Detroit Tigers fans are not used to seeing positive comments about Brad Ausmus; but, his decisions with the lineup and pitching were not bad. Not bad at all.
The Tigers lost the third game to the Cleveland Indians. In this game, Ausmus gave Miguel Cabrera and Justin Upton most of the day off. His best move of the day was calling up Matt Boyd to pitch. Boyd was the bright spot in 4 of the 27 innings against the Indians over the weekend.
Unfortunately, Ausmus did not give the Big Man and J-Up the entire day off. Miggy did come in as a pinch hitter in the 8th inning with the bases loaded. He continued his slump by popping up in a full-count situation. Of course, Ausmus did not tell him to pop up and leave three men on the bases, but Cabrera’s performance at the plate this season leaves much to be desired. His appearance did get the crowd excited, but the excitement was quickly silenced.
Upton came in to hit in the 9th inning, but former Tiger Rajai Davis easily caught the fly ball to left field lowering Upton’s average even more. The two men might need another full day or two off.
The other good move that Ausmus made was bringing up Matt Boyd from the Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens. When Shane Greene had to leave suddenly due to a burst blister on a finger of his pitching hand and Drew VerHagen allowed an unacceptable number of runs, Boyd filled in for four solid innings. The young pitcher did not allow a run.
Even though it is April, the Tigers are having difficulty at the plate, on the mound, and on the basepaths. It is not feasible for a team to continue doing the same thing over and over without making any changes. When the big hitters are not producing, something needs to happen. When players like Cabrera and Upton get visibly frustrated after poor showings, the whole team suffers. So, taking them out gives them a much-needed rest to keep them fresh and to possibly break their slumps.
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Another good move that Ausmus made in the lineup was moving Jose Iglesias up to the second spot. His .302 batting average was a welcome addition to the top of the lineup, leaving the sorry batting averages of Mike Aviles (.082), Andrew Romine (.111), and Anthony Gose (.182) as the bottom three hitters. None of the three bottom hitters provided any offense in today’s loss. Ausmus could have earned even higher praise by replacing Gose with someone else – but no one else is available. It is too bad that Steven Moya does not play centerfield.
Matt Boyd did not come up to Detroit on a whim. He is the temporary replacement for Francisco Rodriguez, but after the performance he gave in the late innings, arguments could be made to have him replace Mike Pelfrey. It is no secret that I am not a fan of Pelfrey and I would love to see a different pitcher take his place. Boyd was successful in spring training and he has shown consistency in Toledo with a 2.25 ERA in 16 innings where he pitched 16 strikeouts and has allowed 5 walks and 16 hits.
In other news, there are signs that Gose and his quiet bat will continue to be in centerfield for a little bit longer. Cameron Maybin has reportedly injured his shoulder in his second rehab assignment in Toledo. It seems like the baseball gods just do not want Maybin to get back to Detroit anytime soon. Eyes should be on young Derek Hill, who is currently playing for the Single-A West Michigan Whitecaps if the weak play by Gose continues and if Maybin continues his time on the DL.
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