Archive for September, 2006

Tigers Could Clinch AL Central as Early as Tonight

Alright, I’m a glass half full kind of guy.  I know the Tigers lost to the Royals and they lost ugly.  The Twins lost as well though, so a Twins loss today (they’re way down in the seventh inning) and a Tigers win tonight give the Tigers the AL Central crown.

The downside to the Tigers latest skid is that there’s no way they can catch the Yankees now.  So assuming they play New York in the ALCS, the Yanks will get home field in that series.

I’m going to the game tomorrow with my family.  I’m curious to know if there will be a solid crowd if the AL Central is in hand.  Jeremy Bonderman is still set to throw, but you’d think he might sit if things are locked up..

All Tied Up With Three to Go

The Tigers enter their final regular season series of the season tied with Minnesota Twins after a loss to the Blue Jays and a Twins win yesterday.  The good news is, the Twins are no longer playing the Royals.  The even better news is, the Tigers now get to play the only team that has lost 100 games this season.

The Tigers got off to another bad start.  Two errors to the first two batters ended up resulting in two first inning runs.  From that point on, it just seemed like Kenny Rogers got unglued and never really got back on track.  He left the game in the fourth inning after giving up seven runs, five of which were earned.

Like Wednesday’s game, the Tigers did try to make a comeback. They pulled to within a single run after scoring two in the sixth and three in the seventh but Mike Maroth game up a run in the eighth that gave the Blue Jays a little cushion.  The one highlight on the pitching side was a good two innings by Fernando Rodney.

Sean Casey and Craig Monroe both drove in two runs.  Is it a coincidence that six of the last seven games that Neifi Perez has gotten the start have been losses?  Since trading for Neifi , the Tigers are 5-15 in games in which Neifi Perez got an at ba so that six of seven isn’t an isolated example.

Tonight we’ll see Wil Ledezma going up against Runelvys Hernandez.  I was hoping that the Tigers might lock up the division today, but that obviously can’t happen.

Tigers Magic Number Down to Three Despite Loss to Blue Jays

The game lasted until close to 11 pm and I didn’t get home until midnight so I’m running on fumes today.  This was a tough game for Nate Robertson.  Four homeruns although the Blue Jays are stacked with good right handed hitters so you’d expect him to have a tough time now and then against a team like this.

In all, there were seven homeruns in the game, all to left field.  The only run that didn’t score on a homerun for either team was the final run in the ninth inning when Troy Glaus singled home Alex Rios.

Placido Polanco drove in two more runs (on his fourth homerun of the seven) so he now has seven in his three games back from the DL.  Zach Miner looked solid in 2 1/3 innings of relief.  He shutout the Jays and gave up only two hits and a walk with one strikeouts.

The good news is, the Royals helped us out by beating the Twins so the Tigers could potentially clinch the division as early as tomorrow.  The Yankees won so that puts them a game ahead of us for homefield advantage and from what I heard on the radio, the tie breaker for that head to head, which the Tigers lost, so they’ll have to make up two games if want to start at home in the ALCS.  Yes, I’m an optimist.

You can find the game chat for this afternoons’ game here.  I’ll be working so I probably won’t get to check in much, but there was a little bit of activity (mostly from a Jays fan) yesterday.

Game Chat on The Scoreboards Sports Forum

I’ve recently partnered with a new sports forum site called The Score Boards.  I’ll be setting up a section for a game chat for each game so if you’re at your computer while you’re watching the game, stop by and we can talk Tigers.  Of course I won’t be around tonight because I’ll be at the game, but that shouldn’t stop you.

Tigers Fourth Straight Win Drops Magic Number Down to Four

Those Twins definitely aren’t making things easy for us.  They’ve matched the Tigers four game winning streak so while that magic number is coming down, it’s not coming down fast enough.  Even after the Tigers 95th win yesterday, the Twins still sit one game back of Detroit.

Placido Polanco was the man in only his second game back from a seperated shoulder.  He got the Tigers on the board with a two run single with the bases loaded in the second inning.  Then he gave the Tigers what ended up being their winning run by laying down a perfect bunt on a safety squeeze.  Polanco has five RBIs in the two games he’s played since coming back.

Jeremy Bonderman’s numbers looked good but he seemed to be struggling at times.  He walked three in the game and got into trouble in the fourth inning.  Then he got into trouble in the sixth and needed an inning ending double play to get him out of another jam.  Regardless, his ERA is now under 4.00.  Barely.  And he did hit 200 strikeouts.  The last time a Tiger did that (strikeout 200 batters) was 1987 when Jack Morris struck out 208.  Bonderman would normally be slated to pitch in the regular season finale on Sunday but I have a feeling if the Tigers have the division wrapped up by then, that he’ll sit.

I’m going to the game tonight and I’m also going Sunday.  I’m hoping the Tigers have things in hand on Sunday because I’m bringing my son and it’d be nice if the crowd wasn’t quite as bad.

Will the Tigers Win The World Series?

It’s time to think big.  The Tigers did what seemed near impossible just six months ago and made it to the playoffs for the first time since 1987.  Now the fun begins.  A lot of people enjoy the NCAA Tournament or the NFL playoffs.  Others enjoy the Stanley Cup playoffs.  To me, there’s only one thing better then playoff baseball and I’m getting it.  That’s playoff baseball with the Tigers in the mix.

So come Tuesday (according to the schedule, both AL series start on Tuesday), the Tigers will be going after eleven elusive wins.  They’ve won three straight and seven of their last ten games so the trials of late August and early September are behind them.  The question is now, can the Tigers do it?  Can they win the World Series?

Assuming they win the division, I see the Tigers having to face the A’s, the Yankees and then the Mets if they want to win it all.  If they slip up this last week and only get the Wild Card, they’ll probably face the Yankees, A’s and then the Mets.  Yes, I think the A’s will beat the Twins in that first round.  In fact the A’s really worry me because a lot of people are writing them off.  With Rich Harden back, they have one more weapon and that I think that puts them over the top.  We might finally get to that shit work in October.

Those are some good teams.  Very good teams.  There’s no doubt though, that I’m anxious to see how the Tigers stack up. 

Tigers Lock Up First Playoff Appearance Since 1987

The Tigers and Royals aren’t finished yet, but Detroit already has a 9-0 lead in the second inning.  A win here means the Tigers can do no worse then the Wild Card and assuming the Twins hold on and beat the Orioles, the Tigers will have a magic number of six for the AL Central.  Remember though, because the Tigers have the tie breaker (head to head) with the Twins, it’ll really mean they’re magic number is effectively five.  Regardless, they’re headed to the post season.

This series with the Royals was just what the Tigers needed.  The Tigers were down on Friday but came back to win it, then they blew the hapless Royals out over the weekend.

Placido Polanco made his return on Saturday and had a great game along with everyone else.  He went three for four with two RBIs and a run.  He was eventually replace by Kevin Hooper.  He had the day off today.

It looks like Justin Verlander is going to fall short of the 200 inning mark but assuming Kenny Rogers throws two more innings, the Tigers will have three guys pitch at least 200 innings.  The last time that happened was 1991 when Bill Gullickson, Frank Tanana and Walt Terrell all topped 200 innings. 

Tigers Can Clinch Wild Card With Win Over Royals Tomorrow

Alright, I know this game isn’t over yet, but the Tigers are beating the Royals 15-0.  The White Sox won today and snapped their three game skid but they’re pretty much done.  We’re a game and a half ahead of the Twins and they’ll take care of that half game on Monday.

If you’re 18 years old and a Tiger fan, you weren’t alive the last time the Tigers made the playoffs.  I was 16 at the time so this is a special treat for me as well.

Tigers Not Making Things Easy, Lose to Orioles

The first seven inning of the Tigers afternoon game against the Orioles went pretty well.  Magglio Ordonez hit a two run homerun in the first and Curtis Granderson followed that up with a solo shot in the third to give the Tigers a 3-0 lead.  Unfortunately, Nate Robertson didn’t have his best stuff and while he only gave up two runs, that was close enough for Fernando Rodney to lose it in the eighth inning.

Robertson pitched out of three big jams.  He left the bases loaded in the third and fifth innings and he left two men on in the fourth inning, which was the one where the Orioles scored twice.  The Tigers blew a big opportunity in the fifth inning.  They loaded the bases with nobody down and then didn’t score a single run. 

And of course the Orioles made them pay for that in the eighth.  The Brian Roberts single was somewhat acceptable but then he hit David Newhan.  A double steal and a double later and the Tigers lead was gone.

Three pieces of good news.  One, the Twins are losing 4-0 and Josh Beckett is looking really good (the game is on ESPN2).  Two, the Tigers head to Kansas City to play a Royals team they’ve done very well against.  Three, the Tigers have the tie breaker with the Twins.  So if they end up tied, because the Tigers and Twins are in the same division, the Wild Card goes to the loser of the season series.  The Tigers won the season series 11-9 so if the two teams end in a tie, the Tigers are division champs.  I know that’s little consolation but with only nine games left, it could be big.

It’s Wil Ledezma going up against Luke Hudson tomorrow.

Playoff Bound?

It’s not quite in the books yet, but the Tigers would not only have to have a monumental collapse in their last ten games against some pretty bad teams, but the White Sox would also have to win almost all of their remaining games.  Their magic number for the Wild Card is now five.

Jeremy Bonderman had his second straight quality start and Joel Zumaya appeared to be back to his old self.  And the Tigers bats go it done against the best White Sox starter in the second half.  Ivan Rodriguez led the way with two RBIs and a homerun.

The big inning was the White Sox second.  Bonderman walked Paul Konerko and then Bonderman miffed a slow grounder that put runners at first and second.  After a visit to the mound from Jim Leyland, Bonderman got Joe Crede to ground into a double play and then Ryan Sweeney flew out to end the inning with no damage.

The Twins came back to beat the Red Sox so they still sit just a half game behind the Tigers.  They have one more game against Boston before they play the Orioles after we leave town.

Now the Tigers shoot over to Baltimore for a makeup game before they head over to Kansas City for a three game series.  If the Tigers get the job done this weekend, they could wrap up that playoff spot by Sunday.

Justin Verlander, Placido Polanco and the Tigers Magic Number

Justin Verlander struggled for the second straight start last night.  He gave up a grand slam to A.J. Pierzynski and then back to back solo shots to Jermaine Dye and Jim Thome before getting pulled in the fifth inning.  The innings he threw yesterday put him over the 180 inning mark so we’re really in uncharted territory for Verlander.

Now it looks like Placido Polanco isn’t done for the season and might be back by the weekend series.  It sounds like he spoke out of frustration to reporters on Sunday.  This is definitely an odd story but it’s good news in the end, assuming Polanco is in the lineup this weekend against the Royals.

The Twins won yesterday so the Tigers magic number is still 12 for the division title.  It’s seven for the wild card which got me to thinking.  The Tigers have been just as good at home as on the road so taking home field advantage out of the equation for a moment, who would you rather play in the first round, the Yankees or the A’s?  I think most people would say the A’s but I think the Yankees are the best team in the American League right now.  So it wouldn’t hurt to have them in a five game series where you could cut them down a little more easily then in a seven game series where the cream has more time to rise to the top.  I know that’s a half glass full look at things with the Twins just a half game back, but I think it makes some sense.

Tigers Getting it Done With the Long Ball in Series Opener Against White Sox

This would be a huge win and the Tigers are up 4-0.  The Tigers scored two quick runs on Craig Monroe’s two run shot that also scored Curtis Granderson.  The Tigers continued to pummell Mark Buehrle and singled twice on him but the first inning came to an abrupt halt when Carlos Guillen lined into a triple play.

Now, Magglio Ordonez hasn’t just homered once, he’s homered twice to make it a four run game.  Neifi Perez is back over the Mendoza line with two singles.

Hopefully Rogers and the pen will be able to hold onto this lead.  Winning this first game would be huge.


The Tigers turned on the offense in the ninth inning and busted this game open. The big hit was a three run shot by Brandon Inge.  Kenny Rogers threw six shutout innings and while Fernando Rodney and Jamie Walker each gave up runs on solo homeruns, the game was already firmly in hand.

Placido Polanco Appears to be Done for the Season

Man does this hurt and I was pretty stunned when I heard about it after the game yesterday.  So get used to Neifi Perez because he might be playing come October.  I’m hoping Will Carroll will mention something about this in his Under the Knife.

Sean Casey and Neifi Perez

Sean Casey just hit a huge two run homerun in the bottom of the eighth inning to tie up the Tigers’ game with the Orioles.  This team continues to amaze because I had pretty much given them up for dead.

Neifi Perez had two RBIs in 15 games so far for the Tigers heading into today.  Today, Perez had a bases loaded clearing double (his first extra base hit for the Tigers this season) and drove in three runs in a big five run fourth inning. I heard the call on this one on the radio and didn’t sound like a particularly well hit ball and I think it might have been some generosity by the score keeper.

Wil Ledezma was bounced early and now Todd Jones is in there to pitch the ninth.  We’ve already used Fernando Rodney and Joel Zumaya.  Zumaya made his first appearance since last week after coming down with elbow problems and while he struggled and gave up a run, it was encouraging that he struck out three guys.

Ninth inning.  Let’s pull this one out.


Todd Jones set the Orioles down in order in the ninth but the Tigers returned the favor.  Jason Grilli is now in there and it looks like Leyland is making sure his pen is at least somewhat servicable against the White Sox tomorrow.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see Grilli throw as many inning innings in this one as long as he’s shutting down the Orioles.


Four runs in the tenth by the Orioles and this one is done.  Sigh.

Breathing Room

The Tigers have taken care of business so far this weekend and they’ve also got some breaks from both the Twins and White Sox.  The biggest of these breaks had to have been the Indians winning on Friday when Johan Santana got the start.  Santana of course didn’t take the loss, but the Twins lost the game.

Assuming the Twins hold and win their game, the Tigers will have a two game lead over the Twins and a five game lead over the White Sox.  The lead over the White Sox is particularly significant because while the Tigers magic number over the Twins is 13, it’s only 10 over the White Sox.  While you can never say any lead is insurmountable, that’s pretty significant with only 14 games left.  Of course next weeks’ series between the White Sox and Tigers will tell the story there.

Nate Robertson was awesome today.  He threw eight shutout innings with five strikeouts.  Matt Stairs came up with a big hit in the seventh.  His double put runners at second and third with nobody out.  The Tigers ended up getting their second run of the game in that inning and it was because of that double by Stairs. 

Tomorrow, we’ll see Danny Cabrera go up against Wil Ledezma.  It sure would be nice to get one more win before the team heads to Chicago.

Behind the Scenes Baseball

I recently picked up and read “Behind the Scenes Baseball” by Doug Decatur.  The subtitle is “Real-Life Applications of Statistical Analysis Actually Used by Major League Teams…And Other Stories From the Inside.”  Doug Decatur has been a statistical consultant for four different major league teams and one player agent throughout his career and the book basically documents some of his work.  The book is split up into three parts.

Part one is a diary of sorts documenting Decatur’s history with the major league teams he worked for.  He talks about accurately predicting several breakout players, including Greg Vaughn, Ron Gant and Cecil Fielder. There’s also plenty of “fun” stories in this section as well, the funniest of which happened to be a chance meeting with Sparky Anderson when he was still coaching the Reds in 1976.  Another interesting section is where Decatur documents all of the rejection letters he received after they well.  They range from polite to brutally blunt.

If there’s one knock on this section, it’s that the stories are somewhat random.  They’re not in sequential order and while I guess you don’t neccesarily need to read them in any kind of order, it just seemed jumbled.  This doesn’t detract to much from the section, you just don’t get a “build” from Decatur’s beginning to the end where he’s helping a team make the playoffs.

The second section is the longest and it’s a 100 question GM IQ Test.  As we all know, while I can act like I know what I’m talking about when it comes to sabermetrics, I’m still new to the field so I’m pretty green.  I took the test and at times I did well but still ended up being a girlie man.  It was a pretty challenging test, at least for me but it was definitely fun to take.

The third section is the one I enjoyed the most and it also gives you the most meat.  It’s basically a diary of the changes the Houston Astros made at Decatur’s advice while advising Phil Garner.  It included line up construction, use of the pen, and actual player moves.  It’s well documented and it provides a step by step look at how the Astros turned their 2004 season around and made the playoffs and how they were helped by sabermetrics.

Overall, the book does exactly what it sets out to do, and that is to provide you with some of the things statistical analysis can do to help ball clubs.  For someone like me, who’s not as knowledgeable of sabermetrics, it shows real life examples on how teams can help themselves by at least considering statistical analysis.  And I’m sure for someone who’s a student of sabermetrics, it should provide you with several “ah ha” moments in which you’re validated in your adherence to statistical analysis.

The book is well worth the $15 sticker price.  The GM IQ Test alone is worth the price of the book, and that wasn’t even the part I enjoyed the most.

Gary Matthews, Jr. Hits for Cycle in Tigers Loss

Justin Verlander crossed the 170 inning threshold yesterday.  We’re really getting into uncharted territory.  He also leads the team and is 34th in the majors in Pitcher Abuse Points (PAP).  This is one of prices we’re going to pay for blowing that big lead.  Even if the Tigers do still make the playoffs, if we had a six or seven game lead right now, we’d be able to rest guys like Verlander to get ready for the playoffs.

The cycle by Gary Matthews, Jr. was particularly interesting because he had it done by the sixth inning.  It was also a natural cycle, in which he singled, doubled, tripled and homered in succession.  I’m not sure I’ve ever watched a game where either of those things happened. 

The Twins lost, but they go today so we could be heading into this series with Baltimore with only a one game lead.  The Twins might be without Francisco Liriano for the rest of the season, so that’ll hurt them a ton.  Then again, they seem to have been doing fine without him the last month or so.

On Friday, we’ll see Jeremy Bonderman go up against Hayden Penn.  It’s interesting because people tend to forget Bonderman is only 23 even though this is his fourth season in the majors.  Hayden Penn is a couple of years younger but this is a solid matchup up potentially future star starters.

Carlos Guillen Homers Twice in Win Over Rangers

Man, this was huge.  Carlos Guillen hit a homerun in the second inning to put the Tigers on the board then he hit a walk off solo homerun in the bottom of the ninth to win it. 

Most of the game was played in the rain.  With neither the Rangers nor the Tigers sharing an off day, there would have been no good time to make up the game considering rain is in the forecast tomorrow as well.  So they had to get this one in despite the poor conditions.

Craig Monroe had three outfield assists, two of which were plays at the plate.  A great performance by Monroe despite not getting a single hit.

Between the outfield assists and the double plays (three of them), Kenny Rogers was able to give up ten hits yet he allowed two baserunners to score.  Fernando Rodney filled in nicely for an injured Joel Zumaya (wrist injury) and pitched two perfect innings to close out the game.

The Twins are down by two in the sixth inning.  It sure would be nice if the Tigers picked up a game.  The White Sox don’t play until 10 pm.

Toledo looks like they’re going to win game one in the IL finals.  West Michigan is tied 3-3 in the ninth inning so that one could go either way.

Good pitching matchup tomorrow.  Kevin Millwood versus Justin Verlander.

Toledo Mud Hens Look to Repeat as International League Champions

The Mud Hens squeaked into the playoffs last week.  They finished the regular season tied with Indianapolis and the Mud Hens came out on top in a one game playoff.  They they beat up on the Charlotte Knights in four games and they’ll now face the Rochester Red Wings in a best of five series for the Governor’s Cup.  The series kicks off today.  Ironically, the Red Wings are the Twins Triple A affiliate.

The West Michigan White Caps also had a successful playoff run and they’ll square off against the Kane County Cougars in a best of five series.  Kane County is the Oakland A’s Single A affilitate.  This series also starts today.

Tigers Drop Third Straight Game to Twins

If there’s some good news, it’s that the White Sox lost today.  With three weeks left in the season, the Tigers stand two games ahead of the streaking Twins and 3 1/2 games ahead of the White Sox for the Wild Card.  More good news is, both the Twins and White Sox play tough teams all week this coming week.  In the meantime, the Tigers have two days off this week and play two at home against the struggling Rangers and three at home against the Orioles.  So if the Tigers aren’t at least a game or two better then they are right now, it means either 1) the White Sox and Twins are playing out of their minds and/or 2)  The Tigers have hit rock bottom and they’re no longer taking care of business against the bad teams.

The Tigers continue to struggle at the plate.  They’ve scored seven runs in the past three games and that’s boosted by the five runs they racked up Friday.  This series had it all, and in a bad way.  The Tigers lost a nice lead on Friday (twice), they lost a pitchers dual on Saturday and then got blown out today. 

Jeremy Bonderman hasn’t had a quality start since August 15 and his post All Star Break numbers are getting downright bad.  If you throw in today’s game, his ERA is 5.38 and his WHIP is up over 1.50.   He’s also walking batters a much higher clip, so it’s interesting that while people talked about Nate Robertson and Kenny Roger’s second half collapse, it was Bonderman who’s really been knocked around.

To a certain extent, the pitching is still there.  The Tigers still lead the majors in ERA and they’re one of only two teams who have an ERA below 4.00 (Padres are the other team).  They’re also tied for first in WHIP at 1.28 (again with the Padres).  Even in the second half, the Tigers have the fourth best ERA, so the collapse has been on offense.

Despite being middle of the pack in batting average, the Tigers are 26th in OBP at .326.  That’s not good and accounts for a lot of the solo homeruns the Tigers have hit this year.

The Twins are no longer on the schedule this year, which I’m thinking is a good thing.  We play three at Chicago next week, which is going to pretty much define whether the Tigers coast in the final week or are fighting for their lives for even a Wild Card spot.

On Tuesday, we have Kenny Rogers going up against Vicente Padilla.  Enjoy the day off.  I think there’s a football game or something on tomorrow night.

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