May 31, 1935 Tigers 6, Browns 5 (20-17)
Things looked pretty grim for the Tigers as they entered the bottom of the ninth down by a score of 5-1. Browns starter Bob Wellend walked the first three batters he faced in the ninth, and it even more downhill from there. The bulk of the damage was done by Goose Goslin, who had a bases clearing pinch hit double.
The Tigers managed only six hits, but they drew seven walks. Rookie Joe Sullivan threw just well enough to keep the Tigers in the game as he gave up four runs, seven hits and five walks through eight innings.
Game 1 (Final Score: 4-3, Tigers win)
Robertson’s opponent in the first game of the Memorial Day weekend series was Sidney Ponson, who boasts a winning record even though he sports an ERA over five. Playing to his average, Ponson started the game with a Brandon Inge double. After overcoming Infante and Young, Rondell White hit Ponson’s 0-2 pitch for a single, which sent Inge home for an early Tigers’ lead (1-0). Robertson bettered his opponent for most of the game, especially in the second when he got out of a one out, two men on jam with a nicely turned double play.
Ponson was solid for two innings until he allowed the leadoff man to score in the fourth. Young did all the work himself belting his seventh homerun of the year (2-0). In what looked to be a promising inning, Rodriguez’s double and Pena’s walk were wasted by some poor hitting from Monroe and Smith. Robertson and Ponson settled in to pitch a pretty good game, trading zeros for another couple innings until Young lead off the sixth successfully with an infield single. He advanced to third on a pair of groundouts and scored on Monroe’s home run (4-0). Robertson matched Ponson in the bottom half by giving up a leadoff triple to Brian Roberts, who scored on Jeff Fiorentino’s groundout (4-1).
Robertson lasted midway through the eighth before giving way to Farnsworth. He allowed a single to Surhoff and four pitch walk to Geronimo Gil before getting Roberts and Fiorentino out. Farnsworth allowed run scoring singles to Melvin Mora and Miguel Tejada before finally ending the inning (4-3). Urbina came in to finish the game off even though it looked like he wouldn’t make it that far. The first two outs were sandwiched between a leadoff double and two walks before Urbina got Fiorentino to swing and miss at strike three.
Game 2 (Final Score: 5-3, Tigers win)
Ex-Oriole Jason “Hard Luck” Johnson started this game with the fans hoping he pitches well enough to win and actually does this time. Rookie Hayden Penn, pitching in his first game, was probably pleased to be facing a slumping Tigers lineup that hasn’t given Johnson enough support to win since the middle of April. The first major league hit he allowed was a single, which isn’t so bad, but the second was a solo home run to Craig Monroe in the top of the second, which he probably wants back (1-0). He got a nice pick-me-up from Tejada in the bottom when Johnson gave him a 2-1 pitch he could drive out of the park (1-1).
The Orioles struck again, this time in the fourth when Melvin Mora converted Surhoff’s leadoff triple into the go-ahead run on his single (1-2). That was two hits, one run, all in three pitches by Johnson. Compare this to the long inning Penn had in the top half. He gave the Tigers a single and two walks but no runs. Riding the rollercoaster called Johnson is very frustrating.
In the fifth inning much fun was had by the bats. Logan singled and stole second before Inge walked. Guillen’s groundout advanced both runners, so with first base open, the Orioles walked Young intentionally. White made them pay, kind of, when his grounder scored Logan but forced Young out at second (2-2). Next up was Rodriguez who smacked a double, scoring Inge and giving Monroe runners on second and third and a new pitcher (3-2). Todd Williams induced another groundout to end the top half. The bottom half was quiet unless you count the seven pitch at bat ending in a Rafael Palemeiro homerun (3-3).
Johnson and Williams combined to keep the next two innings scoreless. Williams’ relief, Jorge Julio, got White easily enough only to see Rodriguez single, steal second, and make third on Monroe’s fly. Home base came at a trot for Rodriguez because Infante belted the 1-1 pitch over the fence in left center for two runs, and the final margin of victory (5-3).
Game 3 (Final Score: 8-6, Tigers win)
Ledezma got the nod to finish the series with Baltimore. He stranded three baserunners through three innings before surrendering the Tigers’ fourth inning lead (Dmitri Young scored on Sosa’s error). He issued two walks that were quickly real trouble after Chris Gomez’s sacrifice. Jay Gibbons had men on second and third (one out) that he did just enough with, scoring Tejada on his groundout (1-1). The Tigers answered in the fifth with men on second and third (two out), oh, and first also. Ramon Martinez was less effective since his effort ended in a pop fly out, ruining a great scoring chance.
The bottom of the fifth saw the exit of Ledezma. He allowed two more runs on Surhoff’s triple and was replaced by Chris Spurling (1-3). Spurling bettered Mora and intentionally walked Tejada and faced Sammy Sosa with two on, one out. Sosa’s single scored a run, Gomez’s double scored a run, and Gil’s sac fly scored a third run before Spurling could mercifully end the inning (1-6). Young’s leadoff homer in the top of the sixth got a run back but it looked to be too little, too late (2-6).
It looked that way, for an entire inning or so anyway. Wilson drew a leadoff walk and Bruce Chen was finally relieved, to the Tigers’ relief as it turned out. Logan and Inge hit singles to give Martinez the bases loaded. He flied out. Young plated two with his double and Monroe did the rest with his three-run shot (7-6). That wasn’t all. Rodriguez hit a double, Thames walked, and Infante hit an RBI single (8-6). Wilson returned to the plate to end the inning on a double play but I can’t say I care since he started this inning off so nicely. Farnsworth, German, and Urbina combined for two hits the rest of the way and delivered to the Tigers’ fans a shiny new series sweep.
May 30, 1935 Browns 10, Tigers 7 (18-17)
The Browns outslugged the Tigers in the first game of this doubleheader. Elden Auker was chased out of the game after the Browns put up five runs in the sixth inning. The pen didn’t fair much better in the next inning as they gave up three more to put the Browns into double figures.
May 30, 1935 Tigers 2, Browns 0 (19-17)
Tommy Bridges pitched a gem to earn the win. He really picked up the hitters, who managed only two runs on seven hits. Bridges shutout the Browns on only three hits. While he gave up three walks, he did strike out five. Hank Greenberg drove in both of the Tiger’s runs, while Jo Jo White scored them both.
A huge crowd came out to see the defending American League champs play as 38,000 showed up at Navins Field. The crowd overflowed onto the field, forcing the umpires to institute ground rules. To make matters worse, more then 10,000 fans didn’t even get into the ball park, and several fans were given their money back because they couldn’t see the action with such a large crowd.
The time has come to do something about Wilfredo Ledezma. He is not a competitive major-league starter. This year, he has nine starts and eight disasters. His one quality start — and you can interpret “quality start” either philosophically or statistically — was his first start of the year, in April, against a Cleveland team that hadn’t yet brought its bats up from Spring Training. Leaving out that game, in which the Tigers jumped all over Cleveland for eleven runs, Ledezma hasn’t reached the seventh inning, has only given up fewer than four runs one time (and he left that game at the beginning of the sixth), and has only struck out more than three batters twice. All his outings are short, labored, inefficient, and ineffective.
But what to do? Ledezma has always had tantalizing stuff — a live fastball and a legitimate change. When he spent much of 2003 with the Tigers as a Rule V pick from the Red Sox, it looked like he might turn into a major-league pitcher some day, though he was clearly inefficient, clearly wild, and clearly prone to the long ball. It doesn’t appear he’s gotten any better.
Should he be sent down to the minors? He’s not quite so young anymore — 24 — and he dominated AA last year. Could he use some seasoning in AAA? Perhaps, but I’m not sure what the point is, though I suppose he could use the innings
Should he be dangled as trade bait? Maybe. It’s easy to see some team like the Devil Rays that gets themselves enamored of toolsy prospects thinking they can fix Ledezma. (By the way, aren’t the Devil Rays an amazing collection of failed prospects? Ben Grieve, Travis Lee, Alex Gonzalez, Josh Phelps, etc.)
Should he be put in the bullpen? Probably. He’s got two dominant pitches, and throws hard. If the Tigers have any aspirations to contend, the Ledezma starting pitching experiment has to end, and soon. He can be allowed to work out his kinks in a lower-leverage role, and perhaps find a niche.
Sound the horns. Prepare the feasts. Send out the banns. Let the Sean Douglass era begin.
May 28, 1935 Tigers 8, Yankees 3 (18-16)
Hank Greenberg had a monster game. He hit his tenth and eleventh homers of the season as he went four for five, scored three times, and drove in four runs. Bill Rogell went two for three with a pair of two run homers to account for the rest of the Tigers offense. This power surge was even more sweet because it was against future Hall of Famer Lefty Gomez.
Game 1 (Final score: 3-12, Yankees win)
After a disappointing series loss to the D-Backs, the Tigers square off against the Yankees, a team they’ve had success against the last few years, at the House that Ruth Built. The ’05 edition of the Yanks sports a record similar to the Tigers’ but at a much higher cost per loss. On to actual game commentary, Ledezma and Mussina combined for a quiet first inning before Ledezma started allowing runs in the second.
It was only a solo shot to Alex Rodriguez, but it’s still allowing the other team to score first on the road (0-1). Things were dandy until the fourth rolled around and Ledezma started giving up the long ball again. Gary Sheffield’s leadoff walk was really painful when A. Rodriguez again hit a home run (0-3). Fortunately that meant the bases were clear when Posada came up and hit a home run (0-4). The fourth inning hemorrhaging continued when Jason Giambi scored from third on Robinson Cano’s sac fly, after his double and Bernie Williams’ single (0-5). Ledezma did great during the top of the fifth when he didn’t pitch, but the bottom half didn’t go so well. Sheffield scored Womack (reach on an error) and himself on his homerun and Ledezma was replaced (0-7). Ginter proceeded to give up a double, walk, and three run homer, and a double digit deficit (0-10). After the fifth consecutive batter he faced reached safely, Spurling entered and was greeted by Cano’s RBI double play ball (0-11). Derek Jeter mercifully ended another big Yankees inning with a fly out.
The Tigers’ offense made it to New York to start the eighth inning. Paul Quantrill started things off with a pair of infield singles before getting a double play from the speedster Vance Wilson (out at first and second). Now things became ugly. Quantrill threw behind and then into Jason Smith (why him, I don’t know) before he and Torre were ejected. He took umbrage with German’s beaning of A. Rodriguez in the seventh. His replacement served up a nice fat pitch to Thames, who hit it for four bases and three RBI (3-11). Alas, that was all for the Tigers bats. Cano’s homer off Creek in the bottom half ended the scoring, making the beat down complete (3-12).
Game 2 (Final Score: 2-4, Yankees win)
Maroth versus Wang (I’ll refrain from any jokes here even though this is one of my favorite euphemisms: Yes, I’m eight years old, but it’s funny). Again, the Yankees strike first, this time in the first. Jeter scored from second, after his single and Cano’s sacrifice, on Sheffield’s single and the Tigers were behind again (0-1). Wang cleaned house the first time through the Tigers’ order before allowing two singles to Inge and Guillen and an RBI sacrifice to I. Rodriguez (1-1) in the fourth.
Maroth stayed even with Wang through five before failing to record an out in the sixth. A walk, single, an A. Rodriguez RBI double, and a two RBI Posada single chased him in favor of Jamie Walker (1-4). I’ve noticed that Trammell sends in the relief just past the nick of time quite frequently and I really wonder why. Walker, Maroth’s relief, ended the inning quickly, but not before the damage was done.
The Tigers came right back in the top of the seventh and worked on Wang a little bit. Wang was looking flaccid (Sorry!) when White waklked on one pitch – an HBP – and followed it up by issuing Monroe a one out single. Stanton replaced him and Ramon Martinez replaced Pena in a runners at the corners, one out situation. Martinez delivered one run on a single bringing the Tigers closer, only to see Thames pop out against Tanyon Sturtze for the second out (2-4). Infante was looking really good when Sturtze threw a wild pitch advancing Martinez and Monroe to second and third respectively before he missed strike three. Gordon and Rivera closed the game out without difficulty, earning the Yankees a series victory.
Game 3 (Final Score: 3-4, Yankees win)
Bonderman got the start against Kevin Brown to attempt to avoid the sweep from New York’s Swiffer. The Yankees struck first early, once again in the bottom of the second. ARod drew a one out walk and advanced to third on Tino Martinez’s double. Posada hit the next pitch at Pena, who muffed it, scoring ARod and putting Bonderman into a hole (0-1). After two strikes to Giambi, Bonderman plunked him and faced the intrepid Robinson “Crusoe” Cano. Cano hit into a double play to kill the inning.
The Tigers jumped on Brown in the third with one out when Inge went for extra bases with a double. Martinez hit an 0-2 pitch for a single, Inge scored, and Dmitri Young came up (1-1). Young hit the second double of the inning and made it to third on Jeter’s throwing error, giving the Tigers their first lead of the series (2-1). White hit the next pitch for an infield single only to see IRod hit into an inning ending double play. Bonderman came in to hold the third inning lead and made things interesting. Womack (later caught stealing), Sheffield, and Matsui hit singles but Bonderman stranded them when he got ARod swinging.
In the fourth the Tigers got good lumber on Brown’s pitches. Monroe hit a leadoff single only to go down with Pena on a strike’em out, throw’em out double play. Jason Smith stepped up and hit a triple, scoring on Logan’s single (3-1). The Yankees got to Bonderman in the bottom with some help from the Tigers defense. Martinez and Posada singled, Giambi struck out, and Cano entered the box. He hit a double play ball to short but Ramon Martinez missed the out at second (Yup, no outs this time) giving Jeter the bases loaded. He converted on a fielder’s choice when T. Martinez scored (3-2). Womack jumped on the first pitch and sent it straight to short, ending the inning.
In the fifth is when Bonderman got really unlucky. He started all five batters with strike one but allowed a one out single to Matsui and a two run homer to ARod to give up the lead (3-4). It was nice while it lasted. The rest of the inning went quietly like the rest of the game. Call it a Swiffer for New York.
May 27, 1935 Yankees 3, Tigers 1 (17-16)
I’m not sure if this game was worse then yesterday’s or not. The Tigers did put a run on the board, but they were held to only three hits as they Yankees guaranteed a win of their series with the Detroit. Sole run was scored by pinch hitter Chet Morgan on an Sac. Fly by Charlie Gehringer.
Another strong pitching performance was wasted as Schoolboy Rowe held the Yankees in check. He gave up only three runs on eight hits.
I met up with bloggers Billfer, Rob, and Brian to watch the Tigers at Duggans. We had a lively conversation that ranged from Brandon Inge’s surgance (I know that’s not a word, but you can’t say he had a resurgance because there was no re-) to Lou Whitaker getting shafted by falling off the Hall of Fame ballot.
I look forward to the next get together.
For those of you who like to sit and talk about baseball while enjoying an adult beverage, this will be for you.
May 26, 1935 Yankees 2, Tigers 0 (17-15)
Rookie Joe Sullivan threw nine strong innings, giving up only two runs and five hits. A solo homer by Bill Dickey and a wild pitch that scored Vito Tamulis were his only blemishes. Unfortunately he was outdueled.
May 25, 1935 Tigers 3, Red Sox 2 (17-14)
Tommy Bridges pitched nine strong innings for the Tigers. He gave up only two runs on seven hits, and he struck out two. He won his fifth straigh game.
Hank Greenberg homered again. The two run shot, his ninth of the season, was the difference. Greenberg went three for four, and even put Red Sox starter Fritz Ostermueller in the hospital by nailing him with a line drive.
Game 1 (Final Score: 6-2, Diamondbacks win)
I’m going to ape Ernie Harwell by saying it but InterLeague play for teams without cross league rivals lacks zest. So the Tigers face the Diamondbacks (2nd in NL West) in their bid to win another series against a western opponent. Sadly I’m going to have to crib from various news stories to put the game together since there was no pitch-by-pitch report. Happily you won’t have to read as much of my gibberish to find out what happened.
If you like Tigers hitting then there’s not going to be much here for you. Brandon Webb continued his dominance of the Tigers by pitching no-hit ball through 6.1 innings. According to quotes from various article sources, it was more Webb’s skill than the Tigers’ lack of skill that produced this tremendous outing. He seems to pitch well at Comerica Park so he might be worth a look when he becomes eligible for free agency in a couple years (of course after he’s signed as a Tiger, it’ll prove to be a small sample size or having faced weak competition issue). The Tigers mustered two runs in the seventh to tie the score after Bonderman allowed two first inning runs and not much else (2-2).
The tie didn’t last long because the Diamondbacks dropped a pair of runs on the Tigers in both the eighth and ninth to go and stay ahead (6-2). Overall the Tigers’ pitchers allowed five doubles (four by Bonderman) out of thirteen hits and five walks and the hitters managed only six hits (two doubles) and one walk. This was just an anemic performance by both the hitting and pitching. I sure hope Bonderman is healthy because he’s been the losing streak stopper; Poor Johnson has been pitching well enough to win but still losing. Here’s to tomorrow being better.
Game 2 (Final Score: 2-3, Tigers win)
Nate Robertson faced Shawn Estes on Saturday to banish memories of last night and earn the Tigers an InterLeague win. Robertson and Estes kept the game scoreless until the top of the seventh, allowing only 4 base runners each, albeit in different ways. Robertson allowed 3 walks and a double and Estes allowed 4 singles. These potential runs for both teams were wasted with double plays and general poor execution at the plate.
In the top of the seventh, Robertson allowed singles to Ex-Tiger Tony Clark, Shawn Green, and Royce Clayton after striking out Troy Glaus. Luis Terrero mustered a sacrifice fly to plate Clark’s pinch-runner (1-0). Robertson walked his fourth batsman of the night (Koyie Hill) and was replaced by Doug Creek. Creek induced a groundball from Craig Counsell to end a bad inning before it turned ugly. In the bottom half, the Tigers actually strung together a couple of hits. Ivan Rodriguez smacked a leadoff triple and scored on Carlos Guillen’s single (1-1). Dmitri Young hit a one out single after Rondell White’s line out bringing up Craig Monroe, who loaded the bases with his walk. Marcus Thames and Omar Infante both had awful at bats ending in strikeouts to end the inning.
After Farnsworth’s dominant eighth (2Ks), the Tigers again hit well enough to make it interesting. Inge hit a one out double and Rodriguez advanced him to third on a groundout. Guillen was intentionally walked to bring up White, who validated the choice by harmlessly forcing out Guillen at second. Ugueth Urbina almost made the decision gold by loading the bases with the combination of two walks and a single in the top of the ninth before escaping with Counsell’s pop out. The Tigers went quietly to end the game but since it was tied, gave the hometown fans bonus baseball.
In the tenth, Franklyn German and Jose Valverde provided for a quick inning by getting the hitters out in order. The eleventh was a different story. German allowed a leadoff triple before mowing down the next two batters. He issued first base to Luis Gonzalez, bringing up Koyie Hill who scored Chad Tracy from third with his two out single (2-1). Counsell ended another inning by missing strike three. In the bottom half, Rodriguez had another extra base leadoff hit (a double). Rodriguez proceeded to tie the game when he scored from third on White’s one out double (2-2). Young was given first base on purpose and Monroe earned it after watching four consecutive balls on an 0-2 count. Thames came up again and smacked a single scoring White and winning the game (2-3).
Game 3 (Final Score: 1-0, Diamondbacks win)
I can’t describe how fun it is to write about the third game of a three game series and have the Tigers in a position to win it. Obviously taking the first two would be ideal but it is nice (not satisfying) to be competitive each time we face a new team. Jason Johnson went up against Javier Vasquez to decide the series’ winner. To be frank, these two were the deciding factor, hands down. Johnson and Vasquez both pitched excellent games with Johnson going eight and Vasquez nine innings.
That’s not to say Johnson didn’t make things interesting. He ended his no-hit bid on the first batter, Craig Counsell, who singled and stole second. Jose Cruz Jr. walked putting Johnson to his first test: Face the heart of the Arizona order with two men on and none out. Luis Gonzalez was out one (fly out); Troy Glaus and Shawn Green were Johnson’s first two strikeout victims. Yup, he got out without giving up a run. Johnson allowed a couple of two out singles and that was it until the eighth. Royce Clayton was on third after his single, Chris Snyder’s sacrifice to Johnson, and Johnson’s wild pitch. Craig Counsell hit a single into left, scoring Clayton (1-0). Vance Wilson helped Johnson out by going 1 for 2 on base stealers so Johnson’s two walks didn’t amount to any more scoring.
I wish I could say the Tigers got the run back in the last third of the game to get Johnson even, but they didn’t. I’m going to be slightly fair about this; Vasquez brought his nasty stuff tonight and tore through the line-up. He didn’t issue any walks, allowed only one leadoff hit, and never allowed multiple base runners in an inning, but he was vulnerable. Rondell White hit a two out double and Dmitri Young couldn’t get him home in the fourth. Brandon Inge hit a two out triple and Carlos Guillen couldn’t plate him in the sixth. Finally in the ninth, Guillen had a one out double but both White and Young couldn’t plate him and tie the game up. Thanks mostly to Vasquez, the Diamondbacks take the series tonight and incidentally are the only first or second place team with more runs allowed than scored.
|J Bonderman||6||7||2||2||4||4||3.00 1.83|
|D Creek||0.1||1||0||0||0||0||0.00 10.00|
|K Farnsworth||1.1||0||0||0||0||2||0.00 0.00|
|F German||2||3||2||1||1||3||4.50 2.00|
|J Johnson||8||5||1||1||3||6||1.13 1.00|
|N Robertson||6.2||4||1||1||4||5||1.45 1.29|
|C Spurling||2||3||2||1||0||2||4.50 1.50|
|U Urbina||1||1||0||0||2||1||0.00 3.00|
|J Walker||1.2||1||1||1||1||1||7.50 1.67|
May 24, 1935 Red Sox 8. Tigers 4 (16-14)
General Crowder started off throwing well, but the wheels came off the wagon in the fifth inning when the Red Sox touched him for three runs including a two run homer by Moe Berg. He’d have problems the next two innings as well, give up a pair in each of the sixth and seventh innings.
Hank Greenberg continued to hit well. He went two for five with two RBIs. Three other Tigers had two hits, but despite the eleven hits, the Tigers could only get four runs across.
Last week, I promised to begin a series on Dave Dombrowski that should have continued today. Those plans were rerouted, however, with a request from another site to contribute to a series on baseball’s GMs with a column on Dombrowski, which, at Brian’s urging, I did. A lot of the analysis I had planned to pen here is now there, and I don’t think it makes sense to redo so much of it just so I can weigh in with my opinions on the 1996 Dustin Hermanson-for-Quilvio Veras trade. So it’s back to that tried-and-true blog technique: the news and notes.
May 23, 1935 Tigers 5, Red Sox 3 (16-13)
Hank Greenberg hit a two run homer that pushed the Tigers ahead of the Red Sox. In all he went one for four with the homer and three RBIs. Marv Owen added two RBIs, while Charlie Gehringer and Pete Fox both had two hits.
Schoolboy Rowe pitched nine strong innings. He had a shutout through six before giving up two runs in the seventh and a run in the eighth. He improved to 3-3.
May 22, 1935 Tigers 4, Athletics 1 (15-13)
The Tigers jumped on Philadelphia Athletics starter George Blaeholder early as Pete Fox hit his very first pitch over the fence to give the Tigers an early 1-0 lead. Gee Walker had a big game as he went two for three with two RBIs. Mickey Cochrane had three hits including a double.
Elden Auker threw a fine game as he went the distance. He gave up one run on eighth hits and struck out two to win his first game of the season.
For those of you interested in watching and talking about baseball while having a nice adult beverage, this Thursday Billfer (Detroit Tigers Weblog) and Ryan Sosin (Tigers Central) are going to be meeting up to watch the game. The site hasn’t been nailed down yet, but it will probably be somewhere in Royal Oak.
If you’re interested in stopping by, drop me a line so we have an idea as to the size of the table/area we’ll need.
Since my son’s been born (hard to believe it’s almost been a year), I’ve rekindled my interest in baseball cards. I went back and looked up how much the book value of the 1971 Topps Set and though of how great it would have been to have sets since the year I was born. So I decided to not only fill the holes I have in my Topps sets, but to also buy my son the newest factory set every year just to keep the collection going.
I also decided to go back and try to either buy or build sets going back to my date of birth (i.e. the 1971 Topps set). I picked up a couple of 1979 Topps lots via ebay, and decided I needed a couple of 800 count boxes to keep the cards in, so on the way home one day I stopped at the local baseball card store.
And they were closed. For good. The store was empty. I had been in there only a few times, and most of what they had was overpriced compared to what I could get on ebay, so I opted for the cheaper route. While I’m not sure if they’re “Out of Business” or if they just decided to close their brick and mortar store and go the internet route, I got to thinking about how Ebay has basically destroyed the traditional baseball card shop.
I’m not sure if that’s good or bad. I spent a lot of time in my local card store (they had arcade games as well), so I have some fond memories. But I also don’t like playing sometimes 20% more (and tack on another 6% for sales tax) for something. So while I was a little sad to see the store as closed, it really doesn’t affect me. At all.
So now I have to find a new card store. If anyone could recommend one in Oakland County, I’d appreciate it.
Game 1 (3-4, Tigers win)
The Tigers have been playing .500 ball recently so it is awfully nice for the schedule to give them a home series against the D-Rays. Jason Johnson squared off against Casey Fossum and was his usual inconsistent self. He would have great innings where he started every hitter out with a strike, which he’d blow by making a pitch that he shouldn’t. Want some evidence?
He threw seven pitches in the first inning, including a three strike at bat (all looking) to Carl Crawford. In the second, he allowed a leadoff homer to Josh Phelps after getting behind in the count (1-0). The next four batters he faces all see strike one again. The third inning was only ten pitches but the fourth went like the second. Ahead 0-2 with two outs, he allows a single and an RBI double. The fifth and sixth were scoreless but the seventh was a problem. Alex Sanchez hit a single and moved over to third on Johnson’s throwing error when he tried to steal. Johnson gave up the lead again when Toby Hall singled him home. He followed this inning up with a scoreless eighth before being relieved in the ninth by Farnsworth.
It took the Tigers 2.1 innings to get on the board. Marcus “the River” Thames hit a single and scored on Omar Infante’s homerun (1-2). With two out, Brandon Inge got a free pass and advanced to second on Ivan Rodriguez’s single. Carlos Guillen battled Fossum before retiring on a weak pop fly, ending the inning. After two innings of quiet bats, the Tigers perked up in the sixth. Seth McClung, Fossum’s replacement, issued a leadoff walk to Guillen before striking out White. White’s strikeout was followed by Young’s and Monroe’s walk, bringing up Carlos Pena with the bases loaded and a tie game (2-2). McClung dusted off his nasty stuff to strikeout both Pena and Infante to end the inning.
In the ninth, trailing (3-2) the Tigers waited until their last out to get it done. Pena watched four balls to get on, a sacrifice to go to second, and the second out before Rodriguez entered the batter’s box. On a 2-2 count, Pudge tied the game with a single (3-3). Urbina pitched 1.1 innings of scoreless ball before yielding to Franklyn German in the eleventh, who struck out both men he faced. In the bottom half, Inge hit a single and made second on Crawford’s fielding error. Wanting nothing to do with Pudge, he was walked to bring up Ramon Martinez. Martinez laid down a great sacrifice bunt, which gave White runners on second and third. He promptly ended the game with his third hit of the night (3-4).
Game 2 (Final Score: 4-6, Tigers win)
Ledezma got the start and started well, striking out the side in the first. In between the first two strikeouts, he allowed a solo home run to Julio Lugo and an early lead to Tampa Bay (1-0). His opponent, Doug Waechter, helped the Tigers out by misfiring on a pickoff attempt on Logan at first. Logan made it all the way to third on the play and scored when Inge grounded out (1-1). Ledezma added two more strikeouts in the second, better his career best by one, and the Tigers added two more runs. Dmitri Young leadoff with a solo shot and Craig Monroe followed him with a single (1-2). Monroe scored from second on Infante’s double after advancing during Pena’s groundout (1-3). This promising inning was stifled when Jason Smith was thrown out at second stretching for a double leaving Logan with Infante on third and two outs. He did about as much as the Devil Rays did in the top of the third i.e. nothing.
The bottom of the third was different than the top. Waechter again made a play for the other team when he botched Ivan Rodrguez’s one out grounder by dropping the ball at first. It really hurt because Rondell White chased Rodriguez home with a double, extending the lead (1-4). Things got worse when Jorge Cantu botched Young’s ground ball, giving Monroe runners at the corners and only one out. He delivered on an infield single, scoring White from third (1-5). Realizing that playing ten against nine is pretty hard, Pinella replaced Waechter (the best Tigers player today) with Jon Switzer. He managed to strike out two batters to end the inning but not before surrendering another run on Infante’s single (1-6).
Ledezma ran into a patch of trouble in the fourth when he allowed a single and a walk. Toby Hall came up with two out, two on, and hit a three run shot into left field, making things interesting again (4-6). Ledezma only lasted another half and Chris Spurling entered the game and successfully held the lead for two innings. Farnsworth pitched a scoreless eighth and Urbina a scoreless ninth for the win. I’m looking forward to a little bit of spring cleaning with a broom tomorrow.
Game 3 (Final Score: 6-2, Devil Rays win)
Bonderman was given an extra day off (a dead arm according to Trammel) so Maroth takes the mound against the winless Scott Kazmir. After a hitless first, Maroth got down to business in the second. Charles Johnson was looking at three base runners and one out after three singles to Josh Phelps, Aubrey Huff, and Nick Green; Jorge Cantu courteously struck out looking. Maroth walked the first run in before getting Damon Hollins to fly out (1-0). Apparently he liked it so he did it again, walking Carl Crawford (2-0). Mercifully Julio Lugo ended the inning with a groundout, TGiTB.
I can happily report that the Tigers weren’t hitting any of Kazmir’s pitches into space unoccupied by Devil Ray fielders and this went on until the fourth inning. Meanwhile the D-Rays were still having success. Jorge Cantu came home with Damon Hollins on his two run shot in the fourth (4-0). Lugo came on down when Huff hit a deep fly into the waiting glove of Craig Monroe in the fifth and Nick Green batted himself home in the sixth (6-0).
Finally in the bottom of the sixth, the Tigers started to generate some offense. Logan beat out a single and Inge earned a walk only to be forced out at second when Ivan Rodriguez hit into a fielder’s choice. Rondell White hit a single, scoring Logan and advancing Pudge to third (6-1). Dmitri Young hit the ball off Kazmir scoring Rodriguez but getting thrown out at first (6-2). Seth McClung replaced the hobbled Kazmir and ended the inning promptly. The Tigers got two men on in each of the eighth and ninth only to see them stranded. A sweep would have been nice but a series win is still great.
The main item of Tiger news that caught my eye this past week was the passing of Bobby Higginson onto the DL for elbow surgery. My hunch is that he will not return to the roster until September 1.
I like Bobby. I always have. You see, he and I have something in common: our birthday. And we were born in the same year, too. Bobby grew up in Philly, I now live and work in the Philadelphia area. Now, don’t get me wrong, Bobby has been a major disappointment the last few years. And the words “major disappointment” don’t really do it justice. But let’s not forget those years when Bobby was one of the few reasons to actually watch the Tigers. There is an internet bulletin board/forum by and for Mets fans out there called The Crane Pool, named for the decidedly ordinary long-time Mets first baseman Ed Kranepool. I hope that, in a few years, after we have some perspective on “The Lost Years”, us Tiger fans can look back in appreciation of what Higgy gave to us during those lean years, just like Mets fans appreciate the contributions of Ed Kranepool.
I cringe when I see all the criticism Higginson has gotten from the fans and the press. It wasn’t his fault that Randy Smith reached as far as he did to sign Higgy to that unreasonable contract extension. And Higgy, as far as I know, has made every attempt to play whenever he was physically able. Part of his problems these past few years may well have been a result of his trying to play through pain a little too much.
I don’t know what the future holds for Bobby Higginson, but I’ll never be one of those that showers the boo-birds down on him. I’ll remember the good times.