I was in a hurry this morning and I completely forgot to mention Andrew Miller’s debut. He pitched in game one yesterday and threw 17 pitches, 12 of which were strikes. He did hit Craig Wilson and while he didn’t strike anybody, he never got into trouble. Not too shabby for dealing with a Yankee Stadium crowd.
The Tigers lost again today. Randy Johnson handled the Tigers nicely and it would have looked even nicer had he gotten pulled after eight innings. Neifi Perez was 0 for 3 and he’s now hitting .156. All five of hits have been singles so his slugging percentage is also .156.
Marcus Thames hit homerun number 24. He’s got a legit shot at thirty if he’s allowed the chance.
Curtis Granderson hit eighth and Pudge hit leadoff. With Brent Clevlen back in the minors, Granderson is the Tigers best option against lefties. Why did we send him down? Sigh.
The good news is, the White Sox lost today to the Devil Rays so our 4 1/2 game lead is still intact. Next up for the Tigers are the Angels who appear to be out of it. Rosters expand tomorrow, so help is on the way.
It’s interesting how much one inning and one homerun can make such a difference in people’s perception. If Craig Monroe strikes out in the ninth and the Tigers lose, then you’d get the typical “sky is falling” reaction. Instead you’ll hear a lot of stuff (okay, crap) about how the Tigers are destined to win it in 2006. I’m in the middle of course. 4 1/2 games is a nice lead, but it could be gone in a hurry.
The Tigers went down 3-2 in game two against the Yankees and Craig Monroe hit a huge two out, three run shot to give the Tigers the win. The Tigers blew a scoring chance in the eighth when Monroe led off with a double and stayed there. Guess he was annoyed about that so he took matters into his own hands.
Both starters (Ledezma and Robertson) had very good starts and neither walked away with a win.
Game three against the Yankees is this afternoon. It’ll be Jeremy Bonderman going up against Randy Johnson.
The Tigers and Yankees were rained out today and they’ll play a doubleheader tomorrow. With that, here’s a few random thoughts.
I’m not sure who would be hungrier. A player like Sean Casey who’s up there in age and has never won a championship, or a veteran like Ivan Rodriguez or Kenny Rogers who have tasted a World Series win and now might only have one last chance to relive it. I really think Pudge is going to be the key down the stretch. I can’t see him letting this team get down and in a lot of ways, I can see him almost being like another coach in the dugout. That’s quite a difference from the antics that went on last year. I’ll take it though.
The last time the Tigers were in first place in September was in 1988. Following the September drama of 1987 and a nice first half, the Tigers had a four game lead on August 21, 1988. One month later, on September 19, 1988, the Tigers were in fourth place and six games back of first place. They went 6-21 during that stretch and while they made things close, a lot of their late wins came after the Red Sox had locked up the division. The next season, they came just short of setting a franchise record for losses. Food for thought for those people who felt we should sit tight at the trade deadline and plan for the future.
At the All Star Break, it looked like as many as five players would have a shot at thirty homeruns. Now, it looks like nobody is going to get there. Marcus Thames has the best shot but he probably won’t get the at bats to do it. The Tigers do have a shot at having seven different players hit 20, although that’s assuming Chris Shelton gets some time in the lineup come September.
Big doubleheader tomorrow. As Ernie Banks used to say, “Let’s play two.”
There is some good news that came out of this weekend. If your goal is still to win the AL Central (mine is), you got the best case scenario over in Chicago with the Twins in town. The Twins took two of three so even though the Tigers dropped two of three to Indians, the Tigers only lost a half game in the standings.
Curtis Granderson hit his first homerun since July 29th today to lead off the game. He’s now only hit two homeruns since June 23rd so he’s been in a pretty extended slump. Granderson also saw his batting average bottom out at .259 yesterday before getting a little pop today with two hits. This is a guy who looked like he was going to score a 100 runs easy. Now it looks like he might not even get to 85.
Is it irony that the Tigers won today and Neifi Perez was out of the lineup. Pat Caputo piped in on Friday about how Omar Infante was getting the shaft and while he’s probably a few days too late, at least he’s mentioning it. Perez is four for twenty three and all four hits have been singles. He’s scored one run and drove in one. The only reason he won’t cost us many games is, there’s not that many games left for him to play in. Hopefully Leyland will wake up to this and we’ll see more Infante going forward.
That’s five pretty good starts in a row for Kenny Rogers. I think we can put his whole second half jinx to rest.
The Tigers won their 82nd game today, so they’ve now guaranteed themselves a winning season. The last time that happened was 13 years ago back in 1993. Cecil Fielder was still hitting homeruns, Sparky Anderson was still the coach and Kirk Gibson, Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker all still played for the team. I see only two players on that team that are still active. Chris Gomez has bounced around and he’s now playing for the Orioles and then David Wells is probably in his final season with the Red Sox.
The Tigers have tomorrow off. And then in a best case scenario, we’ll be seeing a preview of the ALCS when the Tigers travel to Yankee Stadium to take on the Bronx Bombers. It looks like Andrew Miller is going to get called up for the trip so that’ll be quite an interesting trial by fire. The Yankees are only three back in the loss column from the Tigers for the best record in baseball.
Tigerblog was highlighted in a Detroit News article today about Detroit area blogs. It’s a great read if you’re a local.
Nate Robertson saw his ERA go up by 0.76 points today when he took it on the nose in the series finale against the White Sox. The good news is, he stayed out there for almost seven innings so the Tigers’ pen is nice and rested for the Indians this weekend. It’s not too often you see a starter take ten runs in the box score.
As far as the Sean Casey baserunning thing, I say big deal. Casey hustles, we were down by seven runs and while I know he’s a professional, people make mistakes. I think he’ll be taking it out on himself far worse then what anyone else could do and if anything, we might see a very motivated Sean Casey out there this weekend. I thought it was wrong for the fans to boo him in his next at bat, although I guess they have every right too. Just didn’t make sense to me.
Curtis Granderson showed some signs of breaking out of his slump when he went two for four today. Heading into the game, he was zero for his last 21 and two for his last 34. His last homerun was still July 29th though.
Neifi Perez grounded out to end the game with the bases loaded. I know it wouldn’t have even cut the lead in half if he did something, but get used to that kind of hitting. I’m not sure what his single was like yesterday, but his first as a Tiger on Tuesday was a weak little flair to the opposite field. He still hasn’t a drawn a walk in 16 plate appearances.
The Tigers play three at Cleveland this weekend. This is the last time we play Cleveland this year and tomorrow’s game will have Jeremy Bonderman going up against Jeremy Sowers. Sowers has been pretty effective in his rookie campaign and this will be the first time we face the lefty.
There’s no doubt that Zach Miner had a very nice run and while he filled in nicely when he won six straight games in June and early July, Miner could be finding himself the odd man out. He got the nod when Mike Maroth went on the disabled list, but with Maroth set to come back soon Miner might get only one more start to show he’s still got it in the rotation. Miner has lost four of his last six decisions and in his last eight starts, he’s seen his ERA balloon from 2.57 to 4.76.
Give some props to the bullpen. Wil Ledezma got roughed up in the second inning and allowed two of the runners he inherited from Miner to score, but he calmed down and held the White Sox scoreless from the third through sixth inning. Colby Lewis gave up a solo homerun to Joe Crede (Crede’s second of the game) after the Tigers had shaved the lead to a single run, but Jamie Walker and Jason Grilli held the White Sox to only one hit in the final three innings. Final was 7-5.
Dmitri Young got the Tigers on the board in the first inning with a two run homerun. He’s still slugging .634 since coming back to the team. Sean Casey had a big two run double that made it 6-5 and he now has 18 RBIs in 22 games since joining the Tigers.
It’s an afternoon game today. Nate Robertson has been throwing well so hopefully he’ll be able to keep it up. He faces Jon Garland, who’s been the White Sox best pitcher of late.
It’s funny how the two pitchers everyone got concerned about were Rogers and Justin Verlander. Both have bounced back in this series in a big way and while it might not last, it wasn’t certainly timely.
Marcus Thames had the big game at the bat. He walked in a run in the first, tripled home a run in the third and then topped all of that with a solo homerun in the fifth inning. It was his first homerun and first RBI in over two weeks. The last time he had a multihit game was July 31.
We all moaned when we saw Neifi Perez’s name penciled in at the leadoff spot. Just to prove me wrong (again), Perez led off the game with a weak little flair single to right field and he later scored on Magglio Ordonez’s RBI single. In his next at bat, he tried to bunt himself on but did such a horrible job, he ended up popping out to the first baseman. What was even more strange was Pablo Ozuna did the same thing in the next inning.
We were sitting on the third base side close to the Tigers dugout. What’s weird is, it’s almost impossible to know whether any given pitch is a ball or strike because of the angle. Sounds like Ozzie Guillen had a legitimate beef when he got kicked out of the game.
Going into the series, I would have been happy with a split and the Tigers are now guaranteed that. It would be nice to bury the White Sox though. Zach Miner goes head to head with Freddy Garcia tonight.
It’s only the seventh inning, but the Tigers have put up seven runs. The game was close through four innings before Craig Monroe made it 4-1 with a two run shot and then Sean Casey doubled home two in the sixth. He’d later score on Brandon Inge’s RBI single and just like that, the Tigers are up 7-1. Justin Verlander is cruising and his only blemish so far has been a Jermaine Dye solo homerun.
All seven runs were credited to Jose Contreras. Just to show you how dominant Contreras has been against Detroit, this is the first time in five starts that Contreras has given up more then a single run in any given inning.
Verlander just walked Mackowiak with two outs and they now have the pen going. He got ahead on Cintron 1-2 but fell to a full count. Fortunately he got him to ground out. Nice play by Carlos Guillen.
The Neifi Perez era has started with a whimper. Three at bats and nothing to show for it.
Nice win for the Tigers. 7-1 ended up being the final. Joel Zumaya pitched the eighth and then Jones pitched in the ninth. Perez finished his Tiger debut by going 0 for 4. No big surprise there. I’ll be at the game tomorrow.
In Will Carroll’s latest UTK, he talks about Mike Maroth being ready to come back. The problem is, we already have a five man rotation and while there was some speculation that the Tigers might go to a modified six man rotation, it looks like Jim Leyland is leaning against it. Carroll speculates that either one of the Tigers’ current five starters will find himself in the bullpen or even hit the DL. I don’t want to give away too much because it’s a subscription only column, but the situation bears watching.
Alright, first the trade. I’m sure Neifi Perez is a nice guy, but he’s also one of the worst major league hitters ever. Ever. You’re talking about a guy with a career OPS of .677. Heading into the season, his career OPS+ was 65. So basically adjusted for the ballpark, Neifi Perez is 65% of the hitter of an “average” major leaguer is. He’s been a whipping boy for Baseball Prospectus for a long time, with good reason. The only thing I’d use him as is a late inning defensive replacement (he can play all over the infield) when there’s little chance that he’ll get any swings at the plate. If he’s taking time away from even Omar Infante, this was a bad move.
The Tigers traded Chris Robinson, who was catching down in Lakeland. He was a third round draft pick last year and John Sickels gave him a C+ rating in his book. He was hitting for average this year (.286) but not for much power (one homerun). He is only 22 though. Honestly, the fact that we gave up anything for Perez makes this a pretty bad deal. Thing subtraction by addition.
The Tigers finally got the bats going today, but this time their pitching left them. Jeremy Bonderman was roughed up and didn’t even nab an official start even when he was spotted six runs by the Tigers’ bats in the sixth inning. The Tigers wouldn’t score the rest of the game though and Jason Grilli gave up a single run in the fifth inning that ended up being the difference.
Brent Clevlen continues to hit the ball really well. He makes for a nice right handed replacement to a slumping Curtis Granderson and he’s hitting .364 in 22 at bats. Six of his eight hits have been for extra bases and he’s scored nine runs in thirteen games. Craig Monroe also continued to get it done with two more RBIs today. Probably the biggest WTF of the game was Ivan Rodriguez hitting lead off and playing first base. Then again, he’s been very good this year against lefties (.869 OPS heading into the game) and I know this isn’t the first time Leyland has used him there against a lefty starter.
The White Sox lost, so the Tigers head into their huge four game series against Chicago with a five and a half game lead. Tomorrow will be Justin Verlander against Jose Contreras. I’ll be going to the game Tuesday and that game will be Kenny Rogers against Mark Buehrle. Winning even two of four would be big because it would keep the White Sox at bay. Anything more would be huge.
And here everyone was worried about the Tigers’ pitching. The past two games, the Tigers have scored a grand total of two runs. They’ve given up only five, which is usually good enough to win. Unfortunately, the offense just isn’t there.
Nate Robertson had another solid start and unless he collapses here soon, I think you can say the second half troubles are behind him. He’s now up over 160 innings and he also has his third straight season over 100 strikeouts.
Cheers just came on after the game. I loved this show and watched it quite a bit when it was on. I remember the final season took place during my senior year of college but it was a show I grew up with. Of course that show led into Frasier, which was also on for a decade. Anyway, I apologize for the digression.
Curtis Granderson continues to struggle. He’s hit one homerun since June 23 and he’s hitting only .237 in 114 at bats (heading into today’s game) since the All Star break.
Craig Monroe continues to rake. He hit homerun number 20 today and drove in the Tigers’ only run. That’s seven homeruns since the All Star break and he’s still hitting above .350.
The Tigers have a chance to split the four game series tomorrow. And just to make things more interesting, the White Sox are winning.
There’s no doubt the Tigers have something in Andrew Miller. We should get a little taste of what he can do in September but it won’t be until 2007 until we really get to see how good he is. Regardless, Kevin Goldstein at BP picked Andrew Miller as the third best left handed starting pitching prospect. He joins Cameron Maybin as one of the top prospects in the Tigers farm system.
Even more impressive is that the two guys ahead of Miller are both in the Dodgers system, who have the best farm system in baseball right now. Goldstein also does a nice job of explaining why good lefties are so hard to find.
The Tigers are up 3-1 in the fifth inning.
You have to feel for Jeremy Bonderman. This is the sixth time he’s gone at least five innings and given up less then two runs in a no decision this season. If the Tigers give him any kind of run support in any of those games, he’s got at least 15 wins. Regardless, he threw a very good game last night and kept the Tigers in it. He struck out eight and gave up only two runs on five hits in 7 2/3 innings.
The big run came on Craig Monroe’s apparant fly out in the top of the ninth. With runners on first and third, Wily Mo Pena dropped the fly ball. A baserunning error by Monroe cost the Tigers a potentially big inning because he got caught by Pena while rounding first base but the one run was good enough to walk away with a win.
Placido Polanco came up huge in the game, but in the process, he seperated his shoulder. He made a huge diving catch that saved a run but came down wrong and had to leave the game. Of all people, Ivan Rodriguez played the final two innings at second base, the first time he’s played there in his major league career. Expect Omar Infante to get the bulk of the time there. It’s really too bad because Polanco has had a pretty good year, both with the glove and the bat. Whether you believe in clutch or not, he’s hit .374 this season with runners in scoring position. His OPS isn’t anything to write home about (.684), but he seems to come up with the big hit when the Tigers need it.
Sean Casey had a good game. He had three hits, including a single that set up the first and third in the ninth inning. He also doubled in the seventh and drove in two runs to give the Tigers their first lead of the game.
Tonight is youth versus the old man. I’ve always been a big fan of David Wells, so it’ll be cool to see him pitch possibly for the last time against the Tigers. He’ll be going up against Justin Verlander.
The Tigers held on to beat the Red Sox last night. An early five run cushion turned out to be all the Tigers needed, although the Red Sox definitely made things interesting.
Nate Robertson may be only 11-8, but he’s put together a pretty nice stretch. In his last last eleven starts, he’s gone at least six innings. And then in his last three, he’s given up three runs or less. He doesn’t light it up and throw many shutouts, but he’s a very solid back of the rotation starter. He did have a rough July, but it looks like he’s bounced back from that. Plus he’s the guy who started the whole Big League Chew rallyroutine that the Tigers have been doing late in the game.
Dmitri Young had another big game. He went three for five with two runs and an RBI. He still has an OPS well over 1.000 as his sample size gets larger and larger. He hasn’t homered in a while, but he’s getting job done with the bat in other ways.
Another solid matchup today. Jeremy Bonderman goes up against Curt Schilling.
If there’s any consolation, the Tigers still have a 5 1/2 game lead in the AL Central. Five straight losses will have a lot of fans worried though (including me). And with three games at Boston this week, it doesn’t get any easier.
Zach Miner was knocked around in the first two innings so the Tigers had to play from behind the entire game. Once again, Alex Cintron turned out to be the Tiger killer because his three run double was probably the most important hit of the game.
Carlos Guillen made his 22nd error of the season and that leads the majors at any position. If you look at Baseball Prospectus’ fielding runs above average, he’s four runs below average but that was before today. Looking at Win Shares on the Hardball Times, he sits at 3.3 fielding win shares, which is tenth in the American League. Hopefully he’ll be able to get back on track here. His career high for errors is only 18 and he’s already well above that. The good news is, Guillen is second among American League shortstops in total Win Shares because he’s still hitting the ball very well.
Nate Robertson goes up against Josh Beckett tomorrow. To make matters worse, the White Sox have four against the Royals this week, which should put even more pressure on the Tigers just to win to keep that lead. The Royals did sweep the Red Sox earlier this week so I guess anything can happen.
I picked up most of this game on the drive down to my parents. I tuned in and the Tigers had a nice 3-0 lead in the top of the fifth when the wheels fell of the wagon in the bottom half of the inning. Paul Konerko singled and the next two batters went down in order. Then Carlos Guillen misplayed Sandy Alomar’s grounder and that left runners at first a second. A double and a single later (with some help from Marcus Thames misplaying the ball in left field), and the White Sox had tied the game.
Heading into the bottom of the seventh, the game was still tied. Jermaine Dye singled, but then Joe Crede hit a hard grounder to Brandon Inge in what should have been a tailor made double play. Instead, he threw the ball into right field and both guys were safe. Sandy Alomar, Jr. then knocked in Dye with a sac. fly and the White Sox had their first and only lead of the game.
Both starters threw well. Kenny Rogers gave up four unearned runs with only four hits in seven innings. Mark Buehrle was credited with three runs, but most of that was because of a misplayed double play by I think Juan Uribe (I picked this up on the radio) that extended the Tigers big inning.
Jamie Walker had only one unintentional walk leading into Wednesday’s game against the Twins. Since then, he’s walked two batters without getting a single out. Fortunately the walk today didn’t come back to haunt them, although then again, the White Sox didn’t end up need the run.
Tomorrow is Zach Miner vs. Freddy Garcia at two o’clock our time. This is a pretty important game for the Tigers because they can really stop the damage with a win.
Just when you thought the Tigers were nice and safe, the White Sox make a nice run. In a lot of ways, the White Sox are a better team this year then they were last year when they won the World Series so nobody thought they’d roll over and die. They took two of three against the Yankees earlier in the week in a series that could have been a sweep, and now they pretty much blew us out yesterday. Jose Contreras looked like he knew exactly what the Tigers’ hitters were going to do yesterday and he got them to swing at a lot of bad pitches. The net result was Contreras’ first career complete game shutout. On the other side, Justin Verlander gave up thirteen hits over only five innings. Not good. I was worried that he maybe got too much rest when his start was skipped so we’ll see what happens next time around.
Jeff Passan, who’s become one of my favorite columnists, recently did a story on Jim Leyland. I remember hearing Passan on AM1270 when the Tigers drafted Andrew Miller and he was very articulate and told some great stories about the Tigers first round draft pick so it wouldn’t surprise me to see he makes it in radio.
Today’s game is on FOX at 1:20 and it pits two struggling pitchers. Mark Buehrle has been awful since the All Star Break, and Kenny Rogers hasn’t been lighting it up either. We’ll see if either guy can bounce back and get the job done today.
Minor league guru Kevin Goldstein has had an ongoing series of minor league position breakdowns. In the columns, he talks about the top prospects at each position. The good news is, he picked Cameron Maybin as the best centerfield prospect in baseball. No big surprise there as he’s been playing exceptionally well in low A ball at nineteen years of age. Justin Upton, who was taken first overall the same year Maybin was drafted in 2005, was third on the list.
There is some bad news though. Goldstein has now finished up all of the positions and outside of Maybin, no Tiger minor leaguer made any of the other lists, even as an honorable mention. So the Tigers don’t have a top fifteen prospect at any position anywhere in the majors except for center field. They have arms like Andrew Miller and Humberto Sanchez, but it looks like the Tigers won’t really be able to look to their minor leagues for ready made position players in the immediate future. Not a huge deal because if you look at the Tigers now, only Brandon Inge and Curstis Granderson came from the Tigers farm system.
Jeremy Bonderman has been very good tonight. Unfortunately, Johan Santana has been even better. Bonderman gave up a run in the first inning and that’s been the extent of the scoring. He’s now in trouble in the sixth with runners on first and second and one out. Hopefully he’ll be able to get out of this jam.
Not only did Jeremy Bonderman get out of that jam (he eventually loaded the bases), the Tigers now have tied the game up. Brent Clevlen led off the sixth with a triple and Placido Polanco singled him home. 1-1 in the sixth.
It didn’t take long for the Twins to take the lead back. A two out infield single by Luis Castillo scored Josh Rabe. Bonderman did strike out the side in that inning. Now the Tigers have the lead off man aboard (Carlos Guillen walked) with Marcus Thames up. Johan has a 100 pitches and I’ll be glad to see him gone.
Thames just struck out as I was writing. Now it’s up to Brandon Inge.
That didn’t take long. Inge hit a huge two run shot down the left field line. Tigers are now up 3-2.
Justin Morneau took Joel Zumaya deep for a two run shot in the top of the eighth, so the Twins are back on top. One of those runs is credited to Jamie Walker after walking the lead off hitter, Mauer.
Still 4-3 in the bottom of the ninth. Some mixed news out of Toledo. Mike Maroth started his rehab assignment, which is definitely good. The bad news is, he got shelled. He gave up three runs on three hits (two of which were homeruns) and two walks in only three innings. He threw 60 pitches, which I’m assuming is right around where they wanted him to be at. Fortunately, the Mud Hens came back and won the game 5-4.
Joe Nathan put the Tigers down in order so the final is 4-3 Twins. Fortunately, it looks like the White Sox are going to lose. Day off tomorrow and then three against the White Sox this weekend.
Nate Robertson was pretty good last night, which is definitely encouraging. His seven innings now puts him just short of the 150 mark. Last year, Robertson had some pretty good starts until Auguest 28th, when he finished the season with six tough starts out of seven. That slide happened right after he topped the 150 inning mark. So we’ll see how Robertson does going forward.
The Tigers just couldn’t get the bats going yesterday. Dmitri Young had a pretty good game and he continues to tear it up (he’s now hitting .422 since coming back) and the Tigers threatened in the eighth and ninth but couldn’t get any runs across. Carlos Guillen had two hits and a walk and he extended his hitting streak to ten games.
Tonight is the finale and it’s going to be a good one. Jeremy Bonderman will square off against Johan Santana. The last time these two guys squared off, Bonderman was awesome until he fell apart in the eighth inning. He also got roughed up by Cleveland late last week so hopefully he’ll be able to bounce back.