Archive for September, 2005

Yankees Edge Tigers in Final Game of Season Series

September 15, 1935 Yankees 8, Tigers 7 (89-49)

It may have been too little, too late for the Yankees as they edged the Tigers in the fifth and final game of their series. Joe Sullivan got the start and had a five run lead in the through three innings before getting hit hard. He was pulled in the fifth and reliever Chief Hogsett didn’t fair much better as he gave up the lead and took the loss.

Billy Rogell homered and drove in four runs while Goose Goslin had two doubles and two runs. The loss shaved the Tigers lead over the Yankees to 8 1/2 games, but the Yankees would pretty much need a miracle to catch the Yankees at this stage of the season.

Tigers Split Doubleheader, Pennant All But Won

September 14, 1935 Yankees 2, Tigers 1 (88-48)

The Tigers were held to three hits and single run as they lost the first game of the twin billing with the Yankees. A two run, six hit performance by General Crowder went to waste, and the only run of the game came on a solo homerun by Goose Goslin.

September 14, 1935 Tigers 5, Yankees 1 (89-48)

The Yankees struck first in this game with a single run in the opening inning off of starter Roxie Lawson. The Tigers didn’t wait too long to take the lead though, as they rattled off four runs in the second and never looked back.

Jo Jo White went two for four with a triple and two RBIs and Charlie Gehringer had two hits and a run. Roxie Lawson went the distance and gave up only the one run on nine hits, while striking out three.

With fourteen games remaining the Tigers had a 9 1/2 game lead. Their second straight American League pennant appeared pretty much locked up.

Tigers Destroy Yankees, Pennant Within Reach

September 13, 1935 Tigers 13, Yankees 5 (88-47)

The Tigers hadn’t quite clinched their second straight pennant, but by dismantling the Yankees, they pretty much took any chance of the Yankees making a September run to catch Detroit. With the game tied after four innings, the Tigers scored four runs in the fifth and then five in the seventh to bust the game open.

Hank Greenberg had a three run homer and ended the day with four RBIs. Five different Tigers had two runs as they pummelled Hall of Famer Lefty Gomez.

Schoolboy Rowe went the distance, and besides giving up two homeruns to Lou Gehrig, was in command of the game. The win put the Tigers up 9 1/2 games with only 16 games to play.

Tigers Hammer Yankees, Extend Lead to 8 1/2 Games

September 12, 1935 Tigers 8, Yankees 5 (87-47)

It was do or die time for the Yankees as they faced off with the Tigers in game one of their final series of the season. With a Saturday (9/14) doubleheader, it was a five game series and the Tigers really only needed to win the series to put the pennant out of reach. The Yankees needed at least four wins to make any kind of dent in the Tigers’ lead.

The Tigers were down 4-1 but Elden Auker settled down and the Tiger’s bats came alive. They scored three runs in the eighth to take the lead only to see the Yankees tie it in the bottom half of the inning. Fortunately, they hammered out three more runs in the ninth to put the game away.

Elden Auker went the distance and gave up five runs on nine hits. Goose Goslin and Jo Jo White both homered and drove in two runs while Charlie Gehringer had two hits and two runs.

Fun at the Park and the Mud Hens Move On

My wife and I took our son, Devin, to his first Tiger game. While he’s not a stranger to major league baseball (he’s been to both the Rogers Centre and the Great American Ball Park), this was his first trip to Comerica Park. As usual, he was a trooper. It was pretty hot and we were right in the sun. To top it off, my wife was sick most of the weekend. In short, while it was a beautiful day for a baseball game, it wasn’t the best of conditions for a 15 month old and a sick wife.

The coolest part was being able to run the bases. Devin started out okay, then was annoyed that I was holding his hand so his usual reaction is to go in the other direction. I picked him up and rounded second (you start at first base), blowing by Paws, went to third, then gave him another shot. He did well, but again, seemed more interested in getting away from me, so he started to creep further and further on the grass. We both made it though.

The Tigers won (their second in a row), so that was also a bonus. We’ll try it again next year and I’m sure Devin will be more into it.

The Toledo Mud Hens advanced to the International League World Series by beating the Norfolk Tides today. They’ll square off against the Indianapolis Indians, the Pirates AAA franchise, most likely Tuesday (I haven’t seen a schedule). So it will be at least about a week before we see guys like Joel Zumaya and Marcus Thames playing as September callups. Lakeland looks like they’re going to lose their three game playoff series to the Palm Beach Cardinals. They’re down 4-1 in the bottom of the ninth. West Michigan also made the playoffs (Midwest League) so the Tigers are pretty well represented in the minor league playoffs.

The Indians are crushing the Twins tonight. Looks like the White Sox won’t be walking away with the division after all.

Tigers Edges by Senators in Twelve

September 11, 1935 Senators 4, Tigers 3 (86-47)

The Tigers didn’t fare too well in their four game series against the Senators, who were battling two other teams for last place in the American League. The Tigers gave Tommy Bridges a quick 2-0 lead in the first inning, but the Senators bounced back with two of their own in the third. The Senators took the lead in the seventh, but the Tigers answered in the top half of the eighth to send the game into extra frames.

Tommy Bridges threw all twelve innings and ended up costing himself the chance at a win. With runners on first and second, Senators shortstop Red Kress laid down a bunt. Bridges fielded it and threw it away trying to get the lead runner at third base which allowed the winning run to score.

The Tigers ended the game with sixteen hits but only three Tigers crossed the plate. Hank Greenberg had a big game with the bat as he went four for five with four singles and a run.

Tigers Held to Six Hits in Shutout

September 10, 1935 Senators 6, Tigers 0 (86-46)

Not a whole lot of good came out of this game. The Tigers were held to only six hits and Schoolboy Rowe and the pen were touched for six runs on fifteen hits and the Senators had four runs through three innings.

Pete Fox had two hits as nobody was stellar on offense. All six of the Tiger’s hits were singles.

Tigers Top Senators In Rain Shortened Game

September 9, 1935 Tigers 5, Senators 4 (86-45)

The Tigers came back from a 4-2 deficit to top the Senators. Detroit scored two in the sixth to tie and one in the seventh to take the lead before the game was delayed and eventually called due to rain and darkness.

General Crowder was touched for four runs in the first three innings and left after five innings of work. Chief Hogsett relieved him and was perfect through the final two innings as he ended up getting the win.

Jo Jo White had two hits and two RBIs and Hank Greenberg was three for four with an RBI. Backup shortstop Flea Clifton had two hits and two runs.

Time for some perspective

As the Tigers’ season appears headed for a major tailspin here in September, let’s start to put this in perspective. Just two short years ago, the Tigers won 5 of their last 6 games to avoid the ignominy of setting the record for losses in a single season in “the modern era”, by which we mean all teams since 1901. After all, those pesky 1899 Cleveland Spiders went 20-134, but they were owned by the same man who owned the St. Louis Perfectos of that year, who, by no small coincidence, finished 17 games over .500, but still only managed 5th place in the 12-team National League of that year.

I put together some research in the spring of 2004 to see how the Tigers were going to stack up as far as being the most-improved team of all time. I started with the teams that were just truly putrid, the teams that had nowhere to go but up in the following year. Then I set about the more difficult teams to find, the ones that were bad-to-mediocre and improved to quite good or fantastic the following year. The results weren’t that impressive. Despite an improvement of 29 wins over the previous year, it was good for only a 3-way tie for the 18th-biggest one-season improvement of all time, using winning percentage as the measuring stick to even out the changing number of games played in a season over the years, as well as strike seasons and the like. (The title goes to the 1902-03 New York Giants, by the way, who finished with a .353 winning percentage – equivalent to a 57-win season in a 162-game schedule – in 1902, finishing dead last, 53-1/2 games behind the first-place Pirates and even 7-1/2 games behind their nearest competitors, the Phillies. The following year, the Giants played to a .604 winning percentage – equivalent to a 98-win season in a 162-game schedule – finishing just 6-1/2 games behind the Pirates in 2nd place.)

So, now I’ve got this spreadsheet of greatly-improving teams, with a smattering of truly awful teams that just kept being truly awful in there, too (including the 2002-03 Tigers, the worst regression in history of any team that had lost 100 games in the first year). So in order to understand a little better how the Tigers are doing in “Y+2” after their nightmare year, let’s take a look at some other “nightmare years” in history. I’m going to use a winning percentage equivalent to a 110-loss season in a 162-game schedule (a .321 winning percentage) as my cut-off point. There are 38 such seasons out there, from the 1903 Cardinals to the 2004 Diamondbacks. I’m going to throw out one of them, that of the Baltimore Terrapins of the Federal League in 1915, because the league folded after the season, so they never had a chance to improve, because they ceased to exist. For the “Y+2” data, I’m also going to throw out the 2004 Diamondbacks, because their “Y+2” year is next year. I will use their current record for their 1-year difference, as they have just 21 games left to play.

OK, so among these teams… the putrid, the awful, the wretched refuse of baseball… The average record here is 45-109… Of 37 follow-up seasons, just 5 of the teams managed to actually perform worse in the following year, the Phillies turning the trick twice (’41-’42 and ’38-’39), the Red Sox of ’25-’26, the St. Louis Browns of 1910-11, and the Philadelphia Athletics of 1915-16, with the ’16 A’s being the worst team of the modern era with a lowly .235 winning percentage. But 32 of 37 improved. Even counting the 5 regressors, the average improvement was 92 points of winning percentage, or about 15 wins (and the actual average of wins & losses is 59-95), based on a 162-game schedule. Again, these are teams that largely had nowhere to go but up. Pretty much by definition, they had bottomed out.

Now, what about that “Y+2” year? The actual average of wins and losses improved to 60-93, with a winning percentage of .394, an improvement of 101 points of winning percentage over the “nightmare” year, but just 9 points of winning percentage improvement over the previous year, or about 1 more win in a 162-game schedule. Of the 36 seasons, 14 teams regressed compared to the year before, with the ’28-’30 Phillies leading the way of the yo-yo teams, putting up the following winning percentages: .283-.464-.338. Wins went from 43 to 71 and back to 52. It makes some sense that the top 2 teams when comparing the “Y+2” year to the year prior are 2 of the teams who were actually worse in “Y+1”, the ’41-’43 Phillies and the ’15-’17 Philadelphia A’s.

So, where do the Tigers stand? Of the 36 teams in this group, their current record (63-75, .457 as of this writing, which projects to a 74-88 full-season record) represents 12 extra points of winning percentage over last year’s 72-90 finish, good for 21st place among the 36 teams. Then I remembered that each win in a 162-game schedule contributes a touch over 6 points to a three-digit winning percentage. I went in and entered 75, 76 and 77-win seasons, and the Tigers could only improve 6 spots by the end of the exercise.

However, taking those same 36 teams and comparing the “Y+2” season back to the nightmare season, the 2003-05 Tigers come out much better, gaining 191 points of winning percentage, 5th-best among the group (behind the ’35-’37 Boston Braves, ’61-’63 Phillies, ’46-’48 Philadelphia A’s, and the ’32-’34 Red Sox). And, furthermore, we’re significantly behind the 4th-place Red Sox (it would take a 79-83 finish to pass them), and we’re significantly ahead of the 6th-place ’39-’41 St. Louis Browns (it would take a 71-91 finish to fall behind them).

Speaking of those Browns, of the group, they might well make the best comparison, posting a .279 winning percentage in their nightmare year (compared to the Tigers’ .265). First-year improvements were 179 points for the Tigers, 156 points for the Browns. Second-year improvement was 20 points for the Browns, and currently sits at 12 points for the Tigers. However, it’s going to be difficult to take the comparison much further, because for their third year post-nightmare, the Browns were playing in the war-time American League, finishing 82-69 and in 3rd place. Just 2 years later (that’s “Y+5”, in case you’ve lost track), with rosters still ravaged by war-time absences, the Browns won their only American League pennant. I doubt the Tigers will face the same fortunate circumstances the Browns found themselves in during those years. And speaking of circumstances, the current Tigers and Diamondbacks entries are the only teams in the group working in the free agency era. The 3rd-most recent teams in the group (tie) are the expansion brothers (1969) of the Montreal Expos and San Diego Padres.

Well, there you have it. Take it for what you will. We’re not significantly improved over last year, true. However, among a group of 30-odd historical teams that have had nightmarish seasons, we’re actually doing quite good, but the frustrating part is that the vast majority of the improvement came in the first year, and the second year’s improvement looks stagnant by comparison. Let’s put it this way: Our 2nd-year improvement is just a hair behind that of the ’62-’64 Mets (in fact, you need to carry the winning percentages to an extra digit to separate them). But I think we’d rather be in the situation we are in now than those of the Mets teams, who went 40-120, 51-111, then 53-109.

Roxie Lawson Falls Apart, Tigers Blow Lead

September 8, 1935 Senators 4, Tigers 3 (85-45)

The Tigers jumped out to a 3-0 lead with single runs in the first, third and fifth innings. Roxie Lawson, the recent pickup by the Tigers who had thrown two shutouts in his first two starts, started the game on fire. Through six, he had another shutout in the works but the Senators finally got to him with two runs in the seventh. In the bottom of the ninth, he fell apart and gave up the winning run on a bases loaded walk.

Charlie Gehringer was was three for four with a run and Hank Greenberg was two for four with an RBI.

The Tiger Plan Revisited

Nate Silver at Baseball Prospectus wrote an excellent follow up column today on the effect of the Tiger’s free agent pickups last year and this year and trying narrate the overall effects on the Tigers revenue. This then turned into a larger argument on a team’s decision to add free agents and evaluating where they’re at as far as expected records.

It’s a premium article so I don’t want to give too much away. If you don’t subscribe to BPs premium service, they really do great work on a daily basis. I for one have gotten my money’s worth out of the subscription.

Tigers Sweep Doubleheader, Win Fifth Straight

September 7, 1935 Tigers 9, Athletics 7 (84-44)

The Tigers jumped out to an early lead and ran up the score with six runs in the fourth inning. Marv Owen homered and drove in three and both Pete Fox and Goose Goslin drove in two runs.

Tommy Bridges was solid early but seemed to tire near the end of the game. The Tigers fortunately had a nice enough cushion to hold off a Philadelphia comeback which included two Jimmie Foxx homeruns.

September 7, 1935 Tigers 15, Athletics 1 (85-44)

This game was simply a beat down. By the end of the second inning, the Tigers had a five nothing lead and starter Elden Auker threw a gem. He didn’t give up a hit until the eighth inning and finished the game by giving up only two hits.

Charlie Gehringer and Mickey Cochrane both drove in three runs. All nine Tigers had hits and seven of them had more then one. Gehringer led the way with four hits.

The two wins gave the Tigers a nearly insurmountable ten game lead over the Yankees. At this point, it was just a matter of time before they played in the World Series. Things were a little less certain in the National League as the Cubs were making a late run at the first place St. Louis Cardinals. They trailed by 2 1/2 games and the New York Giants stood four games back.

The Hardball Times 2006 Baseball Annual

I’m pretty excited about this. The 2006 Hardball Times Baseball Annual is now available for preorder. I’ll have a couple of columns in there, and this year’s annual should be just as good, if not better, then last years (not because I’m in, they have a great lineup of writers who are going to contribute to the book.

So head on over and pick up copies for everyone in your family. It’ll be the best Christmas present they’ve ever received.

You can click here to pick up your copy.

Losing Streaks, the Mud Hens and Barry Bonds

It was an ugly series this weekend against the Sox. We had friends in from out of town, so I missed Saturday and Sunday’s game, but six runs in four games usually isn’t going to do the trick. The Tigers followed that up by being shutout by the Indians today. And if you’re counting, that’s a five game losing streak and pretty much no chance at .500.

On a much nicer note, the Toledo Mud Hens had the best record in the International League and wrapped up their regular season today. With all four playoff spots locked up, the finals against Indianapolis gave the Hens a chance to have some fun. Kevin Hooper played all nine positions, drove in two runs in the eighth to give the Hens the lead, and then pitched a perfect ninth to preserve a win. If you haven’t checked out the site in a while, has a ton of minor league stuff, including live radio feeds. I’ll be sure to listen in as their playoffs start as they face the Norfolk Tides (Mets affiliate) in the first round.

Barry Bonds had a nice workout today in Los Angeles and there’s some speculation that he might play this week. While I know everyone will be locked onto his quest for the homerun record (and others will be locked in on the steroid controversy), I think coming back from three knee surgery’s is a milestone in and of itself. I for one am looking forward to again seeing one of the best players to ever lace up a pair of cleets and I wish Barry Bonds the best of luck.

There’s a ton of great playoff races this year. The Yankees are fighting for their playoff lives as are the Red Sox (in a manner of speaking). Both wildcard races are very tight, so it should make September an interesting month. This baseball fan could pretty much care less that NFL football is starting on Thursday.

As I mentioned in the beginning of this post, we had friends in from out of town. I’ve mentioned this before but I’m a board game nut. I got to play my first ever game of Advanced Squad Leader, and that in and of itself made the weekend a blast. I also got in a few games of Memoir ’44, Tigris and Euphrates and Through the Desert. While most of you probably have no idea what I’m talking about, the ones who do will know what I’m talking about when I said I had a fun filled weekend.

Here we go again…

Another September without really meaningful games. I mean, for those of us keeping track, I suppose there was some thought last September that the Tigers could break the record for the biggest one-season improvement of all time, but even that disappeared pretty quickly.

Now that the pitching is seemingly falling apart before our very eyes, and with the knowledge that a 63-68 record is already under our belt, I’m interested in what the Tigerblog community thinks will happen for the remainder…

There are 7 games left against the White Sox, who we just can’t seem to beat under almost any circumstances… 4 games left against the Indians, 6 left with the Royals, a 4-gamer in Anaheim against LA (if you know what I mean), and 3 back at home against the Mariners… Plus 6 against the Twins, including the final 3 in the Metrodome.

Our magic number for avoiding the cellar is 11, so that is all but sewed up, but I’m wondering… Can we put on a push and pass the Twins? We’re 6 games back with 31 to play… It’s not impossible. Reply with a comment to this entry, give your estimate of number of wins and whether we finish 3rd or 4th (or 2nd, if you’re wildly optimistic).

By the way…. Strange 4-game series coming up with the Indians, with the first 3 in Comerica and the last game at Jacobs Field… I doubt the players would go for it, but I wonder if MLB has ever thought about enhancing close geographical rivals by scheduling a 4-game series between 2 teams with the games alternating cities each day. Might work with the Tigers/Indians.

Tigers Sweep White Sox Behind Strong Pitching by Rowe and Auker

September 2, 1935 Tigers 6, White Sox 1 (82-44)\

The Tigers continued there winning ways in the morning half of their doubleheader with the White Sox. Schoolboy Rowe held the White Sox to one run on five hits and he even helped out his own cause by driving in two runs with the only homerun of the game.

While the Tigers only managed six hits, they were patient at the plate and drew five walks. Jo Jo White and Billy Rogell scored two runs.

September 2, 1935 Tigers 5, White Sox 0 (83-44)

Elden Auker threw a seven hit shutout as the Tigers took both games against the White Sox. Pete Fox had the big hit when he drove in three with a homerun in the seventh inning.

31,000 fans showed up for the morning game and 37,000 attended the afternoon game as the Tigers came even closer to clinching their second straight American League pennant. They’d get a short four day break as most of the league was rained out in early September.

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