Thursday, August 30, 2007

Bonderman and Infielders Beat Royals

It's crucial that Jeremy Bonderman pitch well down the stretch if the Tigers are going to have a chance to make the playoffs. He was not dominant today but he got the ball over the plate and kept it low. The results were good - just one run in 7 innings and a 6-1 victory. On the heels of a rare no strikeout game in his previous start, he struck out only 3 today but his control was excellent - 63 of 87 pitches were strikes. He also had the Royals hitting it on the ground - 13 ground balls and 5 fly balls. Perhaps most impressive of all was his first scoreless first inning since July 19th versus the Twins.

Just as important as Bonderman's pitching was the outstanding defensive support he received. Ramon Santiago was at short today, Carlos Guillen at first and Placido Polanco and Brandon Inge at second and third as usual. The quartet put on quite a fielding show today saving maybe a half dozen hits and almost surely some runs. Santiago, in particular, was spectacular and with Sean Casey slumping badly (.235/.262/.333), we may see quite a bit more of Guillen at first and Santiago at short down the stretch.

The bullpen continued to come through as Fernando Rodney and Joel Zumaya each pitched a perfect inning to close out the game. Rodney has now had 10 consecutive scoreless appearances since returning from the disabled list. The bullpen was the team's achilles heel in the first half but now it seems to be turning into a strength with several fine performances over the last few weeks. In this series alone, they pitched 12 shutout innings.

Offensively, they broke the game open with a 4 run 5th inning highlighted by home runs off the bats of Curtis Granderson and Magglio Ordonez. In between the homers were doubles by Placido Polanco and Timo Perez. Curtis Granderson went 3 for 4 with a sacrifice fly and came closer to the quadruple 20:

34 doubles
21 triples
18 home runs
17 stolen bases

Magglio Ordonez also had 3 hits to raise his league leading batting average to .359. Placido Polanco and Timo Perez (who was the designated hitter and batted third) added two hits apiece.

So, the Tigers had one of those rare days when the offense, pitching and defense all came together and they salvaged one game of the three game series. Unfortunately, they remain 4 1/2 behind the Indians who just beat the Mariners 6-5 on a walk off walk. The Tigers now head to Oakland for a three game series with Virgil Vasquez opposing Joe Blanton in game 1 tomorrow night.

Tigers Get Clay Rapada for Monroe

It's PTBNL day. Earlier, I wrote about the acquisition of Chris Lambert for Mike Maroth. They also completed the Craig Monroe deal by acquiring Clay Rapada from the Cubs. Rapada is a 26 year old left-handed reliever who may have a future as a lefty specialist. He will join the Toledo MudHens roster initially but might join the Tigers after the AAA playoffs are over. He has been added to the Tigers 40 man roster and Aquilino Lopez has been outrighted to make room.

Rapado had a 3.58 ERA and a 50/25 K/BB ratio in 55 1/3 innings as a reliever for AAA Iowa this year. In 20 2/3 innings against left-handed batters, he had a 1.31 ERA and .159 batting average against. According to John Sickels, he has a funky sidearm delivery so if nothing else he'll be fun to watch. He's a soft tosser who tops out at 87 miles per hour and also has a slider and curve.

Miller Down, Vasquez Up

In yet another move today, Andrew Miller was optioned out and Virgil Vasquez was re-called from Toledo. Vasquez will start Friday's game versus Oakland.

Tigers Get Chris Lambert for Maroth

The Tigers have acquired Chris Lambert from the Cardinals as the player to be named later for Mike Maroth. Lambert, a 24 year old right-handed pitcher, was the Cardinals number one pick in the 2004 first year player draft. However, he has not had an ERA below 5.00 in 3 years above A ball. This year,he has pitched mostly in relief and has a 6.21 ERA and 67/37 K/BB ratio in 84 innings for AA Springfield and AAA Memphis. Baseball America says that he has a low 90s fastball, a good change-up and an improving curve but is very inconsistent and lacks control. He apparently has a decent arm but seems like a long shot to ever help the Tigers.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Sluggish Tigers Shut Out by Royals

Zack Greinke, Ryan Braun, Jimmy Gobble and David Riske combined to shut out the Tigers 5-0 tonight. It was a very uninspiring effort by the Tigers batters who managed 7 hits but, like last night, failed to come up with hits with runners in scoring position. There has been a lot of critcism on the internet (including me) about Jim Leyland's decision to start timo Perez the last two nights. Surprisingly, he was their biggest bat getting two doubles and a walk. Each double followed a Sean Casey single to put runners on second and third. Unfortunately, Brandon Inge then struck out to leave the runners on base in each case.

Andrew Miller struggled mightily with his control again tonight and failed to get out of the first inning. He gave up all 5 runs on 5 hits, two walks and 2 hit batsmen before leaving with the bases loaded and 2 outs. The lone bright spot for the Tigers tonight was the bullpen. Zach Miner, Tim Byrdak, Fernando Rodney and Bobby Seay combined for 7 1/3 shutout innings on just 3 hits and a walk. So, for the second straight night, the bullpen tried to keep them in the game but the bats did not respond.

The loss left the Tigers 4 1/2 games behind the first place Indians and 3 games behind the Yankees and Mariners in the wild card race. They will try to salvage one game of this three game series tomorrow afternoon when slumping Jeremy Bonderman faces Leo Nunez.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Left On Base

The Tigers outhit the Royals 16-6 tonight but somehow managed to lose 6-3. The problem was they left 13 men on base and grounded into 2 double plays in one of the most frustrating games of the season. Royals starter Brian Bannister was in trouble almost every inning but pitched well with runners on base and allowed only 2 runs in 6 innings despite allowing 11 hits. They continued to get runners on base against the Royals bullpen but could only score one additional run on a sacrifice fly in the 9th.

After pitching brilliantly in his previous start, Nate Robertson had control problems tonight and it eventually caught up to him. He allowed a 3 run double to Alex Gordon with 2 outs in the 4th and a 3 run homer to Billy Butler in the 5th. Their bullpen continued to do some pretty good work as much maligned Jason Grilli kept them in the game by pitching 3 2/3 perfect innings. The bats could not bring back however.

Much of the buzz around the internet tonight was centered around Jim Leyland's decision to bat
Timo Perez third. After finally winning a series over the weekend, against the Yankees no less, we were all looking forward to watching them build on that momentum against the Royals. Then we see the starting line-ups and notice that Timo Perez is batting third! Now, Bannister is really tough on righties but Timo Perez batting third?

Perez has batted .233/.278/.322 over the last 3 seasons and that does not include this year's limited stats which are even worse. His stats against right-handers are essentially the same. After leaving runners on base in 4 weak at bats, he finally doubled to lead off the 9th. A 1 for 5 night is pretty much what you'd expect from Perez. It was a puzzling decision but not surprising given Leyland's fondness for washed up Perezes.

That being said, the decision to bat Perez third was not why they lost the game. They did get 16 hits including 4 for Magglio Ordonez and 3 apiece for Placido Polanco and surprisingly Ramon Santiago. They just come through with hits with runners on base.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Verlander, Tigers Destroy Yankees 16-0

The Tigers finally won their first series since mid-July with a convincing 16-0 rout of the Yankees. The previously struggling Justin Verlander pitched his best game of the second half against a lethal Yankees line-up. Every player in the Tigers line-up contributed to a 20 hit night which included 8 extra base hits. It was their 3rd victory in the 4 game series, their first series win since sweeping the Twins July 17-19. They remain 2 1/2 games behind the Indians but they are suddenly showing definite signs of life.

Verlander had all his pitches working and his velocity seemed back to normal during 7 innings of shutout ball. He allowed just 2 hits and 2 walks to the best offense in the American League. Hopefully, this is the first game of a good stretch run for a pitcher who needs to be successful if they are going to have a chance to make the playoffs. Zach Miner, just recalled yesterday when Jurrjens was placed on the disabled list, finished the shutout with 2 perfect innings of relief.

The Tigers pounded starter Mike Mussina for 6 runs on 9 hits in just 3 innings and they continued their assault all night long against the Yankees bullpen. Ever starter had at least one hit in an attack that included the following:
  • Curtis Granderson - a double, 2 singles and a stolen base
  • Placido Polanco - a home run and 2 singles
  • Carlos Guillen - a double and 2 singles
  • Brandon Inge - 3 doubles
  • Sean Casey - a single and a hilarious triple (his first since 2004) which lit up the Tigers dugout and all of Comerica Park.
Like the Friday night/Saturday morning marathon, it was a night to remember at Comerica.


Notes:

Gary Sheffield was placed on the 15 day disabled list retroactive to August 22 and Timo Perez was recalled. Given Sheffield's lack of optimism about the condition of his shoulder, this news was someting I was totally expecting. I'm not assuming that he will be able to help the Tigers much down the stretch

Curtis Granderson got one step closer to the quadruple 20 with his 17th stolen base of the season tonight. He also has 33 doubles, 21 triples and 17 home runs.

The Tigers now go on the road for 6 games, three apiece at Kansas City and Oakland. Tomorrow night it will be Nate Robertson against the Royals' Brian Bannister at 8:05.

Detroit Tigers Prospect Report - August 27, 2007

During the course of the year, I have been giving statistical updates and other information on the Tigers organization. I cover all the consensus top prospects as well as other noteworthy perfomers. For daily recaps and other news on Tigers prospects, check out Matt Wallace's Take 75 North and Mike Cassidy's Tigers Minor League Blog. My team by team updates are listed below:

Toledo Mud Hens (AAA) 78-56

Omar Infante
has gone 8 for 22 as he tries to work his way back to the majors.

Chris Shelton (.264/.377/.417) never really got going this year. A new start in a different organization may help but at 27 he can not really be considered much of a prospect anymore.

Recently acquired 27 year outfielder Jason Perry is batting .250 in his first 28 at bats for Toledo. For the season, he is batting a combined .264/.373/.518 for Midland, Sacramento and Toledo.

Virgil Vasquez has a 2.06 ERA in his last 10 starts. He has a 3.48 ERA and 127/33 K/BB ratio in 155 innings.

Brent Clevlen was named the biggest disappoint of the system in Baseball America's annual organization report. He is batting .227/.308/.376 with 101 strikeouts in 295 at bats.

Erie Sea Wolves (AA) 77-53

After a sluggish first half, first baseman Jeff Larish is batting .326/.469/.580 with 8 homers since the all-star break. For the season, he is hitting .262/.383/.498 with 24 homers and a 78/105 BB/K ratio.

Second baseman Michael Hollimon is hitting for a better average after a slow start and continues to draw walks. He is batting .281/.369/.473 with a 62/121 K/BB ratio.

Outfielder Clete Thomas is batting .280/.357/.402 for the season.

21 year old outfielder Wilken Ramirez is batting just .219 in 29 games since being moved up to Erie. Ramirez is batting a combined .259/.306/.392 for Lakeland and Erie.

23 year old outfielder Michael Hernandez is batting .313 with 3 home runs in 32 at bats for Erie. He hit .260/.326/.478 with 20 homers in 116 games for Lakeland.

Dallas Trahern has slowed down after a sizzling start but is still having a solid season. He has a 3.81 ERA in 158 1/3 innings including one start for Toledo. He has only 85 strikeouts but a very high 2.64 GO/AO.

Burke Badenhop allowed 1 run on 4 hits over 9 2/3 innings in his first 2 starts. He had a 3.13 ERA along with just 34 walks and a 2.09 GO/AO ratio in 135 1/3 innings pitched for Lakeland.


Lakeland (A+) 1st half: 29-41 2nd half: 23-39

Speedy 23 year old outfielder Deik Scram is batting a combined .310/.394/.444 with 20 stolen bases for West Michigan and Lakeland.

25 year old infielder/outfielder Ovandy Suero leads the league with 71 stolen bases in 108 games.

23 year old first baseman Ryan Roberson is batting .274/.334/.497 with 15 homers in 336 at bats..

Second round draft pick Danny Worth was surprisingly placed on the Lakeland roster right out of college. The shortstop is batting .244/.318/.363 with a 17/37 BB/K ratio in 48 games.

21 year old Lucas French has a 3.90 ERA and a 84/40 K/BB ratio in 138 1/3 innings.

24 year old Angel Castro has a 3.32 ERA with 47 walks and a 1.43 GO/AO ratio in 146 1/3 innings for West Michigan and Lakeland combined.


West Michigan (A) 1st half: 38-32 2nd half: 40-21

20 year old Gorkys Hernandez has slowed a bit after a strong start but is batting .291/.343/.387 with 52 stolen bases. He also is reportedly a strong defensive center fielder.

21 year old left-handed batting catcher James Skelton is hitting .311/.399/.440 with 17 stolen bases.

22 year old second baseman Scott Sizemore is hitting .260/.369/.386 with an impressive 66/59 BB/K ratio.

Jeff Gerbe was named by Baseball America as the player who has taken the biggest leap forward this season. After spending last summer at short season Oneonta, he made it all the way to AA at one point this year. He has 2.34 ERA in 73 innings as a starter and reliever for West Michigan. He allowed 2 runs in 6 innings in his one start for Erie.

21 year old lefty Duane Below has a 1.68 ERA and 70 K in 59 innings over his last 10 starts. He has a 3.12 ERA with 152 strikeouts in 138 2/3 innings for the season.

Closer Brett Jensen has a 1.62 ERA and 56/8 K/BB ratio in 55 2/3 innings.

21 year old left-hander Charles Furbush has a 1.30 ERA and 35/5 K/BB ratio in 34 2/3 innings since his promotion from the GCL Tigers.

Oneonta Tigers (A-) 38-26

Third baseman Ron Bourquin, who batted just .192 in 78 at bats for Lakeland, is hitting .335 in 155 at bats for Oneonta.

22 year old second baseman and recent draft pick Justin Henry is batting .353/.439/.430 in 56 games.

23 year old first baseman Chris Carlson is batting .296/.392/.528 with 10 homers in 61 games.

23 year old outfielder Caspar Wells is batting .289/.348/.546 in 56 games.

Small but toolsy 22 year old outfielder Kody Kaiser is batting .270/.340/.408.

23 year old Venezuelan Guillermo Moscoso has a 2.43 ERA and 64/14 K/BB ratio in 74 innings.


GCL Tigers (Rookie) 28-31

19 year old second baseman Heyden Parrott is batting .295/.322/.358 in 193 at bats.

22 year old outfielder Luis Arlet is batting .312/.353/.505 in 109 at bats but is currently on the disabled list.

22 year old outfielder Marc McBratney is batting .316/.418/.421 in 114 at bats.

20 year old right-hander Brandon Johnson has a 2.58 ERA and 45/11 K/BB ratio in 59 1/3 innings

19 year old lefty and recent draft pick Aaron Fuhrman has a 4.47 ERA and 45 K in 59 1/3 innings.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Bittersweet Victory for Tigers

All the runs scored on homers today as the Tigers topped the Yankees 5-4 to remain 2 1/2 games behind the division leading Indians. Curtis Granderson decided that a triple wasn't enough today and circled the bases for an inside the park homer leading off the game for the Tigers. Carlos Guillen hit a 2 run blast in the same inning to make it 3-0 Tigers. Jason Giambi hit a solo shot in the second for the Yankees to make it 3-1. Marcus Thames then put the Tigers up 5-1 with a 2 run homer in the 3rd inning, the 3rd homer of the game off Phil Hughes. Finally, Robinson Cano smashed a 3 run homer in the 4th to make it 5-4 Tigers and that was the end of the scoring.

The bad news is that Tigers starter Jair Jurrjens left with one out in the second inning with a shoulder injury. An MRI after the game revealed inflammation in the rotator cuff. It will not require surgery but he was placed on the disabled list and I suspect he'll miss the rest of the season. Nobody connected with the Tigers said his seasowho has a rotator cuff problem. Despite the initial positive prognosis, I'm concerned about Jurrjen's shoulder. He also had trouble with shoulder last year and was on the disabled list near the end of the season. So, even if the injury is not serious, one has to wonder what is causing the problem and whether it will be a recurring issue.

Jurrjens will be replaced on the roster by Zach Miner but it's not known yet who will take his spot in the rotation. It won't be Kenny Rogers as he is not yet ready to return. Chad Durbin could go from the bullpen to the rotation or someone could be called up from the minors. Virgil Vasquez is a possibility. Regardless, the loss of JJ is a big blow to their ever diminishing post-season chances.

Getting back to today's game, the bullpen saved the Tigers for the second time in the series. Chad Durbin allowed the 3 run homer to Cano but the rest of the bullpen was near perfect. Bobby Seay pitched 2 perfect innings. Joel Zumay followed with 1 2/3 perfect innings, a good sign after his poor performance versus the Indians on Wednesday. Then Todd Jones got the save with a one hit 9th inning.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Guillen Hits Walk Off at 3:30 AM

The scheduled starting time for Friday's game was 7:00 PM. 8 1/2 hours later, Carlos Guillen hit a 3 run walk off homer in the 11th inning to beat the Yankees 9-6 at 3:30 AM on Saturday morning. After a four hour rain delay, 22 year old Andrew Miller faced 45 year old Roger Clemens who had won a Cy Young award before Miller was born. Neither pitched well and the game was tied 6-6 after 5 innings.

Great relief work on both sides kept the game going into the 11th. For the Tigers , Tim Byrdak, Jason Grilli, Bobby Seay, Fernando Rodney and Chad Durbin combined for 6 2/3 scoreless innings in perhaps the best relief effort of the year for the Tigers. Rodney was particularly impressive pitching 2 scoreless innings including striking out Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Jorge Posada in succession in the 9th.

The Tigers had some missed opportunities leaving 2 men on in the 9th and 3 men on in the 10th but they finally broke through in the 11th. There were 2 out and nobody on after Placido Polanco of all people got picked off first. However, Sean Casey and Magglio Ordonez (who had 4 hits in the game including a 2 run homer) singled leading up to Guillen's blast.

The other hitting hero, besides Guillen and Ordonez, was Curtis Granderson who went 4 for 6 including his 20th and 21st triples of the year. Granderson became the first Tiger with 20 triples since Ty Cobb in 1917 and the first Major Leaguer with 21 triples since Lance Johnson in 1996.

It was a long long night but it was a game for the ages and definitely worth staying up for.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Another Crushing Loss for the Tigers

The Tigers fell 2 1/2 games behind the Indians after a heart breaking 10 inning 3-1 loss to the division leaders this afternoon. Nate Robertson dueled Jake Westbrook to a scoreless tie through 8 plus innings and the bullpens kept it tied through regulation. Robertson allowed just 4 hits and walked none while getting through 8 2/3 innings on just 91 pitches. He also received excellent fielding support from Carlos Guillen at first, Placido Polanco at second and Ramon Santiago at short.

It was just the kind of performance that the Tigers needed from a starting pitcher. Unfortunately, it was not enough. Jake Westbrook was almost as good allowing just 5 hits and 2 walks in 8 innings. The Tigers got two runners on base in the 9th against relievers Rafael Betancourt and Rafael Perez but again failed to score. Curtis Granderson ended that one by striking out against the lefty Perez.

Joel Zumaya got the final out of the 9th inning but did not seem to be at full strength topping out at 95 MPH. He ran into trouble in the 10th when he allowed a lead off double to Victor Martinez and then loaded the bases on an intentional walk and a regular walk. With one out, Zoom struck out Franklin Gutierrez and it looked like he might get out of it. However, pinch hitter Kenny Lofton hit a grounder to shortstop for an infield hit to make it 1-0. Chris Gomez followed with another soft hit and the indians were up 3-0.

The Tigers finally scored in the bottom of the inning but they fell 2 runs short. With 2 outs, Magglio Ordonez doubled, Guillen followed with a bunt single and Marcus Thames got an RBI double. However, Pudge Rodriguez flied out to right to end it.

Notes:

The Tigers now host the Yankees in a 4 game series. Now 2 1/2 games out, all the games are becoming crucial and they really need to start winning some series. The opening game will be tomorrow night with Andrew Miller facing Roger Clemens.

during the game today, it was announced that Craig Monroe has been traded to the Cubs for a player to be named later. They are also owed a PTBNL from the Cardinals for Mike Maroth.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Verlander Rocked by Indians

Tonight's game was a little different from yesterday's pitcher's duel. While last night was reminiscent of 2006, today's game brought us back to August, 2007. Against the same team which was held to one hit by Jair Jurrjens and the bullpen last night, Justin Verlander allowed 7 runs on 10 hits in 4 innings. The struggling Verlander now has a 5.86 ERA in his last 10 starts. The Tigers bats tried to make a come back but the middle relief staff of Zack Miner, Tim Byrdak and Chad Durbin would have none of that. They combined to allow 4 runs on 6 hits in 5 innings and the Tigers lost to the Indians 11-8.

The Tigers provided some solid offense tonight and actually jumped out to a 3-1 lead on a 3 run homer by Carlos Guillen in the first. After falling behind 8-3 after 5, they scored 3 runs in the 6th on a solo homer by Magglio Ordonez and a 2 run shot by Marcus Thames to make it 8-6. By the time the 9th inning came along, they were down 11-6. They made one last effort when Cameron Maybin led off the 9th with his second double of the game. With one out, Placido Polanco, Ramon Santiago and Magglio Ordonez singled to bring home 2 runs and make it 11-8. However, closer Joe Borowski retired the last 2 batters to end it.

Notes:

The loss dropped the Tigers 1 1/2 games behind the Indians. They will try to win the series tomorrow afternoon when Nate Robertson opposes Jake Westbrook.

Gary Sheffield has been shut down for at least the rest of the home stand as his shoulder is acting up again. There is a possibility that he may have to have surgery which would end his season. He has obviously not been himself lately and is batting .196 with 1 homer in the month of August. He was replaced by Marcus Thames in the designated hitter spot.

Tracking the Tigers

Here are some interesting pieces from other Tigers blogs:

I was going to do an analysis on Brandon Inge's offense and defense but Billfer beat me to it.

Ian Casselberry of Bless you Boys tells ESPN that Curtis Granderson is the face of the Tigers. Congratulations to Ian for being chosen to participate and for giving intelligent input.

Samara writes about Jair Jurrjens' performance last night.

MotownSports has a good discussion on the Tigers participaton in the international market.

2007 Fan Fielding Survey

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 2006 survey. It's now time for the 2007 survey. The results of this survey are a very valuable resource so I'm encouraging all knowledgeable 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.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Just Like 2006 Again

Tonight, it felt like 2006 again. First, there was a great start from a rookie pitcher. They scored both of their runs on homers. Joel Zumaya was back throwing in the high 90s. Fernando Rodney and Todd Jones finished it off with two perfect innings. The Tigers beat the Indians 2-1.

21 year old Jair Jurrjens, in his second major league start, allowed just one run on one hit in 6 2/3 innings. JJ had a no hitter for 5 1/3 innings before allowing a solo homer to Jhonny Peralta in the 6th. He left with a a runner on first and two out and a 2-1 lead in the 7th. The best was yet to come.

In came Joel Zumaya, just recalled today after spending nearly 4 months on the disabled list with a tendon injury in his middle finger. he received a standing ovation from the sellout crowd at comerica as he left the bullpen and jogged out to the mound. The fans roared some more when he used 98 and 99 MPH fastballs to get two strikes on Ryan Garko. He eventually got Garko on a grounder to second to end the inning.

Rodney followed with a perfect 8th for his 7th consecutive scoreless appearance since returning from the disabled list. Todd Jones spared us the 9th inning roller coaster ride with a 1-2-3 inning of his own. It's nice to have the bullpen back.

On the other side, Fausto Carmona pitched an excellent game himself. After retiring the Tiger in order for the first 4 innings, Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Guillen smashed solo homers to lead off the 5th and put the Tigers up 2-0. The Tigers would not score again as Carmona allowed only 3 hits and threw just 78 pitches in 8 innings.

The Tigers did not need any more runs though. Not tonight. It was 2006 again.

Notes:

The victory moved the Tigers to within a half game of first place. Tomorrow night, it will be Justin Verlander versus Paul Byrd.

Placido Polanco finally returned to second base tonight after missing the entire 6 game home stand with a nasty virus. He went 0 for 3.

Ryan Raburn got his first start at third base tonight in place of the slumping Brandon Inge and went 0 for 2. Inge came into the game as a defensive replacement in the 7th inning.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Tigers Lose 3rd in Row to Yankees

As has so often been the case in the second half of the season, the only good news to report today is that the Indians lost to the Rays 4-3 in 12 innings. Old friend Carlos Pena helped out with a game tying 7th inning homer and a double in 5 at bats. The Tigers lost to the Yankees for the third straight day 9-3. Thus, they remained a game and a half behind the Indians with a three game series between the two rivals beginning on Tuesday.

Jeremy Bonderman struggled with control today walking 5 batters and throwing 115 pitches in 6 innings. He left with the team trailing 4-3 after 6. The Tigers led 3-2 in the 5th but Brandon Inge misplayed a routine double play ball which led to an unearned run in the bottom of the inning. Bonderman then allowed a go ahead homer to Johnny Damon in the 6th. Zach Miner and Aquilino Lopez turned the game into a laugher by allowing a combined 5 runs in the 7th and 8th innings.

The Tigers once again had plenty of opportunities to score in the game but couldn't get runners home against starting pitcher Chien-Ming Wang. Then they were helpless the last three innings versus Joba Chamberlain and Edwar Ramirez. Their best rally came in the 5th when they scored 2 runs with the aid of a balk, a wild pitch and a double steal. Tigers with multiple hits were Mike Rabelo with 3 and Ryan Raburn with 2.

Brandon Inge continued to look awful at the plate to go along with the 5th inning error. He went 0 for 4 with 3 strikeouts and is now batting .236/.273/.333 with 1 homer 1n 123 at bats since the all-star break. He also has struck out an alarming 48 times to go with just 4 walks during that period. With Placido Polanco probably returning from the flu on Tuesday, it might be a good idea to to shift Ryan Raburn to third for a couple of games to give Inge a rest. Raburn doesn't defend well enough to play third on a regular basis but it is his original position.

Update: Apparently Jim Leyland agrees about Raburn replacing Inge. He said that the "concentration level of (the Tigers) at bats is just not acceptable". He also announced that Raburn will start at third base on Tuesday. He gave no indication as to how long he would stay there.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Maybin Homers but Tigers Lose

The Tigers lost 5-2 to the Yankees today in a frustrating game where they could not capitalize on several opportunities to score. They had 10 hits and a hit batsman in 6 innings off Roger Clemens but only scored twice. The Tigers left 10 men on base in all and had another picked off on a bizarre base running play. Clemens also helped himself by walking nobody and striking out 8.

The highlight of the game for the Tigers was a line drive home run to straight away center field by Cameron Maybin leading off the 5th which put them up 2-1 at the time. The Tigers were all smiles in the dugout after that one with biggest one of all coming from the 20 year old kid with braces. Earlier, Maybin got his first major league hit - a ground ball single to right on a hit and run. Predictably, he also was hit by the pitch for the first time when Roger Clemens got him on the wrist in the next at bat after his home run.

Unfortunately, there not many other highlights for the Tigers but there some lowlights. With runners on first and third and nobody out in the third, they failed to score. First, Granderson struck out and then there was a very unusual strike out throw out double play. With Marcus Thames at the plate, Maybin at first and Brandon Inge on third, Maybin took off for second and Thames struck out. Jorge Posada threw to second (apparently) and Inge took off for home. However, the ball never went to second and instead was caught by Clemens who nailed Inge for a very rare 2-1 double play.

Granderson and Magglio Ordonez had really tough days at the plate going 0 for 9 between them and leaving several runners on base. Granderson struck out with 2 men on in the 3rd and popped out with the base loaded ending the 6th. Ordonez struck out 3 times and failed to advance runners in the 1st, 4th and 7th innings.

Chad Dubin pitched well for 5 innings allowing just 1 run on 3 hits but ran into trouble in the third. Derek Jeter led off with a single and Bobby Abreu followed with 318 foot homer off the left field foul pole. Alex Rodriguez followed with a single and Durbin was removed from the game. Tim Byrdak and Jason Grilli combined to give up three more hits in the inning and 2 more runs scored making it 5-2 Yankees.

So the Tigers are 1 game behind the division leading Indians pending the outcome of their game with the Rays tonight. The Indians lead 3-0 in the 2nd inning as I type. Tomorrow, the Tigers will try to salvage a split of the series with Jeremy Bonderman going against Chien-Ming Wang.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Pettitte Tames Tigers

The much anticipated debut of Cameron Maybin did not turn out too well and neither did the game tonight. The Final score was 6-1 Yankees. Here are a few quick notes:
  • Maybin went o for 4 including 2 strikeouts and running into his own batted ball for an out. He also made poor routes on a couple of fly balls, one of them landing for a 2 run double. The 20 year old debuting in Yankee Stadium was likely very nervous so I'll give him a mulligan tonight.
  • Andy Pettitte was brilliant holding the Tigers to 1 run on 5 hits through 8 innings. The only run scored in the second when Ryan Raburn singled and Brandon Inge Doubled.
  • Ryan Raburn was the only Tiger with 2 hits and is now batting .342.
  • Nate Robertson gave up 5 runs in 6 innings but had some tough luck. A bad hop single with two outs in the third helped turn a no run inning into a 2 run inning. Then there was the 2 run double by Andy Phillips in the 6th inning which was poorly tracked by Maybin. To be fair, I'm not sure Raburn, Marcus Thames or Craig Monroe would have caught it either. Robertson did create his own problems by allowing 10 hits.
  • The Indians topped the Rays 2-1 and moved into first place by a 1/2 game.
  • Game 3 of the series will have Chad Durbin facing Roger Clemens tomorrow afternoon.

More Thoughts on Monroe, Infante and Santiago

With Craig Monroe's designation for assignment this morning, the Tigers now have 10 days to work out a trade or release him outright. There is also the possibility that he would accept an assignment to the minors but that is unlikely. I think there is a good chance he'll be traded. There are a few teams like the Cubs and Pirates who are looking for an outfielder and I suspect some team will think that Monroe can get back to his past production with a change in scenery.

As his .222/.264/.373 line shows, Monroe has really struggled this year so that part of today's transactions is neither a surprise nor disappointment. However, there are mixed emotions here. I appreciate the fact that Craig worked his way to becoming a decent Major League regular after having been released by two organizations and clearing waivers one spring with the Tigers. He also provided as much late inning drama as any Tiger over the last couple of years so there are some good memories. I wish CMo luck wherever he ends up.

The Omar Infante/Ramon Santiago swap is a smaller move but still one that will be noticed as we watch the games. Omar Infante is the better hitter and can also play outfield but Santiago is a better defensive shortstop and that seems more critical right now with Carlos Guillen hobbled by knee problems and struggling in the field. Infante's role will be taken by Ryan Raburn who can play second base as well as outfield.

I don't think they are done making moves yet. Because Guillen is such an injury risk, there is the danger that they could go into the stretch drive and potentially the post-season with Santiago as their starting shortstop. I don't think Jim Leyland would trust him in that role so I still think a move for a veteran shortstop is coming. I'm hoping they don't acquire Jack Wilson because they'll be stuck with him for two more years and I'd like to think they could do better than that. Royce Clayton and Omar Vizquel are both available if they want an end of year rental.

Maybin Promoted, Monroe Designated for Assignment

In a surprise move, the Tigers have promoted Cameron Maybin to the majors this morning. This was an unexpected transaction because he had played just 6 days in AA ball and Dave Dombrowski said last week he was not a candidate for a September call up. In a related move, Craig Monroe has been designated for assignment. This could mean we'll hear about a trade in the next few days. In addition, Omar Infante has been sent to Toledo and Ramon Santiago recalled from the same club.

Maybin is just 20 years old and bats right-handed. He is an extremely talented player who has all five tools. This means he can hit for average, hit for power, field, throw and run with the best of them. He has been compared to a young Eric Davis. He spent most of the year in Lakeland (A ball) where he batted .304/.393/.486 with 25 stolen bases in 296 at bats. The only negative was his 83 strikeouts in 296 at bats which suggests he may struggle initially in the majors. He was promoted to AA Erie just a week ago and hit .400 with 4 home runs in his first 6 games.

Why would they promote Maybin so quickly with Marcus Thames, Ryan Raburn and previously Craig Monroe already battling for playing time in the outfield? If they just wanted some insurance defensively, it would have been easier to call up Timo Perez or Brent Clevlen. One possibility is that Dave Dombrowski and Jim Leyland are looking to energize the team given its poor play over the past month. The fact that they also demoted Omar Infante, who has been accused of lackluster effort at times, adds fuel to that theory.

I'm skeptical as to whether Maybin will hit any better down the stretch than Raburn and Thames but he will surely be a better fielder. In fact, somewhere down the line (probably not this year), it will be a question of who plays center and left between Maybin and Curtis Granderson. Regardless of the reasoning behind it, this an exciting move and I'm looking forward to seeing him play.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Tigers Beat Yankees in Series Opener

The two highest scoring teams in the league opened up a four game series tonight and the Tigers prevailed over the Yankees 8-5. The Tigers jumped out to a 4-0 lead when Carlos Guillen hit a grand slam in the first inning off Mike Mussina. Mussina lasted just 5 innings as the Tigers touched him for 7 runs on 9 hits. They had 10 hits in all including 2 apiece by Guillen and Ivan Rodriguez who also had a homer.

Justin Verlander allowed only 3 runs but continued to have problems with efficiency as he threw 119 pitches in 5 1/3 innings. He allowed 7 hits including a 2 run homer by Bobby Abreu in the 3rd. Verlander has a 5.14 ERA in his last 9 starts and his inability to pitch deep into games is becoming a problem. In his last 6 starts, he has failed to make it through 6 innings 3 times and he has been throwing a lot of pitches. He rarely gives up many runs and they usually win when he pitches (6 team wins in his last 9 starts) but he is forcing their bullpen to do a lot of work.

Other than the typical Todd Jones scare (when brought into a non-save situation), the bullpen was good tonight. Zack Miner and not Jason Grilli took the middle inning role tonight and struck out 3 while allowing just one base runner in 1 1/3 innings. Fernando Rodney continued his good work with three strike outs sandwiched around a walk and a single for one scoreless inning. Jones came in with a 8-3 lead and had an adventurous 9th inning allowing 2 runs on 3 hits but held on to preserve the lead.

The Indians were idle tonight so the Tigers took a 1/2 game lead in the AL Central race. Game 2 will be tomorrow night with Nate Robertson facing Andy Pettitte. It is unknown whether Placido Polanco, who missed another game tonight with a virus, will be ready for tomorrow's game. Hopefully he'll be back as a double play combination of Ryan Raburn and Carlos Guillen is not something I want to see (defensively) with Robertson on the mound.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Carmona Stymies Tigers

Back on July 9, Curtis Granderson was giving out mid-season awards on his blog and most of them seemed right on the money. However, his suggestion that Fausto Carmona was the Cy Young Award winner raised a few eyebrows. Maybe he knew something. I still don't know if Carmona is a Cy Young winner but he has pitched like one over the past month (1.73 ERA over his last 7 starts) and he pitched like one tonight. He allowed just one earned run on 4 hits and struck out 10 Tigers in 8 innings of work as the Indians topped the Tigers 5-2. The victory game the Indians a split of the two game series and left the two teams tied for first place.

Tigers starter Jair Jurrjens pitched a solid game for a 21 year old kid making his debut in the middle of a pennant race. He made it through 7 innings which is more than we've seen from most Tigers starts over the past month. He gave up 4 runs on 5 hits with much of the damage coming in the second inning when he gave up a 2 run homer to Franklin Gutierrez on a 3-2 pitch. He also gave up single runs in the 3rd and 6th innings. He looked pretty sharp though and seemed to get better as the game progressed. I think he probably earned himself another start.

The Tigers took a 1-0 lead in the second inning on a walk, a Cleveland error and a single by Mike Rabelo. They scored one more run in the 8th and it looked like they would get more. Brandon Inge led off with a single and Granderson tripled him in to make it 4-2. It was Granderson's 19th triple of the year. However, Curtis was left on third when Cy Carmona retired Marcus Thames, Gary Sheffield and Magglio Ordonez in order.

The Tigers will now travel to New York to face the hard hitting Yankees in a four game series. The Yankees have been the hottest team in baseball since the all-star break but the hopeful news is that the Orioles cooled them off the last couple of nights. Game one tomorrow night will match up Justin Verlander and Mike Mussina.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Tigers Stun Indians with 10th Inning Rally

This game was billed by many as the "biggest game of the year" for the Tigers. I didn't get caught up in the "biggest game" concept but the battle between the two division leaders did have an aura of excitement surrounding it. The two teams didn't disappoint as they battled into extra innings with the Tigers eventually winning it 6-2 in the 10th.

The starting pitcher for the Tigers was Jeremy Bonderman who had been abysmal in his 4 previous starts. He had his usual rough first inning hitting Casey blake with a pitch and then yielding a homer to Grady Sizemore. Tonight, the bleeding stopped right there as he shut out the Indians on 2 hits over the next 6 innings.

Bonderman's opponent CC Sabathia was also very sharp shutting out the Tigers for 5 innings before allowing single runs in the 6th and 7th. In the 6th, Ryan Raburn doubled and eventually came around to score on a grounder by Magglio Ordonez. They scored in the 7th an a double by Marcus Thames and a single by Omar Infante. Sabathia and Bonderman both left after 7 innings with the scored tied 2-2.

The game remained tied after regulation but not without some scares for Tigers fans. Tim Byrdak allowed two walks in the 8th but then Curtis Granderson got him out of the inning with a game saving diving catch on a ball hit towards the gap. In the 9th, Fernando Rodney allowed a lead off double and seemed to be struggling a bit with control but he recovered by striking out the side.

The Tigers then broke through for 4 runs in the 10th off of closer Joe Borowski who often struggles in non-save situations. Granderson led off with a walk and Raburn and Gary Sheffield followed with singles to score the go ahead run. The amazing Magglio then followed with 3 run homer to make it 6-2.

The game was not over yet as another closer who does not do well in non-save situations would have to preserve the victory. Todd Tones allowed the first 2 batters to reach base and then survived a couple of long close fouls. Somehow, he managed to get out of it with no damage and the biggest game of the year went to the Tigers.

the Tigers and Indians will once again play the biggest game of the year tomorrow night. It will be Jair jurrjens in his Major League debut against Fausto Carmona at 7:05.

Porcello Signed to $7.3 Million Contract

The Tigers have reached an agreement on a $7.3 million contract with first round draft pick Rick Porcello. It was the biggest contract ever guaranteed to a draft pick coming out of high school. This is the fourth straight year that the Tigers have signed a premier talent out of the draft. In previous years, they inked Justin Verlander, Cameron Maybin and Andrew Miller. This is very exciting news.

Monday, August 13, 2007

How the Tigers and Indians Rank

Rather than dwell on the Tigers 7-2 loss to the Athletics tonight, I'll just say that they are tied for first place with the Indians. With 5 of their next 9 games versus the Indians, it's a good time for a statistical comparison of the two teams.

Table 1 below shows how they rank in overall run production and run prevention:
  • The Tigers are 2nd among 14 American League teams in run production but 11th in run prevention.
  • The Indians are closer to the middle of the pack in both categories - 5th in runs scored and 8th in runs allowed.
Table 1: Overall Ranks

DET

CLE

#

Rank

#

Rank

Record

65-53

5

65-53

5

R/G

5.71

2

5.03

5

RA/G

5.11

11

4.66

8



In Table 2, we can see how the two teams rank in various offensive categories:
  • The Tigers rank 2nd in batting average and 2nd in isolated power (ISO). The only area where they are below average is walks (11th).
  • The Indians rank 4th in walks but only 6th in isolated power and 8th in batting average
Table 2: Batting Ranks

DET

CLE

#

Rank

#

Rank

BA

.289

2

.267

8

BB

358

11

421

4

K

748

7

896

13

ISO

.176

2

.160

6

OBP

.346

3

.341

5

SLG

.464

2

.427

5

OPS

.812

2

.768

4



The pitching ranks are listed in Table 3:
  • The Tigers rank 11th in both Fielding Independent Pitching and ERA. In the two years , I have been doing these comparison charts, this is the first time the Tigers ERA is not a lot lower than their FIP. This suggests that their fielding is not helping their pitching as it was last year and earlier this year.
  • Earlier in the year, the Tigers were getting good starting pitching and poor relief pitching. Now they are not doing well in either department (8th in starter ERA and 11th in reliever ERA).
  • The Indians are getting average pitching overall (7th in the league in both FIP and ERA)
  • Cleveland is in the middle of the pack in starter ERA (7th) and reliever ERA (9th)
Table 3: Pitching Ranks

DET

CLE

#

Rank

#

Rank

FIP

4,69

11

4.38

7

ERA

4.67

11

4.37

7

SP ERA

4.63

8

4.55

7

RP ERA

4.74

11

3.96

9



Table 4 Looks at how teams rank in fielding. Defensive Efficiency Ratio (DER) is the percentage of balls in play converted into outs. One of the problems with DER is that it penalizes fielders for not converting very difficult batted balls into outs. Another problem is that it does not consider where balls were hit.

Revised Zone Rating (RZR) improves upon DER. Each position on the field has a zone around it and a player's RZR is the proportion of balls hit into his zone which he converts into outs. Team RZR is the proportion of balls hit into all fielding zones which are converted into outs. Balls not hit into any zone are not considered in the calculation. The chart below also breaks RZR into infield RZR and outfield IZR. For a further discussion of DER, RZR and other fielding statistics, check out Fielding Stats at The Hardball Times by Dave Studeman.

Here are the highlights for team fielding so far this year:
  • The Tigers rank 5th in RZR (although 10th in DER). Their outfield RZR is best in the league while their infield ranks only 9th.
  • The Indians do not rank well in any fielding category.
Table 4: Fielding Ranks

DET

CLE

#

Rank

#

Rank

DER

.697

10

.698

9

RZR

.829

5

.800

13

IF RZR

.777

9

.754

13

OF RZR

.905

1

.865

10



Summary

The Tigers are doing very well offensively and can be expected to continue doing so. Their pitching has been weak this year and their defense has been declining. Cleveland has no major strength comparable to the Tigers offense. Their offense is OK. Their fielding is not. They do have an edge in pitching although not a huge one. I've been pretty focused on the struggles of the Tigers as of late but this comparison shows me that the indians have as many holes as the Tigers. We have every reason to expect a close race.

Jair Jurrjens to Pitch on Wednesady

The Tigers announced today that highly regarded prospect Jair Jurrjens is going to start against the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday night. The 21 year old right-hander is 6-1 190 and is probably the the best Tigers pitching prospect yet to pitch in the majors. He has a 3.20 ERA and 94/31 K/BB ratio over 112 2/3 innings in 19 starts for Erie this year. He has been particularly strong in his last 3 starts allowing just 2 earned runs and striking out 24 in 23 innings.

The report on Jurrjens is that he has a fastball in the low 90s with good movement and sometimes reaches the mid 90s. He has good control for such a young pitcher but his curve and change-up are only average and still need work. He is a somewhat raw but exciting prospect and I'm very much looking forward to seeing him pitch this week.

Jack Hannahan Traded for Jason Perry

The Tigers have traded infielder Jack Hannahan to the Oakland Athletics today for outfielder Jason Perry. Hannahan is expected to join the Athletics on Tuesday and Perry will report to Toledo. Perry is a left-handed batter who will turn 27 this Saturday. He batted a combined .265/.372/.525 with 23 homers for AA Midland and AAA Sacramento this year. He is an average defensive outfielder who has also played some first base. He has some power and can draw walks but given his age and inability to make consistent contact, I can't see him making a big impact on the Tigers now or in the future. His left-handedness might help him become a useful bench player at some point though.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Ordonez Powers Tigers into First

I was unable to see the game today and heard only the last 2 innings on the radio so I can't provide much insight on their 11-6 victory over the Athletics. Magglio Ordonez's day can not go without mention though. With the Tigers trailing 2-0, the amazing Magglio led off the 2nd inning with a homer down the line in right field. He then capped the 8 run inning with a 3 run blast to left to make him only the second Tiger in the history of the franchise to hit 2 homers in one inning. The other was Al Kaline in 1955.

In case you hadn't noticed, Ordonez's mid-season slump is over. He has gone 18 for 44 (.409 batting average) with 5 homers and 3 doubles in his last 10 games. For the season, he is leading the league in batting (.357) and OBP (.437). He is second to Alex Rodriguez in slugging (.599) and OPS (1.030).

The Tigers got another mediocre performance from a starting pitcher today. Nate Robertson went 5 2/3 innings allowing 4 runs on 5 hits and 5 walks against the light hitting Athletics. The starting pitchers as a whole need to pitch better with two weeks of games versus the Indians and Yankees just around the corner. They did get some solid relief from Yorman Bazardo who was recalled today. He went 2 2/3 innings allowing 1 unearned run on 2 hits.

With the Indians getting swept in their weekend series versus the Yankees, the Tigers moved into first place by a half game. The Tigers finish their series versus the Athletics tomorrow while the Indians take the day off. The two central division leaders will face off on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Notes:

As you probably heard, Placido Polanco set the record for most consecutive chances without an error with his 647th successful chance in a row on Tuesday. Today he tied the record for most consecutive errorless games with 143. In each case, the previous record holder was Luis Castillo. Polanco's last error was on July 1, 2006 versus the Pirates.

Joel Zumaya will make his first rehab appearance for the Toledo MudHens tomorrow. The plan is for him to pitch in 3 games for Toledo and hopefully return to the Tigers next week.

Eulogio DelaCruz was optioned to Toledo after only one day on the roster and no game action. He was replaced by Yorman Bazardo. I think the reason for this strange move is that they wanted Bazardo but he was not ready to pitch on Saturday. Therefore, they brought up DelaCruz for one day so that they would have another fresh arm if needed.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Good Win for Tigers

The Tigers snapped their ugly 3 game losing streak with a 5-2 win over the Athletics tonight. It was their most satisfying win since the sweep of the Twins more than 3 weeks ago. The best part of this win was that pitchers were able to pitch in their roles and they executed exactly as they were intended. Justin Verlander allowed 2 runs in 6 innings but put the first 2 runners on base before departing in the 7th with a 3-2 lead. Lefty specialist Bobby Seay then retired hot hitting left-handed batter Jack Cust on strikes. Jim Leyland then brought in Aquilino Lopez (just called up today) to get the last 2 outs of the inning.

In the 8th inning, Fernando Rodney pitched about as well as possible in retiring the side. He had excellent command of his fastball which he mixed in with his devastating change-up. He made Donnie Murphy and Mike Piazza look helpless striking out both of them to end the inning. Todd Jones then finished it off with a nice easy 1-2-3 9th. In case we all forgot, that is how a bullpen is supposed to work. With Rodney looking strong and Joel Zumaya coming back in perhaps 10 days, we will hopefully see more of that down the stretch.

The Tigers took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on a homer by Marcus Thames who was batting second today. The Athletics tied it up in the 2nd on another home run by Jack Cust and went ahead 2-1 on an RBI single by Shannon Stewart in the 5th. Magglio Ordonez then put the Tigers back in front with a 2 run homer in the 6th. The Tigers added 2 more runs in an 8th inning highlighted by an RBI triple by Brandon Inge.

The win coupled with an Indians 11-2 loss to the Yankees left the Tigers just a 1/2 game out of first place. Considering they had lost 16 of 22 prior to tonight, we should feel fortunate that they are that close. The pennant race continues tomorrow when Nate Robertson opposes Dallas Braden at 1:05.

Notes:

In order to add some fresh arms to a tired bullpen, the Tigers called up Aquilino Lopez and Eulogio DelaCruz and optioned Jordan Tata and Macay McBride to Toledo today.

Cameron Maybin homered for the second straight game in Erie's 10-9 victory over Connecticut today. He went 1 for 2 with 2 walks and 3 runs scored.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Season Slipping Away

All through the Tigers streak of poor play, I had felt that they would snap out of it the next night or the next series. That is, until they lost the last 2 games of the Devil Ray series 7-1 and 8-1. Although they split the series, the way they played against one of the weakest teams in baseball sapped much of my enthusiasm for the team. They are are only a game and a half behind so there is still hope but with their whole bullpen and now starting staff in shambles, it's hard to look forward with much optimism.

The offense did show some signs of life tonight but the pitching didn't. After falling behind 8-1 in the 4th inning against the Athletics, a solo home run by Gary Sheffield and a grand slam by Marcus Thames gave them a 5 run 4th and closed the gap to 8-6. They followed with 3 more runs in the 5th capped by a 2 run double by Magglio Ordonez to take a 9-8 lead. For a brief moment, the great comeback energized the Tigers dugout and the crowd was roaring. Tigers fans had thoughts that this might be the rally that would turn the season around.

Reality quickly returned in the top of the 6th as the Athletics exploded for a touchdown and a 2 point conversion to go up 16-9. Macay McBride who had just completed 2 scoreless innings went out for a 3rd inning, something which he never does. He loaded the bases, was still left in there, and then gave up a 430 foot grand slam to Jack Cust (7 RBI for the night) to center field. Zack Miner followed and was rocked for 4 more runs. Jason Grilli was not brought into the game in this inning only because he had pitched earlier and already contributed a run and 3 hits to the early 7 run deficit. Eventually, the game ended and the Tigers lost 16-10.

It was another awful performance by a Tigers starter. This time it was Jordan Tata who lasted just 2 innings and allowed 7 runs on 5 hits and 2 walks. In the last 22 games, the starters have a 7.71 ERA in 119 innings. In that time, they have only 4 quality starts (3 or fewer earned runs, 6 or more innings pitched) - 2 by Nate Robertson and 1 apiece by Justin Verlander and Tata.

This has been one of my most negative posts of the the season so I'll end with some positives from tonight:
  • Fernando Rodney pitched a 1-2-3 9th. He has now allowed just 1 base runner and no runs in 3 innings since returning from the disabled list.
  • Gary Sheffield went 2 for 5 and his homer was his first since July 20th.
  • Curtis Granderson went 2 for 5 including his 18th triple of the year.
  • Magglio Ordonez had 3 hits in 5 trips including 2 doubles. He now has 41 two baggers on the season.
  • Cameron Maybin homered in his first game for AA Erie tonight

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