead, they never managed to tie it up.
There was one thing to upset a Tigers fan, though:
Victor Martinez came up lame getting thrown out at home. He was pulled promptly, and we’re told it is a knee sprain though the severity of the injury remains to be seen. Martinez will be re-evaluated on Sunday and there is a chance he might catch, but also a chance that he might spend 15 days on the couch.
Martinez is an odd case as far as knee sprains are concerned: what he typically does is DH, and while a sprained knee might give you some discomfort at the plate it is primarily a handicap in the field or on the basepaths. He could probably continue to DH with anything but the worst of sprains, though he wouldn’t be beating out any throws. On the other hand, his other role on the team is as backup catcher and catcher is unfortunately the most knee-intensive position in baseball. Unless he’s “all better” he isn’t going to be able to catch, something which will force the Tigers to make a critical decision on or before tomorrow’s game when he would otherwise be giving Alex Avila a breather.
Unless this whole knee thing is a false alarm, there are only three alternatives: first, Avila continues to play every day until Martinez’ knee recovers. The Tigers did a lot of that earlier this year when Martinez was banged up. Second, Martinez could spend a couple of weeks on the DL with Max St. Pierre filling in as a backup. Third, Martinez could continue to DH with someone else going to Toledo to free up a roster spot for St. Pierre. If he really can’t catch, the Tigers may feel that they can’t do without a reserve – simply given the risk that Avila could get hurt, thrown out, etc… We do not want 6 innings of Don Kelly behind the plate because Avila got hit by a pitch. We’ll see what the decision is tomorrow, and by extension how severe the team considers the injury to be.