The five Tigers played on the winning team last night although they didn’t play much of a part in the win. The four hitters went a combined one for seven with Ivan Rodriguez getting ht eonly hit when he singled in the top of the fourth inning. On the play, A-Rod was gunned down at home. Justin Verlander threw one inning in the sixth and he gave up a run on two hits.
Magglio Ordonez belted two homeruns in the homerun derby last night and that was good for a last place finish. I guess it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise because Ordonez had the fewest homeruns on the season compared to the other players. Vlad Guerrero won the contest despite hitting two fewer homeruns overall then Alex Rios, who was the runner up.
The All Star Game is tonight and rather then repeat myself, I’ll send you back to last year’s post heading into the game. I’ve always loved the game and I’m sad to see what it has become, but that won’t stop me from enjoying it.
I have no excuse but despite watching the Tiger game yesterday and seeing Marcus Thames’ homerun and Curtis Granderson’s catch, I completely forgot about them when I wrote up the game last night. Anyway, if you missed it, Marcus Thames hit the first homerun to straight away centerfield in two years and it was a monster shot that hit off the camera booth up there. Hittracker has it as the second longest homer by a Tiger in Comerica Park using the standard distance and the fifth longest using true distance. It also ranks third in speed off the bat but it’s where the ball went that impressed most people.
Then there was Curtis Granderson’s catch. Pretty much running full speed, he jumped up and saved a homerun off of the bat of Wily Mo Pena. It ranks right up there with the Gary Matthews, Jr.’s catch last year (yes, the one we were shown a 100 times).
So two great individual performances in one game. The Big Show was polling which was the more impressive and my vote would definitely go to the catch. In fact a top notch defensive play in baseball in my opinion, is the most exciting thing around. Forget your slam dunks or one handed catches in football.
Five straight wins and a one game lead in the American League Central? If you had asked me whether I’d take that at the beginning of the year and I’d be all over it. The Tigers have had some rough stretches but so have the Indians and as most of baseball takes a break, the Tigers go into with a nice two game lead in the loss column.
They did it by sweeping the Red Sox this weekend and at the end of the day, they’re one win off from having the best record in all of baseball. The Tigers jumped all over Daisuke Matsuzaka and he was gone after five innings after the Tigers took him yard three times. Gary Sheffield put the Tigers on the board in the first with a solo shot, Marcus Thames hit his tenth in the third and then that same inning, Carlos Guillen hit his fourteenth. Sheffield finished the game three for four and Sean Casey went one for three and both go into the break hitting at least .300.
The Tiger made it through this game despite making five errors. Craig Monroe was tagged for two but the throwing error was kind of iffy.
Nate Robertson was very good through the first six frames but then he ran out of gas in the seventh and was tagged for two more runs. Jose Capellan got the Tigers out of that jam but he got himself into another jam in the eighth inning that Zach Miner had to get the team out of. Then Todd Jones did his job in the ninth in his usual way (two outs, but no runs and he picked up the save).
Placido Polanco is now questionable for the All Star Game. Hopefully he’ll be ready to go with the time off because there’s no doubt that we’ll need him in the second half. The question would then be who takes his place and will it be a Tiger. You could throw Curtis Granderson, Gary Sheffield or Jeremy Bonderman all in there and you wouldn’t get much of an argument from anyone.
There’s still plenty of baseball over the next three days. On Monday, we have the homerun derby (yawn) but then there’s the debut of the ESPN mini-series, The Bronx is Burning. It’s a show about the 1977 Yankees and it looks pretty cool. I’ve always been an Oliver Platt fan and it’ll be interesting to see how he does as George Steinbrenner. And if you want more information on the 1977 Yankees, be sure to check out Nick Smith’s Yankees History website.
Then there’s the All Star Game on Tuesday, which to me is must see. Wednesday was a tough choice. You have the Triple A All Star Game, which I usually enjoy watching, but then Fox is replaying the Justin Verlander no-hitter so I think Verlander gets the Tivo and I’ll find somewhere else to watch the Triple A All Star Game. And then I have the Futures Game taped and I might watch some of that tonight because the Padres/Braves game isn’t doing anything for me.
I’m watching the Futures Game while listening to the end of the Tiger game and they listed the reserves for the World Team. Tigers prospect Gorkys Hernandez was listed as a Ranger. Is there a trade that went down that we don’t know about or did ESPN blow this one? There’s been plenty of trade rumors floating around that involve the Rangers’ relievers so I kind of interested when that came up. And then Maybin isn’t in there because of his injured shoulder.
Since I mentioned Maybin, here’s a nice story on him by Jason Beck.
Alright, Gorkys Hernandez is still a Tiger farm hand as he was addressed as much in his second at bat. One of my gripes with the Futures Game is all of the interviews they do while the game is going on. Gorkys Hernandez led off the fifth inning and grounded out to first on his first pitch. Since they were talking to White Sox GM Kenny Williams, he didn’t even get mentioned. He did draw a walk and score a run in the seventh though. He had a nice at bat against Clayton Kershaw. He fouled a few off and eventually worked him for a walk.
Marcus Thames had just one hit, but it was a big one. After Julian Tavarez walked Sean Casey to load the bases, Thames made them pay by belting a grand slam into the left field seats on a 1-2 pitch. Earlier in the game, he had driven in a run on a sac. fly. Curtis Granderson and Placido Polanco each had three hits and Ryan Raburn belted a pinch hit RBI single in his season debut. The last (and first) time Raburn saw action at the big league level was back in 2004 when he got a cup of coffee with the team that September.
Andrew Miller had a fantastic start. He gave up just a single run on three hits and four walks with six strikeouts in seven solid innings. The win pushes his record to 4-2 on the season. Chad Durbin gave up a run in two innings to close out the game in what was effectively mopup time.
Tonight, it’ll be Jeremy Bonderman going up against Kason Gabbard. Kason Gabbard is a lefty, so we may see a bit of shuffling in the lineup but we’ll see. This will be only his third start this season and he’s been okay in a couple (and managed to pick up wins) and not so good in another. Expect some strikeouts, but if the Tigers keep their head on, they’ll be able to draw their fair share of walks in this one too.
I knew this was trouble. With runners on second and third, Julian Tavarez intentionally walked Sean Casey to pitch to Marcus Thames. Marcus then just took Tavarez deep for a grand slam, and on a 1-2 no pitch no less.
The Tigers don’t play until tonight but I thought I’d pass on a little non-baseball public service announcement. I watched the first two episodes of the show Burn Notice on USA Network and I enjoyed it quite a bit. They’re replaying the episodes over the weekend so check it out if you get a chance. One of my favorite actors, Bruce Campbell, is a co-star. Campbell starred in what was another one of my favorite shows, the Adventures of Brisco County, Jr., and while Brisco only lasted one season, it had the distinction of leading into the X-Files in that show’s first season.
I’d liken it to an A-Team that meets the 21st century or a spin off of F. Paul Wilson’s Repairman Jack. The main character is a CIA operative who’s effectively been fired and dropped in Miami. Now he does basically takes on jobs helping people in tight situtations.
According to this Free Press story, Ryan Rayburn is going to be called up today and to make room for him, Craig Monroe will hit the disabled list or is set to be traded. Rayburn is having a solid season for Toledo and at one time, he was one of the more prominent prospects for the Tigers. He has an OPS of .942 with seventeen homers and twelve stolen bases on another first place Mud Hens team.
The mystery has been solved. Neifi Perez has been suspended for 25 games after being tested positive for stimulants. So that’s who Ryan Rayburn will be filling in for. And this was after Perez started seeing some time. He played in thirteen games in June, which was a high for any other month this year. Of course his slugging was .200, but hey. Anyway, this is one of those addition by subtraction things.
It’s nice seeing these kind of games once in a while. Those “no doubt about it” kind of games where you can sit back and relax by the fifth inning. Even better, the Tigers dismantled the Indians’ ace, C.C. Sabathia.
Carlos Guillen led the way with a team high four RBIs while Gary Sheffield drove three and he belted his 20th homerun of the season. Magglio Ordonez has another three hit game and Placido Polanco crossed the plate three times. Even Craig Monroe picked up a hit.
Justin Verlander picked up his tenth win of the season with seven solid innings. He gave up three runs (two earned) on six hits with seven strikeouts. Bobby Seay and then Jose Capellan each threw a scoreless inning to close the game out.
With the two straight wins, the Tigers now sit just a single game back of the Indians. It doesn’t get any easier though because the Red Sox roll into town to wrap things up before the All Star Break. Andrew Miller will take on Julian Tavarez in the opener tomorrow night.
Kenny Rogers did it again. The Tigers needed a win and he came up with another nice pitching performance to improve to 3-0. He gave up two runs (one earned) on seven hits and three walks with three strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings. Jason Grilli and Macay McBride got into trouble when the Indians made it close in the seventh, but Zach Miner came and and held the Indians scoreless until the ninth inning when Todd Jones took over and picked up his 21st save.
Curtis Granderson’s not the only Tiger who can pick up a triple. Carlos Guillen and Ivan Rodriguez hit back to back three baggers in the seventh inning to give the Tigers and insurance run. The Tigers are tied for MLB lead in triples with the Royals at 27. Guillen finished with a team high three hits.
Sean Casey had another nice game and he went two for four with two runs. He did touch .300 on Saturday but the two hits he had last night were his first in three games. For all of the grief Casey has gotten for his stick, he’s now pulled his Eqa all the way up to .259 (about average) but what’s been very surprising is, he’s having his best fielding season of his career (6 fielding runs above average). And those numbers were heading into last night’s game (unless they’ve been updated when you get a chance to view them). In fact if Casey can keep up the glove work, it’ll be his first season ever with a positive fielding runs above average figure.
It looks like Marcus Thames is going to get more of a chance to find his stroke because it looks like the team is finally souring on Craig Monroe. Thames has hardly been great, but being a part time player can have it’s effect so now we’ll get to see if Thames can find his stroke with more chances at the plate.
This afternoon is the rubber game and it’ll be a good one. Justin Verlander versus C.C. Sabathia. I’ll probably Tivo the game because I’ll be standing in line at the Secretary of State. I always put off renewing my tabs (yes, it’s my birthday today) and I have to take care of that today. If the Tigers win today, it’ll be the third straight year the Tigers have won on my birthday.
This was another tough loss on this homestand. Chad Durbin gave a up solo homer to Ben Francisco to tie the game and eventually send the game into extra frames. The Tigers then loaded up the bases with one out in the tenth but they couldn’t push a run across to win it. Then Jose Capellan, in his Tiger debut, gave up a solo homerun to Casey Blake in the top of the eleventh for the game winner. The homerun was big, but other then that one hit, Capellan didn’t give up a hit in two innings and he struck out three.
Nate Robertson had a pretty unusual start. He lasted only five innings because he threw a ton of pitches (108) and out of his fifteen outs, none of them were on grounders. He struck out a season high eight and then he gave up seven fly ball outs. His rough inning was the third when he gave up two runs to the Indians, which was unfortunate because the Tigers’ hitters had just given him a 2-1 lead the inning before.
Bobby Seay only pitched to one batter in the ninth but it was a huge one. With runners on first and second, he came in and struck out Travis Hafner to get out of the jam and to send the game into extra innings.
Carlos Guillen went two for five and he both drove in a run and scored one. It was unfortunate though because in that tenth inning, he hit a weak popup to give the Indians their second out. Gary Sheffield went three for five and he belted homerun number 19.
It was another packed house. The Tigers filled the stadium with nearly 41,000 fans and the rest of this series should be no different. Through 39 homegames, the Tigers are eleventh in average attendance at 35,697. If you annualize that, it puts the Tigers at just under 2.9 million fans, which would be a franchise record. The previous record was 2,704,794, which was set way back in 1984. And if anything, that average should come up a bit with the warmer weather months and the possibility of a pennant race well into September.
Tonight, Kenny Rogers goes for win number three and the Tigers will go up against right hander Jake Westbrook. Rogers has been lights out since coming off of the DL and Westbrook has struggled this year (both with injuries on the mound) so hopefully the Tigers can get back on track with a win in this one.
Have a great Independence Day.
Baseball Prospectus, in their matchups column, talks about Curtis Granderson and where his 15 triples matches up historically. Out of the sixteen players (including Granderson) who have hit 11 more triples in their first 81 games since 1962, none of them were able to match their first half totals in the second half and most of them didn’t even come close. So there’s probably a better chance that Granderson doesn’t even finish with 20 then there is of him coming close to 30. Not to diminish his accomplishment out of those 16 players, nobody had more triples then Granderson did in the team’s first 81 games. Rod Carew was second with 14 and he hit two in the second half to finish with 16.
Jeremy Bonderman was the stopper this week as the Tigera avoided a sweep at the hands of the Twins. He was awesome in eight shutout innings and he gave up six hits and a walk and he struck out seven. Todd Jones needed just seven pitches to put the Twins down in the ninth and the Tigers ended their little mini-skid.
The lone run of the game for either side came in the eighth inning when Marcus Thames belted a solo homerun. It was one of only three hits that the Tigers were able to pick up against Scott Baker but it proved to be the game winner.
Congratulations to the five Tigers who made it into the All Star Game. Magglio Ordonez, Placido Polanco and Ivan Rodriguez were all voted in by the fans while Justin Verlander and Carlos Guillen were picked up as reserves. Jeremy Bonderman has the chance to get the final spot as there’s one final vote. If you remember, A.J. Pierzynski edged Justin Verlander last year for that final spot. Also congratulations to both Barry Bonds and Ken Griffey, Jr. Both guys were very deserving here in the twilight of their career. And these weren’t lifetime achievement awards either because Bonds is having another MVP caliber season and Ken Griffey, Jr. is getting it done for the Reds.
The Tigers traded Christopher Cody for reliver Jose Capellan. This trade just doesn’t do much for me because Capellan doesn’t look to be much better then what the Tigers have put out there this year. His only really full season was last year and it was unspectacular (58 strikeouts/31 walks in 71 2/3 innings). And while Cody was putting up good numbers for West Michigan, but he was also 23 playing Low A Ball and he was just an eight round draft pick last year. He is left handed, which is in his favor but he showed up at just 19 on John Sickels Top 20 list and Sickels gave him his lowest rating.
The Tigers have a day off and then it’s three against the Indians. With the win tonight they’re a game and a half back so they’d need to sweep them to have first place back by the end of the series. Still, two of three would have them knocking on the door. Nate Robertson throws in the opener and he’ll face Paul Byrd. Thursday’s matchup of Justin Verlander versus C.C. Sabathia should be a great one.
The Tigers traded Christopher Cody to the Brewers for reliever Jose Capellan. I’ll comment more on the deal tonight but this is one of those low risk deals that the Tigers have made the past couple of years.