For one night, the White Sox look like the team to beat in the AL Central.
The Tuesday Takeaway
The White Sox entered last night’s matchup with Justin Verlander with a .237 team TAv, the second-worst mark in baseball. Only the Marlins, at .231, had been less potent at the plate as a group, and Mike Redmond’s bunch did not have the benefit of a designated hitter. Among junior-circuit clubs, the Yankees, 11 points ahead of the White Sox at .248, were the next-worst squad.
The American League’s least productive lineup, one with only two starters toting on-base percentages higher than .310, is not supposed to collect 23 hits in a game against Verlander. But on Tuesday, the White Sox did.
Detroit reasserts its dominance in the AL Central.
The Monday Takeaway
Two days before their scheduled return home to welcome the Tigers, the Indians earned a 6-5, series-opening victory over the Royals to move into first place in the American League Central, a perch they had not held since May 23. The Tribe snuck up on a scuffling Tigers squad that had lost six of seven, bouncing all the way back from its own eight-game skid in early June.
Over the last four days, though, Jim Leyland’s club has reasserted its strength, ensuring that the Indians’ stay atop the standings would be a short one. The Tigers won the first two games of the four-game set at Progressive Field, running the home team’s losing streak to four contests and their own winning streak to five. A 9-6 victory on Sunday gave the Indians a chance to salvage a series split on Monday night, which would have left them just 1 ½ games behind first-place Detroit.
Max Scherzer violates a central tenet of pitching, with great success.
Perhaps no piece of conventional pitching wisdom is as logical as the need to pitch inside. The act of pitching inside should, in theory, yield a number of benefits, ranging from less predictability to increased effectiveness on outside pitches. Pitching inside is also one of those things where each preceding generation did it better (anecdotally, at least) and more often than the current generation does. Still, nearly every revered pitcher will lecture about the importance of pitching inside. Consider Sandy Koufax, who, according to the aptly named book Koufax, once said, "Show me a guy who can't pitch inside and I'll show you a loser."
True as that may be in most cases, there is a pitcher in Detroit named Max Scherzer who might improve his record to 14-0 tonight, and in the process show that inside pitching is less important than it seems.
Flash back to the first time Porcello competed for a spot in a crowded Tiger rotation.
While looking toward the future with our comprehensive slate of current content, we'd also like to recognize our rich past by drawing upon our extensive (and mostly free) online archive of work dating back to 1997. In an effort to highlight the best of what's gone before, we'll be bringing you a weekly blast from BP's past, introducing or re-introducing you to some of the most informative and entertaining authors who have passed through our virtual halls. If you have fond recollections of a BP piece that you'd like to nominate for re-exposure to a wider audience, send us your suggestion.
The Tigers have to decide what to do with Rick Porcello, who's competing for the fifth-starter slot with Drew Smyly this spring and could end up on the trade block. They were facing a similar situation when David Laurila caught up with a younger Porcello in the piece reprinted below, which was originally published as a "Prospectus Q&A" column on April 1, 2009.
The 2013 Tigers will be heavy, slow, and probably bad at baserunning. How much will it hurt them?
We’re not great at holding a lot of small details in our brain for a long period of time, so we summarize and categorize, often remembering only the nut graph of a story rather than the specifics. I think we do this for baseball teams, too, and I’m sure I do it for baseball teams. I know a little bit about every Tiger, but when I think about the Tigers I mainly think along the lines of these bigger, summarizing narratives:
Looking at the controversial Hall of Fame candidate through contemporary accounts from his early career.
With the Hall of Fame announcement scheduled for this week, now is a good time to look back at the early careers of some of this year's most talked-about nominees.(And with the early exit polls looking as they do, it might be nice to remember just how great some of these players were.)
Jack Morris, longtime anchor of the Detroit Tigers pitching staff, winningest pitcher of the 1980s, and author of one of the most memorable World Series games of all-time, is now in his fourteenth year on the Hall of Fame ballot. Only three years ago, Morris was barely receiving 53% of the vote. Five years ago, it was merely 44%. Today, however, he sits on the verge of election, receiving 67% in the 2012 voting and returning to the ballot as the lead vote-getter. To be honest, the arguments over Morris's Hall worthiness have gone on so long now that it feels nearly impossible to even remember what he was like as a player. For both sides of the debate, "Jack Morris" has turned into a stone idol, representing all that is beautiful and romantic of old-school baseball on one side and all that is vile and oppressive of outdated thinking on the other. His year-to-year and day-to-day strengths and weaknesses have been mostly forgotten or ignored, except when useful in proving a point. Morris, more than any other candidate on the Hall of Fame ballot, may benefit most from a look back at contemporary accounts of his early career.
Ian spent three games with a press credential covering the Oakland A's in the ALDS—his first postseason in the press box. Previously: Game Three, and Game Four. Today: meeting Peter Gammons, imagining "what-if," and saying goodbye after Game Five.
We don’t get a true summer in the Bay Area. May to August is just a stretch of perfect days in the 60s and 70s. Mornings are shrouded by fog that burns off mid-morning, so it’s warm (but not overly so) until the fog rolls back in at night.
A series that wasn't close ended with a game that wasn't close. The Tigers get a long break before the World Series, and the Yankees get a long offseason.
ALCS Game Four was decisive, but decidedly short on new narratives. What we saw, for the most part, was more of the same motifs that wove through the first three games. The Tigers pitched well; the Yankees couldn’t put anyone on. Some slumping Yankees batters were benched; Alex Rodriguez, despite not starting, still managed to steal some of the spotlight. We couldn’t get much more mileage out of a one-sided series: either the Yankees would do something drastic to change the script, or the Tigers would sweep. With Max Scherzer on the mound, the script stayed the same. The Tigers won the pennant, and the Yankees went quietly into what’s shaping up to be an eventful winter.
Ian finds his postseason press pass takes him places he never expected to go.
The first of three parts.
I jumped out of an airplane once. I was falling at 120 mph at 14,000 feet (then 13,000, now 12,000) and I was perfectly calm. My small simian brain had no frame of reference for what was going on, so it didn’t even register what was happening as a threat to my safety.