Well, it had to happen eventually. Justin Verlander had one of his worst starts of the season and he lost his first game in June as the Twins crushed the Tigers 11-1. Verlander gave up two quick runs in the first inning before calming down until he gave up a grand slam to Joe Mauer in the fifth. He also walked five batters, which isn’t like Verlander either.
The only Tiger run came on a solo homerun by Placido Polance, who also had half of the Tigers six hits. That also means that Carlos Guillen’s streak of having an RBI in every game came to an end at eleven.
Eulogio De La Cruz was roughed up when he was given some mopup time. He gave up five runs (two earned) on five hits and two walks. A two out error by Neifi Perez was the reason for all of those unearned runs.
The Indians won so the Tigers are now a half game back (tied in the loss column). It’ll be a battle of rookies this afternoon as Andrew Miller takes on Twins rookie Kevin Slowey. Slowey is 2-0 but he’s given up four runs or more in three of his five starts and he has a 1.54 WHIP so he’s definitely hittable. Anything is better then what the Tigers had to contend with last night in Johan Santana.
Jonah Nickerson was profiled by Jon Paul Morosi over at Baseball America. There’s a nice personal touch with some details on Nickerson’s interest in this years College World Series. He’s an Oregon State alum.
First off, congratulations to both Frank Thomas for hitting 500 homeruns and Craig Biggio for racking up 3,000 hits. Both are significant milestones and I’ve always been a fan of both players so it’s nice seeing them get their due.
Kenny Rogers had another nice outing in the Tigers series finale against the Rangers. He picked up the win and he improved to 2-0 and the biggest surprise was that he actually gave up a run. The last time he did that was as a reliever in the Tigers final regular season game against the Royals, which is also the last time he lost. Counting the post season, he’s given up one run in 35 innings and he’s 5-0 in his last five starts.
Gary Sheffield hit one of those “no doubt about it” homers yesterday to open the game up. Man, when he gets a hold of the ball does he send it into the stands. Carlos Guillen drove in two runs and he’s now driven in a run in eleven consecutive games. The Tiger record is 12, which is held by Mickey Cochrane and Rudy York (the Yahoo recap doesn’t say when they did it) so he can tie that team mark tonight.
Chad Durbin gave up a run in two innings and Todd Jones came in and pitched a perfect ninth. A lot of people forget that after a rough June in 2006, Todd Jones had an exceptional second half of the season (1.07 WHIP, 1.80 ERA) and at one point, he saved eighteen consecutive games. It wouldn’t surprise me if Jones, who seems to get motivated after a bad stretch, does the same thing this year and gives the Tigers some quality innings after the break.
Next up is a pretty important series against the Twins. Not only could the Tigers keep their razor thin, half game lead in the Central with a good series, but they could further bury the Twins, who sit six games back of the Tigers and have hung on at a modest distance behind the indians and Tigers. Tonight’s pitching matchup should be a great one as Justin Verlander goes up against Johan Santana. I do like how the pitching matchups go in the other two games so if the Tigers can get to Santana, that should set themselves up for a good series. And they also get some more national recognition because Saturday’s game will be on FOX again and Sunday they’re back on ESPN.
Carlos Guillen just drove in a run in his eleventh straight game, eclipsing Willie Horton’s previous mark of ten straight games (at least since 1957). I’m not sure if this is the all time Tiger record or not.
Magglio Ordonez got a nice surge of votes last week and he now sits in second place in the American League in the All Star balloting. He would join Placido Polanco and Ivan Rodriguez if voting ended that day. Carlos Guillen is a distant second place at shortstop and Sean Casey and Brandon Inge have moved all the way up to third at their positions. You’d also think that with the three starters, Justin Verlander and Jeremy Bonderman would make it as pitchers and Carlos Guillen and possibly Curtis Granderson will make it as reserves. Gary Sheffield may be the odd man out (no DH this year) although he’s definitely deserving.
The Tigers and Rangers game this afternoon was postponed and it’ll be made up as a day/night doubleheader on September 11, 2007.
This may have been the worst performance by the Tigers this year. Nate Robertson threw five scoreless innings before running into trouble in the fifth. Then when the bullpen came in, the flood gates opened and a 3-1 lead turned into a 6-3 deficit in a hurry. Then to see the Tigers come back to tie it in the eighth and then have the Rangers blast Todd Jones in the ninth made this a pretty disappointing game to watch.
Robertson lasted 5 1/3 and he gave up one run on four hits and two walks with four strikeouts. Jason Grilli and Tim Byrdak were the primary offenders in the five run seventh inning and then Jones gave up the three runs in the ninth, all with two two outs.
Sean Casey had a great day at the plate in the 9-6 loss. He went three for four with a double and three RBIs. It was funny seeing him round second on his double thinking about trying to stretch it into a triple. Fortunatey he held but the Tigers couldn’t punch him home that inning. He’s now just a touch under .300 with a .297 batting average.
Curtis Granderson belted his tenth homerun and he scored two runs in the game. The last player to have 10 homeruns, doubles and triples in a season was Carlos Guillen back in his first year with the Tigers in 2004. Prior to Guillen, you have to go all the way back to 1984 when Kirk Gibson did it.
In what turned out to be a very timely move, Fernando Rodney hit the disabled list just in time for Nate Robertson to come off of it. Having Rodney out puts even more strain on the bullpen but the way the other Tigers have looked coming off of the DL (Robertson and Kenny Rogers), it may not be all bad if Rodney comes back with his arm and head on straight.
The Tigers play back to back afternoon games which is kind of an odd scheduling quirk. I should have gone down for the game but it’s supposed to be a pretty toasty day and there’s a chance for some thundershowers. In fact I hear thunder outside right now. Anyway, Kenny Rogers makes his second start since coming off of the DL and he’ll go up against Kevin Millwood.
Kody Kaiser was the Tigers’ 15th round pick from the Oklahoma Sooners in this year’s draft and the Tigers signed him just in time to get him into the short season leagues. He’s listed as an outfielder but he’s been playing shortstop for Oneonta so he sounds like an impressive athlete. And he’s been raking the ball which is even better.
One thing working for him is he’s a 22 year old playing in a Short Season Low A league so he’s probably on the high side as far as age goes. Still, the kid is a switch hitter and if he can play both infield and outfield, he warrants watching over the next couple of years.
The Tigers seven game winning streak came to an end last night. It was one bad inning that did Jeremy Bonderman in when he gave up four runs in the third inning. The four runs in the ninth didn’t help matters but they turned out to not be neccesary. Bonderman was only tagged with two earned runs of the four he gave up because of his own throwing error (which probably caused everyone to have 2006 World Series flashbacks). He did strike out a season high nine.
Eulogio De La Cruz had a tough time in the ninth but it looked more like he was frustrated because of a miscommunication with Ivan Rodriguez then it did him actually pitching poorly. There was one instance where there was a wild pitch and a passed ball on the same batter and from then on it never looked like De La Cruz could get into a groove.
The Tigers didn’t get much at the plate. Only eight hits with two a piece by Curtis Granderson, Brandon Inge and Sean Casey. Craig Monroe and Ivan Rodriguez both grounded into double plays though and that stopped a couple of rallies from developing.
Curtis Granderson hit his fourteenth triple. The last Tiger to have fourteen triples in a season was Jake Wood way back in 1961. The last Tiger to have as many as fifteen triples was Barney McCoskey (who finished with nineteen) way back in 1940 so each triple Granderson gets puts him into more and more exclusive company.
Mike Maroth had a nice Cardinals debut last night even though he didn’t pick up the win (nor did his team). He gave up just one run on two hits and two walks with four strikeouts in 7 1/3 innings. The Mets ended up beating the Cardinals 2-1 in eleven innings.
Jason Beck has a very cool profile on Tigers reliever Eulogio De La Cruz. There’s some talk about his pitches other then his 100 mph fastball and his minor league season this year with Erie and Toledo. If you want more on Eulogio, he was Mike Cassidy’s fifth best Tiger prospect over at Tigers Minors and he rolls through his minor league career.
Mike Maroth makes his debut for the Cardinals tonight against the Mets. It’s nice having home out of the AL so I can still root for him (unless somehow we play the Cards in the World Series again).
One of the primary complaints about Justin Verlander’s 2006 season was, for a guy who touches 100 mph on the gun so much, he doesn’t strike out as many guys as you might think. That perception is starting to change because in the month of June, Verlander has come into his own. He got national recognition for his no-hitter but in that game he also struck out a career best 12 batters. His previous career best was eight on July 26, 2006 in a start against the Indians. Then he struck out eleven on Saturday (in only seven innings). So he went from never touching double figures to doing it twice within two weeks.
The end result is 85 strikeouts over just 97 innings with 35 of those coming in June alone. And he’ll be able to add to that total because he has one more start this week. So far this June though, Verlander has been simply phenomonal. He’s 4-0 with a 1.24 ERA and a .160 batting average against and 35 strikeouts in 29 innings. It’s the only month of his career where’s had more strikeouts then innings pitched (assuming he finishes that way, which he should). Unless he totally bombs in his final start of June, you’re looking at the pitcher of the month.
And one interesting thing I found on his splits page is how good Verlander has been in his starts where he doesn’t get a decision. Despite the Tigers being 2-2 in those four starts, Verlander did all he could to keep the Tigers in the game with only a 1.73 ERA and a unbelievable .135 batting average against. And Verlander is death to the hitter when he goes up 0-2 in the count. From that point on, hitters have just a .071 slugging percentage (two singles, no walks one hbp in 29 plate appearances).
And it’s definitely been a fun month to watch Verlander as well. Especially Saturday when he was highlighted on the FOX game of the week.
These last two series kind of show why everyone thinks the Tigers are such a good team. They have a top notch offense that can put 10 runs on the board in a hurry but then they also have the arms to shut down a team. Andrew Miller was the latest to do a number on the Braves as the Tigers finished a three game sweep as interleague play wrapped up. The lone run that the Braves scored came on a solo homerun by Chipper Jones in game two off of Justin Verlander (who also struck out eleven).
Last night, in front of another national audience, Andrew Miller shut down the Braves for six innings before handing the ball to Chad Durbin, who, in his first relief appearance of the season, threw three shutout innings to complete the combined effort shutout. It also earned Durbin his first career save.
The Tigers scored most of their runs in a bunch when they put up four in the sixth inning. Prior to that, Braves starter Chuck James had done a nice job of shutting down the Tigers but the inning started on a nice bunt single by Omar Infante. The last batter that James faced was Carlos Guillen, who he ended up walking with the bases loaded. Then Ivan Rodriguez capped of the inning with a two run single.
Sheffield went two for five and he’s now just five point shy of .300 with a .295 batting average. Magglio Ordonez went two for five and he’s back up above .380.
Next up is four games at home against the Rangers. Jeremy Bonderman gets the start and he’ll face off against Kameron Loe. The Tigers dismantled Loe in his start in Arlington earlier this month so hopefully the Tigers can do that again and make it eight straight wins. The Indians lost again, so the Tigers now have a two game lead over them with the Twins hanging back with a 6 1/2 game deficit.
Cameron Maybin will be a Tigers representative for the U.S. team at the futures game and White Caps outfielder Gorkys Hernandez will play for the World team. I always enjoy watching the Futures Game and it’s my second favorite part of the the weekend next to the actual All Star Game.
Kenny Rogers looked pretty sharp and while you can’t expect him to pitch like this every night, just having him in back in the rotation is pretty huge. Anyway, Rogers didn’t give up his first hit until the fourth and when he left the game after six solid frames, he had given up just two hits with five strikeouts on 75 pitches. There were only four fly ball outs against him, which is pretty darn good.
Carlos Guillen opened the game up with a two run double in the fifth. In fact all five Tiger runs came in the sixth inning as they finally got to John Smoltz after being shut down in the first five frames. There were a couple of good slides in this inning. Placido Polanco slid under a tag going into third on Magglio Ordonez’ RBI single and then Magglio Ordonez slid under a tag on a play at the plate on Guillen’s double.
Magglio Ordonez was hit on the hand but the X-rays came up negative and it’s a contusion, not a fracture. He finished one for three and his batting average stood pat at .383.
Chad Durbin has been relagated to the bullpen and with the Maroth trade, it looks like Andrew Miller has earned his spot in the rotation. Not too bad for a guy who just got drafted about a year ago.
The Indians were shut down by the Nationals so for the first time in a while, the Tigers have sole possession of first place. Tomorrow afternoon, it’ll be Justin Verlander going up against Kyle Davies on FOX game of the week.
I’m still working on the details here but the Tigers have apparantly traded Mike Maroth to the Cardinals. No word on who the Tigers received in the trade but I’m working on it.
Here’s the rumor Dan mentioned in the comments. Although it looks like this was something that almost went down in the offseason. Since then, Looper is a starter an Juan E. has had his share of injuries so I’m hoping this isn’t the deal.
Still nothing on the radio, which usually has the scoop the quickest so we’ll see. It’s wishful thinking, but Anthony Reyes would be a nice swap but I doubt the Cards, despite Reyes’ troubles this year, would trade Maroth for Reyes straight up.
Not sure if this means anything, but the Tigers are denying the rumor. This has at least made for an interesting afternoon.
Now the radio is saying that the Tigers will be receiving players (plural) to be named later for Mike Maroth. This could mean a lot of things from a guy who’s been drafted recently to even possibly getting Mike Maroth back at some point. It could also include anything in between. Bottom line, the Tigers needed to clear out a roster spot today to help make room for Kenny Rogers (and eventually Nate Robertson) and that’s what they did. We’ll just have to wait and see what we get in return.
It looks like they were wrong on the radio and it’s just a player (singular) to be named later. I’ll have some commentary on the deal here later this weekend.
The Tigers front office has been busy the last few days and they now have signed 17 of their draft picks to contracts. In addition, they’ve also signed two non-drafted free agents. The Tigers still have yet to sign the top four guys they took in the draft.
Nate Robertons is making his rehab start this afternoon when Erie plays a doubleheader against Altoona Curve. I think Robertson is throwing in the first ame at noon and you can listen on on MiLB Gameday Audio.
I’m curious if anyone paid up for MiLB.TV this year. I didn’t because I’m usually working on the computer and I’d just end up listening anyway but I’d love to hear what people think.
Nate Robertson has a no hitter going through six innings. With Erie playing a doubleheader, this game is only going to go seven innings so Nate is one inning away from a no-no.
Nate Robertson was pulled after six innnings. He reached his 75 pitches so he won’t get a chance at a short game no-hitter. No sweat and it looks like Nate’s all set to go after going on the DL for a tired arm.
Jeremy Bonderman improved his record to a perfect 8-0 with another nice start last night. He pitched only five innings because Jim Leyland wanted to hit Gary Sheffield with the bases loaded in the top of the sixth but he gave up three runs on five hits and one walk with four strikeouts. There’s a little concern because it’s Bonderman’s third straight non-quality and he’s seen his ERA come up close to a half run but the offense has picked him up.
The Tigers big inning was the sixth where they scored five of their nine runs. The best performance of that inning was an impressive 12 pitch at bat by Omar Infante. He worked the count full and then fouled off pitch after pitch before punching an RBI single through the opposite side of the infield. Curtis Granderson followed that up with a two run single and the rest is history.
Magglio Ordonez is now hitting .383 with a three for four game in which he scored twice and drove in a run. Carlos Guillen golfed a two run homer in the fourth inning and he also scored two runs.
Fernando Rodney had another erratic inning. He walked one, hit a batter and a couple of times he crossed up Mike Rabello. He ended up getting out of the inning but he left the tying run at the plate.
Kenny Rogers makes his season debut on Friday against the Braves in Atlanta. The Tigers will face John Smoltz, who almost 20 years ago was traded by the Tigers in one of the most infamous trades in franchise history. Smoltz has thrown very well this year so Kenny Rogers is getting thrown right into the fire.
The Tigers pulled the trigger on a deal with the Atlanta Braves that probably had more to do with Kenny Rogers coming back then anything. With the nice pitching by Eulogio De La Cruz and the fact that guys like Chad Durbin and Wilfredo Ledezma were out of options, the Tigers had to make some kind of move and this is it. Now they can send Macay McBride down to Toledo if needed and the Tigers can sit on the current complement of pitchers.
I’ve always been a Wil Ledezma fan although I recognize he’s never lived up to the hype. He was pegged as the team’s fifth starter in 2005 before having a tough time and getting sent back down to the minors that year and since then he’s been used as a spot starter/long reliever. He’s still only 26 so he has some time to put together a decent career and it wouldn’t surprise me if he wins 15 games in a season at some point in his career if he’s given a chance as a full time starter, especially in the National League.
The guy the Tigers got is Macay McBride, the Braves first round draft pick back in 2001. Since then, he’s moved up the minor league ladder without much of a blip until he got to Double A in 2004. There he finished 1-7 with a 4.44 ERA and it was enough for the Braves to have him repeat at Double A in 2005. He pitched better, and after stints at both Double A and Triple A, he finally made his major league debut just after the All Star Break that year in 2005. In 2006, the Braves used him mostly as a left handed relief option and he put together a pretty good season in which he held lefties to a .181 batting average. This year was more of the same and he’s held lefties to a .160 batting average. He gives up a lot of walks though and his track record against righties is pretty poor (major league career batting average against of .329)
And just as important, McBride still has an option which gives the Tigers some flexibility. Not a bad deal here, but then again, at the end of the deal I’d hardly call this a huge deal. McBride could turn into a very nice situational lefty similar to what Jamie Walker gave them although having a converted starter like Wil Ledezma coming out of the pen was always nice because he give you a start or a long relief outing when you needed it. Six of one, half dozen of another and at the end of the day I think both teams will have gained something here.
I was thinking about Marcus Thames’ monster upper deck blast and I was wondering how it rated and how far it went. Then I rememebered a cool site called HitTracker so I brought up the Tigers page. That homerun went just over 410 feet and his homerun the night before went 385. Both are impressive shots, but then I realized that it was actually Carlos Guillen’s homerun in the series opener that was actually the shot of the series.
That game one homer went 449 feet, which tied the longest homerun hit by a Tiger, which was also Carlos Guillen. Not to undercut Thams, but he has the first and fifth hardest hit homeruns. The hardest hit longball came off of his bat at 119.2 mph. Gary Sheffield leads the team with five “no doubt” homeruns.
Fun stuff and an interesting website.