Archive for August, 2007

Bondo and the Long Ball

It took well over a month, but Jeremy Bonderman finally won his eleventh game of the season as the Tigers finally put together and pulled out a win in their series finale with the Royals.  Bonderman improved to 11-7 and he gave up just one run on six hits with three strikeouts in seven innings.  Just as important, he didn’t walk a single batter after walking nine in 11 2/3 innings in his last two starts.  Fernando Rodney and Joel Zumaya each threw a scoreless frame to close out the 6-1 win.

It’ll be interesting to see how the talk radio scene reacts.  After Sunday’s beatdown over the Yankees, people were calling it the most important win of the season.  Then just one day later after the loss in the opener to the Royals, they were counting the Tigers out.  There’s still quite a few games so to place one game over another is a little silly even as we go into September.

Curtis Granderson hit homerun number 18 and he both drove in and scored twice.  The two runs put him over the 100 run for the first time in his career.  Magglio Ordonez also went yard with his 26th and he finished the game three for four.  With just a month to play, Ordonez leads Ichiro by nine points in the race for the batting title.

The Indians won their sixth straight game so the Tigers still sit 4 1/2 games back.  The Yankees also won but the Mariners lost so the Tigers made a baby step forward in the Wild Card race.

Andrew Miller was sent down to the minors, sort of.  He was optioned to Lakeland, who’s season ends on Monday so Miller won’t even report.  Then when rosters expand tomorrow, he’ll be put back on the squad but he’ll be used as a reliever for the forseeable future. 

The Tigers kick off a three game series in Oakland beginning tonight.  Virgil Vasquez will get the start and he’ll face Joe Blanton.

Rough First Inning Costs Tigesrs, Andrew Miller Win In K.C.

Well, it was another bizarre game,  Andrew Miller couldn’t do much right as the left hander gave up five runs before getting a single out in the first inning as he fell to 5-5 on the season.  Oddly, Buddy Bell probably had just as much to do with the Tigers escaping with just five runs because of an odd call.  With runners on first and second and nobody out, he called for Joey Gathright to bunt with two strikes.  He missed and that led to a strike em’ out, throw em’ out to give Miller his only two outs.  Zach Miner then came in to get the final out.

From that point on, neither team scored the rest of the way and the Tigers ended up with a 5-0 final.  Zach Miner threw four shutout frames and then Tim Byrday, Fernando Rodney and Bobby Seay pitched the final 3 1/3 while giving up just one hit.  So the pen did their job, the Tigers’ hitters just couldn’t get on track to mount a come back for the second straight night.

Placido Polanco, Sean Casey and Timo Perez all had two hits a piece.  Perez had the only extra base hits with each of his hit’s being doubles.

Even worse, the Indians won, so now the Tigers sit a distant 4 1/2 games back in the division race (five back in the loss column).  And with the Mariners five straight losses, the Wild Card looks now to be the better option when everyone was saying it was out of reach just a week ago.  The Tigers sit three games back for the Wild Card with Seattle and the Yankees tied atop the heap.

This afternoon, it’ll be Jeremy Bonderman going up against Leo Nunez.  Bonderman hasn’t won since July 13, and this would be a great time for him to end that six game losing streak.

Tigers Pick Their Seven to Go to Arizona

The Tigers are sending three pitchers and three hitters to the Arizona Fall League that begins in early October.  Eddie Bonine, Jeff Gerbe, Jair Jurrjens and Dallas Trahern are the pitchers while Michael Hollimon, Jeff Larish and Cameron Maybin.  So you have a couple of guys who spent some time on the big league club as well as a variety of players who should show up on the Tigers top ten prospects list going into the 2008 season.

Nate Robertson Is Hit Hard In Tigers Loss to Royals

The Tigers winning streak came to a quick end at two games after a loss to the Royals in their series opener.  Robertson threw three decent innings before the wheels fell off the wagon and he he gave up three in the fourth and three in the fifth.  Give some credit to Jason Grilli though.  He came in to relieve Robertson in the fifth and didn’t allow a single base runner in 3 2/3 innings.

The Tigers outhit the Royals 16-6 but they still got doubled up in the run column.  Magglio Ordonez had his third four hit game of the season although he didn’t drive in a run or score.  Placido Polanco had three hits and while Ramon Santiago went three for four with a run.

Yesterday, everyone was on top of the world after the blowout win.  Now, with an Indians win, the Tigers sit four back in the loss column in the AL Central and for the Wild Card.  Andrew Miller gets the start tonight and the Tigers’ hitters will face Zach Greinke. 

Tigers Blast Yankees In Series Finale

You know it’s a beatdown when Sean Casey gets a triple.  The Tigers completely dismantled Mike Mussina and the Yankees bullpen last night as they won their second straight game to win the four game series three to four.  Every Tiger regular had a hit and six had multi-hit games.  The only Tiger starter who didn’t score was Marcus Thames and the only one who didn’t drive in a run was Sean Casey.  Brandon Inge led the way with three hits and four RBIs while Ryan Raburn drove in three and scored three.  The lone homerun came off the bat of Placido Polanco in the fourth inning.

The Tigers scored in the first five innings, took a break in the sixth and then put up six in the seventh to finish up the route.  Lost in all of the offense was a nice start by Justin Verlander.  He threw seven shutout innings to push his record to 14-5 and Zach Miner closed the game out with two shutout innings.

The Indians aren’t making it easy though as they’ve won their last three so the Tiger deficit in the Central is still 2 1/2 games.  The Tigers get right back at it tonight with the first of three against Kansas City so now isn’t a time to let up.  It’ll be Nate Robertson going up against Brian Bannister.  Hopefully Nate can come close to matching his performance in his last start and the Tigers can give him a run or two.

Tigers Hit Three Homeruns Then Hold Off Yankees

The Tigers have a chance to do something tonight for the first time since July, and that’s win a series.  They got to this point by putting together a nice performance yesterday that saw three homeruns, an injury to their starting pitcher, and some pretty good bullpen work.

Curtis Granderson led off the game with his inside the park homer and then Carlos Guillen belted a two run shot later in the inning.  Marcus Thames completed the scoring for the Tigers when he went yard in the third inning.

In the meantime, Jair Jurrjens left the game in the second because a shoulder injury.  The good news is, no structural damage was found on the MRI.  The bad news is, he hit the 15 day disabled list so the Tigers have suffered yet another injury to their starting rotation.  Chad Durbin came in and he gave up a three run homer to Robinson Cano to make it close, but Bobby Seay, Joel Zumaya and Todd Jones held the Yankees scoreless the rest of the way for the win.

The Indians won so the Tigers still sit 2 1/2 games back of the division lead.  The Mariners have lost two straight games so the Tigers have been able to make up some ground on them and they sit four games back for the Wild Card, with the Yankees between the Tigers and the Mariners.  The Twins have won five straight though, and they’re now three games back of Detroit and they look like they could make some noise down the stretch.

The final game of the four game series is tonight.  Mike Mussina takes the mound for the Yankees and it’ll be Justin Verlander throwing for Detroit.  The Tigers roughed up Mussina a week ago Friday so hopefully they can do it again tonight. 

Curtis Granderson Costs Himself a Triple…..

… scoring on an inside the park homer.  Man, Granderson has pretty much done it all this season.  It’s the first inside the park homer since September of 2005 when Granderson himself did it.

Carlos Guillen Caps Off Long Night In Tigers Win

Like their last couple of series, the Tigers took the first game last night as they kicked things off with the Yankees.  This one must have been tough on the fans.  There was a four hour rain delay before things finally kicked and then when they did, the game dragged on for close to four and a half hours.  So if you got there right around 7 pm to see the game, it didn’t even start until around 11 pm and then didn’t end until around 3:30 am.  I’d like to hear from anyone who toughed that game out.

Anyway, the bullpen, for as much they’ve been beat up, put together one of their best performances of the season.  Andrew Miller was roughed up for six runs and he was gone before the end of the fifth inning.  Tim Byrdak, Jason Grilli, Bobby Seay, Fernando Rodney and Chad Durbin then combined to throw 6 2/3 innings of shutout ball where they held the Yankees to just three hits and two walks.  That allowed the Tigers to hang in the game despite not scoring for six straight innings to set up the big homer in the bottom of the eleventh.

So while the heroics went to Carlos Guillen for his three run walk off homer, the pen got it done and put the team in a position to win.  While this is probably more of a blip then an emerging trend, it was nice to see the Tigers put it all together and pulled out a win under unusual circumstances.

Curtis Granderson had a huge day that included two more triples.  He went four for six with the two triples, three RBIs and two runs and the two triples put him at 21 on the season.   That’s the most by a player in any league since Willie Wilson in 1985 and it’s the most by a Tiger since Ty Cobb’s 24 in 1917.  It’s funny because 21 would be a team high for a lot of teams but with the Tigers, it puts him tied for seventh.  He needs five more to tie the American League single season record of 26 set by Shoeless Joe Jackson in 1912 and tied by Sam Crawford in 1914.

Magglio Ordonez also had a big game.  He went four for six with two RBIs, two runs and his 25th homer of the season.  Cameron Maybin didn’t pick up a hit, but he walked, stole two bases and scored two runs. 

Hopefully after some quality sleep, the Tigers can get right back to it tonight.  It’ll be Chien-Ming Wang throwing for the Yankees while the Tigers throw the struggling Jeremy Bonderman.  This would be a heck of a time for Bonderman to pick up his first win since July 13.  Bonderman has put together some decent starts his last two times out but both times, he failed to pick up a win.

Central Struggles

On July 19, the Tigers reached their peak of 21 games above .500 for the first time.  They’d split their next four games and on July 23, they sat as 59-38 with a two game lead over the Indians.

Since that point, the entire division has been in a funk.  There’s a three way tie for first with the White Sox, Twins and Royals going 13-15 since July 23, and the Indians are 12-15.  The Tigers are at the bottom of that stack with a pretty poor 9-21 record.  While the Tigers record is startling, the fact that none of the teams in the division are above .500 over the last month or so goes to show you why the Tigers have hung in there.

Tigers Lose Pitchers Duel, Drop Another Series

The last time the Tigers won a series, we were still talking about the All Star Break.  This time it was Joel Zumaya who faltered on the mound.  I was listening to the game on the radio, but from what Jim Price and Dan Dickerson were saying, Zumaya was mostly throwing around 94-95, which is a far cry from the dominating stuff we’re used to.  The end result was three runs in the tenth (the only three runs for Cleveland) that cost the Tigers the game and the series.

It’s a shame because Nate Robertson had one of his best starts of the season.  8 2/3 shutout innings in which he gave up just four hits and he struck out three. He did give up a two out double in the ninth and Joel Zumaya came in to get out of the jam but you can’t argue that Robertson was the one who kept the Tigers in this one.

The Tigers had a tough time at the plate and their lone run didn’t come until the bottom of the tenth inning.  Marcus Thames drove in that lone run and he was one of two Tigers with two hits.  He joined Magglio Ordonez, who scored the only run.

With the loss, the Tigers now sit 2 1/2 games back and the Wild Card leading Mariners are five games up.  The Tigers start a four game series with the Yankees at home beginning tonight.  It’ll be the rookie Andrew Miller making his return from the disabled list and he’ll face Roger Clemens.

I mentioned this briefly yesterday but the Tigers traded Craig Monroe to the Cubs for a player to be named later.  Monroe’s season was pretty disappointing and unlike years past, he never got out of his slump.  Of course he was designated for assignment last week when the Tigers brough up Cameron Maybin so they had to either trade him or lose him.  His first full season was that horrible 2003 season where he finished second on the team in homers with 23 and he built a reputation as a clutch hitter with some high profile homeruns but when it came to picking the team’s most overrated player in the Hardball Times Preseason Annual, I had to go with Monroe because of his .303 OBP.    So while you always hate to see a guy go who spent five years with the team, he was definitely the odd man out.

Craig Monroe Traded to Cubs

The Tigers traded Craig Monroe to the Chicago Cubs for a player to be named later.  No surprise that the Tigers didn’t get much for him after designating him for assignment.  More on this when I recap the game.

Tigers Three Homeruns Not Enough In Loss to Indians

A lot was made last year about how the White Sox starting pitchers wore down in the second half of 2005 because of their extended work load when they won the World Series in 2004.  Three Tigers starters (Justin Verlander, Nate Robertson and Jeremy Bonderman) all set career high innings pitched totals last and that was just in the regular season.  Tack on three more starts in the post season and you wonder if the rotations struggles are because the guys are beginning to wear out now.  Anyway, Justin Verlander has been our best pitcher of late, but he’s hardly been lights out.  It was his fifth straight start in which he gave up more hits then innings pitched (the radio likes to keep using this stat) and outside of an August 11 win in Oakland, you have to go all the way back to June 23 to find a start in which Verlander gave up just two runs or less.

Since that June 23rd start, Verlander’s ERA has gone up by over a run and it’s now close to touching 4.00.  This was after a beatdown last night, although to his credit, the bullpen once again didn’t do him any favors.  He left with two runners on and Zach Miner gave up a three run shot to allow those two guys to score.  Still that just turned in a bad box score line into a worse one and Verlander now sits at 13-5.

The Tigers offense didn’t have much of a problem though.  Carlos Guillen belted a three run homer and Magglio Ordonez went two for four with a homerun (his 24th), two RBIs and two runs.  Ordonez still leads in the American League batting race with a .352 batting average with Ichiro right behind him at .349.  Cameron Maybin also pitched in with two doubles and a run while Marcus Thames went yard with a two run shot for his fourteenth long ball of the season.

With the loss, the Tigers are back to a game and a half out.  The rubber game is supposed to be this afternoon but it’s raining as I write this and it’s supposed to be worse in the afternoon so we’ll see if they get the game in.  Nate Robertson will be on the mound and he’ll go up against Jake Westbrook.

Jair Jurrjens Throws Gem In Tigers Series Opener Against Indians

Earlier yesterday, I was listening to the Big Show and they had ESPN’s Steve Phillips on.   Phillips talked about how he wouldn’t have thrown Jair Jurrjens because his stuff was only okay and with it being the second time around, the surprise factor wouldn’t be there.  He said he would have skipped Jurrjens and with the day off on Monday, went with the rest of the rotation on regular rest.  It made a lot of sense and I for a while, I bought it into it.  That is, until the game actually started and Jurrjens proceeded to throw five plus innings of no-hit ball.  He finally gave up a solo homerun to Jhonny Peralta with one out in the sixth, but his box score line was about as good as you could ask.  He gave up the one run on one hit with four walks and a strikeout in 6 2/3 innings.  Oh yeah, and he won his first major league game.

Joel Zumaya made his return and while he pitched to just one batter, he touched 98 on the gun and he got Casey Blake to ground out weakly to second base with tying run on second.  Fernando Rodney put all three batters he faced down in order as did Todd Jones to close the game out to hold the Indians to just that single hit.

The Tigers scored both of their runs on their first two hits of the game.  Magglio Ordonez led off the with an opposite field homer and then Carlos Guillen followed that right up with a solo shot of his own.  Curtis Granderson had the only other hit with his 31st double of the season.

So the Tigers now sit just a half game back of first place with two left to play in the series.  Tonight, it’ll be Justin Verlander on the mound and he’ll go up against Paul Byrd.

Cameron Maybin, PNC Park and Those Damn Yankees

Still out of town and the last leg of our trip took us to rainy Pittsburgh to see the Pirates play the Phillies at beautiful PNC Park.  I found out too late that the hotel I stayed at was also the hotel where the Phillies stayed for the weekend but then again, I don’t get to see the Phillies play too often so I probably wouldn’t have been able to nail any of them down outside of maybe Ryan Howard.  And in a crazy game, the Pirates beat the Phillies with a big late inning rally and the game had not one but two rain delays.  I got lucky because my seats were actually underneath the upper deck and pretty well protected from the breeze and the poor weather.

I really liked PNC Park.  Both the stadium and the skyline were very impressive and with it being on the river, it made it even more picturesque.  And while I don’t want to bash on Comerica Park because it does have its positives, it strikes out when compared to PNC.  There was a solid crowd but it was just as much Phillies fans as it was Pirates fans.

Cameron Maybin belted his first of hopefully many homeruns yesterday and he did it off of the Rocket, Roger Clemens.  This came up on SABR-L (just one of the many reasons to join SABR) but it appears to be the only time a hitter has taken a pitcher yard when the pitcher has a Cy Young (Clemens won his first in 1986) that’s older then the hitter (Maybin was born in 1987).

After winning the opener Thursday, the Tigers laid an egg the rest of the weekend and dropped their final three games to the Yankees.  Today’s game was particularly disconcerting with Jeremy Bonderman taking another loss but once again it was with an assist from some pretty poor bullpen pitching.  The Tigers had the lead in this one as late as the fifth inning after coming back but the Yankees scored runs in their final four frames, including three in the eighth, to blow out the Tigers 9-3.  Gary Sheffield stole his 20th base and if he starts stealing like a mad man, he has the chance to become, by far, the oldest player ever to go 30/30 (assuming he gets the 30 homers as well). 

Now the Tigers find themselves in a bit of trouble.  The Indians blew a tenth inning lead today so the Tigers are only two losses behind them but they now sit 3 1/2 games (five losses) back of the Mariners for the Wild Card with the Yankees right behind them.  So unless the Tigers can take care of the Yankees at Comerica Park this coming weekend, it’s looking more and more like the only chance to get into the playoffs is going to be to outplay the Indians for the AL Central division crown.  And there’s no better way to do that then with a series win against the Indians with things kicking off on Tuesday.  It’s a rematch of Wednesday’s pitching matchup with Jair Jurrjens taking on Fausto Carmona on Tuesday.

Cameron Maybin, Craig Monroe and a Win Against the Yankees

I go out of town and all hell breaks loose (so I’ll be keeping this short).  The Tigers took care of Mike Mussina and the Yankees last night, and with a sick Justin Verlander on the mound.  Ideally he throws into the seveth but considering that he has the flu, you have to take what you can get.   Hopefully Nate Robertson can give us some quality innings so that pen isn’t a factor.

I have mixed feelings about the Cameron Maybin call up.  On the one hand, it’s exciting to see yet another home grown prospect make it up to the bigs.  On the other hand, the fact that we need him kind of tells me the Tigers have a pretty big hole out in right field.  Still, Dave Dombrowski is no dumby so he must have seen something about the way Maybin was playing at Erie to warrant the call up.  The Tigers designated Craig Monroe for assignment so they’ll have to try trade him unless he accepts going to down to the minors, which is doubtful.

Of course the game isn’t on where I’m at so I’ll have to listen in.  Should be interesting if Maybin starts of mashing the ball.

Jair Jurrjens Loses In Major League Debut

While Jair Jurrjens didn’t pitch particularly great, he did give the Tigers seven innings and he kept them in the game.  This was more the hitters not getting it done then heaping on Jurrjens and the rookie pitched about as well as you could expect for a guy making his debut in the middle of a division race.  Anyway, he gave up four runs on five hits and two walks with three strikeouts in seven innings.  Bobby Seay had a tough time in the eighth and he walked three guys (one of them intentionally) but one of those was with the bases loaded.  Jason Grilli came in and put out the fire by getting former Tigers Chris Gomez to ground into a double play.

The big hitting story was Curtis Granderson.  While he had just one hit, it was an eighth inning triple, his 19th of the season.  He drove in a run to make it a two run game but unfortunately, the Tigers couldn’t push him home despite having nobody out.  Granderson now sits just one triple shy of becoming the first Tiger since Ty Cobb in 1917 (yeah, 90 years ago) to triple 20 times in a season.  Granderson was also the only Tiger to reach base twice in the game with the triple and a walk.  Carlos Guillen had a particularly tough time with three strikeouts in the 5-2 loss.

Andrew Miller was roughed up in his rehab start last night for the Hens while Joel Zumaya threw a shutout inning.  Cameron Maybin hit another homerun as well.  You can check out the action over at Tigers Minors.

With the loss, the Tigers and Indians are tied back up.  The Indians have another day off while the Tigers head to Yankee Stadium for a big four game series.  Game one will feature Justin Verlander going up against Mike Mussina and that kicks things off tonight.  With the Yankees on top of the Wild Card heap, a game ahead of the Tigers, this is obvously a pretty big series on the road.

Tigers Sign Rick Porcello

The Tigers got it done today and signed their first round draft pick Rick Porcello.  Much to the dismay of the commissioner, it was well above the alloted slot with the young right hander picking up $7.28 million over four years.  It’s a major league deal so every year he spends starting in 2008 is considered an option year.  The deal is the highest ever for a high school player.

The Tigers also signed fifth round pick Casey Crosby and sixth round pick Cale Iorg.  The front office was pretty busy today and Dave Dombrowski deserves a ton of credit for getting all of these guys signed.  Crosby was a guy who some thought could have gone in the late first round but because the Tigers are willing to deal with Boras, they’re getting some top notch talent.

In a lot of ways, it seems like when the Tigers signed Ivan Rodriguez, it was a turning point for the Tigers.  In a lot of ways, they bailed out Scott Boras by signing Pudge to a solid contract when nobody else was really that interested.  Then they did it again with Magglio Ordonez.  Since then, they’ve signed the best available player and they’ve been able to sign him every time.

Tigers Take First Place With Ten Inning Win Over Indians

The Tigers topped the Indians 6-2 in ten innings and I have to admit that this was a fun game to watch.  It definitely had that pennant race feel to it and it was equally as nice that the Tiger pulled off a come from behind victory.  Jeremy Bonderman’s first inning woes continued when he gave up a two run shot to Grady Sizemore, but even with the injured Travis Hafner in the lineup, that’s all the Indians would manage.  Bonderman threw seven solid innings and he gave up the two first inning runs on four hits and two walks and he struck out eight.  The eight strikeouts is the most he’s had in a start since July 7 when he struck out nine.

When Bonderman left the game, things were tied up.  Ryan Raburn scored on a Magglio Ordonez ground out in the sixth after Raburn doubled to lead off the inning.  Then Omar Infante singled home Marcus Thames in the seventh to tie it up.  Tim Bydak got into trouble in the eighth when he walked two batters with one out but he got Victor Martinez to strike out and Travis Hafner to fly out to end the inning.  Fernando Rodney then struck out the side in the ninth after allowing a lead off double to former Tiger Chris Gomez as the game went into extra frames.

The Tigers then tagged Indians closer Joe Borowski for four runs in the top of the tenth.  Gary Sheffield singled home what was the game winner and then Magglio Ordonez capped off the inning with a big three run homer to give the Tigers plenty of insurance.  Todd Jones put two runners on in the bottom of the tenth but he held on and put the Indians down to finish up the game.

Ordonez and Infante each had a team high three hits in the game while Ordonez led the way with four RBIs.  Ryan Raburn, hitting in the two spot, went two for five and he scored twice.  Brandon Inge had a particularly tough game with four strikeouts.

The Tigers take the lead in the division by a full game with the win.  The finale of the two game series is tonight and it’ll be Jair Jurrjens making his major league debut with Fausto Carmona throwing for the Indians. 

What a Catch!!

With two men on and two outs in the bottom of the eighth, Curtis Granderson just made a spectacular diving catch to save at least one run and potentially the game.  The Tigers still need to score, but that was definitely a game saver.

Tigers Close to Signing Rick Porcello

It looks like the Tigers are close to signing Rick Porcello, the team’s first round draft pick this year, to $7.7 million deal.  The terms appear to be a $3.7 million signing bonus and then $4 million over four years.  The way things work now with the August 15th deadline and the slotting rules (I’ll be talking about this in tomorrow’s Business of Baseball Report), it probably won’t be announced officially until close to the actual deadline.

Another guy to keep an eye on is the Tigers fourth round draft pick, Charles Furbush.  He’s been dominating in two stops at the lower end of the Tigers minor league system.

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