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Chattin’ Cats Week in Review: Brad Ausmus Needs Managing Balance for Detroit Tigers

May 25th, 2015 at 9:14 AM
By Max DeMara

Welcome to Chattin' Cats, a weekly piece recapping the most important talking point from the week before about the Detroit Tigers while taking a look ahead.

This past week, the Detroit Tigers finished out a tough home stand, losing two of three games to the Milwaukee Brewers, and struggling to a spilt with the Houston Astros after taking the first two games.

Sadly, though, none of the good play or positive moments will stick out given what happened on Thursday and Sunday afternoons. The Tigers, clinging to late leads both days, went through a bizarre strain of bullpen moves which prove manager Brad Ausmus still might not know who he is.

Thursday, Ausmus rotated arms like a carousel, switching from Angel Nesbitt to Blaine Hardy to Joba Chamberlain in rapid succession, desperately in search of a match up. He removed Nesbitt because he wanted Hardy, a left-handed pitcher, to face a left-handed batter.

"Lefty up," Ausmus said in his post-game press conference without thinking. "I feel better with Blaine Hardy against a lefty."

It blew up in his face, as Luis Valbuena singled, helping to kick-start a small rally that helped Houston eventually tie the game in the ninth inning.

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Preston Tucker Clubs Detroit Tigers with Pinch-Hit Homer as Houston Astros Rally for Split

May 24th, 2015 at 5:20 PM
By Max DeMara

DETROIT — Since Luke Scott's sudden departure from a major league roster, the Detroit Tigers liekly haven't seen a player do more damage against them head-to head than young Preston Tucker.

For the second time in the series, Tucker delivered in a pinch-hitting role, tying the game in the sixth inning with a three-run shot. The Houston Astros used that momentum to score three more times over the final four frames and scratch out a series split with the Tigers thanks to a 10-8 win.

Early on, it didn't appear as if Houston would need heroics. Evan Gattis got things started with a two-run triple after a pair of singles, an Sanchez balked home a run to make it 3-0. Detroit responded, however, after a sacrifice fly by J.D. Martinez and a single by Yoenis Cespedes, and broke the game open with a three run double by Bryan Holaday.

Following the burst of scoring amid a 36-minute inning, things settled down. Hernandez put the clamps on the Tigers' offense, and Sanchez began rack up the strikeouts. Detroit got Sanchez more wiggle room in the fourth after a double by Anthony Gose scored Andrew Romine, and in the fifth following doubles by Cespedes and Nick Castellanos.

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MRI Reveals No Structural Damage for Detroit Tigers’ Jose Iglesias; Kyle Lobstein to DL

May 24th, 2015 at 11:36 AM
By Max DeMara

DETROIT — For some reason, be it his execution on the field or calm personality, Jose Iglesias has a black injury cloud that seems to follow him every day.

Saturday, the Detroit Tigers' shortstop had another scare when he bumped knees with massive Houston Astros' first baseman Chris Carter on the way down the line. Whatever fear the Tigers might have felt Saturday about the injury greatly dissipated by Sunday morning.

An MRI revealed Iglesias has no structural damage to his knee. In a piece penned by Matt Mowery of the Oakland Press, Brad Ausmus explained the specifics of what the team had seen with Iglesias that would help him miss Sunday's game.

"He's got just a contusion. No structural damage, just some swelling, so he's down because of the swelling," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "He's out because of the contusion, and a little bit of swelling. We don't expect it to be anything long-term.

While Detroit was likely encouraged by that news, they were probably just as dismayed by the fact that starter Kyle Lobstein is heading to the disabled list with shoulder soreness. Lobstein will have an MRI, and the team will depend on Buck Farmer to start next Thursday against the Los Angeles Angels. The hope is, Lobstein's issue is nothing but shoulder soreness.

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Rookie Catcher James McCann Settling in Impressively as Starter for Detroit Tigers

May 23rd, 2015 at 9:21 AM
By Max DeMara

When Alex Avila went down a few weeks ago with a knee injury, the Detroit Tigers didn't know what they'd get from James McCann in a starting role.

The catcher, despite all of his positive virtues, is still a rookie. It would be easy for such a player to be overwhelmed by his first starting role, not knowing how to contend with being in charge of a pitching staff while having to hit for decent average while making the transition to the big leagues.

But McCann has juggled both tasks in extraordinary fashion since taking over for Avila. There's been very little noticeable drop off behind the plate, and McCann's offense has also only improved since he has been given a consistent starting role.

Friday night, he burned the Houston Astros for the second straight day by coming through with a clutch two-run single in the eighth inning to provide the Tigers with an insurmountable 6-2 lead for the ninth inning. With that as a cushion, Detroit would go on to win easily.

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Breakfast with Brad: Within Bullpen Management, Brad Ausmus Can Walk Tightrope for Detroit Tigers

May 22nd, 2015 at 9:58 AM
By Max DeMara

"Breakfast With Brad" provides a morning look inside the mind of Detroit Tigers' manager Brad Ausmus.

Thursday afternoon, the Detroit Tigers seemed to have a regulation win against the Houston Astros in the bag.

David Price had pitched well into the sixth inning, and the team had finally gotten the kind of clutch hits that had previously evaded them on plenty of other nights.

All of a sudden, things changed. Price went bad in the seventh, getting knocked around by the Astros to the tune of three runs, two of which were earned. Considering pitch count, it was time for him to go. Replacing Price was Angel Nesbitt, who got the final out of the seventh in one pitch.

Nesbitt then led off the eighth, getting his second out in only two pitches, but was removed for Blaine Hardy despite the fact that there was nobody on base. The reasoning was simple according to Brad Ausmus.

"Lefty up," Ausmus responded almost immediately when asked. Does he not trust Nesbitt against a left-handed hitter?

"I do, but I feel better with Blaine Hardy against a lefty," Ausmus said.

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