Pitching reigned supreme again as Detroit beat the Jays for the second straight time without giving a run. The Tigers won 1-0 and the two teams combined for just seven hits. Victor Martinez drove home hitting star Andy Dirks in the sixth inning with a sac. fly for the only run on either side. Dirks went two for three and Ryan Raburn and Don Kelly each had a single.
Brad Penny struck out one and gave up a hit in his two innings of work. Max Scherzer gave up a walk in two shutout frames while Fu-Te Ni struck out two in the eighth inning. Joaquin Benoit was in the right place at the right time and based on when the Tigers scored their run, he picked up the win.
This afternoon the Tigers take on the Yankees. Justin Verlander gets his first start of the season. Ryan Perry, Rick Porcello, Dan Schlereth and Charlie Furbush will all see some time on the mound. Game time is 1:05 and it’ll be on WXYT.
Single game Tiger tickets go on sale March 5. I need to take a look at the schedule to see what works for me. Hoping to get down to the ballpark more then I have the past few years.
Seven Tigers pitchers held the hard hitting Blue Jays to five hits in their 4-0 win yesterday afternoon. Phil Coke made the start and he pitched two shutout frames and he was followed by Duane Below, who pitched a pair of innings in which he gave up three hits and struck out two. In the final four frames (a pitcher each inning), the Tigers didn’t allow a hit or a walk.
At the plate, Scott Sizemore led the way with a double, a single and two RBIs. Austin Jackson went one for two with a walk and a run (and he didn’t strike out) while Brandon Inge doubled and drove in one.
The Jays and Tigers square off again this afternoon but this time at Joker Marchant. Max Scherzer gets the start and we’ll also see Brad Penny, Joel Zumaya and Joaquin Benoit get some time on the mound. If everything works out right, Miguel Cabrera should get into his first game tomorrow.
This is courtesy of MLB.com’s Game Notes, Phil Coke is going to get the start for the Tigers and he’ll be facing Brett Cecil. Duane Below, Alberto Alburquerque, Brad Thomas and Robbie Weinhardt are all scheduled to pitch today. A familiar face will be throwing for the Blue Jays as Wil Ledezma will get some throws in. Also scheduled to make the trip is Jim Leyland’s son, Pat.
Just about everybody got in on the action yesterday afternoon as the Tigers kicked off their spring season with their traditional opener against Florida Southern. The Tigers scored runs in each of the first seven innings with most of the starters just getting an at bat or two. Brennan Boesch and Audy Ciriaco each went deep for the Tigers while Austin Jackson, Ryan Raburn, Alex Avila, Clete Thomas and John Murrian all doubled. Avila and Argenis Diaz had a team high two hits and Boesch drove in three (Earl Weaver would be proud, it was his three run shot).
Andrew Oliver got the start and he struck out three in two shutout innings. Jacob Turner pitched two shutout frames and Enrique Gonzalez struck out three in two perfect innings. The only pitcher to struggle was Lester Oliveros, who gave up five runs in the top of the ninth.
Today, the Tigers kick off their real games that don’t count. Game time is 1:05 and while WXYT isn’t broadcasting the game, the Jays affiliate is so you can listen in if you’re a Gameday Audio subscriber. I haven’t seen who’s pitching but I’ll pass it on once I find out.
The Tigers start their spring season this afternoon in their traditional exhibition game against Florida Southern. Game time is 1 pm and it looks like most of the Tigers regulars will start the game and get an at bat before they come out. For spring news and notes, I love the Press Pass info. that MLB.com puts out for each of the teams. Unfortunately the first Tigers Press Pass isn’t out yet.
I’m going to try to live blog the game but can’t make any promises because of a work commitment. I’m supposed to get out of a meeting at noon which should give me enough time to get back and blog but if things run late or something pops up I may be late.
In other interesting news, Jim Leyland said he’d go with a four man rotation with Phil Coke and Brad Penny fighting for the chance at the fourth spot. A fifth starter wouldn’t be necessary until April 10 which is almost a full two weeks into the season. It looks like Jason Beck is leaning towards Coke coming out of the pen to start the season and Penny getting the starts based on their recent histories.
I’m listening to the press conference live. Here’s a series of note I’m taking while it’s going on.
1) Cabrera is resuming baseball activities tomorrow (Friday)
2) Cabrera is giving his statement mostly in Spanish. He apologized in English.
3) He says he was on his way to Lakeland and couldn’t elaborate on what happened because of the legalities.
4) He said this was an isolated instance when it was asked when he began drinking again.
5) He said he hadn’t used the car in a few months and he said it just broke down.
6) He was asked about how Josh Hamilton has someone with him at all times to avoid a relapse and that this is something Cabrera is looking at.
7) When asked if he has an alcohol problem, he said that he’s not a doctor and wouldn’t comment.
8) He said he’d do everything possible to restore his teammates faith in him.
9) He doesn’t plan on have a big meeting to apologize to the team, he’s going to go to each team member and apologize face to face.
10) The feed stopped at about the thirteen minute mark. Not sure if this was my computer or a problem at the press conference.
11) Now it’s saying it ended.
Miguel Cabrera is going to speak to the press at 4:30. According to Jon Heyman on Twitter, he’s going to start training with the team tomorrow.
Alright, we’re five days away from the Tigers first spring game against Florida Southern and there’s a few stories of not. First off is Jose Valverde is off to a rough start and he’s sat the past few days with flu like symptoms. The hope is that he’s tomorrow but if it’s the flu, you also hope he didn’t pass it on. Jason Beck also reported that Jose Valverde is going to be on a pitch count of sorts. He wants to avoid what happened in early September when Valverde threw three innings and 60 pitches back on September 2 against the Twins. After that game, he was practically shut down and threw only five innings the rest of the season (giving up just one run).
The other news is, Miguel Cabrera isn’t going to be suspended, but we’re not sure how long he’s going to be out as he deals with his personal issues. For now, it looks like doctors from MLB will evaluate him and then make a recommendation so if they think rehab is the best option, we might not see Cabrera much this spring.
It looks like the first non-exhibition spring game is Friday with the Diamonbacks and Giants squaring off. The Tigers first game that counts (if you want to call it that) is Saturday afternoon against the Blue Jays. That game isn’t going to be on the radio but Sunday’s contest against the Blue Jays (they’re playing a home and home) will. MLB.com doesn’t have their viewing schedule up yet so I’m not sure when the first game is that I’m going to be able to watch. Baseball is a week away folks, so the wait is almost over.
Rotoworld’s latest is on American League sleepers. Making the list is Phil Coke, who’s transitioning back to the rotation after a couple in the pen. I think Coke as a starter is a nice long term play, but I have a feeling he struggles out of the gate. I’m also curious as to how or whether he’ll be limited at all. Anyway, word on the street is we may get an early look at him because he may be pitching earlier then normal when the Yankees travel to New York.
Baseball Prospectus put out their top fantasy first baseman piece and while there’s no question that Albert “I don’t want to be a distraction” Pujols is at the top of the list, coming in at number two is Miguel Cabrera. In light of the news, Baseball Reference also talked about Cabrera and his comparables (that’s an impressive list) in light of the disappointing news about his arrest last night. Drunk driving is never cool but the selfish fan part of me thought it was best that we’re dealing with this now rather then in September. Hopefully Cabrera can get the help he needs and we can move on (again).
Just wanted to throw out the fact I have a Facebook page. Click like and you’ll be able to see when I update. And if taxes are thing, I also have a page for my CPA practice. I’m not a typical blogger. I not only blog in my basement, I also do tax returns in basement. So there Murray Chass.
In Chris Kahrl’s latest at Baseball Prospectus, she runs down each of the non-roster invitees to watch on the American League teams. As we all thought, the Tigers roster is pretty much set although she does throw out a few names who could steal that last bullpen slot I had slated to Robbie Weinhardt. She mentions Australian hurler Chris Oxspring as well as Enrique Gonzalez and Fu-Te Ni. The only hitter she mentions is Omir Santos if the Tigers decide to go with a true third catcher.
I guess I thought it was given that Joaquin Benoit was going to set up Jose Valverde most of the time for the Tigers. In a cool column at Rotoworld about spring training battles, they take a look at the three options the Tigers have and they ultimately decide the Joel Zumaya will be the primary eighth inning man for the Tigers. I’m going to stick to my guns and say Benoit gets the job (if you want to call it that.
Looks like Jason Beck is down at spring training and he has an early report on Carlos Guillen. The Tigers are going to keep him on a short leash early in spring training and it’ll be interesting to see when his first spring game is (and how soon he gets out in the field). I’m still guessing Guillen starts the season on the disabled list but it’d be nice to get some early good news.
Back in November, I was asked to contribute to the MSP Tigers Annual 2011. My job was to write a story on the 1911 Tigers which turned into an interesting project for me. Well before the deadline, Kurt dropped me a note asking about my progress and he told me a few of his pieces went over their page limit so he had to cut something. Since I was only about 1/3 of the way through my piece (and because historical pieces aren’t as timely, I volunteered to pull my piece. Ironically, it’s the second time this has happened with this publication, but that’s another story. The Annual looks like a quality publication and it hits newsstands on March 1.
So, I’ll be posting the story here. Here’s part one….
If I asked you which Detroit Tigers’ team had the best start after 20 games, the knee jerk reaction would be 1984. If that was your guess, you’d be partly right because the 1984 Tigers weren’t the first in the franshise’s history to start out 18-2. Many people’s next guess would be one of the seasons where the Tigers won 100 games like 1968, 1961 or 1934. Those would all be incorrect. The other team to do it was the 1911 Tigers. A year removed from their third straight American League pennant, the 1911 Tigers, led by Hall of Fame outfielder Ty Cobb, took the baseball world by storm with an impressive start. Of course we all know the Tigers didn’t win in 1911, so their finish turned out to be equally unimpressive.
The Tigers won their first five games to open the season at Bennett Park and made it six in a row with a road win against the Chicago White Sox at Comiskey Park before finally losing their first game. Then they won six more in a row before losing a road game to the St. Louis Browns. This was followed up by a nine game winning streak that put the Tigers at 21-2 with an eight game lead over the Boston Red Sox. The Tigers didn’t lose their first home game until May 10, 1911 when they hosted the New York Highlanders almost a full month into the season. The Tigers then put together another five game winning streak later in the month and on May 19, 1911, the Tigers sat nine and a half games ahead of the second place Chicago White Sox at 27-5.
While both of those marks are impressive, unfortunately it was the Tigers peak. They played nearly .500 ball the rest of the way (62-60) and their lead in the American League was never larger. Still, while the 1911 Tigers didn’t get it done, they certainly have their share of stories.
At the top of the list is Ty Cobb. When one of the greatest players of all time has one of his greatest seasons then it definitely bears mentioning. He set four new American League records with 248 hits, 147 runs, 127 RBIs and 367 total bases. On top of that, he hit a mind boggling .420, a number that’s been surpassed twice in the past 100 years. All five of those marks were career bests for the player with the highest batting average of all time and the second most hits ever. It was also Cobb’s fourth batting title of his career, not that he didn’t have competition. A 21 year old Shoeless Joe Jackson (then with the Cleveland Naps) gave Cobb a run for the batting title with a .408 batting average. That’s the highest second place finish ever in the American League.
Cobb also got headlines when he began to put together a historic hitting streak. From May 15 through July 2, 1911, Cobb got a hit in forty straight games. Only George Sisler (41), Pete Rose (44) and Joe DiMaggio (56) have had longer hitting streaks since 1901. Cobb also won the first (and his only) American League MVP award.
Overall, the Tigers offense was top notch. The third best offense in the American League was the Chicago White Sox with 718 runs. The Tigers scored more then 100 more runs then the White Sox with 831. Unfortunately the pennant winning Philadelphia Athletics were just as dominating and they finished with 861 runs. The Tigers did lead the American League in hits (1544), stolen bases (276) and triples (96).
Longtime Tiger and fellow Hall of Famer Sam Crawford also had the best season of his career. While he didn’t lead the league in a single category (mostly due to Cobb’s season), Crawford’s numbers are impressive none the less. He had a career best .378 batting average (his next closest season was .335) and that was the third highest mark in the American League. He finished tied for second in the American League in RBIs with 115. Even his 109 runs put him in the top five (though he was third on the Tigers). He also finished with a career best 217 hits.
Then there was Donie Bush. The only switch hitter in the Tigers starting lineup, Bush was 23 in 1911 and he already two full seasons under his belt as the Tigers starting shortstop. Bush hit for little power throughout his career and his career batting average was nothing to write home about (.250) but one thing he could do is draw a walk. In his first full season in 1909, Bush led the league with 88 walks. In 1910, he led the league in walks again with 78 and in 1911, he didn’t stop and he finished with an American League best 99 walks despite hitting just .232 and with the help of Cobb and Crawford, Bush crossed home plate 126 times.
In fact, Donie Bush’s 1911 season was historic. There’s only been one other season where a player had a lower batting average yet still finished with more then 100 runs and that season also belongs to Bush. In 1912, Bush hit .231 and finished with 107 runs.
since I messed with the links in my sidebar. Still had links to Tigers Central (does anyone know what happened to Ryan Sosin?) and Bleacher Guy (another good, but long passed blog). Time for a much needed update. If I missed you (going to stick with Tiger sites for now, so check out the blogroll), leave a comment.
Pitchers and catchers report today and the Tigers spring opener is on February 24 against Florida Southern. I think the key date is March 1 though. If you’re an MLB.TV subscriber, that’s the first Tigers’ spring game you’ll get to watch. If you don’t have MLB.TV, you’ll have to wait until March 3 when the Tigers play the Braves on ESPN.
It looks like Jeremy Bonderman’s prospects for a major league deal are close to zero. Indians beat writer Paul Hoynes tweeted that the Indians are still interested in Bonderman, but only with a minor league deal. That’s not too surprising considering Bonderman’s last few years but I thought he might be able to pull off an incentive laden major league deal with someone.
Pitchers and catchers report in a couple of days so unless the Tigers make a trade during spring training, we have a pretty good idea as to who’s going to be on the team. Last week I talked about who I thought was going to be on the team but this time around I want to talk about the Tigers big problem.
While it’s tough for any team to win while suffering a few key injuries I think this is more accentuated with the Tigers then with most teams because they have very little depth at this point. If a starter goes down, the Tigers next best option is probably an untested and still green Andrew Oliver. The Tigers should have a top notch pen, but even an injury to Joel Zumaya (is it bound to happen?) could cause the team to put someone in a situation that their not suited for yet. And outside of maybe outfield with Brennan Boesch and Casper Wells, I can’t think of any other spot where the Tigers wouldn’t take a huge blow except for maybe second base. What’s amusing about second base is, the Tigers don’t even have a bona fide starter right now at the five four spot but they have depth there with Scott Sizemore and Wil Rhymes showing some promise at the big league level.
So while I think the Tigers definitely have a team that compete, staying healthy is going to be huge. The Twins survived without their second best offensive player and for Detroit, I don’t see that happening. So hopefully the troops will take their dings, but they can avoid any long term stays on the disabled list.