Blogs > Out of Left Field

A sometimes-irreverent look at Detroit's Boys of Summer, the Tigers, as they try to return to the top of the American League Central.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

VIDEO: Watch rookie James McCann get his first career HR, an inside-the-park job

Miguel Cabrera hit three balls a ton on Wednesday and came away with two home runs and a double — forcing him to do a lot of jogging and very little hard running.

So he was well within his rights to tease rookie catcher James McCann, who had to go all-out to get his first career home run Wednesday at Target Field.

With the Tigers trailing by two, 7-5, after Cabrera's first homer, McCann stepped to the plate in the sixth inning. He laced a shot to dead center field that got over the head of Twins center fielder Jordan Schafer, and took a big carom off the outfield wall toward right field.

Nick Castellanos scored ahead of McCann, who chugged around the bases and scored just ahead of the throw.

"I've never run that far in a baseball game before," McCann told reporters after the game, including the Detroit News' Chris McCosky.

According to STATS, LLC, he's the first Tigers hitter to record his first career home run on an inside-the-park homer since pitcher Frank Lary on April 17, 1956, against the Athletics. The last Tigers catcher with an inside-the-park homer was Mike Heath in 1986.

Watch McCann's play below:

Monday, April 27, 2015

VIDEOS: Erie's Wynton Bernard, Toledo's Xavier Avery make highlight catches

Jose Iglesias has been making highlight-reel plays all season for the Tigers, including Sunday's spectacular, over-the-shoulder catch.

But he's not the only one in the Tigers organization flashing the leather.

Toledo outfielder Xavier Avery made a spectacular diving catch in right-center field against Indianapolis on Sunday, while Erie Seawolves center fielder Wynton Bernard made a diving catch in left-center field against Altoona.

Check out the videos below:

Sunday, April 26, 2015

VIDEO: Watch Iglesias' ridiculous over-the-shoulder catch vs. the Indians

DETROIT >> His double play partner thinks he’d have a good career in the circus, if he didn’t have a gig in baseball.

But nothing Jose Iglesias does anymore fazes Ian Kinsler.

Not even the ridiculous, last-second snatch of a pop up to left field he made in the ninth inning of Sunday afternoon’s, trying to avoid running into left fielder Yoenis Cespedes.

“I don’t know what the heck he was doing. All he had to do was turn around. Run a little harder and catch it over his head, like a normal player,” Kinsler joked, causing one of the reporters around him to quip that Iglesias isn’t normal.

“No, he’s not normal. You’re right. I’m just glad he caught it.”

So is manager Brad Ausmus.

“I’d rather not see it again, quite frankly. I’d rather somebody be camped out underneath it,” the manager joked. “But he’s got some extraordinary skills, and some of the best hands the game has seen.”

Kinsler insists that it’s not necessarily showing off.

“No, I don’t think he does. I just think that’s his style. I’ve seen him practice that play. He practices going over his head, going up and catching the ball, backwards like that. He works on it,” Kinsler said. “If you see a guy work on stuff like that, you can’t say much. And he caught it, so there’s not much to say.”

On the play, Iglesias was running at a full sprint to left field, trying to flag down a pop fly off the bat of Aviles. Cespedes was closing in from left as well, but just sheared off at the last moment to avoid a collision, while Iglesias reached out with his glove at the last second to snag the ball chest-high.

“That was something special. I’ve seen that done one other time, with Brandon Phillips,” Tigers outfielder Rajai Davis said. “Guys that are just aware of their surroundings.”

Rajai Davis leaves game in 8th inning with a tight right groin

Rajai Davis appeared to pull up on a single up the middle in the eighth inning of Sunday's game against the Cleveland Indians, and was immediately removed from the game.

Anthony Gose came on as a pinch runner for Davis, who had started the last two games, and went 5-for-8 with six runs scored.

It's unknown what Davis' injury may have been. [UPDATE: The Tigers announced Davis left the game with a tight right groin, and is day to day.]

McCann, Davis both starting against Indians right-hander Carlos Carrasco

DETROIT >> In hindsight, if the Tigers could’ve gotten a little more notice about Trevor Bauer’s sudden illness on Saturday, it could’ve helped.

Manager Brad Ausmus wanted to get James McCann a game behind the plate, but didn’t want to pull Alex Avila 15 minutes before game time, just to get a platoon advantage at the plate, especially since he’d already started to warm up starter Alfredo Simon.

“Alex is already out there, catching Simon, getting ready. You might be able to do it with another position, but I wouldn’t do it with a catcher,” said Ausmus.

So McCann’s start had to wait a day, until Sunday, when he started against Indians right-hander Carlos Carrasco. [LINEUP HERE]

“A little bit of a matchup. There were a few factors. He needs to get in there once in a while. He hasn’t played since Monday. A little matchup,” Ausmus said Sunday. “There’s no secret behind it really. It’s certainly not anything Alex did.”

While Avila is on an 0-for-11 streak, and hitting just .158 on the homestand, he’s still getting on base at a .348 clip. And McCann is not exactly tearing the cover off the ball (.174), either.

“Early on, Alex was getting on base all the time. He hit a little bit of a cold streak here the last few days, but it’s just a few games,” Ausmus said. “I’m not worried about that.”

Rajai Davis got his second straight start against a right-hander, as well. Anthony Gose has struggled on the homestand after a hot start, while Davis was 2-for-4 with three stolen bases on Saturday.

“Yeah. Well, he’ll probably get two more days. We get a lefty tomorrow, so I talked to him and told him he’d get a couple days and he’d be back in there Tuesday,” Ausmus said. “Will give him a chance to take a step back, work with Wally (Joyner, the hitting coach) in the cage a little bit. And Raj also has been swinging the bat pretty well.”

Saturday, April 25, 2015

ESPN's 'Sports Science' breaks down Jose Iglesias' ridiculous throw vs. Yankees

ESPN's "Sports Science" show listened.

After Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias robbed New York Yankees' Brett Gardner of an infield hit with a spectacular play earlier this week, pitcher David Price gushed about it.

He also challenged "Sports Science" to break it down.

"Ridiculous. They don't understand how hard that is. Even if that ball is hit right at you, it's still a tough out with Gardner running," Price said. "To go into the six hole and throw the ball the way he did, that's just insane. I want to know how hard that is — I really hope 'Sports Science' does that. People don't get it. They don't understand the degree of difficulty on that play. It's cold, windy, wet — it's a joke."

They did do something on it.

You can watch the video breaking it down below:

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Brad Ausmus ejected arguing balk call in matinee vs. Yankees

DETROIT >> Tigers manager Brad Ausmus was ejected in the sixth inning of Thursday’s afternoon game against the Yankees, for arguing a balk call with third-base umpire Gerry Davis.

With Jacoby Ellsbury on third, Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez appeared to step off the rubber during his delivery. The balk was not initially called until the Yankees dugout started yelling at home plate ump Phil Cuzzi.

After Davis called the balk, manager Brad Ausmus — along with Sanchez and catcher Alex Avila — went to argue the call with Davis. Ausmus was ejected on his way back to the dugout after the discussion.

It’s the fourth ejection of Ausmus’ career, and his first since last Aug. 10.

Tigers bolster spent bullpen, sending down Ian Krol, bringing up Alex Wilson

DETROIT >> Brad Ausmus’ biggest concern in the early innings — aside from why his ace, David Price, was struggling — was how to get through the rest of the game without blowout out his bullpen.

“Well, there was some concern early in the game: ‘Do we have enough pitching to get through it?’ Fortunately, we did,” the Tigers’ manager said after the game

“Unfortunately, you have days like that, where a pitcher might end up having to pitch longer than you’d want him to. Blaine Hardy wasn’t available after throwing 40-some pitches yesterday. If we had a fresh pen, maybe it would’ve been a different decision. I felt like we had to get through this game, and early on, it was touch and go.”

Ausmus thought the Tigers had enough to get through Thursday’s game, but apparently minds changed overnight, and the Tigers decided to add an arm. To that end, they recalled the contract of right-hander Alex Wilson from Triple-A Toledo, and sent Ian Krol — who probably wouldn’t have been available Thursday, anyway — down to the Mud Hens.

Monday, April 20, 2015

VIDEO: Iglesias makes a dazzling play to rob Gardner of an infield hit

Jose Iglesias is a highlight reel unto himself. Seems like every night he turns in one play that makes you go "Oh, did he just do that?"

Monday night, against the Yankees, the Detroit Tigers' brilliant shortstop robbed New York's speedy Brett Gardner of an infield hit, ranging deep in the hole, then throwing across his body for the out.

"That’s a tough play, especially with Gardner running, because Garnder’s a legitimate speed guy, a Major League steal-type guy," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said.

"I know Iglesias was playing him in a little bit because of the speed, but to make that play, and get a runner like Gardner was pretty impressive. That’s probably the best play we’ve seen from him all season."

It certainly helped out starting pitcher Alfredo Simon, who'd already seen Gardner single and steal a base in the third inning.

"That was great. That helped me out a lot in that inning," Simon said. "Gardner's a really fast runner, and after that, who knows if he's going to steal the base, and after that, base hit. The team helped me out a lot defensively. That was good."

Below is the video of that play:

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Twins broadcaster Bert Blyleven bashes Detroit, doubles down, then has to apologize

DETROIT — Hall of Famer and Minnesota Twins TV commentator Bert Blyleven attempted to be humorous during Thursday’s rain delay, tweeting out his (apparent) disdain for downtown Detroit.

His first tweet read: “If they are starting this game at 3:45, 22 minutes from new, EST! Don’t you think they have taken the tarp off?”

A short while later he tweeted: “Maybe they meant 4:45? It is the best I have seen downtown Detroit though! Thank you low clouds!”

After his mentions blew up in response, from livid Detroiters and Tigers fans, he responded by doubling down.

“Guess I ruffled some feathers with my last tweet about download (sic) Detroit! Guess all you that responded haven’t seen how ugly your downtown is.”

[UPDATE: The offending tweets were later deleted from Blyleven's account, replaced by an apologetic tweet, stating: "I apologize for my comments: the city of Detroit. It is an exciting time here led by the Ilitch family.]

Fox Sports North, his employer, and the Minnesota Twins later issued a joint statement condemning his conduct, and Blyleven issued an apology on the television broadcast.

The statement from Kevin Smith, senior director of corporate communications and broadcasting, reads:

“The Minnesota Twins and Fox Sports North were disappointed with Bert Blyleven’s comments on social media earlier today regarding the city of Detroit. His attempt at humor during the rain delay certainly missed the mark and in no way is reflective of the Twins and Fox Sports North’s collective respect for the city of Detroit and the Detroit Tigers organization.”

[UPDATE II: Michigan governor Rick Snyder even got involved in the squabble, sending his own response to Blyleven's comments, with a little visual dig (see below)]

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Torii Hunter hasn't been fined yet for Opening Day outburst, but expects one; 'It was worth it'

DETROIT — Torii Hunter hasn’t heard from the disciplinary arm of Major League Baseball yet for his vocal displeasure at Monday’s game-ending checked swing call against the Detroit Tigers, but he expects to.

“I haven’t heard anything. It doesn’t matter to me, though,” Hunter said Wednesday. “No, I haven’t. It wouldn’t matter though. I’m expecting it. I won’t be upset. It was worth it.”

There have been reports that MLB is considering fining Hunter for his comments to reporters after being rung up by home plate Joe West on a checked-swing call to end the season’s first game, saying “I think he had dinner reservations or a concert to play in.”

New MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said in a Fox Sports 1 interview on Tuesday, “As a general proposition, we don’t tolerate those kinds of remarks about our umpires.”

West took the comments in stride, when asked about the call by a pool reporter on Monday.

“I thought he swung, so I said he swung,” West said. “They’re all great players, and any time you get called out at the end of the game on something like that, they’re going to be upset, so I understand that.”

Monday, April 6, 2015

Opening Day 2015 lineups for Tigers vs. Twins

The lineups for Opening Day, 2015.

First pitch is at 1:08 p.m.
Actor J.K. Simmons, a Michigan native, will throw out the first pitch, while the Four Tops will sing the national anthem.

The only curiosity in the lineup was going with Rajai Davis in center field, over offseason acquisition Anthony Gose.

"It was basically (that) Phil Hughes has reverse splits. Not only that, Rajai had a good year for us, so part of me is glad that it was reverse splits, and it gave me a chance to play Rajai on Opening Day," manager Brad Ausmus. "So it was a combination of factors. But it was mainly a matter of reverse splits."

In 2014, right-handed hitters have posted a batting average of .289 with an OPS of .733 against Hughes, the Twins' right-handed starter for Monday, lefties .249 with an OPS of .619.

Davis is 7-for-26 off Hughes in his career (.269), while Gose is 1-for-11 (.091).

Ausmus also flipped Nick Castellanos up a spot in the lineup for Monday, over Alex Avila in the No. 7 spot, reversing how he'd penciled them in near the end of spring training. Avila is 1-for-14 off Hughes in his career.

"That’ll change, pitcher to pitcher, game to game," Ausmus said.

Rajai Davis, CF
Ian Kinsler, 2B
Miguel Cabrera, 1B
Victor Martinez, DH
J.D. Martinez, RF
Yoenis Cespedes, LF
Nick Castellanos, 3B
Alex Avila, C
Jose Iglesias, SS

Pitcher: David Price, LHP


Danny Santana, SS
Brian Dozier, 2B
Joe Mauer, 1B
Torii Hunter, RF
Kennys Vargas, DH
Trevor Plouffe, 3B
Oswaldo Arcia, LF
Kurt Suzuki, C
Jordan Schafer, CF

Pitcher: Phil Hughes, RHP