Archive for August, 2003


White Sox Take Series, Loaiza Wins 18th

Loss number 101. The Tigers only managed 4 hits in this one, and a decent pitching performance by Nate Cornejo went to waste (five walks though). Danny Patterson couldn’t keep things close, and what was a one run lead going into the eighth turned into a rout.

One guy that continues to amaze me is Tom “Flash” Gordon. This guy has been throwing forever, and every time you think he’s done with an injury, he’s back a year or two later throwing just as hard. I remember seeing Gordon throw his rookie year when he split time between being a reliever and being a starter. He won 17 games that first season, which he never did match. Gordon finished second in the ROY of the voting, losing out to Orioles closer Gregg Olson

He did have a great season in 1989 as the closer for Boston (in fact, Gagne I believe is still chasing his consecutive save record), and was even immortalized by Stephen King in one of his thrillers, aptly named “The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon,” which was an excellent but short book by the master of horror.

I expect Gordon to be a pivotal piece in the last month of the season for the White Sox. I predicted a few weeks ago that the Sox would come out on top in the AL West, and I’m going to go a step further and give you a teaser for my playoff preview. If the White Sox win the division, they’ll go on to play the Giants in the World Series. This lineup is that good.



Tigers Lose 100th Game, Maroth Loses 19th

I checked Retrosheet, and the 1962 Mets lost their 100th game on August 29th, which on this year’s calendar was yesterday. The 62 Mets, like the Tigers, also had 34 wins when they lost they’re hundreth game.

Frank Thomas continues to roll, and could be an easy candidate for comeback player of the year. Big Hurt’s eventual Hall of Fame career seemed to be derailed with a mediocre performance in 1999, an injury ridden 2001, and possibly his worst overall season last year in terms of OBP and striking out.

But this year, he’s back to usual self. His OBP is still well below his career mark, but not obscenely so. And he should be able to match his 43 homers that he hit in 2000. What’s equally surprising, and difficult for people to convince at times, is that Frank is the active leader in OBP, and that’s no excluding the great one, Barry Bonds. Of course Barry has passed him to date, but the fact is still impressive.

Speaking of Barry, he hit his 40th of the season today after returning from bereavement leave.

Oh yeah, and the Tigers lost to Chicago. KC got postponed, and the Twins are leading. If they hold they’re lead, the White Sox will be a half game ahead of the Twins and Royals. Forget about the NL wildcard race. This one should go down to the wire. Not a lot to say about the game, so I won’t.



Tigers on Pace to Win 34th Game, Beat Buerhle

I was already envisioning what I was going to write this evening. I was going to talk about how Mark Buerhle owns the Tigers, and then do some research to see if the Tigers were the fastest team to 100 losses.

But the Tigers still manage to surprise me. They’re up 8-3 in the bottom half of the ninth, and Fernando Rodney is actually pitching shut out. Maybe Mars coming so close to Earth has caused some temporal shift that actually makes the Tigers competitive for the rest of the year.

And with that, and with the Royals being down, if the Twins can come back against Texas, they’ll pull within a half game of the pack. We could have a race like 1967, only instead of it being for a chance to play in the World Series and the best record in the AL, they’d be playing for a divisional title and making the playoffs despite having the fifth best record in the American League.

Yes, that’s sarcasm, with a little bit of bitterness towards the current playoff system.

Does anyone not think that a great emotional finish to the season would be a World Series, game seven, game winning homerun by Barry Bonds, which he then dedicates to his father. For all the grief Barry takes from the press, and it’s unfortunate that it’s come to this, we might finally see him getting some slack. No offense to Albert Pujols either, but I think it would be a travesty if Bonds didn’t win the MVP again this year. He hardly has the offensive weapons around him this year (no Jeff Kent for one), yet he’s still having an awesome season. If they’d pitch to him with men on base, he’d have 150 rbi’s.

So I’m rooting for the Giants this year. It would be the nice book end for the greatest player ever.

And if a closer wins the Cy Young this year, which looks like it could happen in the NL, I won’t be happy about that either. Yes, there’s no standout starters this year, but unless a reliever is throwing 120 innings, I can’t see him winning the award. Personally, and it depends on how these guys finish out, Hideo Nomo has put together a pretty impressive season, and with Kevin Brown, are the cornerstones of a weak hitting, but excellent pitching team. I know the Cy Young isn’t given to the Most Valuable pitcher, but I’d still put Gagne third on his team, much less in the National League. Odds are good Ortiz will finish ahead of Nomo and Brown though, because he’s racked up the most wins (not that I agree with that logic, but the media seems to put a premium on victories.

The Sox got a run in the eighth, so it’s now 8-4. Hopefully they’ll be able to hold on. This will consist of staining molding, more staining, and I’m hoping to fit in the Two Towers which I rented. I’m going to buy the Extended Edition when it comes out in November, but this will give me my fix for the time being.



Strat-O-Matic Tournament

As my basement nears completion, I’ll have some time (and room) this winter to relax. One thing I was planning on having was a Strat-O-Matic tournament, but there’s really only myself and one other friend of mine in the area who I know plays.

For those of you unfamiliar with Strat, it’s a great baseball simulator. And we’ll be playing the old fashion way with dice. Other then a small fee that will go into a winner takes all pot, there’s no cost involved. The first part will be a round robin, that will allow to you play against your opponents at the times that work best for you. Then things will be scaled down to a four team, single elimination tournament.

So, if you’re in the Detroit area and you’d be interested, drop me a line. This won’t be happening for at least a month or two though. I’m just trying to find people who’d be interested.



Tigers Drop Series to Indians, Continue Losing Ways

This is getting more and more depressing every day. I think the quote of the day comes from Trammell:

“We’re in uncharted waters,” Tigers manager Alan Trammell said. “It hasn’t gone the way I scripted it.”

No shit.

The Indians are a bottom tier team. The fact that they played Detroit 20+ times this season gives them a few more wins then they probably deserve. They’re well out of the playoff hunt, and are also playing for next year. Yet, they’re not even going to lose a 100 games, much less 120.

The 1984 Tigers set the standard for great starts in season by going 35-5. The 2003 Tigers have only 33 wins in 132 games. The Tigers could have their 105th loss, 100 more then the 1984 Tigers had in their 40 game stretch, before they reach their 35th victory.

Jeremy Bonderman lost his 18th, so now we’re going to get to hear about if he reaches 20, he’ll be scarred for life and won’t be able to leave his bedroom for a month for fear that the sky will fall on him.

Sorry for the pessimism, but it’s hard to get excited. Very hard.



Loux Injures Shoulder, Tigers Drop Game to Cleveland

Not that Shane Loux was entirely successful while he was up in the majors, but you hate to see this happen. Hopefully its minor.

Of course after Loux left the game after pitching two innings, the bullpen got decimated. Ledezma, German, and Spurling all threw around an inning each, and each gave up at least two earned runs.

The Tigers did manage to bounce back after going down 6-1. In the fifth inning, they scored 5 runs on three, yes three, homerun. In total, the Tigers hit five out. I’d have to surf the boxscores, but I’m thinking that’s a season high.

At 33-98, the Tigers have 31 games left to play. Ideally, they win 10 more and stay out of the record books entirely.



Tigers Beat Cleveland in Close Game, Win Second in a Row

Yes, a two game winning streak is a big deal around here.

In a game where Nate Cornejo didn’t have nearly his best stuff, the Tigers managed to hold onto a 5-4 victory. Nate pitched into the 8th inning, giving up 9 hits, a walk, and four earned runs. I caught the last few innings of this one, and Nate seemed to be getting behind in the count on a lot of batters, then would struggle back to get a ground ball out of some kind. His 17-4 GB/FB ratio is what you want to see from a pitcher.

Jamie Walker then came in with one out in the eighth, and pitched 1 2/3 solid innings. Decent game all around by the pitching staff.

One thing that impressed me during this game happened in the 7th inning. With one out, Alex Escobar hit a pinch hit single in the gap between left and center. Craig Monroe really hustled, and made a nice sliding stop to hold the batter to a single. The next batter, Josh Bard, then hit one foul in the corner in deep left, and Craig made a nice leeping catch against the wall. Two nice defensive plays from someone who’s not really known for their defense is a nice thing to see when you know the guys are still hustling. At times now, it almost seems a futile gesture with the amount of losses the Tigers have, but at least its nice to know the players are still doing their best. Earlier in the game, Monroe also hit his his 18th homerun.

And with that, the Tigers are now back above the .250 mark. Unfortunately, they’re going to be knee deep in September, playing a ton of teams in pennant or wild card races, so their opponents will still be taking these games seriously. Maybe the Tigers can play the spoiler.



Surprises

For those of you have never had a major renovation done to their house, it’s such a pain that it can’t be put into words. I can’t compare to having children, but for those without, it has to be the biggest inconvenience to deal with. Even buying the house and getting it ready to move in wasn’t this much of a pain. I was “off” on Friday, which meant I spent an inordinate amount of time doing the things around the house that I can’t get done on the weekends.

And this is with us paying to have it done. I couldn’t even imagine trying to do all of this shit by ourselves. Anyway, this is the lead it too my update.

Tigers were down by one with one on in the ninth when I went back downstairs to do some more staining. The thought that they would actually pull it out never even crossed my mind.

Well, they did. In grand fashion. Brandon Inge, or the second coming of Gary Carter at least for a month, hit a walk off two run shot in the bottom of the ninth to win it for the Tigers. Win number 32 is in the books.

Brandon had been hitless in his last three games after having a 12 game hitting streak (Tram should have never given him Wed. off). After spending three games up above the Mendoza line, Inge had dipped back down, but now is back up to a mind boggling .205 after a 3 for 5 performance. 6 different Tigers had multihit games in this one.

Of course the pitching was awful. And after looking at the box scores, I didn’t even realize German was back up (and gave up two walks), and I’m not even sure who Brian Schmack is, but he made his debut and pitched an inning of shutout ball (after walking one and giving up a hit). Maroth only lasted 5, but he avoided losing his 19th game. Fernado Rodney is also back up, and got shelled.

Okay, here’s the news. Looks like Walbeck and Eckenstahler got sent down to AAA, and Steve Sparks got his pink slip.

And here’s some numbers on Schmack. He gets the bump all the way from Erie, and was their closer, posting 29 saves, striking out 47 in 57 innings while walking only 10, and posting a 2.05 ERA.

I thought at first MLB was letting the Tigers have their September call ups a week early.



Condolences

I was sorry to hear about the passing of Bobby Bonds, another baseball great. Bobby was, in my opinion, the best power/speed guy of the 1970s, and in a day when 40-45 homers could lead the league, Bobby put up 332 career homers, and 461 stolen bases. In 1974, 14 years before Jose Canseco would do it, Bobby came one homer shy of being the first 40/40 guy.

My condolences go out to Bobby’s family, and to his fans.



New Lows?

I had to take the last couple of days off because I put off getting ready for my fantasy football draft. We’re also on our last leg as far as our house renovations, so things have been a crazy.

Saturday’s game has to be a new low, not only literally, but figuratively. With a five run lead going into the seventh, the Tigers looked like they were on track to end their losing streak, but the Angels came back with 4 in the seventh. The Tigers got one in their bottom half of the inning, but the Angels got 3 more in the eighth. To take a 7-6 lead. Tigers take the lead back in bottom of eighth with two more, and the Angels tie it in the ninth. Then the wheels came off the wagon and the Angels scored 6 in the top of the 10th, and the rest, as they say, is history.

A good pitching performance by Nate Robertson was completely wasted by the bullpen. Six different relievers came in after Nate, and despite only Spurling pitching more then an inning, all six couldn’t leave the game without giving up a run.

And with that, the Tigers are now in the midst of their worst losing streak of the season, and now stand at .242, which puts them on pace to win between 39 and 40. Sigh.

The September callups mean little to Detroit, other then the fact that they now have more relievers to use. The only guy I really have my eye on is Franklyn German, because I’d like to see if he’s made some real progress down in the minors.



Envy

This is being written more out of frustration then anything, but the Giants just finished their second straight late inning comeback win in as many days. Hereís a great team with in my opinion the best player ever to play the game of baseball, winning games in dramatic fashion, and in the process, ensuring their chances of making the post season.

I hear a lot on the radio, and people say baseball is dead and that football is now THE sport. Well, tell the people in San Francisco this, because this is just great baseball. Simply put, these kind of things are the way baseball is supposed to be.

Iíve been as optimistic as I possibly can about the Tigers, but at this point in the season, it’s hard. The Tigers havenít been in a serious playoff race in over ten years, unless you count 2000 where they were at least in the wild card hunt with several teams in late August. I vividly remember the final week of the 1987 regular season and the excitement it brought to the town and I miss it. And although I remember the 1984 World Series win, I donít think I was old enough to appreciate it. Iíve only read about the 1968 World Championship team.

So with the end of every year, and following the various division title races, Iím envious. I should consider myself lucky because over the last 15 year, the city (or state with regard to college sports) has had two NBA championships, three Stanley Cups, two NCAA basketball national championship, and one NCAA football co-national championship.

But I still feel cheated, because baseball is my sport, and the Tigers are my team.

I have mixed feelings about the Tigers breaking the 1962 Mets loss record. On the one hand, you never want your home team to be branded the worst ever. But on the other, if the Tigers go down in history as the worst team ever, you’d hope Mike Illitch would have enough pride to finally do something to rectify things.



Tigers Get Swept by Rangers, Lose 8th in a Row

Our seats were pretty nice for this one. Right behind the Rangers dugout in the 13th row. We also sat behind Channel 7 sports guy Don Shane, or a reasonable facsimile of him.

The only good thing I can say about this game is that it was short. Rangers got up early in the second inning, and then Mark Teixeira and A-Rod hit “Oh Shit” homers that you knew were gone once they swung the bat.

The Tigers got nothing done on offense, and four of their 6 hits they got in the second and third innings. Tram’s infatuation with the bunt continues to confound me. In the second inning, we had guys on first and third with one out, and Shane Halter lays down what I think was supposed to be a squeeze play. He moved the runner on first, but now you have two guys in scoring position, but you have the rally killer, Matt Walbeck up, who of course gets out.

Then in the third they had runners on first and second with nobody out, and they bunt again (this time it was Klasses). So he moves them over, and we have two runners in scoring position with one out, which makes a little more sense. Of course two strikeouts later, and we’re still being shut out.

I think the Tigers are much more frustrating to watch in person then they are on the TV or radio.



Tigers Drop 7th in a Row, Maroth Loses 18th

This is the 6th time the Tigers have lost seven or more in a row this season. A-Rod was the primary culprit, with a third inning, three run homer that put the Rangers up for good.

The Tigers managed 12 hits, but could only get four across. Things looked promising in the ninth, when Brandon Inge led off with a single (extending his hitting streak to 12 games), and Craig Monroe followed with a single. Alex Sanchez then attempted to bunt everyone over, but sent it straight to the pitcher, Brian Shouse, who made a nice play to get Inge out at third. Shouse then struck out Ben Petrick and Bobby Higginson to finish off the game.

First on Sanchez. You would think that with as many times as this guy bunts, he’d be able to get a guy over. The announcers talked about how the infield was squeezing him, and that he tried to put it down perfectly, but the fact of the matter is, there was poor execution.

Second, on Higginson. Higgy came up with two outs in the bottom of the ninth with two runners on. As early as a couple of years ago in the same situation, you’d know he was going to hit one out, and the Tigers would win. Now, he looks lost out there. Like everyone on the team, he has flashes, and he did have an rbi single earlier in the game, but it’s just one more thing about this team. To his credit, he was down in the count early, and worked it full before striking out.

Ben Petrick had a nice game, going 2 for 4, scoring three times, and hitting a solo homer. Maroth pitched fair, with the one major blemish being the A-Rod homer. ESPN ran a story on whether Maroth should be shelved when he reaches 19 losses, but as I’ve said before, I think that’s just ludicrous.

I’m going to tonights game. I’ve never seen A-Rod play in person, so I’m excited. On top of that, it will probably be the last chance I get to go to the park this year.



Tigers Drop 6th in a Row, Lose in 16th Inning to Texas

Steve Sparks gave up a two run homer to A-Rod in the top half of the 16th, and the Tigers dropped their 6th in a row. At a .252 winning percentage, the Tigers are on pace to finish 41-121, putting them in record territory.

Also of note, Chris Mears, who was on fire when he got called up from AAA and looked like he was going to take over the closer role at least for the time being, was sent back down to AAA. Chris didn’t give up a run in his first 11 relief appearances. During the stretch, opponents hit a modest .118 against him. By the time he got sent down, his ERA had ballooned to 4.24, and his batting average against jumped all the way to .272. Those upward trends are not what you want to see.

Mike Maroth is on the mound tonight. Things don’t get any easier with the Angels in town over the weekend. What will be interesting is that the Tigers could have material impact on the AL central race. In the final two and a half weeks, the Tigers play the Royals and the Twins seven times each, with a three game series against Toronto squashed in their. With only 2.5 games seperating three teams, it’s going to be interesting.



Over the Hump?

Things are about as back to normal as they could be for me right now. The black out really set us back as far as the basement, but the contractor didn’t even show today, so I’m not too worried. On top of this I have my football draft this Sat., so I have to do some homework for that. I’m thinking Vick is a lock in the first round, and I’m hoping Michael Bennett is around with my second pick……

As the Tigers finish their extra inning game with the Rangers, probably the biggest surprise over the last couple of weeks, at least to me, has been Brandon Inge. With a 2 for 4 performance tonight, along with a solo homer, Inge has now crossed over the Mendoza line, has an 11 game hitting streak, and is 17 for 41 (.415) since getting called back up from AAA Toledo.

If Brandon can show that this isn’t a fluke, and can hit around .280-.300 the rest of the way, this will be a major bonus for the Tigers, since it’s one position they won’t have to worry about. Brandon is a good enough fielding catcher to where a .250/12/65 season would be acceptable, and if he can put up decent numbers, and continue to make strides in the field, it’s one less position management will have to worry about next year.

Players can show dramatic improvements like this at times. Hank Blalock was a strikeout maching last year, and was flirting with the Mendoza line as well for most of the year. This year he’s an all star third basemen is hitting .300 with some power and proving to be the top prospect everyone thought he’d be.

Also impressive today is Nate Robertson, who made his Tiger’s debut. Nate was impressive down in Toledo and really pitched well, going 8 1/3, striking out 8, and giving up only two runs on eight hits. Most impressive was his zero walks. The question is, do we have the real deal, or is this one of many Tiger starters who looked good early, then eventually succumbed to mediocrity. I’m also hoping this shuts up the radio guys who have been criticizing the Redman trade all year.

The game is now in the 11th. Still tied. Hopefully they can pull this one out.



The Day the Lights Went Out

Well, things are getting back to normal. For the first time in a few nights, we were able to sleep at our house, and have the AC on, which was nice.

Just to sort of help you visualize what happened, I was sitting at work, when the power flicked off, flicked back on, then went down for what would be in our case over 24 hours. I called my wife, and got her voice mail, and at this point, didn’t think too much of it. I decided I was stuck, so I tried calling my friend to bullshit, but again, couldn’t get through. Finally, I tried my house, which if the power was on, my answering would have picked up, which it didn’t. So I knew something widespread was happening.

Then, I really got worried when people starting talking about hour NY was out. Of course my first thought was of course terrorism. I’m still not thoroughly convinced it wasn’t, but at this point, if it was, we probably won’t know about it.

Friday was probably the scariest day because it was hot, muggy, and we had some really bad storms. My wife’s sister had gotten her power back on, but we were afraid to leave for fear out basement would flood without our sumpump on and the fact we’ve dropped several thousand dollars into our basement the last few months. Finally the storms subsided, and we made out way to my sister in law, and air conditioning.

About two hours after getting there, we found out our power had came back on. So we made the trek back home only to find out things had gone down again. This time my wife’s parents, who had just gotten their power back on, took us in and we spent the night in relative comfort. Saturday, things were relatively back to normal, and after getting a few things done yesterday, things are relatively back to normal.

And during this entire time, I had no idea what was (or is until I just checked) happening with the Tigers. Looks like they dropped their last game to Texas, and have now lost two straight to Anaheim. The Tigers are now right on pace to finish 42-120. What’s kind of funny is they’re still not technically eliminated from the either the division title (33 games back) or the wild card race (39 games back) with 41 games back.

Hopefully I’ll be able to get back on a more regular schedule tomorrow or Tuesday. Thanks for your patience.



Power Outage

If you live in the northeast US or southeast Canada, we don’t have to tell you why you may have to wait a couple of days for Brian’s next post. (Come to think of it, if you live in that area, you’re not even reading this.) For the rest of you, the Detroit area was one of several major metropolitan areas to suffer a blackout, along with Cleveland, New York, Toronto, Ottawa, Boston and their surrounding communities. Brian, of course, lives in the Detroit area, and we’re assuming has no Internet connectivity at the moment.

Stay tuned – more Tiger punditry is on the way soon.

- The Management



Mike Maroth Loses 17th Game

This game was another example of the Tigers losing the game in the first couple of innings as Mike Maroth gave up 6 runs in the first couple of innings, giving up homeruns to Rafael Palmeiro and A-Rod.

The Tigers did manage to get three runs on nine hits, including Brandon Inge going 2 for 4 and extending his hitting streak since coming back from the DL. I questioned him earlier in the week, and now he’s making me regret those words.

Sorry for the short post. This has been one of the more hectic weeks in a long time.



The Desecration of Ted Williams

I think this story that’s bouncing around about Ted Williams has to be one of the saddest things I’ve ever heard. I was in Boston the weekend he passed away, and I’m sure nobody expected these sickening acts by his son at the time of his passing.

The Splendid Splinter was one of the best ever to play the game. It’s a damn shame that this is how he’ll be remembered by some.



Tigers Beat Rangers, Ruin Young Pitcher’s Debut

Jeremy Bonderman pitched seven strong innings, and the Tigers grabbed a 7-4 victory. Bonderman gave up 4 hits, walked three, and was very economical in his pitches, only throwing 89. The only concern I can see is ground ball to fly ball ratio, which was 3 to 16. It helps when those fly ball are outs, but it’s not a great trend to start up.

The Tigers finally got Juan Dominguez in the fifth inning, tagging him for 4 runs, including back to back shots by Carlos Pena and Craig Monroe, and knocking the youngster out of the game. Brandon Inge knocked in a season high 3 rbis, and has a 5 game hitting streak (8 for 19, .421), since getting called back from Toledo.

All in all, 7 runs on 11 hits, and then a good start by Bonderman. If the Tigers can have a few more of these down the stretch, people will feel better about this team.



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