Tigers Fans on the Prowl of Who to Blame

On Tuesday night, the Tigers played an emotional rollercoaster of a game, falling to the Minnesota Twins 4-3. Emotional games often bring about visceral reactions, and that was no different on Tuesday night as Tigers fans took to Twitter, looking for someone to blame for the frustrating loss. Who is to blame for the loss?

Misdirected anger can be a common theme in this world of 24/7 sports media and Tuesday night was no different, as Tigers’ fans took out their frustration this time on this little old writer from TigsTown.

For those that might not have watched the game or have also not seen the replays, after taking a dramatic 3-2 lead in the top half of the ninth on a J.D. Martinez three-run home run, the Tigers gave that lead right back in the bottom half of the inning when Ezequiel Carrera dove for a ball that was headed for being a bloop single. Instead of being a single, Carrera missed the ball on his dive and the ball went past him, rolling almost to the wall, resulting in a run-scoring double that tied the game and put the winning run in scoring position.

In any game, there are many small things that can contribute to a win or loss, and in this man's opinion, that single play was the primary driver in the Tigers falling to the Twins. Carrera trying to dive wasn’t wise because instead of runners on 1st and 2nd with one out, the tying run crossed the plate and the game winning run was now on 2nd base in scoring position. He would later come around to score thanks to a pair of ground balls that never left the infield, but one advanced the runner and the other went for an infield hit.

I expressed that opinion, along with the opinion that despite the outcry, I didn’t see any blame falling on manager Brad Ausmus or closer Joe Nathan. That opinion was met with venom and downright fury, which if you’re interested, you can see via the tweet below.

But rather than focus on the Twitter hysteria, I'd rather focus on the actual opinion; that being that neither Ausmus nor Nathan were primarily responsible for the loss.

First up, manager Brad Ausmus.

As is the case with any manager, Ausmus receives most of the blame when the Tigers lose, even when it's not his fault. Second guessing the manager is a core part of the national pastime and Ausmus will be no different in that regard. And to be fair, Ausmus has made his share of mistakes as a rookie manager that deserved criticism.

But did Ausmus actually do anything wrong from a managerial standpoint in this game? I simply don't see it.

The biggest issue according to fans was his decision to let Don Kelly bat in the seventh inning with two men on and two out. Kelly, who entered the game hitting .255 with a .296 wOBA, flied out harmlessly to end the threat. Tigers’ fans wanted a pinch hitter in this situation and felt Ausmus failed in that department.

From my vantage point the problem with this opinion is two-fold. One, it assumes there was a better option on the bench. And two, it ignores the potential need to have one of your better, and certainly your most versatile, defender available in the late innings. The latter is a managerial flexibility need, and the value of it varies from person to person, but Ausmus clearly does.

On the first aspect, if you believe Tyler Collins or Steven Moya, both more talented but way less experienced than Kelly, would be better options at the plate, I’d disagree. Yes, they’re both talented and have had minor league success, but that doesn’t always align to success against a big league hurler pitching very well on this particular night. Infielder Eugenio Suarez has not proven to be a better alternative this year (.247 average, .300 wOBA), and both Alex Avila and Nick Castellanos were unavailable due to injury. That doesn’t look to be much of a better alternative to me, and certainly not one that would out-weigh the defensive drawbacks.

Second, we take a look at Nathan, who took the blown save and the loss.

Nathan, to be clear, has not been very good this season. This is not a defense of Nathan’s season though, simply an assessment of how he performed in this one game.

Nathan got the first out no problem, on a grounder to first base. But then Trevor Plouffe worked a one-out walk. Plouffe has worked in 9% of his plate appearances this season though, so fans clamoring that Plouffe is a free swinger that doesn’t work counts are misguided.

Nevertheless, this walk put the Tigers in hot water, and it is why Nathan deserves a bit of blame – the margin for error in one run games is thin, and giving a free base to someone just can’t happen.

After that, Nathan gave up a soft fly ball to center that Carrera irresponsibly dove for. The smart play would have been to let the ball bounce and play it on a hop, keeping runners on first and second with one out. Yes, that does put the tying run in scoring position, but it also keeps the double play in order.

And wouldn’t you know it, in the next at-bat, Nathan got a tailor-made double play ball to second, only instead of turning a 4-6-3, second baseman Ian Kinsler simply tossed the ball over to first base, as there was no double play to be had. Of course, there are plenty of variables that could have changed whether or not Nathan got that ground ball in a different situation, and its all revisionist. Doesn’t change the fact that the dive took the possibility away.

From there, Nathan induced another ground ball, a slow roller up the middle that couldn’t have been more perfectly placed if it had been thrown. Shortstop Andrew Romine made a great attempt at the ball but had no chance of recording the third out, and the winning run scored on it. Usually, a soft ground ball gets turned for an out, but occasionally, it doesn’t. I’d always prefer a strikeout, but soft contact is certainly a good outcome from the pitcher’s standpoint, and unfortunately, in this instance, it went for an infield hit.

So ultimately, the heart of the issue comes back to the single decision of Carrera to dive for a ball he was unlikely to get to, and in turn allowing the game tying run to score, and the game winning run to get in position to score. The Tigers may still have lost had he played it smarter, but he never gave his club that chance.


Tigs Town Top Stories

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But rather than focus on the Twitter hysteria, I'd rather focus on the actual opinion; that being that neither Ausmus nor Nathan were primarily responsible for the loss.

\r\n

First up, manager Brad Ausmus.

\r\n

As is the case with any manager, Ausmus receives most of the blame when the Tigers lose, even when it's not his fault. Second guessing the manager is a core part of the national pastime and Ausmus will be no different in that regard. And to be fair, Ausmus has made his share of mistakes as a rookie manager that deserved criticism.

\r\n

But did Ausmus actually do anything wrong from a managerial standpoint in this game? I simply don't see it.

\r\n

The biggest issue according to fans was his decision to let Don Kelly bat in the seventh inning with two men on and two out. Kelly, who entered the game hitting .255 with a .296 wOBA, flied out harmlessly to end the threat. Tigers’ fans wanted a pinch hitter in this situation and felt Ausmus failed in that department.

\r\n

From my vantage point the problem with this opinion is two-fold. One, it assumes there was a better option on the bench. And two, it ignores the potential need to have one of your better, and certainly your most versatile, defender available in the late innings. The latter is a managerial flexibility need, and the value of it varies from person to person, but Ausmus clearly does.

\r\n

On the first aspect, if you believe Tyler Collins or Steven Moya, both more talented but way less experienced than Kelly, would be better options at the plate, I’d disagree. Yes, they’re both talented and have had minor league success, but that doesn’t always align to success against a big league hurler pitching very well on this particular night. Infielder Eugenio Suarez has not proven to be a better alternative this year (.247 average, .300 wOBA), and both Alex Avila and Nick Castellanos were unavailable due to injury. That doesn’t look to be much of a better alternative to me, and certainly not one that would out-weigh the defensive drawbacks.

\r\n

Second, we take a look at Nathan, who took the blown save and the loss.

\r\n

Nathan, to be clear, has not been very good this season. This is not a defense of Nathan’s season though, simply an assessment of how he performed in this one game.

\r\n

Nathan got the first out no problem, on a grounder to first base. But then Trevor Plouffe worked a one-out walk. Plouffe has worked in 9% of his plate appearances this season though, so fans clamoring that Plouffe is a free swinger that doesn’t work counts are misguided.

\r\n

Nevertheless, this walk put the Tigers in hot water, and it is why Nathan deserves a bit of blame – the margin for error in one run games is thin, and giving a free base to someone just can’t happen.

\r\n

After that, Nathan gave up a soft fly ball to center that Carrera irresponsibly dove for. The smart play would have been to let the ball bounce and play it on a hop, keeping runners on first and second with one out. Yes, that does put the tying run in scoring position, but it also keeps the double play in order.

\r\n

And wouldn’t you know it, in the next at-bat, Nathan got a tailor-made double play ball to second, only instead of turning a 4-6-3, second baseman Ian Kinsler simply tossed the ball over to first base, as there was no double play to be had. Of course, there are plenty of variables that could have changed whether or not Nathan got that ground ball in a different situation, and its all revisionist. Doesn’t change the fact that the dive took the possibility away.

\r\n

From there, Nathan induced another ground ball, a slow roller up the middle that couldn’t have been more perfectly placed if it had been thrown. Shortstop Andrew Romine made a great attempt at the ball but had no chance of recording the third out, and the winning run scored on it. Usually, a soft ground ball gets turned for an out, but occasionally, it doesn’t. I’d always prefer a strikeout, but soft contact is certainly a good outcome from the pitcher’s standpoint, and unfortunately, in this instance, it went for an infield hit.

\r\n

So ultimately, the heart of the issue comes back to the single decision of Carrera to dive for a ball he was unlikely to get to, and in turn allowing the game tying run to score, and the game winning run to get in position to score. The Tigers may still have lost had he played it smarter, but he never gave his club that chance.

\r\n","mobileBody":"

Misdirected anger can be a common theme in this world of 24/7 sports media and Tuesday night was no different, as Tigers’ fans took out their frustration this time on this little old writer from TigsTown.

For those that might not have watched the game or have also not seen the replays, after taking a dramatic 3-2 lead in the top half of the ninth on a J.D. Martinez three-run home run, the Tigers gave that lead right back in the bottom half of the inning when Ezequiel Carrera dove for a ball that was headed for being a bloop single. Instead of being a single, Carrera missed the ball on his dive and the ball went past him, rolling almost to the wall, resulting in a run-scoring double that tied the game and put the winning run in scoring position.

In any game, there are many small things that can contribute to a win or loss, and in this man's opinion, that single play was the primary driver in the Tigers falling to the Twins. Carrera trying to dive wasn’t wise because instead of runners on 1st and 2nd with one out, the tying run crossed the plate and the game winning run was now on 2nd base in scoring position. He would later come around to score thanks to a pair of ground balls that never left the infield, but one advanced the runner and the other went for an infield hit.

I expressed that opinion, along with the opinion that despite the outcry, I didn’t see any blame falling on manager Brad Ausmus or closer Joe Nathan. That opinion was met with venom and downright fury, which if you’re interested, you can see via the tweet below.

Just saying, I have no idea how any of this is Brad Ausmus's fault... and don't think Nathan deserves much blame either...

— Paul Wezner (@TigsTown) September 17, 2014

But rather than focus on the Twitter hysteria, I'd rather focus on the actual opinion; that being that neither Ausmus nor Nathan were primarily responsible for the loss.

First up, manager Brad Ausmus.

As is the case with any manager, Ausmus receives most of the blame when the Tigers lose, even when it's not his fault. Second guessing the manager is a core part of the national pastime and Ausmus will be no different in that regard. And to be fair, Ausmus has made his share of mistakes as a rookie manager that deserved criticism.

But did Ausmus actually do anything wrong from a managerial standpoint in this game? I simply don't see it.

The biggest issue according to fans was his decision to let Don Kelly bat in the seventh inning with two men on and two out. Kelly, who entered the game hitting .255 with a .296 wOBA, flied out harmlessly to end the threat. Tigers’ fans wanted a pinch hitter in this situation and felt Ausmus failed in that department.

From my vantage point the problem with this opinion is two-fold. One, it assumes there was a better option on the bench. And two, it ignores the potential need to have one of your better, and certainly your most versatile, defender available in the late innings. The latter is a managerial flexibility need, and the value of it varies from person to person, but Ausmus clearly does.

On the first aspect, if you believe Tyler Collins or Steven Moya, both more talented but way less experienced than Kelly, would be better options at the plate, I’d disagree. Yes, they’re both talented and have had minor league success, but that doesn’t always align to success against a big league hurler pitching very well on this particular night. Infielder Eugenio Suarez has not proven to be a better alternative this year (.247 average, .300 wOBA), and both Alex Avila and Nick Castellanos were unavailable due to injury. That doesn’t look to be much of a better alternative to me, and certainly not one that would out-weigh the defensive drawbacks.

Second, we take a look at Nathan, who took the blown save and the loss.

Nathan, to be clear, has not been very good this season. This is not a defense of Nathan’s season though, simply an assessment of how he performed in this one game.

Nathan got the first out no problem, on a grounder to first base. But then Trevor Plouffe worked a one-out walk. Plouffe has worked in 9% of his plate appearances this season though, so fans clamoring that Plouffe is a free swinger that doesn’t work counts are misguided.

Nevertheless, this walk put the Tigers in hot water, and it is why Nathan deserves a bit of blame – the margin for error in one run games is thin, and giving a free base to someone just can’t happen.

After that, Nathan gave up a soft fly ball to center that Carrera irresponsibly dove for. The smart play would have been to let the ball bounce and play it on a hop, keeping runners on first and second with one out. Yes, that does put the tying run in scoring position, but it also keeps the double play in order.

And wouldn’t you know it, in the next at-bat, Nathan got a tailor-made double play ball to second, only instead of turning a 4-6-3, second baseman Ian Kinsler simply tossed the ball over to first base, as there was no double play to be had. Of course, there are plenty of variables that could have changed whether or not Nathan got that ground ball in a different situation, and its all revisionist. Doesn’t change the fact that the dive took the possibility away.

From there, Nathan induced another ground ball, a slow roller up the middle that couldn’t have been more perfectly placed if it had been thrown. Shortstop Andrew Romine made a great attempt at the ball but had no chance of recording the third out, and the winning run scored on it. Usually, a soft ground ball gets turned for an out, but occasionally, it doesn’t. I’d always prefer a strikeout, but soft contact is certainly a good outcome from the pitcher’s standpoint, and unfortunately, in this instance, it went for an infield hit.

So ultimately, the heart of the issue comes back to the single decision of Carrera to dive for a ball he was unlikely to get to, and in turn allowing the game tying run to score, and the game winning run to get in position to score. The Tigers may still have lost had he played it smarter, but he never gave his club that chance.

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