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Zach Miner and a Little Relief

Prior to the losing their previous three series, the bullpen was looked at as a major strength for the Tigers.  Todd Jones had only blown one game and both Fernando Rodney and Joel Zumaya were throwing extremely well.  Since then, Jones has blown three games and Rodney looks like he can’t get into a game without walking a couple of guys.  Zumaya has been the one guy to throw consistently well through this tough patch.

Today, Jim Leyland appeared to make the right decision by leaving Joel Zumaya in there for three innings however I say he was pretty much forced too.  Todd Jones had thrown in the previous three games and while Rodney had the day off on Saturday, he had thrown both Thursday and Friday.  Zumaya, on the other hand, had only thrown 1 2/3 over the previous four days.  So before you give Leyland too much credit, lets see how he handles the pen over the next week to see if he’s really changed his ways.

The other thing to note is, Jamie Walker has quietly put up some very nice numbers.  He’s struck out 16 and only walked one and he has a rock solid 0.95 ERA.  He’s thrown only 19 innings and his numbers probably warrant some more use.  What’s even more odd is, he’s completely shutting down right handers, who are hitting only .150 against him.  Both homeruns that he’s given up have come against lefties although his strikeout numbers aren’t nearly impressive against righties.  This is a nice guy to have in the hole as your fourth reliever and, along with about fifty other reasons, makes Todd Jones expendable.

The Tigers won their first series since they took two of three against the Indians two weeks ago.  Regardless of whether the White Sox win or lose tonight, the Tigers will remain in first place heading into their four game series with the Devil Rays.  There’s a very nice pitching matchup tomorrow with two young guns going head to head.  Scott Kazmir is having a breakout season and he’ll lock horns with Justin Verlander.  Just looking at the pitching matchups, I’d be disappointed if we didn’t come out of this series with three of four.

Prior to today’s game, the Tigers still led the majors in ERA, just a tenth of run better then the New York Mets.  They’re still treading dangerously though.  They’re letting guys get on base, but their 76% left on base percentage is best in the majors so they’re able to get out of jams.  Not sure how much of that is Todd Jones, but it looks like more of a “bend but don’t break” pitching strategy and their strikeouts per nine innings of 6.1 (which is exactly the league average) sort of bears that out.  You just wonder how much longer they’ll be able to keep it up.

Zach Miner picked up his first career win on Saturday.  He threw six innings and gave up two runs on four hits and one walk with five strikeouts.  Lyle Overbay took him deep for a two run shot to account for the two runs.  There’s really not a lot on Miner that I could find other then that he was the guy who came over with Roman Colon in the Kyle Farnsworth trade.  He’s already 24 so he’s old for a prospect.  I had to go all the way back to John Sickel’s 2005 Prospect Book and while he did say that Miner had one of the better arms in the Braves system at the time, he gave him his worst grade (C).  But he faced a top notch offense in Toronto and came out looking good, so hopefully the kid will be able to keep it up.

God dammit, Rodriguez! Get the ball down! If the Devil Rays win this game, it’s Rodriguez who blew it. Of course, Ordonz lines out to right ten seconds later, and that would have been your ballgame.

Posted by Dan on June 12th, 2006 at 6:09 pm

Yet another game, yet another shaky performance by Jones. Good thing Comerica Park is so huge.

Rodriguez’s failed sacrifice bunt is causing a cascade effect on the ball club. We would have won and been finished with the game after only 6 pitches by Rodney. Now he’s spent, Jones is in the game, and who knows how deep into the bullpen we’ll have to go.

Posted by Dan on June 12th, 2006 at 6:49 pm

Okay, we won. I’ll enjoy it, I promise.

Posted by Dan on June 12th, 2006 at 7:57 pm

Here’s the part that’s getting me, and I don’t know how much this has been discussed (transplanted Detroiter who just graduated college out-of-state): why are there still so many empty seats at Comerica Park? Granted, it’s the Devil Rays (not exactly a top draw), but everybody knows that Detroit loves a winner, and I still maintain that the city gets behind the Tigers more fervently than any other team when things are good (don’t be fooled by the “Hockeytown” pap). So where are the butts in seats? In spite of some glaring issues (bullpen, power from the outfield), this is still clearly a good team that has a decent chance of playing in October. Where are the fans? Are the Free Press, WDFN, etc. making noise about this?

Posted by Mark on June 13th, 2006 at 9:30 am

The fans aren’t there because Detroit is not a great baseball town. I’m from Detroit, and I really wish it were a top-notch baseball town, but it isn’t. Everyone says his city is a great baseball city, but sometimes it isn’t true. I don’t want to be one of those people who says it but has no idea. If the people aren’t coming out to watch a team that is 41-23 and 1.5 games up, it is not a great baseball city, period.

I’ve been to great baseball cities, and the people go to the games.

Posted by Dan on June 13th, 2006 at 10:23 am

I went to the Saturday night game against the Tribe a couple weeks back it was almost sold out. We are a great baseball city. The Lions worst nightmare is about to happen, the Tigers will be revelant in the late summer/early fall and all the attention the Lions usually get will be on the Tigers.

Posted by Ryan on June 13th, 2006 at 11:24 am


it was sold out because it was a saturday game. when a team is doing well, weekend games against divsion rivals tend to sell out. In solid baseball towns, when a team is kicking ass, week night games are sold out. Thats not the case in Detroit. I’m from Detroit but live in chicago. If I were back home i would be going to as many games as I can.

Posted by Michael on June 13th, 2006 at 12:14 pm

All the attention the Lions usually get will be spent on the Tigers? Where is it now then? The Lions aren’t playing or doing anything right now! Is it being spent on Alerican Idol? The team is in first place, and there are thousands of empty seats. That doesn’t happen in good baseball towns.

Talk to someone in Pittsburgh. They will tell you they have a great baseball city but that they’re just having a hard time right now. Ask someone in Baltimore or Seattle or San Diego or Arlington. Everyone will tell you that because it’s what they want to think. Maybe we used to be a great baseball city, I don’t know. Maybe not. I don’t pretend to know because I wait for evidence. The Tigers are 42-23 and they’re not selling out important ballgames.

It’s okay to admit that Detroit might not be a great baseball city. Perhaps it’s all this “Hockeytown” horseshit that has fouled up the city’s identity.

Posted by Dan on June 13th, 2006 at 6:32 pm

Dan, you are a very angry individual.

Posted by Joe on June 13th, 2006 at 8:48 pm

Actually, I didn’t mean to sound angry on this last one, except the part about “Hockeytown”. I think calling your city “Hockeytown” is ridiculous. Here in Chicago, they’ve taken to calling it “The Capital of Baseball”. Why do they have to make claims like this? Why can’t they just have their teams and show some humility?

Posted by Dan on June 14th, 2006 at 5:44 am

I think a couple factors that are curretnly effecting the attendance numbers:
1. The team has been bad for so long, it might take some fans longer to get back on the bandwagon
2. The michigan economy is in the toliet, people might not have the discretionary income to spend on a ball game

Or you are correct and we are not a baseball town.

Posted by Ryan on June 14th, 2006 at 11:00 am

You make two very good points, Ryan. Still, I would argue that, despite a pretty healthy history of winning teams, Detroit can no longer be called a good baseball town.

First of all, I didn’t say Detroit is not a baseball town. It is not a “great” or a “good” baseball town. You have a team, and that team has a bunch of great fans, just not as many as real fans as some other places.

Look, Tiger Stadium was filled on its final day but almost never before that. It was easy to get tickets at times when it shouldn’t have been. 1987, 1984, 1993, etc. I know that baseball attendence in general wasn’t then what it is now, but still.

There aren’t that many big baseball fans living in the city. The city is in rough shape. Almost all of the fans are from the suburbs, which is fine as far as the team is concerned, but it is fundamentally lacking as a baseball town when this is true.

The population of Detroit is poor, it is something like 85% African-American and, as we know, baseball doesn’t get nearly enough African-American fans to games. Part of this is due to bad marketing, and it never helps on that front when you build a brand new, taxpayer-funded stadium with much higher ticket prices right next to the Fox Theatre.

If all of your fans have to be people who drive in from Bloomfield Hills, you are not a good baseball town. You are a town that has a baseball team. I love the Tigers, but it’s true.

My point was that people from every single city with a ball team will say that they live in a “great baseball town”. They say it because they remember some glory days, they remember being into it, and they hear people on their local radio station say it over and over again.

The proof is right there. I think the points you make might have some marginal effect on attendence, but the fact is that there is no reasonable excuse for that park to be far from full when the team is in first place at 42-23. ESPECIALLY since they haven’t been good in a while. The people should be extra excited to get to a game.

Boston is a great baseball town. New York is a great baseball town, and St. Louis is a great baseball town. If they are anywhere near first place, the people will be there.

Posted by Dan on June 14th, 2006 at 1:06 pm

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