Archive for June, 2004

Tigers Win on Wild One, Literally

June 30, 1984 Tigers 4, Twins 3 (55-21)

Dan Petry pitched 8 1/3 strong innings, giving up three runs on seven hits, while striking out ten, but it almost wasn’t enough. Down 3-2, the Tigers tied the game in the seventh on a sac. fly by Rupert Jones, and then scored the go ahead run in the bottom of the eighth on a wild pitch by Ron Davis. Willie Hernandez picked up his 14th save by getting the final two batters out.

Dave Bergman hit his second homer of the season, and Chet Lemon picked up two hits and scored a run.

Tigers Split Double Header, Stay Up by 10 Games

June 29, 1984 Twins 5, Tigers 3 (53-21)

Jack Morris got hit hard, giving up 10 hits in 5 2/3 innings. Doug Bair pitched 3 1/3 strong innings of two hit ball to allow the Tigers a chance to come back, but it was too much to overcome as they hit the ball (11 hits), but couldn’t get men across the plate.

Lou Whitaker went three for five, and Lance Parrish had a two run double.

June 29, 1984 Tigers 7, Twins 5 (54-21)

Another win for the bullpen. It’s amazing how game in and game out, the pen allowed this team to get back into games.

Milt Wilcox gave up five runs through five innings, allowing the Twins to take a one run lead. But the usual combo of Aurilio Lopez and Willie Hernandez slammed the door shut tight to let the Tigers come back and win this one. Lopez went 2 1/3, and Hernandez went 1 2/3 to improve to 4-0.

Kirk Gibson had a big day, hitting two homers and driving in four runs. Rupert Jones and Chet Lemon hit solo shots.

Carlos Guillen, All Star Shortstop!

Each year there are players who have wonderful beginnings to their seasons and their performance compels their local fans to lobby vehemently for their selection to the all-star team roster. In most cases, the player who is elected by the fans to play that position is a proven commodity who for one reason or another has not quite had the same beginning to their season performance-wise.

Carlos Guillen, beyond a doubt has been one of the wonderful surprises to this season and beyond a doubt has out-performed his peers at the position in the American League. Even Jim Price and Dan Dickerson have taken to referring to him as Carlos Guillen, all-star shortstop. He has been a breath of fresh air with his controlled, almost relaxed style of play. His ever present cud of chewing tobacco makes him appear to be a throwback type of player. I think many Tiger fans are just clicking their heels at the thought that a team so miserable one season ago could actually be so close to .500 ball at this stage of the season. Still I believe their should be an en masse campaign for people to stuff the ballots online and at the ballparks to help Guillen to overtake Nomar Garciaparra in the fan voting. Especially considering the fact that Garciaparra only had 34 AB’s going into Wednesday June 23rd.

Here are Guillen’s rankings among AL shortstops as of the 23rd.
2nd .BA .326
1st .SLG .558
1st .OBA .386
1st Runs 49
2nd Hits 83
2nd Doubles 17
1st Triples 7
2nd Homers 10
2nd RBI’s 47
1st BB’s 28
1st .OPS .944
1st Runs produced 96 (runs +RBI)

Even more importantly, Guillen was not even targeted by the Tigers in the offseason as a primary target at a position they deemed important to upgrade in the offseason. For significantly less money they have gotten more production than they would have received had they been succesful in signing one of their two primary targets, Rich Aurilia and Miguel Tejada. In the process, they have made a significant upgrade over last year’s shortstop, Ramon Santiago.

AL Shortstop .BA .SLG .OBA R H 2b 3b HR RBI BB OPS

Guillen .322 .558 .386 49 83 17 7 10 47 28 .944
Tejada .298 .454 .357 33 78 11 0 10 51 24 .811
Aurilia .234 .316 .300 22 49 11 0 2 23 18 .616
Santiago .200 .267 .294 4 3 1 0 0 0 2 .561

Santiago has had limited action so his stats look particularly bad. I have recently learned of another telling stat from reading Allen Barra’s books. It is called SLOB which means .SLG X .OBP. This statistic tells you the number of runs a team of for example, Carlos Guillen’s would score in 100 innings. Guillen would score 21.53 if he continues at this rate. While Tejada’s team would score 16.21 and Aurilia’s 9.48.

In all of this I am not arguing that Guillen is a future Hall of Famer, like Garciaparra possibly is, I just believe he is more deserving as an All-Star shortstop and has had a greater impact for the Tigers than their other more desired options going into the season. I just hold out hope that he can continue to play at this level or close to it and it is not an aberration of their sort we endured while viewing Damian Easley, Bobby Higginson, etc through the years. You can vote for Carlos at

Big Hit Weekend

It seems like just when you start counting the Tigers out, they come back and have a weekend like they did. Coming off of a series loss to the Royals, the Tigers bounced back in dramatic fashion to sweep the Diamondbacks. We saw a one hitter on Friday, and then two walk off homers by Eric Munson and Carlos Pena on Saturday and Sunday.

Eric Munson has been in such a perpetual slump this year, that you forget how good of a hitter this guy can be. When I first saw it go over the wall in deep center, I remember thinking “Boy did he hit that ball far.” Little did I know it was billed as the longest homer in Comerica Park history.

The drama didn’t end there. On Sunday the Tigers came back from a 5-2 deficit to tie the game up. Then in the bottom of the ninth, Carlos Pena hit a grand slam into the bullpen to end the game.

The four game streak matches their best of the year (they’ve had two others), and they now site four games below .500. Encouraging depending on how you look at the numbers. If you take away the opening season four game streak, and take away this one, they’re record is 27-39 (.409). Annualized, that’s a 66-96 record. Of course they all count, so 80 wins isn’t entirely out of the question at this point.

My travel plans are coming together for this years baseball trip. My wife and I went to Fenway two years ago, and Yankee Stadium last year. This year we’re going to the Skydome to see the Jays and the Devil Rays play. We plan on getting a room at the hotel connected to the ballpark and watching Friday’s game from our room. Then Saturday I have tickets. I have mixed feelings about taking my son to his first baseball game in a park other then one in Detroit.

Cleveland is on deck for Detroit. A sweep would move the Tigers back into third place. The Indians are somewhat of a surprise this year.

Yankees Come From Behind to Best Tigers

June 27, 1984 Yankees 5, Tigers 4 (53-20)

You definitely can’t win them all, and this is one that the Tigers let get away. With a two run lead, rookie Carl Willis gave up three runs in the bottom of the eighth inning (although two of those scored on Doug Bair, who inherited the runners) as the Tigers dropped the series.

The Tigers only had five hits in this one. Barbero Garbey drove in two runs and scored, and Chet Lemon drove in a run and scored as well.

Willie Hernandez, Parrish, Save Day in Extra Innings

June 26, 1984 Tigers 9, Yankees 7 10 Inning (53-19)

This was an exciting, if not back and forth affair. The Tigers started things off with four runs on five hits in the second inning. The Yankees bounced back with three runs in the third, one in the fourth, two in the fith, and then one in the sixth to take 7-4 four lead.

Then, the 1984 magic happened once again. In the top half of the eighth, with two outs, the Tigers scored three runs to tie it up on singles by Alan Trammell and Darrell Evans. Then in the top of the tenth, Lance Parrish hit a two run shot to seal the deal.

Willie Hernandez really bounced back in this game. After a poor performance the night before, he pitched 2 2/3 high leverage innings to improve to 3-0 on the year.

With the win, the Tigers had finally put a double digit lead between themselves and the Blue Jays. Not even half way into the season, they stood ten games ahead of the next nearest competitor in their division.

Tigers Celebrate 1984 Championship Team

This weekend at Comerica Park, the 1984 championship team will be honered. Like the festivities for the 1968 team last year, I won’t be able to make it down to the ball park. But, as everyone who’s frequented the site knows, I’ve been doing my own little thing to commemorate that historic season, and I hope everyone is enjoying. I know now that we’ve gotten past the 35-5 start things are kind of in “long haul” mode, but I hope people enjoy stopping by to see how this great team accomplished what they did.

The 2004 team did a nice job of honoring the team tonight by throwing a combined one hitter against the D-Backs. Former Tiger Luis Gonzalez got the only hit and ended up scoring, and despite a great outing by Brandon Webb, the Tigers walked away with a hard fought win. Brandon Webb now has two career complete games, and they’re both against the Detroit. The game did have some drama, because with two outs in the ninth, Steve Finley took Bobby Higginson back all the way to the wall to make the final out of the game.

The big news this week was the Carlos Beltran trade. He already made an impact by getting two hits for Houston tonight, and he makes their defense that much better. If Petite can come back down the stretch and is healthy, a playoff rotation of Clemens, Oswalt, and Petite is pretty nice. Losing Dotel weakens their pen, but Lidge should be more then up for closing duties. Now of course, all they have to do is win the division.

As it stands, the Tigers are 25th in attendance this year. They had a 30,000+ crowd tonight, and that might push them ahead of the division leading Twins, but even at 24, you have to be a little disappointed, considering the Expos, at 30th, don’t even count. The Tigers average is a touch above 20,000. Even Seattle, who’s stuggling mightily, is 11th. Colorado is having a tough year, and they’re 15th. The Marlins have to be disappointed standing at 20th, as they’re in first place and are coming off a World Series win. Last year, the Tigers average 17,000 and were 27th in the league, just ahead of……the World Champion Marlins.

Yankees, Guidry Best Tigers

June 25, 1984 Yankees 7, Tigers 3 (52-19)

This game was a tight pitching affair until the seventh inning hit. With the score tied 1-1 going into the seventh, the Tigers scored two to take a 3-1 lead on Barbero Garbey’s second homer of the year. Then in the bottom half of the inning, the Yankees took the lead with three runs of their own. They then added three more in the bottom of the eighth. Dave Winfield had an awesome game, going 5 for 5, and driving in four runs.

Willie Hernandez had rough outing, one of the few times he got hard during the 1984 campaign. He gave up the three runs in the eighth on two hits and three walks. Doug Bair took the loss to drop to 4-1.

A Little Too Soon….

Yes, I opened my mouth a little too soon. After praising them late last week for winning three series in a row, the Tigers are now mired in a five game losing streak, and they’re only one up in the loss column from dropping into a tie with the last place Royals, and they now sit eight games below .500, which I think is the lowest they’ve been all year.

Unfortunately, there’s not one thing that can be identified. Generally, the starting pitching has been strong, but not game in and game out. The pen has lost them some games, and then the fact that they haven’t scored more then three runs in a game during this stretch hasn’t helped them either.

I did agree with Pat Capoto, who on his radio show mentioned that when German was brought up, it should have been Levine that was sent down, and not Colyer. Colyer has the excuse of being young at least. Levine doesn’t. And you can never have enough hard throwing lefties coming out of your bullpen.

Alex Sanchez is also struggling, going 3 for 23 during this five game stretch. Does anyone find it odd that despite hitting .321, and having some nice bats behind him, Sanchez has only scored 32 times? Getting caught 11 times in 29 steal attempts doesn’t help. Nor does walking a grand total of five times. I wonder what the record is a hitter who has an average above .320, but has a low OPS (Sanchez has a .718 OPS). Just taking a look at some of the league stats shows me that there’s quite a few players hitting below .270 with a better OPS. How valuable does that make Sanchez?

Just a few more odds and ends. The Tigers signed Carlos Guillen to a three year deal. You can read about that, and Tiger trade rumors, over at the Detroit Tigers Weblog.

Jack Morris Comes Back With a Vengeance to Beat Brewers

June 24, 1984 Tigers 7, Brewers 1 (52-18)

Jack Morris had missed a couple of starts due to a sore elbow, but the rest must have done him some good, as he bounced back nicely. He’d finish with six innings of one hit ball to improve to 12-3, and Aurilio Lopez would pitch the final three to earn his ninth save. In all, the Brewers only had three baserunners.

Lance Parrish went three for four and hit his thirteenth homer of the year, and Rupert Jones, lumber trance and all, hit his third, a three run shot in the sixth.

With the win, the Tigers expanded their lead to 8 1/2 games heading into a road series with the Yankees. A nice cushion that would slowly get larger over time as the Blue Jays hit a rough patch.

Wilcox Shuts Down Brewers in Four Hit Affair

June 23, 1984 Tigers 5, Brewers 1 (51-18)

The Tigers got off to a quick start, scoring all five of their runs by the end of the third inning. Kirk Gibson hit his ninth homerun, and Howard Johnson hit his sixth (another three run shot).

Milt Wilcox pitched a gem, going eight innings and giving up only four hits. The Brewers didn’t score off of him until the eighth inning when Jim Gantner drove in Ed Romero on a sacrafice fly. Doug Bair pitched a perfect ninth to complete the combined four hitter.

At this point, the Tigers were still on pace to win close to 120 games. They’d hit a rough stretch in the middle of the season, but they were still drawing 40,000+ to a lot of their games, and the fans were definitely excited.

Tigers Upend Brewers in Front of Full House

June 22, 1984 Tigers 7, Brewers 3 (50-18)

Well, it wasn’t exactly a “full” house, but close to 49,000 fans showed up to see the Tigers win their 50th game of the season. A strong six innings by Dave Rozema, who improved to 4-0, got the Tigers off to a nice start, and Willie Hernandez struck out five in 2 1/3 innings of one hit ball to earn his thirteenth save of the season.

Kirk Gibson and Larry Herndon drove in two, and Tom Brookens went two for two.

Brewers Stump Tigers in Four Hit Affair

June 21, 1984 Brewers 4, Tigers 3 (49-18)

Don Sutton started the game with 4 1/3 innings of no hit ball as he and two relievers combined for a four hitter. The Tigers made a late inning run in the seventh by scoring three, two of which from Larry Herndon’s first homer of the year. From that point on, Rollie Fingers pitched 2 1/3 innings of one hit ball to shut down the Tigers the rest of the way.

Other then Herndon’s two run shot, there’s not a lot to note in this one. Juan Berenguer pitched fair, and Sid Monge and Aurilio Lopez combined for 3 2/3 innings of shutout ball to give the Tigers a chance to come back, but it wasn’t to be.

Bullpen Woes

I believe it was Branch Rickey who stated that most teams can count on winning and losing 60 games and the relative success of their season is determined by the other 42. Thus far, the Tigers have been very competitive and quite enjoyable to watch. Most games have been close and has it has appeared that they have an excellent chance in any game until they have tendered their final out. On June 9, when I purchased my Pro Sports Weekly newspaper (published by USA Today) I was looking at team statistics for Detroit & Anaheim that I found interesting.

Anaheim .282 297 855 102 16 547 58 280 145
Detroit .284 296 856 101 17 553 56 287 197

Anaheims team OPS (On-base + Slugging) was .780 while Detroit’s was .791. I realize that Anaheim has suffered from a rash of injuries (Garret Andersen, Troy Glaus, et al) and the Tigers have benefited from the stellar performances out of Carlos Guillen, Brandon Inge and Omar Infante, I was still surprised when I saw these stats especially after the way Anaheim had buzzsawed their way through the Tiger pitching staff earlier in the season. It also must be qualified that Anaheim consistently faces stiffer competition from the starting pitching of Oakland and Seattle as compared to the staffs the Tigers must face in the AL Central.

starting pitching W-L ERA BB SO IP
Anaheim 23-18 5.18 110 208 323.0
Detroit 20-21 5.19 119 217 311.1

I feel that the Tiger starting pitching has been better than expected and that Anaheim’s has been a slight dissappointment due to the less than spectacular performance of Bartolo Colon. On paper, superficially the two teams don’t seem too far apart although at the time Anaheim was in 1st in their division and the Tigers inhabited 4th place. The determing factor appears to be in their bullpens.

relief pitching W-L ERA IP SV BB SO
Anaheim 10-5 3.14 175.0 19 69 169
Detroit 5-10 4.61 179.2 11 88 134

Beyond these stats I looked at the Tigers and Anaheim bullpens excepting the swing starters (i.e. Ramon Ortiz, Aaron Sele, and Gary Knotts). Anaheim is missing setup man and former All-Star, Brendan Donnelly and have suffered from some poor performances by Troy Percival.

relief pitching WHIP H/9 BB/9 K/9 K/BB
Anaheim 1.34 8.42 3.62 9.15 2.53
Detroit 1.52 9.58 4.10 6.70 1.63

The Tigers relievers are pitching more innings and putting more men on base. These statistics don’t account for many variables that depend on 8 other position players, but still is quite clear that this aspect of the game has hurt the teams overall performance. Hopefully, the Tigers will remain competitive throughout and the bullpen will remain the largest of their concerns and possibly their performance will improve.

Tigers lose another close one

Last night the Tigers lost yet another one run in extra innings,this time to the Mets. In the bottom of the 10th inning, Mike Cameron came to bat. He hit the game winning single to give the Mets the 4-3 win.

Mike Cameron also beat them in the first game of this series when he hit the game winning homerun in the 11th inning.

Jason Johnson went 7 2/3 innings strong. Two of the runs he allowed were on errors.

These losses for the Tigers are getting ridiculous. They are now 3-12 on the season in one run games. Their pitching has been strong enough to give them the victory in these close games but their hitting hasn’t been up to par.

Tigers Beat Yankees in Extra Innings, Win Series

June 20, 1984 Tigers 9, Yankees 6, 13 innings (49-17)

The Tigers won a back and forth affair when Howard Johnson hit a three run shot in the bottom of the thirteenth inning. The Yankees had a 2-0 lead and a 4-2 lead before the Tigers picked up a few runs to tie the game in the bottom of the sixth, then took a one run lead in the bottom of the seventh. Then the two teams went back and forth, scoring one run each until the game ended regulation at a 6-6 tie.

Willie Hernandez pitched four strong innings of relief, and Doug Bair improved to 4-0 by pitching two innings of one hit ball. Alan Trammell, Lance Parrish and Chet Lemon all hit homer to go along with HoJo’s extra innings blast.

Tigers Come From Behind to Beat the Yankees

June 19, 1984 Tigers 7, Yankees 6 (48-17)

This was another classic example of the pen bailing out the Tigers once again. With started Carl Willis getting hit hard, Doug Bair got out of a bases loaded jam to lessen the damage. He then went on to throw two more shutout inning before giving it up to Aurilio Lopez, who shut the Yankees down for 1 1/3 before giving it up to Willie Herandez, who finished things off for his twelth save. In all, the bull pen would throw 4 2/3 innings of no hit ball (two unearned runs would score on six walks though).

Larry Herndon drove in the tying run with the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth, and Rusty Kuntz followed it up with a two run single to give the Tigers the lead for good. Lance Parrish and Don Mattingly both hit their eleventh homer of the season.

The Blue Jays finally lost, allowing the Tigers to extend their lead to 6 1/2 games. Another 41,000 fans came out to see the Tigers.

Phil Niekro Leads Yankees in Three Hit Win Over Tigers

June 18, 1984 Yankees 2, Tigers 1 (47-17)

The knuckleball specialist, and eventual 300 game winner, shut down the Tigers to break their three game winning streak. On a sub-.500 team (I know this is hard to believe, but the Yankees had a mediocre stretch in the mid to late 1980s), Phil Niekro improved to 10-3 by throwing 8 2/3 innings of three hit ball. The only Tiger who crossed the plate was Kirk Gibson (who actually got two of the three hits), who hit a first inning solo shot.

Phil Niekro had an impressive career. From 1977 through 1979, he threw no less then 330 innings in each season, something that would be unheard of in this day. He also led the league in hits allowed and runs given up as well. The Hall of Fame pitcher never won a Cy Young, but finished in the top six on six different occasions. In 1967, he led the league with a 1.87 ERA by throwing 207 innings in 46 games (20 starts, 26 relief appearances). He’s 14th all time in wins (has Clemens passed him yet?) with 318, fourth in games started at 716, and fourth all time in innings pitched with 5,404 1/3. The three guys ahead of him in innings pitched all threw before 1927.

And today, he got the best of the Tigers. Milt Wilcox threw seven quality innings of seven hit ball, but it wasn’t enough. 40,000+ fans came out to see the Tigers on a Monday night.

Tigers Split Double Header

Yesterday the Tigers played a double header against the Phillies. They lost game one 6-2 but in game two they pulled off a nice 5-4 victory in the 11th inning.

Brandon Inge hit the game tying homer in the 9th inning to tie the score at 4-4. Carlos Guillen then singled in Greg Norton to give the Tigers the go-ahead run in the 11th inning. In the bottom of the 11th the Tigers held them back to pick up he victory.

Knotts threw another good game. He went 5 innings strong and gave up only 2 runs.

Ugueth Urbina(2-2) pitched a scoreless 10th and 11th inning to pick up the win.

Don’t Look Now, But the Tigers Are Winning

Maybe it’s just me because I’ve been caught up in the Pistons Championship run and the whole baby thing, but it doesn’t seem like the Tigers are getting much attention despite putting together a pretty nice run the last couple of weeks.

They’re finishing up their series with the Phillies as we speak (the game just entered the ninth). If they win the game, they’ll have won three straigh series against three quality teams. The Braves aren’t what they used to be, but they’re a quality veteran team. The Marlins lead the division, and here the Phillies are right behind them. If they beat the Phillies, they’ll be three games below .500, and only six games back of Minnesota. A far cry from what a lot of thought this team would be coming up on the beginning of July.

Brandon Inge hit his seventh homerun tonight, one short of his career best. His average is down to .285, but this is a guy people thought would be either dealt, or sent down to the minors. Like Robert Fick a few years ago when he was told he would never catch for this team, Brandon Inge has looked his critics in the face, including myself, and stared them down. He’s played catcher, third, and all three outfield positions. And he’s also been used six times as a pinch runner. He’s also hitting .268 against right handed pitching, which is a far cry from his career average.

On the other end of the spectrum is Steve Colyer, who has been a disappointment so far. We could have gotten sixteen walks in 21 innings from Franklyn German, and we wouldn’t have had to give up an outfield prospect to get him.

Speaking of German, he has sixteen saves, a 2.45 ERA, and 31 strikeouts in 25 2/3 innings. Combine that with no wild pitches, and only 13 walks, and you have a guy who could help this team down the stretch. Toledo is playing some good ball overall, and is tied with Columbus for the division lead.

The Tigers had the bases loaded with one out in the tenth and couldn’t score, so I’m going to bed. Congrats to the Pistons. And I’ve also updated the 1984 diary so it’s current (I cheated and back dated the entries).

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