Tag Archive: Phil Coke


Thoughts on game 13 of 162

Coke zero: Tigers starter Phil Coke threw seven scoreless innings to help the Tigers beat the Athletics on Thursday night. (AP)

Behind Phil Coke and Ryan Raburn, the Tigers pushed their winning streak to three with their first shutout of the season. Detroit, which was playing the opening game of a seven-game road trip out west,  is 6-7 and is tied with Tampa Bay for the longest current win streak in the Ameican League. Oakland falls to 6-7.

Hero: Phil Coke

Coke delivered in what arguably was the best start by a Tigers starting pitcher this season. In his second start since converting from a reliever, Coke tossed seven scoreless innings, limiting the Athletics to just three hits while earning his first victory of the season. Coke walked two and struck out two. The back end of the Tiger bullpen finished what he started as Joaquin Benoit and Jose Valverde combined to not allow a hit while pitching two scoreless innings to seal the win.

Coke’s outing continued a trend of strong pitching by Tigers starters and they will need that to carry over with Rick Porcello tonight.

Key play: The Tigers only had four hits with the biggest being Ryan Raburn’s two-out RBI double in the seventh off reliever Tyson Ross that scored Ramon Santiago to break the scoreless tie.

Santiago also had a key sacrifice fly in the eighth inning that provided the Tigers with an insurance run. Santiago finished 2 for 3, while Casper Wells had the Tigers’ lone other hit.

Conor Jackson had two of Oakland’s three hits.

Slow starts: Victor Martinez went 0 for 5 Thursday and saw his average dip to .200. Austin Jackson was 0 for 4 and is batting 194.

Up next: at Athletics, 10 p.m. tonight

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Thoughts on Game 8 of 162

Not bad: In his first start of the season, Phil Coke struck out seven and gave up two runs over 6 2/3 innings. (AP)

Phil Coke’s transition as a starter got off to a shaky start, but he bounced back well to provide the Tigers with an impressive outing. Coke gave up just two runs and struck out seven over 6 2/3 innings. The Tigers bats never got going which led to the loss. Detroit’s only run came in the ninth inning on a solo homer by Ryan Raburn.

Hero: Bruce Chen

Chen kept the Tigers off balance on Saturday, surrendering just three hits and striking out seven in six scoreless innings of work. The pitching win was the first of the season for Chen, who owns a 3-1 record in starts against the Tigers since last season.

Positive day despite outcome: If Coke can continue to have starts like the one on Saturday, it will bode well for the Tigers. He was effective out of the bullpen last season but the Tigers reserved a spot in the rotation for him at the end of last year, thinking he could fare well as starter. Him in the rotation gives the Tigers a lefty presence that they haven’t really had since Dontrelle Willis was in the rotation early last season before being released. Coke pitching well also relieves the need to have to rush Andy Oliver or Jacob Turner to the majors and allows them to get more seasoning in the minors. Although both pitchers had strong season-opening starts in the minors.

Regardless of that, if Coke continues to have outings like that the Tigers should win a majority of the games he starts.

Up next: Kansas City, 1 p.m. Sunday

Thoughts on Game 1 of 162 for the Tigers

Hero: New York’s Curtis Granderson

Former Tiger Curtis Granderson's solo home run in the 7th inning broke a 3-3 tie and lifted the Yankees to a 6-3 win over Detroit in Thursday's season opener (AP)

Granderson was by far today’s most valuable performer. His only hit – a solo homer off reliever Phil Coke – was the one that broke a 3-3 tie and vaulted the Yankees to the opening day win. The former Tiger also made several big plays in the field – ones we were accustomed to seeing in Detroit – that helped the Yankees as well.

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First impressions

Justin Verlander carried a strong spring over into the season opener. His first start was a quality one – 6 innings pitched, just the three earned runs on three hits and eight strikeouts. Lone negative was the three-run homer he gave up to Mark Teixeira, the four walks and a 31-pitch opening inning. But the Yankees have a kind of lineup that is going to make you work.

– The bullpen wasn’t so hot today as it went three innings and surrendered three runs to the Yankees. Coke, who is temporarily being used out of the bullpen with the extra off days over the first week and a half, gave up 2 runs (1 earned) and Ryan Perry gave up one, Meanwhile the Yankees bullpen of Joba Chamberlain, Rafael Soriano and Mariano Rivera combined for three scoreless innings and didn’t allow a hit.

– Victor Martinez, one of the Tigers’ big pick ups in the offseason, was 1-for-4 in his Detroit debut. He singled in the second inning.

– Alex Avila looked out of sync at the plate against CC Sabathia and fanned three times today. He also was a little shaky defensively. If Avila gets off to a slow start, you have to wonder how patient the Tigers will be with him. That also could change the lineup drastically with Victor Martinez probably catching more than a 1/3 of the games. That could open some at-bats for Brennan Boesch or Casper Wells as a DH or outfielder. Something to keep an eye on.

With that being said, this is just one game and most of Avila’s at-bats came against one of the best left-handed pitchers in the game. Facing CC wasn’t the best of matchups for him.

– Austin Jackson will need to cut down on the strikeouts. He showed some better pitch recognition this spring but opened the season by striking out three times

– The top three hitters in the Tigers lineup went a combined 1 for 11. Jackson’s single was the lone hit.

– A bright spot was the bottom of the Tigers lineup, which drove in 2 of the 3 runs. Jhonny Peralta had a sacrifice fly and Brandon Inge had a two-out RBI hit. Miguel Cabrera had the other RBI with a sacrifice fly. Ryan Raburn also had a nice diving catch in left field and went 1 for 3 with a walk

Up next: At Yankees, 4 p.m. Saturday

The Tigers bolstered their bullpen with the addition of Joaquin Benoit. The right-handed reliever was 1-2 with a 1.34 ERA in 60 games last season with the Rays. (Associated Press)

Joaquin Benoit had struggled with his control for much of his career.

In 2010 he finally put things together and emerged as a top-notch setup man for the Tampa Bay Rays. Benoit went 1-2 with a 1.34 ERA and struck out 76 and walked 11 in 60 1/3 innings, playing a large role in helping the Rays win their second AL East crown in three years.

The best season in his career resulted in a big pay day as the 33-year old right-hander has reportedly agreed to a three-year, $16.5 million deal with the Tigers where he will likely become the setup man to Jose Valverde. This comes a year after he was signed by the Rays as a minor-league free agent after not playing in the majors in 2009.

Benoit is a much needed piece for the Tigers because they were in need of bullpen help. With the injury history of Joel Zumaya and Phil Coke likely headed to the starting rotation, Detroit needed to find someone for the back end of the bullpen.

The problem with the deal is the Tigers are giving out a large amount of money and years to a pitcher that hasn’t been consistent throughout his major league career. In 2008 with Texas, he struck out 43 and walked 35 in 45 innings – not a great ratio. Through most seasons in his career, he has walked an average of four per nine innings – not something you want a reliever to do. But after missing 2009 because of rotator cuff season, Benoit put it all together.

The deal is a bit of a gamble for the Tigers, but if Benoit in fact has things figured out and can duplicate or come close to his 2010 success, it would be a big boost for a Detroit team hoping to contend in the AL Central.

Benoit is the first piece in free agency reeled in by the Tigers. With the loss of long reliever/spot starter Eddie Bonine and minor league Casey Fien (who spent some time in the majors the past two seasons), it appears the Tigers will be revamping the bullpen. Ryan Perry and Valverde and now Benoit likely are the main locks for the 2011 bullpen at this point.