Rick Porcello had a rough start but he walked away with the win because the Tigers put 10 runs on the board. The Tigers hit three home runs in an eight run fourth inning. Gerald Laird belted a two run shot, Scott Sizemore had a solo home run and then Brennan Boesch hit a grand slam to finish up the damage. For Boesch and Sizemore, it was his first career home run.
Austin Jackson went five for five with two runs and his fifth stolen base. The last time a Tiger had five hits in a game was Curtis Granderson on 7/30/2008. The last time a player went five for five was Placido Polanco on 7/27/2007 so it’s been a few years.
The only Tiger starter who didn’t have a hit was Magglio Ordonez and he only played half the game. Johnny Damon also had a nice game and he went three for four with a double, a triple, two runs and two RBIs.
Rick Porcello gave up five runs in 5 1/3 innings and while he continues to struggle, he evened his record to 2-2. It’s Porcello’s third straight rough start. I didn’t get to watch much of the game so I’m not sure what the problems are but he’s still keeping the ball down (11 ground ball outs to three fly ball outs). Ryan Perry helped Porcello out in the sixth and he struck out three in 1 2/3 shutout innings. Jose Valverde pitched a perfect ninth in a non-save situation.
Heading into the game, the Tigers bullpen ERA was 2.22 which is best in the American League. They’re holding the opposition to a .614 OPS although I was a little surprised that the strikeout rate wasn’t a bit better. Then again, guys like Brad Thomas and Eddie Bonine don’t strike out a lot of guys and they counter balance guys like Fu-Te Ni and Joel Zumaya.
Speaking of Zumaya, he had another nice outing yesterday (two shutout innings) after an outing in which he gave up his first earned runs. He still hasn’t walked a batter, which is phenomonal. In 55 plate appearances, he’s only gone to three balls eleven times and he’s gone to a full count nine times.
And what’s gotten into Fu-Ten Ni. He has 14 strikeouts in 10 2/3 innings this year. Last year, he had 21 strikeouts in 31 innings. Unfortunately, his walk rate is up as well. Still, he’s been effective although his 1.69 ERA is a bit deceiving when you look at his 1.500 ERA.
The Twins won so the Tigers sit a game and a half back of first. Still, a 14-10 April isn’t anything to scoff at. They’ve done well in their division which is big and while they had the rough stretch, they’ve bounced back and are playing some good baseball. Tomorrow afternoon, it’ll be Scott Kazmir against Jeremy Bonderman. Bonderman’s had two mediocre outings, one good one and one really bad so we’ll see which Bonderman we’ll see tomorrow.
Brad Thomas made his first start as a Tiger and it was his first start since 2001 when he played for the Twins. Things didn’t start out well though because he gave up four runs in the first two frames and he only pitched three innings. Fortunately from there, the pitching got better. Eddie Bonine pitched three scoreless innings and he picked up his second win of the season. Joel Zumaya (more on him in a second) struck out five in two shutout innings and then Jose Valverde pitched the ninth and allowed just one hit. I didn’t see why Leyland went with Thomas over Bonine but based on the way the two have pitched, you’d think Bonine would get the nod next time unless Leyland wants him to focus on coming out of the pen, which he’s done a good job of doing this year.
Joel Zumaya has now thrown 12 innings and he’s allowed just nine hits, no walks and no runs. Yesterday was his fourth outing where he pitched two innings and while it’s a little early to say he’s back, he’s looked really good in this first month of the season. He came into the game to start the seventh and during that frame, he threw 13 pitches. One was a curveball (the lone hit he gave up to Vlad Guerrero. and the rest were fastballs. Out of his first seven pitches, five were 100 mph or more (two times he touched 101). In the eighth, he struck out the side on 15 pitches and while he didn’t touch 100 mph, he was consistently at or around 98 (he bottomed out at 96 a couple of times). If Joel can pitch like this most of the season, the Tigers might have one of the best one/two punches in baseball with Zumaya and Valverde.
Johnny Damon had a double and three walks in the game. He scored twice, drove in two and his batting average is now up to .328 after a slow start. Miguel Cabrera drove in his 22nd run of the month and Magglio Ordonez doubled and drove in a pair. Ordonez now has eight extra base hits which is almost where he was at the end of May last year.
It didn’t take long for Carlos Guillen to hit the disabled list. Brennan Boesch got the call up and he strarted in left field for the second straight game. He drove in his first big league run.
As a team, the Tigers lead the American League in OBP with a .372 mark, just ahead of the Yankees at .371. They’re also second in doubles with 48, just behind the Blue Jays at 50. Of course they’re second to last in home runs with ten (just ahead of the Mariners with eight) and eight of those ten are by Magglio Ordonez and Miguel Cabrera. Carlos Guillen and Don Kelly have the other two.
The Tigers try to take the lead in the series this afternoon. Rick Porcello goes up against Colby Lewis.
I’m a big fan of Fatheads. When we did my son’s room, it was a Detroit Tiger’s theme and on one wall adorns a huge Tigers logo courtesy of Fathead. Cool stuff and they’re easy to put up and take down. The folks over at Smile.ly are also being nice enough to give me a free Fathead Junior in exchange for telling everyone about their latest promotion.
If you want to win a free Fathead Junior, they’re giving one away every day in the month of April. Make sure you check out the sweepstakes page. Even if you don’t win, you can save big because they’re offering Fathead products at 15% off (coupon code SML15C) and free shippting (coupon code SMLSHP1)
At the beginning of the season, f you would have asked me if I’d take a 7-7 record after fourteen games I probably would have taken it. Of course your perception changes after a 5-1 start but despite that stellar first week, the Tigers now find themselves with an even 7-7 record after a rough start by Rick Porcello last night. In all, he gave up six runs and didn’t make it out of the fifth inning. I only caught a bit of the game so I don’t know why he was roughed up but of the nine outs that were in play, seven were ground outs which is typical Porcello. He did give up three doubles which isn’t typical Porcello though. He did strike out five but he walked two and gave up eight hits.
Fu-Te Ni and Joel Zumaya did a nice job of keeping the Tigers in it. Ni threw 1 2/3 shutout innings and he stranded an inherited runner at second base in the fifth. Joel Zumaya struck out two in two shutout innings and he still hasn’t given up a run this year.
Miguel Cabrera helped make it close in the 6-5 loss with three RBIs. He doubled and singled. Brandon Inge doubled and drove in a pair while Magglio Ordonez singled, drew a walk and scored twice. In all, the Tigers struck out thirteen times.
The Tigers still have a chance to walk away with a 2-2 split in the four game series but they have some work to do tonight. Jeremy Bonderman will be on the mound and he’ll face Jered Weaver. The former first round pick and brother of former Tiger Jeff Weaver is off to a nice start this season.
I know we’d all like to forget the Tigers’ 2003 season. Yeah, the one where we needed five wins in our last six games just to avoid losing a record 120 games. There’s not too many player’s left from that team but one of them still on the Tiger’s roster is Jeremy Bonderman. In his rookie at the age of 20, Bonderman was shut down near the end of the season so he’d avoid losing 20 games in his first season. From then on, Bonderman was viewed as a future ace and that came through in 2006 when he had a career year with 202 strikeouts in 214 innings. Since then though, he’s had half of a good season in 2007 and mostly injuries since. Also after the 2006 season, Jeremy Bonderman signed a big four year deal that the Tigers are still paying for.
What went wrong? Now Bonderman is struggling to touch 90 mph and he’s not the same pitcher. He has his third start of the season tomorrow and the hope is that he bounces back like Dontrelle Willis did but you wonder if he’ll ever be the hard thrower that he was coming up prior to signing that big contract.
Of course the problem is two fold. First, Bonderman is struggling mightily. Second, the Tigers are paying him, and have been paying him, a lot of money for some subpar seasons. A big reason for both of these problems could lie in that rookie season in 2003.
1) Because the Tigers were so bad in 2003, Jeremy Bonderman was rushed up to fill a hole in the rotation. After being picked in the first round of the 2001 draft, Bonderman played the 2002 season in Modesto and Lakeland, the Athletics and Tigers High-A affiliates. He was good, but the next season he was in the Tigers rotation. One of the knocks on Bonderman has always been that he’s never developed a great third pitch. If he had another season and a half in the minors rather then fighting for his life against MLB hitters, he might have had the latitude to more fully develop a good change up. He lived on that fastball and slider and that got him by for a while but now with the loss of velocity, having that third pitch in his arsenal could go a long way towards him making a comeback.
2) Similarly, Bonderman wasn’t on as short of a leash innings wise as he might have been if he had pitched in the minors. Bonderman didn’t work too hard but he had five starts where he topped 100 pitches and even went as high as 119 in 2003. His 162 innings don’t sound like much, but that’s a lot more batters then he would have seen with 162 innings down in the minors.
In 2004, he went over 100 pitches 12 times as a 21 year old. He put up 184 innings and again, had he spent most of the season at Triple-A, he would have thrown to a lot fewer batters in the same amount of innings.
3) The Tigers got his salary clock ticking a lot sooner by bringing him up early. Even with one more year in the minors, had Bonderman had the breakout season in 2006, he would have been in his first year of arbitration and not his second. The Tiger MO has been to lock up players after their second year of arbitration eligibility so had the Tigers waited, they might have waited a year to give Bonderman the big year and even if they did, the odds are good he wouldn’t have gotten as much overall. Possibly enough for another piece of the puzzle as the Tigers get further into the 2010 season.
Yeah, I know there’s plenty of what ifs here but there’s also a ton of logic. It’s hard to rewrite history as well but it’s hard to argue that bringing Bonderman up as early as the Tigers did was a good move, especially in hindsight.
Dontrelle Willis is now two for three. He’s looked decent in his two of his first three starts this season and for the second time this season, he went six innings and gave up just two runs. Unfortunately, his first win has eluded him because the Tigers were shut out last night in a 2-0 loss to the Angels. Willis gave up two runs on four hits and two walks with two strikeouts in six frames. Eddie Bonine pitched the final two innings and he didn’t allow a hit.
The Tigers picked up nine hits (over twice as many as the Angels’ four) but they couldn’t push a single runner across. They didn’t draw a walk and they stranded eight batters. Johnny Damon and Magglio Ordonez both had a pair of singles while Miguel Cabrera had the lone extra base hit with a double.
Probably the most disheartening part of the game was when Fernando Rodney put the Tigers down in order in the ninth. Scott Sizemore struck out to finish up the game.
The Twins lost so the Tigers sit two games back of them. Tonight it’ll be Rick Porcello against Scott Kazmir. Kazmir had a rough first start so hopefully the Tigers can catch him while he’s down.
At least one Tiger starter was able to hold the Mariners in check as the Tigers avoided a sweep this afternoon with a 4-2 win. Scherzer pitched six strong innings in which he gave up just two runs on six hits and a walk with four strikeouts. Ryan Perry pitched out of a self induced jam in the eighth inning before Jose Valverde came in for his third save of the season.
Miguel Cabrera had the big hit with a three run blast in the third inning. He also doubled. Austin Jackson had three hits including a triple (that should have been an in the park home run if it wasn’t called an error) and Johnny Damon is showing signs of life with two hits and a run. Brandon Inge drew three walks and he now has eight walks to go with six strikeouts this season. This is pretty much a shift in his career because he’s sitting on 981 career strikeouts with only 347 walks.
Next up are the Angels. Dontrelle Willis gets another look in the opener tomorrow and the Tigers will take their chances against Joel Pineiro. Joel is 6-2 with a 2.66 ERA in eleven starts against the Tigers in his career.
The Mariners have now scored almost as many runs in their first two games against the Tigers (15) as they did in their first ten games (16). Still, Justin Verlander was solid, the Tigers just couldn’t get anything going against Ryan-Roland Smith and the Mariners. Verlander gave up three runs on seven hits and a walk with six strikeouts in seven innings and he was pretty efficient (102) pitches.
Joel Zumaya got two batters out and pitched to three batters in total to finish things up for the Tigers. To Franklin Gutierrez, he threw four fastballs (99, 100, 101, 98 mph) where he gave up an inherited runner. To the next batter, he finally went off-speed and started off with two curveballs before throwing two 100 mph fastballs for the strikeout. Then to Ken Griffey, Jr., he mixed it up again. First he threw a 101 mph fastball before throwing two curveballs for balls. Then he went back to the fastball for 101 mph. His offspeed pitches were in the low to mid-80s, which is perfect if he can get it over for strikes. He hasn’t given up a run himself yet, but I’ll have to go back and check to see how many inherited runners he’s given up. Still, so far, so good for Zumaya’s comeback.
At the plate, Scott Sizemore picked things up and he went two for four with a double and a run. Magglio Ordonez drew a walk and belted his fourth home run of the season. Through eleven games, he’s kept his OPS up above 1.000. I’ve been very impressed with his eye at the plate. He’s walked seven times already with just five strikeouts. Ordonez is also coming up on a milestone and with four runs, he’ll be at 1,000 for his career.
The Tigers try to avoid the sweep this afternoon. Max Scherzer goes for his first win as a Tiger and the Mariners throw Ian Snell. Game time is 4:10.
Prior to last night’s game, the Seattle Mariners had scored 16 runs in their first ten games. Last night, Jeremy Bonderman gave up 10 runs (and Brad Thomas one run) by the end of the fifth inning. That’s not very encouraging after a solid first start for Bonderman. Velocity was once again the problem. By the second inning, some of his fastballs were clocking in at 86 mph. He did dial it up against Milton Bradley in the second (92 mph then he punched him out with a called strike slider). He touched the low 90s after that but rarely did he get above 90 mph. This is a guy who, in 2006, had the sixth best average fastball for starters in the AL (thank you Bill James Handbook) with 93.3 mph and in 2005, he was second in the AL with 03.2 mph. Now he’s lucky to touch that in a game, much less average it for a start (or a season). I’m going to write more about this and my thoughts on why Jeremy Bonderman is where he is (I’ll give you a hint, it has to do with 2003).
Miguel Cabrera doubled and drove in two to lead the Tigers at the plate. The Tigers struck out ten times and nine of those were at the hands of Felix Hernandez. The Tigers also made three errors and that brings their season total up to eleven and that’s the most in the American League. Scott Sizemore is already up to three errors and he’s struggled at the plate. Just something to keep an eye on because that’s not helping out the pitching any.
Justin Verlander goes for his first win tonight against Ryan Rowland-Smith. Also look for some more original content this week. Tax season is over with and I have the writing bug and I’ve had a couple of column ideas.
Jim Leyland’s lineup construction always baffles me. Sometime’s it works and sometimes it doesn’t. I’ve always been convinced he writes in the position first then fills in the person second which is why we have Ryan Raburn and his career .331 OBP leading off today. He did go one for four with a run but why not put Carlos Guillen, who has a pretty good eye, up there when Austin Jackson has the day off.
Anyway, the Tigers lost this afternoon. Rick Porcello pitched six rough innings in which he gave up ten hits before the pen had their struggles. Ryan Perry gave up a pair of runs in one inning and he fell to 0-1 while Phil Coke also struggled when he gave up two runs. Coke has the interesting distinction of having a higher WHIP (2.00) then he does ERA (1.50). It’s a small sample size but you get those aberations early.
Johnny Damon doubled and singled in the 7-3 loss. Magglio Ordonez hit his third home run of the season and he drew two walks. Man, he and Cabrera have really raked in the first week and a half of the season. Brandon Inge also had another nice game and he went one for two with two walks.
The Tigers get their first day off in over a week before they head out west (and south) to start a eleven game road trip. First up are the Mariners, who don’t score too many runs so I like their chances. This all leads into a three game home series in a week and a half against the Twins. Oddly, their next day off isn’t until May 6 so they’re going to be playing 20 straight games. Leyland’s going to have to get everyone a day off here and there to keep everyone fresh because that’s a long time especially this early in the season.
We’re only eight games into the season but the Tigers pulled off yet another spectacular comeback win as they snatched victory from the jaws of defeat against the Royals this afternoon. Down 5-0, the Tigers rallied for six runs in the bottom of the seventh as they improved on their already solid record. The big hit was a two run double by Carlos Guillen that pushed across the tying and winning runs. In fact the Tigers had four doubles in the game and all four came in that big seventh inning.
On the pitching side, Dontrelle Willis was shaky. He got out of a bases loaded jam in the first, calmed down a little in the second but then got into trouble in the third where he gave up three runs. He gave up nine hits and three walks in just five innings. Joel Zumaya gave up an unearned run in two innings of relief and he improved to 2-0. Ryan Perry and Jose Valverde then threw shutout innings to close out the game. For Valverde, it was his second save of the season.
Gerald Laird and Scott Sizemore each had two this in the 6-5 win. Austin Jackson doubled, drew a walk, scored a run and drove in one.
The rubber game is tomorrow afternoon. Rick Porcello gets the start while Kyle Davies throws for the Royals.
Max Scherzer got off to a decent enough start yesterday by pitching three scoreless innings but four in the fourth and one in the fifth cut his start short in the Tigers second loss of the season. It also didn’t help that the Tigers made four errors in this one which is part of the reason Scherzer only had two his runs come out earned. Brad Thomas was also hit hard and he gave up four runs in 2 1/3 innings.
Carlos Guillen went two for three and he belted his first home run of the season. Austin Jackson went two for five while Brandon Inge continued his hot hitting with two doubles and two RBIs.
The Tigers are playing the Royals again as I write this. Dontrelle Willis is off to a rough start (bases loaded with two outs). He walked two and gave up a single so we’ll see if he pitches out of it. Brian Bannister gets the start for the Royals.
This is getting fun. Down 8-3, the Tigers rallied for six runs in the final frames to finish up a sweep over the Cleveland Indians. The Tigers finished with nine runs off of 18 hits and there were plenty of hitting stars. How the Tigers got it done in the ninth was particularly interesting though because Miguel Carbera scored the tying run off of a Johnny Damon walk and then Carlos Guillen scored on a wild pitch to win it. Scott Sizemore and Miguel Cabrera had three hits each. Carbera, Carlos Guillen and Ramon Santiago all scored two runs and Magglio Ordonez drove in a pair. 16 of the Tigers 18 hits were singles and they also picked up nine walks in a game where they stranded 18 runners.
Off course this all made up for a second rough start by Justin Verlander. He gave up six runs on five hits and three walks with three strikeouts in five innings. I was worried about all of the innings Verlander threw last season and how it would affect him. He had plenty of heat early but by the fifth inning, he was in the low 90s. The encouraging thing was that while he got shelled in the first inning, he pitched four scoreless frames before he gave up another run in the sixth inning so the Tigers got some innings out of him.
Eddie Bonine gave a pair of runs in three innings of relief. Phil Coke pitched a scoreless ninth and he picked up his first Tiger win.
Next up are the Royals, again. Max Scherzer gets the start in a rematch against Luke Hockevar. The good news is that we won’t see Zach Greinke again. Gametime is 1:05.
The Tigers top draft pick last year, Jacob Turner, had a really nice start last night in his pro debut. The Caps didn’t win but seven strikeouts in five shutout innings is a nice start. Wonder when we’ll be seeing him in Lakeland.
The Tigers have now gone through all five of their starters and it’s been so far, so good as all five have gone at least five innings. The latest was Jeremy Bonderman, who needed 92 pitches to get through five innings just five innings. Fortunately it was enough to get him his first win in almost two years. He gave up a run on one hit and two walks with five strikeouts. He was consistently in the low 90s for the first few innings with quite a few 93 mph fastballs. It’s not the Bonderman of old because he also mixed a lot of changeups in there but it’s nice to see him have some success. A big concern was by the fifth inning, Bonderman’s velocity was down and he was having a hard time even touching 90. Something to keep an eye on in future starts.
Brad Thomas gave up a run in two innings of relief. Fu-Ten Ni struck out one in two thirds of an inning while Ryan Perry got the final four batters out to pick up his first career save (first of many?).
Magglio Ordonez had the big hit with a first inning two run home run. It was his second long ball of the season and it’s half of his 2008 first half total (4). He and Miguel Cabrera have punished pitchers so far this season and hopefully they can keep it up. Brandon Inge also had a nice game and he went two for three with a walk and an RBI.
The Tigers go for the sweep this afternoon with Justin Verlander going for his first win of the season. Jake Westbrook throws for the Indians. The ESPN game tonight has the Cardinals against the Brewers and the Sunday afternoon game on TBS has the Yankees and Rays (unfortunately, it confilicts with the Tigers).
Mike Cassidy is covering the Tigers minor league system for the fourth straight year. The Tigers four full season affiliates kicked off their seasons yesterday. Unfortunately, all four lost.
The Tigers left Kansas City with a series win and a big reason behind it was Dontrelle Willis’ strong start in the Tigers 7-3 win. Willis pitched six strong innings in which he gave up two runs on seven hits and (most importantly) just two walks with four strikeouts. He didn’t get the win, but he kept the Tigers in the game. He walked the first batter of the game (David DeJesus) then calmed down and gave up just one walk the rest of the way. I checked out how he was throwing on Gameday and early in the game he’d touch 90 mph on occasion but he was mostly in the high 80s with his fastball. In the third inning, he began throwing more in the low 90s and he did touch 93 on the gun in the third inning and he hit 93 twice to his final batter, Rick Ankiel, in the sixth inning. It took a couple of innings, but his velocity eventually got there.
Eddie Bonine threw a shutout seventh and he picked up the win. Jose Valverde (is he going to pitch in every game) came out in the ninth in a non-save situation and got through the Royals 1-2-3.
Miguel Cabrera brought a big stick and he had the big hit with a three run blast in the eighth inning. Magglio Ordonez hit his first home run of the season and he finished three for four with three runs. Austin Jackson rounded things out with two doubles, a run and an RBI.
Rick Porcello gets the start today for the Tigers home opener. David Huff gets the nod for the Indians in a 1:05 start.
In Will Carroll’s latest Under the Knife, he touches on Max Scherzer’s throwing motion and how it may or may not be an injury waiting to happen. Good stuff as usual from Will.
A really nice start by Max Scherzer went to waste as the Tigers dropped their first game of the season in an eleven inning loss to the Royals. He pitched six innings of one hit ball in which he struck out three and walked two. Overall, the pen did a nice job with the exception of Jose Valverde who’s now had his second straight shaky appearance. Phil Coke shined and he pitched two shutout innings before Valverde came in, gave a pair of runs in the bottom of the eleventh and both blew the save and took the loss.
Of course the Tiger hitters made Luke Hochevar look like a Cy Young contender and that didn’t help. The Tigers didn’t get on the board until the ninth when Miguel Cabrera belted a solo shot with two outs to send the game into extra frames. Carlos Guillen singled home a run in the top of the eleventh and that was really it. I didn’t get to see the game but I want to go back and check and see what happened in the eleventh because it looks like there was some weird baserunning play that turned into a double play of sorts.
The Tigers did pick up eleven hits but outside of Cabrera’s solo home run, the only other extra base hit was a triple by Austin Jackson. Jackson, Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Guillen all had two hits while Scott Sizemore drew a pair of walks.
The rubber game is this afternoon and all eyes will be on Dontrelle Willis to see if his spring season was for real. Brian Bannister gets the start for the Royals in a 2:10 start.
It wasn’t the pitcher’s duel that everyone thought and while Justin Verlander didn’t have his best stuff, the Tigers still walked away with an 8-4 win over the Royals this afternoon. The Tigers were down most of the game but then they rallied for six runs in the seventh inning (once Greinke was out of there) to pull away with the win. Johnny Damon made a pretty big impact in his first game as a Tiger and his two run double drove home the tying and go ahead runs in this one.
Austin Jackson picked up his first major league hit. He doubled and drove in a run in the big seventh inning and he later scored on Damon’s double. Miguel Cabrera singled twice and drove in a pair while Damon also finished with two runs in the contest.
On the pitching side, Verlander needed 93 pitches to get through five inings. He gave up four runs on six hits and a walk with six strikeouts. Joel Zumaya struck out one and gave up a hit in a shutout sixth inning and he picked up the win. Phil Coke (2/3 of an inning), Ryan Perry (1 1/3 innings) and Jose Valverde all pitched in to shutout the Royals in the final four frames. Valverde got into trouble in the ninth when he walked Jason Kendall and then had a second runner get on after Ramon Santiago’s fielding error but he pitched out of it in the non-save situation.
I was hoping to dig into the Gameday data but it looks like MLB.com is bogged down (too many people stopping by?). The WPA graph on this is pretty interesting so I’ll touch on that. Things peaked for the Royals after Billy Butler made it 4-1 (giving the Royals a 87.6% chance of winning). Austin Jackson’s RBI double was actually worth more (.189) then Damon’s two run double (.175). It was actually Cabrera who led the team in WPA (.206) and Ryan Perry led the pitchers (.067).
The Tigers are off tomorrow and then it’s Max Scherzer against Luke Hochevar in the Tigers first night game of the season. Scherzer makes his Tigers debut in a battle of 2006 first round draft picks.