Max Scherzer went the longest of any Detroit starter this spring with seven innings of two run, three hit ball against the Yankees. He struck out eight of the 24 batters he faced, mixing a mid-90’s fastball with some seriously effective breaking pitches in order to do so.
Scherzer retired the first 16 batters of the game before Colin Curtis singled with one out in the sixth. Scherzer then gave up a two run home run to Raul Ibanez in the seventh, which put the Tigers behind 2-0, as the offense couldn’t muster anything against Freddy Garcia, Kevin Whelan, and Boone Logan. The Tigers did tie the game in the bottom of the ninth when Audy Ciriaco homered off of D.J. Mitchell and Danny Worth hit a sacrifice fly a couple batters later, to net the score at two and send yet another intense spring contest into extra innings.
However, in the top of the tenth a two run double off the bat of Dwayne Wise put the Yankees up 4-2, a lead they kept through the bottom of the inning to defeat the Tigers.
Daniel Schlereth was the losing pitcher and the sole victim in the tenth in what was his first rough outing of the spring. Danny Worth led the inning off with an error, the Schlereth gave up a walk, fly out, intentional walk (to set up the double play), two run double, another intentional walk, strikeout, and fly out.
In previous years, one would be concerned about Schlereth settling down enough so that he could get out of the inning. He recovered well, which is a good sign for him and a display of his continuing maturity. Add that with his impressive fastball this spring, and Schlereth could be in line for a good year and play a big role in the bullpen.
Offensively, there’s nothing concerning to worry about other than, at this point, someone getting hurt before April 5th.
Of course, then there’s Brandon Inge. With his 0-3 performance at second base today, he sits at .184 on the spring. I’ve written at length about that fact that spring stats for him do, in fact, matter since he is trying to “win” the starting job.
At this point, and there’s really no indication anything will change, he hasn’t won any job of any kind. His defense at second is good, but so is Ramon Santiago’s (.321), Danny Worth’s (.292) and Don Kelly’s (.351), who have all shown that they can provide a bit of a bat at the tail end of a lineup. There’s no competition here in my mind for a bench spot, much less a starting role.
There are two probable outcomes here:
Inge makes the team, where he starts against lefty pitchers and comes in as a defensive replacement the rest of the time.
Inge is designated for assignment, gets placed on waivers and if no team wants to take on his salary, he goes to triple-A Toledo and rakes where, then people debate whether or not he can hit again without considering the massive talent difference in triple-A pitchers and major league pitchers and this drama continues like the song that never ends.
I think you all know what I think should happen, and there are no comebacks from an outright release. I doubt the Tigers do this, yet will never understand why they won’t.
In other notes, none of Below, Oliver, or Smyly pitched on Saturday.
While Justin Verlander will start against Philadelphia on Sunday, the Tigers will be playing a split squad and Duane Below will make a critical start against the Yankees. Leyland will be managing this game in order to watch Below’s performance.
You’d have to imagine that a good start keeps him right up there, but a poor one makes this a two man race.
Updated through 21 of 35 spring games (14-4-3):
Andy Oliver: 12.2IP, 4H, 3ER, 8BB, 7SO | 2.13ERA
Duane Below: 8.2IP, 13H, 5ER, 5BB, 6SO | 5.87ERA
Drew Smyly: 8IP, 4H, 1ER, 3BB, 7SO | 1.13ERA
Jacob Turner: 4IP, 6H, 5ER, 6BB, 2SO | 11.25ERA Casey Crosby: 5.2IP, 6H, 3ER, 6BB, 4SO | 4.76ERA Adam Wilk: 12IP, 19H, 10ER, 2BB, 5SO | 7.50ERA