Archive for September, 2008

Last Rites

Jason Beck did an end of season column and while there’s nothing really new in here, it’s an interesting run down none the less.  He does a good job of being critical without being mean in the side bar, there’s also some video of some of the Tigers top moments. 

Joe Sheehan posted a few comments on the Tigers game last night.  I think the WPA graph says it all.  The Tigers hung around, but when it was the usual time to go to the pen, things went south (or at least on this graph, north), in a hurry.

This is a little disconcerting, but the Tigers didn’t have a single player make the Eastern League top 20.  Granted, some of their bluechips spent the entire season at Lakeland (Rick Porcello was picked as the top guy in the Florida State League with Cale Iorg coming at 17), but Double A is where you’re near major league ready prospects are sitting.  The fact that the Tigers are thin at the Double A level means there’s not a lot of depth.  The good news is, the Tigers didn’t have a single guy in the top 20 back in 2003 (Francisco Cruceta checks in at 20 but he was part of the Indians organization back then) yet three years later they were in the World Series.

White Sox and Twins are scoreless in the top of the fifth.  This is shaping up to be a good game.  In fact the Twins just got their first hit of the game.


The Tigers made their mark on the playoff race by playing a great first half before getting pummelled in the second half of their final game of the season against the White Sox.  Freddy Garcia looked sharp but when he came out, the wheels fell off the wagon and the end result was a 8-2 loss in the Tigers final game of the season.

Example number 101 of why win/loss record is a tough statistic to take seriously was Armando Galarraga today.  He came in mid-count to Jermaine Dye and with a runner on second.  He gave up two wild pitches that scored the tying run at 2-2 and Dye walked on the final wild pitch.  That was the only batter he faced and because Dye scored on the Alexi Ramirez slam, he falls to 13-7 because that was the go ahead run.

With the loss, the Tigers finished 74-88.  While the season was a disaster, I’m taking one good thing out of it and that’s the perception of Tiger fans.  It wasn’t that long ago that the Tigers were a joke and 74-88 third best record had it occured between 1995 and 2005 and the fact that we’re outraged about is positive.  Since 2006, the Tigers have been viewed as winner and while they had the hiccup today, there’s little doubt that the Tigers should be back in the mix as early as next year.

Miguel Cabrera finished the season with 37 homeruns and unless some goes nuts tomorrow, he’ll be your homerun champ.  Gary Sheffield finished the season with 499 and it’ll be interesting to see when/if/where he belts number 500.  One thing for sure is the Tigers have some decisions to make this offseason.  Short, leftfield and catcher are all holes and that’s assuming Carlos Guillen comes back strong next year.  Right now, I wouldn’t be bummed to see Ramon Santiago get that shortstop start but it looks like the Tigers might look elsewhere.  The pitching as a whole is one huge question mark so it’s hard to even begin discussing it.

Chuck Hernandez and Jeff Jones got their walking papers so a big part of the offseason will be looking for a new pitching coach.  I don’t know if he has a relationship with Jim Leyland, but Leo Mazzone is out there.  I’d almost like to see the Tigers spend their money on him then a blue chip outfielder.

Andrew Hess made it to Hawaii and he was very solid in his debut.  He struck out five in two shutout innings and he gave up just one hit

There’s no television coverage for the White Sox/Twins game, at least as I’m writing this so it’ll be Wednesday when I’ll get my taste of playoff baseball.  It’s not as fun without the Tigers, but I’ll make the best of it.

Let’s Play One More

I have to admit, while I never want the baseball season to end, I’d really like this Tigers season to just finish up so we can get on to next year.  It’s been one disappointment after another and while this has to be one of the frustrating seasons ever as a Tigers fan, I’m kind of looking forward to this one last game tomorrow against the White Sox.  The Tigers will be given some national attention and they’re going to have a direct impact on how the playoff picture ends up.  A win tomorrow, and the Tigers will ruin the White Sox chances at playing for their second World Series in four years.

The Tigers did get it done against the Rays in a meaningless series.  Curtis Granderson and Magglio Ordonez both homered in today’s game and for Granderson, he drove in four runs.  Maggs homer was a big one and he drove in two with a ninth inning homer to tie the game but the Rays got it done in extra frames off of Chris Lambert.

So for one more day, the Tigers will have a shot at some of their milestones.  Gary Sheffield has one more chance this year at 500 homers and Miguel Cabrera has one more chance to pad what’s hopefully a lead in the homerun race.  The Yankees are playing their final game as I write this but it doesn’t look A-Rod is in the lineup so it looks like the Tigers will have their first homerun champ since Cecil Fielder did it back in Cecil Fielder back in 1991.

Congratulations to the Brewers, who made the postseason for the first time in a long, long time.  For the second straight year, the Mets couldn’t get it done down the stretch and they’re the odd team out. And the Angels became the first team since 2005 to win 100 games.

One thing I am excited about is playoff baseball.  Nothing beats it and I’m looking forward to some of the newer teams like the Rays and Brewers making their mark although I have a soft spot for the Dodgers.  You have the whole Joe Torre thing going with the Yankees not even making the postseason but you also have the Cubs getting some serious consideration 100 years after their last World Series as well as the Rays making the postseason for the first time in their franchises history.  We should see some good matchups and some great baseball.

One Week to Go

Thanks to a sweep at the hands of the Indians this weekend, the Tigers now play a three game series against the Royals that could decide who finishes in last place in the AL Central.  There’s no chance at third place, and there’s no chance of a winning.  And there’s no chance that the Tigers can redeem themselves this year even if they win out.  Yeah, they’re checking to see what guys like Dontrelle Willis has going, but I think even he needs the frest start of a new season to get past everything that’s gone on. 

Magglio Ordonez had a mediocre weekend and he now finds himself in third place in his pursuit for his second straight batting title.  His primary nemisis is the 2006 batting champ in Joe Mauer and there’s also Dustin Pedroia to contend with.  Still, the six point deficit isn’t insurmountable.  What’ll be interesting to see is, if he has the lead and the Tigers have to play the White Sox, does he get time.  I don’t know if it’s still there, but there was some bad blood between Ordonez and the White Sox and it wouldn’t suprise me to want to go in there knowing it could cost him the batting championship.  The last and only time that happened was when Ty Cobb did it from 1917-1919.  The Tigers did have three straight batting champions from 1925-1927, but Harry Heilmann sandwiched a batting championship by Heinie Manush in 1926.  Heilmann won four batting championships in the 1920s but they were every other year beginning in 1921.

Miguel Cabrera has fared better though and he’s now tied for the AL lead in homerun with Carlos Quentin, who’s likely out for the rest of the season.  Alex Rodriguez is hot on his tail though and A-Rod is just one homer behind him heading into today’s games.

The Twins and White Sox both won so there’s still the 2 1/2 game deficit.  The two teams square off for a three game series beginning on Tuesday and if the White Sox can take at least two of three, they’ll ensure at least a tie for the division title.  A sweep would put things out of reach.  Still, forget the math because anything less then two of three by the Twins means they face a huge uphill battle to reach the postseason.

The Tigers play all week and all seven games are at home.  I’m going on Tuesday and it’ll be interesting to see how many people make it out to the ballpark.  With seven games left, even with a bare bones walk up crowd, the Tigers should still break their attendance record set last year.

Remember Humberto Sanchez?  He finally made his major league debut for the Yankees on Thursday.  He made three stops this year in the minors with most of his time at the Gulf Coast League.  Still, he pitched a perfect inning and struck out one against the White Sox.  And speaking of former Tiger farmhands, Cameron Maybin has been very solid in his callup after an injury plagued minor league season.  He went 0 for 5 today but prior to that, he had a four game hitting streak with two of those games being of the four hit variety.

Rainy Days and Baseball In Hawaii

Well, the Tigers almost had a full three game series washed out but the rain left Chicago in time for the Tigers to get at least two games in.  Of course it looks like it would have been better had the series just gone by the wayside but it also leaves an opening for the Tigers to make a major impact if the White Sox can’t shake the Twins.  If the two teams are seperated by a half game, the final game of the series will have to be made up and the Tigers could have the ultimate chance at playing spoiler.

Gary Sheffield hit homerun number 497 tonight and the three run shot has helped push the Tigers out to a 4-3 lead.  I know it doesn’t replace a pennant race, but seeing Gary Sheffield join the elite 500 homer club would be at least a little consolation for what’s been a disappointing season.  Magglio Ordonez is 0 for 2 and after looking like a long shot for the batting title, he’s right back into the mix with a single digit deficit to make up in the final two weeks.  It’ll be interesting to see if the Tigers have to make up that game against the White Sox because it could mean someone like Miguel Cabrera wins the homerun title while at the same time, the extra game could potentially cost Ordonez the batting title.  I guess they could sit him, but what would be the fun in that.

For those of you who enjoyed Andrew Hess’ writings over at Tigers Minors, we have a special treat.  After a premature end to the White Caps season, Andrew thought his season was done until he got a surprise phone call.  It looks like he’s headed to Hawaii to play in the Hawaiian Winter League so I’ll be sure to keep tabs on him while he’s over there.  You can listen in on some of their games, but with the six hours time difference, it can be tough to catch at times.

Chris Lambert Wins First Career Game

Hey, what do you know.  The Tigers took their weekend series in Minneapolis after some tough times in the stadium earlier this year.  Once again, it was behind another nice game by Curtis Granderson.  In his last eleven gaves, he’s gotten at least one hit in nine and at least three hits in four.  Magglio Ordonez had two more hits as he’s now back in the top five for the batting race but if you’re looking for a momentum play, Granderson could pass him soon at .309.

It wasn’t pretty, but Chris Lambert won his first game.  He gave up four runs (three earned) on seven hits and a walk with three strikeouts in five innings.  Fernando Rodney had a less eventful ninth inning that last night and he picked up save number ten. 

Next up is three against the A’s.  Zach Miner will get the nod and he’ll face rookie phenom Gio Gonzalez.  Gio was traded three times before even reaching the major leagues (including a trade from the White Sox one year, back to the White Sox the next and then the following year, he was once again sent out of town).  He’s struggled so far though and he’s 1-3 with a 7.18 ERA.  Still, he has a 27 strikeouts (to go with 22 walks) in 26 1/3 big league innings.

The White Caps lost a tight one last night and they were eliminated from the Midwest League playoffs.  It’s been a busy summer so I haven’t listened to nearly enough minor league games as I’d like but I go to know one guy in particular.  South Bend’s closer, Clay Zavada, had some dominating numbers.  Yeah, he’s older at 24 for Low A ball, but in 35 1/3 innings of relief, he gave up just two runs (0.51 ERA) and only six hits.  That’s a .056 batting average against and when he faced lefties (he’s left handed), he had a .026 batting average against (one hit in twelve innings).  Throw in 54 strikeouts and only five walks and you have a pretty lethal relief pitcher.  I missed the reason why, but he didn’t pitch at all in 2007.  Scratch that, I just found it and now I remember the story.  His father died and he went home to finish school and to take over the family farm.  Looks like he came back strong enough.

Tigers Storm Back, Win Rare Game at Metrodome

The Tigers were 1-6 this season before today’s win at against the Twins at the Metrodome but at least for a day, it was like we were back in 2006 with an impressive come from behind win.  Down 4-1, Miguel Cabrera drove in his 112th run of the season in the seventh inning to make it 4-2 and then Curtis Granderson and Magglio Ordonez both hit two run blasts in the eighth inning for the 6-4 win.  For Granderson, it was number 18 and it was the 17th homer for Ordonez.  Magglio also put himself back into the fringes of the batting race with three hits and he’s now hitting .318.  Unfortunately, Joe Mauer, who’s ahead of him, had two hits today.

Justin Verlander escaped without taking his 16th loss of the season because of the timely hitting.  He gave up four runs on eight hits and four walks with four strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings.  Clay Rapada improved to 3-0 with 1 1/3 innings of shutout relief and Fernando Rodney gave us his best Todd Jones impersonation.  He loaded the bases on a leadoff walk and two singles before he got Joe Mauer on a strikeout and Justin Morneau on a line out to pick up his ninth save.

I’m listening to the White Caps play South Bend as I write this.  The two teams are playing the third and deciding game of their Midwest League playoff game.  It’s a scoreless game in the fourth inning as we speak but South Bend is threatening.

Chris Lambert gets the start tomorrow and he’ll face Glen Perkins.  The White Sox are tied with the Angels and if they can pull off the game, the Tigers will have helped them to a 2 1/2 game lead in the Central.

Kenny Rogers Bombed Again

Kenny Rogers was shelled again as he lost for the seventh time in his last eight starts.  He was knocked around for six runs and he left with nobody in the third inning.  You have to go all the way back to July 25, 2006 to find a start where Kenny Rogers lasted less then two innings and in that game, he gave up seven runs in the first inning against the Indians.  It’s also the seventh time he’s given up at least six runs in a start and three of those have come in his previous three times on the mound.

Aquilino Lopez’s relief appearances looks better then it really is.  Yeah, he threw four shutout innings and he gave up just four hits with five strikeouts but two of those hits came in the third and they allowed two inherited runners to score.  Nate Robertson threw three solid innings of mop up time to close out the game.

Curtis Granderson drove in the lone Tiger run with his seventh homer of the season.  Placido Polanco was the only Tiger with more then one hit (two singles) and Dusty Ryan made his major league debut with a strikeout to end the game and he spelled Brandon Inge behind the plate in the ninth inning.

Now the Tigers have the chance to play spoiler with three games against the Twins in Minnesota.  Armando Galarraga gets the ball tomorrow and the Tigers will face Francisco Liriano.  Ironically, the Tigers were the team that Liriano was pitching against when he came down with his arm troubles back in 2006.  He came back and pitched once in September, but then missed all of 2007.

Another Good Team, Another Loss

There are seven teams in the American League with a winning record at this point in time.  Against those seven teams, the Tigers are now 22-39, which isn’t good.  The only team they have a winning record against are the Yankees at 4-2 and that was after the Yankees dismantled the Tigers yesterday with our ace on the mound.

Anyway, that just sets up the fact that the Tigers dropped their series opener to the Angels tonight.  Miguel Cabrera once again put the Tigers on his back but his three RBIs on three hits wasn’t enough.  One of those hits was another monster homerun, his 31st of the season.  It’s really too bad that he’s having such a big season because it’s wasted with the Tigers mediocre record.

Fernando Rodney was the goat today.  Chris Lambert had another rough outing and he gave up three runs in four innings but then Gary Glover gave up just one unearned run on one hit through four innings of relief.  Cabrera tied the game in the eighth but then Rodney gave up a hit and two walks that resulted in the game winner.  He’s now 0-4 on the season.

Curtis Granderson stole his tenth base and for the second straight season, he’s piled up quadruple double numbers (that’s double figures in doubles, triples, homers and steals).  The last Tiger to do it in back to back seasons was Charlie Gehringer back in 1929-1930.  In fact, he’s just the fourth Tiger (Ty Cobb and Bobby Veach are the other two) to do it twice in a Detroit uniform and just the third (Veach) to do it in back to back seasons. 

Edgar Renteria had three hits and he’s quietly putting together a solid second half after a subpar first half.  He was hitting .292/.351/.460 and that was before his three singles tonight. 

It’ll be Zach Miner against Jon Garland tomorrow.  The Angels magic number is down to seven so they won’t be able to clinch while here in Detroit.  Let them save their celebration for a different place.

Justin Verlander Drops 15th In Blowout Loss to Yankees

The Tigers could have played spoiler at least for one day but they failed in an ugly loss to the Yankees this afternoon.  Justin Verlander fell to 10-15 and while 20 losses is probably out of the question, this certainly has been a rough season for the right hander.  Yeah, three of the eight runs he gave up were unearned but he was pummelled for seven hits and he gave up two walks before getting pulled with two outs in the second inning.  Bobby Seay (three runs in 1/3 of an inning) and Aquilino Lopez (two runs in 3 2/3 innings) couldn’t stop the damage and by the end of three frames, the Yankees had eleven runs on the board.

The offense did it’s best but fell well short of a miraculous comeback.  Magglio Ordonez had three hits and three RBIs and he’s still a dark horse in the batting title race.  Curtis Granderson had two hits and two walks to go along with three runs to bring his season run total up to 94.  He also has 12 twelve triples after getting two over the weekend series and he’s the first Tiger since Barney McCoskey (remember him) to have back to back seasons with twelve or more triples.  If Granderson can make it to 15, he’ll be the first Tiger since Charlier Gehringer in 1929-30 to have back to back seasons with 15 triples.

Gary Sheffield hit homerun number 494 and he has an outside of chance of getting to 500 by the end of this year.  If he can make it, he’ll be the first player to his 500th homerun in a Tiger uniform.  Brandon Inge hit his eleventh, and Miguel Cabrera became the first Tiger since Bobby Higginson in 2000 to hit 30 homers in a season.  He and Bobby are also the only two Tigers to hit 30 in a season since the Tigers began playing in Comerica Park.

You should see more and more faces coming up from the minors as for the first time in a while, the Mud Hens won’t be in the post season.  For that matter, neither will the SeaWolves or the Flying Tigers.  The White Caps begin their quest for a third straight Midwest League crown beginning Wednesday and unless the Oneonta Tigers have a strong final week of the season, West Michigan will be the lone Tiger farm system in the post season.

Next up is three against the team with the best record in the American League.  The Angels roll in for three and in tomorrow’s game, we’ll see Chris Lambert make his first start against Joe Saunders.  The Angels could wrap up their division title as early as this week if they can put together a run at the Tigers expense.

Kenny Rogers and the White Caps Playoffs

The trading deadline came and went and with it, no Tigers were dealt.  I thought for sure the Tigers might try to unload Kenny Rogers but they must not have found any takers.  Not sure if it was six losses in seven starts or the 7.53 August ERA, but it’s not a huge surprise we couldn’t find any takers for the playoff run.  Oddly, Rogers two best starts came against two of the better teams in the American League. He threw eight innings and gave up just one unearned run against the White Sox on June 12th and then he threw seven shutout innings against the Angels way back on May 26th.

The White Caps finish up their regular season today then they head to South Bend, where they actually kicked off their season way back on April 3rd.  For first person coverage, pitcher Andrew Hess continues to blog about his season with the White Caps over at Tigers Minors.

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