Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Dramatic Homer by Monroe Salvages Split

It was one of the most frustrating days of the year. The Tigers lost the first game of a doubleheader this afternoon to the hated Yankees 2-0 wasting a fine pitching performance by Nate Robertson. The Tigers took a 2-0 lead in game 2 but a 3 run 6th highlighted by a two run double by Derek Jeter put the Yankees up 3-2. The slumping Tigers were facing a sweep at the hands of the yankees and it didn't look like the offense was up to the challenge. They looked pathetic at the plate - swinging wildly at balls out of the strike zone, hitting weak fly balls and easy grounders, leaving men on base. Fans were cursing. A feeling of hopelessness was starting to haunt even the most optimistic among us.

Finally, they were down to the final out in the top of the 9th. Two men were on base. Craig Monroe was at the plate. He's been one of the best hitters in the league in these situations all year. But this was Yankee Stadium and the Tigers have been reeling. It just didn't seem like it would happen tonight. Personally, I was going to blow off Tiger Tales tonight. I wasn't going to talk about this ugly doubleheader sweep. Then boom! Monroe smashed the first pitch from Scott Proctor to left field for a 3 run homer. It was another clutch home run for Monroe and perhaps the most dramatic of them all.

Todd Jones came in to pitch a 1-2-3 9th to record his 19th straight save. He's becoming quite automatic. Isn't he? The Tigers had won 5-3 and salvaged a split of the twinbill. The most frustrating day of the year had now turned into one of the most amazing moments of the season. Is there anything better than a pennant race?

Notes

Not to be lost in the Monroe heroics were 3 solid pitching performances today:

Nate Robertson allowed 2 runs on 10 hits in 7 innings in game one. He got into quite a bit of trouble but did a great job working his way out of jams. He continues to throw quality starts and to pitch deep into games.

Andrew Miller pitched a scoreless hitless inning in his Major League debut in game one. He did hit one batter but that was the only blemish on his line.

Wil Ledezma allowed just two hits and 2 runs in 5 1/3 innings in his second start of the year. He left the game with a 2-0 lead and two men on base with one out in the 6th. He got a no decision when Fernando Rodney allowed the two run double by Jeter.

Also, not to be dismissed, were two walks which set up Monroe's blast. Brandon Inge reached on a 7 pitch walk and Curtis Granderson kept the game going with an 8 pitch walk leading up to Monroe.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Fan Fielding Survey 2006

Tom Tango, who has one of the more interesting and informative sabermetric sites on the net, conducts an annual survey on defensive skills. Some of you participated in the 2005 survey. It's now time for the 2006 survey. The results of this survey are a very valuable resource so I'm encouraging all knowledgable fans who watch a lot of Detroit Tiger games to participate.

The survey asks fans to rate the fielding skills of players on their favorite teams just based on observation. You will be asked not to use any stats at all and also not to vote based on what somebody else told you. Just use your own eyes as if you were a scout. The ballot and instructions can be found here. The results were very interesting and informative last year but a large sample size is needed in order for them to be useful again this year. So, I urge all of you to fill out the ballot.

Mark Fidrych Diary - August, 1976

The Mark Fidrych Diary will be a regular feature on Tiger Tales during the course of the spring and summer. This year is the 30th anniversay of Fidrych's magical rookie season in 1976 and, to honor the memory of that campaign, I will be writing a regular diary of his season from the perspective of a fan who doesn't know what lies ahead. I will update the diary once or twice a week during the season. I was 13 years old that summer so I have some vivid memories but I will also be using retrosheet.org and various newspaper archives to make sure I get the facts straight.

Entries for previous months can be found here: April May June July

August 29, 1976

The Bird pitched at Oakland today against Mike Torrez and the Athletics. There was no way to watch or listen to the game on a Sunday afternoon in Massachusetts so I had to rely on updates from local radio stations WEEI and WHDH. It turned out to be another pitcher’s duel.

In the top of the first, Ron Leflore singled , stole second, went to third on a ground out and scored on a wild pitch. This gave the Tigers an early 1-0 lead. Leflore’s steal was his 49th of the season. He added another one later to give him an even 50.

The Athletics tied it up 1-1 in the 3rd on a home run by Phil Garner. That was all the scoring for a while as Fidrych retired 17 of the next 18 batters and the Tigers didn’t have any better success against Torrez. It was still 1-1 after 11 innings. It was quite a duel.

In the 12th, Torrez was replaced by Rollie Fingers who retired the Tigers easily. The Bird kept on pitching into the bottom of the 12th. This was the 5th time Houk stayed with Fidrych into extra innings but the first time he went into the 12th. Don Baylor led off with a single and eventually came around to score on a one out single by Gene Tenace. The final score was 2-1 Athletics in 12 innings.

Like most of Fidrych’s rare losses, this was a tough one. The Bird is now 15-6 with a 2.08 ERA and 19 complete games in 22 starts.

August 26, 1976

The Bird was looking to get back on track last night after his disasterous 10th inning in his previous start. I still think Ralph Houk left him in there too long and deserves some of the blame for the 4 run 9th. Anyway, they were facing the White Sox tonight and Bart Johnson was the opposing pitcher.

The Tigers scored first in the 4th inning. With two out, Jason Thompson singled to left and then surprised everybody in the park by stealing second. According to Ernie Harwell, Thompson was able to steal easily because Johnson failed to pitch from the stretch pitching from a full windup instead. I guess he was really confident that Thompson would never try to steal. Thompson scored on a single to center by Aurelio Rodriguez.

In the top of the 5th inning, Jack Brohamer led off for the White Sox with a single to right. After two were out, Jerry Hairston singled to right and Brohamer came around to score when Ben Oglivie let the ball go through his legs. It was an unearned run but the score was now tied 1-1.

In the Tiger 6th, Oglivie made up for his error by tripling to center with one out. He scored when Alan Bannister had trouble picking up the ball. Rusty Staub followed with a walk and went to third when Thompson singled. Rodriguez then hit a sacrifice fly to center scoring Staub to make it 3-1 Tigers. There was no more scoring in the game after that.

Fidrych is now 15-5 with a 2.11 ERA and 17 complete games. In an interview after the game, The Bird said his goal was to win his 16th game and keep his ERA around 2.00. He also claimed that he needs to improve his control. With only 37 walks in 188 innings, I’m not sure how better he can get. The Tigers are now 60-65 and in 4th place 16 games behind.

August 22, 1976

The Bird pitched on The Saturday Game of the Week yesterday so I was able to watch him again. He was facing Pete Redfern and the Minnesota Twins. The game got off to a good start with the Tigers scoring 3 runs in the first inning. With one out, Dan Meyer walked. Ben Oglivie singled him to second and Rusty Staub followed with a two run double. Jason Thompson then singled home Staub to make it 3-0.

The Twins bounced back with two of their own in the second. Lyman Bostock led off with a single. Steve Brye followed with his first home run of the year to make it 3-2.

There was no more scoring until the 7th. In the top of that inning, Bostock and Brye singled to put runners on first and third. Bostock scored on a Larry Hisle single to tie the score 3-3.

It was still tied after 9 innings. Fidrych stayed in to pitch the 10th and got the first man but then it all unraveled. Here is how the inning went:

Steve Brye grounded out to shortstop
Bob Randall singled
Steve Braun singled
Roy Smalley singled (Randall out at plate)
Rod Carew walked
Disco Danny Ford was hit by the pitch (Braun scored)
Butch Wynegar scored (Smalley and Carew scored)
Lyman Bostock doubled (Ford scored)
Mike Cubbage grounded out to shortstop.

When all was said and done, the Twins had scored 4 runs to take a 7-3 lead. I have no idea why Fidrych was not taken out of the game.

The final score was 7-3 and, after the game, Fidrych said: “Well, I guess I’m human. Maybe, it’s for the best. It’s hard to believe. Seven runs. Earned too.” Fidrych is now 14-5 with a 2.22 ERA and 17 complete games.

August 18, 1976

Fidrych pitched versus fireballer Frank Tanana (who came into the game 14-8 with a 2.77 ERA) and the California Angels last night. I know I mention attendance figures a lot but it’s really amazing how many fans come out to see The Bird. Last night, there were 51,822 fans in Tiger Stadium, their biggest crowd in 6 years. Fidrych enjoys the big crowds: “They make my body kind of rush, get my blood flowing a lot.” He also likes to talk to them away from the park: ”I don’t have a phone so they can’t call me. A lot of people come to my apartment, kids and things, but I don’t mind rapping with them. What else do I have to do during the day?”

Fidrych cruised through the first 4 innings but then allowed a solo home run to Ron Jackson in the 5th. In the Angels 6th, Dave Collins singled to right, went to second on a sacrifice by Jerry Remy, went to third on wild pitch and scored on a Bruce Bochte sacrifice fly. That made it 2-0 Angels.

In the bottom of the 6th, Bruce Kimm walked with one out and scored on a triple by Ron Leflore. Alex Johnson then hit a sacrifice fly to tie the game 2-2.

It was still 2-2 in the bottom of the 8th when The Bird’s personal catcher, Bruce Kimm led off the inning. Kimm smashed a home run to left field to put the Tigers in front 3-2. It was Kimm’s first career home run and he raised his arms in celebration as he ran around the bases. This pumped up an already enthusiastic crowd to another level. I was listening to Ernie Harwell’s description but it must have been a sight to see.

The final score was 3-2 Tigers as Fidrych outdueled Tanana for his 14th win of the season. He now has 16 complete games and still leads the league with 1.97 ERA. The Tigers are now 56-60 and are in 4th place 15 games behind

August 14, 1976

Fidrych turned 22 today. Happy Birthday to The Bird!

August 12, 1976

Fidrych pitched against the Rangers last night before over 36,000 fans at Tiger Stadium. I read in The Sporting News this week that the Tigers have averaged about 36,000 fans in Fidrych's home starts including close to 46,000 in his last 5 starts. In Tiger home games when Fidrych has not pitched, they have averaged about 17,000 fans. So, you could say the The Bird brings in almost 30,000 extra fans per start. That's not bad for a guy who is making a league minimun $17,000.

Facing Fidrych was Gaylord Perry who came into the game with a record of 11-8 and a 3.31 ERA. Perry has been accused of throwing spitballs his whole career but has never actually been caught. Most people seem to think he does throw it and that many others do as well. He is also constantly touching his belt and his cap to make batters think it is coming whether it is or not.

It was a see saw game throughout. The Rangers scored first in the 2nd inning on a passed ball by Bruce Kimm which brought home Mike Hargrove who had singled to lead off the inning. The Tigers tied it 1-1 in the 3rd on consecutive singles by Dan Meyer, Rusty Staub and Jason Thompson.

The Rangers took the lead back in the 4th on a Mike Hargrove home run. The Tigers then tied it 2-2 in the 5th on Rusty Staub’s 11th home run of the year.

The Tigers took the lead 3-2 in the 6th when Aurelio Rodriguez tripled and scored on a single by Alex Johnson. The Rangers came back in the 7th to tie it 3-3 when Gene Clines singled home Juan Beniquez. It was the 4th tie of the game.

The game remained tied until the bottom of the 9th. Willie Horton pinch hit for Jerry Manuel to lead off the inning. He promptly deposited a Perry slider (or maybe it was a spitter) deep into the seats in left to give the Tigers a 4-3 victory. It was The Bird’s 15th complete game and he improved his record to 13-4 with a 1.97 ERA.

August 8, 1976

The Tigers played the Indians on The Game of The Week today. One of the great things about having The Bird on the team is that they show up on the game of the week quite a bit. Without Fidrych, they would never show a game between these two teams. Fidrych had not won a game since July 20 and had not been as sharp recently as he was earlier in the season. There was talk on the pre-game show about his perhaps being tired.

The Tigers got off to a quick start in the first inning. After Ron Leflore led off with a single, Dan Meyer was safe at first when Leflore was forced at second on his grounder. Meyer then stole second and went to third on a Ben Oglivie single. Rusty Staub followed with a sacrifice fly to drive home the first run of the game.

Fidrych pitched perfectly through the first four innings and he looked very determined and in control doing it. Rico Carty led off the 5th with a walk for the Indians first base runner. He went to second on a single by Buddy Bell. Alan Ashby singled to center to tie the game at 1-1.

The Tigers came right back in the bottom of the 5th. Chuck Scrivener led off with a walk and Bruce Kimm sacrificed him to second. Leflore then singled to left scoring Scrivener and he moved up to second on the throw. Leflore scored on a single by Meyer. Ben Oglivie followed with a single advancing Meyer to third. Finally, with two out, Jason Thompson singled home Meyer to make the score 4-1 Tigers.

The Tigers did some more damage in the 6th. Kimm doubled with two outs. Leflore and Meyer both walked to loads the bases. Oglivie then singled home two runs and upped the lead to 6-1. This would be the final score.

Fidrych allowed 1 run on 6 hits in route to his 14th complete game. He did not look at all like a tired pitcher in today’s game. He is now 12-4 with a 1.91 ERA. The Tigers are now in 5th place with a record of 50-56 and are 14 games behind.

August 4, 1976

Fidrych faced the Yankees last night for the first time since that Monday night game in June where he beat the Yankees and gained national recognition for his pitching and his antics on the mound. This one was played in Yankee Stadium before 44,000 noisy Yankee fans.

The Tigers got off to a good start in this one. In the first inning, Ron Leflore singled and stole second. Rusty Staub walked with one out. Willie Horton reached on an error by Graig Nettles and Leflore scored on another error by Sandy Alomar. Jason Thompson then hit a sacrifice fly to score Staub.

The Yankees came back in the third. Fred Stanley led off with a single. One out later, Roy White hit a two run homer to tie the game 2-2.

It didn’t take long for the Tigers to get the lead back. In the top of the 4th, Veryzer led off with a single. Rusty Staub followed with a walk. Horton then singled to score Veryzer for the go ahead run. The Tigers led 3-2 after 4 innings.

In the Yankee 7th, Nettles led off with a single. Oscar Gamble followed with a two run home run to give the Yankees a 4-3 lead. This was only the second time Fidrych had given up more than one homer in a game. He has allowed 7 homers in 16 starts for the season. John Hiller replaced The Bird in the 8th. The final score was 4-3 Yankees. Fidrych is now 11-4 and still leads the league with a 1.96 ERA.

Billy Martin tried to psych out Fidrych before the game. He bought some black beans and had Nettles spread them around the mound before The Bird pitched in the first inning. After the game, Martin said: “I was feeding the Bird during the game. You’re allowed to feed the Bird, aren’t you? I fed The Bird home runs.” It wasn’t all bad from Martin though. Later, he admitted: ”He’s a damn good pitcher, that kid. He’s colorful too.”

Fidrych said that he saw the beans but ignored them. He also had no excuses: ”I can’t believe it. Those pitchers were low and they golfed them out. I talked to the ball but that’s life I guess. I shoulda won the game. But I blew it. I had my defense behind me. They played un-godly behind me and I gave up two taters.”

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Rogers Stops Tiger Losing Streak

The Tigers defeated the Indians 7-1 today behind some very solid pitching by Kenny Rogers and some much needed power. Rogers pitched 7 innings allowing just 1 run on 4 hits and Joel Zumaya and Kenny Rogers pitched scoreless ball in the 8th and 9th innings. After a horrible month of July (9.14 ERA in 5 starts), Rogers has excelled in August compiling a 1.64 ERA in 5 starts. Rogers' rebound has given the team somewhat of a boost as the rest of the starters have struggled in recent starts.

The Tiger offense which had scored 3.1 runs per game during their recent 5-13 stretch broke loose today for 7 runs on 13 hits including 4 home runs. Curtis Granderson led off the game with his 13th home run and later added a double. Marcus Thames added his team leading 23rd home run in 3rd and Carlos Guillen and Ivan Rodriguez also went deep later in the game.

The win ended a 4 game losing streak but they have lost 13 out of 19 over the last three weeks and they have a tough three game series versus the Yankees starting on Tuesday. The White Sox beat the Twins today so the Tigers' lead in the AL Central is up to 5 games:


AL Central Division Standings

W

L

PCT

GB

Detroit

82

49

.626

-----

Minnesota

76

53

.589

5

Chicago

76

54

.585

5 1/2

Cleveland

60

69

.465

21

Kansas City

47

85

.356

35 1/2

Miller, Gomez Re-called, Maroth Not Ready

Yesterday, I posted that Mike Maroth would join the rotation this week but today it was learned that his elbow is still a little tender and that he is not ready to return yet:
Though Maroth had said his elbow irritation was only minor and an expected part of strengthening his arm back into shape, manager Jim Leyland was waiting for Maroth to tell him he was ready to start.

After the feeling intensified during a side session Sunday morning, Maroth couldn't tell him in good faith he was good to go.

Taking his place on Wednesday versus the Yankees will be Wil Ledezma. Ledezma will not necessarily stay in the rotation longer than one start but Leyland wants to start a left-hander versus the lefty heavy Yankee line-up.

Taking Ledezma's spot as the second lefty in the bullpen will be recent first round pick Andrew Miller who will be promoted to the majors after just three appearances for the Lakeland Tigers. He had pitched 5 innings allowing 0 runs on just 2 hits and 1 walk with 9 strikeouts. In one other move, Brent Clevlen was sent back down to Erie because Leyland wanted another left-handed bat on the bench. This will also mean that Curtis Granderson will go back to starting every day.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Maroth Back in Rotation, Miner Goes to Pen

Mike Maroth has finished rehabilitation of his right elbow and is going back into the rotation. He will start against the Yankees next Wednesday. Zach Miner, who performed about as well as could be expected during Maroth's absence will join the bullpen. In fact, he already pitched 2 1/3 innings of scoreless ball after replacing Justin Verlander in today's loss. Miner threw 79 innings in 15 starts compiling a 4.76 ERA and a 46/26 k/BB ratio. After getting off to a good start, he has struggled as of late so this is probably a good time for Maroth to return. Hopefully, Maroth is fully ready because the Yankees will cetainly be a tough test.

Tigers Slump Continues, Lead Down to 4

Justin Verlander allowed 6 runs in the 5th inning tonight as the Tigers lost to the Indians 8-5. Overall, he allowed 8 runs on 11 hits in 4 2/3 innings of work. It appears to me that the young pitchers are tiring and that their very average offense is not good enough to pick up the slack. They have now lost 13 out 18 and what was once a 10 game lead is now down to 4. It's been a rough schedule in August and they still have to play the hard hitting Yankees in a three game series starting Tuesday.

September offers a more favorable schedule. Of the 28 September games, 12 are against teams with records below .500 (Seattle, Baltimore, Kansas City) and 5 more are against teams who will likely be all but eliminated from contention by the time the Tigers play them (Texas, Toronto). My hope is that their young staff will get a "second wind" and that a couple of hitters will get hot in the final month against weaker competition. Of course, they need to hold their own against Minnesota, Chicago and Los Angeles as well.

The game tonight got me down more than usua and I'm less confident now than I was two weeks ago but I still think they will make it to the playoffs. The Tigers are not going to get back to their earlier dominant ways but I don't see this slide continuing against an easier schedule. Plus, the White Sox are slumping and the Twins pitching is very thin. I do expect it to be a scramble down the strtetch and it could go down to the wire. Here are the current standings:

AL Central Division Standings


W

L

PCT

GB

Detroit

81

49

.623

-----

Minnesota

76

52

.594

4

Chicago

75

54

.581

5 1/2

Cleveland

60

68

.469

20

Kansas City

47

84

.359

34 1/2

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Tigers Routed by White Sox, Split Series

The Tigers suffered their worst rout of the season at the hands of the White Sox 10-0 today. There is not much good news to report from this one. Nate Robertson gave up 10 runs on 9 hits in 6 2/3 innings. Included in the assault were 2 home runs by Jermaine Dye and 1 by Juan Uribe.

On the offensive side, the Tigers could do little with Jon Garland who scattered 6 hits and pitched a complete game shutout. It got so bad that Sean Casey was thrown out at first base by left fielder Pablo Ozuna in the 5th inning. Casey hit a line drive over Joe Crede who almost made a leaping catch. Casey thought he had caught it and failed to run to first base. Ozuna picked up the ball and threw Casey out at first. That's the kind of game it was.

The lone bright spot for the Tigers was Curtis Granderson who went 2 for 4. Granderson had been slumping horribly in August coming into the game batting .121/.183/.182 for the month. July was not so good either as he hit .273/.337/.353 for the month. He is now batting .262/.343/.414 for the year. The Tigers really need him to get back to hitting the way he was in the first half down the stretch.

For some reason, the Tigers are having trouble in afternoon games this year. While they are 56-25 in night games, they are 25-22 during the day. Today's loss means that they ended up with a split of the 4 game series after playing so well in winning the first 2 games. Minnesota also inched closer to the Tigers with their 11-2 rout of the Orioles. Here are the standings:

AL Central Division Standings

W

L

PCT

GB

Detroit

81

47

.633

-----

Chicago

75

52

.591

5 1/2

Minnesota

74

52

.587

6

Cleveland

57

68

.456

22 1/2

Kansas City

46

82

.359

35

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Tigers Blank White Sox, Reach 81 Wins

How many of you were hoping, at the beginning of the season, that the Tigers would just reach .500 for the first time since you were married, or for the first time since you were in high school or maybe for the first time since you were a Tiger fan? Well they made it. Kenny Rogers and Fernando Rodney combined to shut out the White Sox 4-0 guaranteeing the Tigers their first .500 or better season since 1993. And there are still 5 1/2 weeks to go.

The big hitter for the Tigers was Marcus Thames who tripled, hit his 22nd homer of the year and drove in 3 runs. Defensively, the Tigers were sloppy as Rogers, Brandon Inge and Magglio Ordonez made errors among other various misplays on the night. The pitchers worked through it though and the Tigers had their Major League leading 14th shutout of the season.

The Twins also lost tonight 6-3 to the Orioles so the Tigers gained some more breathing room in the AL Central:

AL Central Division Standings

W

L

PCT

GB

Detroit

81

45

.643

-----

Chicago

73

52

.584

7 1/2

Minnesota

72

52

.581

8

Cleveland

56

68

.452

24

Kansas City

46

81

.362

35 1/2

Monday, August 21, 2006

Tigers Maul White Sox

The Tigers came into the 4 game series against the second place White Sox having lost 9 of their last 12 including 3 in a row in a horrible weekend versus the Rangers. In the process, they saw their AL Central division lead cut from 10 games to 5 1/2 games. Furthermore, they had lost 9 of 12 in the season series against the Sox and seemed unusually tentative whenever they faced last year's World Champions. Rookie sensation Justin Verlander had been struggling as of late and recently missed a game with a tired arm. Plus, he had not solved the Pale Hose all year long and there was talk that he was tipping his pitches. It did not appear to be a promising game for the Tigers...But it turned out to be perhaps the most satisfying game of the year - a 7-1 thrashing of their nemesis.

The Tigers did everything right tonight, just as if it was July again. Verlander showed that he is not a toasted rookie ready to be shut down for the season. He allowed just one run (a home run by Jermaine Dye in the second) on 5 hits in 7 innings. Joel Zumaya pitched a scoreless 8th including an exciting strikeout of Jim Thome. Leyland was so proud that he hugged the 21 year old hurler in the dugout after the inning. Todd Jones finished it off with a scoreless 9th despite allowing 2 hits. Defensively, they were flawless for the first time in a while.

Offensively, they pounded out 12 hits off Jose Contreras and 3 other pitchers. Surging Craig Monroe hit his 21st home run of the year and Sean Casey had 3 hits to pace the attack. Carlos Guillen, Ivan Rodriguez and Brandon Inge each added a pair of hits.

It was a great game tonight all around, the best win of the year so far. The Tigers are now 6 1/2 games up on the White Sox and 7 games up on the idle Twins:

AL Central Division Standings


W

L

PCT

GB

Detroit

80

45

.640

-----

Chicago

73

51

.588

6 ½

Minnesota

72

51

.585

7

Cleveland

56

67

.455

23

Kansas City

45

81

.357

35 1/2

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Tigers Acquire Neifi Perez

The Tigers acquired infielder Neifi Perez today in exchange for minor league catcher Chris Robinson. The Tigers had been looking for a veteran infielder since Placido Polanco went down with a separated shoulder earlier in the week. Perez is a pretty poor hitter as he was batting .254/.266/.343 in 87 games with the Cubs. He is hitting .269/.299/.378 lifetime despite playing half his career for the colorado Rockies.

The upside is that Perez has a reputation as a good fielder who can play all three infield positions. He was a gold glove caliber shortstop earlier in his career but does not have the range he once had. He will most likely take over Ramon Santiago's utility role on the roster but I suspect he'll get a good number of starts as well. He'll also be insurance in case Omar Infante or Carlos Guillen goes down with an injury. The only thing that bothers me is that Perez is signed for next year at 2.5 million. That's a hefty price for a weak hitting utility infielder.

Chris Robinson was the Tigers 3rd round draft pick in 2005. He is 22 years old and is regarded as a good all around defensive catcher. He is batting .288/.338/.367 for Lakeland this year. He is not a big time prospect but it seems like a lot to give for Perez given the latter's salary.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Punchless Tigers Lose Again

The Tigers were shut down by the Raangers again tonight by a score of 3-1. Nate Robertson pitched an excellent game but received little support from his teammates. He allowed just 1 earned run on 2 hits and 2 walks in 8 innings but was the victim of an error which led to 2 unearned runs in the 6th. He also received little help from his offense.

With 2 men on and 1 out in the 6th, Michael Young hit what looked to be an inning ending double play ball but Omar Infante allowed the routine grounder to go through his legs. One run scored on the play and another scored on a sacrifice fly by Carlos Lee. The two unearned runs gave the Rangers a 3-0 lead at the time. The Tigers are rumored to be looking for a second baseman to replace the injured Placido Polanco (who is expected to be out 4-6 weeks with a separated shoulder). One has to wonder whether that play may hasten their search a little bit.

Meanwhile, the Tiger bats were silenced by the Rangers once again scoring just 1 run on 5 hits for the second straight night. The only run scored on a solo home run by Craig Monroe in the 7th. Three of the hits belonged to Carlos Guillen.

The Tigers have now lost 8 of their last 11 games and the offense has been the primary culprit. They have scored 3 or fewer runs in 7 of the 8 losses and batted .238 with just 23 extra base hits during the 11 game period. The biggest problem has been lack of plate discipline illustrated by a 19/76 BB/K ratio. This has been a problem all season as they are last in the league in walks (296) and first in strikeouts (866). Despite this problem, they are 7th in the league in runs scored. However, you have to be a little concerned about good pitchers exploiting this obvious weakness in big games down the stretch and in the playoffs. Hopefully, their own pitching will continue to excel.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Monroe Left on Third

The Tigers lost to the Rangers 2-1 tonight despite some strong pitching from Zach Miner and the bullpen. Miner pitched 6 innings allowing 2 runs on 8 hits. He was followed by Jason Grilli and Wil Ledezma who combined for 3 perfect innings of relief. So they got a very well pitched game from three pitchers who were not supposed to be part of their plans this year. That kind of thing no longer comes as surprise.. When it comes to run prevention, everything has worked for the Tigers this year.

Unfortunately, their offense does not always work and tonight was one of those nights. The Tigers managed just 5 hits against Kevin Millwood and three Ranger relievers. They scored their only run of the game on a solo shot by Dmitri Young who now has 6 homers in 20 games since his return. They did have a golden opportunity to score in the 9th though. Craig Monroe led off with a triple against closer Akinori Otsuka. All they needed was a sacrifice fly or a bloop single to tie the game. However, Dmitri Young, Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Guillen all hit infield grounders. And Monroe was left standing on third.

Despite the loss, the Tigers kept their 6 1/2 game lead over the White Sox who lost to the Twins tonight. The Twins are now 7 1/2 games behind. In game 3 of the series tomorrow night, it will be Nate Robertson versus Robinson Tejada. on Sunday afternoon, Jeremy Bonderman will face John Koronka. Those are two favorable matchups for the Tigers but they will have to hit better than they did tonight.

Tigers Who are Not Hot

Last night, I made a list of Tigers who have been hot as of late. Tonight, I'll give you a list of Tigers who have not been hot:

Curtis Granderson is batting .232/.297/.312 since July 1. Apparently pitchers have adjusted to him and he now needs to make an adjustment. Hopefully, he can figure things out quicker than Chris Shelton. What saves him right now is his good defense in center field, something that is especially important in big Comerica Park. I still have a lot of confidence in Granderson and I expect a long solid career for him.

Magglio Ordonez is batting .256/.301/.365 since July 1 and his OPS for the season has dropped to .810. He does not save himself with defense either. The fact that their clean-up hitter has been in a slump for 7 weeks concerns me.

Marcus Thames has batted .183/.255/.409 since July 1 and has lost a good deal of playing time since the return of Young. Since the Tigers have never been tolerant of a Thames slump and there is really no place to put him right now, he'll probably have to wait for an injury before getting another chance to play regularly.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Tiger Bullpen Stops Rangers

The Tigers opened a 4 game series against the Rangers at Comerica Park tonight with a 4-2 victory. Kenny Rogers pitched well for 5 innings allowing 1 run on 3 hits and 3 walks while his teammates built up a 4-1 lead. The Tigers scored 2 runs in the 2nd against young Edinson Volquez on singles by Carlos Guillen, Ivan Rodriguez, Sean Casey and Omar Infante. They added a run in the 3rd when Craig Monroe doubled and scored on Dmitri Young's single. In the 5th, Guillen hit his 14th homer of the year to make it 4-1.

Kenny Rogers ran into trouble in the 6th when he loaded the bases with nobody out. At that point, Joel Zumaya was brought into the game to face hot hitting Mark DeRosa. He proceeded to walk DeRosa forcing in a run. It looked like a potential disaster developing especially since Zumaya struggled a bit in his last appearance against the Red Sox. Zoom, however, found himself very quickly. He got Ian Kinsler on a weak pop to third. Then, he struck out Hank Blalock and Gerald Laird to end the inning. It was classic Zumaya drama and it was great to watch.

It was 4-2 after 6 and that would be the final score as the Tiger bullpen was brilliant tonight. Zumaya retired the side in 7th adding one more strikeout along the way. Fernando Rodney followed by setting down the Rangers in order in the 8th. Todd Jones did not get another 1-2-3 inning tonight but got a double play to end it. The Tiger victory kept them 6 1/2 games ahead of the White Sox who also won today and put them 8 1/2 up on the Twins who lost to the Indians.

Hot Tigers

Three Tigers who received criticism from a lot of people (including me) earlier in the year have been doing quite well in the second half:
  • Todd Jones, who has saved 34 games in 37 opportunities on the season, has not blown a save or lost a game since June 14. During that period, he has pitched 22 2/3 innings over 23 games allowing just 4 runs on 14 hits with a 16/3 K/BB ratio.
  • Craig Monroe is batting .354/.395/.619 in 38 games since July 1. For the season , he is batting .282/.319/.501. His .820 OPS is good for 3rd on the team behind Marcus Thames (.900) and Carlos Guillen (.893).
  • Dmitri Young is batting .369/.391/.646 in 19 games since returning from the disabled list. His overall numbers (.274/.316/.444) are still not impressive but they are getting better.
One other Tiger who is picking up the offense as of late is newly acquired Sean Casey. The mighty Casey got off to a slow start as a Tiger but has gone 9-23 with 8 RBI in his last 6 games.


Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Tigers Top Red Sox in Thriller

In another game that felt like a playoff contest, the Tigers edged the Red Sox 3-2 on a misplayed fly ball by Wily Mo Pena in the 9th. The matchup between 23 year old Jeremy Bonderman and 39 year old Curt Schilling lived up to its' advance billing as they dueled deep into the game. The Red Sox scored first when Coco Crisp homered with nobody on in the bottom of the 3rd. The Tigers took a 2-1 lead in the 7th on a two run double by Sean Casey scoring Carlos Guillen and Ivan Rodriguez who had both singled.

Bonderman allowed an infield single to Crisp in the 8th and wound up leaving the game with Crisp on second and two outs. With Bonderman at 102 pitches, Jim Leyland opted to bring in the left-handed Wil Ledezma to face the left-handed David Ortiz. Ortiz lined a single to right center field scoring Crisp to tie the game 2-2. Bonderman pitched a great game allowing 2 runs on 5 hits and 1 walk with 8 strikeouts in 7 2/3 innings. Typically, he did not get good run support and ended up with a no decision. Placido Polanco made a tremendous tumbling catch on Ramirez's pop up to end the inning. Unfortunately, he separated his shoulder on the play and will head for the disabled list. Ivan Rodriguez took over at second base for the first time in his career.

In the 9th, Guillen walked to lead off the inning against Mike Timlin (who also piched the 8th). After Rodriguez failed to lay down a bunt, Casey singled to advance Guillen to third. Monroe then hit a fly ball down the right field which bounced off Wily Mo Pena's glove and landed fair. Guillen scored from third on the play to put the Tigers ahead 3-2. With Pena running away from the plate, it might have been a sacrifice fly even if it was caught but there would have been a play at the plate.

Todd Jones, who has really settled into a solid season as the closer, retired the Red Sox 1-2-3 in the 9th to secure the victory. The Rollercoaster has been running pretty smoothly as of late allowing just 4 runs in 19 2/3 innings in his last 20 games. The amazing thing is that this includes 10 1-2-3 innings, something that has been rare for him in the past.

There will be Another kid versus veteran matchup to wrap up the series tomorrow night - 22 year old Justin Verlander versus 43 year old David Wells. Hopefully, the kid's team will come out on top again.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Tigers End Losing Streak

I was unable to write much the last two days but Jim Leyland summed up the Chicago series succincntly (in Jason Beck's column):
As manager Jim Leyland summarized, "We got our [tails] kicked. It's as simple as that. No what-ifs. We got our [tails] kicked."
If that was not simple enough for you, he put it another way later (in Mike Bauman's column):
"Plain and simple, they played good and we did not," Leyland said. "We got what we deserved this weekend -- we got swept."
Add the White Sox sweep to the last two games of the Twins series and you've got a 5 game losing streak, the longest string of failures of the season for the Tigers. The result was a 10 game lead over the second place pale hose shrinking to 5 1/2 games. This sent all the Tiger message boards on the internet into a state of panic. Tiger fans being disappointed about a 5 1/2 game lead in August? Times have certainly changed.

Tonight, the Tigers eased the minds of their fans a bit with a 7-4 victory over the Red Sox, a team to watch if the Tigers find themselves in the Wild Card race. The Tigers jumped out to an early 5-0 lead after two innings versus Josh Beckett. Dmitri Young and Carlos Guillen had RBI singles in the first. Another first inning run scored on an error by Wily Mo Pena. Sean Casey had a two run single in the second.

The Red Sox made the game interesting with a run in the 5th and a 2 run home run by Youkilis in the 6th cutting the leade to 5-3. Overall, Nate Robertson pitched a solid game allowing 3 runs on 5 hits in 6 innings. He left with a 5-3 lead after 6. The Tigers hung on to win with help from Joel Zumaya (who gave up a run in 2 innings) and Todd Jones (who pitched a perfect 9th). It's good to see the Tigers back in the win column again.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Rested Verlander Hit Hard

The Tigers weekend series got off to a bad start tonight as Jose Contreras and the White Sox shut them out 5-0. Contreras came into the game with a 5.12 ERA in his previous 10 starts but you would not know it by the way he pitched tonight. Contreras pitched a complete game 3 hit shut out while striking out 5 and walking 1. The only Tiger hits were by Curtis Granderson, Carlos Guillen and Sean Casey.

Pitching for the first time since his skipped start, Justin Verlander got roughed up for 5 runs on 13 hits in 5 innings of work. Two of those hits were 5th inning home runs by Jim Thome and AJ Pierzynski. It's much too early to get really worried but a skipped start due to a "tired arm" followed by a poor start has to make you just a little concerned for a rookie pitcher who has never pitched over 130 innings in a season until now. His next start will probably be next Wednesday at Boston.

The lone bright spot for the Tigers tonight was Wilfredo Ledezma who pitched 2 shutout innings allowing 1 hit, 0 walks with 3 strikeouts. Ledezma also pitched well last Sunday when he pitched the first 5 2/3 innings of a combined shutout while taking Verlander's turn in the rotation.

The Tiger have now lost 3 in a row for the first time since June 4-7 (1 loss to the Red Sox and 2 to the White Sox). The White Sox have the Tigers number so far this year winning 7 games of 10. The loss cut the Tiger's lead over the White Sox to 7 1/2 games. The Twins, who lost 7-1 to the Blue Jays tonight, remain 9 games behind.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Tigers Lose Series to Twins

Justin Morneau smashed a two run home run in the eighth inning tonight as the Twins came back to beat the Tigers 4-3. For a moment, it looked like it might be another dramatic victory for the Tigers as Brandon Inge crushed a two run homer to left off Johan Santana in the bottom of the 7th to give the Tigers a 3-2 lead. However, the lead did not last long. After Jamie Walker allowed a lead off walk in the 8th, Joel Zumaya came in to pitch and struck out the side. Unfortunately, he also allowed the two run blast to Morneau which gave the lead back to the Twins.

This loss was a little easier to take than the last Jeremy Bonderman/Santana showdown. In that one, Bonderman pitched a 1 hit shutout for 7 innings before the team suffered a 6 run eighth inning melt down. Bonderman called it the "worst inning of his life" although most of it was not his fault. That one featured a series of bleeders and choppers and a comedy of errors. This one was lost on a home run by one of baseball's hottest sluggers. They both count the same though.

The Tigers lost the series 2 out of 3 but there is no need to panic. After all, it was their first series loss since July 3-5 at Oakland. It was their first loss at home since June 2-4 versus the Red Sox. As I type this, The White Sox trail the Yankees 7-1 in the 7th. If that lead holds up, the Tigers will enter the upcoming White Sox series with an 8 1/2 lead over the Twins and 9 game lead over the White Sox.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Organizational Trees

In his excellent Ducksnorts blog about the San Diego Padres, Geoff Young introduces his Padres organizational tree. It shows where every current Padre and important Padre prospect "came from". Here is Geoff's explanation of how it works:

In a nutshell, the organizational tree shows all current Padres big-leaguers and key minor-leaguers (Baseball America’s Top 30 prospects, top picks in the June 2006 draft, and anyone acquired in a trade), and links each of them back to their source. A simple example would be Josh Bard, who was acquired for Doug Mirabelli, who was acquired for Mark Loretta. Others, such as the Chan Ho Park and Ryan Klesko lines, are more complicated.



He notes that there also trees available for the Twins, Yankees and Red Sox. These trees are valuable resources and it would be nice if we had one for the Tigers as well. I might try to do something like this for the Tigers during the off-season but if anyone else is interested in doing some Tiger research, feel free to steal the idea and share it with us.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Tigers Club Liriano, Twins

Francisco Liriano came into tonight's game with a Major League leading 1.93 ERA and is a leading candidate for both the Rookie of the Year and Cy Young Awards. Today, the Tigers pounded him for 4 runs on 10 hits in 4 innings as they went on to defeat the Twins 9-3. It was the kind of performance that makes one wonder if the elbow problem which caused him to miss his previous start is more serious than he is saying. I'm glad that he didn't have it tonight but I wouldn't wish a serious injury for an exciting young pitcher on any team.

In all, the Tigers had 13 hits including home runs by Marcus Thames and sizzling Craig Monroe. Monroe had 3 hits on the night and Magglio Ordonez and Placido Polanco added 2 apiece. One can only hope that this game gets Ordonez going as he has been quietly slumping in the second half: .250/.298/.357 in 28 games since July 1. It's hard to find fault with anything the Tigers are doing right now but this is not the kind of production you want from the clean-up hitter on a most likely plaoff bound team.

On the pitching side, Zach Miner allowed 3 runs on 7 hits in 6 1/3 innings before yielding to Joel Zumaya in the 7th. Miner, who was left off the 40 man roster during the off-season, has filled in admirably for the injured Mike Maroth. He has compiled a 4.05 ERA in 12 starts.

The win put the Tigers an astounding 40 games over .500 and gave them a 10 game lead over the second place White Sox. Here are the current standings:

AL Central Standings – August 7, 2006

Team

W

L

PCT.

GB

Detroit

76

36

.679

---

Chicago

65

45

.591

10

Minnesota

65

46

.586

10 ½

Cleveland

47

63

.427

28

Kansas City

38

73

.342

37 ½

Sabermetrics Book

Sabermetrics Book
One of Baseball America's top ten books of 2010

Blog Archive

Subscribe

Ticket America

Purchase Tigers tickets at Comerica Park. Ticketamerica.com has access to Chicago Cubs, Texas Rangers seats and STL Cardinals. Find and buy all MLB seats including Red Sox and NY Yankees here.

GoTickets

Get Tigers tickets for Comerica Park and watch them play the Seattle Mariners and other MLB teams. We also have baseball tickets, MLB All Star and World Series tickets.

501 Baseball Books

501 Baseball Books
Recommended by Tiger Tales

Other Stuff




Total Pageviews