Archive for April, 2008

Placido Polanco Homers Twice In Tigers Win

The Tigers took their second straight game over the Yankees tonight in a 6-2 win and Placido Polanco drove home two of the Tigers six runs on a pair of solo homers.  Marcus Thames also went yard and he belted his second homer of the season, a two run shot in the fifth inning.

Jeremy Bonderman had one of his better starts to the season and he improved to 2-2.  He gave up two runs on five hits and two walks with a strikeout in 7 2/3 innings.  Clay Rapada continued his solid work out of the pen and he got the final four batters out to close out the game.  He has yet to give up a run in his seven innings of work and at least so far, Tim Byrdak is long forgotten.

The Tigers made a move today as they sent Jason Grilli to the Rockies for minor league hurler Zachary Simons.  The right hander has fourteen strikeouts 13 1/3 innings this year for the Rockies High A affliate and he looks like a converted starter.  Last year he repeated Low A and struck out 64 and walked 31 in 70 2/3 innings.  He’s hardly a top prospect but this was more of a roster move because the Tigers are making room for Francisco Cruceta, who’s been nothing short of awesome this season.  He has 15 strikeouts and three walks in seven innings but walks are a concern.  He has major league stuff, but he’s been mired in Triple A since 2004 so it’ll be interesting to see if he can finally put it together.

The Tigers go for the sweep tomorrow.  Nate Robertson gets the nod against Ian Kennedy.  Then it’s off to Minnesota for a three game set against the Twins.

Ernie Harwell Collection Baseball History Symposium

Baseball fans will have something to do Tuesday night when the Detroit Public Library holds their third annual Ernie Harwell Collection Baseball History Symposium.  You’ll get two interesting speakers including former major league pitcher Bill “Spaceman” Lee.  One of the more eccentric characters in the game, I’m sure Lee will be incredibly entertaining to listen to.  Also on the slate is Mike Shannon, who will be talking about his new book, “Willie Mays:  Art in the Outfield.”

It’s Tuesday, May 6, 2008.  Start time is 6:30 and there’s no admission.

Top of the Order Helps Push Tigers to Win Over Yankees

The top four spots in the lineup accounted for eight of the Tigers eleven hits and they both drove in and scored all six runs in a 6-4 win over the Yankees.  Placido Polanco had a team high four hits and he drove in one and scored twice.  Curtis Granderson hit his third homer and he scored three more times while Gary Sheffield went yard with a two run shot off of Yankees start Phil Hughes.  Magglio Ordonez had just one hit, but he joined Shef with a team high two RBIs.

Kenny Rogers had a tougher start then his box score indicated.  He walked the bases loaded in the third inning but pitched out of that jam and he went on to throw six solid frames.  The end result was his second straight win and he gave up two runs on six hits and four walks with four strikeouts.  Todd Jones got into trouble in the ninth inning and he gave up a run but he had three to work with so he picked up his fifth save of the season.

Jeremy Bonderman takes on Andy Pettitte tomorrow.  It’ll be interesting to see what the Tigers lineup looks like with a lefty on the mound.

Billfer on the Radio

Be sure to check out Billfer of Detroit Tigers Weblog fame on WDET 101.9 this morning.  He’ll be on around 11 am for a bloggers roundtable with a few other Detroit area bloggers you might recognize.

Justin Verlander Starts Out Well, Finishes Bad

Justin Verlander and Jared Weaver appeared to be locked into a solid pitching duel but that last just three innings until the Angels got to Verlander.  A run in the fourth, a run in the fifth and then three more in the sixth did Verlander in and he needed Zach Miner to get the final out in the sixth inning to stop the damage.  He gave up six runs on seven hits and four walks with three strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings.  Jason Grilli threw two more shutout innings and he hasn’t been credited with a run in his last six outings.  The net result is, his ERA has been whittled down to a very respectable 3.29.

The Tigers were held to just five hits and two of them came off the bat off Magglio Ordonez.  He also walked twice and scored one of the runs in the 6-2 loss.  Ivan Rodriguez doubled and he drove in a run.

Next up are the Yankees.  Phillip Hughes throws against Kenny Rogers tomorrow as the Tigers get a much needed day off.  It’d sure be nice to see Rogers throw a good game.  He’s given up four runs on or more in his previous three starts.

Baseball Race and Integration Symposium

It was a long but very interesting weekend with the SABR Detroit Chaper’s Baseball Race and Integration Symposium.  I learned a ton about the Negro Leagues as well as baseball in the 1950s and 1960s.  Deacon Jones joined us for the bus tour and he was a wealth of information and interesting stories.  I had the privilege of eating brunch today with Mickey Briggs (grandson of former Tigers’ owner Walter O. Briggs) and Don Lund (former Tiger player and front office employee) and they had some interesting stories.  Then Deacon wrapped it all up with an outstanding keynote speech.  The two panels (one on the Red Sox and one on the Tigers) also did a fine job of summarizing and describing some of the issues the two teams had integrating.  Good stuff, and the plan is to do it something similar next year.

Magglio Ordonez Leads Homerun Attack As Tigers Sweep Rangers

Magglio Ordonez doubled his season homerun total today with a pair of longballs in the Tigers 8-2 win over the Rangers.  Ordonez finished the contest three for four with four RBIs while Curtis Granderson, Brandon Inge and Ryan Raburn all went yard in the game as well.  For Granderson and Raburn, it was their first of the season. 

The last time the Tigers had five homers in a game was back on June 18, 2006.  In fact in that game, they tied a team mark with eight homeruns in a game.

Jeremy Bonderman struggled at times and while he gave up just a pair of runs, he walked seven.  He did strikeout seven as well.  Zach Miner was the pitching star though and he had his best outing the season.   He walked one and struck out three in 3 1/3 shutout innings to pick up his first win of the season.

Next up are the Angels.  Nate Robertson goes for his first win of the season tomorrow night while the Tigers hope to hand Ervin Santana his first loss.  The Tigers will be going for their fifth win in a row as they slowly try to creep their way out of the cellar.

Integration Symposium Raffle

I’ve gotten a few emails about this weekend’s SABR festivities.  The good news is, we now have a website so you can check out the details at SABR Detroit.  There’s links on how to sign up but some of you were nice enough to ask how you can help.  I can think of three ways, two of which are old and one of which I’m introducing here.

1)  The easiest way to help is to sign up and take part in the activities.  Whether it’s the bus tour, the brunch or the symposium (or all three), we’d love to have as solid of a turn out as possible.  Who knows, if you attend the brunch, you could personally ask Willie Horton how it felt to make Lou Brock his bitch on that play at the plate in game five of the 1968 World Series because you could be seated at his table while you eat your eggs (I hope Lou Brock doesn’t read Tigerblog).

2)  We’re still looking for sponsors.  If you have a business or website you’d like to promote, send me an email (you can do so on the sidebar part way down the page) and we can talk.

3) The newest way to help out is to take part in the raffle I dreamed up this afternoon.  Here’s how it works.  You donate $10 towards the symposium and you get one entry in the drawing.  If you donate $50, you get two extra entries (so that’s seven total).  The prizes will help you fill out your baseball book library as follows

Three Second Prizes – One copy of each of the following:

Tigers Corner 2008
Tigers Corner 2007
Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2006
Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2007
Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2008

For the grand prize, you get all of the five books listed above plus a copy of the ESPN Baseball Encyclopedia 5th Edition.  I figure the value of the second prize is worth around $60 while the grand prize probably would cost you around $80.  All are fine products.  Only one prize per participant.

The preferred method of payment is paypal.  There’s a link right below this paragraph so click on it, enter how much you want to contribute and I’ll attach the number of entries to your email address when I randomly pick the winners.

If you’re not into paypal, just send me an email and we can discuss.  I have some reservations about using other payment methods but I don’t want to exclude anyone.

I’ll take entries though Monday at 9 pm.  I know that’s past the event, but it’ll give those people who just stop by on Monday a chance to take part in the contest.  All proceeds will go towards the cost of the symposium and you also get my heartfelt thanks.

Just South Of 20

Curtis Granderson returned tonight and all hell broke loose.  The Tigers picked up nineteen runs and they did it on fourteen hits and ten walks.  Carlo Guillen had a team high five RBIs and three hits and hopefully that puts him out of his little slump.  Ramon Santiago probably had the oddest stat line.  He was the only starter who didn’t pick up a hit but he drove in two and he scored three times.  Curtis Granderson went two for four with two walks, two RBIs and three runs.  Not a bad season debut for the centerfielder.  It’s nice to have you back Curtis.

It’s hard to believe the Rangers were up 5-0 in this 19-6 blowout.  Kenny Rogers had a rough start and he gave up six runs in 3 1/3 innings before the pen did a fine job.  Clay Rapada threw 1 2/3 innings of no-hit ball and he improved to 2-0 while Aquilino Lopez continued his fine season with three shutout frames.  His ERA now sits at 0.52.  Jason Grilli closed it out with a shutout ninth.

Jeremy Bonderman will try to help the Tigers win their fourth straight.  The Rangers have Scott Feldman taking the mound in the 1 pm start.  Expect some lineup craziness with the Tigers having this long game and then having to turn around tomorrow with an afternoon game.

Ramon Santiago Leads Charge In Tigers Win Over Rangers

The last time Ramon Santiago homered, the Tigers were en route to 119 losses in a season.  Yeah, it was way back in 2003, August 1 to be exact.  And after calling Santiago probably the worst hitter in all of baseball, he’s added yet another thing to the long list of things I’ve been proven wrong about with a strong start to the season.  He’s 7 for 15 and he has four RBIs after driving three today.  His homer in the third capped off an inning in which two other Tigers went yard.  Magglio Ordonez and Miguel Cabrera hit back to back jacks earlier in the inning.

It was also nice to see Justin Verlander get back on track.  He improved to 1-3 and he gave up one run on six hits and two walks with three strikeouts in six innings.  Jason Grilli closed out the game with a shutout ninth while Bobby Seay struck out two in 1 1/3 shutout frames.

The Indians look like they’re going to win so the Tigers will have to sit in last place at least one more day.  Kenny Rogers gets the start tomorrow while Luis Mendoza gets the nod for the Rangers.

And in case you missed, Francisco Cruceta looked awesome in his minor league debut.  He struck out six and didn’t give up a hit in three innings for Toledo tonight.  More bullpen help is on the way.

Wrap Around Wrap Up – Tigers Salvage Split

Hopes must have been pretty high for the 1935 Tigers.  They were just a year removed from their record breaking season in 1934, but the loss they suffered to the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series must have been tough.  With pretty much that entire team returning, the Tigers fell flat to start the 1935 campaign and through their first eleven games, they were 2-9.

Enter Joe Sullivan.  The left hander had just made his big league debut a week before and he was given the ball for his first major league start on April 28, 1935.  The Tigers won that game 5-3 and that started a streak where the Tigers won six of seven.  Three of those six games came on Joe Sullivan starts and while the lefthander would be relegated to the pen by mid-season, he helped spark a run that would eventually push the Tigers to their last consecutive American League pennant.

Fast forward to 2008 and we have Armando Galarraga.  He gave up just three hits and four walks with four strikeouts in 5 1/3 shutout inning this afternoon against the Jays and he became the first Tiger with a pair of wins to his credit.  More importantly, he made a bad situtation look okay by throwing the Tigers to a split in their four game series with the Jays.

At the plate, Ivan Rodriguez went four for five with an RBI while Edgar Renteria went two for four with his third homer and a pair of runs.  With the two hits, he now supplants Clete Thomas, who went one for four, as one of two Tiger regulars (Carlos Guillen) that are hitting .300 or better.

The Rangers roll into town beginning tomorrow and their 7-13 record matches Detroit.  They’re riding a four game losing streak though so hopefully the Tigers can pile on.  Justin Verlander goes for his first win while the Rangers put Vincente Padilla on the mound.

Skid Part Two Continues

The Tigers took their third loss in the last four games and they’re little run earlier in the week is a thing of the past.  After winning three of four, the Tigers now find themselves at just 6-13.  If you’re a half glass full kind of guy, the Tigers don’t have the worst record in all of baseball because the Nationals have that honor with a 5-14 record.

Nate Robertson gave up five runs in five innings and he fell to 0-2 on the season.  Zach Miner and Bobby Seay kept it together in this one but the closest the Tigers got was 5-3.  With the two shutout innings, Miner saw his ERA drop by over three points. 

Clete Thomas was pretty much the Tigers offense and if he can keep this up, he could be a solid Rookie of the Year candidate but his time with the team could be limited once Curtis Grandrson comes back.  He finished the game three for five and he drove in two of the three Tigers’ runs.  Cabrera had the only extra base hit of the game with a double and he drove his thirteenth run of the season.

The Tigers wrap up the series tomorrow with a noon start.  Armando Galarraga will hopefully follow up his season debut earlier this week with another win so the Tigers can walk away with a split in the series.

Tigers Double Up Jays, Kenny Rogers Wins First Start

The Tigers finally scored some runs for Kenny Rogers and while it wasn’t the left handers best start of the season, it was good enough for his first win.  The Tigers jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in this one only to fall to a 4-1 deficit before storming back and scoring seven unanswered runs to make it an 8-4 win.

Edgar Renteria drove in a team high three runs and he belted his second homer of the season.  With 12 RBIs, he’s tied with Miguel Cabrera for the team lead.  And with his two hits, he joins Carlos Guillen as the two Tiger regulars with a batting average over .300. 

Placido Polanco went 0 for 2, but he did pitch in with three walks.  Ivan Rodriguez doubled twice, scored and drove in a run.

Kenny Rogers gave up four runs but just on three hits with four walks and a strikeout.  He did throw 6 2/3 innings, which was a welcome relief was a welcome relief.  Todd Jones walked a couple of batters in the ninth but like he usually does, he pitched out of it to wrap up the game.

The White Caps have had a bit of a struggle of late and while they lost last night’s game, the stand out was Curtis Granderson, who played the first game of his rehab assignment.  True to form, he belted a triple in the contest and he had two of the team’s four hits.

Jeremy Bonderman gets the nod today and it’ll be Dustin McGowan throwing for the Jays.  1 pm start time as the Tigers for their fifth win in six games.

Justin Verlander Falls to 0-3, Tigers Winning Streak Ends at Three

The Tigers ran into a buzzsaw tonight and it was basically the antithesis of what happened yesterday.  Justin Verlander and Zach Miner both struggled and the hitters lost their edge and couldn’t do much against Fausto Carmona.

Verlander and Miner gave up five runs each and Verlander fell to 0-3.  This is the first time in Verlander’s short career that he has three losses in April and the walks are definitely a concern.  This is the second time in as many starts that he had four walks in a game where as last year he never walked four or more in back to back starts.

Miguel Cabrera drove in the lone Tigers run with a sac. fly in the sixth inning.  No Tiger had more then one hit while Ramon Santiago (single and a walk) and Gary Sheffield (two walks) reached base twice.  And speaking of Santiago, I know Leyland isn’t into the whole lineup analysis thing, but Santiago is one of the worst hitters in the major leagues and he’s hitting in the most important spot in the lineup.  Then again, he scored the lone run of the game so I guess you never know.

Next up is a four game wrap around series against the Jays.  It’ll be Kenny Rogers against A.J. Burnett tomorrow night.  I like the Wings and all, but without digital cable, there’s been a ton of Tigers games I haven’t been able to watch and it’s getting annoying.

Recently, I’ve been one of a group of people trying to get a SABR chapter reestablished back in Detroit.  Our first event is the weekend of the 26th-27th with the primary item of interest being a symposium on the integration of the Tigers and the Red Sox.  You’ll get to mingle with guys like Willie Horton, Gates Brown, Deacon Jones, Don Lund, and Mickey Briggs with hopefully more to be added.  You can check out the details at the SABR Detroit chapter website and it’s open to the public.  I’m also still looking for some sponsors, so if you have a sports related business that you’d like to advertise, send me an email and I can fill you in on the details.

Two and a Half Weeks Late

In game 15, the Tigers finally did what the fans thought would be a regular occurance this season.  The Tigers completely dismantled the Indians and that was with C.C. Sabathia on the mound.  The final was 13-2 and the big inning was the fifth in which the Tigers scored seven.  The Indians had a brief lead in the first inning, but this game was all Tigers after that point.

Miguel Cabrera and Edgar Renteria both drove in five runs and both homered in the win.  Cabrera was four for six and Magglio Ordonez did a nice Gary Sheffield imitation with three walks, a single and three runs.  Of the 12 Tigers who stepped up to the plate, only Ivan Rodriguez failed to get a hit.

Armando Galarraga also got the job done as well.  He gave up two runs but on just one hit in 6 1/3 innings.  Jason Grilli then had a nice outing with a 2 1/3 innings of shutout relief to close the game out.

The end result is the Tigers now have a three game winning streak and the offense really looks like it’s starting to click.  They can get out of the cellar tomorrow if the can beat the Indians and it’ll be Justin Verlander looking for his first win.  Fausto Carmona throws for the Indians.

Another Big Eighth Gives Tigers First Two Game Winning Streak

Yeah, I know two games isn’t much of a streak but this is a bizarre year.  For the second straight night, the Tigers stormed back in the eighth inning to come back and win a game.  This time it was a three run eighth that did it and even a shaky outing by Todd Jones wasn’t enough for the Twins.

The comeback actually started in the sixth inning with the Tigers down 4-1.  In the inning, Magglio Ordonez belted his second homer of the season to make it 4-2 and Carlos Guillen hit a solo homer inthe seventh to make it a one run game.  Then in the eighth, Ordonez drove in his second run on of the game on a double to tie the game up and Miguel Cabrera dotted the “i” with a two run blast to give the Tigers the runs they needed to pull it out.

Nate Robertson had a shaky start but he did last into the seventh inning.  Clay Rapada picked up his first major league win with 2/3 of an inning of relief and Jones picked up the save despite giving up a run in the ninth inning.

Two wins are two wins and now the Tigers can build on that when they travel to Cleveland for a pair of games beginning tomorrow.  Armando Galarraga will make his Tiger debut tomorrow and the Tigers hitters will have to contend with Indians ace C.C. Sabathia.

Tigers Storm Back to Win Third Game of the Season

The Tigers took care of the Twins 11-9 and they did it by coming back from two different five run deficits.  The Twins jumped out to a 5-0 lead only to see the Tigers score four in the bottom of the sixth to make it a one run game.  Unfortunately, Jeremy Bonderman continued to struggle and Bobby Seay gave up a couple of runs and before the Tigers could come to bat again, it was back to a five run Twins lead.  A run in the bottom of the seventh and a huge six run eighth inning turned the game around though as the Tigers completed the comeback.

Ivan Rodriguez had the big hit of the game.  His two run triple tied the game up and then he scored the go ahead run on a Jacque Jones sac. fly.  Carlos Guillen had three hits and three RBIs while Pudge finished the game with three hits, three RBIs and two runs.

Francis Beltran and Todd Jones closed the game out with a shutout inning a piece and just like that, the Tigers took victory from the jaws of defeat to win their third game of the season.  I really, really, really hope this signifies a turn around of sorts.  They’ll get a chance to win their first series of the season if they can beat the Twins tomorrow for a two game sweep.

No Support for Kenny

I didn’t realize this until I was looking at some data on Bill James Online, but in all three of Kenny Rogers’ starts, the Tigers have been shutout.  I know it would have taken a ton of support today, but I’d be interested to see how many pitchers have had not a single run of support in their first three starts of the season.

Make It Four

Take your pick.  The Tigers lost their fourth straight series to open up the season and they were shut out for the fourth time.  Javier Vazquez and the White Sox pen did a number on the Tigers, who were held to just six hits.  Even worse, they struck out 12 times with just a single walk.  Gary Sheffield had the only extra base hit with a double. 

I heard an interesting stat about the Tigers on television.  Even without doing so today, the Tigers have grounded into 19 double plays in 12 games.  That’s about three every two games and it’s miles ahead of the 128 they hit into last year (about three every four games).  Not only are the Tigers not getting many hits, when they do get on base, they’re ending their rallies with double plays.

And you can’t really blame it all on the bats because the pitching, with a few exceptions, has been pretty mediocre (yes, I’m being nice).  Kenny Rogers was knocked around and then Zach Miner came in and got shelled as well.  I know the White Sox look better at the plate, but this is the team that was at the bottom in offense last year.  Clay Rapada did do a nice job with two shutout innings to close out the game.

Sparky Anderson was a huge proponent of waiting to judge a team until they had 4o games under their belt.  If that’s the case, the Tigers need to go 18-8 just to start the season 20-20.  That seems like a tall task for a team that hasn’t won a series yet but you have to hope the Tigers can put together a nice hot streak here soon.

Next up is a short two game set at home against the Twins.  It’ll be Jeremy Bonderman throwing against the rookie Nick Blackburn.

Tigers Suffer Third Shutout of the Season In Loss to White Sox

We’re just in our second week and the offense that many thought might score 1,000 runs has fallen flat and not put up a run in a game for the third time this season.  I know it’s easy to get pessimistic these days but it’s not just that the Tigers have lost, it’s how.  No American League team has scored fewer runs then Tigers this year and while we’re still dealing with a small sample size, the Tigers are just digging a hole that’s going to be tougher and tougher to get out of.

The Tigers got just two hits in this one and the first didn’t come until the eighth inning.  Like Brian Bannister, the Tigers made a mediocre pitcher in Gavin Floyd look like a Cy Young contender.  Even worse, their best hitter this year, Carlos Guillen, was pulled from the lineup because he strained his hamstring and for now he’s listed as day to day.

Dontrelle Willis hit the disabled list and in his place, Armando Galarraga will throw.  The right hander was a perfect two for two down in Toledo and he’ll get his first taste of major league hitting here soon.

The rubber game is tomorrow afternoon.  Kenny Rogers goes for his first win while Javier Vazqeuz throws for the White Sox.  It’d sure be nice to walk away with a series.

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