Archive for April, 2007

Gary Sheffield, Magglio Ordonez Lead Tigers In 8-4 Win Over Orioles

The Tigers got it done at the plate today and they racked up eight runs on just six hits but they drew eight walks in the 8-4 win over the Orioles.  Gary Sheffield had a nice game and he went one for two with two walks, a two run homer and three runs.  He even stole his fourth base of the season and he’s now pulled his batting average up to an even .200.  Magglio Ordonez also hit the ball well and he went two for two with a double, two walks, two RBIs and a run.

It wasn’t Jeremy Bonderman’s best start of the season but he finally picked up his first win.  He gave up four runs on nine hits and a walk with four strikeouts in five innings.  Wil Ledezma walked two in 1 2/3 innings and Fernando Rodney picked up the save with 2 1/3 innings of shutout ball.

There was an incident in the fifth inning.  Danny Cabrera had hit Gary Sheffield earlier in the game and Bonderman threw one a little too close to Miguel Tejada.  The Orioles shortstop waved his bat at Bonderman before Pudge grabbed him and the benches cleared.  There was no real fighting but a ton of yelling.  Of course Gary Sheffield rubbed in his fifth inning homerun after the incident and the umpires had to get between Cabrera and Sheffield as he went around the bases.  Should make for an interesting game tomorrow.

Chad Durbin will try to follow up on his first solid start of the season last week when he takes the mound tomorrow.  Adam Loewen will throw for the Orioles.

Jose Mesa Set to Come Off The Disabled List

Everyone’s favorite relief pitcher, Jose Mesa, comes off the disabled list Wednesday.  For now, at least according to this Jason Beck column, it looks like Mesa will get some time down in the minors before returning to duty with the Tigers.  Not a bad plan although it is interesting to read that Mesa hasn’t played down in the minors since 1991.

It’s funny how such a small sample can make for some interesting numbers but Mesa has given up six hits in twelve plate appearances to right handed hitters so far this year.  Three of those six hits have been for extra bases.  And his OPS against (both right and left handed hitters) is a whopping 1.396.  It’s like he turned the hitter he’s faced into a 2004 version of Barry Bonds.  And oddly, all seven of the hits he’s given up have been with nobody out and he’s gotten all five batters out that he’s faced with one or two outs.

It’ll be interesting to see if he can get these numbers down once the sample size gets bigger.  Of course that means he’s throwing more innings….

Gary Sheffield, Magglio Ordonez and Curtis Granderson

Gary Sheffield has shown a little bit in the last few games what we expected from him when we traded for him.  Now, he looks to break out against a team he’s man handed in the past.  Sheffield is a career .306 hitter against the Orioles and in 67 games, he’s scored 48 runs and driven in 63.  His one RBI every 4.05 at bats is third amongst active major leagurers and with the way Curtis Granderson and Placio Polanco have been hitting, you’d hope he might be able to even bring those numbers up with them setting the table for him.

Magglio Ordonez and Curtis Granderson had 16 extra base hits a piece in the month of April and that’s good for the second best start a Tiger has had since 1957.  The most extra base hits in the month of April was set just last year by Chris Shelton with 19.  And the 24 RBIs that Ordonez has picked up is the most that a Tiger has pushed across the plate in the month of April since 1997 when Tony Clark drove in 27.

I picked all of this up from the Press Pass.  A few other quick facts are that Jeremy Bonderman (today’s starter) leads the American League with only 1.1 walks per nine innings and that since 2003, Bonderman is seventh in the American League with strikeouts per nine innings with 7.49

Tigers Avoid Sweep With Ninth Inning Blast By Brandon Inge

The Tigers topped the Twins and Magglio Ordonez and Marcus Thames both took Johan Santana deep to give the Tigers a 3-2 lead this afternoon.  Mike Maroth gave up a sixth inning run that tied the game though and the game stood at 3-3 until the ninth inning.  Then Brandon Inge hit a huge ninth inning walk off homer off of Jesse Crain to win it in the ninth.

Inge had a really nice game and he went three for three with the solo homerun.  Ordonez had a double to go along with his two run homer and Craig Monroe got back to the Mendoza line with a two for four game. 

Mike Maroth threw a pretty good game but he didn’t get a decision.  He gave up three runs on nine hits and a walk with three strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings.  Joel Zumaya bounced back from his two bad relief appearances and got through 1 1/3 innings unscathed (although he did walk two) and then Todd Jones won it with a shutout ninth.

Next up is the Orioles, who roll into town for a three game series tomorrow.  It’ll be Jeremy Bonderman against Danny Cabrera in the opener tomorrow.  Cabrera had his best start of the season and picked up his only win against the Tigers in Baltimore on April 9, 2007.

Tigers Blown Out By Twins 11-3

The first five innings of this game were pretty bizarre.  There were two pickoffs, a strange play at first where Sean Casey tripped over the bag while still making the play and then a border line obstruction call on Wil Ledezma in the fifth.  Ledezma was tossed but not after the obstruction play but after the following hitter (Jason Kubel) singled home two runs.  Jim Leyland joined him while getting standing ovation for laying into the home plate umpire.

As interesting as all of these things were, the Tigers got beat down to the tune of eleven runs on seventeen hits.  Justin Verlander threw just three frames and he gave up five runs and the only Tiger reliever of the four used that didn’t get credited with a run was Jason Grilli and even he allowed an inherited runner to score.

Gary Sheffield looks to be heating up.  He went three for four with a run and he almost scored another one but he got gunned down at the plate.  He’s one more good game away from getting out from below the Mendozza line.  Carlos Guillen had three hits and he was a homerun short of the cycle while Placido Polanco had yet another multi-hit game with three singles and two runs.

The Tigers haven’t been swept yet, but with Johan Santana on the mound tomorrow, it’s looking like this might be the series.  Maybe Mike Maroth can pull a gem out of his pocket and pitch the Tigers to a win but he’s going to have to be pretty flawless to pull it off.

Joel Zumaya Roughed Up in Tigers Loss To Twins

Nate Robertson must be used to this kind of stuff by now. Last year, it seemed like it was either the lack of solid pitching out of the pen or a lack of run support. This time, while the Tigers only gave him three runs, it was more the former as Joel Zumaya came in and gave up three hits and a walk and by the end of the eighth inning, he had not only allowed the two runners that Robertson left to score, but two of Zumaya’s own had scored as well. Bobby Seay came in to get the final batter out in the eighth and he also put the Twins down in order in the ninth.

Robertson’s final line was three runs on five hits and two walks with three strikeouts in seven innings. Of course that would have looked a lot better had Zumaya gotten it done and the two inherited runners not scored.

Craig Monroe had a nice game at the plate. He went three for four and he drove in a run in the 5-3 loss. Curtis Granderson doubled twice and he scored a run while Sean Casey went two for four with a double and a single.

It’ll be Justin Verlander versus Carlos Silva tomorrow. It’s the last one o’clock game at Comerica Park for the rest of the year.

Tigers Slip Into Hit List Top Ten

The Tigers made their first appearance in the top ten of Baseball Prospectus’ Hit List.    Jeremy Bonderman and Chad Durbin were higlighted in the comments and this is the third straight time the Tigers have moved up the ladder since they bottom out at 15 two weeks ago.  The Indians are two spots ahead at seven while the White Sox are two spots behind at eleven.  Probably the most surprising are the Twins, who now sit at eighteen, just behind the Yankees at seventeen.  And to round out the division, the Nationals keep the Royals out of the cellar despite their identical records.

The Craig Monroe Conundrum

There’s no doubt that Craig Monroe has struggled so far this year.  In 74 plate appearances, he sports a rather unimpressive 25/5 strikeout to walk ratio and those 25 strikeouts lead the team.  So you’d think from looking at the numbers that Craig Monroe is hacking away, right?  Well then, why does he lead the majors in pitches per plate appearances with 4.6 amongst the players with the requisite number of at bats?

In looking at his splits page using’s play index, we can at least see what Monroe’s doing.  In only three plate appearances has he gone just one pitch, and then he’s had six plate appearances where he had a 1-0 count and three with an 0-1 count so out of his 74 plate appearances, he’s swung away and put the ball in play with one or two pitches only twelve times.  That doesn’t even match the number of times he’s taken the count full (17) and he’s gone to a 2-2 count another 18 times so in 35 of his plate appearances (almost half), he’s lasted at least five pitchers.  I’m not sure what that tells us other then the fact that Monroe’s at least taking a couple of pitches even when he gets behind in the count.  There’s also the fact that Monroe has only had an event while ahead in the count with 20 of his 74 plate appearances so another explanation is that he gets ahead in the count, then either takes some strikes or swings and misses to get the pitch count total up without doing anything other then working the pitcher.

One of the more disturbing numbers is that in 19 plate appearances with a full count, Monroe has struck out on ten of them with only five walks.  And while this is intuitive, you can tell quite a bit from what Monroe does with the first pitch.  When he takes a ball on pitch one, he hits .290 in those 36 plate appearances.  When he goes down 0-1 in the count, he hits .059 in 35 plate appearances. 

Tigers and White Sox Rained Out

No game tonight as the rain came back into Chicago.  No makeup date has been scheduled.

A Look At The Tigers 20 Homeruns

This probably won’t come as a suprise to a lot of people, but I have a hard time doing much more then medium level tasks on a computer.  I’m good at doing what I know (namely excel), but things like downloading the retrosheet game logs and parsing through them is a pretty difficult task for me.  Now I’m happy to know that I can cheat.  For a small fee, Baseball Reference now offers a service called the Play Index that basically allows me to do what I would normally need retrosheet data for but without all the front end work.

So I ran a report on the Tigers 20 homeruns so far this year and received a ton of feedback.  Like of the Tigers five opponents, eight of the homeruns have come against the Royals.  Sixteen have come against right handed pitchers and 14 of them were hit by right handed batters.  11 of the twelve homeruns went out to either left field or left center and the Tigers have hit as least one homerun in every inning in their games.  They’ve hit eight homeruns with the game tied and nine of the twenty came with no outs.  And the sixth spot in the lineup has produced more then any other spot with five.

Most of this means nothing, but as someone who likes looking at the stats on the back of baseball cards, this is pretty cool stuff.  And it’ll be a little more meaningful as the season rolls on so I’m hoping to incorporate more of this kind of analysis into my writing. 

And here’s a trivia question you can guess at.  Since 1957 (which encompasses the data made available by Retrosheet), which Tiger has the longest hitting streak (and for extra credit, how long was it and what year).  I’ll give you a hint by saying that this Tiger also has the second longest hitting streak as well. 

Chad Durbin Strikes Out Nine in Tigers Win Over White Sox

Chad Durbin struck out a career high nine batters tonight as the Tigers shut out the White Sox 6-1.  Durbin pitched like a guy who’s job was on the line and he got it done with eight solid innings.  He gave up just three hits and he didn’t walk a single batter.  Joel Zumaya got into a bit of trouble in the ninth and he gave up two runs with a bunch of walks but Todd Jones came it to get the final batter out to pick up the save.

Placido Polanco and Magglio Ordonez drove in all six Tiger runs with three RBIs a piece.  Ordonez finished with three hits and Ivan Rodriguez went three for five with a run.  Even Gary Sheffield got the stick going and he singled, doubled and scored two runs.

The Tigers can finish up the series with a two game sweep tomorrow night.  Rain is in the forecast so we’ll see if they can get it in.  Nate Robertson will take the mound and he’ll face Jose Contreras.

Tigers Come Back Against Angels, Then Lose In Ten

It’s hard to believe the Tigers even had the lead in this game after being down 7-0.  They fought back though and they didn’t just tie the game, they took the lead in the ninth with a two run homer by Magglio Ordonez.  Unfortunately, Todd Jones blew his second save of the season and gave up a run in the ninth and then gave up another run in the tenth to lose it 9-8.  Two errors on consecutive plays by Carlos Guillen in the first inning (both of which should have been double plays) ended up coming back to haunt the team because those three runs ended up being the difference.

Magglio Ordonez had a really nice game at the plate.  He went three for three with three RBIs, three runs and two walks.  Gary Sheffield scored two runs and Curtis Granderson hit a solo homerun, but he also struck out four times.

Jeremy Bonderman lasted six innings and while he struck out eight, he took it on the chin.  He gave up seven runs with five of them earned on eleven hits and a walk.  Fernando Rodney had a nice outing and he threw two perfect innings of relief and he struck out three.

So now the Tigers hop on a plane to take on the White Sox in Chicago.  Chad Durbin will try to get it done and his spot in the rotation may be on the line and he’ll face rookie John Danks in a rematch of Friday’s starters.

Tigers Win Out West

The Tigers took game one of their two game set against the Angels in Anaheim last night.  I stayed up to watch the Tigers take an early 7-0 but it looks like the Angels actually made a game out of this one.  Mike Maroth came to within an out of an official game but he fell short when he got into trouble in the fifth and loaded the bases.  Jason Grilli came in and he picked up the win with 2 1/3 solid frames.

Curtis Granderson led off the game with a homerun and Gary Sheffield had a solid game after his current struggles.  He went two for four with an RBI and a two runs.  Both Granderson and Magglio Ordonez each had three hits and Ordonez finished with three runs.  The bottom of the lineup is still struggling but fortunately, we didn’t need the extra offense in the 9-5 win.

Game two is this afternoon.  Jeremy Bonderman will take on Kelvim Escobar and hopefully Bonderman can scoop up his first win of the season.

Tidbits Heading Into Tonight’s Angels Game

Just some interesting things I picked up from the Tigers press pass for tonight’s game with the Angels.  Both Gary Sheffield and Magglio Ordonez have career averages over .300 against the Angels.  Gary Sheffield’s .312 average in 269 at bats is ninth amonst all active players against the Angels and Magglio Ordonez is eighth with a .544 slugging percentage.  Also, Ordonez is second among active players at Anahiem Stadium with a .353 batting average.

The Tigers lead the majors with 28 RBIs and four grand slams with the bases loaded.  The four grand slams the Tigers have this month tied the franchise record that the Tigers set back in June of 1968 when Mickey Stanley hit one and Jim Northrup hit three.

Tiger starters lead the American League with 12 quality starts.  Just as impressive, they’re fourth in ERA at 3.66.  Last year, Tiger starters posted a 4.00 ERA.

Mike Maroth has done a few interesting things over the last couple of years.  Since the start of the 2003 season, he’s posted the eighth best walks per nine inning rate in the American League.  In 689 2/3 innings, he’s walked just 181 batters for a 2.36/9 inning rate.  He’s also tied for third in the majors with 26 pickoffs since the start of the 2002 season.

Tigers End Three Game Skid In Come From Behind Win Over White Sox

This looked like it would have been a fun game to be at and over 38,000 fans made it out to watch the series finale against the White Sox. The Tigers got off to a good start and touched up Jon Garland for three runs in the first but he shut us down pretty much completely from then on. In the meantime, Justin Verlander gave up three runs in his seven innings and he left with the game tied 3-3. Aquilino Lopez threw the eighth and he gave up two runs to give the White Sox a 5-3 win.

David Aardsma got the Tigers out in the ninth before Carlos Guillen kept the inning alive with a single. Then Marcus Thames came in for his fourth at bat. Up until then he had a pretty tough game with two strikeouts and the only time he made contact was in the first inning when he grounded into a double play. In this case, the fourth time and a different pitcher was the charm and he drilled a high fast ball into the left field stands to tie the game up at five. Thames has three hits this season, and two of them have gone over the fence.

The Tigers got three shutout innings of relief out of Wil Ledezma and then Jason Grilli put the White Sox down in the twelth.  Ivan Rodriguez drew a lead off walk in the bottom of the twelth and then Brandon Inge pushed him over to second with a bunt.  Craig Monroe drew a free pass and then Placido Polanco singled home the winning run.  Final was 6-5 Tigers.

Polanco finished with two RBIs and two hits and he’s hitting .377.  The pinch hit walk by Ivan Rodriguez was his first free pass of the season and it couldn’t have come at a better time.  Sean Casey went two for four and it’d be nice if he was starting to hit out of his slump and the lone long ball for the Tigers was that huge homer by Thames.

Grilli picked up the win and that pushes his record to 1-1.  Wil Ledezma is quietly putting together a nice season and he’s now thrown 12 1/3 with an ERA of 2.19 with his three scoreless innings today.  His strikeout rate probably aren’t as high as you’d like from a reliever but he’s getting the job done.  He also just missed picking up what would have been a league leading fourth win.  He would have gotten had the Tigers scored an inning earlier.

This week is going to be an interesting one because the Tigers hop on a plane for a quick two game series against the Angels in Anaheim, then by Wednesday they’re in Chicago for two against the White Sox.  Then on Friday, they’re back home for three against the Twins.  Most of the league had a pair of two game series during the week this past week so I guess this week is the Tigers turn.

Tigers Drop Third Straight With Ten Inning Loss to White Sox

I was at Greenfield riding on Thomas the Tank Engine today so I didn’t get to watch this game but from looking at the box score, it looked like another tough one.  Nate Robertson was given a four run lead and while he was effective in the first three innings, the wheels fell of the wagon in the fourth and by the fifth the game was tied.  He actually left with a lead but then Joel Zumaya gave up the tying run in the eighth to blow his first save of the season.  Then in the tenth, Fernando Rodney was roughed up again and he took the loss and dropped to 1-4.  Sandwiched between Rodney and Zumaya was a solid ninth inning by Todd Jones and it was nice to see him bounce back from that tough loss on Wednesday.

Gary Sheffield continues his struggles and while he scored a run, he went 0 for 3 and he’s now hitting .119.  Carlos Guillen and Magglio Ordonez each hit their second homerun of the season and Guillen drove in four.  Guillen also led all Tigers in WPA with .151 and Todd Jones led all pitchers with .143.

The Tigers haven’t been swept this year and they’ll try to avoid that tomorrow in the final game of their series with the Sox.  Justin Verlander will take on Jon Garland and while Garland has had a tough time so far this season, he’s 12-6 in his career against the Tigers.  Even worse, he’s 8-1 at Comerica Park.  So the Tigers have their work cut out for them tomorrow and it’s just fortunate that they have their hottest pitcher throwing for them in the game.

Tigers Drop Series Opener to White Sox

The Tigers lost to the White Sox tonight in a 6-5 game.  Chad Durbin was solid through five innings but he ran into trouble in the sixth when he loaded the bases and left it up to Jason Grilli.  A single later and the game was tied.  The White Sox then took the lead in the seventh on an RBI single (again off of Grilli) by Darin Erstad that turned out to be the game winner.

The Tigers threatened in the ninth when Placido Polanco doubled with two outs and then he moved to third on a wild pitch by Bobby Jenks.  Unfortunately, Gary Sheffield struck out looking to end the ball game.  The ball might have been low, but it was close enough to where he should have been protecting the plate.

Aquilino Lopez was a pleasant surprise as he pitched in his first major league game since 2005.  He was called up after Jose Mesa hit the disabled list with an injured groin and he pitched well in two innings.  He gave up just one hit and he struck out one.

Carlos Guillen was the hitting star.  He went two for four and he drove in two runs.  Placido Polanco was the other Tiger with two hits and Brandon Inge hit a solo homerun to put the Tigers on the board in the third inning.

Nate Robertson gets the start tomorrow and he’s pitched as well as anyone on the Tigers rotation this year.  He’ll face Jose Contreras in a rare Saturday afternoon game at Comerica Park.

Humberto Sanchez Out for the Season

The Gary Sheffield trade just got better because now it’s been announced that Humberto Sanchez will have Tommy John surgery and will miss the entire 2007.  I hope he has a speedy recovery.  Sanchez broke out last year with some solid starts at both Erie and Toledo before he was shut down around the trading deadline because of his elbow.  Then of course he was the primary player in the trade this offseason that brought Gary Sheffield to Detroit. 

Carlos Guillen, Gary Sheffield and Craig Monroe

With the off day, I took some time to flip through some of the Tigers numbers.  With the season being just two and a half weeks old, it’s hard to rely too much on these because of the sample sizes but they’re interesting to look at none the less.

While Carlos Guillen is hitting only .255, he leads the team with 12 walks for an impressive OBP of .388.  Oddly, he’s done it with a team low (tied with Sean Casey) pitches per plate appearance of 3.4.  So he’s either swinging away early and putting the ball in play or picking up the walk.  Just as odd is the team leader, Craig Monroe, who averages 4.7 pitches per plate appearance.  Since Monroe leads the team in strikeouts, is he being too selective or is he just getting down in the count and fouling a couple of pitches off before going down?  I’ll have to keep an eye out next game to see which is the case.

We all know Gary Sheffield has struggled and his batting average (.132) reflects that.  What’s really odd is how bad he’s been against left handed pitching.  In ten at bats, he doesn’t have a single hit yet and this is a career .313 hitter against left handed pitching.  If I were a betting man, if the over/under on Shefs batting average were .270 overall, I’d take the over.  I have a feeling that when he hits out of this slump, it’ll be in a big way.

Craig Monroe is tied for the team lead with 11 RBIs yet he’s hitting just .212.  That bodes well for when he finally heats up.  You wonder if this is the year that Craig racks up 100 RBIs.  He has to work on the strikeouts though (18 strikeouts versus three walks), although like I said above, he’s working the pitcher for 4.7 pitches per plate appearance so at least when he goes down, he’s making the pitcher work.

Just a couple of quick last things.  Nate Robertson has gotten off to a good start but oddly, he’s had a hard time against lefties who have hit .316 against him.  Last year, he held lefties to a minscule .181 batting average so you wonder how good he’ll be once he starts getting that lefty batting average against down.  Fernando Rodney has a 2.31 WHIP and a .350 batting average versus right handed hitters.  I guess just looking at that, we can’t be too surprised by his 1-3 start.

Tigers Pen Blows Bonderman’s Bid for First Win

You knew it was going to happen eventually.  After a very good start to the season, Todd Jones gave up two runs in the ninth to blow his first save of the season and then in extra frames, Fernando Rodney gave up a solo homerun to John Buck that turned out to be the game winner.  So instead of finishing up the sweep, the Tigers ended up with a disappointing loss.

Jeremy Bonderman was excellent in his start.  He gave up a run on just three hits and six strikeouts in seven innings of work. Joel Zumaya had an easy time in the eighth before Jones came in and immediately walked the first batter.  A double, a single and a ground out then provided the Royals with the two runs they needed to send the game into extra frames.

Placido Polanco had two more hits and he scored a run.  Craig Monroe had two hits including a big two run single when the Tigers scored their three runs in the sixth inning.  And Curtis Granderson finished with three hits and he pulled his batting average above the .300 mark.

In looking at the WPA graph, you see the Tigers push themselves up into the 90% range with the three run sixth.  Jeremy Bonderman (.357) and Placido Polanco had very high numbers (.282) but Todd Jones (-.279), Fernando Rodney (-.291), Carlos Guillen (-.239) and Gary Sheffield (-.225) were all very negative.    The Joe Buck homer hurt the most and he led all hitters on the Royals side with .300.

The Tigers get their first day off in a while and then they host the White Sox.  Chad Durbin will try to bounce back from two tough starts and he’ll face rookie John Danks in the opener on Friday.

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