Archive for June, 2008

Tigers Have Winning Record For First Time In 2008

The Tigers hung on yesterday to finish up a three game sweep over the Rockies.  This puts them at 41-40 at the half way point of the season and it marks the first time they’ve had a winning record all year.  Regardless of what happens tonight, the Tigers have had an impressive month.  Despite a three game sweep at Oakland, they’re now 18-8 in June.  Things take on an added importance beginning tonight though because they start a three game set against the second place Twins.  The Tigers haven’t done well on the road (16-23) nor have they done well in their division (10-19) but now is as good of a time as any to turn both of those things around.

Dane Sardinha came up with the big hit yesterday.  His two run triples turned a 3-2 deficit into a 4-3 lead that turned out to be the final.  The other two Tigers runs came in the first inning when Miguel Cabrera and Marcus Thames each had RBI singles.  Thames has gotten hot and after a three for four game yesterday, he’s now seen his batting average rise to .280.

Kenny Rogers also continued his impressive stretch.  He gave up three runs on eight hits and two walks with two strikeouts and while it wasn’t great, it was good enough to push him into winning territory.  Freddy Dolsi struck out three in two shutout innings and then Todd Jones followed his Saturday meltdown with a perfect inning in the ninth for his fifteenth save of the season.  The Tigers are still packing in the crowds and they had over 41,000 at the game.  Right now, the Tigers are eighth in average attendance with a 39,242 average.  If they keep that up, they’ll easily top three million fans again.

Tonight, it’ll be Armando Galarraga going up against Glen Perkins.  Galarraga had a tough showing last week against the Cardinals in a game the Tigers ended up winning.   What hurts is Magglio Ordonez has been the latest Tiger to hit the DL.  Probably the most consistent Tiger hitter this year, Ordonez will sit because of an oblique muscle (keep your Brandon Inge pillow jokes to yourself).  Matt Joyce was called up in his place and this will most likely give Marcus Thames even more playing time.

Tigers Top Cards In Ten

The Tigers took care of another three game series today and it was one of those wins where they scored three runs or less. Clete Thomas drove in the game winning run with his second bases loaded walk of the game while Gary Sheffield had the big hit.  His solo homerun in the bottom of the ninth sent the game into extra frames.

Nate Robertson got off to a rough start and he given up five hits and a walk in the first two innings but he benefited from a double play in each inning to get out of the two jams.  Todd Jones gave up three hits in the ninth and he was set to take the loss before Sheffield bailed him out.  Bobby Seay pitched a scoreless tenth and he picked up his first win of the season.

The White Sox were off so the Tigers shaved their deficit down to five games.  Next up are the Rockies, who have dropped four straight, including three in a row to the Royals.  Eddie Bonine gets the nod in the opener.

Padres, Todd Jones and Another Series Win

First off, it’s been another busy weekend and I never got a chance to plug a roundtable discussion I took part in with Billfer, Lee Panas and Geoff Young over at Ducksnorts prior to the series.  It was a pretty good discussion so be sure to check it out.  The most important part was where I was the deciding vote between Johnny Grubb and Ruppert Jones.

Todd Jones took a ball off his leg today and he stayed in to pick up his fourteenth save of the season.  He didn’t even use one of the two runs the Tigers gave him so he was really locked in.  Joel Zumaya made his second appearance of the season and he gave up two hits, a walk and a run in one inning.  And what about Justin Verlander.  He walked five but struck out a season high ten batters in just 5 1/3 innings.  The win pushes his record to 4-9.

Magglio Ordonez and Ivan Rodriguez both went yard in this one.  Ordonez drove in three while Edgar Renteria singled, drew a walk and scored twice.  Pudge was a perfect two for two with two walks.  It was the first time Pudge drew two walks in the same game this year and the last time he did was last August.

The Tigers have now won four straight series and they’ve won 10 of their last 12 games.  The White Sox play tonight but at worst, the Tigers will be six games back.  Unfortunately, the Twins have caught fire too and they’ve won six straight and they lead the Tigers by three games in the loss column. 

Next up are the Cardinals after an off day tomorrow.  There’s going to be a lot of stuff going on with regard to the 1968 World Series and this is a good time to push Sock It To ‘Em TIgers, which was a collaborative effort between the Mayo Smith Society and SABR.  It’s a pretty definitive guide to the 1968 Tigers and it includes bios on everybody who got an at bat with the Tigers that season.  My contributions were bios for Les Cain and Wayne Comer, and while both are lesser known players, both had a very interesting story.  I’m working on something similar for a book on the 1984 Tigers set for release next year and my player is catcher Dwight Lowry.

Armando Galarraga Does It Again As Tigers Take Series Over Giants

Armando Galarraga followed up a nice start by Kenny Rogers with his seventh win of the season as he pushes further for the Rookie of the Year award.  There’s still a lot of games left to be played, but this was Galarraga’s eleventh start and the Tigers have won nine of those and his ERA is now down to 3.03.  He gave up two unearned runs yesterday on seven hits and two walks with five strikeouts in six innings.  Freddy Dolsi threw two shutout innings and Zach Miner closed it out with a shutout ninth.

Placido Polanco had the big day at the plate with four hits.  He doubled, singled three times, drew a walk, drove in two and scored three runs in the 7-2 win.  Carlos Guillen went two for four with his 19th double, two RBIs and a run.

The Tigers get the night off tonight and then it’s off to San Diego for a three game series.  We’ll miss Jake Peavy so hopefully the Tigers can win their fourth straight series.  The Indians are now in the rear view mirror and next in line are the .500 Twins, who the Tigers trail by two games.  At this point, the Tigers just have to keep the wins rolling.

Bullpen Falters In Tigers Loss to Giants

The hype surrounding the return of Fernando Rodney was shortlived as he and Freddy Dolsi combined to give up five runs in the bottom of the eighth inning in the Tigers 8-6 loss to the Giants.  Dolsi gave up a pair of singles and got one out before Rodney came in and gave up a three run blast to the first batter he faced.  A double, a walk and another double later and a 4-3 lead turned into an 8-4 deficit in a hurry.

It’s too bad because Justin Verlander had a solid start.  He gave up two three runs (two earned) on five hits and just one walks with seven strikeouts in seven innings.  It’s his third straight start in which he’s struck out more batters then he’s walked, his longest streak of the season.

Marcus Thames brought the big stick and he belted a pair of homers.  Ivan Rodriguez had a team high three hits to go with his two runs and Curtis Granderson drove in a pair.

Kenny Rogers gets the nod tonight and he’ll go up against fellow lefthander Jonathan Sanchez.  I like all of those walks that Sanchez has given up (41 in 80 1/3 innings) and hopefully the Tigers can capitalize on the lack of control and get back in the win column.

Best Deal On Tigers Tickets

I was hoping to go see the Tigers take on the Cardinals this week because they’re paying tribute to the 1968 World Series team.  The first place I checked was the Tigers box office and while they had some tickets available, they were pretty few and far between.  I decided to check out one of the baseball ticket brokers and I was able to find much better seats at an affordable price.  Anyway, hopefully the Tigers continue their interleague success and I get to see the 1968 Tigers festivities.

Six Straight

This game had it all.  You had a four inning, pre-rain delay pitchers duel, back to back homers and a near fatal meltdown by the bullpen.  Still, you have to be happy with quite a few things in this game.  First off, they held on and won and they also got another nice outing from their starting pitcher.  Nate Robertson improved to 5-0 and he threw six shutout innings.  He probably would have thrown more had it not been for the rain.  Denny Bautista looked sharp with two shutout innings but then Bobby Seay and Todd Jones combined to give up four runs in the ninth inning.  Fortunately, with the tying run on second base, Jones got Juan Pierre to fly out to center to end it.

Marcus Thames and Brandon Inge hit back to back solo shots in the sixth inning and while those looked like padding at the time, each of those runs were needed.  Carlos Guillen had three hits and he was one of five Tigers to finish with a multi-hit game.  Clayton Kershaw was sharp, but in that case, nature was our friend and Kershaw didn’t come back into the game after the rain delay.

The White Sox lost again so the Tigers are back to just five six back.  They’re a half game back of the Indians (tied in the loss column) and they’re one and a half back of the Twins (one in the loss column).  The Tigers hit the road and they’ll play tomorrow night against the Giants.  It’ll be a solid matchup of young pitchers with Justin Verlander going up against NL Cy Young contender Tim Lincecum.

Tigers Continue to Roll With Fifth Straight Win

The Tigers continue to pick up ground in the division with another win over the Dodgers this afternoon.  It wasn’t pretty, but Eddie Bonine won in his major league debut.  He gave up six runs on nine hits with two strikeouts (no walks, which is nice) in 5 1/3 innings.  Casey Fossum gave up a run but he’s now closer to getting his ERA under 20 while Zach Miner and Bobby Seay combined to throw three shutout frames to close out the game.

Every Tiger starter got a hit in this one except for Carlos Guillen.  Miguel Cabrera and Marcus Thames both went yard in the Tigers six run fourth inning while six Tigers had at least two hits.  Ivan Rodriguez had a team high three hits while Magglio Ordonez scored a team high three runs.

The Tigers now six games under .500 and if the White Sox lose (they’re down 1-0 through seven innings), the Tigers will be seven games back.  An Indians loss would be nice too but they’re up 3-2.

Tomorrow, the Tigers will send Nate Robertson to the mound and he’ll take on Dodgers top prospect Clayton Kershaw.  The lefthander probably should be a Tiger, but because of the way the Royals drafted in the past (cheap), the Tigers didn’t end up picking him.  In 2006, Andrew Miller was probably the best pitcher in the draft, but because of signability issues, the Royals took Luke Hochevar with their top pick instead and four other teams passed on Miller.  Had the Royals or anyone else taken Miller, the Tigers would have most likely picked up Kershaw, who went to the Dodgers with the very next pick.

Anyway, Kershaw has had a tough time in his first major league season but the kid just turned 20 two months ago.  Hopefully the Tigers can continue Kershaw’s string of mediocre starts.

Lights On

It’s been one of those weeks.  Things started off with what I first thought was a tornado but ended up being just massive gusts of winds as probably the worst storm I’ve ever seen came through.  Our next door neighbor has a tree in their yard (we’re talking big trees, not saplings) that’s partially in ours and two doors down on the other side, my neighbor has been working on getting a tree removed that landed on his roof.  Nasty stuff and we lost power for a couple of nights.

Last year, I had to take a couple of weeks off for a variety of reasons, both personal and computer related.  That was when the Tigers   That was when they had their best stretch of the season and they won 11 of 12.  Since I’ve been gone, the Tigers have won five of six including three straight over the first place White Sox.    They also won their first game when the scored two runs or less this afternoon when Miguel Cabrera hit a walk off homer in the 2-1 win.

The pitching came through in this one.  Six runs over three games isn’t bad and the Tigers got the bats going with thirteen runs of their own.  They didn’t set the world on fire, but it was good enough.

The Dontrelle Willis thing is kind of baffling.  In fact looking at his stat line is downright funny.  Opponents are hitting just .189 against him but he’s also walking nearly two batters an inning.  Hopefully his time in Lakeland will be fruitful.

The bad news is, the Tigers are still eight games back.  They’re knocking on the Indians door though and they’re three back of the Twins.  Getting into a second place position is important because then the Tigers don’t need a bunch of chips to fall before to move up.

Justin Verlander’s start was very impressive (yes, I know I’m jumping around, I have some catching up to do).  It was the Tigers first complete game of the season and Kenny Rogers followed that up with a solid outing today.  Tomorrow, it’ll be Armando Galarraga going up against Derek Lowe.  Eddie Bonine will make his first career start tomorrow (I thought Chris Lambert would have been a better choice) and we’ll get to see the guy the Tigers almost got instead of Andrew Miller back in 2006 when Clayton Kershaw throws.

Tigers Dealt Blow, Jeremy Bonderman Likely Done for Year

It’s too bad we can’t talk too much about the Tigers win tonight, but the victory was bittersweet because the Tigers got news that Jeremy Bonderman is likely out for the season with a blood clot in his pitching shoulder.  This is basically the same problem that sidelined Kenny Rogers for a bulk of the season last year.  Bonderman will be missed because so far this year, he’s been the Tigers most consistent starter of late and he seemed to be turning the corner with four straight solid starts. It’s worth nothing that, beginning in the 2002 off-season, individual health insurance policies were limited to 2 to 3 year increments, as opposed to the entire length of the contract. When Insurance Companies limit the length they will insure a player’s contract for or even offer insurance to, a team is less willing to accept the risk involved in offering a long-term contract to a player.

This gives the Tigers a reason to keep Armando Galarraga in the starting rotation and he’ll fill in for Bonderman for the time being.  It was also nice to see the Tigers hang Bonderman’s jersey in the dugout during the game.  If there ever were rallying point for this ballclub, this would be it. The Tigers did double up the Indians today.  Carlos Guillen, Marcus Thames and Edgar Renteria all went yard while Renteria had a particularly good game hitting leadoff.  He went three for four and his homer was a grand slam.

Kenny Rogers is slowly finding his groove and despite not winning this afternoon, he had his fourth solid pitching performance in his last five starts.  He gave up three runs (one earned) on five hits and two walks with three strikeouts in seven innings and he’s one good start from getting his ERA under five.  Zach Miner picked up the win and he improved to 3-3 while Todd Jones got the final out of the game and he picked up his ninth save of the season. Armando Galarraga gets the nod tomorrow and he’ll face Jeremy Sowers.  Game time is 1:05.

Tigers Drop Fourth Straight

Another game with two runs or less, and another loss.  Paul Byrd was the Cy Young look alike tonight as he and the Indians pen held the Tigers to two runs on five hits.  Brandon Inge put the Tigers on the board with a solo shot in the sixth and then Jeff Larish hit his first career homerun with a solo shot in the seventh.  Carlos Guillen had two of the Tigers five hits and nobody drew a walk.

Justin Verlander was 35-17 in his career heading into this season and he looks like he could match that loss total this year alone, if not flirt with 20 losses.  Oddly, Verlander has just two no-decisions in thirteen starts (should have been a win) and he’s been on the losing end of nine of those eleven decisions.  He had just one tough inning but it was for three runs in the fourth inning.  Denny Bautista made his return after a stint on the disabled list and a rehab assignment and he was tagged for a solo homerun in his one inning of work.

The White Sox look like they’re going to win so that’ll put the Tigers ten games back.  It’s not looking good folks and if they’re a dozen back or so after the end of the White Sox series, the Tigers will face a near insurmountable task in making the playoffs.

Tomorrow is another game of the week and I’ll be at a wedding reception so I’ll probably miss most of this one.  Kenny Rogers will go up against Aaron Lafey.

Tigers Swept After Late Inning Surge By Athletics

Casey Fossum was having an excellent season with Toledo and now with the Tigers, he has an ERA of 135.00 after two relief appearances.  Still, the four runs he gave up were icing on the cake after a tough start by Nate Robertson.  The lefthander gave up five runs on eight hits and three walks with five strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings.

The Tigers were held in check at the plate and they picked up just four hits.  Marcus Thames and Ramon Santiago both reached base twice with singles and walks and none of the hits were for extra bases.

Since the Tigers finished a three game sweep over the Yankees on June 1, the Tigers are a less then stellar 10-20.  Even worse, the Tigers have a no win situation with the White Sox and Royals playing each other tonight.  If the Sox win, the Tigers will be nine back in the loss column for first place.  If the Royals win, the Tigers will be back in a tie for last place. 

This weekend is big.  The Tigers start a four game series with the Indians beginning Friday and I like the Justin Verlander versus Paul Byrd matchup.  We’ll miss Cliff Lee, who’s throwing tonight.  If the Tigers want to start making up some ground, they’re going to have to take three games in the Indians series and two of three against the White Sox after that.  At this point, .500 ball isn’t good enough.

Leyland’s Split Start a Mixed Bag

The experimentation continued yesterday as Dontrelle Willis and Armando Galarraga effectively split their start yesterday in an attempt to get Willis some innings.  Willis didn’t allow a run in four innings and he gave up just two hits but he walked five, including three walks alone in the fourth inning.  The Tigers took a 3-0 lead in the top of the fifth inning and then saw it disappear when Galarraga, in his first inning of work, gave up a three run homer in the corner to Eric Chavez.  The Tigers took the lead back in the seventh on Carlos Guillen’s RBI single, but Casey Fossum, who had just been called up and who made his Tiger debut, combined with Zach Miner to give up a run in the eighth.

Then the Tigers lost it in the eleventh.  Bobby Seay left with a runner on second and one out and while Freddy Dolsi eventually got that lead baserunner out on a fielder’s choice, a single, a walk and another single later and the A’s had their second straight walk off win of the series.

The Tigers drew twelve walks in all but they stranded fifteen guys.  Edgar Renteria, who was 0 for 5, came and went with ten men on base.  Carlos Guillen and Magglio Ordonez each drew three walks while Placido Polanco went two for six with a run and an RBI.

The best the Tigers can finish on their west coast swing is now 4-5.  It’ll be Nate Robertson going up against Justin Duchscherer this afternoon.  The fact that Duchscherer is on my fantasy team pretty much ensures that the Tigers will find their stroke and put up a ten spot.

Tigers Lose Another Pitcher’s Duel

The Tigers are now 0-22 when they score two runs or less after Francisco Cruceta gave up the winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning to Bobby Crosby last night.  It’s unfortunate because Kenny Rogers has had two straight solid starts but for is efforts, he didn’t get a decision in either of them.  And just as bad, Francisco Cruceta, who was heralded as a savior of sorts in the bullpen, is now 0-3 with a 5.40 ERA.  In his last three games, he’s taken the loss in two and blown a save in another. 

The Tigers picked up just five hits in this one.  One of them was a solo homer by Curtis Granderson while another was an RBI single by Jeff Larish.  Miguel Cabrera was the only Tiger to reach base twice with a pair of walks.

Tonight is going to be an odd one.  Leyland wants Dontrelle Willis to get some innings, so it looks like he and Armando Galarraga are going to basically split the start. Willis will throw the first four or five innings before Galarraga takes over and hopefully finishes the game up with a win.  Willis hasn’t thrown in over a week since coming off the disabled list.  At this point, it looks like they should have kept him down in the minors longer.

The Indians and Royals both won, while the White Sox lost so the Tigers are still 6 1/2 back but they’re just one ahead of the Royals and two back of the Indians.  A lot will be determined over the weekend when the Tigers play four against the Indians.

Four Run Ninth Pushes Tigers to Series Win Over Mariners

Half of the twelve runs the Tigers and Mariners scored this afternoon came in the final frame as the Tigers took the rubber game in their series against the Mariners and evened their record at 3-3 on their west coast trip.  The game was a back and forth, semi-pitchers duel until the ninth inning when the flood gates opened and the Tigers scored four before the Mariners scored two in the 7-5 win.

Placido Polanco broke the 3-3 tie with an RBI single but it was a two run double to cap off the four run fourth by Miguel Cabrera that would prove to be the difference in this one.  Curtis Granderson scored three times while Cabrera and Magglio Ordonez both drove in a pair.

Jeremy Bonderman gave up his share of hits (12) but only three of those baserunners came around to scored in seven innings.  More importantly, he struck out five and didn’t walk anyone.  He also has his ERA down to a respectable 4.29 so he still has the team lead if you discount Armando Galarraga’s 3.44 because he doesn’t have enough innings to qualify yet.  Zach Miner threw a shutout eighth and he improved to 2-3 while Todd Jones gave up a two run shot in the ninth but would have had to give up twice that number of runs to blow the game.

The White Sox lost so the Tigers are now just six games out of first place and they’re only one back of the third place Indians.  Next up are the Athletics, who have been a little bit of a surprise after their first sale this offseason.  In fact they’re just one loss worse then the White Sox and they sport a 10-7 record against the AL Central.  Kenny Rogers gets the nod and he’ll face Rich Harden in the opener tomorrow.

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