Monday Morning Manager (MMM) answers Burning Questions following ALCS Game 2.
Did Jim Leyland yank Max Scherzer too early?
Boy, is that a "hindsight is 20/20" question if MMM ever heard one! The Tigers had a four-run lead. Max was well over 100 pitches and, according to Leyland, Max was "spent." If the Tigers bullpen can't get six outs before the other team scores five runs, then why have them?
MMM is sympathetic to those who complain about today's pitch-count mentality, but with a four-run lead and six outs to go, going to the pen was the right move, no matter how it turned out.
Looks like Austin Jackson is picking up where he left off in the ALDS, eh?
Yes, and that's not good. MMM was hoping that, like other players in the past, a new series would mean a fresh slate. But A-Jax looks just as lost now as he was last week. He's a terribly streaky hitter, and this particular valley couldn't have come at a worse time.
Don't let Torii Hunter off the hook, either. MMM is amazed that the Tigers have come this far with getting nothing from their top two hitters in the batting order.
As for Jackson, cries have returned that he's not a true lead-off hitter. Hard to argue with that, really. MMM has expressed concern in the past about Jackson and where he's hitting in the lineup. Then Austin will go on a hitting jag and that quiets the complainers for a while. He's a very enigmatic hitter, and part of the reason he's such a hot topic is because he bats first.
Right now, it seems like the count is 0-2 before Jackson even steps into the batter's box.
How much does this loss affect the Tigers going forward?
There's an adage: Momentum is tomorrow's starting pitcher. So true, especially in the playoffs. Yes, the Tigers let Game 2 get away. Yes, a 2-0 series lead, heading to Detroit, would be delightful. But that's old news. The biggest game in the playoffs is always the next one. The Tigers are playoff-tested; they've played 31 postseason games in the past three years. And in there have been some gut-wrenching losses. Every time, the Tigers have bounced back. MMM likes the chances with Justin Verlander on the mound in Game 3.
Are the Red Sox this year's "team of destiny"?
MMM has indicated that before, and after Game 2 it's hard to change that theory. But Max Scherzer and Anibal Sanchez made the Red Sox's fearsome offense look so harmless in the first two games. Yet here Boston is, with a split. So yeah, they seem to have the pixie dust sprinkled on them now.
How about Jhonny Peralta, eh?
Incredible, and good for him. Peralta is no Melky Cabrera, despite those who will try to draw that similarity. Cabrera was deceitful and a jerk about his PED involvement. Jhonny was humble and apologetic.
MMM thinks it's great that JP has turned into the Tigers' hitting star so far in the playoffs. This is why he was included on the playoff roster. MMM never understood the idea of leaving Peralta off. The man served his time. Last MMM checked, this was America. You do your time, you move on. End of story.
Thoughts on Phil Coke being added to the roster for the ALCS?
Not really. MMM would be shocked if Coke is brought in during a high pressure situation. Drew Smyly is still the top lefty against lefty hitters. That won't change. Coke was added because he has good numbers against some of the Boston hitters, that's all.
Still going with the Red Sox in six?
Yes, even though the Tigers starting pitching is lined up really well for the rest of this series. The Red Sox have found a way, through 162 games and the first six games of the playoffs, to get it done. Game 2 just reinforced that notion.
Which hitter for Boston do you fear the most right now?
Dustin Pedroia. That little stinker. He's the kind of guy who gives Tigers' pitchers fits. MMM is expecting Pedroia to unleash a series of big hits in this series.
Not David Ortiz?
Nah. He had his big hit. The free-swinging power guys doesn't scare MMM as much as the little pluggers who look like Pigpen in the Peanuts comic strip; their uniforms are dirty, it seems, before the game begins.