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Tag:Victor Martinez
Posted on: October 11, 2011 11:14 pm
Edited on: October 12, 2011 12:40 am
 

Rangers can't hold Tigers at bay, fall 5-2



By Evan Brunell


DETROIT -- The Tigers love the home cooking and rode three solo home runs and an extra-base hit with runners in scoring position to take Game 3 of the ALCS, 5-2. The win narrows the Rangers' lead in the series two games to one.

Hero: Doug Fister came up huge in a virtual must-win game for the Tigers, throwing 7 1/3 strong innings, punching out three and allowing seven hits. Fister had been knocked around in the ALDS, and it was fair to wonder if he was regressing to the mean after unsustainably killing it as a member of the Tigers in the regular season. Nope. Fister's outing was just what the Tigers needed after Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer were unable to keep the Rangers at bay.

Tigers-Rangers

Goat: It may be unfair to pick on Koji Uehara when it was Colby Lewis that relinquished the lead, but so be it. Uehara, you'll recall, gave up three runs and a homer against the Rays in Game 2 of the ALDS without recording an out. That was the extent of his pitching in the postseason until Tuesday night, when Ron Washington asked Uehara to stop the bleeding. Well, he didn't. Uehara relieved Lewis with a runner on first that he allowed to score, then gave up a solo homer in the seventh to ice the game for Detroit.

Turning point: Until Miguel Cabrera stepped to the plate in the bottom of the fifth, the Tigers were 2-for-28 with runners in scoring position in the postseason, and had collected only one extra-base hit with RISP over the last 32 innings. The lone Tiger run that had scored up to that point was on a solo homer by Victor Martinez (pictured). That changed when Miguel Cabrera took a grooved 0-2 fastball from Colby Lewis and lined it to right-field, plating the go-ahead run, and giving Detroit a lead it would not relinquish.

It was over when … It took a while for Detroit to get going with the stick, but a Jhonny Peralta homer in the bottom sixth gave Detroit an insurance run that suddenly made it very difficult for Texas to engineer a comeback with Detroit needing just nine outs from Fister and the bullpen. After an Andy Dirks single to knock Colby Lewis out of the game, Austin Jackson finally came through to plate another run and then it was really over, but Miguel Cabrera added a solo blast just for extra measure.

Next: Detroit will attempt to even up the series on Wednesday when it offers up No. 4 starter Rick Porcello up against Texas' Matt Harrison.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.



Posted on: October 11, 2011 9:32 pm
Edited on: October 11, 2011 9:33 pm
 

Tigers must step up, drive in runs or lose series

Cabrera

By Evan Brunell


Only once in baseball history has a team come back from a 3-0 series deficit. The Tigers would rather not fight history, but continue to struggle at the plate.

If it wasn't for Victor Martinez, the Tigers would be looking at a 1-0 deficit entering the fifth inning. Still, the story in the early going has to be Detroit's continued failure to capitalize on runners in scoring position. Detroit had a chance to answer Texas' jumping out to a 1-0 lead in the first when Martinez and Jhonny Peralta reached base in the bottom of the second, but Alex Avila and Ryan Raburn both struck out swinging to end the threat. That pushed Detroit to a scant 2-for-21 with runners in scoring position in the ALCS, and as Buster Olney of ESPN notes, the Tigers have only collected one extra-base hit (double) in the last 32 innings with runners in scoring position.

Fortunately, Martinez tied up the game with a solo homer in the bottom fourth. (And of course, it looks like V-Mart may have hurt his oblique on that swing, which would deplete the Detroit offense even more.) The Tigers' struggles with RISP are irrelevant as long as Detroit keeps jacking homers, but this isn't a team that can rely on the long ball, not with a lineup that is essentially a non-entity aside from Martinez and Miguel Cabrera (pictured). RISP has been a problem all October, as the TIgers are just 4 for 28 overall with four singles and 10 strikeouts.

As Jim Leyland mentioned Monday after the Rangers finally broke through with a walkoff grand slam after threatening numerous times throughout the game, "
If you keep giving a team like that that many opportunities they're going to get you eventually, and eventually they got us."

The Tigers are in a similar place -- it's not as if the team has been a complete zero on offense the entire postseason. They've hung tough with Texas, but the Rangers have shown the fortitude to capitalize on opportunities. For whatever reason -- blame luck of the draw, blame lack of experience, blame whatever you want -- the same can't be said of Detroit. If the Tigers hope to win the ALCS, it's time they stop waiting around for the home run and start swinging together some rallies and get this offense in a groove.

Follow the game live on CBSSports.com's GameTracker.

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Posted on: October 9, 2011 2:12 am
Edited on: October 10, 2011 1:43 pm
 

ALCS Game 2: Tigers look to even series up

Scherzer, Holland

By Evan Brunell

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Tigers at Rangers, 4:19 p.m. ET, October 10, Rangers Ballpark

WHO HAS THE EDGE?


Yeah, Texas won Game 1, but the Tigers still have a thin edge in Game 2. Why?

The Tigers constantly threatened to break the game wide open each of the first several innings, but could never get that big hit. Texas was able to smack Justin Verlander around enough that even if there was no rain delay, the right-hander was probably coming out of the game after five or six innings anyways, having allowed seven baserunners. All told, Detroit reached base 13 times compared to Texas' nine, which includes an error by Austin Jackson.

Then add in the pitching matchup, which you can learn more about below. Both Max Scherzer and Derek Holland are pitchers long on potential that have experienced some difficulty putting it all together. Each pitcher's respective performances in the ALDS was strong, and Holland rebounded after a shaky beginning to Game 2, but Scherzer came away more impressive in the end.

PITCHING MATCHUPS

Tigers' Max Scherzer: Going on three days rest after hurling 1 1/3 innings of one-run relief against the Yankees, Scherzer has taken to the playoffs beautifully and also blanked the Yankees for six innings in Game 2. The righty originally was supposed to start Game 4, but that would have limited him to just one start, and the team could have really used him for two. Now they get that chance.

"He convinced me yesterday. And Max, he's up front with everything. He would never mislead me in any way, shape and form," Jim Leyland said prior to Game 1 of the ALCS, being convinced in due part to Scherzer playing catch on Friday and feeling 100 percent."He's raring and ready to go."

Scherzer's posted a 4.09 ERA since the All-Star break, but that doesn't do justice to how good he's been since mid-July. He punched out 78 and walked just 18 in 82 2/3 post-break innings, with a fielding-independent ERA in the low 3.00s showing just how good he's been. He made three starts against the Rangers in 2011, posting a 4.76 ERA in 17 innings, striking out 12 and walking four, with the team winning two games.

"Scherzer, what an arm," Rangers manager Ron Washington raved.. It's unorthodox, doesn't throw anything straight, and for some reason when he faces us, he finds the strike zone with more consistency with all his pitches."

Much like his opponent Monday, Scherzer has struggled with consistency in his command. "It's been a challenge this whole year of constantly making adjustments throughout mechanically with each pitch and how I want to execute it throughout the whole year," the pitcher said. I felt like the last five starts, the way of my stuff and the way of my mechanics, I felt in a good position."

Rangers' Derek Holland: Holland has been tantalizing many with his potential for quite some time, and he's finally starting to deliver on his promise. As Washington put it prior to Game 1 of the ALCS, "Right now he's not a total thoroughbred. He's just a little pony, but he'll develop into a thoroughbred."

Holland has had to battle inconsistency in the past with both command and jitters, He had a forgettable 2010 postseason thanks to that, posting a 4.76 ERA in 11 1/3 innings, but so far this postseason has been an impact lefty. He scuffled in the first inning of Game 2 of the ALDS against the Rays, but pulled it together to go five innings, giving up three runs, two unearned. He also appeared in relief in Game 5, blanking Tampa for 1 1/3 innings.

"Last year, I didn't really know what to expect, how to handle anything," Holland said before Game 1. I have a better idea, especially after being around with [Cliff Lee] and then C.J. [Wilson] has been helping me big time this year in how to handle myself as a starter. This year it's a big difference. I'm a lot more relaxed and I would say composed."

Holland has only started once against the Tigers, coming last season when he held Detroit to one run in four innings, knocked out with a rising pitch count due to walking two and striking out five. Delmon Young had the best success for Detroit against Holland, facing him twice while with Minnesota and collecting six hits in 12 at-bats. Unfortunately, Young isn't on the roster. Wilson Betemit and Victor Martinez are the only active Tigers who have a hit off Holland.

LINEUPS


Tigers Rangers
No. Name Pos No. Name Pos
1 Austin Jackson CF 1 Ian Kinsler 2B
2 Ramon Santiago SS 2 Elvis Andrus SS
3 Delmon Young LF 3 Josh Hamilton CF
4 Miguel Cabrera 1B 4 Michael Young DH
5 Victor Martinez DH 5 Adrian Beltre 3B
6 Ryan Raburn RF 6 Mike Napoli C
7 Jhonny Peralta SS 7 Nelson Cruz RF
8 Alex Avila C 8 David Murphy LF
9 Brandon Inge 3B 9 Mitch Moreland 1B

Max Scherzer RHP
Derek Holland LHP

NOTES
  • Unlike the NLCS, there's no rancor between the teams involved in the ALCS. During Jim Leyland's press conference, he went on and on about how amazing Ron Washington has been in Texas and said that they are not enemies, just friends managing against each other. Meanwhile, both teams fraternized during BP with smiles on everyone's face. Miguel Cabrera was a popular man and could be sighted laughing uproariously with Washington.
  • Nelson Cruz's home run snapped a 1-for-16 skid in the postseason following a brutal September. It was a special homer for him too, as it's his seventh postseason homer (in just two seasons). That's the most in Rangers franchise history, breaking a tie with Juan Gonzalez.
  • The winning team in Game 1 of the ALCS has won the series 24 of 41 times, or 59 percent. That number dips to 52 percent when you limit it to only when the ALCS shifted to a best-of-seven since 1985. However, seven of the last 11 ALCS have been won by the Game 1 losing team.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.


Posted on: October 7, 2011 7:12 pm
Edited on: October 8, 2011 4:45 pm
 

Tigers vs. Rangers ALCS preview

By Evan Brunell

Detroit-Texas ALCS

The Tigers and Rangers share one thing in common -- both teams have AL pennants to their name in recent seasons, but fell short in the World Series. Jim Leyland took Detroit to the World Series in 2006, his first season with the club, winning 95 after the Tigers registered five straight seasons of at least 90 losses, including 119 in 2003. It's taken them some time to return to the postseason, but they're here after downing the Yankees in five games. Detroit will be leaning on the electric arm of Justin Verlander, who won Rookie of the Year in '05 but gave up 17 runs in 21 2/3 innings across the 2005 postseason. He'll get a chance at redemption against Texas, who appeared in the Fall Classic a mere season ago.

The revamped Rangers may have lost Cliff Lee, but their offense is as potent as its ever been in franchise history, adding Adrian Beltre and Mike Napoli to its monstrous lineup. Seeking to become the first consecutive AL pennant champion since the 1998-2001 Yankees, Texas will be relying on C.J. Wilson and its formidable bullpen to keep the Tiger offense in check. However, Texas' own offense needs to play up to its billing, as the team scored just 16 runs in the LDS, least among any team. (Granted, Texas was the only advancing club to play a series in less than five games, bouncing Tampa Bay in four.)

TEAM INFORMATION

Detroit Tigers (host games 3, 4, 5*)
95-67, AL Central champions
ALDS
: Defeated Yankees in 5 games -- View coverage of ALDS Tigers-Yankees
Manager
: Jim Leyland
Regular-season batting statistics: .277 batting average (3rd in AL), .340 on-base percentage (3rd), .434 slugging percentage (4th)
Regular-season pitching statistics: 4.04 ERA (7th), 1.32 WHIP (8th), 2.27 K/BB (6th)
Star player: SP Justin Verlander -- 24-5, 2.41 ERA, 251 IP, 0.92 WHIP, 250 K

Texas Rangers (host games 1, 2, 6*, 7*)
96-66, AL West champions
ALDS
: Defeated Rays in 4 games -- View coverage of ALDS Rangers-Rays
Manager: Ron Washington
Regular-season batting statistics: .283 batting average (1st), .340 on-base percentage (5th), .460 slugging percentage (2nd)
Regular-season pitching statistics: 3.79 ERA (13th), 1.24 WHIP (5th), 2.56 K/BB (5th)
Star player: C Mike Napoli -- .320/.414/.631, 432 plate appearances, 30 HR, 75 RBI

*if necessary

WHO HAS THE EDGE? (Click player name for statistics)

Let's break each position down and see which team has the edge...

Catcher: Alex Avila vs. Mike Napoli, Yorvit Torrealba


Being a quality catcher is difficult to do. You have to be able to call a game, develop a rapport with pitchers, block balls effectively, have a gun for an arm... and oh yeah, hit too. The latter category is what Avila and Napoli excel at, as both rank 1-2 in baseball in catcher offense. Napoli of course, blows away Avila in offense, but the Ranger also has 28 less games at the position, in large part due to another capable catcher also on the roster in Torrealba -- but the Tigers have Victor Martinez, too. Defensively, Avila holds the edge, and this is just too close to call.

First base: Miguel Cabrera vs. Mitch Moreland, Michael Young


Moreland could feasibly be at first base the entire series, as he's a favorite of the club and all of Detroit's starters are right-handed, but Young could steal a couple games if the team wants to get Torrealba or Craig Gentry into the lineup. Either way, both these players pale in comparison to Miguel Cabrera who, if it wasn't for Justin Verlander lucking into 24 wins (to be clear, he's a very good pitcher, but win-loss records have nothing to do with player quality), he could very well be the favorite for the MVP award. Cabrera led all of baseball in doubles, batting average, OBP and decided to swat 30 homers too. Moreland is still scrapping to be a full-time player and Young just can't field.

Second base: Ramon Santiago vs. Ian Kinsler


This isn't even close. The Tigers have cycled through six second basemen this season, with five of them receiving at least 17 starts. Santiago won the job basically by default, as Carlos Guillen can't stay healthy, Ryan Raburn split his time between left and second then lost his job for a complete inability to hit and Scott Sizemore was traded. Santiago is like Raburn in that he can't hit, but can flash a solid glove. Kinsler, meanwhile, was one of the most valuable second basemen in the game.

Shortstop: Jhonny Peralta vs. Elvis Andrus


Andrus can pick the ball, get on base and steal bases. Peralta can't steal any bases and can only play a passable short. But boy, can Peralta hit. Here's the thing, though -- people tend to overvalue offense because it's easily quantified, and you can see with your eyes the impact a bat can have. Stolen bases and defense, not so much. But they are important facets of the game as well, and when you factor everything in, this is a dead-even.

Third base: Wilson Betemit, Brandon Inge vs. Adrian Beltre


Adrian Beltre is an awesome player, there is no doubt about that. He posted the second-best season of his career and slugged three home runs to pace the narrative of Texas winning the ALDS. However, the gap between Beltre and the Tigers' crew isn't as large as one might think. Betemit rakes against righties, while Inge is capable against left-handers. But don't ask them to face the opposite-handed pitcher. Inge also has excellent defense at the hot corner and is a great late-inning replacement for Betemit. All told, the duo combines into a pretty good player. Good enough that the difference between Detroit and Texas at the spot is not significant.

Left field: Delmon Young vs. David Murphy, Craig Gentry


Young injured himself in Game 5 of the ALDS, but reports are that he should be fine for the ALCS. If not, Raburn will start in his place. Young has played his way into a 2012 role with the Tigers, but he's doing so on the backing of a hot streak that might not be sustainable long-term. He's a statue in left field and his value is tied up completely in swatting home runs. Murphy, meanwhile, parlayed a hot September into more playing time and has been sharing time with Gentry, with Murphy getting PT against right-handers and Gentry mostly playing against lefties. If Young wasn't performing well as of late, this would probably be a slight edge to the Rangers, but as long as Young's hot streak is carrying him, we'll call this even.

Center field
: Austin Jackson vs. Josh Hamilton


This isn't a difficult decision at all. Hamilton is one of the best hitters in the game and is the reigning AL MVP. Austin Jackson, meanwhile, rode a lot of luck to a .293 batting average last season that sank to .249 this year. He has strong defense, but is miscast as the leadoff hitter.

Right field: Magglio Ordonez vs. Nelson Cruz


At one point this season, Ordonez contemplated hanging his spikes up. Good thing he didn't, for he hit .365 from Aug. 21 to the end of the year and finished the ALDS with five hits in 11 at-bats, including a 3-for-3 effort in Game 2. When Ordonez is hot, he can still beat any pitcher, regardless of his advanced age. But his defense is questionable, and Nelson Cruz is a better hitter at this point. Although Cruz is slumping significantly, gathering just one hit in 15 trips to the plate during the ALDS against the Rays, he remains the better player.

Designated hitter: Victor Martinez vs. Young


A certain three-year-old, I'm sure, would pick Young here with an edge. But both Martinez and Young are remarkably similar in production at the DH spot, and the numbers are uncannily similar even though Young has played in 14 more games. Take a look:

Martinez: .330/.380/.470, 12 HR, 103 RBI
Young: .338/.380/.474, 11 HR, 106 RBI

How can you not call this even?

Starting pitching: Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Doug Fister, Rick Porcello vs. C.J. Wilson, Derek Holland, Colby Lewis, Matt Harrison


The order listed here is the order that both teams have announced will go in the ALCS, so let's judge it on these parameters. For one, the Tigers clearly lose by not being able to set up their rotation they way they wanted. Rick Porcello, obviously the lesser member of the quartet, will start twice while Max Scherzer only draws Game 4 after appearing in relief during Game 5 of the ALDS. Regardless, the Tigers still hold an overall edge here. You don't need me to throw more platitudes Verlander's way, and Fister has been a revelation since coming over from Seattle (although he's veering fast into overrated territory) and Scherzer is a quality pitcher whose potential breakout has been tantalizing pitchers for quite some time.

Over in Texas, C.J. Wilson is a great pitcher, but doesn't quite stack up to Verlander. Porcello matching up against Derek Holland pits a battle of proming young pitchers, especially Holland, who is showing signs of emerging into an ace but is lacks consistency and is prone to the wild inning if he lets the game get away from him. Lewis has an incredible postseason record, but his propensity to give up the long ball held him back in the regular season. Harrison impressed against the Rays by punching out nine but could only last five innings and the jury is still out on just how good a picher he is.

All told, yet another matchup where both teams look even -- but not quite, as Verlander is the man that tips the scales in the Tigers' favor.

Relief pitching: Jose Valverde and co. vs. Neftali Feliz and co.


Both Valverde and Feliz are good pitchers when on, but both can also be maddeningly inconsistent. The Tigers closer can point to his 49 of 49 record in saves, but he walks way too much to be reliable. Feliz, meanwhile, took a clear step back from last season when he closed 40 games as a rookie and lost his strong command. He's been much better since the All-Star break, though, and if I had to pick one closer, I'd take Feliz. Texas also has a vaunted setup corps, boasting Mike Adams (who is still one of the best relievers in the game despite a spike in home runs allowed), Koji Uehara, Alexi Ogando, Mike Gonzalez and Darrell Oliver most notably.

Texas' 3.79 bullpen ERA during the regular season was fifth-best in the AL and would have been even better with full years of all relievers mentioned sans Feliz and Oliver, who have been with the club all year. By comparison, the Tigers' two best relievers are Al Alburquerque and Joaquin Benoit, but Alburquerque only pitched 14 1/3 innings in the second half and did not look good in Games 1 and 4 of the ALDS. The Tigers pen has a chance to be a good one, but Texas is the better bet to come out on top in the war of bullpens.

Defense


Defensive statistics are getting a bum rap these days, and it's understandable. Quantifying defense is a very difficult thing to do and no defensive metric out there can be relied on. However, when you have a large sample to draw from, multiple numbers to look at and enough of a disparity in the numbers, it becomes obvious which defense holds up. And that's the Rangers, who score well in defensive metrics, largely on the strength of Andrus, Kinsler and Beltre, while the Tigers are affected by the tin gloves of Betemit, Cabrera, and Young the most.

DetroitPREDICTION

Both teams shape up to be remarkably even all across the board -- even though both teams are the last two standing in the AL and it makes sense that they would be equals, it's not often you see such a balanced division. It will come down to the postseason mantra of good pitching always beating good hitting, and given the presence of Verlander, I'll give the nod to Detroit vanquishing Texas in six games, while Daniel Knobler likes Detroit too, but in seven.

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Posted on: July 28, 2011 2:54 pm
 

Tempers flare in Detroit

Brad PennyBy C. Trent Rosecrans

The Tigers may be in first place in the American League Central, but things still seemed a little tense during Thursday afternoon's game with the Angels when starter Brad Penny and catcher Victor Martinez got into a spat on the mound.

With Peter Bourjos at the plate, Martinez called for a ball out wide of the strike zone and Penny threw the a pitch inside that Bourjos smacked into left for a double, scoring the Angles' second run of the fourth inning. Martinez then went to the mound to talk to the pitcher and Penny appeared to take offense to whatever was said and started to walk away before getting angry.

Martinez started walking away, but with Penny yelling at him, he returned to the mound. The two were face-to-face, although it didn't appear that it was coming close to blows, just a strong disagreement. As  Penny continued to yell at Martinez, pitching coach Jeff Jones got between the two.

Penny stayed in the game, getting Jeff Mathis on a sacrifice bunt before allowing another run to score on Erick Aybar's single to right. That's when Jim Leyland came out to get Penny. The Tigers brought in lefty Charlie Furbush to replace Penny, and he gave up an RBI single to Torii Hunter to close the book on Penny, who allowed nine hits and seven runs in 3 1/3 innings. He didn't strike out a batter and allowed a walk and a homer, watching his ERA rise to 4.89 this season. He's 7-7 coming into the game.

It should be noted, the Tigers have been hoping to upgrade their rotation at the trade deadline, and this outburst can't help but intensify those talks.

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Posted on: July 3, 2011 12:53 pm
Edited on: July 3, 2011 1:10 pm
 

34th man candidates revealed

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Not only is Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen left off the National League roster, he's not even on the ballot for the 34th roster spot with online voting at MLB.com. Here are the five candidates from each league for the last spot on their respective All-Star squads.

American League

Alex Gordon, Royals

Adam Jones, Orioles

Paul Konerko, White Sox

Victor Martinez, Tigers

Ben Zobrist, Rays

National League

Michael Morse, Nationals

Shane Victorino, Phillies

Andre Ethier, Dodgers

Todd Helton, Rockies

Ian Kennedy, Diamondbacks 

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Posted on: June 15, 2011 11:22 am
 

Tigers may play C Avila at third in NL parks

By Evan Brunell

AvilaManager Jim Leyland isn't pleased about the fact he will have to remove one of his best hitters from the lineup when interleague play begins. Miguel Cabrera is entrenched at first base, and Alex Avila has been the primary catcher behind the dish -- but Detroit can't remove Victor Martinez from the lineup. That's caused Leyland to get a little creative in his thinking.

“I’m contemplating playing Alex a game at third," Leyland told the Detroit Free Press. "I had him quietly take some grounders [at third] yesterday. It’s just a thought I’m having to get his and Victor’s bat in there. I’m trying to be a little creative. It’s not a major story.

“I’m trying to be creative because it’s six in a row. I hate to lose those bats. I’m not saying I’m even going to do it. I’m just thinking. I’m wracking my brain so I can have those bats in there."

Even the Tigers were taken aback at Avila's progression, as he is currently hitting .296/.355/.545 with nine home runs and 12 doubles in 216 plate appearances. That's two more homers and doubles than he had last season in 333 PA. With Avila such an important part of the offense and what looks to be a fight for the division all year, it's understandable why Leyland is trying to find ways to put Avila in the lineup.

“There are a lot of catches to it," Leyland noted. "If you play Alex at third and then you want to take him out for defense in the seventh inning, then you’re naked at catcher.

“There are a whole lot of things that go on. You’ve got to say, ‘I’m willing to live with the consequences,’ and you’ve got enough guts to do it, or you don’t. I’m not sure.”

The Tigers head out to Colorado for a weekend series before heading to Dodger Stadium. After an off-day, they will return home next Friday to host the Diamondbacks.

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Posted on: May 10, 2011 1:48 am
 

3 up, 3 down: Jackson comes through; Wells to DL

Jackson

By Evan Brunell

upEdwin Jackson, White Sox -- Jackson needed this game as Jake Peavy is returning Wednesday and the ChiSox are trying to figure out how to keep Phillip Humber in the rotation. There's been some talk of a six-man rotation -- at least until the team is confident that Peavy is back and will stay back. But a six-man rotation just isn't a good idea for a permanent solution. Jackson would have been the odd man out as he's been the worst starter so far. But on Monday, he delivered the potential that has caused so many teams to take a chance on him. He went seven strong against the Angels, allowing just one walk and whiffing five, while limiting L.A. to just five hits and zero runs. His ERA sank a full 0.69 points all the way down to 4.29. Ozzie Guillen's job just got a lot harder.

Josh Beckett, Red Sox -- As good as Jackson was, Beckett was just as good, posting an identical line save for giving up an extra hit. This marks the fifth excellent start by Beckett (including his rain delay-aborted 4 1/3 innings last time out) and drops his ERA to a pristine 1.99, which is good for fourth in the AL behind Trevor Cahill of Oakland and two Angels teammates in Jered Weaver and Dan Haren. Beckett's resurgence comes as welcome news to Boston who desperately needed a return to prominence from the right-hander for the team to be confident in success in the postseason. Imagine how much more compounded the struggles of Boston would have been if Beckett was delivering an ERA in the 6.00s instead of putting him in the early Cy Young Award chase.

Victor Martinez, Tigers -- Martinez only came off the DL last Wednesday but is on fire, as he has registered a hit in every single game upon his return. Given he had hits in his three previous games before his injury, that marks a nine-game hitting streak for V-Mart, who went 3-for-4 as the Tigers routed the Blue Jays for their sixth victory in seven games. Martinez scored two and drove in three, while all three of hits hits went for extra bases with two doubles and a home run. He's now hitting a cool .293/..344/.488 and has been everything Detroit hoped for when they surprised many with an aggressive offer that got V-Mart signed early in the offseason.  


downVernon Wells, Angels -- Wells hits the disabled list with a right groin strain, and the .183-hitting outfielder will get some time to ruminate on how best to turn around his slump. Wells has actually flashed some power by bashing three home runs in May but still has yet to start stringing hits together. His line on the season is .183/.224/.303, which easily "beats" Carl Crawford out for the worst line by a starting player in the game now that Crawford has gotten hot in May. It's awfully hard to contend that L.A. hasn't gotten better with this injury. The defensively-challenged outfielder will likely be replaced in the field by Bobby Abreu, who has his own defensive limitations but will allow the club to get both Alberto Callaspo and Macier Izturis in the lineup. It's not every day one says Callaspo is better than Wells, but here we are. (And let's quell the speculation; Mike Trout is not getting the call. Bank on Reggie Willits to serve as backup outfielder.)

Javier Vazquez, Marlins -- And the beat goes on, as Vazquez turns in yet another disappointing start in what is an early front-runner for worst free agent signing of the year. Sure, Vazquez is only on a one-year deal, but how many players earn $7 million a year for the Marlins? Anyways, Vazquez's downward spiral with a disappearing fastball and inability to spot his pitches continued by coughing up five earned runs (six total) to the Phillies, going just 4 1/3 with one walk and zero strikeouts and nine strikeouts. He didn't exactly set the tone for the game, giving up a leadoff homer to Jimmy Rollins. At this point, Florida needs to come up with a phantom injury to get Vazquez and his 6.88 ERA away from the team. It's clear he's not right and he needs to fix himself away from the club.

Ryan Ludwick, Padres -- Ryan Ludwick just doesn't like being a Padre, doesn't he? OK, part of it has to do with Petco Park, but still, it's remarkable how far he's fallen since being dealt from St. Louis. You have to give the Cardinals a hand for seeing the writing on the wall, as Ludwick went 0-for-4 on the night with three strikeouts to drop his overall line to .189/.283/.344. Not including Monday's game, Ludwick's career line as a Padre: .205/.298/.339. Someone get him to Coors Field, stat.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com