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Elimination Day

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…for someone. Hopefully the home team. If I wanted to be optimistic, I could point out that while the Yankee starter in Game 4 was a better bet than the basic numbers might indicate, Nova is worse. 5.4 K/9, with a less than 2-1 K/W ratio, ain’t that good, and his low HR rate in that park screams “fluke.” The Tigers do have some power and might be able to get to him. Fister isn’t a great bet either, but he gets a few more Ks and has much better command. What I don’t like about the game is that the Yankees have a very deep and very rested bullpen, so if Nova doesn’t have anything the Yanks aren’t a lot worse off. They can use their ace and the Tigers can’t, Rivera is better than Valverde, Roberston better than Benoit, etc. It’s hard to think this will work out.

It’s also NHL opening Night; congrats to the Bruins fans out their on banner-raising day and performing such an invaluable service to humanity last June. I have to object to the characterization of the Flames as “most likely to disappoint.” This implies that someone expects them to be good…

And on that second optimistic note, let’s call this an open thread.

…Giradri managing like he’s in a Tony LaRussa wet dream. I actually think cutting bait on Nova was a good idea but platoon matchups with 1 on in the 4th might be a bit much.

…Trying to watch hockey to avoid watching the Yankees take lead you really absorb the fact that the mean Yankee half-inning is about 90 minutes.

…would feel better about this lead if Tigers didn’t strike out on terrible pitches at least twice an inning. And 3 runs ain’t going to hold up if they need 5 innings from the bullpen.

…49-for-49 my ass, this is terrifying. And I think we can be pretty safe in assuming the Yankees won’t be first-pitch swinging.

…woo-hoo! Congrats Tigers, and time to break out the good stuff.

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  • Linnaeus

    I’ll be cheering for my Tigers, but I were I betting man, I’d have to go with the Yankees.

    • Linnaeus

      er, make that, “…were I a betting man…” without the extra “I”.

    • rea

      Blasphemy!

    • djw

      Detroit is currently +170. It’s one of those “rationally a good bet, but I can’t quite pull the trigger for some reason” lines.

      • Scott Lemieux

        Does seem high. What’s the Yankee run line?

        • djw

          I think it was -105.

          • Scott Lemieux

            That would not have been good. I do wish, however, that I could get a moneyline bet on the Yankees right now.

  • 4jkb4ia

    Ya gotta believe!

  • 4jkb4ia

    (Instead of having access to the TV I will have to visit the grocery store to get quinces, chicken etc.)

  • howard

    For the second key game in a row, i’ll be on a plane but i’m nowherr near as confident in the yanks as the yank haters are!

    Meanwhile i’ll just again note that despite texeira doing zilch in more than 100I postseason plate appearances as a yank, it never gets mentioned, while arod gets dissed every postseason ohfer….

    • howard

      so i missed the game, but i can read the box score: fundamentally, arod, texeira, jeter, and swisher collectively did next to nothing with the bat the entire series.

      power to the tigers….

      • Howard, I salute your sportsmanship.

        • howard

          john, when theirs’n beat yours’n fair and square there’s nothing to do but congratulate ’em and figure out how to get better next year (since, for the yanks, that will require the discovery of the fountain of youth, it’s going to be a tough haul).

  • Scott Lemieux

    Have I mentioned lately how much I like Delmon Young’s approach at the plate?

  • gorillagogo

    On the NHL front, who in their right mind scheduled the Penguins to open the season on the road in Vancouver? The game doesn’t start until 10 PM! On opening day! Aargh.

  • Scott Lemieux

    Jesus, the Tigers swing at a lot of terrible pitches.

  • Scott Lemieux

    Smart move by Girardi. Nova had shit.

    • Morbo

      Bring on CC, Girardi. He looked so good at the end of the last game!

      • djw

        Huh. I wasn’t actually expecting that to happen.

  • Morbo

    For crying out loud with the bunts.

    • Scott Lemieux

      Although if Kelly is going to swing at 3-2 pitches a foot and a half out of the strike zone it can make the nutty strategy look OK.

  • wengler

    Captain Cheeseburger with the K.

    The Yanks only need about 9 more pitchers to finish this one out in 9.

  • c u n d gulag

    3-0 now thanks to Martinez, after Grandy,who made two great plays the other night, bobbles a hard liner to center.

    Think the Sawx wish they’d kept Martinez this year?

    And Howard’s right, Tex ain’t done shit in his 3 years in the Playoffs and WS.

    CC – 3 K’s, 2 sinlges, 1 run.

    They Yanks better score soon. And a lot. If this game’s tied in the 9th, and say The Hammer of God’s already gone two innings, who pitches the extra innings?
    Maybe Whitey Ford was in the house for some Yankee pregame ritual.

    • John

      Teixeira had a key home run in Game 2 of the 2009 World Series.

      • howard

        john, including tonight, texeira has 123 post-season plate appearances as a yankee, with an ops of .243 and a slugging of .260.

        • howard

          john, sorry, that’s an obp of .243; the ops is, of course, the much more robust .503.

  • Anderson

    Yankees look like they’re heading for the beach this weekend.

  • JB2

    Tygs still need nine tough outs; Max or Benoit in the 7th?

    • Scott Lemieux

      Definitely want Scherzer.

      • Morbo

        Ugh, and take him out after an infield hit…

        • djw

          Christ.

          • Scott Lemieux

            If Benoit can get the K or GDP from A-Rod, I might think the Tigers could win for first time since the first inning.

      • randomliberal

        How about both?

  • Richard

    He walked Texeira with the bases loaded. Holy Christ

    • Linnaeus

      And they escape giving up only one run in that situation. Whew.

    • Scott Lemieux

      The biggest difference between these teams — one that I’m still betting will be decisive — is that the Yankees will take a walk with runners on base. Half the Tigers lineup strikes out on that pitch sequence.

      • Tonight, it’s like they’ve been drinking. 14 Ks in 8 innings.

  • Scott Lemieux

    Whew. But I’ll say it again — Tigers need more runs. Not getting two more scoreless innings from this bullpen.

    • Linnaeus

      That’s exactly what I thought too. The bullpen can save a game, but they need a bigger lead than one.

      • Scott Lemieux

        I’d rather watch Whitney than Valverde pitch to the top of the lineup with a 1-run lead.

        • Morbo

          In the 8th, yes. In an actual save situation, no.

  • JB2

    I love my Tigers more than life itself; we need 6 very tough outs. Godspeed Joaquin.

  • Morbo

    Is it my bias, or are the announcers insufferable?

    • Linnaeus

      If they are, then it’s a good thing I’m not watching the game on TV.

    • The announcers, and their employers, fear a Detroit-Milwaukee World Series.

      • Linnaeus

        Which I think would be awesome.

        • Furious Jorge

          I would love to see that, myself.

      • 4jkb4ia

        Another Detroit-St. Louis series would be flabbergasting.

    • 4jkb4ia

      The Detroit radio announcers are great fun. I am listening to Shulman and Hershiser now, and they’re not bad.

      • Linnaeus

        Yeah, Shulman and Hershier do a good job.

  • JB2

    J-Honey!

  • 4jkb4ia

    My husband had a big headache, so I couldn’t go to the grocery store. But I can make it tomorrow morning.

    Valverde v. Granderson is this whole game.

  • Scott Lemieux

    SO the only way the Tigers get more than a run for Valverde to work with is if the bottom of the lineup scores against the best postseason pitcher ever. Goody.

    • Morbo

      0.55 ERA in save situations. I know it’s not always pretty.

  • Scott Lemieux

    2 pitches, 2 outs. I remain utterly confident that the Tigers will lose, in part because that won’t happen in the bottom of the inning.

    • Scott Lemieux

      Glad to be wrong! Great as he is, Cano does have a bad approach sometimes. Now get Slappy.

      • howard

        scott, i have a theory (partly based on posada, who has enough plate appearances post-season to be meaningful) that two types of hitters are likely, long term, to underperform in the postseason.

        one is the type known as “catchers,” since they are likely to be tired (this is the posada aspect).

        the other, about which i’m less definite, are hitters who lack strong strike zone command, and while cano (who is the source of this aspect of the theory) has come a long way on his strike-zone command, he is still, fundamentally, a 1970s pittsburgh pirate type hitter: he is up there to swing, batter!

        • Scott Lemieux

          Interesting. OTOH, Cano has done better than Teixeira or Swisher, both very disciplined hitters, so who knows. It is interesting that a washed-up Posada had a terrific series after not catching all year.

          Anyway, I’ll be on the hook to Planned Parenthood this time, so that’s a little consolation. :)

          • howard

            scott, just to pursue the point for you, me, and the other handful of fanatics still reading:

            i’ve long been interested in the question of whether, given a large enough sample size, individual post-season performance would normalize to regular season performance.

            my baseline assumption is that you’ve got both better pitchers and hitters in the post-season than you’ve got in the regular season overall, so therefore, they should cancel and we should see normalized performance.

            of course, historically there wasn’t enough of a sample size to examine, but now, there’s at least a handful of yanks (jeter, bernie, posada, pettite, rivera) who have enough data points to examine.

            jeter, bernie, and pettite all pretty much do perform to their norms; rivera, of course, outperforms his norm.

            and posada, in what is now 492 post-season plate appearances, is 100 points of ops lower in the postseason (the difference, primarily, is in power: his post-season isolated power is 38 points lower; his obp is 16 points lower).

            so that led me to the first part of the theory: it’s a very long season for catchers. (this would be easy enough for a true data fanatic to test, as it would be possible to crunch all post-season numbers aggregately by position and compare them to the teams’ performance by position aggregately during the regular season, but i’m not the data maven to do it).

            and then we have the case of cano, who in 176 post-season plate appearnce is 45 ops points lower, which led me to the strike zone command theory (interestingly, as cano’s strike zone command has improved, so has his post-season performance: over his last 60 post-season plate appearances, his ops is 1.066, as opposed to an ops of .533 in his previous 116 plate appearances).

            as for the likes of swisher and texeira, who have drastically underperformed as postseason yanks, i suspect that really is small sample size, although some around the yanks think swisher gets too revved up in the postseason and loses some of his normal plate discipline.

            anyhow, given the current gop attacks on planned parenthood, i’m happy to give my part for the regular season and you can do your part for this….

            • Anonymous

              Howard, as a fellow Yanks fan, I would point you to Cano’s BB-K ratio this year; neither that nor the more granular data at bb-ref supports your narrative (one which I was tempted by last night.)

              Also, Tex and Swish have stunk in the postseason period, not just in pinstripes….but it really is just the breaks. The 2000-2012 Yankees have underachieved, but look at the 1990s. What ya gonna do?

              • howard

                anonymous, let’s pursue the point.

                my primary contention is that cano will always be a free swinger. i assume you’re not disagreeing with that.

                my secondary contention, based on both watching lots of games and on the stats, is that cano has noticeably better command of the strike zone today than he did as a young player.

                for example, his first 4 seasons, he averaged a walk every 23.8 plate appearances; his last 3 he averaged a walk every 15.7 plate appearances.

                in addition, he is driving the ball better, which again suggests better strike zone command: his isolated power numbers his first 4 years were .161, .183, .182, and .137. the last 3 they’ve been .200, .215, and .231.

                (as a side note, i believe his k rate is up because he is trying to drive the ball for more power and therefore taking more swings and misses)

                his average ops+ his first 4 years was 109 (if i remove his awful 4th season, it goes to 117); his average ops the last 3 years has been 130.

                in short, i think there’s lots of evidence that cano has better command of the strike zone than he once did: he walks more often and his isolated power is up considerably.

                p.s. texeira (20 plate appearances) and swisher (33) have such small non-yankee post-season stats that i truly don’t much care about them, but even if we add them in, i believe the same thing: if they had enough plate appearances, the numbers would probably normalize….

                • howard

                  anonymous, truth is, i had a break and couldn’t resist one more data point for you.

                  over cano’s first four years, his line drive rate was 19.2%, with a single season high of 20.2% (his otherwise pretty crummy 2008).

                  over his last 3, it’s been 21.9%, with a low of 21.3%, and this year’s career high of 22.9%.

                  this, too, i think speaks for the fact that his overall command of the strike zone has improved over the last 3 years compared to his first 4.

  • 4jkb4ia

    Scott, we’ve seen this movie before.

  • Now that was a save

  • wengler

    And A-Rod did strike out.

  • 4jkb4ia

    The Yankees lose so seldom you have to celebrate every single time–W.P. Kinsella

  • Linnaeus

    So, I was wrong. I have no problem admitting that. At all.

    • Scott Lemieux

      YEs, painful as it is I must concede my conception of the arc of this game turned out to be erroneous. How tragic.

  • Scott Lemieux

    Awesome! 2 killer Ks from Slappy.

  • JB2

    PAPA!!!!

    Tough game to sit through; never thought my guys had a chance until strike 3.

    • Scott Lemieux

      I actually thought the Tigres would pull it out after the Cano AB in the 9th.

      • rea

        Viva los Tigres!

  • rea

    Woo! Hoo!

  • Morbo

    What a crazy series, Cabrera hits .200; Martinez .222; Perralta .222; Avila .062. Tell me that and I would think it was Yankees in 3, but Kelly hit .364; Young hit .316 (and 3 homers); Maggs hit .455; Inge hit .429. Man…

    • howard

      of course, morbo, as i noted above, arod, texeira, jeter, and swisher had equally poor series, and no one picked up the slack quite as much on the yankee side….

  • ADS

    The ghost of Steve Gilliard is smiling….

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