Category Archives: interleague


illustration by Samara Pearlstein

The Tigers may have been defeated in the 9th inning by the Giants, but it was an adorable Kung Fu Panda responsible for much of it. You can’t stay mad at a panda. You just can’t.

So there’s that, at least.

downing Coke, and the pitching of Don Kelly

illustrations by Samara Pearlstein

I don’t know what’s going on here. Why are so many of the pitchers suddenly losing their grip on reality all at the same time? Look, Paws knows Jose Reyes is good at baseball, but the rest of the lineup is still the Mets! Why is FredFred struggling so much when he says that his ‘stuff’ feels fine, and that he “doesn’t feel lost“? Why is the bullpen having such difficulties? Why is Phil Coke– nah, actually, we know what’s up with Phil Coke, he’s psyching himself out and nobody in the clubhouse is giving him consoling hugs to counteract it.

I’m only half joking about that, by the way. This was Coke’s quote after the game tonight:

Boos, no boos. Happy people, not happy people, it doesn’t matter, I’m doing the best I can. But I’m sick to my stomach right now.
Tom Gage/Detroit News

In general, a MLB starting pitcher will not come off a bad game and freely admit to the media that he is ‘sick to his stomach’ over it, even if that is what he’s actually feeling. But this is Phil Coke. He has Nervousness and A Lot of Feelings and he’s not afraid to talk about them, and make bloggers all concerned that he’s not getting enough hugs. SERIOUSLY GUYS SOMEONE NEEDS TO JUST GIVE PHIL COKE A HUG AFTER HIS STARTS.

Where is Paws in all of this? If the other Tigers are falling down on the hug-job here, surely this is where Paws can pick up the slack, right?


The positives for this game: Rhino homered, Jhonny hhomered, Andy Dirks homered, and Miguel Cabrera hit two home runs all by his lonesome, because Miguel Cabrera is better at hitting a baseball than many a cat.

There were about a zillion stolen bases by the Mets, which is not a good thing, but it was Victor Martinez catching, so the positive is the fact that Alex Avila remains unsullied.

Also, Don Kelly pitched.

Yeah. That happened.

He faced one batter– Scott Hairston– and got him out to end the top of the 9th. He threw five pitches: two for balls, one called strike, one foul, and then the final pitch, which was lofted to Austin Jackson in center for the out. He hit a flaming 86 mph on the radar gun and that last pitch was a curveball, or something. It was in any event a breaking ball, which startled the heck out of Hairston and amused everyone else observing the game at the time.

Don Kelly can play at any position, and mostly has so far this season, except for catcher… and he’s the emergency backup catcher, so we may well see him there before the year is done. He already warms up the pitcher between innings for Avila sometimes (hilarious to see).

photo by Samara Pearlstein, from this season

The last inning, which featured DJ Carrasco’s impeccable stirrup socks, and of course the pitching Don Kelly, was thus by far the most enjoyable inning of the game. Even including the Tigers offensive outputs, since those were quickly negated in enjoyability when Tigers pitching promptly failed to hold the Mets back following a bunch of runs scored. But high socks and position players pitching are forever.

What did we learn from this game? I don’t know. Life sucks and then Don Kelly pitches. Also, Rod and Mario do NOT properly respect the noble food that is the garlic fry. They were discussing them at various points throughout the game, and talking about how you only need to eat a few and then you’re done, and so on. BLASPHEMY.

ETA: Coke has been moved to the bullpen. Charlie Furbush will take his place in the rotation, at least for now. And if you missed it last night, Daniel Schlereth was sent to the feathery embrace of Muddy– Brayan Villarreal is up for him.

sadness is watching your pitchers get destroyed by the Mets

illustrations by Samara Pearlstein

Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose. Sometimes you lose in hilariously over-the-top ways to the Mets and the only thing you can do is dig up a drawing from 2007 that is suddenly relevant again.

FredFred was… no. I can’t. Instead let’s look at these words from Jim Leyland, on the subject of the play that led to his theatrical rant yesterday.

My only point was in 48 years of baseball, I have never seen a play where a ground ball that was thrown to the first baseman was called one way and changed. I’ve never seen that in 48 years. I’m obviously smart enough to know the guy was out. The umpire, by his own admission, said he blew the call.

They got the call wrong in getting the call right, in my opinion.
Jason Beck/Chris Vannini,

They got the call wrong in getting the call right. Meditate upon that one, my friends.

And remember, in these waning days, to do your sacred duty:

downed by Diamondbacks

illustrations by Samara Pearlstein

First, and most importantly: VOTE AVILA. We are nearing the end! Voting finishes up this coming Thursday! This is your last weekend to sit in front of the computer making throwaway email address after email address, voting for Alex Avila over and over again, as if it is your only function in life. There can be no finer possible use of your time.

Now, the actual game…

Kirk Gibson will eat your face, but only after he has punched it enough to tenderize it.

I don’t know, obviously this was not a good game. There aren’t any articles containing quotes up yet, but according to a bunch of Tigers writers on The Twitters Phil Coke was all depressed after the game, saying he was ashamed of his performance and so on. You know how Phil Coke gets after a bad start. We can only hope that someone stopped his spiral of depression and self-recrimination by giving him a hug and telling him that it will all be ok.

Of course there was an error in there contributing to the Diamondback comeback, and of course it was a Ryan Raburn error. I will not comment further on that.

Ryan Perry and Brandon Inge are both back with the team (Adam Wilk and Danny Worth sent down respectively). Brandon was 1-for-4 tonight with a single, which is, you know, whatever. But Perry! (deep breath)

He went 2.1 innings, allowed 1 hit and 1 walk, and struck out two. If you didn’t see this game, you’re thinking, Hey, that’s great! Well, I hate to dump sewage on your cornflakes, but it was not great. He inherited two runners from Phil Coke, and he let one score on his watch, so even though the box score says he didn’t give up any runs, he actually kind of DID. Also, more egregiously, he NEARLY INJURED ALEX AVILA.

It was a wild pitch that bounced in the dirt behind home plate. The ball appeared to ricochet off of Avila, bouncing far enough to bring the tying run home. Terrible. Avila popped up in pursuit right away, so at first it seemed like it had maybe hit padding, but after the play was over he squatted down all curled up around his wrist, and Kevin Rand had to come running out, and it was clear that there was a whole lot of pain involved. They spent a long time flexing Avila’s hand and testing his grip and so on. The camera had a good angle on all of this so we got to see Avila grimacing dramatically.

In that terrible moment I swore that if Ryan Perry had injured Alex Avila, I was going to do SOME SORT OF THING.

Avila ended up staying in the game. He looked a little tender fielding the next pitch, but after that he seemed ok. They had a quick shot of him in the dugout with the trainer after the inning, where it looked like he was getting Advil or somesuch. He had two more at-bats after the beaning and flew out in both of them, but at least he was making contact. He’ll be ok, because if he is not ok Ryan Perry is going to be attacked by a mob of kittens with razor sharp milkteeth and infuriatingly prickly needleclaws.

The big blow was a Wily Mo Pena home run that traveled about five thousand feet. This IS what Wily Mo Pena does, but it had been a long time since I had seen it in action, so it was rather startling. The official distance was 454 feet, the third longest home run in Comerica Park history.

I decided to take a look in my archives and see if I had any photos of Wily Mo Pena from his days in Boston, and came up with this:

photo by Samara Pearlstein


Clayton Kershaw’s Detroit connection

illustration by Samara Pearlstein

Fun fact from the game tonight: Clayton Kershaw grew up with Matthew Stafford. They both went to Highland Park High School in Texas, and according to Kershaw they had been playing sports together since they started soccer in second grade.

Kershaw played high school football for one year, where he was Stafford’s center. More importantly, during baseball season Stafford was Kershaw’s catcher, apparently from early elementary school on up through sophomore year of high school (after that Stafford quit to concentrate on football). This information was relayed during the Monday night broadcast and it was so intensely delightful that the only thing I could do was draw a Terrible Cartoon about it.

Clayton Kershaw and Matthew Stafford: BFF 4EVA

–Austin Jackson made a great leaping catch at the wall to rob something serious. It miiiiight have been a home run, but at the very least it was extra bases, and Jackson just stole it away. Flawlessly timed. These catches are starting to seem almost routine for him but at least Mario put some excitement into his voice while making the call, so we can all remember how crazy it really is.

–Everyone says this was the best performance from an opposing pitcher the Tigers have seen so far this season. Rod and Mario said it, after the game Leyland said it. But nobody can say it’s the best pitching performance, period, that the Tigers have seen, because the Tigers get to look at Justin Verlander all the time.

–Ryan Raburn had one of only two Tigers hits in this entire stupid Kershaw’d game. Yay? No, not yay, because Raburn somehow managed to get picked off at third by Dioner Navarro, of all dudes. Right now, Raburn is terrible; at that point, the game was terrible; getting picked off third base is terrible; Dioner Navarro is terrible. PERFECT STORM OF TERRIBLE.

Ryan Raburn giveth, and Ryan Raburn taketh away. Mostly he taketh away.

–Tigers pitchers need to stop giving up walks and hits and RBIs to opposing pitchers. They just… they just need to stop that.

–Brad Penny did something to his knee while batting. He limped all the way to first base (he was out anyways) and tried to act like everything was cool. In fact, after the game John Keating asked him about it.

Penny [nonchalant]: “My cleat got caught and my knee kinda slid outta the socket.”
Keating [horrified]: “That sounds kind of awful.”

Penny shrugged this off and insisted that it was fine, he was fine, all future Brad-Penny-pitching-related things should go off without a hitch, etc. I agree with Keats, if your knee is ‘sliding out of the socket’, and you’re a Major League pitcher who gets much of his power from his legs, that is probably not a good thing.

–Even though he technically had a quality start, Penny dourly stated that he doesn’t count it as a quality start if the team loses.

–Keats asked Leyland about Daniel Schlereth. Almost before he could finish asking the question, Leyland barked, “Yeah, lot of concerns. He’s gotta be able to throw his fastball… he’s not throwing his fastball over the plate,” and other similar such sentiments. He sounded sort of angry, like there had been Discussions on this very point, but there had not yet been Results.

–Lots and lots of empty seats at Dodger Stadium. West coast Tigers fans, take note.

a quick reminder for Rick Porcello and other Tigers pitchers

Hey, FredFred! Do you see this guy? This one right here:

all photos by Samara Pearlstein

OK, you do see him, right? Great. Great. Do you know who he is? We can help you out. His name is Jason Hammel. Probably sounds vaguely familiar, huh? Like maybe you heard of him before this game started. Maybe someone mentioned him, oh, once or twice.

Do you know what he does?

Here. Let us help you out:

Does that clear things up? Do you see what he’s doing? No?

Yeah. He’s pitching. This is because Jason Hammel is a pitcher. Now, I know you’re not used to thinking about pitchers facing you at all, but you’re in an NL park right now and you need to remember that pitchers can hold bats. But they generally aren’t very good at it, because they’re still pitchers. In fact, this is more along the lines of what you should expect to see with a pitcher at the plate:

Attempting to bunt, and probably failing. That’s what pitchers do, FredFred. Jason Hammel is batting .160 and that is just about right.

So when you are facing the pitcher, with the bases loaded, the LAST thing I want or expect you to do is WALK IN THE PITCHER to SCORE A RUN. That is NOT how you handle a PITCHER in that situation, FredFred. I can only assume that you didn’t realize he was the pitcher, and thought you had to carefully handle a legitimate batter, to make sure he didn’t hit a grand slam or something.

Or we can blame it on Evil Twin Rick Porcello. Whichever.

This post brought to you by: the fact that I was excited I actually had photos I could use for an interleague game post.

the baseball battle of Pittsburgh

illustration by Samara Pearlstein

How freakin’ weird is it that half the Detroit coaches are former Pittsburgh Pirates managers? Of course Jim Leyland was the manager from 1986 to 1996. Gene Lamont was their manager from ’97 to 2000. And Legendary Lloyd was their manager from ’01 to ’05. So not only have all these Tiger coaches been large and in charge in Pittsburgh, they did it consecutively.

I mean, I know it’s because Leyland brought his buddies on board, and his buddies happen to be Pittsburgh people. It still feels strange. It does add a new dimension to the Incredibly Natural (Eyeroll) Interleague Rivalry of the Pirates and Tigers, though. Like MLB got lucky with their attempt to create an artificial interleague rivalry because there actually is a connection between these teams, at least for now. Clean out the coaching staff and MLB’s rivalry-fomenting dreams go flying out the window like so many memories of a healthy Joel Zumaya.

It’s hard for me to get super excited about interleague this year, because it is a big part of the reason why the Tigers are only playing two games all regular season in Boston, and you know that this is a great personal loss for me. And aside from the coachcest, why are we supposed to feel strongly about Pittsburgh? They aren’t real enemies. Heck, they’re family (Neil Walker! Don Kelly! Marriage of siblings!). Yet here we are, three games into interleague play, being forced to care about the Pirates all over again. Okaaaaayyyyy.

The Tigers lost two in semi-embarrassing fashion and scraped one win by the grace of Rick Porcello, which seems to demand some sort of reaction. It’s hard to write a coherent blog reaction when you’re mostly disgusted by the losses and simply relieved– rather than actually happy– about the win. Why is this offense so bad? Why is the bullpen so bad? Why can’t everyone be Justin Verlander? Why anything?

The best thing about playing the Pirates is getting to visit PNC Park.

Other things:

Brad Thomas was put on the DL with elbow derp. Charlie Furbush was called up to take his spot. Brayan Villarreal was sent down and Enrique Gonzalez was called up in an exchange of youth for agedness. Carlos Guillen was put on the 60 day DL and nobody is surprised. Magglio Ordonez’s return date is unspecified and nobody is surprised. Joaquin Benoit exists. Things change, yet everything remains the same.

That’s enough, interleague.

illustration by Samara Pearlstein

Another series barely salvaged. Fine. Whatever. We’re done with interleague. I AM DONE WITH YOU, NATIONAL LEAGUE, YOU HEAR?

Sure, the Tigers did win three of their interleague series… but those were against the Pirates, Nationals (without facing Strasburg), and Diamondbacks, all of whom are dead last in their respective divisions. They split with dropped a serires to the Dodgers and dropped series to the Mets and Braves. The Braves are leading the NL East, with the Mets right behind them. The Dodgers are in third place in the West. So the Tigers played two pretty good NL teams, three wretched NL teams, and one mediocre NL team. They were generally smacked around by the good teams, they beat up on the bad teams, and they split with lost two of three to the mediocre team.

I guess it’s nice that… they did exactly what anyone on the planet could have predicted they would do? It’s just kind of disappointing. It was like settling for the baseline of performance mediocrity, when the Tigers should have been aiming higher. AIM FOR INTERLEAGUE DOMINANCE AT ALL TIMES. They will exit interleague play with a 11-7 record, so it could be worse, but it could have been a lot better. We should have hammered the DH-free snot out of them. AT ALL TIMES.

And now as a result of this last series, we are in a war with Gary Cederstrom. Jim Joyce blows a perfect game for Armando Galarraga and we give him hugs, Gary Cederstrom umpires a series against the Braves and we send him hate-rays with our mind. I don’t really understand how that works, but it is official, Jim Leyland has spoken:

Tigers manager Jim Leyland heard the answer from home-plate umpire Gary Cederstrom on the third strike he called on Johnny Damon to turn a potential game-tying walk into a game-ending strikeout Saturday. It didn’t make Leyland feel any better about it.

“I called him after the game,” Leyland said. “I just said, ‘I hope you take a look at the pitch.’ He said, ‘Well, I kicked it.’ I knew that right away, but it was brutal on TV.'”

Cederstrom told reporters after the game Saturday that he watched the replay and “it didn’t look good.”

“He’s right,” Leyland said. “It wasn’t good.”

“That’s just not acceptable in those situations,” Leyland said. “It’s just not acceptable. That’s just the way it is.”
Jason Beck/

Then today, Sunday, Leyland was ejected after running out to argue when Verlander was thrown out at first on the back end of a maybe-double-play. The umpire there was Fieldin Culbreth, and initially Leyland was beefing at him, but Cederstrom was still the crew chief and when he came over from third base, Leyland abandoned Culbreth and got into it with him. So clearly it is war.

When you compare all this to Leyland’s reactions after the whole Joyce/Armando incident (“It’s a crying shame. After looking at the play, and Jim’s a class guy, this is gonna sound crazy, but after looking at the play, he’s gonna look at the play, and nobody’s gonna feel worse than he does”), it is a little curious. I won’t pretend to fully understand the ways of war, though.

PS: It is estimated that Justin Verlander has thrown 2.7 million pitches on the season thus far.

PPS: Hey, happy Pride Month to those of you who’ve been celebrating!

the first Atlanta game, in Terrible Cartoons

illustrations by Samara Pearlstein

Alex Avila is 23. Andy Oliver is 22. They’re both rookies. Oliver was pitching in his very first ever major league game. There was so much youth in the Friday night battery that it probably retroactively de-aged everyone else on the field. I mean, clearly Chipper Jones was feeling the effects, he had two hits in this one.

In fact the decision to pair Oliver with Avila may very well be part of a plot by Jim Leyland to gain some more youth for himself, by activating this de-aging field. It’s like going off on a quest to find the Fountain of Youth, or drinking the blood of unicorns, but Jim Leyland doesn’t have time for any catdamned stinking quest, and unicorns are hard to come by these days.

Omar Infante was there, and HE DOES NOT AGE. It’s creepy. You may say, “RotT, it’s only been three years,” but to you I say that three baseball years is like 25 real years, so clearly there is witchcraft and sorcery involved here. Rod Allen was about two sentences away from waxing poetic about Infante’s silky smooth skin, but that is not additional evidence of sorcery, it’s just how Rod Allen rolls.

At one point Rod was talking about how you can’t throw a fastball past Omar Infante. I was thinking, Come on you guys, you KNOW this, but then I realized that the battery was Andrew Oliver and Alex Avila, they DON’T know this from personal experience, because they are both infants and were not here when Omar Infante was. AM I GETTING OLD? I’M TOO YOUNG TO BE OLD. Brandon Inge, get out there and share some elder wisdom or something, holy freakin’ cats.

This happened in the bullpen. I don’t really know what else to say about it. Jose Valverde and Phil Coke had a SRS BZNS rock-paper-scissors tournament, complete with intense gesticulations and crazed expressions from Papa Grande. Brad Thomas and Joel Zumaya watched in amusement/awe/terror. Eddie Bonine was sitting off to the side ignoring them and writing in some book thing, which prompted Rod (or Mario, I don’t actually remember for this) to say that he was ‘doing some art’. If true, this would MAKE MY LIFE. He was probably just taking boring baseball notes though.

I really wanted Fu-Te Ni to be there, but I didn’t see him. Scott Pickens was there, though Wallace was not. I assume it would be difficult getting Wallace on the road.

This did not happen in the Tigers game, but it did happen at the same time and it involved recent former Tigers, so. EDWIN JACKSON THREW A NO-HITTER. But it was the messiest no-hitter on the planet, it took him almost 150 pitches and the Diamondbacks’ coaches were convinced that he was not going to make it out of the third inning. On top of that, he threw it against the Rays, the team that traded him away to Detroit for Matt Joyce, Savior of Kittens.

Aside from the catcher, Dontrelle was pretty much the first person out to the mound to greet him with violent screaming hugs. This was wonderful and beautiful and it was like there was a soaring triumphant movie soundtrack running over the moment in my head.

Incidentally, the Tigers lost this game. This makes me angry, so here are a couple photos I took of Kris Medlen, the Braves’ starter and winning pitcher, last year.

Yeah. That’s right. PONY BACKPACK. I hope your win tastes like ashes and pony tail hair, you meddling Medlen.

Tigers hang on by one claw, finally beat the Mets

photomash by Samara Pearlstein

Thank you Magglio, thank you Rhino, thank you Paws! We finally scrape one from the Other New York. To be entirely honest, I was starting to despair of this series. There was just too much Jose Reyes and too much David Wright and too much from other such critters. Tiger offense had been paired with bad pitching (Tuesday, Verlander/Sborz), but when their pitching got better, the bats stagnated (Wednesday, Bondo). There have been stretches where the team gets itself horribly out of sync like this before, and I was afraid that we were getting into another one of them. But this game broke the Cycle of Woe.

Magglio Ordonez and Ryan Raburn both went deep off of Hisanori Takahashi. It was Magglio’s tenth homer of the year and Rhino’s second, and both were absolutely vital hits, given the final score. Raburn was batting second, which isn’t MUCH better than the terrifying Laird-batting-second thing that happened on Tuesday, but it was marginally better, and he certainly did his best to make the most of it while he had the chance: he went 3-for-3 with a walk, two runs scored, and an RBI.

Thank The Big Potato too, while we’re at it, because this was a dead wicked close game and I was convinced (due to the aforementioned issues) that it was all going to come undone at the end. Jose Valverde would not let it happen, so before too long I was able to draw breath like a normal person again, instead of hyperventilating into a paper bag, lying curled up on the floor while a Tigers closer piddles the game away.

Not that that ever happens.

Also, this was sitting in my Photobucket. I don’t really remember what it was from (aside from a previous seasons’ interleague matchup, obviously), but it’s relevant to this series, so:

Brand new baby kitten Andrew Oliver gets the start Friday in Atlanta. This could be great, or it could be disastrous. Let’s hope for the former and steel our tender hearts for the latter. Go Tigers!