Heading into the beginning of this season, I thought Craig Monroe and Marcus Thames were interchangeable parts. They were basically the same type of player (25 homeruns, mediocre fielding corner outfielder) so I always felt since Monroe was given more time, he’d be the best guy to trade since he has more value. Then Monroe stuggled out of the gate while Thames tore it up in a part time role, eventually working himself into the lineup with more frequency.
Now, the tables have turned and Monroe has been red hot. Both he and Thames hit homeruns yesterday, but Monroe is now at .276/.311/.507 while Thames is at .273/.346/.587. I’d still rather have Thames in there every day, but it’s hard to argue with Leyland riding Monroe’s hot streak.
Francisco Liriano is a great pitcher, until he throws against the Tigers. Once again, Zach Miner outdueled the phenom. Although Jesse Crain’s four walks in the seventh were just as big of a reason for the Twins loss then Liriano was. The Twins had pulled the game to within a single run before Crain blew up in that four run seventh inning.
Tonight we have Brad Radke going up against Nate Robertson.
I’ve been working on this for a while. I get emails all of the time, a lot of them with regard to my Business of Baseball report at the Hardball Times. Over time, I’m persuaded some of these peoples to start blogs covering their favorite. The culmination of this has been a loose affiliation called Baseball Historians. With the help of Dave Cohen from Most Valuable Network, I’ve finally got a site that ties everything together. Basically the site pulls the feeds from all of the sites in the network so you can go to one spot to see which sites have been updated.
I’m also going to be working on some exclusive content. Round tables amongst the bloggers along with a few other things. So check it out and let me know what you think.
It was the third one run win of the series, and it was the only one we didn’t have to come back from. Wil Ledezma was given the start in place of a “fatigued” Justin Verlander and with a moment to shine, he took full advantage of it. He threw 5 2/3 innings of shutout ball and struck out five. The only run came on Craig Monroe’s RBI single in the fifth and Monroe extended his hitting streak to 13 games today. He’s now pulled his batting average up to .271.
Next up is another big series with the Twins and the pitching matchups are identical to last weekend. Tomorrow we’ll see Zach Miner square off against Francisco Liriano. I wonder if this one is going to make ESPN Monday night baseball. The White Sox lost, so the Twins are now just a half game back of the White Sox and 9 1/2 games back of the Tigers. This is a big week and if the Tigers win four of their next six, they’ll pretty much have put the division to rest.
What a game. Kenny Rogers got into some big trouble in the first inning and gave up three runs on two different homeruns, but he calmed down and shut the Indians down the rest of the way. Marcus Thames hit a solo homerun in the fifth to make it 3-1 and then the Tigers scored in the seventh on Placido Polanco’s RBI single.
The Tigers threatened in the eighth but couldn’t get a run across to tie the game up. In the ninth, Brandon Inge bunted himself on and then Granderson struck out after failing to bunt Inge over to second. Placido Polanco then grounded to short and just beat out the double play, which would end up being huge.
Then Ivan Rodriguez came up and took Indians’ reliever Fausto Carmona deep for a two out two run shot to end the game. You could tell it was gone as soon as it was hit.
Give some props to Joel Zumaya. He threw two shutout innings to close out the game and he’s now 6-1.
The White Sox and Twins both won as well so it looks like the AL Central is back to one big matching game.
What a game. The Tigers were down 5-0 and they came back to win it in 7-6. Craig Monroe continued his excellent second half with a two run homerun that gave the Tigers the lead.
Jeremy Bonderman struggled, although he’s had some problems against the Indians in the past. It was a great lineup that he faced, but he spotted them three runs in the first inning.
Also give some props to Roman Colon and Todd Jones. Colon did give up a run after the loading the bases up, but he got out of the jam. Jones gave up a a two out single to Victor Martinez to make things interesting, but he got out of the jam and picked up save number 30.
Today is Paul Byrd and Kenny Rogers. While I think Rogers’ rotation spot is very safe, a lot of people are calling for him to go to the pen while he’s struggling. I’m hoping he’ll bounce back here (as long as whoever is playing first base makes their plays) and put those in doubt to rest.
The Tigers signed Andrew Miller today, and that’s huge. The best player in this year’s draft slipped to the Tigers because of signability issues and once again, Dave Dombrowski got the job done. Miller will probably head to Lakeland and Dombrowski said at the press conference that Miller could be part of the September call up.
Justin Verlander is going to miss a start because of shoulder fatigue. Not good news and hopefully this is precautionary.
Elden Auker passed away today at 95 years of age. The submarine pitcher debuted for the Tigers in 1933 and he was a pivotal part of the rotation in the Tigers’ 1934/1935 pennant winning season. Auker finished with a career 130-101 record and he won eighteen games in 1935, the year the Tigers won their first World Series. I think Auker was the oldest living player, so I’m not sure who takes over in that respect.
A pretty solid start by Nate Robertson went to waste tonight. He threw six shutout innings, then in the seventh, got into trouble. With one out and runners on first and second, he was pulled in favor of Joel Zumaya, who almost immediately gave up a single to B.J. Upton. Curtis Granderson came home, but the ball was cut off and they had Upton in a pickle. Right before they were about to tag Upton, someone (I can’t remember who ended the pickle) came home and the throw was wide. In the meantime, Upton got to second base. Fortunately, no further damage was done but we should have gotten at least one out on that at bat.
Just as costly was another botched hit and run attempt. Dan’s been bringing this up in the comments and once again he proves to be correct. Dmitri Young led off with a single in the seventh, but then he was caught stealing in a strike em out, throw em out double play when Craig Monroe couldn’t make contact on the hit and run. True to form, Sean Casey then singled, which would have given us a runner in scoring position with only one out.
Speaking of Young, he had another good game. Three for four, including a ninth inning double that gave the Tigers a chance in the ninth.
The Tigers come home for three games against the Indians. Tomorrow’s gave will have Jeremy Bonderman going up against Cliff Lee. Bonderman’s had a tough time in three of his last four starts, including the eight inning melt down game last weekend against the Twins. Hopefully he’ll be able to bounce back and get the Tigers back on track.
Okay, the Tigers were only down by one, but after scoring two first inning runs, the Tigers’ bats didn’t do much until the eighth inning. Magglio Ordonez doubled home two runs and then Craig Monroe continued his solid second half (.353/.375/.603 in 69 at bats since the All Star break) with a two run shot. The Tigers added two more in the ninth as insurance but those two runs ended up not being needed.
Fernando Rodney is beginning to scare me almost as much as Todd Jones does. He came in to pitch in the eighth and immediately walked the lead off hitter. He ended up getting out of the inning, but that’s not what you want to do when the team just came back and gave you a three run lead.
Dmitri Young homered again, and he’s pulled his batting average all the way up to .250. Since he’s come back, he’s hit .394/.447/.848 in 33 at bats. I know that’s a small sample size, but he’s been absolutely raking the ball. He’s hit a homerun in five of his last seven games. And this is just how the Tigers’ season is going. In April it was Chris Shelton and then in May and June, Marcus Thames was getting the job done. Now in July, it’s been Craig Monroe and now Dmitri Young. And all the while you’ve got guys like Curtis Granderson, Magglio Ordonez, Carlos Guillen and Pudge Rodriguez who have been consistently good for most of the year.
Even though it’s get away day, the Tigers play in the evening. It’ll be Nate Robertson against the struggling Jae Seo, who’s played for his third team in the past twelve months.
What a night for Carlos Guillen. He tripled in his first at bat, homered in his second and then lined out in the fourth for his third at bat. In the sixth, Guillen singled and then in the eighth he doubled to finish up the cycle. The last time a Tiger hit for the cycle was in 2001 when Damion Easly did it. I was at that game.
Sean Casey had a nice game in his debut for the Tigers. Two for five with a homerun, two runs and two RBIs. He also made a nice scoop to finish up a great play by Brandon Inge in what I think was the fourth inning (maybe the third, I was putting my son to bed and caught it as I was leaving the room). Rookie Bret Clevlen had a career day. Three for five with two homeruns (his first two of his career), two RBIs and three runs. He almost got his third outfield assist in this one as well.
Justin Verlander was only okay, but the bullpen picked him up and he won his fourteenth game. Once again, I question why Joel Zumaya was used in a blowout. I would have thought maybe Walker would come in first, and then once the game was in hand, Jason Grilli would finish it up.
According to Will Carroll, Mike Maroth should start his rehab assignment next week. It’s encouraging to know that help is on the way.
Another rough outing by Kenny Rogers. He did cross another innings threshold in yesterday’s start (now has 130 1/3 innings) so it’ll be interesting to see whether he further regresses or can bounce back. His ERA is now up to 4.63 and his WHIP (1.30) and batting average against (.266) are both right around his career averages. He’s now only had one start in his last seven where he gave up less then four runs. Probably the most distressing was the uncharecteristic four walks that he gave up last night. Two of those guys ended up scoring runs so they came back to haunt as they usually do.
Wil Ledezma gave up a run and allowed an inherited runner to score in his two innings of work, but he struck out four batters. So he was a mixed bag. Those two runs didn’t end up coming into play, but after the two runs in the ninth, the Tigers would have been a lot closer then the 7-3 deficit they faced.
Casey Fossum made us look bad at times. He struck out ten Tigers and it wasn’t until the Tigers got deeper into the pen when they finally put a couple of more runs on the board. Craig Monroe and Dmitri Young hit back to back homeruns in the ninth but by then, the game was pretty much over. The Devil Rays bunched all of their runs in the fourth, fifth and sixth.
Today, Justin Verlander goes up against former Royal J.P. Howell. Howell came over to the Devil Rays from the Royals in the Joey Gathright trade, and he was a decent pitching prospect who got stuck in the Royal’s farm system. He makes his season debut in place of the injured Scott Kazmir. Sean Casey will make his Tiger debut.