I’m all for constructive criticism, but everyone once in a while, someone takes it a little too far. While looking through my referal logs, I ran across a new, rather mundane site. Apparantly, someone doesn’t have anything better to do then rip on other people’s material. I love sports history, so the diaries are a special treat for me. But to others, I suppose I’m “obsessive” and a “total loser.”
I debated whether to give these guys any publicity at all by linking to their site since that may be exactly what they’re looking for. I finally decided I’d give you a look at what these jokers are up too. I’m sure the five or six of you who go click over will double their outside their traffic. So go check out the “noise” at Sports Blog Critics.
Game 1 (Final Score: 8-4, Tigers win)
Returning home after that dreadful Colorado skiing trip, the Tigers got to face a top notch squad in the Padres. There was a two hour rain delay and the Tigers were Jekyll before and Hyde after it. Ginter took over the pitching duties from Johnson per Trammell’s established policy and provided some motivation for the hitters in his first inning of work. In the third the Padres played some National League ball with Ginter’s help. Khalil Greene lead off with a single, was sacrificed to second, and was on third with two out and Ryan Klesko at bat. Dmitri Young botched Klesko’s effort and Greene crossed the plate (1-0).
After the rain delay the Tigers’ hitters remembered how to put the ball in play successfully. During the first two innings the Tigers exhibited great skill in both missing the ball when they swung at it and successfully keeping it in the infield (Jekyll). Shelton and Giarratano wasted their at bats so Logan looked pretty pathetic with his two out walk. In an effort to look manlier, he stole second (enter Hyde). Inge was facing a 3-1 count and Jake Peavy threw him a pitch he probably wanted back; To get it however, he’d have to go wrestle a fan in the fountain (1-2). Polanco continued his hot hitting with a double and Young redeemed his miscue in the top half with an RBI single (1-3).
Doug Creek took the reins in the sixth and started ugly. Klesko benefited from another Tiger miscue, Creek’s, and reached second base on another infield grounder. Fernando Rodney was called on to keep the Tigers’ lead and he couldn’t do it. Phil Nevin scored Klesko from third with one out used and Mark “I wanna be like Mike” Sweeney doubled him home to tie the game (3-3). Klesko must have felt bad for the home fans because he made a fielding error that benefited the Tigers in the bottom half. With White and Polanco on first and second, Klesko’s head started spinning and he spewed projectile vomit and lost the ball hit towards him in the mess. White and Polanco both scored when the rest of the Padres went to help him out and poor Monroe was trying to clean himself up at first base (3-5).
The Tigers provided some insurance runs in the eighth. Polanco singled, stole second, and scored on White’s triple (3-6). Rodriguez hit an RBI single, stole second, and scored on Monroe’s RBI single (3-8). Shelton kept the magic going with a single but Giarratano Muggled the magic with a double play ball. Walker, Farnsworth, and Percival finished the game out from the seventh on and only Percival allowed a run on Sweeney’s solo homer (4-8).
Game 2 (Final Score: 2-8, Tigers win)
Pretty much all that needs to be said about today’s game was covered by Maroth (quote from espn.com’s recap) “Today felt good,” he said. “I haven’t been pitching with leads very often lately.” Maroth has pitched well enough to win most nights out this year but he’s still lost five games in a row, mostly due to the Tigers’ well documented offensive incompetence. Maroth quickly ended his shutout bid with no outs in the first when Greene produced the first run with his RBI double (1-0). In the second the Tigers closed the gap with Polanco scoring on White’s double (1-1). Polanco has been an absolute hitting beast since he came over from the Phillies and is making me quickly forget how to spell Ugueth Urbina.
In the second the Tigers gave Maroth his first lead in about a month. Monroe and Shelton were on after a single and an error and one out was used by Giarratano’s popped up bunt. Logan’s fielder’s choice gave Inge runners at the corners, who made second after the throw home on his run scoring single (1-2). Polanco bested Inge’s feat, scoring two runs with his single, and the inning got really interesting (1-4). Adam Eaton loaded the bases with a walk to Young and a hit White to face I. Rodriguez. Pudge demonstrated his usual impatience and hit the second pitch for out number three into right fielder’s mitt.
Maroth stuck it on cruise control in the second and abused the Padres the rest of the time he was on the mound. In the third the Tigers extended the lead with back-to-back doubles from Monroe and Shelton (1-5). The last man Eaton faced was Logan and he drew a walk. His relief, Darrell May, followed with another walk to Inge after Logan stole second. Polanco plated Shelton from third and May got Young to end the inning with a double play (1-6). May struck again in the seventh, allowing a double and home run to White and Monroe respectively (1-8).
Franklyn German was given the opportunity to end the game quietly and he wasn’t terrible. He started the ninth with a walk to Klesko, got Nevin to miss strike three, uncorked a wild one that advanced Klesko to second, and gave up Robert Fick’s RBI single before ending the game with a 6-4-3 double play (2-8).
Game 3 (Final Score: 1-3, Tigers win)
With the series already won, Bonderman faced Woody Williams with a chance to pitch the Tigers into a sweep of another first place team. Except for the first and seventh innings, Bonderman was very good. Dave Roberts was the first Padre on in the first and he thoughtfully batted himself home with his lead off homer (1-0). After two quick outs, Bonderman had a first base giveaway party attended by Brian Giles and the less famous Sweeney, Mark. Ramon Hernandez was Bonderman’s next opponent and he struck out to end the inning. In the second, the less famous Sweeney hit a single that went for two bases after the error by Monroe. He was joined on base by Geoff Blum who earned a one out walk. Greene had a real opportunity to do some damage with the Tigers ahead by only a run but Bonderman induced an inning ending double play.
The Tigers scored runs in the second, third, and seventh. Chris Shelton tied the game on his single, the third consecutive hit of the inning, scoring Pudge (doubled, advanced on Monroe’s single) from third (1-1). Inge tripled to start the third and scored on Young’s sacrifice fly (1-2). Shelton led off the seventh with his first major league homer (1-3). The offense provided just enough runs to give Bonderman his eighth win and Percival his fifth save.
I’m not going to complain about the offensive output in this series but the Tigers are still impatient at the plate. If you look at the pitch-by-pitch logs you’ll see a lot of at bats that aren’t longer than four pitches. The one thing that doesn’t show up is what kinds of pitches they are swinging at early in the count; All these pitches they’re choosing could be really good ones to hit but since so many are going for groundballs I’m a little skeptical. Just something to watch for those of you that are lucky enough to get Tigers broadcasts on the TV.
June 16, 1935 Tigers 13, Athletics 3 (29-23)
The Tigers really put on an offensive show for the weekend crowd at Navins Field. For the third straight game they put up more then ten runs and as you look up and down the Tigers lineup, each of the nine hitters had at least one hit and one run.
Hank Greenberg led the way with yet another homerun. He drove in four runs. Charlie Gehringer also went yard for the home team, and Pete Fox, Schoolboy Rowe and Flea Clifton all drove in a pair of runs.
Schoolboy Rowe threw a fine game for Detroit. He gave up three runs on only six hits and he struck out four batters.
June 15, 1935 Tigers 10, Athletics 1 (27-23)
The Tigers made short work of the Philadelphia Athletics. Elden Auker gave up only a single run on nine hits and he struck out two batters. The Mechanical Man, Charlie Gehringer had a monster game. He went three for five with a home run, two runs and three RBIs. Hank Greenberg also homered for the Tigers as he also scored a pair and drove in two runs.
June 15, 1935 Tigers 11, Athletics 3 (28-23)
Tiger’s shortstop Billy Rogell drove in four runs as the Tigers took the second game of the doubleheader. Pete Fox homered and drove in three runs, while Hank Greenberg and Mickey Cochrane drove in a pair.
General Crowder was stingy and gave up only three runs on eight hits. He struck out two and only walked a single batter to earn the win.
With the 21 runs that the Tigers scored, they now led the Major Leagues with 288 runs. The next closest was the first place Yankees who had scored 281 runs in two more games then the Tigers. Despite the Yankees winning, the Tigers had shaved their deficit to five games and they stood at five games above .500 for only the second time all season (June 6th was the first time).
I was looking over the box scores from the Tigers’ minor league affiliates from yesterday’s games this morning.
Down in Toledo, Wil Ledezma got the start and took the loss. He was relieved for 2 innings by Matt Roney, and the Mud Hens also got 1 inning from former Tiger Nelson Cruz. The starting lineup included Curtis Granderson in center field and Ryan Raburn at 2nd base, both having made appearances with the Tigers (granted, both were only September call-ups last year), and, of course, Carlos Pena, who accumulated 150 plate appearances for the Tigers this year.
In Erie, Nate Cornejo got the start and also took a loss. Former Tiger Rule V pick Mark Johnson also pitched 2 innings in relief. The starting right fielder was Byron Gettis, who appeared in 20 games with the Royals last year.
Where am I going with this? It sure is nice to look at box scores down on the farm and find guys who really couldn’t perform at the major league level down there working on their game. Much unlike in recent Tigers history, when you would wake up in the morning, scan the Tigers’ box score, and find names that had been down on the farm just weeks (or even days) earlier.
I’ll be on KRMS AM 1150, a Missouri radio station, tonight at 7:30. You can listen in by following this link.
June 14, 1935 Red Sox 10, Tigers 8 (26-23)
From May 30 through June 30, the Tigers played eight doubleheaders, so at times, manager Mickey Cochrane had to get creative. He did that in this game by starting rookie Clyde Hatter, who only lasted 3 1/3 innings. The Red Sox jumped out to a 7-1 lead in the fourth only to see the Tigers move in front 8-7 with a four run seventh. But two runs in the eighth and a run in the ninth put this game away.
Thankfully, Retrosheet is back online. You never realize how much you miss something until it’s gone.
And if you haven’t checked out their huge new update, be sure to stop by.
What if Tiger Woods just couldn’t hit his 3-iron? What if with every other club in the bag, he was the best player on the course, but he swung the 3-iron like it was made of damp noodle? He’d still be a great golfer, without a doubt, and he’d still be able to hit his Nike-branded ball 3-iron distance by shortening his swing on his 2-iron or really rearing back and cranking his four. There would be a chink in his armor, though, an inexplicable flaw in his game that might make even his staunchest admirers question their opinion of his greatness.
We’re seeing a parallel situation unfold with the 2005 Tigers. Ivan Rodriguez is clearly the team’s biggest star and ostensibly their best player but he simply isn’t drawing any walks. It’s not a fatal flaw — as with Tiger and his fictional 3-iron boondoggles, Pudge can get around his inability to watch a quartet of bad pitches go past by hitting for a good average. He’s done so to date, checking in at a respectable .288. But Pudge only has five walks on the season, and though there are other ways to get on base, his impatience has clearly hurt his performance and the team’s offense. Alan Trammell has recognized the problem, too, and has recently dropped Pudge in the lineup, unwilling to put a player with a .300 OBP in the second or third spots. It’s hard to consider Rodriguez the team’s best player when he’s so clearly deficient in one important area. Or maybe he is the team’s best player, as the rest of the team certainly seems to be following his lead. The Tigers have walked fewer times than any other team in the majors, driving them to 25th in OBP and, not surprisingly, 25th in runs scored. The acquisition of Placido Polanco, who has sported OBPs close to .400 in the last few years, looks better in this light, though he has gone walkless in his first three games as a Tiger in that haven of control pitching, Coors Field.
But back to Pudge. Rodriguez has never been a particularly patient hitter — the 41 walks he drew last year constituted the second-highest total of his long and illustrious career, but in 2005 he’s on pace for 14. He’s walked so few times in the Tigers’ first sixty games that we can discuss each one like it’s some kind of special event.
1. April 13, at Minnesota. Pudge walked in the sixth, off Kyle Lohse, with a runner on first. He’d score that inning, though Detroit lost 8-4, and he was the only Tiger to draw a free pass that day against a Twins’ squad that is walking historically few batters this season. Lohse, in fact, is one of the Twins’ worst offenders, with 15 BBs in 61 IP.
2. April 24, vs. Minnesota. Again against the Twins! Of course, the walk was intentional. A subsequent throwing error would reopen first base, and Guillen would be walked as well before Rondell White killed the inning with a double play. The Tigers would win the game.
3. May 6, at Anaheim. Pudge led of the sixth with a base on balls against the notoriously wild Kelvim Escobar, making a rare start in between bone spur DL trips.
4. May 17, vs. Tampa Bay. An intentional walk in the 11th inning.
5. June 11, at Colorado. The big drought. Almost a month in between even intentional walks, no doubt at least in part because Pudge isn’t an effective enough hitter right now to win that much respect. In this case the walk was unintentional, Pudge’s third honest free pass of the season. But how legitmate was it? Neal was ejected from the game for arguing balls and strikes with the umpire. It seems Pudge needed a little help from the boys in blue to draw his first walk in a month.
June 13, 1935 Tigers 6, Red Sox 1 (25-22)
Tommy Bridges pitched a gem but he also helped himself out with the bat. Bridges went two for four with a double and two runs scored with the bat. On the mound, he gave up one run on eight hits and he struck out three.
The Tigers were actually down for most of this game until they put four runs on the board in the seventh. They added a pair of runs in the eighth to give Bridges some insurance. Hank Greenberg hit another homer he had two RBIs. Pete Fox and Mickey Cochrane also drove in a pair of runs.
I know this happens to everyone, but some days I just feel like someone’s testing me. And then there’s the really bad times when things happen over a prolonged period of time.
The previous week was interesting. First off, I know I’m behind on the 1935 Tigers diary (and the 1975 diary over at Blade’s site). I hope to get caught up here soon, but between my son’s first birthday party (more on that in a minute) and retrosheet being down, I just haven’t been able to get it done.
How did the party go?? Well, Friday was one of those “testing” days. I got to my wife’s parent’s house at about 3 pm. The tent people (who will remain unnamed for now) were supposed to deliver 80 chairs and 11 tables, as well as a tent, which they were supposed to put up. By 4:30, my wife called, and the woman told her they were behind schedule and they’d be there in about an hour. An hour came and went, and my wife called again only to find out that they went to my our house and not to my inlaws. They tried to talk my wife into delivering the tent on Saturday, but she held fast and the guy finally showed up at around 6:30 or so. And when I say guy, I mean one guy. To put up this big tent and deliver all of the tables and chairs.
The guy was extremely careless, and ended up doing substantial damage to my inlaw’s house. So after putting everything up, the guy wanted me to sign off on the delivery, but the contract included a waiver clause, so I politely said I couldn’t sign it as is, and that they’d need to amend that section in some fashion.
Now here’s where it really gets interesting. The manager (who really manages no one, including himself) called his owner, and I guess they decided to play hard ball. They told me to sign it as is, or they’d take the stuff down. I told the manager to get the owner on the phone, and after being cut off and told the same thing in ultimatum fashion, I told him he was ruining my kid’s first birthday, and explained to him what I wanted done. At this point, the F-bombs were flying out of my mouth, because I had finally lost my patience.
I went back in the house, and the owner eventually showed up and he and his lackey began taking the stuff down. At my wife’s suggestion, I called the police, who arrived promptly and were very professional. I guess the owner decided to transfer the blame on me, and told the police he felt I talked to him a little too harshly, and that he wouldn’t do business with me.
With the police being unable to really do anything (we wanted them there to verify what took place and knew they wouldn’t be able to stop the guy) they left with their tent, tables and chairs. The lawsuit will be filed very soon. Fortunately we were able to find a very helpful company that got us what we needed on very short notice (and I’ll be posting their information when I get home, they were very accomodating and helped us out tremendously).
The party went well. The weather wasn’t great, but it didn’t dampen things at all. So all in all, outside of the events that took place on Friday, I’d say we did pretty well.
June 12, 1935 Tigers 4, Red Sox 1 (25-22)
Schoolboy Rowe gave up a single run in the first inning, and was practically unhittable for the rest of the game. He gave up only three hits, one walk, and he struck out five batters to notch himself another win.
Game 1 (Final Score: 0-2, Rockies win)
This game combined two things I didn’t expect to see: Only two runs scored at Coors and a Tigers loss. Mike Maroth has not been getting very much run support lately as evidenced by today’s offensive production and his fine outing was spoiled by the slumping Detroit offense. The Tigers had nine total base runners today on seven hits, a walk, and a double/error. Twice there were two hits in an inning (all singles) and both innings were wasted on double plays. The hitters jumped on pitches early in counts and beat them directly into the ground at a Colorado defender.
Maroth survived two wild pitches and two tough spots. In the second there were runners at the corners and no outs courtesy of his first wild pitch and a pair of singles. He retired the next seven batters convincingly before allowing men on again in the fourth. The one out walk and single he gave up were erased on a pair of ground balls. The Rockies finally touched him in the sixth for two runs on a homer by Garrett Atkins. With Helton away, Maroth walked Preston Wilson (later picked off) and Dustan Mohr hit a single. Garret Atkins smacked Maroth’s second pitch in the at bat through the thin air and into the right field stands (2-0). In the eighth it looked like the Tigers were getting some where after Logan’s and Shelton’s singles only to see Inge and Placido Polanco end the last Tigers’ scoring threat.
Game 2 (Final Score: 6-4, Tigers win)
For the second game in a row Brandon Inge started things off with a single. He made third on Young’s single and scored on White’s fielder’s choice (1-0). An Ivan Rodriguez two out single gave Craig Monroe runners at the corners and he delivered with a single (2-0). The Rockies rallied against Bonderman with one out in the bottom half. Cory Sullivan reached first on a wild third strike and scored after Helton’s and Wilson’s singles (2-1). Atkins was again at bat with an opportunity to cause some pain after Brad Hawpe drew a walk. His fielder’s choice wasn’t especially bad but it scored another run (2-2).
Young got the offense going with a lead off double in the third and scored on White’s single (3-2). Rodriguez, Monroe, and Giarratano bailed Jason Jennings out with some anti-heroics early in their at bats to end the inning. With the door wide open the Rockies drew even again in the fourth with two outs used. J.D. Closser walked; Jennings singled him to second and Cory Sullivan’s infield single evened things up (3-3). The Tigers and Rockies traded runs in the fifth with the Tigers doing it on doubles by Polanco and White and the Rockies with another RBI by Atkins (4-4).
Giarratano lead off the sixth with a walk and walked back to the dugout on Logan’s fielder’s choice. Logan stole second during Bonderman’s strike out giving Inge a runner in scoring position. He singled Logan home and made second on the throw, but Polanco couldn’t keep the scoring up, ending the inning on a long fly (5-4). Polanco’s next deep (sac) fly in the eighth scored Giarratano, the Tigers final run (6-4). Trammell’s decision to keep Bonderman out of the seventh after the rain delay paid off since the Tigers bullpen effectively shut the Rockies down the rest of the way only allowing two base runners.
Game 3 (Final Score: 3-7, Rockies win)
In the rubber match the Tigers scored early and the Rockies scored often. Nate Robertson’s first opponent, Eddy Garabito, smacked his third pitch for a double and scored after two groundouts (0-1). The Tigers came whimpering back in the second and third with a pair of runs. Tony Giarratano helped Young – the first Tiger base runner – home after he was hit by a pitch to lead off, made second on Monroe’s single, and had to wait for Thames to strike out (1-1). Logan and Polanco started the third off with back-to-back singles so Inge had runners at the corners since Sullivan decided it was time for an errant throw from center field. Inge struck out, Young got an IBB, and Monroe could only muster a sac fly (2-1).
Preston Wilson restarted the Rockies’ offense with his lead off homer in the fourth (2-2). Atkins continued to take BP from Tiger pitching this series, plating another run on his two out single in the fifth (2-3). Wilson’s second leadoff homer paved the way to the end of Robertson’s night in the sixth (2-4). He was followed by two one out singles from Luis A. Gonzalez and Sullivan before Trammell called on Spurling. Danny Ardoin’s single plated Gonzalez but he later made the second out when he went for two bases (2-5). Jorge Piedra pinch hit for Kim, doubled home a run, and then scored on Garabito’s single (2-7). Spurling finally found the way to beat Atkins at the plate, getting him to end the inning.
Doug Creek, Fernando Rodney, and Franklyn German combined to hold the Rockies scoreless the rest of the game. To dot the exclamation point, Nook Logan provided a perfect example of too little too late; He hit the Tigers’ first home run of the series with two outs used in the ninth (3-7). Yes, that’s exactly three extra base hits – one home run and two doubles – during a three game visit to Coors Lite.
June 11, 1935 Red Sox 3, Tigers 1 (24-21)
Once again, a solid start by left handed rookie Joe Sullivan went to waste as he was outpitched by Lefty Grove. Sullivan gave up only six hits, but he walked five and gave up three runs. He would have needed a shutout to best Grove.
Backup catcher Ray Hayworth drove in the lone run of the game, and he was also the only Tiger with two hits.
June 11, 1935 Red Sox 5, Tigers 2 (24-22)
For the second straight game, the Tigers only managed five hits as the box score showed a bunch of zeroes. Charlie Gehringer and Hub Walker drove in the two Tiger runs, and Walker’s double was the only extra base hit.
General Crowder took the loss. He gave up four runs in six innings of work.
My son turns one today. I love you buddy.
The take on the Tigers heading into the season was that we were going to have a mighty fine lineup, but the pitching would be the question mark. Now, 57 games into the season, the stats show just the opposite. The Tigers are 9th in the AL in team OPS, and that’s about 50 points higher than the worst team (A’s) and 100 points worse than the best team (Orioles). Sticking with OPS to measure pitching prowess (that is, opponents’ OPS), the team-wide opponents’ OPS is 5th best in the league, which is 55 points off the best (Indians?) and 97 points better than the worst (D-Rays). So adding a proven hitter like Polanco to an already potent lineup (well, it will be “already potent” once we get Magglio Ordonez back to hitting like his old self) makes complete sense to compete this year.
But here’s the question: Can we compete this year?
I, for one, don’t think it’s impossible. Today’s Danny Knobler column got me to thinking about this. Specifically the part where he talks about the ’87 Tigers, who started at 30-27, but put together a stretch of 13 out of 15 wins later in the season. That column brings me to a point of agreement that my boss and I share about baseball seasons.
We all know the old saw about baseball: Every team wins 50 games (well, most teams, anyways… Teams like the ’62 Mets and the ’03 Tigers being exceptions to the rule), every team loses 50 games (again, minor exceptions such as the ’98 Yankees or ’01 Mariners), it’s what you do with the rest of the games that makes the difference. Of course, even a Phillies phan like my boss had heard of the fantastic 35-5 start that the ’84 Tigers had. And, in fact, the ’93 Phillies roared out to a 17-5 start by the end of April. After losing on May 1, they then pulled off a stretch of winning 6 out of their next 7, leaving their early record at 23-7. That’s no 35-5, but if you subtract those numbers from their final record, you notice they went 74-58 for the remainder of the season. Even our beloved ’84 Tigers went 69-53 after the 35-5 start. So, the pet theory that my boss and I have is this: Any team can get on a stretch of about 40-50 games when they are just lights-out, and that is good enough to make the playoffs, assuming they can go just a touch above .500 for the remainder of the schedule. Looking at the month-by-month totals for those two teams confirms it: The ’84 Tigers were an uninspiring 16-12 in July, and an even worse 16-15 in August. The ’93 Phillies went 14-14 in July, and 15-15 in September (plus three games of the regular season in October). The ’05 Tigers? 11-11 in April, and 12-15 in May, plus 4-4 so far in June. Now, granted, the ’05 Tigers need to step it up, and step it up now, to get somewhere, but with the upgrades at 1st base, 2nd base, and the decision to forego a 5th starter for a stretch (and consider talent elsewhere, whether that be Toledo or possibly a trade, for the 5th starter once one is again needed)… Plus Magglio Ordonez’s return looking to be on the short side of the originally estimated 8-12 weeks… You can envision a scenario where they will rip off something like a 19-7 July (similar to the ’84 team’s 19-7 record in May) or an 18-10 August (similar to the ’93 Phillies’ 18-10 record in June). If they did both of those on top of a June that leaves them at dead-even .500 (let’s say 14-11)… They’d be sitting at 74-54 with 34 games remaining. Even just an even .500 in those remaining games gets you to 91 wins, which should make them right there in the playoff hunt.
See? That’s not so hard. On top of which, it’s much better than sounding the warning that we’re 7.5 games back in the wild card (and would have to leapfrog 6 other teams) and 12 games back in the division.
June 9, 1935 Tigers 4, White Sox 1 (24-20)
Tommy Bridges threw another fine game for the Tigers as he continued his winning streak. In nine innings of work, Bridges gave up one run on five hits. He did walk seven, but he struck out six.
Once again, Hank Greenberg came up big. He hit his thirteenth homer of the seaon, a two run shot.
Game 1 (Final Score: 3-5, Dodgers win)
The Tigers traveled to LA to continue their Interleague play against the Dodgers. Bonderman faced Derek Lowe, a name that often came up in discussions for starting pitching in the past off-season. Ivan Rodriguez started the Tigers out nicely with a one out double in the second, scoring on Craig Monroe’s double (1-0). It’s nice to see two of the hottest Tigers getting the job done. The Tigers extended their lead later in the inning when Monroe scored during Nook Logan’s infield single and Jeff Kent’s two base throwing error (2-0). Unfortunately this was at a National League park so the ninth batter was Bonderman who struck out.
In the third the Tigers managed three groundouts. This probably would have been fine with the Dodgers but they still managed a run. Inge’s single looked to be erased on Guillen’s grounder but Antonio Perez made like Kent and threw the ball away. Inge came around to home one out later on White’s RBI groundout (3-0). These early runs buoyed Bonderman and he didn’t allow runs until the fourth. He gave up a lead off home run to Jason Repko, followed it with J.D. Drew’s triple, and Drew came home on Kent’s single (3-2).
Bonderman continued to be solid until a bad stretch in the sixth; He issued two walks and a Kent three run homer in thirteen pitches and surrendered the Tigers’ lead (2-5). It might not have mattered but Lowe continued on in the groove he started in the fourth inning and kept the Tigers down until Gagne finished the game in the ninth.
Game 2 (Final Score: 8-4, Tigers win)
Robertson started the second game a lot rougher than Bonderman did the first. He walked Cesar Izturis, got him out on Repko’s grounder but moved Repko over on a wild pitch while walking Antonio Perez. Kent’s single scored Repko from second then Robertson finally found his form and got Olmedo Saenz and Jayson Werth to end the inning (0-1). Derek Thompson, his opponent, wrapped the Tigers up in yarn for two innings.
In the third, the Tigers loaded the bases on singles by Ramon Martinez and Logan, Robertson’s successful sacrifice, and Inge’s walk. Showing a remarkable lack of patience, Guillen grounded the third pitch he saw to third and Dmitri Young did the same on the second pitch but Martinez had already scored (1-1). Martinez again exposed Thompson in the fourth with his sac fly coming with runners at the corners and one out (2-1). Sadly this run was quickly picked up on Jason Phillips’ solo shot in the bottom half (2-2).
The Dodgers went back ahead again in the fifth when Robertson rediscovered his penchant for walking batters. One out walks to Repko and Perez were both made into runs when Saenz smacked a two out double (2-4). These runs were picked up in the sixth against Johnson’s relief, Scott Erickson. Rodriguez went for extra bases again today with a leadoff home run (3-4). Monroe followed with a single and Martinez a walk before Erickson went out for Franquelis “Fresh Meat” Osoria. Logan sacrificed Monroe and Martinez over and pinch hitter Chris Shelton tied the game with an RBI groundout (4-4). Inge ended the inning with another groundout and so did all three Dodgers batters in the sixth against Spurling.
Duaner Sanchez was called on by the Dodgers to maintain the tie and they probably should have called collect. Tony Giarratano started things off badly for him with his first career Major League home run and things deteriorated from there (5-4). After Dmitri Young’s homer, Rondell White went for two bases and Rodriguez sent him to third on his single (6-4). Monroe hit the Tigers’ umpteenth RBI groundout this game and Martinez just hit a groundout (7-4). Logan plated Pudge with a single and made second on the throw (8-4). Marcus Thames pinch hit for Spurling badly, ending the inning with a strikeout. Farnsworth, Urbina, and Percival took care of the seventh, eighth, and ninth for the win. That’s the last time I’ll be saying that. I also hope that’s the last time the Tigers need groundouts to score this many runs.
Game 3 (Final Score: 1-3, Dodgers win)
During each game recap, ESPN brought up the Dodgers sweep of the Tigers in 2003. Every single one. That’s almost as frustrating as losing this game. The Tigers once again wasted a good pitching performance with very little timely hitting and did so against the inconsistent Ex-Tiger Jeff Weaver, who I’m still bitter at for not realizing his potential in Detroit. I also really hate his facial hair. Jerk.
Inge made the first inning worthwhile with a two out double after Giarratano and Logan flailed at some pitches ineffectively. White managed to make good contact but it was caught in the outfield, ending this minor threat. The Tigers’ batters sucked it up the rest of the way, not working counts and making lots of outs for the most part. They flailed at a lot of pitches, making Weaver look like the pitcher the team thought it had drafted. The only good hitter today was Johnson who must be really, really frustrated. Not only did he pitch pretty well, he scored his team’s only run on his homer. Poor guy.
If you’re a Dodger’s fan, you’re pumped. Weaver got the visitors to go after his pitches and only gave up a solo homer. They got an early lead in the second when Johnson gave Jason Grabowski a pitch he could drive out of the park. It was even better because there was already a guy on, Werth, making the lead two runs (0-2). You loaded the bases in the fourth but since this is the National League had a free out due up so the threat ended, keeping the score the same (1-2). Hee Sop Choi had an RBI in the seventh, an inning when you loaded the bases for the second time today (1-3). Last but not least you made up a game on the Padres. I told you I’d be positive this time.
I’m still a little baffled by this deal. First off, without a workhorse like Urbina, I can see the whole bullpen falling apart in what would be a worst case scenario. Percival can’t handle the innings, and I see another stint on the DL for him. As for guys like Farnsworth and German, I really hope they’re up for the task.
And for all intents and purposes, Martinez was a throw in, so I’ll be pretty much keeping him out of the analysis. I guess we can call him the tie breaker.
I’m also a little surprised they gave up on Infante so quickly. If I look at the VORP figures through yesterdays game, Polanco (11) has about a 15 run edge over Infante (-4). Of course the Phillies lose little, because Chase Utley has them both topped with 19.4 (second best second baseman only to Jeff Kent). So on the face of things, we’re getting an upgrade.
Now if we compare Urbina and Polanco, we have close to wash. Urbina has been good for 16 pitching runs above replacement so far, while Polanco has been good for 22 (8 hitting and 14 fielding). That six run differential is about half of a win, so that explains why we threw Martinez into the deal.
But numbers aside, through the end of May last year, Omar Infante had three homers. This year, he also had three homers. So if he went on a run, he could easily get himself closer to where he was last year. Polanco has only ten extra base hits, while Infante has 16. And Omar’s eight fielding runs above replacement is a mere six runs less then the slick fielding Polanco (which explains a lot of the differential between the two).
So I just don’t see what we’re getting here. Our pen definitely gets worse, and while Polanco might get an extra single here or there, it’s Infante that can mash the ball if can return to form. And throw in the fact that Polanco has only a one year contract, and it makes the thing even more befuddling.
I really thought we’d be able to get some front line prospects from, well someone, for Urbina. While I’ll never count the Tigers out this early, an eleven game deficit is really tough to come back from so making a move to short things up this year seems somewhat fruitless. And when you throw in the fact that the Indians could pass them if the Tigers falter, it makes things look even more dicey.
June 8, 1935 White Sox 3, Tigers 2 (23-20)
The Tigers only managed five hits against the White Sox, who continue to take it to the Tigers like they have all season. This is the tenth time they’ve met so far, and the White Sox lead the season series 8-2.
All three of the White Sox runs came in the second inning against starter Elden Auker, who’s solid game went to waste. Hank Greenberg and Marv Owen both hit solo shots to give the Tigers their two runs.