Archive for August, 2008

Tigers Finish August On Winning Note

The Tigers took the rubber game today against the Royals to win their last series in the month of August.  For the month, the Tigers finished a tepid 11-17 and it marks their third losing month of the season, compared to one winning month (their impressive 19-8 June) and one dead even month (13-13 in July).  It hasn’t been pretty and it’s taken a three game losing streak by the Indians just to push the Tigers back into third place in the American League East.

Man, I hope Armando Galarrag sticks because if he doesn’t, he’s kind of wasted his good season.  He’s still 12-4 because the Tigers didn’t push the winning runs across the plate until the bottom of the eighth inning, but his ERA is down to 3.17.  That’s good for six in the American League and the guys in front of him aren’t any slouches.  His 1.18 WHIP is seventh in the American League and his .222 batting average against is good for third.  He’s got a month to go and if he could push his wins up to 16, he could sneak in and steal the AL ROY.

Miguel Cabrera drove in all four Tiger runs today and that brings his season total up 104.  He also hit his 29th homerun.  120 RBIs should be a given unless he has a drop off and 35 homeruns isn’t out of the question.  The last Tiger to hit both of those numbers is Cecil Fielder and it would make him just the fifth Tiger to do it.  Norm Cash and Rocky Colavito did it once, Fielder did it three times and Hank Greenberg five times.

The Tigers kick off a tough week with a makeup game tomorrow against the Yankees.  Then it’s three at home against the Angels and three at Minnesota against the Twins.  Justin Verlander gets the nod tomorrow against Sidney Ponson.

Tigers Win Second Straight Series

Of course, the wins don’t matter nearly as much anymore.  The Tigers won two of three this weekend against the Royals and now they head home to take on the Indians.  This series looked to be huge back in March and now it’s a just a battle of two teams jockeying for position in the Central.  The Indians have rattled off six straight wins and they’re just one game back of the Tigers in the loss column. 

Miguel Cabrera drove in his 100th run of the season and this marks the third straight season that the Tigers have had a 100 RBI guy after a five season drought from 2001-2005.  Now, we’ll see if Cabrera can become the first Tiger since Bobby Higginson (remember him?) to belt 30 homers in a season.  And since I’m hurting for material these days with the Tigers woes, I noticed an interesting season when looking through the 100 RBI list.  Dean Palmer drove in 102 runs in 2000 and he hit just .256.  What’s strange is, that’s not even the worst batting average by a Tiger.  Mickey Tettleton (.245) and Cecil Fielder (.244) are two and one as far as lowest batting with 100 RBIs.  The major league record is Tony Armas, who hit .218 and drove in 107 in 1983.  Ryan Howard is pressing for the record though because he already has 100 RBIs this season and he’s hitting .229.  In fact if the season ended today, Howard would be second on that list behind Tony Armas (the next closest is a distant .232).

Nate Robertson made his first appearance out of the bullpen in a regular season game since 2004.  I’m not quite sure how having him pitch to two batters is going to help him develop his breaking pitch but whatever.  Chris Lambert, who the Tigers picked up in 2007 when they shipped Mike Maroth to the Cardinals, will make his major league debut on Tuesday and he has the unenviable task of going up against the 18-2 Cliff Lee.  I personally though Lambert should have gotten the nod back when they were giving time to Eddie Bonine so I’m interested to see what he can do.

I’m also looking at the career stats for Justin Verlander.  When it’s all said and done, his 2008 season is going to better in some regards then his 2006 season.  He’s going to have better rates in strikeouts/9 and homeruns/9 and while his walk rate is worse, it’s not THAT much worse.  Right now, his WHIP and batting average against are both better then 2006 it’s just the runs.  You wonder how many of that is because of the pen.  He’s also given up eight unearned runs (only three all of 2006) and that hasn’t helped his record any either.

Armando Galarraga takes on Zach Jackson tomorrow.  All three games in this series are night games.

Nate Robertson to the Pen and the Dick McAuliffe Brawl

The Tigers announced today that Nate Robertson is headed to the bullpen.  I’m watching the game now and Dave Dombrowski was on and said it was more to work on Nate’s slider.  You wonder if this were June whether they would have tried to push Nate Robertson down to the minors.  I don’t know where he’s at option wise but with the minor league seasons winding down, it makes little sense at this point.  My guess is, they’ll find a few blowouts and let Nate work through things with some extended relief innings.

Every year I write up one of my historical diaries, I fall behind and this year was no exception.  With some persistence though, I’ve finally caught up and today marks the day that Dick McAuliffe literally knocked Tommy John out of a game. 

Tigers Rolls Into KC After Fireworks In Texas

The Tigers took two of three against the Rangers earlier this week in a series that saw the winner score at least eight runs in every game.  Game one was tight, the Tigers then embarassed the Rangers who then turned the tables and provided the beatdown in the finale.  Nate Robertson gave up five long balls in that one and that was the first time it’s happened to a Tiger pitcher since Jeff Weaver gave up five in a start on July 24, 1999 (at Tiger Stadium in their final season no less).  The other Tiger starter to give up five homeruns since 1958 was Don Mossi back in 1961.  The ironic thing about the Mossi game (6/23/1961) was that the Tigers actually won it 15-7 and hit four homeruns of their own.

Miguel Cabrera drove in his 97th run and he’s pretty much a lock to finish with 100.  How far he moves up the Tigers single season RBI list will depend on how much he plays in September.  He’s on pace for around 120-130 or so and that would barely put him in the top 20.  Magglio Ordonez has been stuck in the low 70s for some time and he now sits at 72.  I mentioned this a while back but if he could reach the milestone, he’d be the first Tiger with three consecutive 100 RBI seasons since Cecil Fielder.

The internet takes us in odd directions and after checking out the box score to a Pirates game (I think it was Monday because their game was the only day game) and I noticed the name Chris Gomez.  Talk about some flashbacks.  Chris Gomez made his Tiger debut way back in 1993 and he was traded to the Padres in 1996 in a deal that brought us Brad Ausmus.  Still, since his debut in 1993 he’s played at the major league level every year for the past 16 seasons.  This is a guy who played for Sparky and he also played with Tram, Lou Whitaker and Kirk Gibson.  I didn’t do a scientific study, but after perusing the 1993 Tigers roster, he’s the only guy left in baseball (David Wells just missed because he hasn’t pitched this year).  In fact, the claim to fame that Gomez has is that he helped push Travis Fryman to third base.  And 1993 was that memorable team that led the American League in runs scored (899), walks and strikeouts (by hitters). 

Anyway, enough with the nostalgia, Justin Verlander gets the nod tomorrow and he’ll go up against Brian Bannister.  Bannister has an ERA close to six so I like our chances.

Tigers Finish Tough Week With Tough Loss

If there was any doubt that the Tigers were done, this week should have put those doubts to rest.  The Tigers drop five of seven through series against the Jays and Orioles and things ended on a particularly ugly note this afternoon with a 16-8 drubbing at the hands of the Orioles.  The end result is a 4-6 record over the Tigers ten game home stand and this was a stretch where they would have had to go 8-2 to stay in things.  From this point on, I’m no longer looking at the standings because from the Tigers perspective, their chances of making the playoffs are pretty much zero.

In the meantime, the White Sox and Twins, two teams I had pegged to be at the bottom of the standings back in April, are in a dead tie for the division title.  For more comedy, check out who I predict to win the NL Central.  At least it looks like I picked the AL ROY correctly.  Anyway, the Tigers still play a series each against the White Sox and Twins as well as a series against the Rays so they could still have a small impact in who makes the playoffs and who doesn’t.  Unfortunately, there’s a lot of games against the Indians and a lot of games against the Royals so my bet is, you begin to see more sparse crowds at the ballpark.  They’ll still set the attendance record, but only because the tickets have already been sold.

The Tigers head to Texas for three games and they’ll have to contend with the best offense in baseball.  We’ll also see if the Tigers pull of another trade or two to begin positioning themselves for next year.  I’m not sure who’s cleared waivers (as far as I know, there’s no real way for an outside to know) but it wouldn’t surprise me if Dave Dombrowski pulls the trigger on a deal.  Kenny Rogers goes up against Scott Feldman and you have two guys who’s combined ERA is ten.  I think we’ll see some offense tomorrow considering Leyland will have to ride Rogers since we used five pitchers.

Tigers Sign Freddy Garcia to Minor League Deal

Prior to tonight’s game, the Tigers signed Freddy Garcia to a minor league deal.  He’s going to start out at Lakeland to build up his arm strength and the hope is, he’ll be with the Mud Hens sooner rather then later.

Talk about a guy who fell quicly.  Garcia was a key part of the White Sox 2005 World Series run and then he won 17 games for the White Sox in 2006.  He was then dealt to the Phillies where he won just one game before going down with a torn labrum and he hasn’t pitched since.  Now he has a second chance and hopefully it turns into a worthwhile experiment for the Tigers.

Tigers are up 4-1 but the Jays are threatening in the top of the seventh.

Nate Robertson Has Best Start In a While

Nate Robertson had his best start in over a month as he got his ERA down below six.  He improved to 7-8 and he gave up just one run on five hits and a walk with five strikeouts in 7 2/3 innings.  Fernando Rodney got the final four outs, including getting out of the eighth with an inherited runner, and he picked up his third save of the season.

Curtis Granderson belted his 15th homer and he’s well on pace for his second straight season over 20.  Granderson’s slugging percentage is down about 60 points from his exceptional 2007 season but outside of that, he’s proven himself a bonafide star hitter from the leadoff spot.  You can’t argue with an .862 OPS and the only thing that should keep him from getting 100 runs (although he still has a chance) is that time he missed in April.

Magglio Ordonez drove in a pair on two hits and that brings his season total up to 70.  Like Granderson, the only thing that’s going to stop him from getting 100 RBIs is that time he missed just before the All Star Break.  If he does get to 100, he’ll be the first Tiger with three straight 100 RBI seasons since Cecil Fielder did it from 1990 through 1992 and then Fielder was the first guy to do it since Hank Greenberg.

Reason number 99 that the Tigers probably won’t make the playoffs is that, despite winning two of three, they made up no ground on first place (still 7 1/2 back), mostly because they have to contend with two teams.  In order to have a shot, they need to make up about a game a series on BOTH teams and that’s just too tough.

Next up is a four game set against the Blue Jays.  When I was a teenager, an August series against the Blue Jays usually meant something.  Not so much now.  Anyway, Sean Marcum goes up against Justin Verlander in the opener tomorrow.

Miguel Cabrera Homers Twice, Tigers Even Series With Athletics

This game was a lot closer then it looked.  Through six innings, it was a back and forth 3-2 game that saw the Tigers score, and the A’s answer shortly thereafter.  Then the Tigers offense exploded for three runs in the seventh and four more in the eighth to turn it into a blowout.  Miguel Cabrera homered twice and drove in four runs and Placido Polanco had a team high three hits and a run. Gary Sheffield and Edgar Renteria also both went deep with solo shots.

Armando Galarraga was the first Tiger pitcher to reach ten wins with another solid start.  He gave up two runs on eight hits and two walks with four strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings.  Bobby Seay, Joel Zumaya and Kyle Farnsworth combined to hold the A’s to just two hits in 3 1/3 innings of shutout relief.

The rubber game is this afternoon.  It’ll be Nate Robertson going up against rookie Greg Smith.  The Tigers didn’t get it done against a lefthander on Friday so hopefully they’ll fare better today.  The White Sox lost but the now first place Twins won so the Tigers sit eight games back.

I met some big time baseball fans this weekends.  Yesterday, I voluneteered to help out at Wal-Mart Field with the Miracle of League of Michigan.  Wal-Mart Field is specially designed to give kids with disabilities an easier way to play ball.  I was a player “buddy” for Toby, who’s favorite baseball player is Gary Sheffield and who was a southpaw like me.  There motto is a good, “Every Child Deserves the Chance to Play Baseball.”  I had a nice time and everyone there was extremely friendly.

Athletics Snap Ten Game Skid At Tigers Expense

The Tigers had a chance to build on their win last night over the White Sox but they went out with a whimper today.  They jumped out to a 2-0 lead on a huge centerfield shot by Marcus Thames in the second inning but they did little after that.  And when I say little, I mean two hits in the final seven frames for the Tigers.

I penned a piece over at the Hardball Times on the Tigers chances the rest of the way.  I present the reasons they will (yes, I was stretching) and won’t make the playoffs.  If the numbers look funny, it’s because everything is as of after Tuesday’s loss.  It just didn’t get put up until today.

The White Sox are up 3-0 and if that lead holds, the Tigers will be back to nine back in the loss column.  The Twins are also ahead.  Tomorrow, it’ll be Armando Galarraga going up against Dan Meyer in a night game.

Guillermo Moscoso – A Prospect to Watch

After a less then stellar minor league career prior to 2008, Guillermo Moscoso has taken his game to the next level.  Yes, he’s 24 and he just made his Double A debut today but as Mike Cassidy discusses, his numbers are impressive this season.

No Sunday Series Saver

Like I touched on last week, the Tigers had done a good job in the month of July by winning their Sunday games to salvage a game in their previous four weekend series.  It almost looked like this would be the case today, but Fernando Rodney had a tenth inning meltdown that cost the Tigers the win.  He walked three, hit a batter and gave up a single and a one run lead turned into a one run loss in extra innings.  Even worse, Kyle Farnsworth gave up three runs in the bottom of the eighth and the only reason the game went into extra frames was because Curtis Granderson came through big in the ninth with a game tying solo homer.

The end result is, the Tigers are now back below .500.  They’re seven games back of the Twins, who passed the White Sox today.  Speaking of said White Sox, the Tigers have a day off, then they finish up their road trip with three against the White Sox in Chicago.  Even a sweep would only cut their deficit to the Sox in half.  The Twins have three against the worst team in the American League, the Mariners.

Armando Galarraga once again came through with a fantastic outing.  He gave up just one run on four hits with no walks and four strikeouts in seven innings.  He was up to 100 pitches, which is probably wanted prompted Leyland to go to the pen.  After 90 pitches, Galarrage had given up thirteen hits and five earned runs in seven innings prior to today’s start and outside of his first fifteen pitches, that was his roughest patch of the game.

Here’s some more interesting tidbits on Galarraga.  Prior to today’s start, he had a .329 batting average against when hitters put the first pitch into play.  After the first pitch, regardless of the count after that first pitch, Galarraga has a .192 batting average against.  To round out the Galarraga situational stats, he’s gone to 3-0 to eleven batters and he’s walked all eleven.  He hasn’t given up a hit nor has a batter even put the ball into play.  Some of his other numbers are similarly odd.  After going 3-1 to a batter, his line is .160/.553/.240.  You wonder how often he just gives up the free pass and hopes he can get the next guy.

Miguel Cabrera belted his 20th homerun to give the Tigers the lead in the tenth.  It was a huge shot that actually hit one of the cat walks in the dome.  Cabrera would be the perfect guy to match up against Galarraga.  Prior to today’s game, Cabrera was hitting .400 when he put the ball in play on the first pitch and he’s walked all thirteen times he’s gone to a 3-0 count.

Enough of the fun.  There’s no doubt the Tigers need to win this week.  After the White Sox, they come home to play the struggling Athletics.  Hopefully the A’s are still struggling and the Tigers are riding a three game winning streak.

Trouble By The Bay

The Tigers dropped the first game of their three game set with the Rays last night and the loss now puts them seven games back of first place in the loss column and just one game above .500.  Tuesday night, I need to write a piece for the Hardball Times on the Tigers final two months of the season and if the losing continues, I’m going to have a hard time being optimistic.

Things started well enough for the Tigers yesterday.  They drew four walks in the first inning for their first run and then Miguel Cabrera tripled home a run in the third to make it 2-0.    Unfortunately, that was it and they picked up just three hits beyond that point.  In the bottom of the third, the Rays tagged Zach Miner for a pair and just like that, the game was tied.  Carlos Pena homered for the winning run and two of the Rays five runs scored without someone reaching base.  The second run came on a passed ball and the fourth one came on a wild pitch.

Brandon Inge was busy behind the plate.  He was two for five, which isn’t bad.  He gunned down B.J. Upton and Akinori Iwamura but Carl Crawford, Upton and Eric Hinske all stole bases. 

The Tigers have an unusual 6:10 start time tonight.  Must be something going on in the St. Petersburg area.  It’ll be Kenny Rogers going up against Andy Sonnanstine.

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