Archive for April, 2006

Tigers Trounce Twins by Combined Score of 33-1, Win 16 Games in April

The Tigers haven’t had much luck against the Twins the last few years.  You have to go all the way back to 2000 to find a season when the Tigers had a winning record against the Twins, and even then they were only 7-6.  This wasn’t any ordingay weekend series though.  The Tigers had struggled at home as well and to take care of their division rival like this was pretty impressive.  And it sort of makes you wonder whether the Twins that won the division from 2002 through 2004 were really that good or whether they truly took advantage of how poor the AL Central was.  They never won a playoff series and once teams like the White Sox and Indians improved their team, they went from good to mediocre in a hurry.  Now they look downright bad.

I didn’t watch the game today, so I’m not sure why Kenny Rogers got pulled in the ninth.  He had only thrown 93 pitches and he had a chance for shutout.  And it’s not like Rogers is going to throw out his arm.  Todd Jones got the job done though and he hadn’t thrown since Tuesday, so maybe Leyland wanted to get him some work.

The last time the Tigers won 16 games in a month was August, 2000.  The last time they did it in April was (gulp) 1984.  With a White Sox loss today, we’ll be a game back in the loss column.  The Tigers play a two game series against the Royals and I’m going to call this a relatively important series (I guess they all are).  These are the kind of games a mediocre team would drop, so hopefully the Tigers take care of business and take both games.

Going to a Tigers Game and Other Things To Do In Detroit

First ya gotta get our hands on some cheap Detroit Tigers tickets, try here. It’s so easy to buy MLB tickets these days. All you need is a computer and Internet connection, and you can find Tigers tickets to sold out games, premium Tigers seats, and Tigers playoff tickets too. I plan on catching a bunch of Tigers games this year. I want to see them play the Houston Astros, the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Toronto Blue Jays and I plan on getting tickets to the entire Tigers Kansas City Royals series in September.

If you’re looking for other things to do in Detroit besides attending a Tigers MLB game, check this site out for upcoming Detroit event tickets. You can get Broadway play tickets to productions traveling to Detroit, and you can catch an awesome concert in Rock City. This site has cheap concert tickets, all you have to do is find the acts that are coming to Detroit, and boom, you can buy tickets right online that moment. They’ll deliver your tickets right to your doorstep. I have used these Detroit ticket brokers before and they’re great. And by the way, you ought to check out this sports and tickets blog.

But it’s not only about the Tigers in Detroit. You’ve got the Detroit Lions, the Detroit Red Wings, and of course the Detroit Pistons. If you’re a sports fanatic in Detroit, you’re all set! You can find deals on NFL tickets, NBA tickets, NHL tickets as well as MLB tickets. Whether it’s a Detroit Lions versus the Seattle Seahawks, the Detroit Red Wings vs the Edmonton Oilers, a Pistons playoff game, or any game, you can get affordable game tickets here.

Jeremy Bonderman, Shutouts and the Royals

The Tigers west coast road trip ended on a sour note.  Both Monday and Wednesday, the Tigers were shut out.  On Monday, Ervin Santana and the Angels pen held the Tigers to six hits.  This afternoon, John Lackey had a one hitter going through the end of eight innings before Scot Shields came in and finished the shutout.

The bright spot was Jeremy Bonderman who had been struggling.  Bonderman went six innings and gave up only three hits and a walk with six strikeouts.  He did get into trouble in the sixth inning but he struck out Vlad Guerrero to get the first out of the inning and he got Tim Salmon to ground out to end the inning.  Also encouraging was the pen.  Jamie Walker, Joel Zumaya and Todd Jones combined to throw three perfect innings to close out the game.

Regardless, heading out west and finishing 6-3 means the team had a very solid performance.  The Tigers head back home for a three game series against the Twins and while the Twins have struggled, we haven’t had much luck against them (or any other team for that matter) the last few years.  We also haven’t had much luck at home this year.  Hopefully we turn both of those things around this weekend.

Saving Tiger Stadium and Stranded at the Corner

Stranded at the Corner debuts today at the Gem Theater.  I won’t be able to make it out there, but I did order a copy of the DVD.  If you want to help out the cause and educate yourself on the happenings with Tiger Stadium, be sure to check out the website and order a copy of the DVD.

In related news, a new website’s been created to help further educate people on Tiger Stadium.  Save Tiger Stadium has links to news on the efforts to save the ballpark as well as a petition that you can sign to show your support.  There’s also an excellent section on the history of Tiger Stadium and a place where you can share your memories.  Be sure to check it out.

Winning Streaks, Starting Pitching and Lineups

After a 7-7 start, the Tigers have now rattled off five straight wins.  Equally impressive is that they’re doing it on the west coast.  They have one more stop against the Angels this week, but even if they take one of three, they’ll finish 6-3 on the trip.  And if it weren’t for an eight game winning streak by the White Sox, the Tigers might have found themselves in first place.

The Tigers got some great starting pitching in this series.  Nate Robertson gave up only two hits in seven shutout innings and Justin Verlander was no slouch today either.  He gave up one run on four hits in seven innings.  And Mike Maroth had his second straight quality start since getting bumped in the rotation because of an elbow problem.  He gave up four hits in six shutout innings. 

Friday we saw the return of Todd Jones.  He gave up back to back singles with one out, then walked the bases loaded.  Jeremy Reed hit a sac. fly to cut the lead in half (2-1) but then he got Ichiro to ground out to end the game.  Things went more smoothly today.  He struck out one in a perfect ninth and he picked up his second save of the season.  While I still think Jones is overpaid, I do think having him in the pen will give Jim Leyland one more solid option.

What definitely qualifies as a WTF moment, Leyland hit Omar Infante third today.  At least Carlos Guillen was moved up to fifth (because he was the DH and the DH HAS TO HIT FIFTH!!), but Shelton is still hitting sixth.  I know it was get away day, but having Santiago in the lineup was also a little troubling.  But the team is winning, so it’s hard to complain too much.

Retrosheet Update

In my opinion, Retrosheet is the most important baseball site on the web.  And they’ve recently released their annual expansion.  Now you can get box scores and play by play all the way back to 1957.  In addition, the have some earlier years fro the 1900s.  Just as important, they now have play by play for most of the missing year (1994-1998).  The only season since 1957 that you can’t get play by play info for is 1999.

Stop by and you’ll find youself spending more time then you wanted just checking things out.  It’s easy to do at Retrosheet.

Brandon Inge, Designated Hitters and a Rally

I like the 3:30 start time.  I got to listen to the end of the game on the way home and the ninth inning was particularly interesting.  Probably the highlight was Brandon Inge’s at bat.  He went to 0-2 early, then proceeded to foul nine balls off en route to drawing a walk on fifteen pitches.  His walk loaded the bases and ended up leading to the winning run.

I’m not sure what Jim Leyland’s infatuation is with batting “whoever” the desiginated hitter is at the five spot.  This week it’s particularly baffling because Alexis Gomez, who was called up when Dmitri Young went on the disabled list, has been there twice this week.  Thames, who I think is the best player that the Tigers have on the bench, has hit there twice as well.  It just seems like Leyland is way too into the whole lefty/righty platoon.  Thames is better, period.  Play him there.  Gomez is a week removed from Toledo, so he should be relegated to the bench.

A nice ninth inning comeback by the Tigers today.  Price and Dickerson were kind of baffled as to why Huston Street didn’t throw in the ninth, so it’ll be interesting to see what the reasoning behind it was.  Ken Macha went with Justin Duchscherer a little too long and the Tigers got to him early and often.  With the score 3-1 heading into the top of the ninth, Magglio Ordonez singled and then Alexis Gomez doubled.  Chris Shelton then continued his tear and singled home Ordonez to make it a one run game.  Carlos Guillen then singled home Gomez to tie the game up.  Craig Monroe hit into a fielders choice, and then Inge had his 15 pitch at bat.  Duchsherer then walked Curtis Granderons and Carlos Guillen scored the go ahead run.

Fernando Rodney got into a huge jam in the bottom of the ninth but pitched his way out of it.  He loaded the bases with one out, then he got Jason Kendall to ground into a fielders choice with a play at the plate.  He then struck out Adam Melhuse to end the game.  So instead of being even at 8-8, the Tigers fought back and improved to 9-7.  Seattle’s on deck as the Tigers continue their west coast swing tomorrow. 

Just a couple of notes.  Anytime you can head out west and win two of three against a quality team like the A’s, you’re doing something right.  I also like the fact that Leyland stuck with Rodney for a second inning and let him pitch himself out of that ninth inning jam.

There are several types of carpets, as it’s not easier to clean the carpets when you’ve kids at home. And some home owners believe that carpets are a source of floor heating especially in summers.

Mark Fidrych and Jim Leyland

It was a great day to go to the game yesterday, just not a great game to watch if you’re a Tigers fan.  Shelton’s homerun was impressive though.  He was down 0-2 in the count, then ripped a line shot that looked like it never rose more then 15 feet above the ground.  It was definitely a bullet and I see now how he’s getting his triples.  Just about everything he’s hitting is hard.

Unfortunately, outside of a Carlos Guillen homerun, that was the only real Tigers’ highlight.  I saw more weak popups in this game then I’ve ever seen and it looks like Jim Leyland didn’t like it one bit.  He was pretty short at his press conference and laid down the law.  It’ll be really interesting to see how the Tigers respond, through their actions, tonight against the A’s.

Tomorrow is the 30th anniversary of Mark Fidrych’s debut.  I had planned on doing a game by game diary of each of his starts when I found out Tiger Tales was doing their own tribute of Fidrych’s phenomonal 1976 season.  Below is what would have been my first entry in the tribute.  Now it’s my last as I’ll enjoy Lee’s take on how Mark “the Bird” Fidrych took the world by storm in 1976.

Thirty years ago today, on April 20, 1976, the Tigers took a 5-3 lead into the bottom of the ninth inning against the Oakland A’s (in Oakland).  Willie Horton, in what was essentially his final season in a Tigers’ uniform (he played in one game for the Tigers in 1977 before being traded to the Texas Rangers) had homered and drove in three runs.  Tom Veryzer had a two run single in the second inning, and Ron LeFlore had scored twice.

Starter Joe Coleman had thrown eight solid innings but he gave up a single to lead off hitter Bert Campaneris and then walked Phil Garner.  Tiger’s manager Ralph Houk went to the pen and brought in Jim Crawford.  Campaneris and Garner executed a double steal, but then he got Bill North to line out to left field for the first out.  Claudell Washington drew a walk to load the bases up and then Joe Rudi singled and drove in two runs to tie the game.  Ralph Houk had seen enough, so for the second time in the inning, he went to the pen.

The move seemed innocent enough.  In came a curly haired 21 year old that would eventually take the baseball world by storm.  The Tigers were coming off of 102 losses in 1975, the second most in franchise history.  And that was only three years after winning the division in 1972.  Tiger’s fans didn’t have a lot to cheer about. 

That reliever was Mark Fidrych, who would go on to have a rookie season for the ages.  Unfortunately, his debut doesn’t have a happy ending.  Don Baylor was the first batter he faced, and Baylor singled to drive home the winning run.  Fidrych’s box score line was pretty much a big nothing.  He wasn’t credited with any innings because he didn’t get anybody out, and the run he gave was up was inherited from Crawford.  All that showed up was the hit.

Little did fans know what was in store with this youngster.

Mike Maroth, Chris Shelton and Shutouts

Not too bad for a guy with a bum elbow.  Mike Maroth had his start bumped earlier in the week and it looks like the extra rest did him some good.  Maroth threw 99 pitches and went seven shutout innings.  He walked two, gave up three hits and he struck out five.  The Indians threatened a couple of times on him with runners on second with less then two outs, but both times Mike Maroth was able to get out of the jams.

Joel Zumaya got into trouble in the eighth, but he too was able to get out of the inning unscathed.  He struck Jason Michaels out with a high 99 mph fastball to end the inning.  Fernando Rodney threw a perfect ninth and to finish the shutout and he earned his third save of the season.

Probably the most disappointing part of the game was the bottom of the eighth.  The Tigers got runners on first and third with one out, and Magglio Ordonez, the $15 million man (or is it $18 million, it’s hard to remember even though the numbers are so obscene) struck out.  Craig Monroe followed that up with a strikeout to end the inning and the Tigers didn’t get any insurance.  I can live with Monroe not being clutch, but this is what we’re paying Ordonez to do and he didn’t come through.

The only run of the game came from a Chris Shelton homerun.  It was his eighth of the season, and he continues to lead the league.  You figure at this point, even if he calms down and hits at a pace most people thought (.280/25 homeruns) for the rest of the season, he could still easily hit .300 and be the first player since Bobby Higginson in 2000 to hit 30 homeruns for the Tigers.

The Tigers finish their series against the Indians tomorrow afternoon before heading out west.  It’ll be the first game I’ll be attending this season and I’m looking forward to it.

Tiger Stadiums Demise

John Brattain has penned a fantastic column on the emminent demise of Tiger Stadium over at the Hardball Times.  This is some hard hitting stuff from John, who never pulls his punches.

And to keep track of Tiger Stadium news, check out Stranded at the Corner and Corner Chatter.  Stranded at the Corner is an upcoming documentary coming out on April 24, 2006 on the battle to save historic Tiger Stadium.

Brandon Inge’s Two Homers Help Tigers End Four Game Skid

This was a nice way to end a four game losing streak.  Brandon Inge went deep twice and drove in three of the Tigers’s five runs.  And the Tigers didn’t waste much time getting on the board either.  They scored all five of their runs by the fourth inning.  Chris Shelton tripled again and drove in a run, and Curtis Granderson hit his third homerun of the season.

Kenny Rogers had his best start so far.  One run on seven hits in eighth innings.  Fernando Rodney gave up a single in the ninth, but the Indians never really threatened.

A solid win against a solid team.  Bonderman throws this afternoon against Fausto Carmona.  Carmona will be making his major league debut, so hopefully we’ll be able to jump all over the rookie.

Home Sweet Home

If you would have asked me before opening day whether I’d be happy with a 5-4 start, I would have said I’d take it.  That kind of puts the whole thing in perspective for me.  I’m not going to change my opinion of this team based on their first five games, or for that matter, their last four.

The defending World champs came into town, and despite the fact that they were struggling, they left with three wins (and they’re no longer struggling).  The Tigers offense pretty much went away in the first two games of the series, and by the time they got it back, their pitching wasn’t there.

The Tigers had 21 hits today, yet they still lost.  In fact every Tiger except for Curtis Granderson had at least two hits.  I didn’t expect Justin Verlander to throw like he did in Texas, and nobody else should have either and the seven early runs he gave up ended up being the difference.  The pen wasn’t there either, and three different relievers gave up runs and cost the Tigers a comeback win.  The 23 year old took his lumps today, and hopefully he’ll bounce back when he pitches again (most likely on Tuesday against the A’s in Oakland).  With all three games being afternoon games, I only got to keep track of the Tigers home opener so I can’t really say what might have gotten Verlander into trouble.

Chris Shelton continues to hit the ball extremely well.  He hit his seventh homerun of the season and now has 14 RBIs.

A topic of conversation, both here in the comments by Dan and on sports talk radio, was Leyland sticking with Omar Infante late in the game yesterday with Dmitri Young and Marcus Thames on the bench.  Young’s been good as a pinch hitter in the past and Thames has had a nice start.  I heard a two pronged excuse.  That Leyland was playing the percentages (which percentages?) and that he wanted everyone in the lineup to be tested in key moments.  I’m also not quite sure why Infante would ever be a viable option at DH, although he had four hits today (his first four hits of the season) when he gave Brandon Inge a break at third base.

The Tigers host the Cleveland Indians in a four game weekend series.  The Indians are off to a very good start, and if the Tigers leave for the west coast with a split in this series, I’d be pretty happy.

White Sox Ruin Tiger’s Opening Day

The White Sox tagged Tiger’s pitching for three homeruns today and the Tiger’s offense was quiet for the second straight game in the Tigers’ loss.  Craig Monroe got things started with a two run shot in the second inning, but then Jim Thome answered in the top of the third with a two run shot of his own.  The White Sox then took the lead when Joe Crede hit a two run homerun in the top of the sixth.  Chris Shelton doubled home a run in the sixth, but that was the closest the Tigers got the rest of the game.  Joel Zumaya relieved Bonderman and Paul Konerko took him deep in the eighth inning.

Jeremy Bonderman struck out eight in seven innings, but he gave up the two homeruns.

So the Tigers drop to 5-2.  Still not bad.  They have the day off tomorrow, and then they have afternoon games against the White Sox on Wednesday and Thursday.

Tigers Drop First Game, Chris Shelton Looks Mortal

It had to end.  A five game winning streak is something to be proud of, but this is a very long season.  In 2004, the Tigers won their first four, and by the end of the month, they were hovering just a game above .500.  So while I “want” the Tigers to win 90 games, I’m just not sure yet whether this is the team.  I spoke of Sparky Anderson’s rule in a previous post, and that’s to wait 40 games so I’m biding my time.

Chris Shelton had his worst game of the season by far.  He went hitless and struck out three times.  Curtis Granderson had a nice game though.  He went two for two with two walks and a double.

I listened to the game on the radio, and it’s hard to question Jim Leyland’s decision to keep Kenny Rogers in there to face Brad Wilkerson.  He had struck him out three times previously and Jamie Walker struck him out in the ninth inning.  It was just that one fluke at bat, the two run double, that ended up making the difference.

The home opener is tomorrow.  I don’t have tickets so I’ll be keeping an eye on things at work.  Hopefully the Tigers can get back on track against the struggling White Sox.

Chris Shelton Makes an Out and Justin Verlander

In the top of the eighth inning, Chris Shelton struck out.  I know it’s hard to believe that Chris Shelton actually made an out, but I have a feeling he might make a few more this season.  All kidding aside, what a start for Shelton.  He’s hitting an even .700 with nine extra base hits.  Nine RBIs and even runs in five games.  Simply awesome.

Justin Verlander was no slouch yesterday either.  He threw seven shutout innings and gave up only two hits with seven strikeouts.  He got into trouble in the fourth but he pitched his way out of it.

The last time the Tigers had a start this good was 1985 when they started 6-0.  If they surpass that, then we’re getting into franchise record territory.  In 1984, the Tigers won their first nine games.

It’ll be interesting to see how the Tigers do once they get back to Comerica Park.  While the Tigers have gotten some good pitching, it’s been their offense that’s really opened some eyes.  But they played Kansas City with bad pitching and now at Texas in a hitters park.  Regardless, I’ll be enjoying it all while I can.

Chris Shelton’s Two Triples

It’s the bottom of the fourth inning and Justin Verlander is getting into trouble for the first time.

Chris Shelton has tripled twice already today.  His batting average is now .722 and his slugging is now 1.889.  Simply incredible.  And he’s still only struck out once.  I remember talking to a friend of mine prior to the season about Shelton and I said he’d be good for like .280 with 25 homeruns and you see what you get.  I figured he’d be reliable without any real chance of breaking out, but he’s proving me wrong (not that it’s the first time) at least early here in the season.

Verlander had runners at first and second with one out and struck out the last two guys to get out of the inning.  Tigers 5, Rangers 0.

Chris Shelton, WPA and the Big Red Machine

Chris Shelton just hit his fifth homerun of the season.  Man this guys on a tear.  I expected him to be a decent .280/25 homerun guy but with this start, he could easily top the 25 homeruns.  The Tigers are up 4-1 heading into the fifth inning.

Brian A., who’s a frequent comment at Detroit Tigers Weblog has started a blog where he hopes to track the Tigers via Win Probablity Added (WPA).  WPA has it’s flaws, but the one thing I like it about is, when you get a close game or a back and forth game, it’s fun to see the swings.  Tigers WPA is where he’s posting his results and he started with yesterday’s win over the Rangers.

Tomorrow, I start my only “diary” of the year.  Over at Reds Cutting Edge, I continue the exploits of the Big Red Machine and track the 1976 Reds from beginning to end.  Another blogger, Jon Earving at the Tom Seaver Fan Club, will be doing the same thing with the 1986 Mets.

Ranger Beatdown and the Minors Kick Things Off

Minor League Baseball kicked off their season today and the Toledo Mudhens lost their home opener to the Charlotte Knights 1-0.  Wil Ledezma took the loss but he had a pretty impressive start.  He gave up only a single run on three hits in 4 2/3 innings.  He struck out nine and walked two.  I’m still pretty high on Ledezma and people tend to forget that people were talking about him last year the same way people are talking about Justin Verlander this year.

The Erie Seawolves lost their first game 2-1 in ten innings.  Lakeland lost 6-1 and Cameron Maybin went two for four with a triple and a run in West Michigan’s 5-3 loss to Fort Wayne.  Four minor league games, four losses.

It looks like the Tigers are going to start 3-0.  It’s 9-3 in the bottom of the seventh and the Tigers have hit six homeruns.  Chris Shelton went yard twice and now has four and Brandon Inge and Marcus Thames both hit their second of the season.  Magglio Ordonez and Craig Monroe both hit their first homerun of the season.

Tigers Win the Pennant?

I love it whenever the Tigers win.  And with the last few years, I’ll take all of the wins I can get so don’t take this the wrong way.  Driving home I listened to our local sports radio station (AM 1270) and you would have thought the Tigers won the World Series or something.  Ninety wins seemed almost a foregone conclusion to some of the people calling in.  And what do these people have to base this all on?

Two wins over one of the worst teams in baseball.  Today the Tigers manhandled the Royals.  Ivan Rodriguez had a stat line that looked like something out of a video game.  Five for five with a homerun and five RBIs, and he was a triple short of the cycle.  In all, five Tigers homered.  And Jeremy Bonderman looked good.  Eight strikeouts and only three hits in 6 2/3 innings.  Chris Spurling struck out one and Jamie Walker struck out two.

All good stuff, but we’re two games into the season.  I’m a huge proponent of what Sparky Anderson used to say.  Give me 40 games.  Then you’ll know who’s for real and who’s not.

The Tigers head to Texas so in my opinion, this will be their first true test.  This is a stacked lineup in a hitters park.  If the Tigers split the four game series and head into opening day with a 4-2 record, I’d be pretty happy.  More then that, and then I’ll get a little excited.

Chris Shelton, Joel Zumaya and a Win

What a game for Chris Shelton today.  Single, Home Run, Home Run, Line Out.  And the line out was a shot that was speared by Mark Grudzielanek that could have easily been a single.  So four at bats and four well hit balls.  He won the game and Carlos Guillen gave the Tigers some insurance with a solo shot in the eighth to make it 3-1.

Joel Zumaya also had a nice couple of innings.  He got into a jam in the seventh but got out of it, and he struck out three in two innings.  Not that he’ll throw like this every day, but between his two innings and Fernando Rodney throwing a perfect ninth, it kind of makes the Todd Jones signing look more and more pointless.  Zumaya even touched 100 on the gun.

I was a little surprised that Kenny Rogers was this good.  Granted it’s the Royals but he threw six innings and gave up only a single run on three hits.  He struck out five and didn’t walk a batter.  And he did it all with only 81 pitches.  A great start as a Tiger.

This was the Tigers’ third straight opening day win.  On Wednesday, Jeremy Bonderman will throw against Joe Mays.  We know the Flint native well after seeing him more then enough when he played for Minnesota.

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