Archive for May, 2008

Rainy Days

The Tigers game was one of three in the midwest (as well as several minor league games) to get rained out today.  No replacement date has been set.  Too bad the Yankees didn’t have the day off tomorrow like the Tigers or they could have made it up then.  If you want your Tigers fix, head on over to the 1968 Tigers site to see how they’re doing early on.

It’ll be a nice two day break for the Tigers though as they get set for a week long road trip beginning in Kansas City.  Nate Robertson is listed as the expected starter after he missed his start this afternoon so Jim Leyland isn’t going to mess with the rotation.  The red hot Zach Greinke will get the nod for the Royals.

The Tigers finished with a split of their two games with the Yankees.  Friday was a typical Todd Jones nailbiter while yesterdays game was a beatdown that saw Jeremy Bonderman struggle again.  This is his fourth start where he’s walked more then he’s struck out where as last year, he did it just twice all season.  Bobby Seay pitched three scoreless frames but he allowed an inherited runner to score while Francisco Cruceta threw two scoreless innings to close things out.  He struck out two and he’s holding lefthanders to a .100 batting average against (1 fo 10).

It’s nice to see Magglio Ordonez heating up.  After starting the season 11 for 47 with a .234 batting average in his first twelve games, he’s gone 34 for 96 (.354) since.  He’s hitting left handed pitching at a .444 clip so that’s been a help too.  It also seems like as Magglio goes, so does the Tigers.  In their 16 wins, he’s hitting .422/.493/.719 but in their 22 losses, he’s hitting .228/.291/.329.  Also encouraging is he’s hit much better at home (.372/.405/.615) so if he can keep that up, the Tigers might be able to even up that home record when they get back into town.

The Tigers haven’t made an error since Monday when Edgar Renteria made a pair of errors in the Tigers loss to the Red Sox.  Carlos Guillen hasn’t made an error since that disaster of a game against the Twins last Sunday.  I got a few questions about the flip between Guillen and Miguel Cabrera and while I haven’t finished my homework, I did find some interesting things on Bill James Online.  The past two years, Edgar Renteria has been one of the best players at shortstop going to his left (up the middle) but one of the worst going to his right.  Carlos Guillen, while somewhat more mediocre as a fielder, showed more strength going to his right then to his left.  That doesn’t bode well for balls hit between the two because that gap is playing to both fielders’ weakness.  Granted, third is a different play then shortstop so time will tell. 

I’m interested in checking out the Red Sox/Twins game tonight.  It’s still hard to believe that even after a tough week, the Tigers are still just 3 1/2 games back.  A series win this week over the Royals means they’ll head into the Diamondbacks series in fourth place instead of last.  I know that shouldn’t mean much but it hurts that much more seeing the Tigers down there in the cellar.  We got way to used to that prior to 2006.

Placido Polanco Has Five Hits In Wild Tigers Win

The Tigers lost two different four runs leads and needed to come back in the ninth inning against Jonathan Papelbon to end their five game losing streak tonight.  The game winning hit was a texas league single off the bat of Placido Polanco and it also happened to be his fifth hit of the ballgame. 

The Tigers racked up eighteen hits in this one.  Magglio Ordonez and Gary Sheffield had three hits each while Carlos Guillen, Ivan Rodriguez and Matt Joyce had two a piece.  Joyce drove in his first run, scored his first run and picked up his first all in one game.

Armando Galarraga was cruising in this one until the fourth inning when the flood gates opened.  He gave up five runs in 5 1/3 innings and both Zach Miner and Francisco Cruceta gave up two a piece.  Todd Jones picked up the win with a shaky but scoreless ninth inning.

The Tigers can salvage a split tomorrow.  It’ll be Josh Beckett going up against Justin Verlander in the series finale.

Tigers Shutout Again In Fifth Straight Loss

Tim Wakefield had a pretty good start, huh?  The Tigers were held to a mere three hits in their 5-0 loss to the Red Sox and they made Tim Wakefield look like a Cy Young candidate.  Unlike last night, they didn’t even get the walks to go with the lack of hits.  Ivan Rodriguez doubled and Curtis Granderson and Carlos Guillen both singled and that was it.  It’s the fifth time this year the Tigers have been shut out.

Nate Robertson didn’t gave a great start either and he fell to 1-4.  He gave up four runs on ten hits and two walks with four strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings.  Freddy Dolsi made his major league debut and he gave up a solo homer to Manny Ramirez on his very first pitch.  Welcome to the bigs Freddy.  Dolsi was called up when Denny Bautista hit the disabled list.

Armando Galarraga will try to break the streak tomorrow night.  The Red Sox will throw Clay Buchholz.

Tigers Draw Nine Walks, Still Lose Fourth Straight Game

It seems like it’s feast or famine for this year’s Tigers and at least the last four games, it’s been a famine.  The Tigers followed up nine walks with just three hits and the end result was eleven men left on base in a 6-3 loss to the Red Sox.  Gary Sheffield drew three of those walks and Marcus Thames had the big hit for the Tigers with a two run single that capped off a two run seventh inning. 

I’m not a huge fan of the lineup changes, but at the end of the day, lineup construction has just a small effect on a given game.  I know Gary Sheffield has a sub-.200 batting average, but he has a team high 20 walks.  Then again, the guy who replaced him in the three spot, Carlos Guillen, is right behind him with eighteen.  What I thought would have made more sense would have been to drop Granderson and his 1.192 OPS down and then move Placido Polanco and Carlos Guillen into the 1/2 slots.  The problem then is, you don’t want to drop Granderson all the way to sixth.  I’ll have to run the numbers in the lineup calculator when I get a chance to see what the numbers say make the most sense.  It was interesting seeing Ivan Rodriguez hitting behind Matt Joyce though.

And have you noticed Granderson has struck out just six times with ten walks in his twelve games back.  Not too shabby.  It’s also funny that he’s just one homer back of the team lead after missing all of that time.

Matt Joyce drew a walk in his first big league plate appearance but finished the game 0 for 2.  It’ll be interesting to see if he gets the start tonight with knuckleballer Tim Wakefield on the mound.

Jeremy Bonderman fell to 2-3 and he made two big mistakes (homeruns to Mike Lowell and Kevin Youkilis.  Clay Rapada and Todd Jones also gave up runs that didn’t help out the cause.

Nate Robertson gets the nod tonight.  He’s coming off of his first win of the season, but he’s given up at least four runs in all six of his starts this season.  Despite the struggles, he leads the Tigers with 27 strikeouts and he’s only walked nine but hitters have a .294 batting average against him.

Tigers Designate Jacque Jones for Assignment, Matthew Joyce Called Up From Toledo

The Jacque Jones era ended with a whimper today as the Tigers designated him for assignment after a tough first month to the season.  He was hitting a tepid .165/.244/.253 and with the lack of power, the Tigers must have felt it was time to cut bait.  The bad thing is, he did this bad against righties because he was given just four plate appearances (all strikeouts) against left handed pitching.  Not that this means anything, but historically, Jones has done well in April.  His career line is .287/.341/.450 and that includes this past April that really brought those numbers down.

Matthew Joyce gets the nod and he was kind of at the right place at the right time.  The Tigers twelfth round draft pick in 2005 out of Florida Southern, Joyce tore up the New York-Penn League (.332/.394/.453 in 247 at bats) in his first minor league.  Since then, he had struggled up until this past season.  He put up mediocre numbers in West Michigan in 2006 and then he skipped Lakeland to play at Erie last year where once again he seemed over his head.  This year he seemed to put it together and at Toledo, he was hitting .299/.367/.526 and he already has five homers.  He’s hitting .304 against right handed pitching and it was the left handed bat that probably caught people’s eye when it came time to decide who got the nod.

Joyce is 0 for 2 with a walk tonight as the Tigers are down 4-1.  I’d be nice if he could help the Tigers get something done against Dice-K here.

Tigers Blow Six Run Lead, Twins Finish Sweep

What a nice start.  Curtis Granderson led off the game with his fifth homerun of the season and then the first five Tigers who came up to bat all came around to score in a six run first inning.  Kenny Rogers was given a six run lead but unfortunately, he and the bullpen couldn’t hang on as the Twins rallied for one in the fourth, two in the fifth and then four in the seventh to complete the improbable comeback.

Just to put it in perspective using win probability added, the Tigers had a 90% chance of winning the game after the top of the first inning alone.  The odds went all the way to 96.7% when Kenny Rogers struck out the first two batters in the fourth inning.  A double and a single later, and it popped to just 92.1%.  Even after the RBI double in the seventh inning, the Tigers still had a 61% chance of winning but the two run single by Joe Mauer off of Bobby Seay was the nail in the coffin that flipped the game from the Tigers being the favorites to the Twins being the favorites.  Win Probability Added has it’s fault, but the two run single by Mauer was definitely a big hit and it’s reflected as much using WPA.

Zach Miner took the loss despite those two runs coming with Bobby Seay on the mound.  Francisco Cruceta did it again with a shutout ninth in which he struck out two and got two ground ball outs.  So far so good, it’d just be nice to use him a high leverage situtation to test his mettle.

The three loses push the Tigers into last place and the Twins, who have now won five straight, find themselves in first place.  Still, just three games seperate first and last place so the standings could look very different this time next week.

Unfortunately, the Tigers have a tough week.  They’re at home, but they start with four games against the Red Sox.  Game one is tomorrow.  Denny Bautista hit the disabled list this weekend with a short shoulder so that hurts.  Hopefully Cruceta can step in and pick up the slack in his abscence, although it’d be nice to have both of those guys as an option.

The Francisco Cruceta Era Begins

The Tigers swept the Yankees.  I missed how long it’s been, but I thought they said the last time the Tigers swept the Yankees in Yankee Stadium was some time in the 1950s.  This game didn’t get off to a good start though.  Nate Robertson walked Johnny Damon, gave up a single to Derek Jeter and then served up a three run bomb to Bobby Abreu.  Three batters up in the first and three runs but he recovered nicely to pick up his first win of the season.  He gave up another run in the fifth on a Shelly Duncan single but the Tigers answered with two in the sixth and two in the seventh to finish with an 8-4 win.

Zach Miner threw 2 1/3 innings of shutout relief and his ERA is now below eight.  Francisco Cruceta then made his Tiger debut in the ninth.  He walked the leadoff hitter then on an odd play, Shelly Duncan lined it to Guillen, who couldn’t handle it.  Fortunately, Abreu thought Guillen initially caught it and those lost steps allowed Guillen to recover and get the fielders choice at second base.  A ground out and a line out later, and the Tigers had the sweep.

It was the Miguel Cabrera and Ramon Santiago show.  Cabrera homered, tripled, drove in three and drew a walk.  Santiago double, tripled, scored a run and drove in two.  Eight of the Tigers eleven hits were for extra bases in this one.

The White Sox were idle so the Tigers are now just a game and a half back of first place and one game below .500.  Next up are the Twins and it’ll be Scott Baker going up against Armando Galarraga in the opener.  The only day game in this series will be Sunday.

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