Archive for July, 2004

One Run Affair

After a lot of press about the Tigers ineffectiveness in one run games, the Tigers go out and win two in a row. Go figure. Urbina has had two nice outings in a row, so hopefully this will boost his trade value a little. Even with this little mini-streak, I think it’s safe to say the Tigers playoffs chances are slim. This shouldn’t diminish the credit they deserve for the turnaround from last year. Regardless of what happens the rest of year, I’m happy with what the Tigers accomplished.

Speaking of credit, what about Atlanta. When we played them, they were around .500. A top notch franchise, they turned things around, and now have a modest 4 1/2 game lead as they go for like the thirtieth division title in a row. I know I’m old, because I remember when Atlanta was bad. Real bad. So bad they ended up with Taylor native Steve Avery with the third pick in the draft back in 1988.

And I know this is so obvious, it’s almost not worth mentioning, but what about another incredible year by Barry Bonds. As it stands, he’s six ticks ahead of his record setting 2002 season with a 1.387 OPS. He stands 15 homers from 700. And he’s a few hits away from getting his lifetime batting average up above .300. And unless something happens and he has a serious drop off, he’ll end up in the top 10 best OPS seasons again. He’ll have four of the top ten spots, while the other six spots are held by only Babe Ruth and Ted Williams. Not to shabby company.

I’m going to the game tonight. It’s Negro League weekend, so that’s always fun to check out. I’ve been meaning to go back and reread Bill James Historical Baseball Abstact and his chapter on the Negro Leagues. Very interesting stuff.

Have a great weekend.

Tigers Split Double Header With Indians

July 31, 1984 Tigers 5, Indians 1 (71-32)

Juan Berenguer set the stage with 6 1/3 innings of four hit ball. Doug Bair finished the game with 2 2/3 perfect innings. Once again, a fine showing by the bullpen, and this time, it wasn’t even the usual Lopez/Hernandez tandem.

The Tigers scored all five of their runs in the second inning. Rupert Jones hit a solo homer, Doug Baker had a three run triple, and Lou Whitaker drove in one on a sacrafice fly. Kirk Gibson added two hits.

July 31, 1984 Indians 6, Tigers 4 (71-33)

Dave Rozema got shelled and left the game in the third inning. Despite an amazing pitching performance by Aurilio Lopez, the Tigers couldn’t come back in this one.

You don’t see this anymore. Ever. Aurilio Lopez, basically the Tigers set up man, started pitching in the third, and finished the game. 6 2/3 innings of shutout relief. He gave up four hits, one walk, and stuck out five. Having Bair, Lopez and Hernandez gave Sparky a ton of flexibility, knowing he had three quality arms in the pen.

Detroit Demolition Go for Third Straight Crown

The Detroit Demolition, Detroit’s Women’s Football team, goes for their third straight title this weekend down in Louisville, KY. I’m not sure if this is on TV, but the Demolition are probably Detroit’s best kept secret. They’ve pretty much dominated the league in their three years of existance. The story on their homepage gives a nice narrative on the team.


I always fine this first trade deadline as one of the most interesting times of year. Rarely do they live up to expectations, but teams make their last ditch effort to pick up that one last piece for the home stretch. In 1987, the Tigers dealt for Doyle Alexander as they were trying to catch the Blue Jays. And it worked out that season, as he went 9-0 with a 1.54 ERA, helping the Tigers beat the Blue Jays in a division race that went down to the end.

The Twins ended up beating the Tigers in the AL Championship, but the trade helped create my favorite final two months of the season. Of course now, the trade is condemned because as we all know, the guy we traded away was John Smoltz, a perenial all star.

So I pose this question. Had the Tigers won the World Series back in 1987, would this trade be considered a good one?

Which leads us to this years trade deadline. Other teams have to make similar decisions, sacraficing a potential future star for a shot at a World Championship. The Tigers find themselves on the other side of the fence now. Since the All Star Break, the Tigers have been unable to win a series, and now find themselves still in fourth place, and ten games back. They’re almost as many games back of the third place Indians now as they were out of first place at the break.

So, in the course of two weeks, the Tigers have gone from potential buyers, to sellers. Word on the street says that Urbina’s stock is way down. At this point though, trading him for anything with potential would be worthwhile. Mike Maroth is a more interesting play though. Everyone could use a left handed starter. As much as I like Maroth, he doesn’t throw hard, so if we got a nice deal, I’m all for it. I’d be looking to shop Alex Sanchez with the emergence of Nook Logan, but his injury could prevent that.

So as always, over the course of the next couple of days, we’ll see. I doubt if there will be wholesale changes in the team, but I’d be upset if Dave Dombrowski sat pat.

Wilcox Stellar as Tigers Win 70

July 29, 1984 Tiger 3, Red Sox 0 (70-32)

Milt Wilcox threw a gem, as he pitched eight shutout innings, giving up only three hits, and walking none. Willie Hernandez closed out the game for his 21st save by pitching a perfect ninth.

The Tigers only managed four hits of their own against Dennis “Oil Can” Boyd, but they made them count. Boyd struck out ten Tigers, and the only extra base hit in the entire game was a triple by Rupert Jones.

It has become very apparent that it is time to “cut bait” with Ugueth U. Urbina. His overall value in the trade market is diminishing with each poor appearance he makes. Already, rumors suggest that the Tigers may have to part with a prospect along with Urbina in order to garner anything beyond a marginal prospect in trade for Urbina. Many will argue that the Tigers will have not have a Closer in their bullpen once they have traded Urbina. I agree that Urbina is well established as a Closer and any replacement will be temporary and unproven. I want to suggest to you that with their recent performances, Al Levine and Esteban Yan would be suitable, if not reliable replacements at the back end of the bullpen for Urbina.
2004 Season K/9 BB/9 H/9 HR WHIP IP G/F ERA
Urbina 10.75 6.18 7.09 5 1.47 39.1 0.42 4.58
Yan 6.42 2.63 9.88 5 1.39 54.2 1.46 4.12
Levine 4.37 3.23 10.65 7 1.54 47.1 0.89 4.75

Jun+July K/9 BB/9 H/9 HR WHIP IP ERA
Urbina 11.51 5.56 5.56 5 1.24 22.2 3.97
Yan 6.75 2.25 9.37 2 1.29 24 3.74
Levine 4.89 2.85 8.96 3 1.31 22.1 2.82

July 25 K/9 BB/9 H/9 HR WHIP IP ERA
Urbina 10.45 6.1 6.1 3 1.35 12 5.23
Yan 7.50 2.25 6.75 1 1.20 12 2.25
Levine 4.38 2.92 4.38 1 0.81 12.1 0.73

Many publications suggest the Tigers would need to turn to Danny Patterson or Jamie Walker as closer once Urbina is traded. I think the Tigers will elect to keep Walker in his designated Lefty speciallist role and possibly use Danny Patterson as a Closer/set-up man instead of Levine. My point is that there will not be that large of a dropoff, if recent performance holds true, between Urbina and Yan as Closer down the stretch.

Red Sox Squeak By Tigers In Pitchers Dual

July 28, 1984 Red Sox 3, Tigers 2 (69-32)

The 70th win of the season keeps on eluding Detroit, as Jack Morris pitched his best game in a while, but still came away with the loss. Jack threw seven innings, giving up eight hits and three runs while striking out seven. But three Boston pitchers held the Tigers to two runs, while striking out ten.

Lou Whitaker, Chet Lemon, and Kirk Gibson all had two hits. Lou hit his sixth homer of the year.

Tigers Split Double Header With Red Sox

July 27, 1984 Tigers 9, Red Sox 1 (69-30)

Another masterful outing by Dan Petry led the way for the Tigers. Dan went the distance in a six hitter, and it wasn’t until the ninth inning, when Rich Gedman hit a solo shot, that a run crossed the plate.

Chet Lemon hit his fourteenth homer, and Lance Parrish his 21st. The Tigers scattered nine hits, and they were all by different players.

July 27, 1984 Red Sox 4, Tigers 0 (69-31)

Bob Ojeda turned the table on the Tigers as he actually outdid Dan Petry in the earlier game. Ojeda pitched a three hitter, striking out five.

Glenn Abbot got shelled, lasting only 3 1/3. He gave up 10 hits and four runs. The bullpen shut the Red Sox down, but the Tigers couldn’t figure out Ojeda. Berenguer, Monge, Bair, and Lopez all pitched shut out innings (2 2/3 by Berenguer).

The prospect of a 70-30 start would have been nice, but the Tigers just feel short. Another loss by the Blue Jays put the Tigers up by a season high twelve games though, so the team had to be feeling good about itself.

Back From Toronto

My annual baseball trip was definitely a fun one. We checked into the Rennaisance Hotel right around the start of the evening game on Friday. I thought the view would be pretty distant, but I have to admit, I had a nice view. In addition, there’s something to be said about being able to sit and watch the game in a nice reclining chair, while feeding my six week old son Devin.

Saturday I also got to sit and watch batting practice, a treat I hadn’t done in quite a while. I remember going to Tiger Stadium with my dad and making sure we were there at 11 am for the 1 pm game so I could watch the players practice. We sat about 30 rows up near first base, and the Jays won for the second time in a row while I viewed them. I also got to watch batting practice on Sunday shortly before checking out.

What I also found interesting was no matter when I looked out on the field, someone was out there working on it. Even at 5 am.

Anyway, definitely a fun time in Toronto. I also played Settlers of Catan for the first time, and had a blast. I made a point to add it to my Wish List.

To top off the weekend, I got to listen to the Tigers beat the White Sox on the way home. Looks like they’ll make it two in a row as they’re safely in front of the Indians tonight. Mike Maroth is throwing a nice game.

Indians Stop Tigers Winning Streak Cold

July 25, 1984 Indians 4, Tigers 1 (68-30)

As usual during the year, the Tigers couldn’t win them all. Dave Rozema pitched a solid 6+ innings, but Cleveland Rookie Roy Smith shutdown the Tigers. The only real damage was a solo shot by Darrell Evans in the second inning.

Even with the loss, Toronto continued to struggle, so the Tigers remained 11 1/2 games up. The final game of the series was rained out.

Tigers Continue to Roll, Win Sixth in Row

July 24, 1984 Tigers 9, Indians 5 (68-29)

Milt Wilcox threw a nice game to win his tenth of the season, going 6 2/3, giving up six hits, one walk and four runs (none of them earned). He left the game to Willie Hernandez with nice lead, and he finished things off.

Lou Whitaker went three for five with three runs, and Kirk Gibson, Larry Herndon, and Lance Parrish all had two RBIs. Whitaker, Gibby and Dave Bergman all homer in the game. Doug Baker, Alan Trammell’s fill in while he was on the 15 day DL, went four for five hitting in the nine spot.

At this point in the season, the Tigers had moved into what was basically an insurmountable position. They held an 11 1/2 game lead over the Blue Jays, who had hit a rough patch. At this point, things were little more then formality as they had two more months until the playoffs started.

Jack Morris Bounces Back to Beat Indians

July 23, 1984 Tiger 4, Indians 1 (67-29)

The Indians gave Jack Morris a rough time, walking five times and getting five hits in six innings. But, most importantly, he stopped everyone from crossing the plate. The Indians didn’t score until the bottom of the ninth on a solo homerun by Andre Thornton off of Doug Bair.

Kirk Gibson hit his fifteenth homer and drove in two runs, and Lance Parrish hit his twentieth homerun to lead the Tigers offense.

Off to Toronto

This weekend is our third annual baseball trip. For the past three years, we’ve gone out of town to a different ball park to check out a game. The first time, and probably the most memorable, was when I got to see the Tigers play the Red Sox at Fenway. It was supposed to be a great pitching match up as Pedro Martinez was set to pitch against Tiger’s ace Jeff Weaver, but the day we flew in was the day he got traded to the Yankees. Instead, I got to see the Red Sox roll over then rookie Mike Maroth, and watch Pedro pretty much dominate the Tigers.

Last year we went to see the Red Sox play the Yankees at Yankees Stadium. Possibly the biggest rivalry in baseball, we had upper deck tickets, and the stadium was packed. I saw Roger Clemens lose to his former team as the Red Sox won once again.

This year, we’re going to Toronto. My wife has a friend who’s getting married in the fall who lives in the Toronto area, so she’ll probably be involved in that stuff, but we’re staying in the hotel that looks out over the field, so Friday I’ll get to watch the game from our room, and Saturday, we have tickets to the game. It will be my six week old son’s first baseball game, and first long road trip.

So I’ll be out of town and probably unable to post. I’ll get tomorrow’s 1984 diary entry up, and then I’ll catch everything up when I get back. Have a great weekend.

Royal Pain

Can anyone possibly explain the Tiger’s difficulties facing Kansas City this season. At the time of this entry, they are trailing by two going into the top of the 8th inning. It’s becoming much clearer that this team will not be able to get over the hump and make a run at contention. That being said I want to sit back and enjoy their competitiveness and the continuing development of Inge, Infante, etc. I am glad that Brian made mention of Urbina’s poor performance. He has a high save percentage and maybe the only semblance of a closer that the team posesses. That being said, he has never really appeared to get into the groove and approach the dominance you would hope for in someone who is going to close the game for you. Excepting a major turnaround, such as making a big run at the White Sox (like winning 13-14 out of 19) the Tiger fans will have to prepare for the prospect that Esteban Yan will be the closer for the remainder of the season and Urbina will be traded. His recent performance may be enough to warrant consideration for that scenario anyhow. Riffing on a theme in one of Brian’s recent entries I have enjoyed reading recently: Diamond Gems by Ernie Harwell, American Dynasty by Kevin Phillips (almost finished) and a Warren Cromartie bio/diary of his experiences while playing for the Yomiuri Giants of Japan. Musically, I have particularly enjoyed the newest release by Bobby Bare, Jr. and Grey DeLisle.

Petry Pitches Gem to Sweep Rangers

July 22, 1984 Tigers 2, Rangers 0 (66-29)

Dave Bergman led of the Tigers half of the first inning with a solo shot. Little would anyone know that it would be all the Tigers would need. He also scored the Tigers other run on wild pitch.

Dan Petry was simply awesome. He went 8 2/3, gave up only four hits and one walk, while striking out eight. Willie Hernandez got the final out of the game to earn his twentieth save of the season.

The sweep put the Tigers 38 games above .500, they’re best mark of the season. They were near the end of the run where they’d win 11 of 12, and had increased their lead over the Blue Jays to nine games.

Twinkie Trauma

These are the kind of days where it’s tough being a Tiger fans. Coming off of the heels of a dramatic four game series with the Yankees, the Tigers then drop two straight games to the Twins. The good news is we were in both games up until the very end. The bad news is, the Twins sent up two of their more ineffective starters, and the Tigers couldn’t get the job done.

The job done by Ugueth Urbina last was particularly disturbing. Way back when they signed him I had my misgivings because of his track record. And as I go back into the game log, I feel a little vindicated. Urbina has a lost four games and blown two saves. The net effect of that is five games where he entered the game to close it out, and didn’t, and we ended up losing. He also has a whopping three one run saves.

With that said, Urbina is, without a doubt, our best reliever. But, we need him to pitch like it.

Jeremy Bonderman’s numbers are going from bad to very bad. His ERA is now a run or two away from six. I still think he’s under a “trial by fire” scenario though, because he’s still only 21. But to do anything down the stretch, we need Jeremy to be effective. He looks great at times, but similar to Jeff Weaver when he pitched here, he’ll follow up the good innings with a bad inning that costs him the game.

With that, the Tigers are now six games back of the Twins. They’re two games back of the Indians. They now face the hapless Royals, but we’ve had our problems against them. I know these next two games mean as much as any other, and to call them “must win” would be an exageration, but, if they can’t do their job against the poorer teams, then they’ll have a problem against the White Sox and Indians, who are ahead of them.

Tigers Storm Back to Beat Rangers

July 21, 1984 Tigers 7, Rangers 6 (65-29)

Bullpen, Bullpen, Bullpen.

Tiger starter Glenn Abbot got shelled in the third inning, giving up five runs, and getting chased out of the game. But Sid Monge, who was used only sporadically up until this point, pitched four innings of three hit ball to let the Tigers come back.

The Tigers would get five big runs in the bottom of the fifth to finish off the Rangers. Rupert Jones had a one run single, Chet Lemon a two run double, and Howard Johnson a two run single. Willie Hernandez pitched the eighth and ninth, giving up only one hit and earning his nineteenth save.

Dave Rozema Bests Frank Tanana in Pitchers Dual

July 20, 1984 Tigers 3, Rangers 1 (64-29)

Dave Rozema pitched eight solid innings to give the Tigers the win. Six hits and one run were all he gave up. Willie Hernandez garnered his eighteenth save with a perfect ninth inning.

Future Tiger Frank Tanana pitched nearly as well, but he gave up a two run shot to Barbero Garbey in the third, and a solo shot to Chet Lemon in the fourth. He’d go the distance, but take his ninth loss of the season. Chet Lemon ended up with three of the eight Tiger hits.

Tigers Shell Rangers, Dave Stewart

July 19. 1984 Tigers 9, Rangers 2 (63-29)

A three run second inning put the Tigers up for good as they racked up nine runs on thirteen hits, chasing starter, and future four time 20 game winner Dave Stewart out in the fifth inning.

Lou Whitaker went three for five, Rupert Jones went four for four, and Lance Parrish and Kirk Gibson had homeruns.

Milt Wilcox threw a nice game,, going 7 1/3 and giving up only two runs. The usual suspects, Willie Hernandez and Aurilio Lopez finished the game out.

Split’em Up

The Tigers just evened up the homestand series against the Yankees, and took the season series, winning four and losing three. Taking three of four would have been nice, but I’d definitely say this was a success. They really got some outstanding starting pitching, topping the list being the one hit shutout by Maroth.

Now the Tigers have a nice little two game series agains the Twins. They’re going to facing Mulholland and Lohse, so the Tigers really have a shot at taking both games. Then they have another little two game series against the Royals, also a couple of games they should take.

Then, following week and a half could determine whether they contend for the AL Central or not. Next weekend they sqaure off agains the White Sox for the first time this season, then a three game series against the Indians who are right there with them, and then, a big four game series at home against the White Sox again.

It’s been a while since I’ve been truly excited about the Tigers, and it’s a great feeling. I was actually watching the clock leading up to the game. Mike Ilitch also has to be happy, as 160,000+ fans showed up for the series. The Tigers topped the 1,000,000 mark yesterday, and are averaging well over 23,000 fans a game. Last year’s mark was a touch over 17,000. 6,000 people at $20 a seat over 81 games is almost $10,000,000 (not to mention concessions), basically paying for Ivan Rodriguez.

Also want to send out a quick congratulations to the Detroit Demolition. The two time National Women’s Football Association made it to the championship team again. The Detroit team has won the championship the last two years (impressive seeing as how the league’s only been around for three years), and goes to Atlanta to defend their title in Atlanta. I listened to an interview of the teams running back (Heather Alexander) on Drew and Mike and she seemed pretty cool.

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