Wilkin Ramirez got called up today and he’s getting thrust into the lead off spot against leff handed starter Brian Matusz. This was a big time WTF moment but Ramirez does have a .416 OBP against lefties down in Triple A so maybe the move will pay some dividends. There have been some more unusual lineup moves I’ve questioned that ended up working out (somehow). Casey Fien was sent down to Toledo and my guess is, Ramirez goes back when Nate Robertson is set to come up from his rehab assignment. Speaking of Robertson, he’s throwing in the second inning after a scoreless first in Toledo.
While some of the Tigers’ higher round picks like Wade Gaynor (3rd round) and Edwin Gomez (4th round) have struggled so far this year, the Tigers ninth round draft pick, John Murrian, has had an outstanding season for the Oneonta Tigers. The scouting report on him has him as an above average fielder and with little power at the plate but a good eye. So far, he’s lived up to that with a 16/12 strikeout to walk ratio in 105 at bats. You have to love that .420 on base percentage. The backup catcher at Oneonta and the Tigers 18th round pick, Eric Roof, is also having a decent season. I wonder if that 6’5″, 185 lb line is accurate. That’s pretty tall and skinny for a catcher.
Signing day is coming up and the Tigers have yet to sign their top two picks, Jacob Turner (1) and Andrew Oliver (2). So far, the Dombrowski front office has a perfect record so I’m optimistic they’ll be able to get some deals done.
Luke Scott drove in a pair in the first inning and that capped off a five run first inning for the Orioles in what looked to be a meltdown start for Justin Verlander. Fortunately for the Tigers, Verlander bounced back and threw seven shutout innings after that and the offense got just enough for the Tigers to sneak away with a win in this one. Verlander ended up throwing 119 pitches and he gave up five runs on nine hits and a walk with eight strikeouts in eight innings. Fernando Rodney pitched a shutout ninth and improved to 2-2 on the season.
I think a big reason the Tigers came back in this one was because they immediately answered the Orioles big inning with three runs of their own in the bottom of the first. Placido Polanco doubled home Curtis Granderson and then Miguel Cabrera belted a two run double to make it 5-3. Cabrera later hit a solo home run in the fifth to make it 5-5. Then in the bottom of the ninth, Clete Thomas put one over the fence at the deepest part of the ballpark for the game winner. Thomas reached base three times with a single, a home run and a walk. Ramon Santiago had a big hit in the fourth when he singled home Marcus Thames with two outs in the inning.
The White Sox and Twins were both off so the Tigers picked up a half game on each of them. Tomorrow, Jarrod Washburn makes his much anticipated Tigers debut while the Orioles throw Brian Matusz, who’s making his major league debut. Matusz was the Orioles first round (fourth overall) draft pick last year.
One advantage of being self employed is what you’re able to do at work. Right now, I’m watching the Rays dismantle Zach Greinke. It’s a tough call right now between Greinke (he only has ten wins and that won’t help with the voters who have a hard time looking past this) and Verlander and a few others for the Cy Young and this game could help tip things towards Verlander for the moment at least as far as this matchup. Of course that means Verlander will have to follow through and pitch a good game tonight.
Verlander is on pace for around 250 strikeouts this season. If he got there, he’d be the first Tiger since Mickey Lolich in 1972 to hit the milestone. Only three Tigers have done it. Lolich struck out 250 or more three times and Denny McLain and Hal Newshouser each did it once.
While I wouldn’t bank on either guy making a big impact this season, both Nate Robertson and Jeremy Bonderman will begin rehab assignments beginning Tuesday with the Hens. It looks like the goal is to have both guys back right around the time the Tigers can extend their rosters to 40 players. The way Armando Galarraga has been throwing, the better of those two guys could end up finishing the season as the teams fifth starter.
What’s interesting is if both are held in the minors until September (I think you can keep a guy in rehab for 30 days), neither will make the post season roster. The Tigers won’t need five starters in the post season but the best case scenario is one or both are lights out and they force the Tigers hand to bring them back early to help out in October.
I almost saw my first no-hitter in person this afternoon. I took my son Devin to the Lugnuts game and Lansing pitcher Joel Carreno had a no-hitter going until he gave up a single with one out in the eighth. He came out after that and Jason Roenicke finished the one-hitter up. I’m going to write more on this in my Hardball Times column this week, but I’m really learning to love Minor League Baseball. My son (who’s five) made it through his first game (when it’s just the two of us) to completion and I got to watch probably at least 2/3 of the game.
The news on the Tigers’ front wasn’t nearly as good as the Tigers were beat down. Armando Galarraga gave up eight runs in 5 2/3 innings in an 11-1 loss. Casey Fien was also bounced around and the lone pitcher to get the job done was Fu-Te Ni, who threw 1 2/3 shutout innings to close out the game. Ni now has 15 strikeouts and just three walks in 13 1/3 innings. This guy looks like he was a find.
The Tigers hitters made Carl Pavano look like a Cy Young winner and they managed just six singles. Curtis Granderson went two for four while Gerald Laird went one for three and he scored the lone Tigers runs.
It’s Dodgers and Braves tonight. I’ll have it on while I’m cranking out some tax returns (yes, we still do tax returns well into the summer). The White Sox and Twins both lost as well so the Tigers keep their 1 1/2 and 3 game leads respectively heading into their four game set with the Orioles. It’s Justin Verlander going up against Chris Tillman, who’s making just his second big league start. The White Sox take on the Angels and the Twins face the Indians in the weekday series.
The Tigers and Indians went into extra frames again last night and this time it was the Tigers who came out on top 4-3. Ryan Raburn singled home the Tigers first run in the twelth and then right after that, Clete Thomas scored on a balk by reliever Jose Veras. The Tigers needed that last one though because Zach Miner gave up a run in the bottom half of the inning but fortunately he had two to work with as he picked up his first save of the season. Bobby Seay picked up the win and outside of Rodney giving up a ninth inning run, the pen followed up Rick Porcello’s fantastic start rather nicely.
Speaking of Porcello, he bounced back in a big way. He needed just 91 pitches (and eight of those came against the first batter he faced, Grady Sizemore, who drew the only walk against Porcello) to get through eight innings and he gave up just one run on four hits. He walked one and struck out three. He needed only five pitches to get through the third.
I’m way behind the times on the technology. If I could find a well timed game, I’d like to watch an entire game on the enhanced gameday platform which looks like it has a ton of cool options. I also haven’t hopped on the Twitter band wagon yet. Most things will have to wait until next season (business number two is heating up and number three has yet to get off the ground).
Back to the game, Miguel Cabrera had a nice day at the plate. He went three for six with an RBI and that puts him at .336 on the season. He’s going to have a tough time catching Ichiro at .363 (Mauer is second at .353) but with two months to play, anything can happen. Rod and Mario were talking about him being a lock for 100 RBIs and he’s just about on pace for that but his past two months saw him drive in just 10 each. He’s still riding that fantastic May when he drove in 23.
Ryan Raburn also had a nice game with three hits. After starting the season three for 26, he’s gone 38 for 130 (.292). Raburn has also had the distinction of hitting at all nine spots in the batting order as well as fielding five positions (first, third and all three outfield spots).
The White Sox won and now the Twins are trending down so the Tigers have a game and a half lead over Chicago and a three game lead over the Twins. The rubber game with the Indians is this afternoon and it’ll be Armando Galarraga going up against Carl Pavano. Then the Tigers come home to face Luke Scott and the Orioles for four games to kick off a seven game home stand that finishes with three against the Twins. It looks like all of the Tigers remaining weekday home games are on Thursday so I might have to pull Devin out of school to have our best chance at making a game together. We are planning on going out to Lansing this afternoon to catch a Lugnuts game. I was hoping to hit three minor league parks this year so if we get to Lansing this afternoon, that leaves Midland.
I had let my subscription to Baseball Reference’s Play Index lapse and I renewed today so I started messing around with it. The first thing I did was ran the “by pitcher” numbers for Brandon Inge and some interesting things popped up.
With pitcher’s who he’s faced at least 30 times, Inge has a 1.000+ OPS against three different pitchers. One of those is new Tigers hurler Jarrod Washburn, who Inge has a .300/.382/.633 line against. Oddly, the guy he’s had the most success against is Zach Greinke (although Greinke had that tough run so maybe it’s not too surprising). He has three home runs against Greinke (tied with Jeff Weaver, another familiar name) and he’s hit .385/.455/641. That’s down from last year though because this year, Inge is one for seven against him.
Then I ran the numbers on Washburn and Inge is the best current hitter against him. Gary Sheffield is a ,429 hitter against Washburn and Ivan Rodriguez hit .436 against him. Rounding the hitters with more then 25 PAs and a 1.000+ OPS is Craig Monroe with a 1.028 OPS.
Other interesting and mundane tidbits on Washburn include…
1) Washburn is terribly consistent between his first and second half splits. His OPS against in the second half (.748) is just 15 points higher then his first half OPS (.733).
2) He’s served up more first pitch fastballs (47) then any other count.
3) Washburn typically gets worse as the game goes one. His OPS against in the first three innings is .683, then it goes to .759 in innings four through six and ends with a .914 in the final three frames.
4) He’s 12-3 (most wins) against the Rays but then he’s 8-15 (most losses) against the Athletics.
5) He’s 15-5 with a .643 OPS against on artificial turf
Yesterday afternoon’s trade deadline chat was definitely fun. What wasn’t fun was having the White Sox sneak in and get Jake Peavy. With the spotlight on Roy Halladay, I don’t remember Peavy’s name coming up once either during the discussion or on the MLB Network’s show. The good news is that for Tigers fans, Peavy probably won’t be ready until the end of the month so his impact on the current race could be minimal. I liked the Tigers move and wasn’t too bummed they didn’t pick up a bat (yet). I say yet because my bet is they still have one more move up their sleeve once the waiver wire mess clears up.
The bad news is, the Tigers lost a tough one last night. Carlos Guillen belted a two run blast in the top of the ninth to send the game into extra frames but Casey Fien gave up a run in the bottom of the thirteenth in a 6-5 loss. Edwin Jackson struggled in his start and he lasted just four and in all, the Tigers used eight pitchers. Fernando Rodney pitched two shutout innings and Brandon Lyon pitched three before Fien took the loss in the thirteenth. The hope is Porcello pitches deep into tonight’s game because they’re going to be an arm or two short.
Placido Polanco had three singles and he scored a run. Magglio Ordonez went one for three and he doubled. There was some focus on Ordonez in the chat and whether we should sit him so his contract doesn’t vest. I have mixed feelings because 1) he’s done so much for us the past couple of years and 2) we don’t want to establish a reputation of not following through on these kind of things. Who’s to say we don’t go after someone next year with a similar deal and he looks at what we did to Maggs. The obvious hope is that Ordonez catches fire and forces their hand. Then again, Clete Thomas got the start and he went two for three with a pair of RBIs.
The White Sox won and the Twins lost so they switch places and the Tigers lead is now a game and half (two in the loss column). Rick Porcello gets the start tonight and he’ll face Jeremy Sowers. Porcello has given up at least five in his last four starts so hopefully he can reverse that trend.