Archive for March, 2011

Let the Games Begin

The Tigers kick off their regular season today in New York against the Yankees at around 1 pm.  This should be a fun pitching matchup with Justin Verlander going up against CC Sabathia.  I’ll be in the car during most of the game so I’ll be listening in but I plan on watching it tonight while I work.  This is going to be a weird season for me because I no longer have cable so I’m relying on MLB.TV, which of course blacks out the live broadcast.  I’m more of a radio guy anyway so it’s all good.  Another game I’m going to check out is Giants versus Dodgers with Tim Lincecum going up against Clayton Kershaw.  Too bad there’s no 10 pm game because it’s always neat being able to have a live game from 1 pm to 1 am.

Baseball season is here folks.  Post as a comment what you think the Tigers win total will be this year.

Tigers Blown Out By Orioles

If the games didn’t matter before, they really don’t matter now as only one spring game separates the spring season from the regular season.   The biggest concern was Max Scherzer was pummeled by the Orioles.  It looks like Leyland left him in their to get his pitches in but when it was all said and done, Scherzer was tagged for 12 runs (three home runs) in 2 1/3 innings.  Ryan Perry struck out two in his shutout inning and Enrique Gonzalez gave up a run in 2 1/3 innings.

The Tigers did make a showing by scoring six runs in the ninth inning to make it 14-9.  Will Rhymes went three for three with a run and Brennan Boesch went three three with a solo home run and two RBIs.  Jeff Rowland only had one hit but it was a triple and he drove in three and scored.

The Tigers finish their season out this afternoon against the Yankees in Tampa. This will be a good tune up game against the team that the Tigers will face on Thursday.  Rick Porcello will go against Freddy Garcia.  If the Tigers win, it’ll give them 21 wins which would be the most amongst Grapefruit League teams.

Predictions, Prediction, Predictions

The Tigers made their final cuts and at least for opening day, the team is set.  The Tigers kick things off Thursday afternoon against the Yankees and while I made some predictions in my Hardball Times preview, here I’m going to make some more specific predictions.

1)  This isn’t going out on a limb, but the Tigers will compete in the AL Central.  I still think on paper, they’re the third best team in the division.  I also think that’s it’s close enough though that if a couple of things go right, the Tigers can take the division.  Either way, it should be a fun three team race.  The Tigers have two series against the White Sox and one against the Twins in September so it could be a nailbiter.

2)  Brandon Inge is going to have a career year.  This is just one of those hunches.  Inge is further removed from his injuries and he had a quietly decent season last year.  I like his chances of hitting 30 home runs and topping .800 in OPS for the first time in his career.

3)  Ryan Perry will have a breakout season.  With Joel Zumaya once again on the shelf, I think this is the year Ryan Perry puts it together and shows Tigers fans why he was taken in the first round.  He didn’t have a great spring, but hopefully that just means he’ll work harder to put it all together.

4)  Austin Jackson will struggle but he’ll also make some strides to becoming a lead off hitter.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Jackson hits closer to .250 this year but I’m hoping he makes up for it with walks.  A lot of people will write his season off as a sophomore slump but I think it’s more just one year in his evolution as a lead off hitter.

5)  Whoever wins 85 games first will win the division.  I think the division winner will end up in the high 80s but this is going to be another typical season in the Central.

6)  Jacob Turner will pitch in a Tigers uniform at some point this season, most likely as a September call up.

7)  The Tigers will win 86 games and they’ll finish second place in the division.

So there you go.  Only time will tell….

Adam Wilk Struggles in Loss to Braves

You can tell the real games are close because the Tigers are pitching some guys to come to a final decision on their 25 man roster.  Adam Wilk got the nod (he’s actually fighting for one of the last spots) against the Braves yesterday and he struggled.  He did last three innings but when the dust settled, he was tagged for four runs on five hits with a strikeout.  Brayan Villerreal walked four and game up a run in an inning and two thirds while Enrique Gonzalez pitched two shutout frames.

Miguel Cabrera went two for three in the 5-3 loss.  Danny Worth singled and scored a run.

I’ve been a little bit out of it lately because of work but the Tigers made some semi-surprising cuts this past week.  Scott Sizemore was sent down to the minors so Wil Rhymes will start the season at second base.  I thought they’d try to keep both guys up while Carlos Guillen was on the disabled list.  Robbie Weinhardt was also sent down.  The Tigers have a couple of bullpen spots to fill and there’s a four way battle for the last spot on the bench between Danny Worth, Casper Wells, Brennan Boesch and Andy Dirks.

At the end of the day, a lot is made out of these last spots when usually things are shuffled a couple of weeks into the season anyway.  Still, it gives us something to talk about.

Justin Verlander Throws Six Shutout Innings In Win Over Nationals

Justin Verlander was in his usual form in the Tigers 6-1 win over the Nationals.  He gave up six hits and a walk in six shutout innings with seven strikeouts in the win.  With about a week and a half left until Opening Day, Verlander will probably get one more start but he’s been sharp all spring and he sports a 0.98 ERA.  Let’s hope this carries over into the start of the season because the last few years he’s gotten off to mediocre starts.

Ryan Perry gave up a solo home run and that was the lone run the Nationals got against the Tigers.  Fu-Te Ni and Brad Thomas each threw a shutout inning a piece to close out the game.    Ni has been sharp this spring and after being mostly written off, he may have a chance to break with the team.

Don Kelly went two for four with two RBIs and a run.  Ryan Raburn went two for four with a run and a walk while Danny Worth doubled and drove in two runs.

Phil Coke gets the start this afternoon against the Astros.  He’s had a pretty good spring as well.  Brayan Villereal, Joaquin Benoit, Jose Valverde and Enrique Gonzalez are all expected to pitch.  The Tigers pitching has been getting done and their 2.68 spring ERA is best amongst American League teams.  Justin Verlander (second), Phil Coke (eighth) and Rick Porcello (tenth) are all in the Grapefruit League top ten as far as ERA.  Game time is 1:05 and you can listen in to the Astros broadcast if you have Gameday Audio.

Tigers Double Up Nationals

The Tigers improved to 13-7 on the spring season with a nice win over the Nationals.  Rick Porcello threw almost five innings and he gave up just one run on five hits and a walk.  He struck out three.  Jose Valverde and Dan Schlereth threw shutout frames while Ryan Perry got into trouble and he gave up a run in the ninth.

Victor Martinez hit his first home run of the spring.  He belted a two run shot in the sixth inning.  Magglio Ordonez went two for three and Brennan Boesch went two for three with a run and an RBI.

Justin Verlander has looked good this spring and he gets the start today against the Red Sox.  The Tigers cut 18 players to their minor league camp and the most notable were Andrew Oliver and Jacob Turner.  I think this is a smart move although it wouldn’t surprise me if we see Oliver up in 2011.  Oliver will be pitching for the Hens (with Duane Below) and Turner will start the season with the SeaWolves.  Gametime is 1:05.  I’ll probably listen to this one tonight.

Rick Porcello Roughed Up By Phillies

One bad inning by Rick Porcello cost the Tigers their ninth spring win of the season yesterday.  He gave up four runs in the second frame including a three run home run and that was the difference in the Tigers 5-3 loss.  Adam Wilk pitched two scoreless innings and both Brad Thomas and Ryan Perry pitched perfect innings to close out the game.

Andy Dirks went two for three with a walk as the Tigers leadoff man.  Ben Guez had the only extra base hit with a double.

In the spring time, no news can be bad news because if a player sits too long, their chances of playing on Opening Day diminish.  This is a problem for both Carlos Guillen and Joel Zumaya.  Guillen hasn’t played yet and Zumaya is still sitting out because of soreness in his throwing elbow.  Fortunately for Zumaya there’s no structural damage but still, the longer he sits, the liklier it’ll be he starts the season on the disabled list.

The Tigers play their first night game of the spring against the Marlins.  Justin Verlander gets the start and it’ll be fun seeing pitchers stretch themselves out longer and longer now that we’re two weeks into the exhibition season.  The Tigers have hit a road block though.  After starting 5-0, they’ve gone just 3-6 since.

Tigers Edge Mets Behind Solid Start By Brad Penny

The Tigers improved to 8-4 on the spring with a 2-1 win over the Mets yesterday. Brad Penny went 3 1/3 and he gave up three hits with four strikeouts in a solid start.  He still hasn’t given up an earned run this spring.  Chris Oxspring  gave up a hit and a walk in his one inning but he struck out two.  Fu-Te Ni gave up the lone run by the Mets.  He walked two and struck out one in 1 2/3 innings.

Andy Dirks was the hitting star.  He doubled, tripled and he scored both Tiger runs.  Victor Martinez drove in Dirks both times with sac. flies.  Jhonny Peralta also had a nice game with a pair of singles.

This afternoon, the Tigers face the Marlins and Max Scherzer will make his third appearance of the season.  He’s looked great this spring in his five innings of work and it’ll be interesting to see how much he gets stretched out in this start.

Fun With Splits – Brandon Inge

Sometime I find myself wandering around baseball reference and it’s always fun looking for the interesting and sometimes pointless in player splits.  I was looking at Inge’s 2010 season and here’s some interesting tidbits.

Inge was horrible on the road (.648 OPS) but pretty good in his friendly confines (.787 OPS).  Ironically, he had exactly the same number of at bats at home as he did on the road (257).

Inge played in the fewest number of games (13) but he had his best numbers in July.  He used an Austin Jackson like .441 batting average on balls in play to rack up a .937 OPS.  It’s also the only month he didn’t a home run in.

When Inge hit seventh in the lineup, he had an OPS of .764 in 265 plate appearance.  When he hit sixth (239 PA) he had an OPS of only .653.

Inge hit seven of his thirteen home runs in the final three innings of the game.

Inge had a .424 OPS against power pitchers and a .780 OPS against finesse pitchers.


Max Scherzer Throws Three Solid Frames In Tigers Loss to Braves

The Tigers lost their second spring game of the season to the Braves yesterday.  The 4-3 loss went down to the wire and the Braves needed three runs in the final two innings to pull it out.  Max Scherzer was strong in his start and he gave up a hit and a walk with one strikeout in three innings.  Ryan Perry was touched up for a run in his two innings of work and Chris Oxspring took the loss because he gave up the ninth inning run.

Brennan Boesch went two for four with a solo home run.  Austin Jackson doubled, drew two walks and scored a run while Clete Thomas went one for two with a walk and an RBI.  I like where Jackson is going this year.  He’s drawn five walks in five games and he’s struck out just once.

The Tigers play the Orioles this afternoon.  Rick Porcello gets the start and Brad Thomas, Charlie Furbush, Alberto Alburquerque, Jose Valverde and Fu-Te Ni are all slated to get some time on the mound today.  The game is on the radio locally and I’ll be out and about so I’ll catch some of the game in the car.

Tigers Finally Lose

After five straight wins to start their spring, the Tigers lost their first Grapefruit League game against the Houston Astros.  Phil Coke last three innings and while he gave up a run, he pitched a pretty strong game with four strikeouts in three innings.  Duane Below had a tough time and he gave up four runs in his two frames while Joaquin Benoit struck out one in a scoreless inning.

On the hitting side, Casper Wells went two for three with a walk, an RBI and a run.  He saw time in both left field and center while Clete Thomas doubled, drove in a run and scored one. 

Next up are the Braves and the game is on ESPN so it’s the first chance Tiger fans will get to see their team locally.  Game time is 1:05 and Max Scherzer gets the start.  Ryan Perry, Robbie Weindhardt, Brendan Wise, Adam Wilk and Alberto Alburquerque are all slated to pitch today.  Brad Penny is expected to throw a simulated game this morning and also don’t forget that single game tickets go on sale this Saturday.

Tigers Remain Perfect, Beat Yankees

The Tigers got it done for the third straight spring game yesterday as they beat the Yankees 6-2.  Justin Verlander gave up his share of baserunners (two hits, two walks) but he walked out of his two innings unscathed.  Rick Porcello struck out three in two innings and Charlie Furbush had a tough time and he gave up the lone two runs the Yankees scored.

Of course the big news was Dan Schlereth coming out of the game with a hamstring injury.  Schlereth is slated to be the primary lefty out of the pen and while right now they’re saying the injury is minor, this is definitely something to keep an eye on going forward.  Hamstring injuries have a tendency to nag for a while so hopefully they give him the adequate time to heal before bringing him back into games that don’t matter.  Of course this could create a setback in his schedule so hopefully they’ll be able to manage things.

Cale Iorg went deep with a solo shot in his only at bat. Ryan Strieby had another nice game with a single in two at bats with two RBIs and a run.  Andy Dirks went two for four with a double, a run and an RBI.

It’s the Blue Jays again and the Phillies this afternoon in some split squad action.  Jacob Turner gets the start and the Jays will throw Ricky Romero.  Brad Thomas, John Bale, Brayan Villereal and Fu-Te Ni should all see some time on the mound.  I don’t have the rundown on who’s pitching against the Phillies but if you’re an MLB.TV subscriber, this will be your first chance to see the Tigers because the Phillies are picking it up.  This is going to be the first time I try to watch a game using the iPhone app.

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